Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Origami Restaurant: A Happy Accident in New Orleans

I will spare you all the details of our latest trip to New Orleans except for one happy accident. As we were leaving the Audubon Zoo, we all decided we would like Japanese food / sushi for lunch, and we’ve been to a couple on Magazine which we considered less than stellar. Normally, I’ve done my research. Not this time. In desperation, I Google “Japanese restaurant near me” and up pops Origami, 5130 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115, just seven minutes away.

With no further recommendation, we decide to take a chance. It is close. We are hoping parking may be easier than on Magazine. It is between us and the nearest entrance to I-10, which we will be taking after lunch to get back to Pensacola.

We get there in six minutes. There is parking right on the street. There are customers leaving and customers entering who look a lot like us, except we have children with us.

Once inside, we love it. The waitress approaches and shows no dismay that we have children. She shows us to a spacious booth.

It is a popular place, full of locals, regulars and relaxed people. They have a huge board on the wall with daily specials, and a menu so large that as I started reading, my hungry husband pointed out that there is a lunch menu and it would be faster just to order from that.

Once we had ordered, we all went to wash hands. Washing hands was a treat! The bathroom was actually very clean, and granddaughter pointed out the flower arrangement.

So many beautiful things to look at! I love it when a restaurant creates a sensual experience beyond really good food!

A huge flock of Origami cranes!

This is exactly the kind of experience we love to have with our grandchildren – lots to look at, tactile, visual, and a great way to spend a few minutes while we are waiting for our lunch.

We all love miso soup, even though it is good for us.

I am embarrased to tell you, this is my order. So much food! It is more like a complete Bento box, with soup and salad and rolls and even the seaweed salad I adore. Sadly, we couldn’t take it with us. I shared, but it was too much food. I later saw on the menu I could have ordered just the tempura; that would have made a better meal for me. Ah well, next time 🙂

Our grandson ordered a special roll called Bye Bye Katrina. He is like his grandfather, very adventuresome.

My granddaughter was also very adventuresome, she ordered the snow crab roll and assortment. It was healthy and delicious! She tried everything.

AdventureMan had the three roll assortment. It was too much food. One reason we ordered too much was that the prices were so reasonable we thought there must be less food. Not so, our grandson informed us, a friend of his parents had told them that you will always get generous portions in New Orleans, it is part of the whole Bon Temps and hospitality thing.

The waitress offered us boxes, but we were headed out on a three plus hour drive back to Pensacola without refrigeration on a hot and humid day . . . we had to decline.

We are thrilled to add this restaurant to our “healthy places to eat in New Orleans where they are also kind to children.”

Origami

5130 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Family Issues, Food, New Orleans, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Avian Thrills

I wish I had photos to show you, but there are moments where if you run for the camera, you miss the moment. I’ve had three moments in the last week that thrilled my heart.

A week ago, after a big storm, as I pushed open the curtains I saw hundreds of pelicans, swooping and circling just in front of the house across the street on the Bayou. Normally, pelicans fly all sort of relaxed and then, suddenly, plunge into the water for a fish, but this time, they seemed agitated, and there were a lot of them. I watched, and after a while I saw there was a big flock of ducks on the water, and the pelicans (I am speculating here) did not want the ducks there. So they were swooping the ducks and swooping and swooping, and eventually, the ducks got rattled and flew away.

Four days ago, as I stepped out the door, a huge bird flew over my head to a nearby tree, carrying a fish. I signaled to AdventureMan to come out and see; he thought it was an eagle, and after watching him tear at the fish (never dropping it, skillfully done) I agreed. He didn’t seem to mind us observing. That was very cool.

This morning, as I stepped out to feed our outdoor cat, Emile, I heard a very loud “Who-who-who-who-WHOOOOOOOH!” It was so loud I jumped a little when it started, and then realizing it was a big owl in our little backyard forest, I just stopped and enjoyed the rest of it. I love the sound of owls, and I grinned, thinking of a little owl we used to hear in Botswana, I can’t remember the name (Pell’s Fishing Owl? Pearl Spotted Owl?) but we secretly called it the orgasm owl because it’s call was very long, starting with like who-who-who-who-whow-Whow WHow WHOw WHOW WHOW! WHOW!! WHOW!!!!! And after that huge crescendo, it would go quiet for a while . . . and then start up again. It never failed to make me grin.

February 22, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Beauty, Birds, Botswana, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues | , , | Leave a comment

Pantone Colors for Spring and Summer 2021

I love color. I work with color in my quilting. To me, color makes all the difference, and one of the best part of living in different cultures introduced me to widening my ideas about what colors can be used together. We all differ in our preferences. I don’t have to like all these colors, but there is one I like a lot.

