Frieda's Balancing Act

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday (and days like today when I'm on vacation) "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By A.A. Camp

For over 20 years I have worked as a lactation (breast-feeding) specialist for the health department and hospital in our small town near New Orleans. I have advised two generations of women, including many mother and daughter combinations. I have always enjoyed this job and believe that I have made a positive contribution to the community.

In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina moved us out of our house and devastated the New Orleans area. The hurricane changed our life and my job for many months. Was I really interested in going back to my destroyed city? Was I needed? My husband, Fred, brought back video footage of our house and street. Our house was full of mud and we had lost all of our possessions. I was finally able to talk to some of my co-workers at the health department. I was so upset that I did not return until three months after the storm.

But this brings me to my quandary: What should my balance be between family and community? What should Fred's and my balance be? Both our community and New Orleans, where Fred works, are experiencing a brain and population drain. Fred has lived in this general area since 1965, went to high school here, went off to war from here, went to college here. I moved here in 1981. Our children were born here.

To me, my work has always been more about service than the money I earn. What commitments do I individually and we as a married couple owe to these communities? How do I balance the lives of my family long-term against the needs of these communities?

We lived in Montgomery, Ala., for 11 months after Katrina. I had a few interviews about being a full-time lactation consultant; Fred would have had no problem finding a job there. Our youngest child and we would have been happy to stay.

Fred's employer had made a commitment to New Orleans and needed Fred and other employees to fulfill that commitment. I visited my fellow employees and they asked how soon I could come back; many of my clients were anxious for my return. Although there were not a lot of new clients at that time, post-Katrina babies would soon be flooding the area. I always knew that my efforts in the community far outweighed my pay, but this absence brought the effect of my work into very sharp focus. Like Fred at his workplace, I was the only one performing my particular job in the community.

When we told our neighbors that we would repair the house and return, they were relieved. They all told us that the community needed more people to come back and rebuild. I am somewhat dumbfounded by how some things that we did only for ourselves have benefitted our neighbors. Our yard was full of mud, debris and the car from across the street. Fred had the yard scrapped clean and sod put down. The entire street was happy to see at least one green lawn, a sign of normalcy in a town of broken lives.

A lab manager drawing my blood one day mentioned that living here was like "being a pioneer in many ways." With spotty cellphone service, some bridges out, roads that don't even exist anymore, potholes and non-existent street signs, at times it's difficult even to locate my clients. Too many of them are living in temporary conditions and move from month to month, too many lack full municipal services and too many are just tired. The lactation consultant from the neighboring area quit, so I've picked up her clients, adding to my travels and stress load. Frankly, sometimes living here is just hard and depressing.

But, on the whole, I am happy to be back. We returned for many obvious personal reasons, but also for reasons beyond our own family. We both know that our commitment to live and work here contributes to the economic
rebuilding of the community. We are more fortunate than a lot of people here and do not consider ourselves heroes in any way. We just hope in our own small way that we can make life better for others.

A.A. Camp, also known as "Frieda," is a breastfeeding specialist and practicing Luddite. Her column was transcribed from quill and parchment to the computer by her husband, our regular poster known as "Fred." They have four breastfed children and live near New Orleans.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 27, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: Babies at Work? | Next: The 68-Year-Old Entrepreneur, Part I


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Comments

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First! A thoughtful and well-written commentary. You and Fred are indeed among the pioneers rebuilding a great part of our country -- a service not only to your literal but also your figurative neighbors.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 9:25 AM

Great blog, Fredia. I have tremendous admiration for what you and your husband are trying to accomplish.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 27, 2007 9:36 AM

I congratulate fred, I would not have stayed, but I understand their point of view.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 9:39 AM

pATRICK, Do you think Texas has benefitted from the influx of displaced Gulf Coast residents who fled Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? Or do the drawbacks of their added presence outweigh the bemefits? News reports indicate that a good many have decided to remain permanently in your state, rather than returning home.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 9:49 AM

That should read "benefits"!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 9:51 AM

Great job Frieda! Anyone who has ever had trouble breast feeding knows how important your work is and I always thought that you wouldn't make that much money doing it, so you are indeed, doing a good service.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 27, 2007 9:51 AM

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 09:49 AM

Frankly, I am not sure. I read about the bad things, more crime, more strain on services, schools etc but good things are harder to quantify.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 9:53 AM

Since it's the 2 year anniversary of Katrina this week (can you belive it's been TWO years!?!?), NPR is running a bunch of stories. The comments this morning were great. New Orleans truly is a one-of-a-kind town, a US treasure. If the Dutch and Japanese can make living below sea level work, I would think Americans and their ingenuity could, too. Thanks to Frieda and Fred (and my BIL's brother, the fabulous chef John Besh) and all the other folks trying to bring normalcy back. I was married in New Orleans in 2001, and we used to take a trip back every year. I'd like to start again.

Posted by: atb2 | August 27, 2007 9:55 AM

One of my problems with staying is that I think that area must have severe environmental problems that are not yet known or are not really reported on. How can you have all those contaminants released then pumped into Lake Ponchatrain and NOT have problems?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 9:56 AM

pATRICK, I too have wondered about the various forms of pollution and toxic elements released into the Gulf Coast's environment. Perhaps Fred can tell us what measures are being taken, or can direct us to articles on the topic.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 10:12 AM

Frieda, really nice blog. So much of our lives -- and this blog -- tend to focus on our private concerns of home, family, job, etc. (I'm as guilty of that as anyone). Sometimes we need a reminder that we also have a responsibility to our community, and that our actions can affect many others in ways we frequently don't even see.

