kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Indian Bayou

I and a small contingent of the Pelican Paddlers braved the chill today and ventured a few miles down Indian Bayou, from Sam Houston Jones State Park to “the island” for one last paddle in 2012. The temperature barely reached 50 today, and I was concerned I would be cold. But I dressed warm enough, maybe even too warm, and had a delightful time. My arms reminded me that I hadn’t been on the water in two months. Too long.

The bayous in Louisiana are beautiful, even in winter.

I didn’t catch any with my camera, but we saw several blue herons. Otherwise, not much wildlife. I suppose one could say one of the best parts of kayaking in the winter is that there are no mosquitoes.

I'd explored Indian Bayou several times in the past, but never before in winter. You can read about a couple of my other trips down this pristine waterway here.

Happy New Year, everyone! How are you celebrating the end of 2012?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Natchitoches' Festival of Lights

As promised, we went to Natchitoches for 86th annual Festival of Lights last Saturday. The weather was perfect, though maybe a bit too warm (close to 80 degrees) for December. Never quite sure this time of year, I wore corduroy pants and a long-sleeved holiday t-shirt. It was way too warm for that. And to boot, I was certain it would cool off after the sun went down, so I unnecessarily carried around a light-weight jacket all day. Imagine the band kids in those heavy uniforms, marching what I would guess to be around a 3-4 mile parade route. This is Andrew’s “Oh, Mom . . ." look.

I knew the place would be packed. Knowing I don’t deal well with crowds, I had mentally psyched myself ready several days in advance, but nothing could have prepared me for the masses that descend on Natchitoches for this daylong celebration – the parade, food, music, fireworks, and unveiling of the over 300,000 lights that adorn darling downtown Natchitoches. Out of curiosity, I called their Visitors Bureau and discovered they estimated the crowd to be around 75,000! Wow!

It was a good day overall. The parade was long, about two hours. Dance and cheer teams, floats carrying queens, politicians, and area business owners, high school marching bands, costumed characters, all tossing candy and beads to the throngs. I could do without the noisy vroom vroom of approximately 175 motorcycles. And the policemen on their bikes needn’t preen at quite so high a decibel level. But these funny Shriners made me smile.

I did a little Christmas shopping in the overcrowded shops along Front Street. The fireworks were some of the best I’ve seen in my life (and I've seen a lot), truly choreographed to Christmas music and with different unusual displays of explosives I’d never seen before.

They don’t flip the switch on the lights until after the fireworks, in a grand reveal. We’d grown weary of the crowds by then and wanted to head home after the fireworks (church and all the next morning) but in hindsight, I wish we had spent a bit more time looking at the lights. Traffic was an absolute nightmare. It took us an hour and a half to get out of the town. But it’s a worthwhile event to do at least once. It’s a Louisiana holiday tradition.

(In the name of full disclosure, I did not take these night shots. I found them on the internet.)

If you are curious what Natchitoches looks like on a normal day, read this post from my archives here. But Mighty Max is no longer there. And the lovely park has been expanded, improved, and is absolutely stunning.

Tell me about your fun holiday events or traditions.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Getting into the Christmas Spirit

Gasp! I just realized that this post makes three Flashback Fridays in a row. Which means I have not written a "new" post in over three weeks! So sorry, readers. I promise I will have a brand new one early next week. Because tomorrow, we are going to an exciting Louisiana Christmas tradition -- something that has been on my list pretty much since we moved here -- the Natchitoches Festival of Lights and Christmas Parade! Finally. Eric has been going to school in that town for three years now. After he graduates this spring, we may never be in Natchitoches again. So it's now or never. The fact that Andrew's high school band is marching in the parade gives us added incentive.

Anyway, I found this post from 2010. It's basically where I am presently -- getting into the holiday spirit. There are so many festivals, lighting ceremonies, parades, fireworks displays, galas, and holiday happenings this weekend, who wouldn't be in the spirit!

Speaking of lighting ceremonies, that reminds me of Light Up Night in Pittsburgh. I always loved Light Up Night. I miss it. Look, I found a photo. Isn't it beautiful?!! Fantastic! Pittsburgh readers, tell me about your Light Up Night traditions. Where do you like to view it from? Louisiana readers, have you been to the Natchitoches Festival of Lights? What are your don't-miss recommendations?


