Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Regrets from the Retirement Home October 14, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:07 pm

Many of my friends and I are at that age where our parents are aging, transitioning into independent living facilities, or sadly, no longer with us. My dad passed away when I was a senior in college but thankfully my mom is still with us, albeit in a retirement home she doesn’t care for and with somewhat advanced aging issues. She is still her feisty self but at 92, limited in what she does and what she remembers. One thing I’ve learned through it all is that as we age and especially with the effects of Alzheimer’s and/or dementia, our short term memories dwindle but our long-term memories flourish.



It’s those long-term recollections that perhaps came alive, so to speak, when a recent group of retirement home residents stated their biggest regrets. I found their top five answers very interesting and am hoping that by sharing them with you we can all learn something, make adjustments in our lives, and take heed before it’s too late.


So…on that note…their top five answers in reverse order are:



No. 5: I wish I had let myself be happier.

I’m pretty sure we can all relate here. We’re all so caught up in racing and chasing that we don’t stop to smell the roses along that race route. We think more money, more stuff, more plastic surgery, and more time given to work will make us happier. News flash: if you’re not happy inside and happy to begin with, those things may bring you some happiness but you will still be unfulfilled if they’re all you’re after. Instead, stop. Stop and count your blessings, acknowledge your strengths, cherish your family and friend circles, and let yourself enjoy them and be happy. Stop and start smelling those roses.



It’s important to note here that in the pursuit of happiness and being happy, one must realize the difference between happiness and joy. Yes, we want to be happy but what we should really strive for is joy. Joy is not the same as pleasure or happiness, which is based on temporary circumstances. Happiness is an emotion and emotions are fleeting. Things in life make us happy and things in life make us sad. Joy, on the other hand, is a state of being. Yes, be happy but also be joyful.



No. 4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Back in respondents’ days, this might have been harder than in today’s social media and technology-heavy world. They didn’t have cell phones to make and receive calls 24-7, they didn’t have Facebook to see whose birthday it is, they didn’t have Instagram to look at photos of friends and family, and they certainly didn’t have YouTube or email to check out videos starring loved ones. But, ironically, they might have lived near friends they wished they’d stayed in touch with as people tended to stay close to home as they grew up and weren’t as mobile work and residence-wise as we are today.



Nope, long-distance phone calls were the name of the game and mail was the way to go. As recent as when our daughter was little, Christmas cards and accompanying letters were a big deal. I remember hosting an annual Christmas card signing party for friends while our kids were in school. I’d provide drinks and goodies and they’d come with their address books, cards, envelopes, and stamps and a good time would be held by all. I haven’t sent a Christmas card in years as my thought is nearly anyone I would send one to pretty much knows what I’m up to thanks to social media. My husband makes fun of me being on Facebook and Instagram but I try to explain to him that they both keep me in touch with people I probably wouldn’t otherwise and serve as sort of journals to me. You may not prefer social media, but whatever you do, stay in touch with friends. We really have no excuses today not to.



No. 3: I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

I can almost 100 percent honestly say this is not the case for me but can totally see how it is for the elderly with my mom immediately coming to mind. Her generation was a generation of “Mrs.” as their identities in the most June Cleaver of June ways. Maybe that’s why today she is so adamant about not doing what she doesn’t want to in her new place as no one can make her. She doesn’t care to go to any activities and she makes her feelings pretty known about it. Oddly enough, her not wanting to is probably a combination of not having the confidence to go to something alone and simply not wanting to. Oddly enough too is the fact that she has never held back telling me and my sisters how to be and how not to be, but that’s a whole other blog!



If we’ve learned anything the past few years is that everyone has feelings and makes no bones about making sure everyone knows what they are. We have raised and continue to raise a generation of weaklings so easily offended they almost aren’t taken seriously anymore. We’ve become the opposite of the “Greatest Generation” in that they rarely expressed their feelings and it’s pretty much all we do. I’m doing it right here and right now. My feeling is yes, speak up and express your feelings but please be accountable for your triggers and your challenges.



No. 2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

We hear this again and again but I would bet many of you reading this are thinking “I’ll get back to finishing this; I’ve got work to do.” Those who stated this guilt in the elderly responses regret that their working overtime (literally and figuratively) resulted in them neglecting family members, friends, and the simple joys of life. Work how you must but try to maintain a healthy balance in working and working on your family, friends, and your soul care.