The one I like a lot is called Fairy Wing. I would have called it Rose Quartz; I’ve always loved the subdued natural stone. My Mom’s best friend in Alaska had a fireplace surround made out of Rose Quartz; it was a knock-out. I think countertops of Rose Quartz would be gorgeous.

February 17, 2021 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, color, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Marketing | | Leave a comment

Reset – and Lent

We bought our house – again – last year, shortly after my Mom died. Something about death gets our attention, doesn’t it, and can serve as an impetus to get us moving. Buying this house, which I have always loved, is one of the best things we have ever done.

We are great planners. We make lists, we make budgets, we make plans and divide those plans into actions, so we get it done. And yet – when you make the best plans, you don’t always have all the information, so some decisions have to be revisited. After living here for six months, we are making some serious changes (already planned) and not making some we thought we would make. Our daughter-in-law pointed out that some changes have unintended consequences, and we love that concept.

We know, from having made these changes at our bigger house, that having a metal roof and a tankless water heater combine for great energy savings. I don’t know the science, but metal roofs reflect sunlight away, the ridges in the roof bring in cooler air, and tankless heaters mean you are not spending on keeping water heated when you don’t have a need for it.

We intended to put in a full garage and storage area, but learned that what we have actually works pretty well, and that is where the unintended consequences come in. Florida land tends to be sandy, and can wash away. You change the drainage pattern, and things happen. For right now, we’ll forego that change; down the road we can always re-visit.

I wanted minimal coverage on our big windows looking out on the Bayou; in arranging for that I had to empty out my china cabinet and another decorative cabinet. “Good,” I thought, “a chance to rethink and put things away smarter.” As it turned out, I changed a couple little things but not much. Most things are working. Now I have to see how the windows will work, if the minimal covering will be right for us or if we will need to add some kind of screening against the summer sun or some kind of privacy protector. Resets are not such a bad thing.

So with Lent starting comes another possibility for Reset. I’ve always loved Lent and Advent, times to slow down, to turn away from the messages of our culture, from our world, and focus on greater truths. You’d think with the COVID restrictions, life would be isolated enough, but we find ways, don’t we, of distracting ourselves? Lent gives us a chance to examine our choices and move closer to being the people we were created to be.

I’ve found a wonderful book by a man I love reading, Richard Rohr. I took a theology seminar for four years; I learned a lot about my religion, my church and its beliefs within that religion, and the greater history which brought us to where we are. At the end of the four years, my theology had greatly simplified back to the earliest teachings I received, God is Love. Richard Rohr believes God is Love, that God loves us, that we are his creation and that everything that exists, exists because God created it. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.

February 15, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Beauty, Cultural, Faith, Family Issues, Home Improvements, Lent, Living Conditions, Money Management, Moving, Quality of Life Issues, Renovations, Spiritual, Values | Leave a comment

Pilgrimage to St. George Island from Apalachicola

A very short drive from Apalachicola, but a whole different world. Cross two amazing bridges/causeways which are an adventure in themselves, so beautiful, so wonderfully engineered. We are always in awe of what it takes to connect dry land over a lot of water, and how really smart people can also figure out how to generate electricity, maintain the equipment, and bring it to far flung locations.

Moody sunrise

Headed out of Eastpoint toward St. Georges

Coming into St. Georges

We drove all through St. Georges; we stayed her once when our son was a student at FSU but it all looks entirely different now. Finally, we get to our favorite part, the beach at the far eastern end of the island. You can park and walk even further east, or west, or whatever you like. There are few people there on this sunny cool day, and it is a glorious day for a long walk.

Day tripper friendly

Shell heaven! Piles of shells everywhere!

Wind patterns on the sand

What is the beach without some surf?

Surf, sand, shells and sun; we are as happy as we can be. No masks on the beach, no need, few people and far apart. It is a glorious day.

More wind/sand patterns because I am a dork who cares about these things . . .

This was a great part of our get-away.

February 5, 2021 Posted by | Beauty, Cultural, Exercise, Geography / Maps, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Spiritual, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Sunset and Gibsons in Apalachicola

We arrive back in Apalachicola mid-afternoon, relaxed, happy – and ready for a nap. Apalachicola is full of people. We know from experience that many of the people are day trippers, and by late afternoon they will be gone. Hey – it’s a get-away. A vacation. Naps are not just allowed, they are encouraged.