Friday, November 23, 2012

A Previous Post on Thanksgiving

It's Flashback Friday and naturally my thoughts linger on yesterday's celebration of Thanksgiving. Here's a post I wrote back in 2010 about Thanksgiving in Louisiana, though that holiday is over and we are on to the next one. We listened to Christmas music the whole ride back from visiting relatives in Houston and I am now officially in the holiday spirit!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Baton Rouge

So here I am, holed up in a Baton Rouge hotel, on deadline for a story about holiday hams, while Eric sings with the All-State Choir folks. Looking out my hotel window, it appears to be a beautiful day! Obviously, I'm not getting out much here (though I do have an exciting trip to Whole Foods planned for later this evening!), but I'm reminded of a fun family trip we took to Baton Rouge in 2008. We had such a good time, I had to write two posts about it. Here's Part 1 and Part 2.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Picnic -- A Play About Choices

We drove to Natchitoches yesterday to see Eric in Louisiana School for Math Science and the Arts’ Theatre production of Picnic, the 1953 Pulitzer Prize winning play by William Inge. The show program calls it “A Play About Choices,” and goes on to say . . .

1953 was a long time ago and the world has changed a lot since then. What makes this play relevant in today’s world? In the 1950s, the common image of the American family was that of perfect people living perfect lives surrounded by white picket fences and lush backyards. Playwright William Inge questioned that worldview. He wrote about genuine people who made choices with their lives, not necessarily good or bad choices, because sometimes that distinction does not exist. Just choices. Choices that people have to live with for the rest of their lives. However, sometimes the choices are made for us and one person’s happy ending is another person’s tragedy. And that is what makes this play relevant even today. Our choices still define us and the people around us. For better or worse, we must live with them.

And that got me thinking. About choices. In each and every day, there are numerous decisions to make, forks in the road that determine particular outcomes. Some choices might affect only the course of that one day and have no impact upon others. But some choices, like ripples from a pebble tossed into a still lake, truly do affect the course of our lives, and oft times the lives of those around us. Sometimes our choices impact total strangers, sometimes ordering the destinies of generations to come. It’s a bit overwhelming to think of it, really. If we over-dwelled on the magnitude of our decisions, we’d go crazy with doubt, fear, and worry. But the truth is, the simple act of living our lives entails enormous responsibility.

How do we arrive at decisions we make in life? What determines and influences the choices we make? It’s embarrassing for me to remember my own self as a young adult in my 20s. I prescribed to the self-indulgent notion that I am the most important person in the world to myself. Yes, I recall thinking and feeling that way. It seems incredibly selfish to me now, or at the very least, too simplistic. Maybe it was merely through the process of growing up, and especially I think becoming a parent, but I’ve come to learn that there are so many more factors than myself to consider when making choices. We want to consider the best interest of others. We don’t want to hurt people. And yet, we see it all the time, there are people who take this mindset to the opposite extreme. They become martyrs, sacrificing so much of themselves that they don’t live their own lives. How do we know where to draw the line between doing what is right for ourselves and still considering the best interests of others?

Anyway, Eric did a great job performing the role of Howard Bevans, a comical booze-swilling bachelor businessman with questionable morals. In the end, Howard, as do many of the characters in Picnic, must make a monumental life-changing decision. Like all of us in our day-to-day lives, they just hope it all works out.

The most poignant line of the show comes near the end, when Madge, on the brink of risking all to follow her heart, cries on her mama’s shoulder, “What can you do with the love you feel? Where is there you can take it?”

What indeed?

Here’s Eric and Andrew in the lobby after the show. They switched hats.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Donuts

Bob and I have been taking my eleven year old minivan to an auto repair shop in south Lake Charles way too often lately. We leave at 6:30 in the morning, to get it there when they open at 7:00. Then I drive Bob to work so I can use his car all day. It's quite inconvenient. On the plus side, we've gotten into the habit of stopping at Happy Donuts on the way to PPG. Which reminded me today of a post I wrote back in 2009. You can read it here.

Bob and I are both partial to chocolate glazed. What is your favorite kind of donut? Do you have a favorite donut shop?

Friday, October 26, 2012

From Boys to Men


My boys turned 18 years old a couple days ago. I considered writing a post about it, but, well, really, what can I say? They look the same to me. They act the same. But I'm taking them to vote this weekend. (Early voting, since Eric is home this weekend and won't be able to vote in Natchitoches on Election Day.) And I'm buying them their first-ever dress suits. No more borrowing a jacket from Dad or a friend. They received their selective service notices in the mail last week. Does voting, being old enough to be drafted, and wearing one's own dress-up clothes define "grown-up"? How exactly do we measure adulthood? How does one determine maturity level? Surely it is not a chronological number. It's not an appearance. Is it an attitude? Must it first be proven by demonstration? What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, I found a couple birthday posts in the archives. You can read them here and here.

