September 9-10, 2008


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Friends:

In these post-Gustav days, things are slowly getting back to “normal” in my area though today, tropical storm warnings and flash flood watches were issued for coastal Louisiana because of Hurricane Ike. Ike is headed to central Texas where people are under a mandatory evacuation. We have voluntary and mandatory evacuations in the lower-lying coastal parishes such as Plaquemines and St. Bernard.

Sometimes, I wish I could go back to being a child. Eliana is blissfully happy to be back home and in her normal routine. She is also oblivious to the chaos of our adult world (thank goodness). Here she is playing with her baby doll, Maya.

Eliana and Baby Maya

Eliana and Baby Maya

Yesterday, we went grocery shopping to restock our refrigerator, only to find many of the shelves barren of stock, especially in the produce aisle. Grocery stores have not yet been fully restocked since the hurricane. This is what the produce section at our Neighborhood Wal-Mart looks like. I forgot my digital camera at home so this photo was taken with my phone camera.

September 9, 2008 - Empty Grocery Shelves

September 9, 2008 - Empty Grocery Shelves

Nevertheless, I managed to cook a delicious meal with leftovers for the following night. We had garlic chicken pesto tortellini with a side salad. Yum! It was our first meal cooked at home since we returned after Gustav.

September 9, 2008 - Garlic Chicken Pesto Tortellini

September 9, 2008 - Garlic Chicken Pesto Tortellini

The most interesting post-Gustav news today was how bungled the Emergency Food Stamp program became. The government approved a program to provide one month of “emergency” food stamps to those affected by the storm (nearly everyone in Louisiana!). The program was to be administered by the Louisiana State Department of Social Services (DSS). In short, it was a disaster as big as Gustav.

Yesterday, only two sites serviced Jefferson and Orleans Parish. After passing our 2,500 cards, the DSS had to shut down and turn people away. People waited in blistering heat and lines that were hours long. The crowds were angry and the National Guard had to be called in for crowd control. An ambulance was summoned as people suffered heat stroke.

Today, two larger sites were opened in Jeffrerson and Orleans Parish only the DSS failed to inform the proper parties. They did not update their website either. There was mass chaos and confusion as again, people lined up for the food stamps. Traffic was backed up for 4 miles on the Westbank Expressway in Jefferson Parish as people anxiously waited for their chance to get their food stamps. The government will not allow online applications. Everyone has to apply in person, bringing bank statements, check stubs, drivers licenses, social security numbers, proof of residence, and proof of damage to your home. This ridiculous amount of paperwork causes lines to bottleneck and congest.

We had to fill up our car today and were happy to see a fuel truck refueling the gas pumps. Several of the pumps had plastic bags over them – they were out of gas.

September 10, 2008 - Gas Station Filling

September 10, 2008 - Gas Station Filling

Today, I stayed busy booking shows, answering emails, sending out manuscripts (3 new ones), and working on book promotions for the Spring 2009 release of The Cajun Cornbread Boy. It was an extremely productive day.

The Cajun Cornbread Boy Picture Book by Dianne de Las Casas Illustrated by Marita Gentry

The Cajun Cornbread Boy Picture Book by Dianne de Las Casas Illustrated by Marita Gentry

I danced on Cloud 9 today as Robert D. San Souci, Children’s Book Author, provided a beautiful quote for the book:

“Dianne de las Casas mixes humor, high spirits, lively narration and a colorful setting to bring alive the timeless tale of The Gingerbread Boy (always a favorite of mine as a child). When a lonely old woman decides to cook up a cornbread boy in her magic skillet, her too-generous use of cayenne pepper in the batter brings about unexpected results and sets the stage for this droll, Cajun-spiced retelling. The author mixes her storyteller’s ear for concise, vivid description; rhythmic language; and exciting pacing, with tasty dollops of humor, as she recounts the cornbread boy’s meetings with various woodland creatures who want to gobble him up. But the storyteller here gives the ‘tragicomic’ tale a suitably happy — and logical — ending brought about by that ‘extra big dash of cayenne’ in the hero’s makeup. This delectable, delightful retelling is accompanied by lively, appealing watercolor illustrations by Marita Gentry that capture the zest of the tale and the distinctive bayou setting. A pronouncing glossary of Cajun words and phrases, an author’s source note, and a mouthwatering recipe for southern cornbread, help make this marvelous book what they would call on the bayou a thing delish!”
— Robert D. San Souci, author of The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South and Little Pierre: A Cajun Story from Louisiana

Thank you so much, Bob! You are the best!

I also did some fun research on a new picture book I am working on with Marita Gentry, illustrator of The Cajun Cornbread Boy. I will post more about that in my next blog… Keep reading!

Until next time…

Warmly,
Dianne