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Friday, October 21, 2005

John Biguenet's NOLA Journal - Hot Water

Oct. 20, 2005
Hot Water

As it would have been described when I was a child, we are living in reduced circumstances. Marsha and I have moved from our three-bedroom home on the lakefront to a three-room house near the river in uptown New Orleans.

Actually, in the seven weeks or so since Hurricane Katrina came ashore, what we’ve done most of all is move. The day before the storm hit, without a hotel room available anywhere in Louisiana or Mississippi, we drove six hundred miles to my brother’s place in Dallas. Then, after a week there, we wedged the two cats beside our son in the backseat of our VW Beetle and traveled 1,600 miles to our daughter’s home near New York. Finally, two weeks ago, we returned to New Orleans, completing a circuit of roughly 3,500 miles. Since our house was uninhabitable after sitting flooded for three weeks, Marsha and I moved into the back of a daycare center after our search for a place to rent had turned up nothing. Unfortunately, because of the hurricane, the center still has no hot water, so each evening when we returned from the filthy work of hauling our ruined possessions out to the street, we had to take cold showers.

Thanks, though, to a kind real-estate agent with nothing to show us in our price range but who remembered his cousin had half of a shotgun double available, we now have hot water — surrounded by a charming little house. With wooden-bladed fans hanging from fourteen-foot ceilings, low doorknobs, a cozy patio in the back, and a floor-to-ceiling window to the front porch with working shutters, it couldn’t be a more traditional New Orleans home.

Our side of the double is small, but the furniture we salvaged from our second story doesn’t quite fill the place. We’re using what was my daughter’s high-school desk as the table in our kitchen/dining room. I’m writing this column on the other student desk from our son’s old room. Our bed — after airing — was fine. And, of course, we brought all the upstairs bookcases and what artwork survived.

With water still sloshing inside our TV set, we thought about living without television, but Hurricane Wilma, currently churning through the Caribbean, convinced us we needed a TV at least to keep track of the weather; we found one on sale yesterday. My collection of vinyl records and our sound system are gone, but we’ve hooked up our iPod to two small speakers. So at the moment, I’m listening to Aretha Franklin insist that I make her feel like a natural woman.

A friend lent us some pots, and Marsha has developed a meticulous method for cleaning our plates and glasses that weren’t submerged in the floodwater in our kitchen. Friday night, we’ll host our first dinner party here, probably on the patio by candlelight, for a few of the friends who have been feeding us regularly since we returned to New Orleans.

We’ve got music, food, a cool breeze off the river, and hot water at the end of the day. At least this morning, life’s good.

Moving into our new rental in uptown New Orleans, near the river.




Marsha unpacking.




A restaurant near our new rental has just reopened. it's a good place for breakfast.


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