kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Forest Hill, Louisiana – A Day at the Nurseries

We’ve lived in Louisiana a few months shy of four years now, and I’d heard of Forest Hill. Anytime the subject of landscaping came up, we’d always hear, “Go to Forest Hill.” Ask a neighbor about a particular plant in his yard . . . “Got it at Forest Hill.” Complain about the prices at local Lake Charles nurseries . . . “You gotta go to Forest Hill!” We had no idea where Forest Hill is. But in my mind, it became a landscaping legend, a mecca for mulchkins, the holy grail of gardening. And thus I began my pilgrimage this morning with a few friends of mine. And I discovered that Forest Hill is not a nursery. Oh, no. Forest Hill (about an hour and a half northeast of Lake Charles) is a small town with a population of 400-500 people. And home to approximately 200 nurseries and garden centers! Where does one begin?

We started at one called “Harold’s.” The place is huge. You go into the office, tell the man what you are looking for, and he makes a few circles on a map for you. What fun, just wandering around, looking at plants! The four of us bought quite a few, too. The low prices here will blow your garden gloves off.

This time of year, azaleas and wisteria are in full bloom. They grow tamed and cultivated in yards or wild and haphazard in the woods and along roadways. Either way, it’s a beautiful sight.

We went to Poole’s, although I couldn’t tell you which one. Supposedly, there are several Poole brothers who each own a different nursery. One nursery is simply called “The Other Brother.”

We ate lunch at a delightful diner called Lea’s in a town called Lecompte (pronounced La-Count. Seriously)

As the sign says, Lea’s is known for her pies.

And ham. The ham was good. And I had lemon meringue.

According to this sign, Lecompte has a pie festival in October. Wonderful time of year for another road trip!

So, if you live anywhere in the state of Louisiana and want to buy plants, flowers, trees . . . “Go to Forest Hill!”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hasenpfeffer, anyone?

Here in southwest Louisiana, we’re always celebrating something. This weekend, it’s the Rabbit Festival in Iowa (pronounced I-WAY. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Just trust me.)

We saw typical festival fare. Vendors hawking their wares, live Cajun music, face painting, air brushing, pony rides. A carnival with carnie food, carnie rides, carnie games. And rabbits.

Rabbits to hold and purchase . . .

rabbits to win . . .

and rabbits to eat.

No, I didn’t eat any, but it probably tastes like chicken.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mardi Gras in SWPA

Mardi Gras in SWPA! The Dilmores traveled home to Pennsylvania for Mardi Gras this year. We were way overdue to visit family. Sadly, it is still winter there. It snowed all day Sunday.

But that didn’t stop us from having a Mardi Gras party. No parades, but we made masks . . .

wore beads and listened to Zydeco and Cajun French music . . .

ate King Cake and gumbo with potato salad . . .

But the best part was all of us being together.

Monday we drove to the city and spent the day at the Carnegie Science Center . . .

with my sister and her terrific kids.

The Science Center has, among oodles of other exhibits, a wonderful train display which is definitely the high point for my niece and nephew.

The scenes of this model train display fascinate young and old alike.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater is the newest addition.

Tuesday I did an author visit to the 3rd and 5th grade classes at my nieces’ school, Armbrust Christian Academy. Small school, small class sizes, only 8-9 kids per class.

Here’s a glimpse of Pittsburgh as we crossed the West End Bridge. The Science Center is next to Heinz Field, where the Steelers play. (See the white cone, right in the center of the photo.) The large building far left is the new casino. It took the city decades to get a gaming license. Here in Lake Charles, we have several casinos and another possibly on the way. I hear pro and con opinions on their benefit to the community. Pittsburgh readers, what are your thoughts on the new casino? Good or bad for the city, and why? Lake Charles readers, what do you think about the casinos?

I’ll end this post on a beautiful note . . . orchids blooming in Mom’s dining room window.