Cenla Focus – About Town

About Town Andrea and Donna

I am off for the summer, but I came in to work while Vivian is at Grandma’s house, to help out my employer.   I was flipping through the Cenla Focus and saw my picture…hahaha.  This totally cracked me up.  I knew the photographer was buzzing around but I didn’t know who he was or the picture was going to go.  This cracks me up on several different levels.  Firstly, because people are probably wondering “Who is this chick?”….secondly, because I lend a whole new definition to the term “white”; and thirdly because right under me is my beloved friend, R. R. Sr.  The man who called me up, cussed me out and slammed the phone down in my ear.  Shame, shame.  Let’s just say I was new to town, I had no idea who this family was and I was not trying to make their life miserable, I was just concerned about my neighborhood.

Anyway…it was my laugh for the day.


2401 Monroe Street

I have passed the Coldwell Banker sign on numerous occasions.  Ok, I’ll bite.  I looked up the information for this lot:

Status Active Listing
Type Vacant Land (0-10 Acres) RESID
Price  $30,000
Location  2401 Monroe St
Alexandria , LA 71301
Country  USA

But the kicker is:

Nearly one acre of land, suitable for construction of single family homes.


 If you are confused, click here to read about the house that used to be there and click here.


Some call me inhospitable

Or, maybe that is what the doctor whom I almost tossed off my front porch thought.

It started out as a pleasant day.  Lazy Saturday…sitting around the house.  I heard a knock on the front door and went to answer it.  Standing on my front porch, well dressed, was a man in his late 30s.  I took it in and thought, hmmm….this man is somebody, or THINKS he is somebody.  The first thing he said was “You may think I am crazy for knocking on your door, but do you want to sell your house”.  Immediately, I am intrigued.  This man appeared to be well dressed and his demeanor spoke of money….lots of money.  Even though I love my house, in the interest of historic preservation and if it would get “fixed up” quicker, I entertained the thought of selling it.  I was processing the thought and heard myself reply “We can talk about it”.  At that time, my husband moved out on the porch and my dogs went berserk.  Not a good sign.  So, I hushed my dogs and put them in their kennel and came back.  The man was gone.  I looked accusingly at my husband for an answer.  I was wondering what he said to the man that caused him leave.

My husband chuckled at the questions in my eyes and said only four words “He’s friends with Ratcliff“.  Immediately it dawned on me.  This dude wanted to buy my house, hack it up into pieces, and move it to a “good” neighborhood.  I became incensed and threw open the door to give him a piece of my mind and what I thought about people like him.  He was gone.  Darn.  Poor man.  He had no idea that being friends with you know who was a con as far as we are concerned.  He would have done better keeping that name to himself. 

My husband told him very kindly (he is the nice one) that he should not say that name so loud, that his wife (me) might overhear.  He warned him about my feelings on the matter and told him that we prefer to advocate for historic neighborhoods rather than to tear out the good pieces in them which leaves empty lots and only memories.  Pulling up a large house in this area would be like pulling out your front tooth.  He also informed him that we advocate for neighborhood revitalization, better preservation laws, better oversight from the Housing Authority, better code enforcement, landlords paying attention to their properties, pride of ownership, etc.  That what he proposed to do was not the answer.

So, I guess I am glad that I had to return inside the house.  Otherwise, they might have had a write up in the paper about some crazy blonde woman chasing a man down Monroe Street with a crowbar…..  🙂  Well, maybe not that drastic.  But, you get my point.



This is a very interesting post and worth a read.

Don’t know much about religion? You’re not alone, study finds

Odds are that you know Mother Teresa was Catholic, but what religion is the Dalai Lama?

How about Maimonides?

And – no Googling – what’s the first book of the Bible? How about the first four books of the New Testament?

Americans who can answer all of those questions are relatively rare, a huge new study has found.

In fact, although the United States is one of the most religious developed countries in the world, most Americans scored 50 percent or less on a quiz measuring knowledge of the Bible, world religions and what the Constitution says about religion in public life.

The survey is full of surprising findings.

For example, it’s not evangelicals or Catholics who did best – it’s atheists and agnostics.

It’s not Bible-belt Southerners who scored highest – they came at the bottom.

Those who believe the Bible is the literal word of God did slightly worse than average, while those who say it is not the word of God scored slightly better.

Barely half of all Catholics know that when they take communion, the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ, according to Catholic doctrine.

And only about one in three know that a public school teacher is allowed to teach a comparative religion class – although nine out of 10 know that teacher isn’t allowed by the Supreme Court to lead a class in prayer.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is behind the 32-question quiz, polling more than 3,400 Americans by telephone to gauge the depth of the country’s religious knowledge.