Posted by: laura33 | August 27, 2007 10:14 AM

I appreciate the honesty about not wanting to go back. It must have been a difficult decision to make, especially when not only your home but the entire place you called your neighborhood/community was virtually destroyed.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 10:16 AM

KLB, I think you make an excellent point that it's not just a matter of buildings and physical infrastructure, important as they are, but also the social infrastructure of the affected communities -- basic social services, health care, education, local media, churches, stores, local businesses, libraries (I'm sure I've left out many more, sorry!) -- as well as community life.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 10:21 AM

Fred and Frieda, I congratulate you on examining your beliefs so closely. The fact you chose to...ahem...stay the course...speaks magnitudes about strength of character, etc. Okay, don't shoot me for that last blurb! How did you get into BFing by the way? It sounds like such a rewarding thing to do.

Fred...thanks for the honors Friday!

Posted by: dotted_1 | August 27, 2007 10:24 AM

I would never go back to a place like New Orleans after Katrina for several reasons. This is a big beautiful country with literally hundreds of thousands of places to live, that have all the necessities of modern life, good schools,low crime,good economic opportunities. My family's welfare is far ahead of any sense of duty to a community. The contamination of NO is I believe pervasive and will cause birth defects.I could go on. I respect Fred's decision but for me it would be a no brainer.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 10:32 AM

I would never go back to a place like New Orleans after Katrina for several reasons. This is a big beautiful country with literally hundreds of thousands of places to live, that have all the necessities of modern life, good schools,low crime,good economic opportunities. My family's welfare is far ahead of any sense of duty to a community. The contamination of NO is I believe pervasive and will cause birth defects.I could go on. I respect Fred's decision but for me it would be a no brainer.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 10:33 AM

I would never go back to a place like New Orleans after Katrina for several reasons. This is a big beautiful country with literally hundreds of thousands of places to live, that have all the necessities of modern life, good schools,low crime,good economic opportunities. My family's welfare is far ahead of any sense of duty to a community. The contamination of NO is I believe pervasive and will cause birth defects.I could go on. I respect Fred's decision but for me it would be a no brainer.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 10:33 AM

The opinion piece by the Rice professor this morning argues strongly for more Federal involvement in rebuilding New Orleans, and I agree with most of it. But, I do disagree with his comment that Cat 5 level levees need to be built to protect the city, and that all the neighborhoods currently below sea level need to be rebuilt.

First, had the Corps built the levees properly in the first place, the Cat 3 level protection would have protected New Orleans from Katrina's flooding. Cat 5 levees will become so huge they'll eat up a lot of the property they are trying to protect, not to mention costing billions more than the lower level of protection.

Second, nearly all of New Orleans is below sea level, in particular the poorer residential areas. While not rebuilding them upsets a lot of people, in many cases it may be the right thing to do if they cannot be protected from even an average hurricane. Those people should be relocated and given more than adequate help to get back on their feet somewhere safer; many towns did the same thing years ago when the Mississippi River flooded up north. The same should be done for New Orleans now.

Posted by: johnl | August 27, 2007 10:33 AM

stupid WAPO-at least it only posted 3 times...

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 10:34 AM

pATRICK, I understand your point re balancing family versus community. But as Frieda points out, Fred has lived in their area for over 40 years, and she for over a quarter century.

No doubt others have lived in their communities for generations, even centuries -- so to move away (assuming that extended families are unlikely to move en masse to the same destination) would mean destroying those family values which depend upon living in proximity to one another.

Other parts of our country -- and, indeed, or the world, have been rebuilt following major disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. It's unrealistic to expect it all to be completed in only two years.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 10:40 AM

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 10:40 AM

You are right but I am someone who that falls on deaf ears. My family's roots were always around people not places. I do understand the pull to some people though of places. I just think that they are whistling past the grave when it comes to NO though. Poor and corrupt in the best of times, it has little chance IMO of coming back in 10 years or 50 years.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 10:45 AM

Fred, how's the flan in New Orleans?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 10:48 AM

This is very tricky. I wonder what the result will be when global warming begins to bring harsher climates all around. It is expected the east coast will be pummeled by storms, and that dry areas will continue to get more and more dry, the sun more and more damaging. Obviously does not strongly affect most people on this blog, but it could be decisions that come into play for your children or children's children very easily.

Posted by: _Miles | August 27, 2007 10:49 AM

Great job, Frida!

pATRICK, sure, there are thousands of "good" places to live, but if a person grows up in a community and lives there for 30 years like I have, relationships form, friends are made, you see children grow up...

It's not about the good schools, low crime rate, access to public libraries, it's about the people, family, friends, and neighbors.

Some of us grow roots, some of us will travel.

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 27, 2007 10:56 AM

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 27, 2007 10:56 AM

I know, but if most of those people are gone and the "community" can't even get reliable phone service, school services, police services etc at what point has the former "COMMUNITY" really just turned into a memory and the reality is that it times to move on? What price are you and your children willing to pay?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 11:01 AM

I loved this blog! Fred and Frieda's love for NO was so real and so well expressed -- and the big issue "What do I owe my family vs. what do I owe my community?" is actually relevant to a lot of people.

I'm thinking of the conversations we've had with military and foreign service family friends along the same lines (as well as some of the missionary families at our church). Some foreign service families will tell you that any educational shortcomings, health risks, etc. that you and your kids encounter are more than balanced out by the opportunities for foreign travel, learning a foreign language and the interesting people you meet. But people who return 'home' to find out their children need to repeat a grade, have a learning disability that went undiagnosed for WAY too long or who have ever faced a life-threatening health emergency under third world conditions often disagree. I think balancing out service to the larger community (what do I owe my fellow man) with taking care of your family (what do they really need) is always tricky -- as today's blog post shows so well. Especially when so many of the benefits are intangible, when the health risks and the like are clearly measured.

