Dear Smiley: So much talk about Katrina reminded me of this:
My mom, Gertrude Beerman, of Metairie, evacuated to my home in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I was living at the time, for six weeks.
One day FedEx had a package for her. Inside was a check for $1,500.
My daughter, Shelly Miller, is the director of a senior center in "the projects" in Phoenix, Arizona.
The residents there, with meager means, had raised $1,500 to send to Shelly's Grammy because they didn't want to just give it to an anonymous agency.
Needless to say, we were overwhelmed with emotion. Until my mom passed away, she hosted Easter and Christmas parties every year for the clients of that senior center as a simple way to thank them for their kindness.
Dear Smiley: One Sunday afternoon we visited the Snake Farm in LaPlace with our two boys, 10 and 5.
At the Snake Farm, the owner warned us about a gorilla that spit on people. Our older boy ran down the walkway in front of him as fast as he could, but the gorilla got him.
Later we noticed the older boy, Owen, laughing and giggling every time we looked at him. Our 5-year-old, Kurt, was following close to him and eating something.
When I investigated, Owen confessed that he told his brother the monkey food in a gumball container was a snack and had given him a quarter to get some.
After washing his mouth out, and trying to avoid the spitting gorilla, we left with me scolding one child and trying to stop the other from crying because he had eaten gorilla food!
Height of modesty
Dear Smiley: Our neighborhood Chinese takeout is family owned and operated. Their daughter has been a classmate of our grandson's since middle school.
She probably never made less than 100 on anything, aced the SATs, was a National Merit Scholar, etc.
The other day I went to pick up an order wearing an LSU T-shirt. When the dad brought the order out, he said, “Oh, is your grandson going to LSU?”
“Yep, he moved in yesterday. Where’s your daughter going?”
“She’s going out-of-state.”
“Is she going to Yale?”
Not a Beatle
Dear Smiley: Years ago we found a stray cat in our yard, a Maine coon. He had very little fur and looked terrible but was very sweet.
The vet said he had the worst case of ringworm he had ever seen.
He lived with us for many years and was forever grateful for being rescued.
We called him “Ringo,” short for ringworm!
Know your lakes
Dear Smiley: No doubt "Ouachita" is at or near the top of tongue twisting names for visitors and the uninitiated of our unique state.
However, upstate New York (40 miles or more north of The City) was settled by the Dutch, English and French, among tribes of Iroquois and Algonquins, particularly at or near the Finger Lakes.
Those are the 11 and more narrow 15 to 60 mile-long lakes south of Rochester and Syracuse. As I recall, the lakes west to east are Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasko, Skaneateles, and Otisco. Oneida is not considered a Finger Lake.
Of all their names, you might get Honeoye on the first or second try (Honey-oye), but one city and lake that has to be heard and ingrained is Skaneateles. Skaneateles? Pronounced "Skinny-atlas!"
Dear Smiley: Your mention of people calling reporters to settle arguments reminded me of when I was the editor 30 years ago of The Watchman, official journal of East Feliciana Parish, located in Clinton.
It was nearing Christmas and I wanted to include something about "Feliz Navidad," but had no way to figure out how to spell it.
So I called a Baton Rouge radio station, since they played the José Feliciano song, and asked the DJ who answered.
He laughed and told me.
Imagine my surprise as the rest of the season I heard myself on that station asking how to spell Feliz Navidad.
CINDY BLACK BOUCHIE