Nine Years Since…

I’ve been slightly agitated all week long, with “something” gnawing just beneath the surface.  I couldn’t figure the cause of my mental discomfort till late last night when the date “August 29th” hit  me.  August 29th.  August 29th.  Nine years ago, I woke up in my sister’s home in Lithonia, Georgia to discover that just as we all breathed a sigh of relief thinking NOLA had been spared the worst of Hurricane Katrina, the flood protection walls breached.  With that break, so many things in my life changed all at once, and I found myself vacillating between moments of hopefulness and moments of helplessness.  My husband and I did not lose our home, but we lost so much more than that, and in some ways, I am still dealing with those losses today.

I realized recently that I’m a slow griever.  Grief ekes out slowly, laboriously, as I feel I have time to “handle” unpleasant and difficult emotions or the feeling of being out of control.

Typically, I turn away from Katrina and Post-Katrina pictures, but I bought the books and documentaries and captured photos for the time when I will be able to look without turning away.  So today, in an effort to face “head on” some of the raw emotions associated with Hurricane Katrina, I forced myself to look at pictures of homes that I shot a few months after Katrina.  In so doing, I peered into that moment when nature shook everything out of control.  Perhaps, now I can begin to deal with discontinuity and change, not for survival but to live and breathe again.

The photos in this post were all shot December 2005, a few months after the hurricane.  My oldest sister and her oldest daughter (my lovely niece) were visiting from Texas, so we decided to take a drive to view some of the devastation.

In a city like New Orleans, we’re always so careful to lock our doors, particularly just before we leave town.  I imagine the owners of this home, like my husband and I, locked their doors, set the alarm, and left with a few days supply of very casual clothes, fully intending to return to normality days later. Instead, they returned…to salvage what could be salvaged and to have their home gutted…

For me, these images of a home completely displaced from its foundation represents the sudden shift in reality for New Orleanians.  This is how all those first moments and months felt, like some huge thing shifted out of place and repositioned itself where it did not belong.

This next set of houses is a bit more personal–

"2333 Port Street," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“Beyond Repair,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

This was the house of a family I am close to.  On the surface, not so bad. But in reality, thanks to Katrina, broken beyond repair.

The next two images are of my Aunt Rosemary’s house.  She lived directly across the street from my grandmother, so I spent time at her home whenever I visited my grandmother.  Free huck-a-bucks, a scrumptious meal or treat were always waiting along with our simply fun and off-beat conversations about this and that.  Mae-Mae, as she was affectionately known, played the lottery like no one else I’ve ever known.  I remember, once, she showed me a shopping bag full of lottery tickets.  She helped me select my wedding dress.

"My Aunt's House," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“My Aunt’s House,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

She had her home rebuilt. She lived in a “Katrina Trailer” for quite some time while waiting for her home to be rebuilt. It was finished in 2008.  She died suddenly, within months of moving into her newly refurbished home.  I’m sure she was one more casualty of the storm.  More loss.  I remember not crying at her funeral because I was afraid the dam would break and I wouldn’t be able to control the flow.

"Contents from My Aunt's House," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“Contents from My Aunt’s House,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

Nothing in the home was salvageable. Water topped the roof.  Fortunately, she had given my mom the box of old family pictures some time before the storm.  Priceless memories preserved.

This last one cuts deeper than I care to acknowledge.

"My Grandmother's House," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“My Grandmother’s House,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

I can’t even put into words what I feel when I see images of this house that my grandfather built with his own hands 70 years ago, when my mom was just 7 years old.  I’m sure every grandchild did a little growing up in this home.  My grandfather died when I was nine-years-old, so this has always been in my consciousness “my grandmother’s house.”  It was second home to many of us grandchildren and Grandma always had lots of love for us and our ever-growing families.  We typically used the back door to enter the house and loved hanging out on the front porch.  She died a decade before Hurricane Katrina (one of my aunts was living in the home at the time of Katrina).  Water topped the roof.  This house that survived major hurricanes–the Hurricane of 1947 and Hurricane Betsy in 1965, and dodged Hurricanes Camille (1969), Georges (1998), and (our Pre-K warning) Ivan (2004)–fell to Katrina.

"My Grandmother's House," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“My Grandmother’s House,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

I could have fallen to the ground and cried when I saw this.  How CRAZY this seemed to me, at first, how unreal that there would be no more memories made in this place.  Instead, I sucked up the pain, snapped a few photos and moved on.

I began to see my life as preK (pre-Katrina) and postK (post-Katrina).  There’s a bit of fuzziness to my preK memory, probably because I don’t want to look too fondly on or romanticize a time before.  After we moved to Alabama a couple of years ago, I stopped referring to life as preK and postK because only New Orleanians (and those many others directly affected) would truly understand.

Days after the levees broke, I went with one of my closest friends, Tarshia, to a mall in Atlanta where she treated me to a pedicure.  We took a trip to Build-a-Bear where I “built” this bear. Her name is “Trini,” short for Katrina.  I refused to clothe her because I felt Katrina had taken everything from us and left us all exposed.  I left her so.

