Dale Pohl thrives by sharing the joy of making art with children, both in and out of the classroom.
- story by Lisa Monti, photos courtesy Dale Pohl
When they were done, Pohl dutifully circled back to clean up the creations so neighbors wouldn’t be inconvenienced. They weren’t. Instead, she said, “People came running out and said ‘No, stop, don’t touch it.’ ” They had become instant fans of the ninja art.
During the camps, the students can come up with their own ideas for their creations and revise them again and again until they’re happy with them. “They can explore and I can let them,” Pohl said of the sessions.
Pohl’s sessions are designed for ages 5-8 and 9-12. “After that, they want to come back and help,” she said.
In the past, Pohl has offered special sessions like the one last Christmas for 7th to 9th graders where they made holiday cards, frames, ornaments and free style pieces. Ladies night out printmaking parties and kid’s birthday parties also are big hits, Pohl said.
She’s looking to do more adult workshops as time permits between her family (including the four Pohl children), her school schedule and her own art.
Watch for more special art events on The Nest’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/thenestbsl/
A Coastal Canine Community
A newcomer to Bay St. Louis discovers a community of local businesses and neighbors who welcome her and her Doodle sidekick to the dog-friendly town.
- story by Denise Jacobs
Linda especially enjoys eating on the porch at Lulu’s on Main (126 Main Street) with Mowgli, her mostly Finnish Spitz, at her feet. I feel the same way about the Old Town merchants, who have always welcomed Biscuit, my mini Goldendoodle.
From the beginning of my move to BSL almost three years ago, the courtyard of the Mockingbird Café has been my go-to place for meeting others with dog on leash. It’s where I met Fahey DeBenedetto House, now a dear friend. Fahey and I began talking about Biscuit, and by the time I had downed an iced coffee, Fahey had invited me to join a loosely-formed cadre of women with dogs. Before I knew it, I was on the receiving end of a flurry of daily texts: Heading out in 15. Woof! And just like that, my new life in Bay St. Louis began to take shape.
At first, I felt awkward as the newcomer. Because these women had established relationships with one another, I tried to stand back and give them space—not hard to do given Biscuit’s tennis-ball fixation. It was easy to throw one tennis ball after another and give my potential new friends space.
I soon realized, however, that there was nothing cliquish about the group. We simply aligned per the configuration of the day, and the configurations varied.
Once, Fahey and Karen paired-off on some swings deep in conversation while Diana and I paired-off at the picnic table, also deep in conversation. At other times, Fahey and I might walk and talk about politics, or she might tell me about growing up in Bay St. Louis, a town I was just getting to know. Rebecca and I, both writers, talked about writing. I liked to talk to Karen about yoga—a perfect topic since she had recently completed her 200-hour yoga training at Kripalu.
Between us, we had Goldendoodles (Haggis and Biscuit), Westies (Allie and Marley), and mutts (Willie and Skye). There were others—some pictured here—but I had yet to meet them. For two years now, our little pack has both expanded and diminished, and text messages come and go with varying degrees of frequency and complexity.
Sadly, Willie’s companion, Skye, died. That was a blow to all of us, but none so much as Diana, who had rescued him in the first place, and Rebecca, his undercover sleeping companion. Haggis and Karen have since moved far across the country. Deirdre of Long Beach, on vacation when I first joined the group, reappeared with her two Westies and occasional fosters. You just never know, but if you show up, we draw a circle and take you in just as the group drew a circle and took me in.
Love me, love my dog is the rule of the day and more than a metaphor. We admire each other’s dogs. We let them lick our faces and climb on our backs. Biscuit places his drool-soaked tennis ball on a bench to the left of Diana. She picks it up, hands it to me (on her right), and I throw it to Biscuit. Repeat 500 times.
Biscuit, a loner, has become a little more social and now happily greets his human friends if not the dogs. When Haggis’s arthritis exacerbated, we all kept an eye on him, as he didn’t seem to know when to stop. Allie began catching tennis balls of her own. The question is, will she ever return one?
One day last year, Fahey texted me that Willie could not be found. Within minutes, without hesitation, I grabbed my coat, leashed Biscuit, and began walking down DeMontluzin looking for Willie. Fahey had already been to the beach; no Willie. She and Karen were walking down Necaise. At Second and State, I turned left onto Main.