Posted by: justlurking | August 27, 2007 11:10 AM

I understand the concern for children and their health and well-being. Many pioneer stories started with the men heading out first alone and the women and children following once things were safe and settled. I understand as an adult individual wanting to be part of putting the pieces back together, not to mention the availability of opportunities you can find nowhere else. This town has a lot of history and a great pull.

Posted by: atb2 | August 27, 2007 11:22 AM

pATRICK,

I suspect that the reality in New Orleans and surrounding areas, including south Mississippi, is that middle- and upper-class people are able to stay and recreate a life that is absent environmental effects, subject to various annoyances. The contamination of which you speak is a very real concern, but is not an issue for the entire region. Colleagues and friends of ours who were attorneys and of like incomes stayed and, while suffering some disruption and having many, many hassles, particularly during the first 12 months, their lack of police and school services was quite short-lived. What's new? When disaster strikes, the story for those with resources is always better than it is for those without them. Options for staying or returning, with little or no health risk to one's family, are more plentiful as well.

OTOH, our niece and her family lived in the Garden District and relocated quickly and permanently. Her spouse is a professional waiter and sole support of their family and was formally employed at one of the high-end tourist restaurants. As you might imagine, they were forced to relocate immediately in order to support themselves and will never return because, in that segment of the restaurant business, the size of your tips often depends on returning clientele asking to be served by you. Changing restaurants disrupts your family income in too large a way to voluntarily do so. They miss NO greatly, but their family priorities prevented staying or returning. PLUS, they were the only family members there and they've relocated close to both of her sisters in south Mississippi.

"Staying" is a broad and flexible concept. It includes more choices than rebuilding on the lot on which you lived before Katrina.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 11:23 AM

pATRICK raises some interesting questions concerning the environment and in particular, Lake Pontchartarin.

I spoke with a gentleman from the La. DEQ who is very involved with water monitoring this a.m. so I would have the latest information. He tells me the lake has long returned to its state of water quality that existed before Katrina. There are permanet monitoring stations in the lake and test of the fish and other living beings occur on a regular basis. Here is some other reports that I have looked at.

The Louisiana Dept. Environmental Qualitative along with other gov't agencies have been sampling the lake, among other locations, since Sept 5, 2005. A report dated Feb 21, 2006 has plenty of details.

http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/portals/0/news/pdf/PostKatrina%20WaterQualityAssessment22106.pdf

Here is the DEQ website dedicated to Katrina.

http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/tabid/2402/Default.aspx


Certainly, there are contaminated areas were rebuilding has not (if ever) started. In particular in St. Bernard Parish, adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward in N.O. may never be fully rebuild.

Posted by: fred | August 27, 2007 11:25 AM

Why is there a Tuesday guest blog on a Monday?

Posted by: sharonw | August 27, 2007 11:30 AM

Fred, how's Chalmette Battlefield?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 11:32 AM

One first question is what is a Luddite? And are those beliefs a large part of why you feel such a sense of community?

I grew up in New Orleans and was soooo sad when I saw all my childhood homes and neighborhoods flooded, gone, wiped out (Warrington Dr., Charlotte Dr., N.Nemours St.). I can't imagine trying to go back to pick up the pieces. I think you and your husband are to be commended for taking on such a herculean task. The fact that you have such a beautiful calling as a lactation specialist and see the need to honor others with the gift, speaks to an inner quality I don't have.

momof3boys

Posted by: CheleFernandez | August 27, 2007 11:32 AM

Posted by: fred | August 27, 2007 11:25 AM

Fred, I have to admit frankly, I don't believe this. Not your part but the other. How can you pump 250b gallons of gas,chicken poop,paint, and god knows what else and then say everything is back to normal? All that has to go somewhere, I can't even imagine eating a fish out of ponchatrain.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 11:34 AM

pATRICK,

You don't believe what The Government tells us, LOL??

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 11:40 AM

I agree with pATRICK on this one. My sense of family outweighs any ties I have to a community...but I am something of a gypsy, having lived in five states in twenty years. Like pATRICK, I also wonder about the long-term health consequences facing residents of New Orleans.

I guess for some folks, it is easier to pack up and find a new place to put down roots. For others, it is not so easy. Picking up and moving to Arizona was an easy decision for me--and I had only been out here once, for my job interview.

Posted by: pepperjade | August 27, 2007 11:42 AM

Patrick,

Petroleum products tend to evaporate, so they won't remain long in the water. Heavy metals will settle down into the sludge at the bottom of the lake, or be carried to the river and out into the gulf. Now, the sediment deposited by the flood is a problem, which is why everything is being scraped and trucked away before people can return. But, I can believe that Lake Pontchartrain is close to if not back to its pre-Katrina levels of water quality.

Posted by: johnl | August 27, 2007 11:44 AM

Posted by: johnl | August 27, 2007 11:44 AM
This reminds me of that scene in ERIN BROKOVICH where the lawyer says the water is fine and then ERIN pours her some and gives it to her and says that is from xyz and the lawyer recoils from drinking it.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 11:47 AM

pepperjade,

I think it depends on your definition of "family". If, for you, "family" is narrowly defined, e.g., it means nuclear family, then family is highly portable. Family, for us, means any and all living extended family. For my husband, living close to family means living on the street named after his great-grandfather on the land on which his family has lived for more than 5 generations, and within 6 square miles of each of his brothers and sisters and within 20 square miles of most of their now-adult children. Moving away from family has much larger consequences when you define "family" to include relations outside of your nuclear family, and when you determine to relocate away from your family, and they all remain.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 11:57 AM

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 11:57 AM

Can you say ho down?lol

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 12:07 PM

sharonw - the reason a guest blog is running today is that i'm on vacation. usually when i'm away for more than a day i get several guest blogs ready in advance. because they are not usually pegged to a specific event guest blogs are easier to prepare ahead of time.

love the recipe swap idea from last week. we will do that once i'm back in town.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 27, 2007 12:09 PM

MN:

You are right--people define family differently, and many people feel tied to the land where their families have lived for generations. I remember reading an article last year about the impact of welfare reform on families in a small West Virginia town (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/23/AR2005072300749.html).