Read CNN Belief Blog contributor and Pew adviser Stephen Prothero’s take on the survey

“When it comes to religion, there are a lot of things that Americans are unfamiliar with. That’s the main takeaway,” says Greg Smith, a senior researcher at the think tank and one of the main authors of the survey.

Smith has a theory about why atheists did so well on the quiz – they have thought more about religion than most people.

“Very few people say that they were raised as atheists and agnostics,” he explains.

About three out of four were raised as Christians, he says.

“They were raised in a faith and have made a decision to identify themselves with groups that tend to be fairly unpopular,” atheists and agnostics, he says.

“That decision presupposes having given some thought to these things,” which is strongly linked with religious knowledge, he says.

The single strongest factor predicting how well a person does on the religious knowledge quiz is education – the more years of schooling a person has, the more they are likely to know about religion, regardless of how religious they consider themselves to be, Pew found.

“The No. 1 predictor without question is simply educational attainment,” Smith said.

The think tank also asked a handful of general knowledge questions – such as who wrote “Moby-Dick” and who’s the vice president of the United States – and found a link between religious knowledge and general knowledge.

Very few people scored high on religion questions and badly on general knowledge, or vice versa.

People who were members of religious youth groups also did well, he said.

“Religious education is an important factor that helps to explain knowledge – people who participated in youth groups get an average of two extra questions right,” he said.

Jews and Mormons were close behind atheists and agnostics as the group who did best overall on the religion questions, and white evangelical Protestants also tended to get more than half right.

White Catholics averaged exactly half right, followed by mainline Protestants and people who said they were “nothing in particular,” both of whom got just under half right.

Black Protestants got just over a third of the questions right, and Hispanic Catholics just under a third, the Pew Forum found.

The survey was inspired partly by CNN Belief Blog contributor Stephen Prothero‘s 2007 book, “Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know – And Doesn’t.”

Because the Pew Forum couldn’t find any indication that such a survey has ever been done before, it can’t say if Americans today know more or less about religion now than they did in the past.

And the organization doesn’t claim too much for its 32 questions.

They “are intended to be representative of a body of important knowledge about religion; they are not meant to be a list of the most essential facts,” the Pew Forum says.

Only eight of the 3,412 survey respondents got all 32 questions right. Six got them all wrong.

Dear Dell: Quit calling me!

Dear Dell,

Please avail yourself of a pencil and some paper.  Ok.  Now that you are ready, please take note of the following:

No, I do not want to purchase any additional programs, insurance, payment protection, fraud protection or plant a tree.

No, I do not want to take a survey regarding the level of service, whether or not I liked my computer or thought it was a good deal, or my overall satisfaction (this may change depending on the number of times you continue to call me!).

Yes, I am very happy with my computer.  No, I am not experiencing any technical issues.  If I do, I will give YOU a call and explain to you the problem and I am sure you will fix it since I bought the warranty.  Which brings me to another point: No, I do not want the extended warranty and I do not want a “buy back” warranty.  I do have a brain and if I am ever of need of any of the above services, I will call YOU.  If you continue to call me and harrass me while I am trying to cook dinner, or doing my homework, I will think very hard next time before purchasing another computer from you.  If I would have known that this laptop would come with an average of 2 calls per day from your sales department, I probably would have just ran down to Office Depot and purchased a computer there.  Please do not insult my intelligence by couching your attempts to upsale me something into concern over the performance or my overall satisfaction of this machine.  Puh-lease!  I would assume that the average person purchasing a computer could figure out how to call your 800 number and avail themselves of your warranty services.  Your thinly veiled attempts at selling me something is seriously wearing on my nerves.

Thank you and have a nice day!

Andrea Warren

Thursday at 1:24 p.m.

All right, so I admit it, I am a nosy old broad.  Unfortunately, the way my mind works, I cannot get something out of my head until I reconcile it one of two ways.  1: That it makes sense, factual sense; 2. The mystery gets solved.  So, what is truck 1301 doing in front of my neighbor’s house at 1:24 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon?  The driver (not my neighbor), retrieved a blue ice chest from the porch, stuck it in the back of the truck, then got back in the truck and drove away.  Is my neighbor ministering to the trash men by providing respite and water?  Is he perhaps peddling drugs?  Are they friends?  Is this the end of their route?  If so, then why do they arrive here at different times during the day?  A different truck picks up our regular refuse on Monday and Thursday and it is early in the morning.  I note that our trash was picked up early on Thursday, so this truck was not there to pick up our trash.  Yes, I am too nosy for my own good.  Maybe when summer is over and Vivi and I both go back to school, I will be more consumed with my studies rather than the strange goings on of the trash men of Alexandria… 🙂  Until then, I will just obsess about it.  

