1. Best Non-Fiction Book: Why New Orleans Matters by Tom Piazza (this book created a deep desire to move to New Orleans).
2. Best Fiction Book: Confederacy of Dunces by John Kenndey Toole (this book was so good I had to come see the town for myself. I spent at least a half an hour just on the title).
3. Best Children's Book: Who Needs Donuts by Mark Alan Staymay (I took this to #2's class and read it, man was it a hit! I had a blast reading it and they had a blast listening to me read it and looking at the pictures).
4. Best Meal: Going Away Meal at Nancy's. Afterwards me and four other men sat in Adirondack chairs, drank single malts and smoked cigars - it was really something.
5. Best Worship Service: My last Sunday at Lime Rock Baptist, it was unbelievable - the best goodbye of all time (folk are still talking about it).
6. Best CD: Jazz from the Soul of New Orleans by Dr. Michael White.
7. Best LP: The Holy Land by Johnny Cash (I have been looking for this for a couple of years and just found it last week. I also wonder how great the heart attack would be if I asked the choirmaster and organist to have the choir sing He Turned the Water into Wine.)
The Not So Usuals
1. Best Moments as a Father. The first two are closely related. #1 informed her music teacher that her father played the violin - then she volunteered me to come to her class and play. Even though on my best days I am an advanced beginner, I thought okay I'll do it. As I entered the school the secretary casually told me how the music teacher was going to teach her violin. She then casually told me that the music teacher is second chair flutist in the symphony. I about died. I only wish I could have taken pictures of the music teachers face as she winced when I played the notes wrong. Last week #2 informed his class that he was not a Saints fan, he was a New England Patriots fan. The kids started to tease him but the teacher jumped in to assuage the situation. #1 then confided to his teacher that I played for the Red Dragons. In his mind the fact that I played high school football was the same as playing in the NFL. And of course the daily rounds of "tickle time mania."
2. Best Moment as a Husband. An after dinner walk with the VOR around downtown Providence shortly before we left. We held hands looking at the water, the skyline, Le Reve, The Man in the Water. Then I grabbed her tight and kissed her. It was pure bliss.
3. Hardest "thing" to depart with: My Gravely tractors - man that was difficult. Non-things: fiddle class, lunches and hanging out with Darin, five o'clock Scotch with Raymond, laughing with Joe, messing with the SEVN, spying on my neighbor Kevin, and time spent at the Providence based office.
4. Funniest Moment from Craigslist: when a person named Scout came to buy our Davenport. After looking the piece of furniture over she put her face down in the cushion, took a gigantic whiff, then came up and said when you buy a couch it is all in the cushions. How the VOR and I held it together I have no idea.
5. Best Facebook Moment: after I read a NY Times article that one can only keep up with about 100 friends I went through and purged my friend list, (this was before I knew about the "Hide" button). Since then one person has tried to refriend me five times. I know this person is just a facebook harlot, the person has something like 500 friends or something like that. I cannot recall my ever saying one word to this person.
6. Best New Beer Discovery: Red Stripe. For whatever reason I never tried it. After I saw Henry Louis Gates, Jr. drinking one with Obama I thought hmmm I may give it a try. What a great beer.
7. Oddest Occurence: the vendor in Rouses (like a Kroger's for those in WV, or a Wegmans for those in upstate NY or like a Stop-n-Shop for those in RI) who offered me a Rum and Coke sample, at 10:00am. Of course I accepted it, without the Coke.
8. Most Bizarre Pastoral Moment: one day, shortly after arriving in New Orleans, I went to visit a parishioner. Since this person only lived a few blocks from the church I decided to walk. Being new to the city I had yet to fully appreciated the ramifications of tropical humidity and how dangerous it would be to not wear an undershirt. The walk was a little further than I imagined it would be. As I cut through Audubon Park I knew I was in trouble and saw spots developing all over my shirt. I thought if I took off my tie and unbuttoned my shirt I would be okay. Needless to say I was wrong. I arrived at the parishioner's house looking like I had ran back and forth through a sprinkler about ten times. The parishioner offered to take my shirt and put it in the dryer. I contemplated this but thought it a little odd to be sitting in a new parishioner's living room topless. My initial fear was quickly subdued when the parishioner offered me another shirt to wear while the other dried. I simply sat in front of a fan and within a half hour or forty-five minutes I had partially dried out.