Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bella the "Killa"



One more point of personal privilege if you will. I want to take the opportunity to introduce you to the newest member of our household. -- Bella. She is a 9-week old Sheltie -- my wife's Christmas present. She is great with kids. She should grow to about 17 pounds. Right now she's barely more than a handful -- boy, what a handful, too.

It's been a long time since we had a baby around the house -- takes some getting use to. Wait, hold on.


Sorry -- I have to run -- Bella stole my sock.

--steve buser

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Strike up the party, band.



Meekly, I ask your indulgence.

I held out for as long as I could.

I promise you that it built character to resist the constant temptation.

But alas, you can only keep a horse away from water for so long and you can only keep a N'Awlins guy away from Mardi Gras pics for so long. It has been quite a while since I posted and out-of-the-season Mardi Gras post. But with the New Year peeking around the corner, the new Mardi Gras season is just a few weeks away.

Indulge me, please.

After all, I didn't put a float picture or a picture of beads or any of that. Instead, today, I salute the bands, and dance groups and a myriad of other players that make it all happen. It's all part of the biggest party on earth. Mardi Gras Day is February 24 in 2009, but the parades start the last week in January.

Thanks.

I got it out of my system.

I should be able to go another week or so without another post of a Mardi Gras picture.

--steve buser


Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, December 29, 2008

Peering on the pier


This is a shot of Linda and our niece Rebeka that I found while I was cleaning up my photos in the new computer. This was actually shot in April of 2005 -- well before Hurricane Katrina made a visit. The pavilion and pier are at Sunset Point in Mandevile -- the "north of the lake" suburb of New Orleans. The pier looks out over the 23-mile Causeway that crosses the lake. The lakefront park has needed a lot of repairs since the storm, but is still a favorite.

--steve buser

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Foursome


Four Ibis enjoying the warm of the sun on a pile of dead limbs at Audubon Park, near the Oschner Island rookery.

--steve buser

Saturday, December 27, 2008

You've got the Nerf


Once Santa Claus has come and gone. It is up to the young-at-heart to defend the universe against vicious enemies and aliens of all types. My grandson, Sullivan, and his uncle Shawn teamed up to put the new Christmas presents to a test. Sure enough, Santa came through this time -- no aliens or evil enemy were spotted anywhere near our place this Christmas.

--steve buser

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Multi-layer fun



As the crowds hustle by below window shopping New Orleans French Quarter for Christmas gifts, diners enjoy the cool night air above on Decatur Street at the French Market Restaurant.  Their view includes a look at the quarter and a gaze out over the Mississippi River.

--steve buser

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A poorly-picked perch


This Egret wants to show off its plumage as it grabs hold of a branch in the bayou at Audubon Park in New Orleans. Understand, I am a perfect stranger to him. But somehow, I feel guilty I didn't tell him he could have picked a better place to land. Nonetheless, this tail, er... I mean tale, had a happy ending. The gator finished baking his belly full of food in the sun and the egret joined some of his friend for an aerial view of the park.

--steve buser

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feel your inner coaster

Our granddaughter Sophie's birthday is right before Christmas. So, we held her birthday party a couple a couple weeks early -- so as not to blend it in with all the other Christmas stuff. But, I believe that when the dust settles and all the toys are played with, and all the cousins are met, the hit of the season will be the roller coast she got for her birthday.

We, humans, apparently like motion and the sense of defining gravity. It took her a couple rides to get the feel of this contraption, but, as you can see, with big brother Sullivan egging her on, soon, she was flying like a circus star.

Ride on, Sophie.

--steve buser

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Showing the colors


There is no requirement that ships sailing up the Mississippi river in New Orleans have to have bright colors, but then when in New Orleans do as New Orleanians do.

--steve buser

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fading



As the light fades and the sun kisses the just the high spots, the revelers wander through the New Orleans French Quarter on rain-dabbed coblestones. They seem unaware of the street musican under the trees, trying to rake in some bread.

--steve buser

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fiery spirit



Walking along Decatur Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, we came upon this beastly fellow. For a tame dragon, he sure seemed to have a lot of fire in his belly. Sure to make you coffee table come to life.

--steve buser

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bad hair, bad air.


My computer passed away this week, so now you know why I haven't been posting. Fortunately, with the help of my son-in-law Aaron, we got the hard drive out and installed it in one of those external enclosures -- surprisingly it was in good shape. I am not trying to move all the photos and software over to a backup machine. So be patient with me.

