Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It never rains in southern California...



I traveled to San Diego, CA last weekend to attend the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference, or as Andrew likes to call it "the giant social studies fair." The conference is always a great chance to talk with other educators to find out what's going on in the field, and the keynote speaker is always excellent. This year's speaker was the highlight of my conference experience -- none other than Sandra Day O'Connor! Not only was the first female Supreme Court justice incredibly intelligent about a vast array of diverse subjects, but she was also super funny! Wow.

Andrew came with me this year since the conference fell on my 30th birthday, and after fixing an incorrect flight itinerary we had a really great time together. It allegedly never rains in San Diego, but we got soaked on our first day there. So... we spent the day inside the Natural History Museum where we saw the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. So amazing. Spent most of Saturday on a day bus trip to Tijuana (only 30 minutes over the border) -- pretty cheesy and not truly representative of Mexico, but fun nonetheless. We had some delicious homemade tortillas and guacamole, bought some souvenirs, and had our picture taken with a street "zonkey." Crossing back across the border was a scary and intimidating experience, especially since flashes of Babel were running through my mind, but we made it back safely. I went to the San Diego Zoo on Sunday after Andrew went home and it was truly stunning; I think it's probably ruined all future zoo excursions for me! So nice to spend a whole day outside enjoying the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and the famous pandas.

Monday, December 3, 2007

We going to the 'ship!

What a crazy year of being a college football fan! I woke up this morning to find out that LSU is ranked #2 after winning the SEC Championship game, and that means we're going to the BCS National Championship game in New Orleans! Check out the team's ecstatic reaction to the good news below. It's ghetto fabulous and I love it. GEAUX TIGERS!!!

video

Monday, November 26, 2007

We give thanks


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration that seemed to go on and on and on... After some arguing over me finishing a paper for class so we could get out of town and a very long car trip due to an interstate closure, we finally arrived in the arctic north (aka Shreveport) for a weekend of food and festivities. We spent Thanksgiving Day in two places -- we started with lunch in Arcadia, LA with Andrew stepmother Linda's family at the always charming Mr. Gordy Dance's house. We were able to break bread with Andrew's stepbrother and sister and his grandfather, Pop, and enjoyed some good fried turkey, incredibly crisp and cool weather, and some amazing pecan pie. That evening, we had (more) dessert and coffee with my mother-in-law Susan and my mom and stepfather while our dogs played and decided to be friends.

Friday we headed to Tyler, TX (including a stop at the DQ since there are none in Baton Rouge) to see my grandparents and my aunt, and listened in agony to LSU's defeat on the radio during our drive back. I guess it was better that we didn't have to actually see the Tigers throwing their national championship hopes away. In Tiger Stadium. Against an unranked team. Sigh.

We celebrated a friend of Andrew's birthday that evening with good conversation and my most favorite culinary treat in the Port city, Johnny's pizza. It was a long and tiring journey, but we were able to catch up with so many beloved friends and family members, and for that I give thanks.

P.S. The picture is of three generations of incorrigible Powers men -- Andrew, his dad Charlie, and his grandfather Walter (Pop).

Monday, November 19, 2007

In the dog house


Andrew recently spent a Saturday afternoon building a dog house for our beloved Evie. And not only did he do this project completely by hand without any sort of blueprint or instructions, but he completed the entire thing in a matter of hours. The finished product has a slanted roof with with real shingles, siding, and a warm bed for Evie to snuggle up in. She loves it (see picture)! Of course, it will probably only make the laziest dog in the world even more lethargic, but who can argue with having a charming room of one's own to call home? I have been so impressed with everything my "Handy Andy" has tackled since we moved into our new house a few months ago, and his latest project deserves even more praise...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Three Rivers Arts Festival

Andrew & I went to Covington this weekend to check out the 11th annual Three Rivers Arts Festival. Being from Shreveport, of course it reminded me of the Red River Revel arts festival and made me a little homesick for some muffaletta pizza and turkey legs. Covington is a beautiful little south Louisiana town located in the Northshore area of Lake Ponchartrain. It's downtown area is very charming and traditional and the weather was just phenomenal. We saw blocks and blocks of works by talented local artists and got to catch a musical performance by two of Andrew's jazz guitar heroes, his former guitar instructor at Southeastern, Hank Mackie, and Jimmy Foster, renowned maker of fine handmade guitars (including the coveted 7-string version that Andrew adores). Kudos to my husband for suggesting such a fun Sunday outing -- fall doesn't last long down here so you really have to savor it while you can.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cardiac Cats