And, the number 1 regret?


No. 1: I wish I’d had the courage to live life true to me not to what others expected of me.

Interesting and ouch, right?  And think about it, their lack of doing so was before social media files, photo filters, and face fillers. We’re all guilty of it though. We want others to think highly of us and making a good impression is important in both work and personal arenas. But, it’s when we become obsessed with what others think of us and how we look that we start to stray away from our true selves. This is never good. There will always be someone smarter, richer, and prettier than you so you need to just be you. Don’t worry about doing what others do if you aren’t interested. Do what you like and what makes you like yourself.


Don’t, of course, become self-centered or narcissistic, but also don’t allow others map out your life, your loves, and your laughter.



It’s time to retire habits that ensure you have the same regrets these wise elders do. Be happy, call your friends, speak up, don’t work yourself to death, and be yourself. Time is of the essence.


Soy Hispanic October 10, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:24 pm

A few months back I was asked to write something for a client and in the copy was the term “Latinx.” I replaced it with Hispanic and had to defend my edit but ultimately won out. It can get a bit confusing that Hispanic/Latina/Spanish usage but I recently ran across something online that nailed it and thought I’d share it today. I do this in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, my Spanish ancestors, and because I’m a wordsmith and a grammar guard. Vamanos!


As much as many of us consider the terms Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish interchangeable, they are not. I’m here to educate in hopes that you will spread the word and be able to catch incorrect usage on TV, in written materials, and in every day conversations. Let’s start with Hispanic.


By definition, the term Hispanic describes someone from or has ancestors from a Spanish-speaking territory or country. I consider myself Hispanic as my ancestors were from Spain. I saw the Luna coat-of-arms in Seville’s Alcazar Palace and have family members who have traced our roots. Someone from Chile is Hispanic but their neighbors in Brazil are not. Read on…



Both Chileans and Brazilians are Latino/Latina, as those terms refer to someone from Latin America or of Latin American descent. Someone from Spain is not Latino.




Style: “Agfa”

Which brings us to Spanish, which is both a language and a nationality. According the report I read from “Good Housekeeping,” only someone from Spain is Spanish although it’s a common mistake to call a Spanish-speaking person Spanish.


Sounds simple, right? Well, it can get even more confusing.



Hispanic excludes anyone from Brazil because Portuguese is the country’s primary language, but it does include someone from Spain even though Spain is in Europe. I’m guessing this is the case with Portugal as well. Worldwide there are more than a dozen Hispanic countries and one territory, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. But are they Hispanic and Latino? Some, but not all.


Latino/Latina includes Brazil but not Spain, since Spain is not in Latin America. As for the rest of the above mentioned countries, yes, they are both Latin and Hispanic. But only Spain is Spanish.


Can Hispanics be Latino? Yes, but not someone from Spain.

Can a Latino be Hispanic? Yes, but not someone from Brazil.

Can a Hispanic be Spanish? Only if they’re from or have origins in Spain.


Then there’s Latinx, a somewhat new and what many would call woke gender neutral alternative to Latino and Latina.  Only  3 percent identify themselves as such according to a Pew Research Center report. I personally don’t use it and likely never will.


Also according to the Pew Research Center, there are roughly 62 million Hispanics (reminder: someone who is from or has ancestors from a Spanish-speaking country) in the U.S., making up nearly 20 percent of our population. Mexicans lead the pack with more than 60 percent of Hispanics in the U.S., followed by Puerto Ricans and Cubans.



In 1976, Congress passed a law mandating information about U.S. residents from Spanish-speaking countries be recorded. As a result, Hispanic appears as an “ethnicity” on official forms for government, education, and employment purposes. In 1997, Latino officially appeared on government documents as an option alongside Hispanic and since 1980 Hispanic has become part of the U.S. Census and Latino has been since the 2000 census.


Note: neither appear as “race,” as it is different than “ethnicity.” In basic terms, race describes physical traits, and ethnicity refers to cultural identification. Race is biological, describing physical traits inherited from your parents. Ethnicity is your cultural identity, chosen or learned from your culture and family. Race may also be identified as something you inherit, whereas ethnicity is something you learn. 