I thought this picture might express my mood. This tri-colored heron seems to be having a bad hair day. How can you fly when you are having a bad hair day?

--steve buser

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh, the weather outside was beautiful

Oh. The weather outside is getting better today. But yesterday it was a winter wonderland. The kind of day for cranking up a fire. A low pressure system formed over in Texas and slid along the I-10 to New Orleans and beyond dropping a boat load of snow. (On second thought it was probably more like a super tanker load of snow -- maybe even a fleet of them)

New Orleans, which has only had 7 measurable days of snow in the past 60 years got the next closest thing to a blizzard with 1/8 mile visibility. This shot is actually from Beaumont where we are, but SaraBeth, who stops in here quite a bit has some great shots on her blog. Be sure to hop over there and look. One of her pix ("sneaux" on Prytania)

Oh, and check out my daughter's blog up in College Station, TX -- she described it as a real blizzard. One of here pix:

You may want to hop over to Nola.com to for a dozens of snow pix.
--steve buser

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Crawfish Boil -- behind the scenes.

This is a picture from last Mardi Gras (You knew I would find a way to slip one in didn't you? Well consider: I have gone about 6 months without a Mardi Gras picture on this site -- that is quite a feat I would say.)

I digress -- to the picture at hand, our freind Sam is putting the finishing touches on a batch of crawfish at my sister, Sue's house. The ice, I think, is to allow the crawfish to seep in all the spices they were just boiled in without overcooking.

Notice how big these pots are -- they had more than fifty people at the party -- you've got to cook a lot of crawfish fast to keep up with this.

Notice , also, the two propane tanks. Let's call that the Boy Scout rule of Crawfish Boiling -- be prepared.

I can report that Sam has a magical touch in the crawfish department -- the mudbugs were perfect --made my tongue singe, my nose run and my eyes water -- that's what you call good crawfish. Non?

-- steve buser

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Balloon business is really popping

What kid doesn't want to take home a balloon shaped as a sword, a heart, or whatever. Go ahead -- admit it. This is one of the things you really loved to do in the New Orleans French Quarter as a kid. Don't lie -- all these people are watching you.

Does that feel better? Admit your feeling, Let them well back up in you. It's been too long since you giggle over a balloon toy.

This is the balloon man that stopped us on Decatur street each kid got a special balloon (he must know how to make about 1000 shapes) and with just a little tip to him for each balloon, we left with lighter pockets and bigger smiles.
From the left are my great nieces Page, Rebekah ( you can just see the yellow of her shirt and Sarah in the stroller. My niece's husban Jason (let's see does that make him a nephew in law?) is pushing the stroller . In the background are what I presume are his next two customers.

--steve buser

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The strange life of ... me

You've had weird days, too. Don't pretend you haven't. I know you better than that.

This one just came along -- I wasn't looking for it. I promise.

I pull into this parking lot and grab my camera to put it in the trunk. I noticed a bird a 200 feet away beating as hard as it can against a stiff wind. The bird was just staying in one place -- it was making no headway. After about 3 minutes of this, it stops flapping and goes stiff in the wind. The bird put its head down for a fast dive. The dive kept him in about the same place, but closer to the ground -- he just used his kinetic energy up.

Then he rotates up into the wind and lets it lift him and move about 100 feet closer to me. He starts flapping hard again; I reach for my camera and start to try to focus. Before I get the camera ready, he gives up again and does the dive-and-rise thing again, going about 100 feet away. He continues this flapping-and-diving routine for about 10 minutes moving farther and farther from me and loosing ground to the wind all the time.

I decide I can't get the shot and head in to do my business.

When I get home, nature calls me for a quick bathroom break. At first, I didn't notice the fly. When I took strong notice of him, I realized that he had been flying into the mirror -- bumping his nose (or whatever he has). Then, it occurs to me. The fly can't understand mirrors. He sees an escape from me and keeps trying to take it. He must have tried this 10 times before he gave up. (I think flies like to refer to it as "Beating your eyes against a mirror.")