There were no jobs to be had, and welfare was no longer an endless entitlement that generation after generation received. There is now a five-year limit on cash assistance. But some folks simply would not leave to find jobs outside their small towns--because of not wanting to leave family, and because they were afraid of change. It is impossible for me to understand that mentality because I did not grow up with extended family nearby and because I have a sense of adventure and I am willing to seek my fortune in new places. And if it is a choice between feeding my child and staying in a small town where everyone knows everyone...well, for me it's a no-brainer. I realize for others it is an excrutiating choice.

Posted by: pepperjade | August 27, 2007 12:11 PM

I read the Rice Univ. professor's Outlook article yesterday, and came away with the sense that a conscious decision _not_ to rebuild some areas of NO, if spelled out explicitly and combined with aid for former residents to relocate to safer areas, would be better than the current policy of neglect. He also seemed to think a near-complete rebuilding was possible given sufficient will and $$$. Another hurricane will hit that area eventually- it's a matter of _when_, not _if_. The same is true for everywhere else on the US Gulf and East coasts. Here in the DC area, Isabel hit a few years back and made a mess of things for a while, though not as badly as Katrina did. Preparedness on an individual and community level is a good thing!

Keep up the good work, Fred and Freida, and best of luck!

Posted by: SheGeek | August 27, 2007 12:12 PM

My previous home was severely damaged (rendered unlivable) by Hurricane Isabel. Completely not on the scale of Katrina in any way, but I do not what it's like to be displaced. We evacuated in the middle of the night and never lived there again. Lost most of our contents, cars, etc. I will never live on the water again after that experience. I admire anyone who chooses to rebuild after a flood/hurricane. The Herculean task of simply cleaning up just about killed me.

Fred and Fredia, I admire so much your sense of responsibility to your community. I miss my little waterfront neighborhood very much, but not enough to return.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 27, 2007 12:16 PM

Sorry, that's supposed to be "I do know what it's like to be displaced."

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 27, 2007 12:18 PM

Too bad NO has such a nitwit for a mayor and governor. That does not help.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 12:18 PM

Mom of 3

Frieda is a Luddite because she doesn't cope so well with technology. This is something of a standing joke around here. Check out your dictionary. I think that she was Mrs. Ned Ludd in a previous life.

mehitabel

Don't know about Chalmette or the battlefield, I just have not had the heart to drive out that way. (I used to work in Chalmette)

pATRICK, Pepperjade and others,

I have lived in 3 other states and been to 48 of the 50. This is where we have chosen to live. This is also the only home that my 4 children have ever known. There were a lot more issues that brought us back, son just started Sr. HS, some specialist dr. of long standing are still here and my job is still here.

I will say that we may still move, the question is certainly open and talked about frequently. When son grads from HS, we will be facing a major decision point. But for now, we are here and my lovely spouse's job in our particular community was a supporting reason why.

Posted by: Fred | August 27, 2007 12:24 PM

"It is impossible for me to understand that mentality because I did not grow up with extended family nearby and because I have a sense of adventure and I am willing to seek my fortune in new places."

I assume that you are not suggesting that those who have a strong sense of place and commitment lack a sense of adventure. Most of us experience more adventure on a great vacation than we do learning a new international airport map - fun as that may be. Most residents of NYC, and a sizable portion of those living in suburban Maryland, wouldn't consider relocating out of the area, so it would be a mistake to connect a strong sense of place to small towns and everyone knowing everyone.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 12:29 PM

WorkingMomX,

I so agree about living close to a seashore, or anywhere else that could flood easily. Beaches are nice to _visit_. Lots of new development has occurred in those areas in the last couple of decades. Always makes me cringe when I see new multi-million-$$ houses right up against a shoreline. Hard to get them insured nowadays.

Posted by: SheGeek | August 27, 2007 12:37 PM

Too bad NO has such a nitwit for a mayor and governor. That does not help.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 12:18 PM

I've never heard of someone selecting a place to live based on the intelligence of the politicians then in power. Have you?

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 12:38 PM

Frieda, great guest blog - many thanks to you and Fred for putting it together and publishing it!

MN -
"I've never heard of someone selecting a place to live based on the intelligence of the politicians then in power. Have you?"

I never have, but it strikes me that if you don't have any other ties drawing you someplace it wouldn't be such a bad idea, LOL. Where I live we have a lot of laws made through voter initiatives, which in some ways I love, but which also leads to some pretty wacky results, particularly given that much of it is in the form of amendments to the state constitution. It makes for a different political environment from other places I've lived; I'm hard pressed to say whether it's good or bad - it's just home.

Posted by: LizaBean | August 27, 2007 12:45 PM

Leslie, if you are on vacation...enjoy yourself! Posting here is work for you!

Posted by: pepperjade | August 27, 2007 12:52 PM

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 12:29 PM

"It is impossible for me to understand that mentality because I did not grow up with extended family nearby and because I have a sense of adventure and I am willing to seek my fortune in new places."