“Willie cannot have gone far,” I thought.
I could see Rebecca walking around her house, the front door wide open. Diana was teaching a yoga class and had no idea Willie was gone. I knew we had to find him before Diana’s class ended in an hour. No one said it, but we all knew that Diana and Rebecca, having just lost Skye, could not take another loss. Willie had to be found before Diana’s yoga class ended. We had an hour.
Biscuit and I walked up to the white picket fence surrounding Diana and Rebecca’s house. As we stood there with a worried Rebecca, a very dirty Willie sauntered up from somewhere underneath the house. He may have been digging to China. I like to think that he knew Biscuit and I were there and came out from under to say hello, what’s up? Whatever Willie’s thinking, we were all relieved to see him.
Later, Rebecca texted a thank you and wrote, “I feel like the troops came out to help . . . now, that’s community!”
It is community. Studies have shown that dogs can provide their owners with more than companionship; they also help create human-to-human friendships and social support. Between our dog adventures and good old-fashioned Southern hospitality, our lives here in the Bay intertwine in the very best of ways and our circle of friends ever widens.
Whimsical Tramp Art pieces can be found throughout Old Town - and has inspired a number of local contemporary artists. But what in the heck is it?
- story and photos by Grace King
Hobo Art, or Tramp Art, is a term referring to art made of found objects - mainly wood, toothpicks, discarded cigar boxes, crates or pallets - and often whittled into layers featuring geometric shapes.
This art form has been traced back to the 1870s and began to die out in the 1940s.
Magnolia Antiques often carries carved knives called Trench Art, a similar art form that refers to decorative items made by soldiers, prisoners of war or civilians affected by wartime who were often literally stuck in the trenches and needed a project to take their mind off their conditions. Of course, they had to work with the materials they had at hand - toothpicks, pieces of scrap wood, wire, popsicle sticks, etc.
I’d seen these rustic forms of art, especially in the Delta, but never knew about Tramp Art.
The South has a long history of self-taught artists, many using discarded materials. Museum sensations like Thornton Dial have made being an “outsider artist” more mainstream.
His paintings and assemblages fashioned from scavenged materials hung proudly in the New Orleans Museum of Art during a popular exhibition in 2012 called “Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial.”
Patrons were so moved by his show that the museum now houses 10 pieces of art from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in its permanent collection. His extraordinary body of work continues to garner recognition.
It’s easy to find primitive art and furniture in the antiques shops of Old Town once you know what to look for.
Antique Maison has some truly one-of-a-kind large-scale pieces. Right through the doorway, shoppers can see a tall form of early folk art — a cupboard with original paint, copper screens and square nail construction. It’s certainly a unique piece made from reclaimed materials long ago.
Further back in Antique Maison, John Walrod’s Steampunk Curiosities are sculptures and wallhangings made from found objects, transformed into fun little creatures, clocks and bits of home goods. Walrod is a contemporary artist whose work brings to mind the intricate and often whimsical works of Tramp artists.
Spencer Gray Jr. at Gallery 220 is also known for his fun, vibrant creations and yard art, also made from colorful brick-a-brack. He creates smaller pieces and larger one-of-a-kind sculptures that are filled with animation and delight collectors.
Artist Joe Derr divides time between Bay St. Louis and New Orleans, creating fanciful sculptures and watercolor paintings. The Derr's paintings carried by Bay Life Gifts & Gallery in Century Hall (112 South Second Street), are "framed" in wooden trays or old cigar boxes.
Bay Life owner Janice Guido says several of her customers now collect Derr's work, vying for first shot at them when he brings in new pieces.
Also at Century Hall, Susan Peterson proudly showed off a small chest of drawers that had all the hallmarks of Tramp Art. Hand carved embellishments, drawers made out of cigar boxes and beautiful bits of decorative wallpaper lined the inside.
Hobo, Tramp and Trench may not be the most flattering names to label a world of art, but it turned out these pieces are some of the most desirable finds in Old Town.
Find them and bring them home before they hit the road.
Second Saturday Artwalk - July 14
This specially themed Second Saturday artwalk in July - Frida Fest - celebrates the birthday of iconic artist Frida Kahlo with an extraordinary costume contest and a fiesta of other special happenings!
