I headed out to my Marrero office (McDonald’s) to check my e-mail and blog while 36 students awakened, got ready, and prepared lunches. All of this likely takes place in the span of 15 minutes.  It’s like making sausage – you enjoy the finished product, but it’s only possible because you don’t witness the process.

As I drove across the bridge, it was foggy and humid. Downtown New Orleans looked like San Francisco in June. I knew it was going to be a hot and sticky one. But we couldn’t complain. The weather has been spectacular this week. And humidity and New Orleans go together like beans and rice.

Last day on Hickory Street, March 2011.

We did hit a speed bump as our brushes ended up at another site, so Molly and I went back to St. Raymond’s for some others. When we got back, the painting at both homes was in full swing. After waiting all week, I got to break into the trim paint.  It was great for the students to see the result, as the trim really enhances the color of the siding. And even though we were only able to complete the first coat, they had a chance to get an idea of what the finished home would look like. And the wooden, often hand-carved embellishments on many of these old homes make the job even more fun.

Painting trim, March 2011.

As has become customary, we planned to work through lunch and break off an hour or so early, so that we could go for sandwiches and/or snowballs to celebrate a good week’s work. And by the time we finished at 2:00pm, students and owners alike could appreciate our accomplishments. The couple who owned our home came out to admire our work. The wife, who I assume is the captain of this ship, was thrilled at how the colors looked. Her husband took one look at the yellow and fern green and quietly opined: “this is going to take some getting used to.”

We designated a couple of groups to head over to St. Ray’s to wash brushes, but prior to that we went over to the Parkway Bakery and Tavern for some of the best po-boys in New Orleans. Most of us walked a block to Bayou St. John where we enjoyed them and a Barq’s root beer – again, I have to use the beans and rice analogy. We savored everything from hotdog and a lovely Caprese po-boy to the the more traditional roast beef and fried seafood varieties.

Po-boys on Bayou St. John, March 2011.

After our late lunch we went our separate ways. Some to finish cleaning brushes, others to find a much ballyhooed thrift shop, and others to a snowball stand. I took the opportunity to head back to Marrero for the first shower of the evening.

Afterwards, I went over to Frenchmen Street to catch the first set from the Washboard Chaz Trio, a traditional favorite of mine. I met a young couple from Boston who were down to sample some of the music and sites that they had enjoyed on the HBO series “Treme.” They were headed out to the Rock and Bowl to see Kermit Ruffins, where I was to meet the three groups from my class. So the three of us headed Uptown for an evening of good, decidedly New Orleans entertainment. I had not made to the new Rock and Bowl before (I was a big fan of the original) and didn’t know what to expect, but I was not disappointed.

Nikki and Sam with Kermit, March 2011.

The space was much bigger than before, but without losing any of the atmosphere. The food was much improved. And Kermit was, well Kermit. The students ate and danced and soaked up the sounds of their last night in New Orleans. The girls were invited to dance on stage, get their pictures taken with Kermit. All in all, I think everyone had a fun and memorable time. A couple of groups left there to go back into the City. Although I didn’t have a 25+ hour drive back to New Hampshire facing me, I’m old and  I went back to Madonna Manor to get at least a few hours of sleep. And after a week of working in the sun, I wasn’t aware when the others wandered in from their last night out. But…I know it was late.

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