Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays

The gingerbread houses are built...

The villages are up...

And the tree is decorated...

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas in New Orleans

We don't often see photos of New Orleans decked out for Christmas. So come with me, and let's go for a stroll. We'll start with St. Louis cathedral and Jackson Square, the heart of the city in the days when we were a French and Spanish colony:

Then we'll cross the street and climb over the levee to the Mississippi River, where the steamboat, the Natchez, is decked out for the holidays.

While we're down in the Quarter, we might as well pop over toward Bourbon Street...

And, not too far away, on the Uptown side of Canal, is the old Fairmont Hotel. Now the Roosevelt, it's long been famous in New Orleans for its elaborate Christmas decorations (it's also a lovely hotel, if you're ever looking for someplace to stay).

Finally, let's hop on the Canal streetcar and head out to City Park for Celebration in the Oaks. It's nothing like what it used to be before Katrina, but still a fun stop. And while you're there, don't forget to visit the Cajun Papa Noel...

I'm almost ready for Christmas, and hope to get some pictures of my tree and villages up soon. How about you? If you celebrate, are you ready?

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sebastian's London: the Gentleman's Carriage

This carriage was actually built in Philadelphia, in 1820, but is essentially the same as the latest smart equipage one would have seen dashing through the streets of Regency London. The first thing I noticed about this carriage is that it is incredibly delicate and tiny. It's a good reminder of just how small people once were. Here's a better view of the interior:

The back is interesting (ignore the junk piled behind it; this wonderfully preserved carriage is sitting gathering dust in an old barn):

And here's a better look at the driver's seat:

Notice the two brass lamps and the springs. And here's the bill of sale (you can click to enlarge for a better view). It makes fascinating reading.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


We've been having one of the warmest, prettiest autumns that I can remember here in New Orleans this year. So Steve and I decided to spend some time exploring more of the old historic sites in the area.

First up was Port Hudson. Yes, it's another Civil War battlefield (for trivia buffs, it was the longest military siege in American history). But there isn't much left to see today beyond some overgrown old earthworks and a cemetery (thousands of men died here). Now it's probably best known for its hiking trails--miles of them, up and down a series of bluffs and ravines that would not have been fun to fight over.

A good way to work off any Thanksgiving excesses!

Next up was Centenary College in Jackson, Louisiana. Also another battle site, this one lies just a few miles to the west of our lake house. Once, Centenary College was one of the grandest liberal arts colleges outside of New England. In fact, its main academic building was actually the largest in the country.

All that's left today is the west dormitory, and another graveyard (the college was turned into a military hospital during the Civil War).

Once, there were so many colleges, preparatory schools, and finishing schools in Jackson that it was known as the "Athens of the South." No longer...