With the exception of Brazil, what all these countries and nationalities have in common is the beautiful language of Spanish. The Romance language originated from Latin and was first spoken in Spain. Of course, que no?! Today, Castilian Spanish is the most popular dialect in Europe but there are more Spanish speakers in Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina, in that order. My family is fluent in it and I remember aunts and uncles and some grandparents who only spoke it. It was their first language and I will say not being totally fluent in it is one of my biggest regrets. Yes, I can get away with speaking it in Spain or Costa Rica or even locally with Spanish speakers, but I can’t consider myself fluent.  Que lastima.


Quick recap:

Hispanic: someone who is from or has ancestors from a Spanish-speaking country.

Latino: someone from Latin America or of Latin American descent.

Spanish: someone from Spain.


So there you have it: the difference between Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish. It can be a bit confusing but when you think about it, it really does make sense. In the end, aren’t we all just simply Americans with some similar and special roots? Si si!




An Unrivaled Rivalry October 6, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:15 pm

Red River Shootout.  Red River Rivalry.  Red River Showdown. OU-Texas.  Whatever you call it, it’s truly an unrivaled rivalry and brings out a two-sided disdain that is hard to explain. IYKYK. What time is it Sooners? Again, IYKYK. But why such animosity between two teams, two states, and two sets of fans?  It’s a mystery. It’s historic. And it can be a dream of a game. Or a nightmare.


I went to OU after being born and raised in Santa Fe, NM.  I really didn’t know what I was getting into and had never heard of OU-Texas weekend. I remember everyone making plans to go to Dallas for the game my first year there and thinking, “we’re going to Dallas for a football game?  I’m in!” I was in and I was in awe.



I have now lived in Austin for 36 years. You’d think that after that long I’d have a tiny bit of allegiance to the hometown team. Never. Ever. I could live in ANY other city or town in America (well, maybe not Stillwater or Boston) and be capable of rooting for the home team against anyone but my Sooners, but the Longhorns? No way. Jose. I don’t even like the color orange. It hasn’t always been easy living in the enemy’s backyard, but I’ve never wavered. Our daughter was Austin born but Sooner bred, is also an OU grad, and is as passionate about our Sooners as I am. Mamma done good and raised her right! Don’t get me wrong, I love my Longhorn friends but I love when my team beats theirs. If we could win only one game each year, hands and horns down I’d choose this one.



OU has won the last four games and has pretty much dominated the past 22 years, but as they say, you just never know. The favorite doesn’t always win. Rankings don’t matter. (This, sadly, is the first year since 1936 that neither team is ranked.) Records can be thrown out the window. Anything can happen and everything has. Fingers crossed.


It really is a rivalry unlike any other. There is something magical about the game named after the river that runs along the border of the two states. A river, I might add, that runs red.



First off (kinda like Georgia-Florida), it is played every year on neutral ground at the old Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The venue is logistically half-way between the two schools and offers one of the most memorable experiences as a student. Being that the stadium sits right in the middle of the Texas State Fair just adds to the festivity. Mingle around the rides and fried food booths on the second Saturday of October and you’ll see nothing but Crimson and Cream and Burnt Orange. You’ll hear words and shouts you normally don’t (which is the main reason we never took our daughter to the game until she was in middle school!) and confidence will be at an all-time high.



Something else that makes the game so special is how the seating is configured. Normally opposing fans sit on either side of a stadium. Not so in Dallas. The Sooner and Longhorn faithful are configured in two “U” shaped areas and each gets an end zone. Those lucky enough to get 50-yard-line seats are also unlucky in that they sit right next to their opponents. This proves awesome for the winners, but for the losers, it is crushing. The seating also means that walking out of the stadium is a firsthand lesson in humility and embarrassment for the losers as you are walking down the ramps shoulder-to-shoulder with the winners and amid jeers that your team sucks. There is often talk of making the game a “home and away” series, but each time it’s voted down. As a dues paying OU alum, I steadfastly vote no and always will and I’m hoping this stays the case when both teams go to the SEC. I remember how much fun it was to go to the game as a student and I want that same thrill for every current and future student.



It all started back in 1900 and the rivalry has been renewed annually and uninterrupted since 1929, which is also the year the game moved permanently to Dallas. Texas leads the series 62-50-5 but OU has been better than .500 since the end of WWII. In a classic “be still my beating heart” year, OU and Texas met twice in 2018…once in the Red River Showdown and again for the Big 12 title, both of which the Sooners won and with the latter, the classic ten-gallon Golden Hat trophy to take home to Norman.