"Trini," Hurricane Katrina Bear, August 2005

“Trini,” Hurricane Katrina Bear, August 2005

I realized just last night that since Katrina, I’ve been holding my breath.  And every loss since has simply made me inhale a bit more deeply.  Maybe, with this acknowledgement, I can start breathing again…

"Hope for Our Future," New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

“Hope for Our Future,” New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2005

Oh, the Cows!

I got in trouble with my son because of the cow posting a few nights ago.  Sure, I posted “the cow” as he requested, but he didn’t want me to post a “Photoshopped cow” [Note: I didn’t know he was familiar with the term]. He wanted me to post “the cow” in “its” natural state.  So, here’s the photo, no filter.

"For the Little One," No Filter, Northern Alabama, 2013

“For the Little One,” No Filter, Northern Alabama, 2013

And a goat on the same land captured seconds later:

"Who You Lookin' At?" Somewhere in North Alabama, 2013

“Who You Lookin’ At?” or “Through the Barbed Wire,” Somewhere in North Alabama, 2013

And while we’re at it you might as well have some more bovine:

"Bovine Basking on a Beach," Maui, Hawaii, 2005

“Bovine Basking on a Beach,” Maui, Hawaii, 2005

I snapped this one in Maui a long time ago.   I wonder where else in the U.S. we’d find beach-lovin’ bovine.


I Am “One Lovely Blogger”


I finally read comments on my July 17th blog post a couple of days ago and found that I’d been nominated for the “One Lovely Blog Award” by the inspirational blogger Evangelist Jeanie Shepard.  If you’re looking for a “brighter life in Christ,” you should take a moment to check out her blog.  Thanks for the nomination, Jeanie!

Blogger awards typically come with a set of rules and here they are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to his or her blog.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share 7 facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5 bloggers and contact them on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
"Just a Touch."  The cafeteria tables at my son's school are adorned with "lovely" photo arrangements. Such a nice touch that I'm sure elevates the mood of students as they partake of their midday meal.

“Just a Touch.” The cafeteria tables at my son’s school are adorned with floral arrangements. They are such “lovely” touches that I couldn’t resist pulling out my phone and snapping  a few shots.  I’m sure the flowers elevate the mood of students as they partake of their midday meal. [iPhone Photo.  August 2014]

Chandra Lynn Facts:

  • I am a recovering perfectionist.  I’ve been in recovery for about a decade+ now.  I have to remind myself almost daily that everything does not depend on me and that there’s something beautiful and useful even in imperfection. Otherwise, my tendency for perfectionism–and extreme self-criticism–would consume me.
  • I need a larger home office or a workshop just for crafting.  I like the second space idea a little better–then, I wouldn’t be tempted to defer “serious work” for playtime.
  • I have no rhythm for dance.
  • I have at least 7 books in my head that need to come out.  I’m making a concerted effort to get at least two of them out of my head by the middle of next year.
  • I do not like driving and would gladly welcome a full-time chauffeur.
  • I’m really missing my baby boy.  Every day, the little boy departs a little and I can feel his need for me lessening. His growing independence is a good (and necessary) thing, but my Mommy heart still aches.
  • I do not like hierarchies.  I have a new “higher” position at work that reminds me every day that we live in a world in which hierarchies and power really matter to a lot of people, but it bothers me, and I’m trying to figure out how to deal with the psychic clash.

My Nominees:

  • Amy Saab of 2me4art.  Her blog features striking images of, as she puts it, “Alabama as seen through the eye of a Vermonter.”
  • Broken Light: A Photography Collective which features the art of those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.  The blog features the work of a different artist in each post.  We learn a little about the photographers and get a glimpse of their work.
  • Laura Lynn’s Cancer: My Journey Back to Health–Kicking and Screaming the Whole Damn Way.  Her blog is meaningful to me because she is brutally honest about her experience with cancer and it gives me quite a bit of insight into my sister’s feelings when she was on that journey.
  • J. Patterson’s You Can Shout Now, an inspirational blog that uses our (extra)ordinary experiences to discuss the Christian walk and relationship with the Divine.
  • Kollette Hall of The Art of Choosing Joy.  Read her “My Story” post and you’ll understand why I find her (and Jason, her husband) “lovely” and inspiring.

If you have a little time to spare, take a moment to check out these blogs.  There are so many more I would love to nominate, but rules are rules!  Happy reading!



Two Heads Are Better Than One. Sixteen Legs Are Even Better Than Four!

It’s been more than a month since my last post, so I have quite a bit of mailbox goodness to share. I’ll have to put the sharing on hold a bit because my little one made a special request for me to post the two-headed cow I photographed last year during one of our Saturday afternoon drives.

Two-Headed Cow

Two-Headed Cow


He gets such a kick out of this photo!  It’s not exactly two-headed. In fact, there are more than two cows here. Three obviously. Keep looking and you’ll see the baby legs of a second calf.