kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Fun Fall Birthday Weekend with Flat Stanley

One day not long ago, I received a letter from my niece in Pennsylvania. Folded inside the envelope was a perfectly-colored Flat Stanley, of picture book fame, and instructions to take Flat Stanley on adventures, then return him with a letter and photos. It's all part of a geography/social studies project her second grade class is doing. So, this weekend we showed Stanley around SWLA a bit.

On Friday, I met Bob for lunch at a little diner in Lake Charles called Mary Ann's so Stanley could try some authentic Louisiana chicken and sausage gumbo. He loved it and so did Bob and I.

Later that evening, we traveled north to Reeves with two other families so all the kids could get lost in a cornstalk maze. The maze is so cool, made in the shape of Louisiana.

Saturday was Eric and Andrew’s 15th birthday. Supposedly they are now eligible to obtain their driver’s permits, but that’s a blog for another day. We went camping at Sam Houston Jones State Park, an easy six miles down the road. So convenient I went home on Sunday to feed the cat and take a shower.

We took Stanley on a hike through the swamp. Unfortunately, Stanley didn’t have a bike, so he couldn’t join the boys on their rugged trail rides.

The air was chilly Sunday morning, so Stanley warmed himself by the campfire.

Overall, I’d say Flat Stanley enjoyed his visit to Louisiana, but it’s time to send him home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Bicycling has aways been one of my favorite activities. I loved biking in Pennsylvania. I miss the rails-to-trails, the challenge of cranking up the big hills, and the thrill of flying down them. Biking in SWLA has its advantages, as well. For one thing, it's easy to bike year around here. More or less. Spring and fall are, of course, the best seasons. In the summer, one has to start early enough or wait late enough so that it's not too hot. In the winter, you have to wait till late morning or afternoon when the sun finally chases away the chill. The terrain here is certainly easy; it couldn't be any flatter. There are miles and miles of quiet country roads to get lost on. And there are challenges. One is dodging roadkill, primarily armadillos, opossums, and snakes. The other more formidable foe is frequent headwinds. Imagine pedaling with all your might, only to feel like you're being pushed backwards. Of course, if there's a headwind, there must also be a tailwind. Depends on which direction you're riding, and from which direction the wind is blowing. Unlike in Pa., where the wind almost always blows from the west, Louisiana breezes blow from any direction, sometimes at the same time. Tailwinds are a biker's best friend. They make me feel like super-biker, effortlessly powering down the road at high speeds, especially if they sneak up and catch me unaware. But sooner or later, usually after 30 minutes, I must turn around and head home. Right into a brick wall. Like I said, I miss the hills. At least once I got to the top, I could coast back down to the bottom.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn in Southwest Louisiana

Last week, we had high temperatures around 90. But this past weekend brought cooler temps and we're enjoying highs in the 60s. As if someone flipped a switch, we're suddenly drinking hot chocolate and warm apple cider. Colorful fall wildflowers dot the roadsides. We placed a big pumpkin in our front flower garden. The boys sport pants to school instead of shorts. Jackets have migrated out of the closet. While we hear reports of snow flurries in the northeast, we're soaking up sunny clear blue skies, lower humidity, and open windows, the AC taking a much needed break. Never mind that the weatheman says we'll be back to 82 degrees by Wednesday. Fall is a favorite welcome season in SWLA.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I have a favorite line from a favorite song from one of my favorite CDs, Magnolia, by Aimee Mann. "Even when it's approaching torture, I got my routine." We're certainly in a routine around here. To a point. Despite the routine, every day is different and I'd be lost without my calendar. One thing for certain; every day is busy and involves a tremendous amount of driving around. I remember when Eric was in the hospital, how I longed for life to get back to normal, for a routine. And now that we're back in a routine, I find myself wishing for a break from it. Funny thing, human nature.

Speaking of routine, Eric had a routine chest x-ray and repeat pulmonary function test today. The docs want to keep tabs on how his lungs are healing. I saw the x-ray. I'm no radiologist, but I thought it looked . . . much better? Nearly normal? We'll wait for the physician report on that one. The pulmonary function report shows significant improvement in ALL numbers. In just three months, Eric's vital capacity (amount of air he can blow out in one breath) increased from 37% to 54%, total lung capacity 55 to 64%, diffusion 43 to 58%. Huge, in my book. So we're very encouraged.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Homecoming -- Day 3 -- The Dance

By all reports, the boys had a fun time at the Homecoming Dance. Eric met his date at a friend's house. They and another couple went to the park and met two other couples for photos. They had dinner at Outback before the dance. Andrew didn't have a formal date, and the girl he was to meet there fancied another guy, so Andrew played the field and supposedly danced with twelve different girls. Eric had my camera. Fortunately, he got one shot of Andrew at the dance. I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Homecoming -- Day 2 -- The Game

Sam Houston was supposed to "Stomp the Swamp" and beat the Gators. The score at halftime was 7-6, Big Sam. But LaGrange rallied in the second half, chomping us Broncos 28-14.

The girls in the Homecoming Court were lovely. I especially adored the hats and gloves. So vintage.

Sam Houston's "Pride and Spirit" marching band debuted their slick new uniforms. Very cool. Sorry I don't have a close-up. Andrew is out there somewhere. You'll have to take my word for it.

After the game, Bob and the boys went with some other friends to TP another friend's house. They call it "rolling" down here. Supposedly, a Homecoming tradition.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Homecoming -- Day 1 -- Parade

This weekend is Sam Houston High's Homecoming. A parade marched down Sam Houston Jones Parkway (Moss Bluff's main street). Andrew played in the band. Eric walked with the Environmental Club. Notice I said "walked." How would it look if the Environmental Club frittered away fossil fuels on a float? Besides, the parade route couldn't have been more than half a mile at the most. Bob and I chaperoned with Eric's club. I don't think I ever walked in a parade before. It was fun. Saw so many people I knew. Tomorrow night . . . the big game . . . Big Sam vs. LaGrange Gators.