But why the hatred between two legions of fans that are really so similar? Being that I didn’t grow up in either Oklahoma or Texas but having lived in both, I can honestly say Okies and Texans are very, very alike. I know they both hate hearing this, but sorry friends, it’s the truth. Dallas and Oklahoma City have the style and swagger, OKC and Houston have the oil history, and Tulsa and Austin have the rolling hills and a river running through them. In between them all are small towns filled with good ole boys and gorgeous gals. Both states love their football, love their religions, and love their guns. They are both, for the most part, friendly types and are the subjects and writers of many a country music song. But, when it comes to this game, they are anything but similar or civil.



Full disclosure: I’m very nervous this year as the Sooner team and program as a whole was gutted just mere months ago thanks to a contemptible “man” whose name I won’t mention. We have a good guy on board in Brent Venables, but we are also injured and young. Last year’s amazing comeback was tough to sit through so this year I’ve made a tee time during the game. I can’t watch. I admit it. If we lose, I won’t have to witness it and if we win, I’ll still be thrilled. I’ll have my OU head covers on, am flying an OU flag outside my Austin home, and will be hoping and praying it’s those wearing crimson and cream who are happy walking down those ramps and those who played the game wearing that cowboy hat trophy. I’d take that over any hole-in-one.


Boomer Sooner!



A Bit Uneasy About the Big Easy but History and Food Called October 4, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:17 pm

About twice a year my husband has business in the New Orleans area and every now and then I tag along just for the fun of it. I love history, food, live music, fun, and travel so NOLA has always been a great place to find all of the above. I decided to go with him last month but the day prior to our trip, we heard (and plenty of friends and family made sure we had) that New Orleans now has the highest homicide rate of any major U.S. city, up 141 percent. Not what you want to hear as you’re packing your bags, but considering it was a business trip for my hubby, the trip had to be taken…at least on his part. So, we headed to the Big Easy a bit uneasy but since we know the city well, we knew where we wanted to go and where we wanted to avoid. We for sure wanted to go to Drago’s for their uh-mazing chargrilled oysters and we knew we wanted one nice dinner. We did both. We wanted to avoid being out at night so we didn’t visit our favorite Frenchmen Street for some fun and authentic live and second line street music. Bummer, but better safe than sorry.



The city’s crime was certainly the talk of the town, and that’s saying a lot in a town where you have sooooo much more to talk about. (And can we talk briefly about that accent? It’s got to be one of the hardest to imitate and is so yummy to listen to.) Apparently the home of the Saints is now home to a record number of sinners and locals are praying it all changes soon. Keep in mind this is a city that lives and breathes on tourism with nearly 20 million visiting each year. In short, the majority says the police have been defunded, are at 50-60 percent capacity, predators know they won’t be prosecuted, and we as a society are raising a generation pretty much immune to consequences or standards. We have emboldened the worst part of our society and now we are dealing with the consequences. Funny how that works, right? And as we all know; it’s not just New Orleans.


Even though NOLA’s homicide rate is now four times that of Chicago, the Windy City is known as much for its crime as it is for its hot dogs and baseball teams. We see almost daily smash and grabs on the news and social media as well as car-jackings, which are up 210 percent in New Orleans. Two-hundred-and-ten percent! Insane, right? New Orleans is just the latest city to see its crime rates skyrocket and follows the likes of Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Portland, and others. I don’t think I need to ask what all those cities have in common but I will ask when are we as voters going to say enough is enough?  It’s so obvious it’s glaring and glaringly embarrassing for all of them.



But that’s not why I’m here today. I’m here to talk about the other New Orleans. The historic city synonymous with imaginative food and imaginative fun. It’s just so sad to see such a unique and historic city feel the blight of historically bad leadership but the history is still there and I got a great taste of it…both literally and figuratively. (One thing I learned that locals are adamant about is that those sweet candies made with sugar and nuts are “prah-leens,” not “pray-leens.”) Got it!




Drago’s chargrilled oysters

Food-wise, and you can’t talk New Orleans without talking food. Like it or not, I challenge you to name five cities worldwide synonymous with their local dishes and not have New Orleans on it. Not only is it famous; it’s worldly. Gumbo is the West African word for okra; French, Spanish, and African settlers begat Creole cooking; Germans introduced sausage; Italians pioneered the muffuletta; and Yugoslavs innovated the oyster industry. Today NOLA fisheries gather 20 percent of the nation’s oyster crop, which is considered the juiciest and briniest anywhere.