The time

The blue ice chest

The truck number

The driver

I can’t help but laugh at myself.  I am reminded of old black and white movies where old ladies watch their neighbors through lace curtains thinking the worse and imagining bodies being hauled off and evil things afoot.  Then it all turns out to be perfectly innocent in the end.  Which is probably the case here.  Still…it has me curious…. 🙂

Since I have not renovated much in a while, I need to change my name from perpetualrenovator to obsessed-trash-man-watcher!  Ok, enough of this absurdity!  Its getting late.  Gotta go to bed!


Alexandria City Truck 1301

Upon closer perusal, I note that the truck parked in front of my neighbor’s house periodically is not a regular trash truck.  It appears to be a special trash truck, maybe for special pick ups.  Not sure.  Anyway, they were parked in front of my neighbor’s house today, talking to him.  My neighbor went in and out the house several times and then finally brought the driver a tennis racket.  I noticed them at 11:35, not sure how long they had been there already, and they pulled out at 11:55 a.m.  To his credit, the man sitting in the passenger seat was eating.  Apparently it was HIS lunch break.  Not sure about the driver (he stood outside the truck the whole time he was here, not eating, so can’t say he was on his lunch break), or why they were in front of my neighbor’s house again.  In all fairness, it may be their lunch break and this is where they land.  I sure would like to know, especially after tree limbs and yard waste sitting in front of my house going on five weeks now.

Truck 1301 parked in front of my neighbor's house

The driver of the truck hanging out

 My neighbor is in the doorway

My neighbor on the left talking to the driver, gave him a tennis racket

My neighbor hanging outside the truck door


Town Talk Out-scooped


In September of 2004, I gladly traded the one horse town without a horse [Provencal] for a two horse town [Alexandria]. Even though Alexandria has a decent sized population, apparently we are just not newsworty enough to write about….or write for…for that matter. Around January, I discontinued my subscription to the Town Talk. Besides the basics, obituaries, a couple of complaint letters (some absurd that do not even make sense, I mean, who selects these things to publish?), a few thin stories and some hype about council meetings, I really did not feel that I was getting a) my money’s worth; b) anything worth reading, c) objective reporting. I felt that I could get the same news online, through other blogs or from the nightly news.

Tonight, I decided to check out my old home paper, The Times Picayune.  Oh, do I miss that publication!  The Sunday paper could be recycled and used as a doorstop.  In reading the TP tonight, it makes me wonder why the TT has not run this story:  U.S. Soldier kills five fellow soldiers, or this one: Panel approves bill to protect bicyclists or Bill to require backseat seatbelts  passes house.

You are being outscooped TT.  The stories may be on the horizon, however, I have already read them from other sources.  A lot of readers, due to the advances in technology and Twitter, want to be in the know instantly.  Where is the cutting edge newspaper of the past?  Lately, it seems, the TT has not lived up to their reputation.  Hopefully, I will not appear in next Sunday’s editorial like poor Lamar did.  🙂  But, in order for that to happen, someone important would have to read my blog…no worries here. 

In fairness, I have enjoyed the historical pieces published.  Not all of them have been accurate, but close enough to not have to point out the errors.  All in all, Alexandria deserves better reporting, up to date stories, interest pieces, World news, and on and on.  I am not sure what the problem is, whether it be the budget, the higher ups, the reporters….not sure.  But, if the TT wants to be a competitor in today’s fast paced, technology driven news market, they need to get hip.


As a PS, I would like to point out that Cynthia Jardon stated that the reason the TT, which is owned by Gannett, did not submit any entries to the Louisiana Newspaper Association’s  annual competition was due to a business decision since it costs a lot of money to enter 24 categories…yada yada…  So, I have one question, then why did the Monroe Newstar, which is also owned by Gannett, submit entries?  Puzzling….  I just can’t figure it out.  Someone please explain…I know I am blonde and all….  I note that Cenlalight is perplexed too.

Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


Been busy lately…

Apparently, very innocently, I have stirred some stuff up here in the little old town of Alexandria, Louisiana.  In fact, I think that one person did call me that…a pot stirrer.  Hahaha  🙂  A few area residents decided to take action on an issue that we felt was negatively impacting our neighborhood.  We decided to get together and write a letter.  Check it out on:  www.cenlahistory.wordpress.com

I have received numerous telephone calls about it so, I am not the only one who feels this way.  I will work harder next week on updating my home projects for the ones interested out there.  For the time being, check out what is happening on my other blog.