Be sure to check out "Hot Spots" Bodega Spirits & Liquor (111 Court Street) and Manieri Real Estate (501 Main Street).
- stories by Grace Wilson
Bodega Spirits & Liquor
At Home in the Bay - July/August 2018
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
Every historic house has a story, although we may not always know it.
Sometimes – especially when the building’s been a generational home – details are documented. The house has become part of family folklore. Great-great-great grandchildren of a home’s original owner might cherish a hand-carved mantle or a built-in bookcase created by their ancestor.
In most cases, though, the stories have gotten lost in time. While property records might show who owned the home and when it was built, the personality of a former owner has to be deduced from any tiny shred of evidence - like a wallpaper pattern revealed during a renovation.
Then why not invent a past? One where the home’s original owner was as interesting and full of character of the house itself?
At Home in the Bay
Eric believes that starting out with a backstory – even when it’s been created - works well for both renovations and for new home designs. This narrative becomes a theme of sorts, threading together architecture and interior design in an unexpected - and delightful - fashion.
“I call it romance architecture,” Eric says. “I create a backstory for every project. It helps the completed house have a richer feel in the end, whether the client wants an 1800s wood barn or a French chateau.”
Eric and husband Scott Umberger have lots of practice using that technique. They’ve purchased and renovated six different houses since 1994. But the first house they bought in Bay St. Louis actually came complete with a great story. In 2004, the couple purchased it from a retired sea captain who had traveled the world and brought back mementos from his exotic voyages. Shortly after the renovation was complete, Hurricane Katrina swept in from the gulf and destroyed the house.
Fast forward to 2014. Eric and Scott, whose primary residence is a Craftsman classic they restored in Uptown New Orleans, had been considering rebuilding in Bay St. Louis. They shifted gears when a diminutive cottage in the Cedar Point area came on the market. Real estate agent and friend Jeanne Baxter alerted them about the new listing and before Eric and Scott finished their first tour of the unpainted wood house, their decision was made.
Built in 1906, their latest project on Leonhard Street is probably one of the oldest surviving structures on Cedar Point. Many cottages in the neighborhood had been built to house seafood factory workers. At the turn of the 20th century, at least two oyster canning factories operated on Cedar Point (one was the Peerless Seafood Company, located where the Bay-Waveland Yacht club stands today). The immigrant workers, mostly from Slavic countries, lived nearby in simple shacks.
But while simple, the Leonhard Street cottage was a serious cut above the worker’s typical dwellings. It was sturdily built, lined with old growth timber bead-board. Even Katrina’s unprecedented surge couldn’t destroy it: it simply tipped over in the storm, instead of coming apart. On the other hand, the unpretentious house wasn’t large or elaborate enough to have been the home of a prosperous local businessman or another sea captain.
Eric and Scott spun a backstory about a boatswain. Often called bosuns, a boatswain wasn’t a ship’s officer, but managed a ship’s deck department. A bosun wouldn’t have been wealthy enough to have afforded a grand home, but would have wanted one comfortable and well-appointed in a lovely natural setting. The imaginary bosun of the Leonhard Street backstory traveled the world many times over and having “an eye for nice things,” surrounded himself with fascinating objects from around the globe.
So “Boatswain’s Cottage” was christened and work commenced.
“I’m more concerned about how the space looks, and Eric’s more concerned about how the place feels,” says Scott.
The men started by calling in a contractor they’d worked with on three previous renovations, Jim Boucher. A “true craftsman, who doesn’t do something unless it reflects well on him,” Boucher, Eric and Scott began forensics on the house. Their goal was to recreate the original floor plan.
They realized that the side gallery had been closed in and reopened it. A clumsily built fireplace that had been added at some point came off to allow for a large screened outdoor living space. The dark living room became light-filled.
A half-bath became a full one by expanding into an adjoining closet. All doors and windows were replaced - the interior doors with salvaged cypress ones from New Orleans. Boucher, who collects special pieces of old wood, built a splendid cypress kitchen island with a pull through drawer.