I made this comment in contrast to the people interviewed in the article who could not fathom leaving the small towns where their families had lived for generations, even though they could not make a living and support their families. I simply do not understand this. Even animals move on to new feeding grounds when the food supply runs out...

And you mentioned NYC and suburban Maryland...keep in mind that many of those people are transitory as well. Many grew up and went to college elsewhere, then moved to NYC and metro WDC to stake their professional fortunes. And many of those folks will leave. There are a large number of government appointees and contractors who come and go in the metro WDC area.

The NY Times ran an interesting article on nomadic professionals--upper middle class professionals who move every three-to-five years because of their jobs. I think we are becoming a much more mobile society, which works well for me. But for some folks, there are conflicting issues, such as those raised in today's blog.

Posted by: pepperjade | August 27, 2007 1:02 PM

I've never heard of someone selecting a place to live based on the intelligence of the politicians then in power. Have you?

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 12:38 PM

MN,

I most certainly have heard of this. My current company and my former company have always had people reluctant and refusing a transfer to N.O. Two of the most cited reasons are public corruption and the less than adequate public school system. Crime is also another biggie.

You would have to go all the way back to Aug. 13 of this year when a N.O. city councilman resigned and plead guilty to taking bribes. Not to even mention that the last 3 insurance commissioners in La. have spent time in jail, a former gov. is currently in jail, an Orelans School Board member copped a plea earlier this year...

Posted by: Fred | August 27, 2007 1:04 PM

Fred, Local political corruption is in no way unique to New Orleans. Discretion inhibits my naming other venues here, but I believe you've previously mentioned on this blog your hometown, whose motto is "Vote early, vote often" ;-)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 1:11 PM

Vote early, vote often" ;-)


Where Chicago? Say it ain't so!

Posted by: Fred | August 27, 2007 1:15 PM

Too bad NO has such a nitwit for a mayor and governor. That does not help.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 12:18 PM

I've never heard of someone selecting a place to live based on the intelligence of the politicians then in power. Have you?

It is certainly relevant when those are the people who must rebuild a devastated city. I also disliked the chocolate city comment, completely kooky and racist.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 1:15 PM

No need for an "On Balance" recipe swap, because the Washington Post already has a number of excellent online food chats each week, plus a food blog where people can discuss culinary matters.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 1:24 PM

"I've never heard of someone selecting a place to live based on the intelligence of the politicians then in power. Have you?

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 12:38 PM"

MN, you forget: pATRICK is from the great state of Texas, home of the current POTUS. Draw whatever conclusions you like.

Posted by: laura33 | August 27, 2007 1:31 PM

I understand the fear of coastal living. My parents just put their house on Galveston Bay on the market and moved upwater to Clear Lake because Rita and Katrina scared the heck out of my dad. Now at least they'll be sheltered from the waves. Interestingly, when Rita went through, because Houston was on the south side of the storm, the water was pushed OUT of the Bay. The pictures are crazy.

Posted by: atb2 | August 27, 2007 1:32 PM

I've never heard of someone selecting a place to live based on the intelligence of the politicians then in power. Have you?

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 12:38 PM

Just to point out - I said "intelligence". Smart people can be corrupt, too. Are you saying that you actually considered and evaluated the intelligence of your Texas politicians when determining where you'd live? Come on.

pepperjade, I said "many". Certainly "many" others are transitory. I'm not sure if you missed my point, but the sense that one's home is exactly where one lives is not limited to small towns.

I already assumed you'd be annoyed by Nagin, pATRICK, but I, as you might imagine, thought the concern he expressed was valid.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 1:36 PM

I believe you've previously mentioned on this blog your hometown, whose motto is "Vote early, vote often" ;-)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 01:11 PM

LBJ was a fan of that strategy, too. Ah, Texas.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 1:38 PM

"Vote early, vote often"

MN, I think it's wider-spread than that!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 1:39 PM

Are you saying that you actually considered and evaluated the intelligence of your Texas politicians when determining where you'd live? Come on.


No, you missed the point, would I return to a devastated city in need of leadership that was run by corrupt nincompoops? No I would not. His comment was blatantly racist, I can't imagine the mayor of anaheim ca telling an audience, we intend to keep anaheim lily white.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 1:42 PM

I'd add that there's more to living in a particular city or region of the US than just the political situation. New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region have a collection of distinctive, rich cultures that are worth preserving -- which is difficult if not impossible if their practitioners are dispersed, since a critical mass is necessary.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 1:42 PM

"I believe you've previously mentioned on this blog your hometown, whose motto is "Vote early, vote often" ;-)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 01:11 PM

LBJ was a fan of that strategy, too. Ah, Texas. "

Yep, that is why we only allow the thieves to meet every OTHER year:)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 1:44 PM

pATRICK: Anaheim, as in M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E? Yup, that's a real rich culture!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 1:44 PM

pATRICK: Anaheim, as in M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E? Yup, that's a real rich culture!

Culture? just used as an example, culture does not excuse blatant racism.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 1:47 PM

Saying that people should not return to NO due to the prospect of another natural disaster is calling for a limitation of freedom. I write this from Colorado, a state that has received much from the federal government in way of emergency aid -- for ills brought by forest fires, drought and blizzard conditions. However, never was that aid given only to those who chose to leave or who promised not to return.

Just like NO, Colorado contributes to the coffers of the federal govt and deserves, as a part of the United States, payments from those coffers. In saying that certain parts of NO should not be rebuilt and/or protected, what is being implied is that NO is somehow less deserving than any other part of the country. With the possibility of a natural or manmade disaster hanging over all of us, regardless of residence, I don't want to be grading which geographic area is worthy of being in this country. My home could be next.

