Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
We went to the Lake Charles Christmas parade today. (60 degrees and sunny) Andrew and Eric rode on our church's float. This photo of First Presbyterian's float was taken at last year's Christmas parade.
Oh, the pageantry. The parade marshall was followed by the Harley Club. What a lot of bikes. Looked like fun. Soon after came our mayor, Randy Roach. There were high school marching bands, cajun bands, radio station vans. Floats carried a brownie troop, the Little League champs, church groups, daycares, and festival queens. Candy and colorful beads flew from every float. There were a couple pirate ships, practicing for Contraband Days, I guess. And naturally, Santa followed behind in a firetruck. Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 5, 2008
In response to Louisiana being deemed the unhealthiest state in the country, I've tried to come up with a list of reasons why La. could potentially be healthy and beneficial.
- Despite skin cancer risks, sunshine is good for you, all that vitamin D. Just be sure to wear the sunscreen.
- Spicy food clears the sinuses. Pass the Tabasco and Tony's!
- The slower pace of a southern lifestyle means less stress. Is it nap time yet?
- Warmer weather means longer growing seasons and more locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. I love farmers' markets.
- What's not to like about fresh seafood.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
After a late lunch at an unremarkable but tasty and filling buffet, we looked through the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum. I would rather have seen the LS State Museum, as the boys are currently studying La. history in Social Studies, but LASM was closer. The clock soon gave out, as did my feet. Everything closed, so it was time to go home. There were many attractions we wanted to see and do but didn't have time for. Guess we'll just have to go back again someday.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday morning, our first stop was the Coffee Call for beignet fingers and cafe au lait. The beignets were good but suspiciously similar to funnel cakes. Then we drove up River Road toward St. Francisville. Besides field after swaying field of sugar cane, what struck us immediately were the large numbers of blue-tarped roofs. We knew that Baton Rouge had been hit hard by Hurricane Gustav, that many areas had lost power for up to ten days. But seeing all the blue roofs make the reports real. We crossed the mighty Mississippi river on a ferry boat at St. Francisville. While parked in line, awaiting the ferry, a woman parked in front of us kept throwing small dark objects out of her car. We were baffled as to what she was littering. We guessed she must have been cleaning something out, but what? And why was she tossing them out the window? When we finally moved forward to board the ferry, we looked down out the windows and saw Oreo cookies minus the filling. She'd been sitting there eating the white creamy middles and throwing the chocolate cookie part away. Imagine! Tossing the best part! We got a good laugh out of that.
After the ferry, we found Rosedown Plantation. I told the boys I learn more history in one house tour than I would in a whole semester of a history class or in any book. I imagine it's 1830 and I've just moved into my new mansion, mistress of the manor. What a different lifestyle! Both the beautifully restored mansion and the gardens were lovely.
After Rosedown, we had lunch at a charming little restaurant called Magnolia Cafe. Then on to the Audubon Historical Site and Oakley Plantation. John Audubon had briefly tutored the daughter of the owner of Oakley Plantation, while adding to his bird painting collection, hence the connection. It was interesting to see the contrasts between the two plantations, each unique and different. There's also a wonderful nature trail on the property. On the grounds at Oakley, there's a turkey named Gus who thinks he's a dog. He's friendly and loves to be petted.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I rented a car and hurried to meet some friends for dinner. As I drove up 279 into the North Hills, the familiarity of it all sang in my heart, "I'm home!" Such a sense of peace settles over me when I'm "home." I had a blast, visiting with family and friends these past five days.
And now I'm at the airport, waiting to "go home." I miss Bob and the kids. And the warm weather! It's been freezing up here. I'm excited to get back to my family, my house, the gym, church, the conference committee, and the usual routine. So I guess it's possible to have more than one "home." And it's always good to go back.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I've discovered Louisiana has her own brand of beautiful autumn colors. Here's a photo of my favorite fall wildflowers.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
It's not my nature to be outgoing. I don't make friends easily. My need to meet people and make friends has been in constant battle with my desire to hole up and hide at home, happy to be my own best friend. But I'm working at making friends. My first priorities upon moving, after settling in, were to find a church and a writers' group. (More on these in upcoming blogs.) After the kids started school, I joined a gym. I'm freelancing from home, so that eliminates "work friends." Unless you count our two cats, Domino and Snowflake. And our ball python Slither.