While Eric handled the structural space, Scott began collecting furnishings and art with a bosun’s eye. An experienced auction shopper, he sought out paintings of ships and interesting marine décor. He snagged an ornate metal chandelier from Morocco to hang over the dining table. An iron gate and urn from a sugar plantation in Trinidad would eventually become garden centerpieces. An ancient retractable chandelier from an abbey in France to grace the new porch.
Scott counters. “Truth be told, I can’t usually carry projects out, but I can find someone who can.”
“We approach most of our house renovations this way,” Eric says. “It’s completely impractical. Who would do this? But we want this to be a special retreat.”
The new pool certainly helps with that. Scott visualized a pool that had the feel of an ancient fountain, like the hidden children’s wading pool in Audubon Park. Eric designed the pool with an elegant marble birdbath in mind as a statement piece. The base was modified and the bowl fitted with a copper spout designed by New Orleans jeweler/sculptor Soren Pederson. The end result is an ancient, almost Grecian feeling of tranquility.
But these days, Eric’s work often follows him to the Bay. He’s often tapped by friends for architectural input and designed his parents’ new house.
“My mom was my hardest client,” Eric says laughing.
“He’s lying about that,” Scott quips with a grin. “He always tells me I’m his most difficult client.”
The most difficult client of all began imagining a larger entertainment space last year. So next to come on Leonhard Street is another building altogether. Eric’s design for the 1000 square foot free-standing addition shows a large library/dining room in the center, flanked on both ends with guest rooms. The size, scale and style complement the existing house. Construction will begin this fall.
Ground hasn't broken on the new building yet, but it already has a name: Shikamoo. It means “welcome, honored guest” in Swahili.
It’s a name that might have been chosen by a well-traveled boatswain, one who found peaceful and permanent anchorage in a place called Cedar Point.
Dr. Frank Conaway
Sponsor Spotlight - July 2018
- story by LB Kovac
Frank Conaway, Jr., owner of one Bay St. Louis’ oldest local dental practices, has lived in a lot of places – Madrid, Spain and Marquette, Michigan, just to name a few.
It’s because of his self-proclaimed “bit of a military brat” upbringing. Despite moving around over the years and keeping his toothbrush in all these locales, there’s always been one place he’s called home – Mississippi.
The local dentist was born on Columbus Air Force near Columbus. Between forays into the world with the military, the family always came back to Aberdeen.
“Aberdeen was home,” says Dr. Conaway, and, by extension, Mississippi. He attended Northeast Mississippi Junior College in Booneville before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
His love for his home state and its people was part of the reason he decided to start his practice right here in Bay St. Louis almost thirty years ago. “My college roommate (at Ole Miss) was from Bay St. Louis,” he says. “When I was looking to start my own practice, I came to visit and saw that the area needed a dentist, and I put two and two together.” The local beaches and vibrant local culture couldn’t have hurt either.
And Bay St. Louis was a great place to put down roots. When he started his practice in 1990, it “was before the casinos were around,” he says, as well as before Hurricane Katrina hit. “The little town has changed dramatically over the years – for the better.”
Dentistry has changed as well.
The end of the millennium also marked a downturn for a particular type of dentistry – the solo practice. Due to economic pressure, many dentists have turned to group practices as a way of defraying costs and sharing expenses.
Dr. Conaway’s office has remained a solo practice. He runs his dental office with the help of a close-knit team of assistants. And he’s quick to point out the benefits of his model. “I’m the boss – always an advantage. And I feel like, at our practice, we have a family. It’s a little more personalized.”
He knows the names of all of his patients and their dental histories, and he can provide a more specialized experience. “Teeth are a challenge. Some people have it easy, based on their biology, but some people have it hard,” says Dr. Conaway. A generalized approach just won’t help everyone he sees. “You have to individualize what you’re doing for them.”
With the changing times, Dr. Conaway has also adapted his practice to better serve his patients in the area.
In short, Dr. Conaway is a good dentist to have working on your smile. He received a Mastership Award and Lifelong Learning Service Recognition from the Academy of General Dentistry. Between appointments, he’s traveling across the United States to administer licensing exams to prospective dentists. He also currently serves as president of the State Board of Dental Examiners.
His best dental advice? Break out the floss. “There’s still nothing that substitutes for floss,” he says. The American Dental Association says that as much as 80% of plaque can be removed by flossing daily.