From the beginning, local foods have been experimental and to this day, local chefs and meals are well-tuned in the art of making do with what is at hand and nothing goes to waste. You could say “improvise” is the main ingredient.



As I’ve done on a visit a few years back, I took a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. I blogged about this back in and explained the difference between Cajun and Creole food, what “The Holy Trinity” of the foods is, and where to find the best of both. It’s all fascinating to me.



For something new this time, I took an architectural walking tour of the French Quarter. We’ve all heard of it, many of us have been there, but how many of us really know the history of the famous Vieux Carré? Again, fascinating.



First, a brief history of The Crescent City, called that because Mississippi river takes a crescent shape at the city. The French founded the colony they named La Nouvelle Orleans in 1718 but by the mid-18th century it was under Spanish control. It was then that Acadians (later named Cajuns, who not only brought with them unique recipes and foods, but also zydeco music) came from present day Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. After the turn of the century, Spain let Louisiana slip back to France but Thomas Jefferson, bent on keeping it out of Napoleon’s hands, purchased the entire Louisiana Territory (this is where our U.S. history classes are recalled) for $15 million. By 1840, New Orleans was one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the Nation.


Today’s modern New Orleans still has its foot firmly planted in the past. The city has survived much and residents are tried and true survivors; hence the penchant for celebrating. It also has a penchant for nonconformity and order, which is just one of many reasons it appeals to artists and writers. All of its intermingled cultures have resulted in flavor in both food and the spirit of celebration.


Amazingly, much of today’s French Quarter has the same boundaries as when the French first laid it out in the 18th century and is a business center, tourist district, and residential area. To say New Orleans cherishes its French roots and heritage is an understatement.


Food-wise, many popular New Orleans dishes and foods incorporate or originate from French words, including remoulade, etouffee, beignets, hollandaise, and béarnaise just to name a few. Even the beloved King Cake is cousin to a French brioche.



And then there’s roux; the essential flavoring, coloring, and thickening agent made up of an equal combination of fat and flour. It is used in everything from gumbo to etouffe.


Most dishes are prepared in a single pot and slow-cooked and one of my favorites, red beans and rice, is no different. Today, most local restaurants offer it as their Monday special, a practice that hearkens back to when moms did the laundry on Monday and put red beans on to slow cook while the wash was done. New Orleans loves its rice, and only China eats more per capita than the Big Easy.


But enough about that; here are just a few fun facts I learned as I walked the Quarter in the trusty hands of Guy with New Orleans Architecture Tours:



New Orleans was the first American city in which opera was performed and the first opera house in the U.S. was in New Orleans, which was home to three opera houses before New York City had its first. The original opera house is today the above Sheraton Hotel on Bourbon and looks much the same.



Although called the French Quarter, the French Quarter and New Orleans itself have a lot of Spanish in them as well.. Bourbon Street was originally called “Borbon Street.” The Bourbon Dynasty has reigned on and off in Spain since 1700 and most of those lacework balconies we all photograph and marvel at? They are of Spanish design and hometown favorite Jambalaya is distant cousin to Spanish paella.



And about those balconies. They, like all the iron fences seen around the Quarter are the stuff of legends but the stuff they’re made of varies. The fences are generally made from wrought iron while balconies are made out of cast iron, which bends easier. Ironically, cast iron is the pot of choice for all those Cajun and Creole cooks. Many are actually included in family wills!




Now for those colorful and classic shutters. Today they are mostly decorative but many are still used like their original purpose. They were originally functional board and batten style and were used to close off the fully open and unpaned windows. They were also louvered, which allowed individual slats to rotate open and closed to control privacy, light, and weather.



You see those shutters on balconies throughout the French Quarter but are they really balconies? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. As Guy the tour guide explained, a balcony is a narrow platform projecting outwards from a wall. They are not supported by posts or columns and can be “Romeo and Juliet” small or stretch the length of a building. (yellow pic above).  A gallery is normally wider than a balcony and often hangs over the width of a sidewalk below. They are supported by posts or columns. (pink with green shutters pic)




One place that’s not the case is with beignets and chicory café au lait coffee at Café du Monde. Both , have been enjoyed locally since the 1800s and the Café itself is the oldest tenant of the French Market, a fun place to spend some time perusing and relaxing.