Godspeed Fred and Frieda and the rest of the Gulf Coast.

Posted by: minniwanca | August 27, 2007 1:49 PM

mehitabel- But are they recipes with BALANCE in mind?

Posted by: atb2 | August 27, 2007 1:52 PM

New Orleans is the founding place of the only indigenous American music - jazz. New Orleans also was 65% black prior to Katrina. You can do your own research on the history of music in NO, but suffice it to say, you'd have to be an ostrich to consider it "blatantly racist" to acknowledge reality: that renters and the poor are less likely to have the resources to return to NO, and that blacks disproportionately represent renters and the poor, and, finally, that if only 20% of the 65% return, the culture of NO - particularly those events (like Jazz Fest) and those qualities (like brass-band funeral processions) that make it special and, hence, a tourist destination - may cease entirely and will certainly change.

you are usually a fan of the unvarnished truth, pATRICK, and oppose being PC. Calling Nagin racist for addressing the importance of NO's future racial composition is expecting him to be PC so he doesn't hurt our li'l white feelings.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 2:13 PM

you are usually a fan of the unvarnished truth, pATRICK, and oppose being PC. Calling Nagin racist for addressing the importance of NO's future racial composition is expecting him to be PC so he doesn't hurt our li'l white feelings.

So you are officially condoning racist remarks now? You are OK with public officialS deciding what the racial composition of a city is and should be now? WOW!

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 2:21 PM

MN, Not just jazz (of many varieties) from the Gulf Coast region: Mississippi delta blues, Cajun music, zydeco, etc. And what about the indigenous cuisine? Yummmmm!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 2:25 PM

just one more post before i go back to vacation land...i too loved this guest blog and am appreciative that frieda took the time to write it. fred and frieda are a great part of this blog.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 27, 2007 2:29 PM

So you are officially condoning racist remarks now? You are OK with public officialS deciding what the racial composition of a city is and should be now? WOW!

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 02:21 PM

pATRICK, you are usually good at staying on topic, but must have an ax to grind on this one. I am not condoning racist remarks. I consider your characterization of this single remark by Nagin as "racist" is the result of a ridiculous application of PC standards to a statement that reflected, and still reflect, a valid objective concern about the future makeup of New Orleans and the likely implications of that makeup. I'm okay with any politician who can resist the temptation to feed the voting public pablum in order to address real concerns about real people.

Posted by: anonfornow | August 27, 2007 2:37 PM

sorry, pATRICK, that was my comment at 2:37 but I'd replied to something elsewhere on the WaPO page and didn't want to connect those comments to my comments here.

MN

Posted by: anonfornow | August 27, 2007 2:39 PM

Fred and Frieda -- Thank you for sharing your valuable insights. I appreciate (and envy) so much your sense of place and community. For families that have been part of a town or region for generations, I can imagine that relocating would be an agonizing decision. My family has literally relocated every generation -- we've hopped all over the US. I grew up with a different mindset, akin to pATRICK's, that home is with my family. Right now, that's Vegas.

Communities need both types of people, I think, to thrive. New Orleans needs its Freds and Friedas to give it roots and a sense of continuity. But it also needs to attract new residents who will bring new ideas. And all those displaced NOLA residents who have chosen a new hometown will bring a special sense of lagniappe (sp?) to their communities.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 27, 2007 2:45 PM

Anyone want to take a guess about who will win the FQOTD today?

Posted by: Fred | August 27, 2007 2:50 PM

Well, MN we will once again agree to disagree. I hope KLB SS MD shows up, I want to ask her a question about my dad who unfortunatley has now been officially diagnosed with alzheimer's.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 2:52 PM

pATRICK, I have been reading but only responded early. Sorry to hear about your dad.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 2:54 PM

Thanks, are they in any real danger early on, like blowing up the house with gas, things like that? I would appreciate any thoughts you have.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 2:55 PM

Well, Frieda and Fred, I'D nominate someone who uses the word "lagniappe"! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 2:56 PM

metitabel,

Close but no cigar!

Posted by: Fred | August 27, 2007 2:58 PM

pATRICK, I'm so sorry about your father. Are his physicians prescribing medications to slow the advance of the disease?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 2:59 PM

atb for: "If the Dutch and Japanese can make living below sea level work, I would think Americans and their ingenuity could, too"?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 3:01 PM

paTRICK,
The danger lies in the forgetfulness not in purposeful actions.
Have you all looked into medications that do help some with preventing further deterioration? It did help with my uncle.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 3:03 PM

pATRICK, for earliest stages of Alzheimer's, try plastering the appropriate parts of his home with sticky-notes reminding him to do things like turning off the lights, stove-burners, faucets, etc. Is your mother available and able to help care for your father? If so, make sure she gets respite help so she doesn't have to bear the load solo 24/7/365, because she could wind up ill (or worse) from physical as well as emotional exhaustion. Best wishes trying to get things organized, now that you have a diagnosis.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 3:08 PM

Well he is on some medications that seem to help. I didn't mean on purpose he would do something. He just does strange things leaves the door wide open and leaves, can't talk coherently for long conversations,seems confused and withdrawn etc.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 3:08 PM

pATRICK,
There are numerous websites, etc pertaining to the safety, etc of Alzheimer's patients. I have seen devices that alarm when a door is opened for example. There are also support groups if you are so inclined. Good luck for you all. I believe it is one of the cruelest diseases as it often ruins the mind of an otherwise healthy person.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 3:09 PM

pATRICK -- My MIL has Alzheimer's. I'm so sorry.