That’s something to smile about.
What's Up, Waveland - July 2018
Do you like a fun birthday party? Well, I have a birthday party for you.
On Friday, July 20th at the Waveland Ground Zero Museum starting at 7 p.m., Waveland will celebrate Ernest Hemingway’s 119th birthday with a patron party. “HemFest in Spain” patron party is hosted by the Hancock Chamber and the Rum Kitchen. The patron party will feature Spanish-inspired food and specialty cocktails made by the Rum Kitchen, a mobile cigar bar, and music with a lot of fun.
And, ATTENTION! HemFest is looking for a few stocky bearded men to participate in the Hemingway look-a-like contest.
What's Up, Waveland?
Ernest Hemingway's 119th birthday celebration will continue on Saturday, July 21st with the "No Bull Fun Run". This event is a 1K Fun Run for HemFest and begins at Central Avenue and Coleman at 6:00PM. The bulls will be roller derby ladies on roller skates and runners are encouraged to wear your best whites and red scarf! The race entry is $25 per person in advance and $35 per person on-site. During and post-race refreshments include paella, sangria, and cold brew courtesy of Rum Kitchen.
To purchase your tickets for either event, contact Linda Aiavolasiti at 228.216.0561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am delighted to report that Mayor Mike Smith was able to satisfy the graduation requirement for the advance level of the Certified Municipal Official (CMO) program.
I was also able to complete the final level of the Certified Municipal Official program, the professional development level at the conference. Although I have no more level to complete, I will continue to attend classes because I never want to stop learning.
Although the certification course is voluntary, receipt of the designation of Certified Municipal Official requires completion of core courses: Municipal Organization, Municipal Law, Municipal Finance, Municipal Land Use and Community Development. The CMO program provides the participants training to become more effective leaders for Waveland.
Established in 1931, MML represents 295 city, town, and village governments in Mississippi. The mission of the MML is helping cities and towns excel through training, lobbying at the state and federal level, and providing resources and networking opportunities with state, federal and private entities. For more information about the Mississippi Municipal League, visit www.mmlonline.com.
Waveland's goal is to make transportation for pedestrians more safe. The Board has applied to construct a bike/walk lane on Central Avenue from Waveland city limits to Waveland Avenue. I will report back in a few months to inform everyone if the project will get funding from MDOT.
The Board of Alderman also applied for 3 Tideland Trust projects.
The project we applied for are as follows:
1. Handicapped accessibility ramp to the water's edge
2. Beach pagodas
3. Parking bay along Beach Blvd with electric car charging station
Waveland will learn which Tideland project will be funded in early 2019.
Peeps and Pups: Beat the Heat
Beach to Bayou - July/August 2018
- story by Lisa Monti
After a dozen years of daily walks with my dog Boudreaux (and more before that with his equally spoiled predecessor, Magnolia), my morning routine is well set.
First, of course, there’s coffee and headline scanning and then a check of the weather. Unless there’s 1) extreme heat, 2) lightning nearby or 3) a hurricane closing in, we’re out the door.
That we don’t often miss a morning walk says way more about our temperate weather than my dedication to trailing behind a dog on a leash. It’s easy to dodge stray showers or to layer against a stiff north wind. But when summer puts the hammer down, you’d best take care not to overdue it and risk serious heat illnesses for you - or your pet.
Beach to Bayou
The combination of hot temps and high humidity can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but you can take simple precautions such as drinking plenty of fluids, staying in an air-conditioned room and generally staying out of the sun.
If you are spending time outside, take extra precautions like rescheduling your activities for early morning or evening, wearing light, loose fitting clothes and drinking plenty of water. If you’re working outdoors, OSHA recommends that you take a lot of breaks either in the shade or inside an air-conditioned place. Call 911 if you or someone else feels overcome by heat.
If you’re walking your dog outdoors, the same basic safety rules apply to dogs. Exercise early or in the evening. If you’re out in the mid-day heat, walk in shaded areas so they don’t burn their paws on hot asphalt. Test pavement for heat by pressing your palm against it for seven seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it will burn your dog’s paws. If the air temperature is 87 degrees, the asphalt is 143 degrees. An egg fries in five minutes at 131F.