This is the new nickname given to the LSU Tigers (aka the "Bayou Bengals") by my friends Noelle & Nik who came over to watch the much anticipated LSU/Alabama game on Saturday -- or as it was better known, the "Les Miles vs. Nick Saban showdown." Andrew cooked us all up a pot of amazing seafood gumbo to help ease our anticipation. As is their usual mode of operation this season, our beloved Tigers took their sweet ass time pulling out a victory in the very last minutes of the fourth quarter (final score: 41-34). Watching Tiger football can indeed give you a coronary, which is why everyone at the party was loving the name "Cardiac Cats". The Tigers' away game victory earned them bragging rights over former coach Saban and put them back into the #2 slot in the BCS & AP polls. Here's hoping the Tigers can take it all the way!!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Good fences make good neighbors

Much thanks to my father-in-law Charlie for bringing his truck down to Baton Rouge this weekend to help us move an existing fence and to close off the carport by building a new one. Hopefully Evie will appreciate her new home in the big backyard, and we will certainly enjoy not having to get out of the car to open & close the gate on the driveway every day. I can't say I was much help in the fence-constructing process, but I did manage to snag some pictures of Andrew and his dad engaging in some pole digging action. Charlie is always ready to drive a distance to help us anytime we need him (he joked that the cat was in hiding during his visit because if she hears his voice it must mean he's come to help us move again!), and for this we are so sincerely appreciative.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The servant leader

I'm taking a very enlightening leadership course this semester at LSU, and one of our latest assignments was to write a paper about a current leader who inspires us. It took me a long time to decide on my paper subject(Oprah Winfrey? Bill & Melinda Gates?), and I guess the lack of obvious candidates was depressing me a little. Then I attended a book swap meeting with some work colleagues and had an interesting conversation with my beloved retired friend Anne.

Anne's been traveling fairly extensively since leaving the world of 9 to 5 and out of all the places in the world she could have set off for first, she choose Plains, Georgia for the sole purpose of attending one of Jimmy Carter's Sunday school classes at the Maranatha Baptist Church. She suggested that I look into Carter's post-presidency philanthropy work for leadership inspiration. Hmm... As a political science major in college, I was perfectly aware of Carter's missteps and unpopularity during his tenure as U.S. President, and this reputation didn't exactly seem to jive with the traits of successful leadership I'd been learning about all semester. But, I did admire the good works that President and Mrs. Carter have done for Habitat for Humanity International so I decided to delve a little deeper.

I ended up really coming to admire and be inspired by Jimmy Carter career as an ex-president. Not only has he published almost 20 bestselling books, but he has used his stature and resources to found The Carter Center, a non-profit organizations dedicated to alleviating human suffering through fighting disease, promoting democracy, and promoting the peaceful resolution of conflict. Carter has traveled the world on the behalf of The Center to ensure free and fair elections in emerging democracies and to promote various humanitarian efforts. Now in his 80s (the same age as our grandparents!), Mr. Carter recently joined a prestigious group of global statesmen, including Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, and Nelson Mandela, who call themselves The Elders. The mission of The Elders is to contribute wisdom, independent leadership, and integrity to tackling some of the world's toughest problems humanely, and their first mission was to Sudan to consult with community leaders in Darfur and share their concerns with the world.

Not content to merely bask in the glory of being one of the few former leaders of the free world and receive hefty paychecks by giving speeches, Carter continues to practice what he preaches and preach what he believes to make the world a better place. And he does it all with a servant leader's optimism and determination. Inspiring, indeed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Granny

Andrew's grandmother, Carmen Faulks Powers (aka "Granny"), passed away on September 21, 2007 at the age of 87. Granny lived a full life that involved her passion for knitting and quilting (she presented Andrew with his after his senior music recital last summer), her strong work ethic, her wonderful culinary creations (most memorably her custom birthday cakes, pecan pie, and Thanksgiving celery sticks), her love for her 5 grandchildren, and her devotion to her husband of 68 years, Walter ("Pop"). We had a memorial service for Granny last weekend at the Glen in Shreveport, and it was heartwarming to see so many friends and family members there to celebrate her life. I am honored to have known her and am proud she accepted me into the Powers family with such open arms. She will be greatly missed.