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13 Years……

13 years ago… everyone in New Orleans knew exactly where they were. We just had no idea of where we were going, both physically and metaphorically. As the storm gathered and strengthened in the Gulf, some of us stayed, some of us left. Some by choice and some who had no choice. We were cast like seeds to the wind, landing near and far. Some took root where they landed, others came home to start over. It was unprecedented. There were storms before that had their names retired because of their severity, but never had the call been made to the population to take what you could and pray that you had something to come home to or if you stayed, it was your responsibility to suffer the consequences. She hit with a vengeance. We withstood the onslaught. It was not until the day after the eye passed that the levees failed. Did the layman see this coming? Probably not. We were not aware of the incompetency that was hidden from us in plain sight. We found out that fateful day.
We now have the advantage of hindsight to see what led up to the storm and flood that this generation now compares to all subsequent ones. We have had 13 years to digest all of the memories and stories from those days. We were told to “rebuild, restore, and renew”. We have done that. Some say that we have come back stronger. Most feel that we have come back different. Some said that we should not have been rebuilt. Those of us who returned used that sentiment as a rallying-cry to accomplish the reconstruction that we see today. We take today to mourn the multitudes who we lost, and the loss of our innocence. We won’t bow, don’t know how.
I would be remiss to not take this day to thank those who helped us when we needed it most. The untold thousands and thousands who contributed with sweat equity, those who sent money and supplies, and those who opened their homes to a large number of refugees from the storm. For my family, I thank my brother in law, and sister in law, Jay Redmon and Rhonda Holst Redmon, and my nephew Casey Redmon, who took us in with no questions asked when we needed them most.
13 years ago, we all knew where we were……
#rebuildrestorerenew #wontbowdontknowhow

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12 Year Anniversary of Katrina.

Today is a solemn day.
Today is the day that we remember those who perished and those who helped.
Today is day for reflection.
Today is a date that we will never forget.
We were told 12 years ago that New Orleans was dead. We were questioned why we chose to stay and rebuild this wonderful city. To those of us who stayed, the answer was clear. A world without New Orleans would just not be the same place. It was not a world that we wanted to see. So, with the help of thousands who left the comfort of their homes, we rebuilt. We brought this city back from the brink to be as strong as it ever was. We are a proud community, but we could not have done it without outside help from kind and compassionate souls.
Today, in real time, we are keeping our eyes on Harvey. Our brothers and sisters in TX have taken the storm head-on and the images on this solemn date have been numbing. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with those who so willingly took us in 12 years ago. The storm has turned our way, and we look towards the heaven for relief, and we look to the ground with trepidation. The pumps that take away the water from the city now have doubt. The faith that we have had that they will work as planned has been shattered. No one knows what an unprecedented rain will bring. The coincidence of this problem during the anniversary has not gone unnoticed.
Yesterday, we were told to restore, renew, and rebuild.
Today, we reflect, remember, and reinforce.

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10 Years Later

 

The one thing that people always ask when they come in to the studio or find out I live in New Orleans is” How did you do?” or “What happened to you with Katrina?” That touchstone seems to be a conversation starter for a good number of people. My standard answer has been, “We had a hurricane, but not a flood on this side of the river” meaning that we had some damage, but not the horrific scenes that were continuously depicted on the news networks. Ten years later, I think that I may change my answer. The damage goes much deeper than the physical damage that the storm brought. A whole culture that is distinctive within this country was on the threshold of extinction. A way of life was close to oblivion. It has to affect everyone who lived through that trying time, and after denying it, I admit that it has changed me too.

As the 10th anniversary of hurricane Katrina looms closely on the horizon, we have been inundated with stories in all media about those fateful days, weeks, and months. It is not easy reliving all of those moments and I’m sure that my friends who lost everything are having a much harder time than I am.

The good news is that we have lived through the 10 year period which all of the “experts” said would be the most important time in our history. These 10 years were going to steer which direction that the city would turn. Well, after living through these past 10 years here, I can say that it has been both good and bad. We all were told that we had to accept the “new normal” that came with rebuilding. I am a very optimistic person, and I see a lot of great things happening in New Orleans. The most obvious thing is that since the days after the flood, people have volunteered to come and help with the rebuilding effort. Thousands and thousands of people have put in countless hours of work in our community. Ten years later, there is still work to do and volunteers are still coming here to help. Some of them have even made the move to stay here and contribute from within the city. It shows me the amazing spirit of love and caring that we have for each other.

There have been many milestones that people have cited in their articles and programs. Everyone is throwing statistics and numbers around about billions of dollars for a new levee system, more restaurants now than before the storm, the gutting and rebuilding of the public school system, the boom of “Hollywood South”, the revitalization of the Superdome and the Convention Center that were a symbol of government ineptitude and public struggles during the storm, increases in tourist travel and dollars spent locally, etc. We have made progress through these years, but there is much more to do. Crime is a huge problem, it always was, and sadly, it may always be one. There are still vast areas of property that are still uninhabitable. Our population has not recovered, but there is an influx of under-40 year olds who hopefully will embrace and enhance (not replace) the richness that New Orleans has to offer.

On a personal note, since the storm, our kids have both graduated from college and are starting lives of their own.  Thankfully, the studio is still making pieces that are selling at 250 or so galleries and stores across the country, and it has become a “destination” for tourists to come to and see us creating our “magic”. I am still with my partner, wife, and best friend, Brenda, and we are trying to spend more time close to home and not traveling to a lot of shows. Our “Blow Your Own” events have blossomed into a series that people across the Gulf Coast (and a few tourists!) have embraced and made successful.

As you can see, it is a “new normal”.  Some is good and some is bad, but hopefully always moving forward. I took a short walk to get some lunch the other day, and the scenes directly after the storm came flashing back to me.   I stopped and had to collect my thoughts. It was then, as I stood there, that the sounds of birds singing, children playing at recess, the smell of the flowers and trees, the sounds of traffic and people going about their daily business, all slowly began to replace the sad memories. It gave me hope for the future and whatever lies ahead of us. We are strong, we are resilient!

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Favorite Glass Bowls

Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite bowls that I have made over the years. From deep bowls perfect for large fruit dishes to shallow bowls great for keeping loose change organized, they come in all different shapes and sizes. I have several on sale at the moment, check them out in the Bowls section of my store.

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Kliszewski Glass

Known for multi-patterned and brightly colored glass work, Bob and Laurie Kliss create impressive large-scale blown art glass. For over fifteen years, they have produced a line of glass art that has strived to enrich the lives of art lovers everywhere. They take pleasure in each handmade item they produce and wish continued enjoyment to those who have included them into their art filled world.

www.klissglass.com