Did I tell you we’ve been stationed with two embassies, and at the second, I worked as a Foreign Service Officer? I know how busy and how harried the diplomats are, and I know how beleaguered the consular offices are with requests for visas and tourists who have lost their passports. They see it every day.
I lost my passport. My bad. Totally on me. I can’t expect anyone to feel obligated to help me out, but fortunately, there are mechanisms in place to expedite. You have to pay extra, but it’s worth it when you have a trip booked.
I told you about our run to New Orleans to submit paperwork and my delight to learn I would have a new passport soon.
I told you about the phone call telling me they needed a RECENT photo, not the same one that was on my last (never used, bright shiny new never used) passport.
I’ve been on edge all day. I’m away this weekend on a religious retreat, and I wasn’t feeling very religious. I was feeling nervous. I wonder if my passport reached New Orleans, or did it fall somewhere between the cracks? I wonder if Fridays are even work days at the passport center? What if it doesn’t get there and I don’t even know?
A short time ago, I got a phone call, from the same bureaucrat who called me about the photo. She was just calling to tell me that the passport is ready and will go out expedited this afternoon. She knew I would be concerned, and just wanted me not to worry.
I almost cried in gratitude. Who thinks of compassion when dealing with a bureaucracy? It was pure grace.
In the lifetime of our nation, we have elected some real doozies in high public office. Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors – some real characters. I don’t worry too much when lunatics run for high office, I thank God we have a solid bureaucracy, rarely corrupted; a bureaucracy that keeps plugging along when things get crazy. And thank God for this one particular officer who had a heart to reassure me that my passport is on the way. God bless her mightily.
We’re on our way to lunch at Portobello, the restaurant in the old jail, when AdventureMan says “Look at that Pelican!” and I had just spotted it at the same time. It is fabulous. It is on the corner at the Wentworth Museum and is a tribute to our First Nation inhabitants. It reminds me of Alaska, where the Haida art was mostly black and white, with just a tiny accent of red here and there, or occasionally a tiny bit of blue. I love this Pelican
Different businesses and organizations in Pensacola sponsor Pelicans, and each one is different. At the main intersection at Garden and Palafox, the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines have Pelicans stationed. Local artists make the pelicans vibrant and unique. Love the pelicans, but I love this one at the Wentworth most of all.
On the road by six to make our appointment, every now and then things go just right and you can’t forget to be thankful. The process worked, and I should have my new passport . . . tomorrow! It is such good news I can hardly believe that things could go so smoothly.
And we have time for a really fun stroll through the nearby French Quarter, a drive through the Garden District and lunch at the Abyssinian Cafe; New Orleans has the nearest Ethiopian food to Pensacola.
The Cafe Abyssinia at 3511 Magazine, tucked back behind a shoe repair shop. It has a parking lot for outdoor parking, and outdoor seating for this most comfortable time of the year . . .
And back in Pensacola in time to make my late afternoon meeting! Life is sweet!
When you are heading for the early service (AdventureMan calls it Episcopal Church Express) a lot can happen at the last minute. Write the check for stewardship. OOps, it’s raining, where is the umbrella? But it might not last long, where are my sunglasses?
We hurried, hoping to slide in under the wire, before the procession, when my friend stopped me at the door.
“There’s a new restaurant you will love! It opens early!”
“Where is it?” Restaurants that are open early on Sunday mornings are sparse. They exist, and they are full.
“It’s called Ruby Slipper, and it’s just down the street at Palafox and Main” she told me, and we scrambled to our pew before the procession started.
After church, we thought we’d give it a try. Was not hard to find – the streets are empty, and then there are all these cars parked, and there is Ruby Slipper.
I love the name. When I see sparkly shoes, I smile. Judy Garland searched for those shoes to take her back home to Kansas when she was eager to leave Oz. The name reflects how happy the restaurant was to re-open in New Orleans after the great flood and devastation following Hurricane Katrina. Ruby Slipper has four restaurants in New Orleans, and now this one in Pensacola. We are arriving on Day 2 of it’s opening.
I’m surprised – and delighted – to see how big it is, how spacious. For all the cars, there are four separate seating areas, one outside, one just inside where the coffee bar is, one large seating area and then one more private area in the back. We are greeted at the door, and shown to a table. Service is cheerful, and enthusiastic, and everyone looks very happy to be working at the Ruby Slipper.
The menu is extensive. It’s just two sides of one sheet of paper, but so many choices that sound SO good. We know we will have to come back several times. It takes us a while to choose what we want today. I had thought to go with the ‘signature dish’ Eggs Cochon, but it seemed so rich.
AdventureMan ordered the Costa Rican breakfast, which he loved. Eggs on beans and rice, and very tasty. Enough for two people. Easily.
I ordered the Smoked Salmon Bennie, and it, too, was enough for two people. It also had very good smoked salmon, the hearty kind, like you can sometimes find canned in Alaska at the specialty stores. Oh YUMMM.
We are greatly impressed. When we arrived here, Palafox was quiet. Not much was going on, and when night fell, nothing was going on. An amazingly generous couple ‘not from around here’ has made an enormous difference, investing in downtown Pensacola, buying derelict buildings and polishing them up, putting in cute little restaurants and boutiques and specialty stores. Someone put in an Al Fresco dining area. Someone else started up a monthly Gallery Night, which brings huge crowds to downtown one Friday night each month. All it took was a little vision, and soon Palafox, the main artery in downtown Pensacola, was voted one of the best main streets in the United States. Woooo HOOOO on generosity, and a little vision and investment.
Ruby Slipper has a great location and a varied menu. We wish them well, and welcome them to downtown Pensacola, where they brightened a rainy, dark and dreary Sunday morning.
AdventureMan laughed as he told me how our five year old grandson teaches him new things every day. In the heat and humidity of a Pensacola summer, grandson told him to “turn it up to 4!”
AdventureMan never turns it up to 4. On a rare occasion, to accommodate my sensitivity (as he sees it) to the heat, he will turn the car air conditioning up – for a very short time – to three, and then, quickly, turn it back down to 2, or even 1, claiming he is feeling chilly.
“Mama always cranks it up to 4 when we start the car!” grandson states emphatically, and grandson is used to getting what he wants.
Me too. Now when I get in his car, I tell him “Crank it up to 4, Mama” and he does it – and he laughs.
Pensacola license plate and stickers:
Just back from a quick trip to Seattle for a wedding, driving home. and there is the most beautiful sky!
A long time ago, working on my undergraduate degrees, I took a minor in Art History, and spent happy hours at the Seattle Art Museum on projects for my classes. Up on the ceiling of one of the rooms (this is in the old Seattle Arts Museum up on Volunteer Hill) there was this wonderful Tiepolo ceiling, with clouds and blue sky and . . . God? I can’t remember anything but the sky part, and tonight’s sky in Pensacola reminded me of that ceiling.