Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Anyone who knows me knows I’m not real big into jewelry. But I do enjoy accessorizing every now and then, if I think of it. For me to appreciate jewelry, a piece ideally has to meet any combination of the following criteria; unique or one of a kind, vintage, sentimental, and lovely. So, every once in awhile, I’ll discover a bracelet or bauble which thoroughly delights me. Such was the case last Saturday morning at the Lake Charles farmers’ market.

Artist Nancy Pierce creates bracelets and wind chimes out of antique spoons and forks. I found her work enchanting, and I knew I wouldn’t leave the market without a purchase. But oh, the decisions. Agonizing, actually, because I loved them all. First, I chose a bracelet. They’re all beautiful. And they clasp with a magnet, which, as any woman with only two hands knows, is brilliant. Then I chose a charm to accompany it. So many to choose from! After a ridiculously long deliberation, I decided on this. I love the moon. Guess it’s the Aquarius in me.

I also bought this wind chime, because I adore dragonflies. And bright colors.

Ms. Nancy designs and makes her creations from her country home in the Longview/Ragley area. I wish I’d taken a few photos at her booth, but I was so enamored with her wares, I forgot all about my camera. I don’t think she has a website, but she calls her business All Forked Up and she can be reached at

What kind of jewelry do you like?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Opelousas, LA

I spent the day in Opelousas with my friend and fellow writer Jan Newman. It’s a small town, but lot’s to see. Opelousas claims to be the third oldest city in Louisiana, so there’s plenty of history, and the Zydeco Capital of the World, so they’re big on music. Located in St. Landry Parish, a bit north of Lafayette, it’s in the heartland of Cajun French country, so there’s all that, too. Good thing I had Jan along to interpret for me. She grew up not far from Opelousas, a Cajun farmer’s daughter.

We started at Le Vieux Village (The Old Village). The tourist center is there, along with a dozen or so old buildings – several houses, one dating back to around 1791, a church, a market house, doctor’s office . . .

A two-room schoolhouse from the early 1900s.

A well-maintained steam engine graces the grounds.

“What’s this?” I ask Jan.

“It’s a pigeonnier,” she replies. “It housed pigeons.”

“Oh, you mean like carrier pigeons, for messengers?”

“No, they ate them.”


The primary reason I wanted to go to Opelousas was to visit the Orphan Train Museum, located in a restored railroad station at Le Vieux Village.

Between 1854 – 1929, about 2,000 children rode trains from an orphanage in New York City to rural areas across the United States, including Louisiana. A few of these children were adopted, but most were indentured. Some families opened their homes out of love and compassion. Others, hopefully fewer, saw it as an opportunity for free labor. It’s a fascinating part of American history. In this Opelousas museum, Flo Inhern, whose father-in-law was an “orphan train rider,” gives a fantastic guided tour through the museum. Inside the museum you’ll see this beautiful mural by artist Robert Dafford, depicting the arrival of an orphan train in Opelousas.

We went to the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center, a small but interesting collection with everything from local Native American history (Opelousas is an Indian word), music and food (always), agriculture (cotton, rice, soybeans), and famous people from the town such as Jim Bowie, an Alamo hero originally from Opelousas, and 1972 Olympic gold medalist Rod Milburn. Did you know Opelousas is home to the Tony Chachere brand of spices and foods?

Upon a recommendation from the gal in the tourist center, we ate lunch at the Palace Café, an old fashioned hometown diner. I had a decent fried catfish poboy and fries.

There’s way more to do in Opelousas than we had time for. We were limited to the length of Andrew’s school day. An art museum sadly didn’t open until 1:00, and we didn’t get to the Zydeco Hall of Fame. But we did admire this mural (one of many in the town).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

I’m feeling somewhat melancholy on this Mother’s Day. I don’t want to sound negative. But after all, the title of this blog is The Trials and Triumphs . . . . and I don’t always feel very triumphant. Some days are more of a challenge than others. This is the first year since my sons were born 16 years ago that I haven’t been with both of them on Mother’s Day.