Since 1791 there has been a marketplace in the French Quarter. Today’s version has a fun tented café that hosts live music and some really cool dance competitions if you’re lucky. We weren’t lucky enough to see one this go ‘round but we did enjoy the music and the people watching.



Somewhere else you can do some people watching is at Pat O’Brien’s. Known for its raucous party atmosphere thanks in part to its signature cocktail, Pat O’Brien’s has quite a history of its own.


Built in 1791 as a private residence, it later became the first Spanish theatre in the U.S. Spanish turned to Irish when it was purchased by Pat O’Brien who ran a speakeasy in it. In the early 1940s, Mr. O’Brien introduced the famed Hurricane drink. Today the drink’s hour-glass shaped glass is recognizable the world over and is a popular NOLA souvenir.


On that note, did you know the term “cocktail” was coined in New Orleans? Antoine Peychaud came to NOLA from the island of Santo Domingo in the late 1700s and proceeded to make a brandy-based cure-all in his Royal Street apothecary and served it in the big side of a double-ended egg coup or “coquetier” in French. Voila! The rest is cocktail history!



Situated in the heart of the French Quarter on St. Peter Street, Preservation Hall presents New Orleans Jazz concerts over 350 nights a year and really has done so since 1961 in what is truly “Hall that Jazz.”


The story of Preservation Hall dates back to the 1950s at Associated Artists, a small art gallery at 726 St. Peter Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Upon opening the gallery the proprietor Larry Borenstein found that it curtailed his ability to attend the few remaining local jazz concerts so he began inviting musicians to perform “rehearsal sessions” in the gallery itself. The jam sessions became more frequent and popular so much Borenstein moved his gallery to the building next door. One day while honeymooning in the French Quarter, Allan and Sandra Jaffe followed some musician friends to “Mr. Larry’s Gallery” at 726 St. Peter Street and fell in love all over again. This time with the music and the place. Borenstein eventually passed the nightly operations of the hall to Allan Jaffe and Preservation Hall as we know it today was born. The small, intimate venue made up of one single room with worn floorboards, supported the unique culture of traditional jazz in New Orleans, which developed in the local melting pot of African, Caribbean, and European musical traditions at the turn of the 20th Century. Preservation Hall was a rare space in the South where racially-integrated bands and audiences shared music together during the Jim Crow era.  Since its opening day, more than two million people have walked through its door including presidents, prime ministers, movie stars, and rock idols…and yes, the occasional jazz great.



Former Creole Cottages can be found throughout the French Quarter. They were popular from 1790-1850 and were the most common house type found in New Orleans during the early 1800s. Built very low to the ground, each had four rooms, two fireplaces, two small rooms in the rear, and two front doors that could be switched depending on weather and guests. Famous NOLA restaurant Arnaud’s has a private dining room called The Creole Cottage.



If you’ve walked the streets of the French Quarter you’ve probably noticed an array of lanterns. I certainly have as I am a lantern fanatic. I love lantern-style lighting and take note of them anywhere I go. In New Orleans they are everywhere and in my mind, act as adornments to the city’s timeless architecture. In fact, NOLA is probably the American city most associated with lanterns. Sorry Charleston.


It all started in 1792 with Governor Carondelet organized a group of night watchmen to ensure safety in the very dark night streets. Oil lamps were hung by iron at intersections but were a bit dim. In 1824 James Caldwell introduced the gaslight and soon after created the New Orleans Gas Light and Banking Company. By 1900 electric arc street lights covered the city and around 1920 replicas of the charming cast-iron gas lamps were installed and are still in on city streets today.



The first pharmacy in the U.S. was in New Orleans and today the site is a sweet little pharmacy museum.



Authors William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote all lived at one time in New Orleans and wrote some of their famous tales while there. Faulkner’s former home is today a charming small book store and is always one of my favorite stops when I’m in town.


Storyville was the original “red light” district and when it was shut down it moved to Bourbon Street, which is where Jazz started.


Much of the city lies five feet below sea level! This is why cemeteries are above ground. Tours of them are very popular but I for one will never go on one. I hear they’re popular and fun though.



Not everyone likes New Orleans and I can’t blame you right now for avoiding a visit. I do hope you learned some interesting things here though, and will perhaps give the city a chance in the future. Here’s also hoping the city and voters figure things out and restructures the place back into somewhere we will all want to “geaux.”