For the most part, people here, as in Pittsburgh, are quite friendly. But I struggle to move past the "acquaintance" phase. What makes establishing friendships difficult here is that Lake Charles is somewhat like Pittsburgh in that, often, people are born here, live here, and die here. Relatives reside around the corner and childhood friends live down the street or across the river. (Or the bayou, as the case may be.). So most people here simply don't need anyone else. They don't need any new friends. It's tough to break into that. I've found the majority of friends I have made so far are transplants like myself, with a few exceptions.
I do my best to keep in touch with friends back home, and I'm also enjoying getting to know new friends. It's part of the adventure.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Last summer, we caught three black widow spiders on our back porch in three months. One had a sac full of baby black widows high in the corner of the porch ceiling. This summer, they must have gotten the message that they aren't welcome here. We didn't see any. But we do frequently find wolf spiders in the house. Due to their somewhat large size, we escort them out. I simply ignore the tiny nuisance spiders who create dust catchers under the furniture.
And then there's something we'd never seen in the north--love bugs. Twice a year, spring and late summer, the love bugs come out of, seemingly, nowhere, and fill the air, everywhere. They're completely harmless, but totally annoying. Cars really despise them. But the love bugs seems to love cars more than anything else in the world.
And don't even get me started on fire ants, another uniquely southern tradition. As much fun as it might be to disturb a fire ant mound, I don't recommend it. They're an angry lot, full of spite and vengeance. And fire ant bites, well, burn.
Now there is one insect, common in the northeast but even more prevalent in the deep south, that I truly love. The dragonfly. Or as we've oddly heard it called down here, "mosquito hawk." Dragonflies . . .their name alone invokes fantasy, knights and damsels, other-worldly times. Their irridescent wings catch the sunlight and sparkle, as they hum through the air. Dragonflies ignore us admiring humans, except for rare occasions. If you are very lucky, and are gifted by one landing on your shoulder, stopping by to say Hi, if only for a brief visit, then you are truly blessed.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
One of the first festivals we went to was the DeRidder Watermelon Festival. Being at a festival celebrating watermelon, we naturally wanted to eat some. So we sidled up to a booth selling it. We were a bit surprised that a "slice" of melon was $4.00, but what the heck, maybe it was a fund raiser. And then the kind lady handed us our plates. Each styrofoam plate nearly buckled under the weight of a humongous wedge of watermelon. We grabbed our plastic forks and dug in.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Moving requires tons of work. And patience. We felt overwhelmed with boxes for weeks. It took months to clear all the boxes out of our garage. We came from a house with a full basement and 4th floor attic to a home with no basement and an oven-of-an-attic accessible only from a rickety ladder in the garage. Where do we put everything? Over a year later, I'm still discovering misplaced items and wondering where to put stuff.
There's a lot to do to get the house the way we want it, but it's all, slowly, coming together. Now where's that box with the . . .
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Finding a house in one week over the kids' Easter break proved to be a frustrating task. We exhausted and exasperated our real estate agent, dear Mary Ann Booth, but finally had an offer accepted on a new home in Moss Bluff, ten miles north of Lake Charles. We had prayed that God would lead us to where He wanted us to be. And the decision has proven to be a good choice in many ways.
One day during that stressful week, we diverted our attention and did some sightseeing. We drove down the Creole Nature Trail, which is LA-27 south to Holly Beach, across the Cameron Ferry, and returning north on LA-14. We oohed and aahed over alligators lounging roadside. And our hearts broke to discover there were still so many signs, even (then) two years later, of the devastation after hurricane Rita; blue-tarped roofs, blown-out business signs, vehicles and even houses tilted askew in the middle of marsh grass. Cameron Parish lies south of Calcasieu (Lake Charles) Parish along the coast. Many of its residents only recently completed their recovery efforts when, a week and a half ago, Hurricane Ike roared and rolled ashore, flooding the low-lying wetlands once more.
So, knowing that we'd found a new home, the boys and I left Bob and returned to Pittsburgh so they could finish 6th grade with their friends at Ross Elementary. And say goodbye.