I will give you my best hind-sight advice. While your dad is still aware of his surroundings, find a place you both like for long-term care. Discuss and agree on where that should be, especially if he isn't close to family that can assist. Also talk to a doctor and other family members about when he should be moved and make sure he is living with a family member close-by the chosen facility until everyone is ready to take that step.

This has been heartbreaking for our family. FIL waited too long and is in over his head. He literally can't leave the house to tour long-term care centers. MIL has gone through a succession of in-home providers. They live in a hurricane-prone area and we are scared to death of hurricane season. FIL knows they need to move inland and closer to family (they don't have any in their current state), but he waited too long to do the research. Now, it's going to be REALLY hard.

Do your research NOW. Make a plan NOW.

And most of all, enjoy your father now. Visit him as often as your job and family commitments will allow. Take lots of pictures.

I'm so sorry. Check out the Alzheimer's Foundation website for a support group near you. I recommend it for anyone caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 27, 2007 3:09 PM

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 03:09 PM

Thanks for the info, hopefully we can help him maintain his dignity for as long as possible.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 3:10 PM

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 27, 2007 03:09 PM

This is good advice, the problem is my dad was always secretive and controlling about things like money etc and getting him to face his mortality will be quite a challenge.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 3:14 PM

pATRICK,


"This is good advice, the problem is my dad was always secretive and controlling about things like money etc and getting him to face his mortality will be quite a challenge."

I feel for you buddy. My late dad suffered from Alheimers for last few years of his life. You really need all you can do to convice him to get his (1) will, (2)financial power of atty and (3) medical directive done, if it is not already done. This is so important for his future care! If he had a distrust of dislike of the gov't (or lawyers--sorry to those on the blog) you can use this is a line of reason to have these legal instruments drawn up. That is by doing this, you keep the gov't grubby hands off his money and property.


Posted by: Fred | August 27, 2007 3:23 PM

pATRICK -- If you have siblings, you all (and your mother, if she's in the picture) may have to make this decision without your father. And you may have to do some snooping so you can get his financial matters in order while he's still in a state of mind to sign Powers of Attorney and/or transfer assets. If you know anyone who has particular influence over him (one of his children, wife, friend, sibling, etc.), enlist them to help you.

I understand the challenge. But believe me when I tell you that the challenge you will face if you wait until he's at Stage 6 or 7 Alzheimer's will be infinitely greater.

If you have siblings that can assist, I would consider inviting them for lunch one weekend (if they're local) or arranging a conference call (if they're not) and discussing the situation and perhaps divvying up the responsibilities. Someone can take on finances, another researching long-term care options, another can look into respite care to assist your mom. You can discuss what home projects (from home repair to fixing meals) your parents will need assistance with and divvy that up as well. This is a disease that requires good communication among family members. It's also very stressful for the caregivers, so the more you can share the load, the easier it will be on everyone.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 27, 2007 3:24 PM

pATRICK, I am very, very sorry to hear about your dad.

Posted by: anonfornow | August 27, 2007 3:29 PM

Thanks to everyone for your concern and responses. I will probably periodically ask some questions and update his condition. Thanks again-pATRICK

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 3:34 PM

For a moment of lightness, following are several of the headlines created by The Onion in the first several weeks after Katrina hit:

• Officials Uncertain Whether to Save or Shoot Victims
• Nation's Politicians Applaud Great Job They're Doing
• Area Man Drives Food There His Goddamned Self
• Louisiana National Guard Offers Help By Phone From Iraq
• Bush Searches for Warranty on Louisiana Purchase
• Bush Recalled To National Guard Duty
• Existence of Poor People A Surprise, Bush Says

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 3:51 PM

• Bush Searches for Warranty on Louisiana Purchase

Now that is funny, can you imagine him looking for it in some old dusty safe deposit box? LOL

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 3:53 PM

pATRICK - that also was my favorite one, LOL. "Laura, have you seen that warranty? Not the one on the refrigerator, the one for the Lousiana Purchase. It's got to be in here somewhere . . ."

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 3:54 PM

• Bush Searches for Warranty on Louisiana Purchase

That's right, blame the French again.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 3:56 PM

pATRICK - that also was my favorite one, LOL. "Laura, have you seen that warranty? Not the one on the refrigerator, the one for the Lousiana Purchase. It's got to be in here somewhere . . ."

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 03:54 PM
Laura, have you seen that warranty? No not the Alaska one, the Lousiana one, you know that one where all those people talk funny......

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 3:57 PM

With such fertile ground, I'm shocked to see bababooey has not shown. Perhaps she finally got it all out with me last week. I noticed she stopped with the RANDOM CAPS rants about the executive branch midweek last week. I have to say, her GED cheer was actually quite funny, but don't tell her I said that.

Posted by: atb2 | August 27, 2007 3:59 PM

atb,

Isn't it interesting that neither bababooey, nor abu ibrahim, nor hillary nor MattinAberdeen showed up today? Coincidence?

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 4:02 PM

Well, I'll be... The field narrows..

Posted by: atb2 | August 27, 2007 4:05 PM

Bababooey, is like that chant word that once spoken summons him/her from the depths of troll hell, we only need to wait now that you have spoken it's name.......

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 4:09 PM

Isn't it interesting that neither bababooey, nor abu ibrahim, nor hillary nor MattinAberdeen showed up today? Coincidence?