If you’re dog walking, you can get creative finding shade in some local spots, like the old City Park shoofly on Second Street or one of the local restaurants with outside seating (the porch and sideyard of the Mockingbird Café are local favorites. If you prefer a spot beachside, the pavilion at Washington Street offers benches along with breezes off the water.
If you’re poochless, you have even more options. The library is the perfect place to comfortably spend some cool, quiet time on a summer day and so is a local health club.
Bike riders (and walkers) can find shady stretches on streets and lots of good places to take a water break around town. I like riding down Third Street, from Washington to Bay Oaks Drive and loop back around. There’s plenty of shade in spots on both sides of Third as well as some less traveled blocks between Main and Ulman and on the grounds of the Depot.
Staying safe outdoors in the grip of summertime takes a bit of preparation but it’s worth the effort to enjoy exercising, socializing and keeping a spoiled dog happy between now and October.
Bay Reads - June 2018
- by Carole McKellar
On Saturday, July 14, Pass Books in Pass Christian hosts Joyce Carol Oates from 6:00 to 7:00. The event features two story collections published in 2018, “Beautiful Days” and “Night Gaunts.” You may purchase books at the bookstore signed by Ms. Oates.
One of America’s most prolific writers, Oates has more than 40 novels published under her name plus 11 others using the pseudonyms Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly. In addition, she has written short story collections, novellas, volumes of poetry, plays, essays, memoirs, young adult fiction, and books for children.
Beautiful Days, published this year, consists of eleven stories. All of the stories previously appeared in respected periodicals but never appeared together. The subject matter is diverse including stories of extramarital affairs and suicide alongside fantasy.
“Les Beaux Jours” is about a vulnerable girl desperate for the love of her absent father. She is drawn into a Balthus painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The subject imagines herself a prisoner inside the painting and writes a letter to her father begging him to rescue her from the cruelties imposed by the Master.
In “Undocumented Alien” a Nigerian student is saved from deportation by participating in a classified research project. A chip implanted in his brain adversely affects his cognitive function and drives him to madness. This chilling story describes a young man fighting to maintain his humanity.
Although the eleven stories are disturbing and generally dark in tone, I liked this collection. Oates is a skilled and imaginative writer.
Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense is on my nightstand, and I look forward to reading the six creepy tales within. The first story, “The Woman in the Window,” is a reimagining of Edward Hopper’s painting, ’11 A.M., 1926,’ which features a woman sitting in an apartment window naked except for high heels. That painting is on the front cover of “Beautiful Days.”
At eighty years old, Joyce Carol Oates continues to earn the respect of readers and writers alike. She avoids celebrity and has cultivated a reputation for hard work and professionalism. Oates is regularly discussed as a strong contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. I look forward to meeting Ms. Oates at Pass Books and consider it an honor for the coast to have such a literary icon visit.
Mother of Pearl - July/August 2018
- story by Grace Wilson, photos by Ana Balka
I took a pregnancy test in Savannah, Georgia, on All Hallows’ Eve. (There’s a country song in there somewhere.)
Truth be told, I didn’t want to take the test that night. Clearly, I was hoping for one more night of fun and freedom. Googling “early pregnancy” for seven whole days, I had practically earned my doctorate, and with my newly-found medical expertise it was quite clear that many new mommies-to-be had mistaken morning sickness for a hangover and their babies turned out just fine.
Ignorance is bliss, right?
Thankfully my husband doubles as my conscience, and Jimminy Cricket insisted we slip into a CVS before hitting the streets of Savannah. (Again, is that not a country song lyric?)
Mother of Pearl
Dr. Google told us that the baby would be due around July 14.
“Bastille Day!” Christian said with pride.
“Damn, we may miss Frida Fest,” I moped.
Bay St. Louis’s Frida Fest may have been 10 months away, but it is always on my mind. I’ve been on a mission from the ghost of Frida Kahlo to win the look-alike contest hosted every year at Smith and Lens gallery.
Three years have gone by without even a whiff of the prize, so at this point I’d settle for an Honorable Mention.
The first year, I was sure I had a win in the bag. I dutifully bribed Martha Whitney at the French Potager to make me the prettiest, biggest flower crown in town. I housed one of the judges in my vacation rental. I even brought along my tiny chihuahua, Presley, as a prop to sit on my shoulder.