We already know where dinner will come from and that we won’t eat there. The Gibson was recently featured in Garden and Guns magazine as THE place to stay in Apalachicola. It is semi-Victorian, each room is different, it has a lively bar scene and a good restaurant. Under other conditions, a fun place to stay, but in the time of COVID, maybe not so much.

They are doing a lot of expanding, and renovating, and this is a great time to be doing it, before the great onslaught of people breaking free from travel restrictions. Actually, as AdventureMan is picking up dinner, he hears the desk clerk telling someone at the desk, “it is our last room, and it is on the third floor.” So much for travel restrictions.

I had the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, an appetizer, and the Caesar salad. AdventureMan also had the BBQ shrimp and something else. The shrimp were good, the salad was not great and we can’t remember what else we had. Things rarely taste as good in take-out containers as they do in plates, so not the Gibson’s fault.

On this night, I also got a sunset photo:

So you could see a little piece of our hotel 🙂

February 5, 2021 Posted by | Beauty, Character, Food, Health Issues, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , | 1 Comment

Thousands of Ducks in Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge

It’s an easy drive from Apalachicola, and we also have an agenda; we remember a particularly good barbecue restaurant not far from Saint Marks.

The drive is beautiful. It is still early, but getting toward mid-morning, so it is warming up. We are dressed for the cold; it is also windy so the chill just goes right through your clothes. You have to have a lot of clothes, in layers, or you are too cold to walk.

We stop on the way so I can take a photo.

As I step out of the car, and start walking on the grassy roadside toward the bulkhead, I suddenly step into a deep hole. The grass is just a cover, and the ground underneath is eroding. I managed to stay upright, but it was awkward.

That’s where I stepped.

Saint Marks had a couple heron, an egret here and there, a couple pelican, the St. Mark’s lighthouse, and a million ducks. If you have never read Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Book Series, this is the area and lighthouse I picture when we first enter the alternate world in Annihilation.

We walked a couple miles around the various ponds, and it is hard to envision just how many ducks there are in this protected area.

We found gardens of these empty oyster shells; they were beautiful.

We are happy with our walk, but we are cold, and we are getting hungry! On the way into the park, we passed the BBQ restaurant and it is open. Off we go.

February 4, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Exercise, Geography / Maps, Road Trips, Travel | | 3 Comments

Early Morning Walk in Apalachicola

We’ve been married almost 48 years, so AdventureMan and I know how to travel together with minimal friction. We are not alike, but we are flexible (unless, of course, we are tired, or hungry, or need a nap, and then all bets are off.)

We are on holiday. AdventureMan likes to sleep in. I am an early morning creature; I don’t even need an alarm, I just wake up. I can see the fragile pink of the early morning sky and I can’t wait to get outside and take a walk.

Have I told you lately how much I like pelikans? These ancient birds remind me of pterodactyls, beaky, angular, survivalists.

Colonial mansion, we toured it once.

A beautiful sunrise, and bringing a cold but clear and sunny day, great for heading to Saint Mark’s Wildlife Refuge near Wakulla Springs.

Sometimes my camera captures something spectacular and I am humbly in awe; I didn’t make this happen, it just happened.

Time for my coffee 🙂

February 4, 2021 Posted by | Beauty, Birds, Civility, Cultural, Marriage, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, sunrise series | | Leave a comment

“Do You Want to Reserve for Friday night?”

I was so excited. We are headed out, our first trip since February when we took our grandchildren back to New Orleans, as we so often did until March and the advent of COVID. We’ve sold our big house, are comfortably settled in our smaller house, and I am SO ready to resume a more normal life.

I had just finished telling AdventureMan about a restaurant in a hotel we have visited several times, but we’ve never stayed in nor eaten in. The menu looks fabulous! (The Franklin in the Gibson Inn, Apalachicola). He looked at me over his reader glasses, lovingly – and sadly.

“”So do you think everyone will be masked and socially distanced?” he asked me.

“Oh,” I responded. Deflated. Sometimes, for a short while, I can totally forget the new reality of masks and social distancing, and not eating in restaurants.

We decided that as we will be staying in a lovely place with condo conveniences, we can order out. It won’t be the same, but the food will be good, we can store our leftovers in a refrigerator, and we can be safe.

Sigh.

I’m still excited. Apalachicola is beautiful, and the hotel where we stay (The Water Street Hotel) is right on the estuary. There are screened balconies where, even in this chilly weather, we can sit out and watch the heron, and fishing birds, and watch the boats stream by. We can head out to St. Marks, famous for the large flights of migratory birds at this time of the year.

It will be cold. It will also be beautiful, and it will be relatively deserted, safe from those globs of corona virus floating around where human beings breathe. We can walk to our hearts content. I can take pictures.