Maybe they're all resting up for tomorrow's lunar eclipse.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 4:10 PM

Great blog today. My family (aunts, uncles and cousins) are in the same situation. Coming back to New Orleans was immensely hard after Katrina. I don't think anyone imagined the toll it takes on you just about every second of the day - so the question of balance is extremely relevant. I couldn't believe it when I spoke to my Aunt ten months afterward and found out she still had no mail and the electricity still flickered often - and stores were not open regularly because there were no workers. The every day things most of us take for granted were luxuries. My aunt is very depressed - and I imagine a great many people in the city are. I briefly thought of taking my family and moving there - to be part of the rebuilding of a great American city. I am so emotionally tied to that city. But then the reality is - the rental market is unaffordable, there were/are no good schools and Neuman isn't an option, and the next hurricane brings this back again. I am not in a financial position to go. So, I admire that you are staying and bringing it back. I think it is an amazing commitment. I think people outside of New Orleans don't realize how much the city is such a huge part of you. That is is in your blood. I can't wait to visit this year and put some of my money in the local economy.

Posted by: malsamson | August 27, 2007 4:12 PM

pATRICK,

perhaps we should start using the J.K. Rowling approach and refer to He Who Must Not Be Named. I figure it always takes him a few minutes to log out of one name, log in as someone else, draft his comment on Word, proofread it several times, then copy and paste and submit. Hell - there's 20 - 30 minutes on a good day.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 4:12 PM

Don't forget Hilda Rumpole -- She Who Must Be Obeyed!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 4:20 PM

perhaps we should start using the J.K. Rowling approach and refer to He Who Must Not Be Named

Fine with me, that almost sounds like a monty python sketch somehow...HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED...

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 4:22 PM

Don't forget "the Scottish play."

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 4:23 PM

Shouldn't we say IT WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED (IWMNBN) as bababooey666 has often asked why we think it is a man?

Posted by: jackdmom | August 27, 2007 4:29 PM

Shouldn't we say IT WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED (IWMNBN) as bababooey666 has often asked why we think it is a man?

Posted by: jackdmom | August 27, 2007 04:29 PM

I stand corrected.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 4:34 PM

The previous comment from jackdmom was me. I usually read from work - didn't change home computer to reflect me!

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 4:34 PM

jackdmom, if you believe that, I have some undeveloped property in the lower Ninth Ward to sell you.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 4:35 PM

If I believe what MN? That bababooey is Female? All I am sayin' is that we don't know.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 4:38 PM

Maybe you could Google on Bababooey666...

Posted by: mehitabel | August 27, 2007 4:40 PM

No, we don't, but I'm not changing my opinion based on the volume of He Who Must Not Be Named's increasingly high-volume protestations, LOL.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 4:43 PM

Honestly MN, I was trying to be funny which has obviously fallen flat. If you have to explain then it ain't funny. Some things are better in person.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 4:45 PM

but you WERE funny, KLB!

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 4:46 PM

Bababooey is just unhinged IMO

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 4:52 PM

shhhhh! you said his name. *ducks*

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 4:54 PM

I think baba is very angry.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 4:54 PM

oh. my. my.

Posted by: MN | August 27, 2007 5:09 PM

Which came first - the blog bababooey or the internet one?

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 5:10 PM

"We are more fortunate than a lot of people here and do not consider ourselves heroes in any way. We just hope in our own small way that we can make life better for others."

Posted by: A.A. Camp | August 27, 2007; 7:00 AM ET

Good for both of you. This is what everyone who walks out into the world through the Class of 1880 gate should do: Heed the gate's inscription, "Depart, to serve better thy country and they kind."

I second your kind words in last Friday's blog about Dr. William Atwater, the curator of the Museum. He is a kind, intelligent and helpful man who has helped me out in the past. It is a pity that his Museum will be moving to the Petersburg, Virginia area in the next few years, but the Museum is there to serve the students at the School. When the School (my alma mater) moves, it will not be long before the Museum follows.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 27, 2007 5:11 PM

Ewww...bababooey...ewww...

pATRICK, so sorry about your dad. My grandmother went through that, starting about age 80, and my mom has early-onset dementia, probably brought on by the onset of a seizure disorder, which was probably brought on by a small stroke a few years back -- and she's not quite 70.

Do what you can to help your dad, but don't be too surprised or hurt if he refuses your help. Grandmom wouldn't move in with my parents (Mom was her only child); Mom got meals on wheels to come by, but she refused to let them in; Mom got a cleaning person (actually, several) but grandmom fired each one; and in the end, my dad took her to doctors appointments and finally got her into an assisted-living facility. I know mom was extremely hurt by grandmom's behavior.

My sister and I have decided that, no matter what happens, we'll treat mom's outbursts like you treat a three-year-old's tantrum -- the person isn't mad at YOU, the person is mad at his or her own limitations, so you cannot take it personally.

I will be thinking about you (and praying for you, unless you aren't one of those people who wants to be prayed for -- in which case I'll probably do it anyway and just not tell you).

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 27, 2007 6:35 PM

Wow, just reread my comment and it sounds a little, um, assertive...sorry, I meant well. Been a long day.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 27, 2007 6:39 PM

EDUCMOM_615, I will gladly accept your prayers. With my dad I will need all the help I can get.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 27, 2007 6:55 PM

Now for

Fred's Quote of the Day
(I don't want to get divorced Division)

Goes to Frieda!

For her heartfelt blog today!

(did you really expect anything different?)

Posted by: Fred | August 27, 2007 7:14 PM

Matt,

"When the School (my alma mater) moves, it will not be long before the Museum follows.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 27, 2007 05:11 PM "

Were you EOD or what? When?

Fred

Posted by: Fred | August 27, 2007 7:41 PM

Which came first - the blog bababooey or the internet one?

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 27, 2007 05:10 PM

DUH. How about the Howard Stern one that came up with the name decades ago and still uses it? Googling it will only lead you to sites that cater to the "Howard Stern crowd," so porn should not surprise you.

Posted by: malsamson | August 28, 2007 9:43 AM

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