Recipe for a grand day:
The Guest and I, after a perfectly delightful breakfast (I humbly admit), headed off to what is still one of the bestest things in town: the Roman exhibit at the Art Museum.
Even second time around, even with Philistines whispering*, the impact is not lessened. There's something about being right-the-dickens-there, the wonderful objects and the faces and bodies of the past just as close as your coffee cup, that cannot be conveyed in any other way. And to see it once again with another friend who has a working knowledge of the Republic and Empire that greatly exceeds my own makes it all the better! ...I'd go on and on but I've already enthused about this collection. It's a marvel!
(Here's a tip: Cultivate intelligent, well-read friends; if you do nothing else to improve your mind, you'll still end up way ahead of folks who stand around gossiping about the celeb of the moment or the horrawful thing that Joe at the barbershop did at Bubba-Sue's wedding.** What, you knew that already? Then why didn't you tell me long ago?)
Another marvel on this visit was a scattering of "uniformed" teens from some school, their preppy attire distinct but hardly military, each with his or her artist's pad and producing very fine pencil sketches of the various pieces in the exhibit. One young man with the look of an athlete stumbled a bit as he stood from a tailor's squat before a large candelabrum. "Sorry, I sat too long," he grinned to the adults and his classmates, his well-rendered drawing flashing for a moment as he made his apologies. Y'know, the Western Civilization thing, it's really a pretty good idea.
We were able to take a few extra minutes to watch a conservator at work on a priceless 16th-Century painting, and none of this "through glass," stuff, either; there's a string on posts to remind you to stay out of the way and a nice young man to answer the questions you'd best not be bothering the conservator with, but that's all that's between you and all that history and skill. If you wait long enough, the conservator herself is pleased to speak with visitors during her breaks. --Now that's how you get folks connected to Art!
The entire museum, always a gem, has become a lot more playful since the most recent renovation: the collections form a maze with sightlines varying as you walk, distant and interesting things appearing, being hidden and reappearing as you get closer. There's no telling what will be around the next corner; before you know it, you're deep into the labyrinth and the only minotaur who haunts it is your own delight.
Time's remorseless and we were fair famished, so 'twas back to my neighborhood and Yats: "Cajun. Creole. Crazy." Two people can eat like royalty and get change back from a couple of sawbucks. Chili-Cheese Etoufee, Ropa Veijia, the good rice, crisp garlic bread, exotic soft drinks and coffee as good as anything they pour in Naw'lins -- I should go back for seconds! Okay, you do eat like royalty with overly-familiar servants; when I walk in, whoever's behind the counter sings out, "Hi, RX! Here or to go?" I like that! Yats has streamlined the process of ordering: you belly up to the counter, have a look at the blackboard to see what's in the kitchen tonight, name your pleasure and pay. By the time you sit down, there's a young man with a smile and steaming plates of goodness waiting for you.
Alas, after dinner it was time for The Guest to pack up and head out. "All good things...." 'tis said. And today was definitely good!
* Best one: looking at a marvelously carved stone sarcophagus, girlfriend to boyfriend in serious, dimwitted awe: "Isn't it uh-mazing how they could start at one end and do each section and finish at the other end without running over or leaving space?" D'ya know how darned difficult it is to not snicker when you're trading OMG-she-means-it looks with your traveling companion?
** Bubba-Sue is the generic double-wide ijit; when sufficiently frustrated by such persons in traffic, I have been known to improvise lyrics about her to the tune of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue. This is terribly unfair and yet ever so much nicer than simply ramming them while cackling with demented glee. Umm, not that there's, like, anything wrong with being two axe-handles wide and twice as solid through the skull.
3 weeks ago