On a positive note, Andrew and I drove to Natchitoches yesterday to see Eric and his mixed ensemble spring band concert. I did his laundry while I was there, and took him out to dinner. But darn, I failed to get someone to take a picture of me and the boys while we were together! It’s a tradition. Every year since they were born, I get my picture taken with my sons on Mother’s Day. (Read last year’s post here.)

I didn’t sleep well last night, had insomnia. I was keyed up after Andrew drove the whole two hours home from Natchitoches (but that’s another blog post.) Bob sailed in the Contraband Pirate Festival Regatta all day Saturday, and he awoke sore, stiff, and sun-burned. He wasn’t up to going to church. I finally roused Andrew out of bed and made it to church on time. No one said Happy Mother’s Day to me until Andrew noticed the sentiment on the fellowship hall projection screen.

“Oh yeah, happy mother’s day.”

“Thanks, Drew.”

On a positive note, upon returning home from church, I did receive two very nice cards; a sweet one from Bob and a funny one from Andrew.

This year, we had to improvise on the photo.

Thank goodness for Skype.

And I miss my mom. This is the fourth year in a row I haven’t seen her on Mother’s Day. On a positive note, I have the greatest Mom in the world and even when we’re not together, we know we love and miss each other and we’re still there for each other. My sisters, lucky for them, just happen to be a little bit more there.

On a positive note, Bob grilled burgers. He and Andrew washed my car. We took a nice walk. But my favorite part of the day was hearing Andrew play his saxophone in the praise band. And hearing Eric yesterday on his trumpet. I love seeing the talent these two boys possess. They make me incredibly proud to be their mother.

Not such a bad day after all! I hope all you mothers out there had a great day, too!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Getting Away Without Going Anywhere

Everyone loves a vacation. Getting away from it all, away from the normal routine, the stress of the same ol’ day in day out. But what would you do if you had a few days off and decided to stay home instead of traveling? A “staycation,” as they say? Bob and I found out these past few days. Eric of course is away at school. On Friday, Andrew left for Orlando with the high school band. Bob and I were alone, just the two of us. So he took Monday and Tuesday off, made it a long weekend, and we squeezed in as much fun as we could into a few days. Turns out there’s quite a lot to do in one’s own backyard. It was pretty easy to pretend we were on vacation.

Coincidentally, there’s a festival in town right now, Contraband Days, which is the city’s annual pirate festival. It lasts not one weekend, not one week, but an astounding two full weeks. It’s essentially a carnival with a pirate/boat theme and lots of music. Always a lot of music. Bob and I are not into the carnival scene, but we went to the Civic Center Friday night, dismayed that we had to pay $20.00 admission just to get to the marina to visit some friends of ours. En route, we enjoyed observing the merriment of the pirates and other general people watching.

We dined out several times over the course of the weekend . . . a late night snack and drinks at MacFarlane’s, Sunday brunch at KD’s Diner, burgers for lunch at Dairy Barn, and dinner this evening at Le Beaucoup Buffet at L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort. It was crawfish night. Looking around the restaurant, we could tell who were the out of town tourists. They were the ones who didn’t know how to eat crawfish. After dinner, it took us about ten minutes to lose $20.00 in the quarter slots. We quickly decided it was too noisy and smoky in there.

We saw the movie Water For Elephants. Bob and I had been looking forward to seeing this movie for some time. We had both read the book and loved it. The movie is also very good. And we watched a few Netflix movies in our favorite movie theater – our living room.

We played 18 holes at Mallard Cove golf course. Notice the plane in the background. Mallard Cove is right next to Chennault Airport.

We walked, gardened, shopped, baked cookies, relaxed. We wanted to go sailing, but it was too windy. I know, that sounds like a contradiction. But in a little sunfish, some wind is good; a lot of wind is just another way to go swimming.

Alas, Bob goes back to work tomorrow and Andrew returns from Florida. It’s been a pleasant time off.

What would you do on a staycation?