Later I realize I forgot to stop at Walmart -- off I went. As I pulled ito the parking spot, a flock of sparrows descended around and were scavenging for food. One big old black bird took up residence in the tree in those little bitty islands they have. He was brushing back any attempt at other birds coming into his kingdom. I thought I would get a shot. I pluck my camera but before I got him in focus, this red bellied woodpecker (yeah, I know, "why do they call him read-bellied?" Hey I didn't name him. But there is a red blush on his belly -- usually too faint to see.) lands on the trunk of the tree and starts making his way up. Sorry the shot is not too clear, but I had it on manual focus and this guy was in a hurry to find lunch.

Imagine, birding in a Wal-mart parking lot.

Just a strange day. Real strange. Must be the weather.

Oh, the big black bird -- he didn't mess with the woodpecker. Guess it was a strange day for him, too.

--steve buser

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Spoonbill takes flight -- SkyWatch Friday

A Roseate Spoonbill takes flight for the wild blue to join his neighbor off in the background.

Today is SkyWatch Friday. Be sure to check that link and look through all the other creative and diverse Skywatch postings today (there are usually a little more than 300).



--steve buser

Pedestrian Friendly without the pedestrians.

The New Orleans sun has quit trying to peek under the live oaks on St. Peter St. along side Jackson Square.

The French Quarter street has been turned into a walkway along here, making the Quarter more pedestrian friendly.

This night, passing showers had shined up the stone walkway and left a breezy evening, perfect for browsing the shops along the walk. Unfortunately, the showers scared away the crowds for awhile, leaving this deserted looking view for the New Orleans Landmark.

--steve buser

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Waiting to serve

Even a passing shower at sunset can slow down tourism traffic and leave a carriage driver waiting for a fare on a pleasant fall night in front of Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Notice the JAX sign in the background -- the converted old brewery is mostly empty -- a few of signs lights are missing -- probably caused from Hurricane Gustav's nearby passage earlier this year.

--steve buser

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Have a laugh

One fun thing to do, down in Jackson Square in New Orleans, is to get a caricature made. Why not? Laugh at yourself and the whole world becomes joyful -- even on rain doused streets.

Wait, that's Elvis behind the guy. Who's that behind the girl?

--steve buser

Monday, December 1, 2008

Strike up the band. Draw near the crowd.

The rain has passed, it is time to strike up the band and draw in a crowd.

This scene was this past Black Friday in front of St. Louis Cathredal in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The Quarter was holding its own on competing with the malls, until a shower passed. However, as the evening dimmed, only rain-soaked stones were left as a reminder. The day crowd was giving way to the night time revelers.

A pair of street musicians were playing jazz tunes to passers-by.

Strike up the band.  Draw near the crowd.

--steve buser

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The distraction is the attraction.

Sitting at the CafĂ© du Monde restaurant on Decatur Street  across from Jackson Square in New Orleans, we were listening to a two-person street performers' ensemble play old jazz and pop classics.   The pair included a trombone player and a drummer.    It was great entertainment.  This shot of the drummer is into the darkening shadows in the late afternoon with the sun reflecting up from the rain-splashed sidewalk. 

Toward the end of one song, the drummer got in one of those lazy afternoon dazes and was totally distracted from his work.   He quickly snapped back for the next song.  But is was a day of wonderful distractions, seeping in the steamy, rain-passed French Quarter atmosphere.

--steve buser

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cafe au lait by twilight

Everybody thinks about having a coffee au lait (with chickory) and beignets for breakfast or lunch down in the French Quarter of New Orleans, but the action continues into the night. We were down in the Quarter yesterday just wondering around and on the way back to the car, I caught this picture of the New Orleans landmark. It was packed. Come to think of it. It might be a better time to sit and just watch the action pass by because of all the lights of the night.

--steve buser

Friday, November 28, 2008

Papa and Nanny outlast the competition

We had the grand kids this week for several days -- a very tiring task, trying to keep up with their font of energy.  But this time, I think papa and nanny won.  This is Sophie at the end of their stay.  This is after she took a two hour nap in our bedroom.  She woke up, made it to the couch and took another hour and half nap.

Of course, after they left, we slept about 10 hours.

Hope your Thanksgiving Day was full of blessings.

--steve buser

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tree trimming time

I have been a little lax about posting this week. We had the grandkids for the week and the time just flew by. Here, Sullivan helped us decorate the Christmas tree (I know it is early, but we took advantage of the opportunity to let them help.) The tree looks great, but there is a high concentration of ornaments at the three foot level. Go figure.

