kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shopping on Black Friday

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a shopper. And I decidedly do not venture out on Black Friday. I don't enjoy shopping and I shun crowds. So avoiding the post-Thanksgiving retail rush goes without saying. But for some reason, prompted by a flyer and coupons in yesterday's paper, I found myself in the mood to go to Books-A-Million this morning. As I drove into town, I did the usual mental prep required to navigate the packed parking lot, endure bumping shoulders, wait in lines, and search for customer service.

Much to my surprise, I found none of that. Parking was easy. No lines in the store. No crowded aisles. Employees eagerly assisted me. I redeemed my Black Friday coupon for a free Joe Muggs coffee without a wait. The young man at the checkout patiently accommodated my requests. I don't know what it says about the future of books and bookstores, but shopping at Books-A-Million was eerily easy this morning.

And best of all, I'm just about finished Christmas shopping!

What did you do on Black Friday?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Larry's Old Time Trade Days -- Winnie, Texas

What comes to mind when you think of Winnie, Texas? For some, it’s the highway 10 exit that heads south on the way to Galveston. For others, it’s the halfway mark between Lake Charles and Houston, and thus a great place to stop for gas, snacks, and facilities. For me and a great group of friends last Friday, it was home to “Larry’s Old Time Trade Days,” or in other words, a giant flea market. We spent around seven hours looking at more stuff than I ever knew I wanted to see. Loads of antiques, which I love, plenty of jewelry, lawn ornaments . . .

. . . plants, arts and crafts, and odds and ends of pretty much anything you can imagine. And an enticing food court, to boot. It’s a lot of fun, just walking around, looking at stuff, finding bargains – I bought a pair of gloves and reading glasses for a buck each – but exhausting. Despite my most comfy shoes, my feet were killing me by the end of the day.

These pretty hair clips were a big hit with us girls.

Where else can you find taxidermied camo-clad deer driving a jeep? Just what you always wanted, huh.

Have you been to Larry’s or do you have a favorite flea market?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Horse Tales Literacy Project

I spent the morning at the Stables at LeBocage, hanging out with horses and over 100 first-graders from two local elementary schools. This field trip was part of the Horse Tales Literacy Project, formerly called The Black Stallion Literacy Foundation. (The name had to be changed because when folks googled Black Stallion, a porn site popped up.) This program strives to foster and instill a love of reading in young children through their natural love and curiosity of horses.

The kids seemed to have a great time. They made equestrian-themed crafts, participated in activities like relay races on stick horses, toured the stables, went on a scavenger hunt, and petted and brushed a pony. I had one of the best jobs – working the read-to-a-horse station. I monitored a pretty horse named Sophie while the children took turns reading to her from Walter Farley’s classic book Little Black, A Pony.

Sophie loved listening to the children read. See, doesn’t she look enthralled?

Cameramen from local media were there and I ended up on the five o’clock news. Fun day.

Do you have a favorite horse book?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lorraine Bridge

A recent class I took at McNeese University, called Louisiana’s Hidden Places, by local newscaster John Bridges, encouraged me to renew my quest to discover and visit interesting places in this beautiful state. Yesterday I took a road trip to a destination that’s been on my list for several years, the picturesque Lorraine Bridge, near Hayes, Louisiana. Lorraine Bridge spans the Lacassine Bayou and divides Calcasieu and Jeff Davis Parishes. For years, I’ve seen this bridge in paintings and photographs, and longed to go there and see it myself. Indeed, Lorraine Bridge is pretty as a picture.

Spanish moss drapes like silvery dreadlocks from cypress and tupelo trees.

Tiny black frogs hop atop the mud on the banks of the brown-watered bayou. Leaves float along the lazy current.

It’s peaceful, quiet, and serene.

According to a plaque there, Lorraine Bridge was first built in 1900 and has gone through various stages of disrepair and repair, use and disuse. Around 2005, the police jury wanted to tear it down, but some citizens rallied, raised funds, rebuilt the structure, and deemed it an historical landmark.

I was surprised to find a small campground there, a pavilion and picnic tables, and of course, a boat launch. Next time, I’ll take my kayak!