When I rounded the corner of Second Street I saw what looked to be thousands of beautiful Fridas and knew I had no chance. Not even with a puppy.
As I was holding her in my arms at the hospital, all I could think was, “Get ready for Frida Fest, girlfriend.”
As soon as we rolled in to the Bay and settled in to life with Presley at the Palm House, I began to get the wheels in motion.
Mommy and Me flower crowns from Martha Whitney - check.
Tiny little Mexican dress - check.
Eye brow pencil - check.
I was still feeling and looking 6 months pregnant. None of my maternity clothes fit right. None of my regular clothes fit right.
As I sat atop a Mount Everest pile of clothing in despair, I realized there was only one thing to do… draw a uni-brow on my three-week old, five-pound baby, wear the prettiest nightie I owned and pray no one would notice me.
Surely all eyes would be on Pearl, right?
And, of course, Presley.
As the summer sun began to set and sign-up time drew near, we got the family ready to roll down to Frida Fest central near the Mockingbird Cafe.
We were light packers for the two block journey: One bassinet, five diapers, two packs of wipes, three baby toys, a tube of sunblock, four bottles of breastmilk and one can of formula. I know what you’re thinking. Formula? You know, just in case.
Total parenting experts three weeks in!
Once again, we rounded the corner to find double the amount of Fridas from the first year - all more beautifully decked out than before.
We got to the sign-up table: Contestant Number 471. Or maybe it was 47.
We waited for what felt like hours for our number to be called, my husband nervously cradling the baby and me calling over everyone in town to come and breathe on her.
As our big moment got closer, I had more butterflies in my tummy than a Dolly Parton song. (Dolly Should is another Bay St. Louis Festival - and another story - entirely.)
I was able to peel the baby away from Christian and make our way to the judging platform.
Pearl had long fallen asleep, but I didn’t let that stop us. (And by us, I mean me.) As they called our number I lifted my tiny offspring into the air and was met by a collective gasp from every person in the crowd.
“Oh God,” I thought. “Did my boob pop out of this nightgown again?”
Looking down I saw the girls were safely secured.
Looking back up, I saw every jaw on the ground.
Obviously no one could believe….how beautiful my three-week old, five-pound baby was.
I skipped over the judges, one of whom could not even make eye contact with me for some reason. There were murmurs and whispers all around me… mostly I kept hearing… “Is that a real baby…?” Well, it’s not a Tickle Me Elmo, sister.
“I’ve got a massive doll collection and that baby looks just like one of ‘em,” she cooed.
Of course, I obliged. As she snapped the pic I smiled thinking that one of the things I love about splitting my time between Mississippi and the French Quarter is that no matter where you go or what you do, there’s always someone crazier than you in the crowd.
Just as I was getting my sight back from the flash of cameras, I realized that darkness had fallen, winners had been announced and once again my husband was dragging me - and now Pearl - home without a winning title.
He immediately sat me down in the cool air conditioning, looked me in the eyes and said very calmly, but sternly, “We need to talk…”
I stared past him thinking about how Pearl and I could take the Frida crown next year. She’d be big enough to wear a monkey costume, I bet… maybe stick her on my shoulder…
“That was too much,” he said.
Ignorance is bliss, right?
Trendy Address Block
Beautiful Things: July/August 2018
Welcome to another edition of Beautiful Things. Summer has arrived and it’s too hot to work outside so I decided to give you a quick and easy project you can do inside your home.
This “Trendy Address Block” is a great way to add a unique and industrial-like style to your home and office. It’s super easy to make and it will make your address “pop.”
1 small can of stain (I used Espresso)
1 can of Rust-Oleum Flat Protective Enamel
1 tape measure
1 mid-sized paint brush
1 block of wood (can be bought or assembled)
All of the items above can be purchased at your local hardware store.
If you are not handy with a saw, you may want to buy your block from your local hardware store. See the pictures for some examples.
Yes, it really is that simple.
Now that you know how to add a little curb appeal to your home or office I would love to see your finished project! Go to my FB page (www.facebook.com/holly.lemoine) and upload a picture of your address block. I can’t wait to see what Beautiful Things you create!
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