We like birds. We are enthralled with their beauty. It gives me a happy jolt every time I see, from my little house, a pelican, or a stork, or an eagle, or a red shouldered hawk. No, we are not birders. We like birders, but cannot begin to generate their endless enthusiasm and capability for detailed observation. We just sit back and enjoy the moment.

Apalachicola is a very old Florida town, once famous for it’s timber, and once famous for it’s oysters. The recent hurricane activity has wiped out the tasty Apalachicola oysters, at least for the next few years, and has greatly wiped out the economy of Apalachicola. We look forward to lifting that economy, as best we can, with our visit, and we encourage you to do the same.

January 13, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Community, Eating Out, Florida, Food, Geography / Maps, Hotels, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | | Leave a comment

An Edmonds Kind of Day in Pensacola

My husband had agreed to go to the Commissary with me today, and asked what time he needed to be up to go with me. “Oh, some time between 0830 and 0900 would be great.” I replied. He paled, his eyes were desperate, but he didn’t say a thing.

And he was up, early, and dressed and ready to go by 0830, which caught me by surprise, I had thought we would leave closer to nine. By quarter of nine, we were out the door and by 1000, we had finished at the commissary. I found everything I needed except radishes; I have a craving for fresh radishes, and the shelves at the commissary were a little bare.

When we reached home, my husband helped bring in all the groceries, then headed for a little bakery he discovered to pick up a sourdough baguette for dinner.

He had made a big pot of Bourride, a fish stew with aoili, the night before and wanted a rustic bread. He found Craft bakery next to a Japanese restaurant we like, and brought home two very crusty sourdough bagettes which we had loved. Today, however, the bakery was closed for the holidays.

“Nevermind,” I consoled him, “I’ve got the groceries put away; let’s go downtown for lunch, and walk through the Palafox market to see if they have any bread we like, and if they don’t, I can pick up a sourdough loaf at Joe Patti’s.” (I love Joe Patti’s sourdough bagette; they really know what they are doing. I also learned you can buy the loaves uncooked in the Joe Patti’s freezer section and bake them up yourself when you get home. Wow!)

As we are walking through the market, he remarks that this is just like Seattle. It’s a cloudy, cool, maybe a little gloomy morning with heavy overhanging clouds, and we are all involved with food – the quick trip to the commissary for basics, then the unfruitful trip to Craft Bakery, and now strolling through the market, which we often do summer Saturdays in Edmonds, Washington, or down in the Pike Place Market. You never know what you will find, but we alway find something delicious. Hand made apple sausages? Beautiful bouquets of flowers running $10 – $30? Fresh Dungeness crab, steamed in the shell?

Today, it is radishes, beautiful huge, delicious crisp radishes, which I love thinly sliced on – yep – a sourdough baguette.

We found all kinds of great vendors, even a bread vendor, but not the bread we were looking for.

The market was in full swing, and has been, we learned, since mid-September.

Strolling on, we headed for 86 Forks, in the old Pot Roast and Pinot location on Palafox, where we found spacious airy seating, and a place we could feel safe eating , no large crowd because we were early.

The concept is familiar – if you live in Seattle. You choose a base, in this case a noodle, then you choose a protein, a broth, then you choose up to four flavorings, then you can choose premium add-ons.

I chose the rice noodles with spicy tuna, Thai basil, peanuts, jalepeno slices and cilantro.

And AdventureMan had the rice noodles, spicy tuna, Napa cabbage, peanuts, green onions and cilantro. We agreed, it was a delicious lunch.

He added Sriracha, that’s what the red is in his noodles.

It was a great lunch, and we left just as others were coming, so it all worked out well. We went by Joe Patti’s, I ran in. The place was packed with beach-goers, buying out Joe Patti’s either to take for a week on the beach or to take back to Alabama, or Georgia, or Mississippi, or Texas . . . the parking lot was a mad house. I was in luck, there were no sourdough baguettes left, nor any other baguettes, but to the side was a sourdough boule, and a boule is just right for two people who intend to finish off last night’s bourride with aioli, and sourdough, and fresh market radishes.

For me, this was a wonderful day. It was cool, and comfortable. We found all kinds of goodies, and had a great walk through the market, both coming and going.

Edmonds, Washington is a beautiful little port city just north of Seattle with a ferry coming in and out to take you over to the Olympic Peninsula. Their slogan – It’s an Edmonds Kind of Day – means it doesn’t get much better. So we had an Edmonds Kind of Day in Pensacola.

January 2, 2021 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Food, Living Conditions, Marketing, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Seattle, Shopping | , , , | Leave a comment