--steve buser

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great Egret takes a new tack at fishing

Our Great Egret from yesterday suddenly changed his tactics. Instead of standing straight to look for fish, he suddenly started leaning his head way over to the side -- further that what you see here, but I did not get a good picture of that. Then, when he spotted his meal, he would take a sideways jab into the water, somewhat parrellel to the water's surface. The tactic proofed worthwhile. He got plenty to eat.

Obviously our 4-foot bird with about 5-foot wing span, is not the bird brain I took him for. I bet his has a bunch of other fishing tricks up his sleeve.

By the way, thanks for coming back from yesterday to check this out.

--steve buser

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Great Egret shows off fishing skills

Heading down the I-10 I spotted this Great Egret fishining in some dark waters at the ponds edge. He was making a pretty good go of it. You know Egrets have those very long necks -- maybe a couple feet or more. (This bird's wing span seemed about 4 or 5 feet in width and he looked about 4 feet from head to tail. ) It makes a pretty good fishing tool. You just thrust it out and down in the water when you see a fish and whamo! you've got food. In the picture below our hero enjoys the fruits... er, make that ... fish of his catch. He picked up about six fish while I was watching. This is all as you expected. What came next is what surprised me. I tell you what. Give me some time to get those pictures ready and you come back tomorrow, for "the rest of the story."


--steve buser

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Skywatch -- The sun surrenders

One night, heading back across Lake Pontchartrain. Linda was driving. I took the opportunity just to play with the camera. This was one of the pictures that came from it. A bright but mellowing sun, surrendering the sky for the night.

Make sure you check out all the other Friday Skywatch photos from around the world.



--steve buser

Thursday, November 20, 2008

So here's what I am wondering about. You know birds -- free and able to soar anywhere they want. No boundaries, nothing can hold them back (maybe bad weather) Any tree a potential next. Any shore a home.

This Ring-billed Gull was among a group that spent each day in the parking lot of the local shopping center. Who knows where they went at night, but each day, rain or shine they would sit in the parking lot for hours.

Now I don't know about you, but me? I would not pick a parking lot to hang into if I had wings to get me to a sea shore.

Guess dumb decisions ain't just a human thing.

--steve buser

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Papa watch this"

One more shot from yesterday's scene at The Trace in Mandeville, a suburb of New Orleans. This is my brother-in-law Tommy with his granddaughter, Kristin, sitting listening to the music.

I thought it was just a tender "granpa" moment that I wanted to share with you.

--steve buser

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuned, tuned in, "tune"ing

A few weeks back we were over at the Trace in Mandeville (just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans). The train used to run through here and the track has been converted to a bike and walking trail that is well used and which winds through most of the Parish ("county" for the rest of y'all). In the middle of Mandeville, they have set up the Trace to look like an old train station. Saturday's are a kind of artist market and a market for eating goodies. They usually have some entertainment. This Saturday, for reason I cannot explain, the crowd was sparse. These two guys did amazing oldie music. I really didn't shoot this shot to use on the blog, but the more I looked at it back in my office, I decided it had a message, though I can't really define it. Can't even give you the group's name.

Just stare at in (double click to enlarge it) for a while. See if it talks to you.

--steve buser

Monday, November 17, 2008

Grace is in the eye of camera

You know how those airplanes shoot out of the airport and then make a sharp turn to avoid making a lot of noise over a residential area. That's kind of what the Great Egret on the left is doing. After taking off, he is trying to bank away from the dock and out over the water. Of course, noise is not an issue for this 10-foot-wing-span bird -- they move as noiselessly through the air as a feather moves down a stream.

The fellow on the right however, is trying to look as graceful as he can, clinging to a boom. I suppose he can't hang on by facing perpendicular to the pipe because it its too slippery to hold on to. So he chooses the parallel method, bending both knees out to try to get some opposible pressure to keep him up. Luckily it was near night fall with little wind.

The Photo is from the area of Des Allemands -- a community Southeast of New Orleans in the bayou country.

--steve buser

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Magazine street -- even a sprinkle of essentials

Today we finish our shopping on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans. It's time to go back home and admire our shopping prowess. I just wanted to finish with another favorite shop of mine that I have never been in. I just love the red accents and the white color. The real purpose though is to show you that there are useful shops, too, on Magazine Street. There is a drugstore, hardware store, several restaurants and more. But, hey, you're not going to travel from New York or Minnesota to go to a drugstore. So we concentrated on the fun shopping stuff.

