Hey so, in case you’ve been under a rock and didn’t know . . . I now live in New Orleans, in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. I’m pretty good at making new friends, but I thought I’d tell you all about this new friend-making technique that worked well for me.

One of three blighted properties next door. The one-legged junkie named Clarence usually sleeps in there.

Our new backyard sits sideways of three blighted properties’ backyards. These flop-houses face the busy St. Claude Avenue just around the corner. These properties have most of the pimp and ho action and sales of hard drugs for blocks around. (You know me – I had to move to a place that reminded me of the Old Venice, the real Venice before Snap Chat took over.)

Anyway, I was minding my own business in my new backyard one day, when I realized that since two of the three properties were for sale, that if I wanted to hop the fence and poke around and maybe scavenge some treasures, that I’d better get on it before the properties sold.

I’m not very good at hopping fences – I’m an artist adventurer, not an athletic adventurer. So I changed out of flip-flops and into close-toed shoes for fear of broken glass and used needles, grabbed a step stool and a bar stool and got to work, laddering myself over the fence.

What treasures did I find! I don’t know why my husband would call it ‘junk.’ I had just been thinking that very morning about how I needed to march myself down to the home improvement big box and buy myself some garden tools. Lo! In the bushes, I found a hand fork, a trowel, a pitchfork and a rusted blade on a stick. Thank you, Universe!

Most of my spoils from the treasure hunting day. Baby duck is a little speck just under the broom.

I found a bunch of old chandelier pieces, and an old license plate with a wheelchair icon on it in a frame that says, “New Orleans – Welcome To Margaritaville.” I took my new-to-me rusted blade and cut out at least a dozen elephant ear plants that were over two feet tall. That blade works great, by the way. I’m pretty sure the elephant ears were planted over an old dog grave – and the plants themselves really made me itchy, and I really don’t want to think about maybe why. I also rescued four big and crappy plant pots that will work really well for my front stoop, as they are super ugly and no one will want to steal them.

But the junkiest thing I found by far was a little baby ceramic duck, all faded and covered in mold. I almost threw him away, but instead I bleached him to get the mold off. One afternoon, on my daily walk, I saw a sweet little house on my street with a very well-maintained little front stoop garden – and – AND, a family of four ceramic ducks! These ducks were shiny and well-loved, but I instantly knew what I had to do – I had to leave the faded, ghetto baby duck with his friends. So I did.

Every day on my walk, I noticed that the baby duck was still there. I wanted to knock on the door of the house and introduce myself and announce, “Hey! I’m the Marigny Robinhood of Ceramic Ducks!” But I never did.

Then one day on my usual walk, I saw a ceramic duck chillin’ under a tree. That duck looked an awfully lot like one of the five ducks from the duck house about a block away. “Not my problem,” I thought, “Keep moving.” Then I got to the duck house and I saw their missing duck sign! (Pictured above.) “Return our duck!” the sign said. “He misses his family.”

That sign was a loud and clear APB call for help, so I went back and grabbed the duck and put him right under the sign. Now this house also has giant signage that says, “Smile! You’re on camera.” As I put the junvenile duck back in his place, I thought, “They are SO watching me on camera right now and they are so going to think I stole this duck. But really it was a different duck I stole . . .” 

I went on about my walk. I circled back around an hour later and – THE MISSING DUCK SIGN WAS GONE! These people are really on it! They probably were watching me.

A few days later, I got the courage to knock on the door and a girl answered. Before she could even say “Howdy” I was blathering the entire duck story. “I don’t live here, I’m just visiting,” she said. “But the owner will be back on Monday. . .”

Then last Friday, I was riding past on my bike, the front door to the duck house was wide open and young woman popped out. I stopped and said, “Hey, are you the owner?”

“I am,” she said.

Now, I’m not gonna lie. I was kind of surprised because I’d imagined that the owner was probably an older person, because usually it’s the older crowd who likes things like ceramic ducks.

“Tell me,” I said. “What was the first thing you thought when you noticed the baby duck in your garden?”

She laughed and said, “I was so excited! I told my boyfriend, ‘I want to meet the person who left this duck!’ They must have a great sense of humor.”

We laughed, I told her the whole story and invited her to our neighborhood block party. Her name is Elisa, she’s rad and she came to the party. And now I have a new friend.

PS – The two blighted properties have sold. I came clean with the new owner about my pilfering. Yeah, he doesn’t give a shit. So there.

### All the ducks in a row, pictured above.