One last link to the Magazine Street merchants website. Check it out.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Curtain exchange

This is one of my favorite stores on Magazine Street. I have never been in it. I just love the gracious porch (I have a thing for porches) and the name of the place. When I first saw it, I thought why would any store exchange new curtains for old? But I think that is just the clever sounding name that draws you in. In any case, this is an example of the many stores, boutiques and galleries that line Magazine Street as it winds through Uptown parallel to the Mississippi River n New Orleans.

--steve buser

Friday, November 14, 2008

Balloon bypasser

It's Skywatch Friday. This was a few days back. A balloon came sailing by. Whimsical it was. Must be an omen of a smiley, happy day.

Check the Skywatch Friday site for a host of other photos that examine the theme "sky."

--steve buser

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buxom beauty bumptiously buttresses beverages and booty

How about a little different way to show off your bounty?

Our piece de resistance today is a photo of this busty beauty we saw in the window at Miss Spratt's ( I believe) on Magazine Street. Imagine this to place your hors d'oevre tray on for a cocktail party -- it would set the tone for the evening. Nothing like showing your stuff. This photo is another treasure from our window shopping expedition down Magazine Street in New Orleans.

--steve buser

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting a deal on a dealer's digs

Another photo from our Magazine Street window shopping tour. These dealer digs seem a perfect treasure for that party you are planning next week.

--steve buser

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dragons

More Magazine Street shopping today. How about a pair of dragons from the Private Collection. They are something that ought to convince your guests that you are someone to be reckoned with. (Excuse me -- sentence ending in a preposition. No No. Do over. "They are something that ougt to convince your guest that you are someone with whome to be reckoned.")

You are now getting the idea that the 3 or 4 miles of Magazine Street is a real treasure store of shops, boutiques, galleries and the like.

--steve buser

Monday, November 10, 2008

We resume trucking down Magazine Street

We never did get to finish our shopping trip to Magazine Street, so let me show you some of the must-have's I found. Like these truck -- how long has it been when you played with a truck made of metal and with a hydraulic lift. Talk about a treasure.

There's more. We'll get back to our Magazine street window tour tomorrow. I promise you the three miles of shops, galleries, boutiques will turn up some real treasures.


--steve buser

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mom mangles meal from feathery fathers

A mom duck (front center) fights for the food -- and gets it. A young child was throwing bread to these wood ducks creating an explosion of ducks and splashes of water wherever a piece landed. This time, the mom won.

--steve buser

Friday, November 7, 2008

Galloping grace

Grace under pressure. Heard that one?

I came up over this mound at the spillway out to the west of New Orleans a few weeks back and this egret and I came almost eye to eye. When you're carrying a wingspan of a dozen feet, it is always better to get a forewarning that something is coming. Surprises are not good. That's because these big birds take a bit of energy to get up into the air. Though I knew he was moving as quickly as he could -- it's neck stuck straight out and he flapped mighty gust of winds down at the surface of the water -- he was slow to get any real speed. It all looked so graceful. So slow motion. So much grace under pressure.

Then he was airborne and swooped around in a large arc, settling around 300 feet away in the high grasses. Gracefully.

Hey, this is a SkyWatch Friday Post. Click THIS LINK to see other SkyWatch Friday posts

--steve buser

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Auduboners act out aerial artistry

I guess it should not have surprised me to see an Ibis zoom through the sky on a slow descent to it's roost for the night. It's just that I had never seen one from so far below. I had only seen them take short chip shots across a water hazard or the like, usually to get away from me.

But this was the Audubon Park rookery, as sun down was slowly turning down the dimmer. What were near-empty trees just a half an hour ago, were filling up as Ibis, ducks and egrets came zooming in to claim their spot on the branches that had not been damaged by Gustav.

Some slid across the sky alone, like this guy. But most came in waves, picking up friends as they traced the wend of the lagoon toward the rookery island. The waves would drop to the deck near a stand of their friends on branches along the lagoon, and then zoom back up to strafing height. As they then performed a slow descent toward the island and would spot the reflection off my lens, they would do a quick roll, dive quickly toward the inky water and zip around the far side of the island and into the safety of the trees.

It is hard to shoot in that dwindling light, but I had no idea how much activity went on at dusk. I stayed way too long -- into the mosquito hour.

--steve buser