One thing I can say . . . these boys make me proud and honored to be their mom every single day. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Missing Autumn 2

Still missing fall in the northeast. Couldn't resist posting another lament. This one is from 2008. And I still love those yellow daisy-like flowers. They are prolific this year!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Eunice, Louisiana

Travel yesterday took me to Eunice, Louisiana, via Alexandria and Chicot State Park. I had never been to Alexandria before, and I thought I might write a post about the town, known for being quite “central” in the state. But honestly, I didn’t see much there worth writing about. If anyone knows anything fun or interesting about Alexandria, please let me know and I may revisit it.

I had been to Chicot State Park before, and it is lovely. You can read my original post about the park here. The purpose of that first trip was exclusively to kayak. This trip was dedicated to hiking. Chicot is home to the Louisiana State Arboretum.

We meandered through miles of hardwood forests, stands of pine, and marshy bottomlands. The park is as wonderful on foot as it is paddling through the water.


Later in the afternoon, we explored the town of Eunice, named for founder C.C. Duson’s wife. Considering how small the town is, there’s surprisingly a lot to do. Eunice boasts three diverse museums. There’s the Cajun Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Eunice Depot Museum, chock full of interesting antiques and other historically significant items.

And, curiously, a Nutcracker Museum.

But the town’s center of entertainment is the historic Liberty Theater. Notice the handsome guy holding up the pole.

Each Saturday evening, the Liberty features Cajun Music artists. The show is broadcast live on radio and TV. In front of the stage is a dance floor, and the dancers are as entertaining as the musicians. The songs are sung in French and the emcee speaks mostly in French, so of course, I couldn’t understand most of what was said/sung. Is it any wonder I sometimes say I feel like I live in a foreign country?  The announcer did say, briefly in English, that the Liberty Theater is like the Grand Ole Opry of Cajun Country. Troy LeJeune and Cajun Review performed last night.

Have you been to Eunice? What were your experiences?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Missing Autumn

Fall is in the air . . . or is it? Here in southwest Louisiana, it depends on the week. Last week, we reveled in a reprieve from the heat. This week, we're back to summer.

I wrote a post a couple years ago about missing autumn in the northeast. (Read it here.) I still do miss it, but I've grown to appreciate fall in this part of the world. October is one of my favorite months. I think we in the south might be more grateful for the cooler temperatures (I'm talking 60s and 70s here, folks), after living through the oppressive heat of summer. I relish these weeks, even a month or two, when the AC is mostly off and before the cement slab beneath my house has turned into a chill radiator.

Wherever you live, I hope you bask in the season. Please leave a comment and tell me how you savor autumn.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Reading is FUNdamental

Back when I was a kid, in the late 60s or 70s, there was a literacy organization that advertised alot, probably on the stations that aired cartoons. I can still hear the jingle in my head and picture the graphic -- "Reading is FUNdamental!" Do any of you in my age range remember that? How basic is reading in our day to day lives? Can you even imagine not having that ability? I think it is something that 99.9 or more percent of us take for granted. It's not something we feel grateful for. We just do it, almost as if we were born knowing how. But what if you couldn't read? Imagine what a handicap that would be! For some, that is a reality.

For that reason, I'm feeling blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer in a new mission with my church, First Presbyterian Church of Lake Charles. We have started tutoring 2nd graders at Oak Park Elementary in reading.

In general, throughout my life, I've had a hard time finding a service niche or campaigning for a worthy cause. I'm not one to wield power tools and build a house in three days or fly to a foreign country to dig wells. I don't protest or picket perceived injustice. I shy away from rowdy crowds or even large groups of people. But I love interacting with people one-on-one. Helping kids learn to read . . . this is something I can feel passionate about. This is something I can do that I feel can truly make a positive difference in people's lives. I'm excited about it. The only other time in my life when I've volunteered long-term was the seven years (K-6) of my boys' elementary education and I worked a day or two a week in their school library. Shelving books was tedious, but I loved helping kids find that perfect book.

These children who need help at Oak Park Elementary impress me. They are precious. They struggle to sound out most every word. But they are determined. They work so hard. They truly want to learn to read. They are polite, respectful, and so grateful to us volunteers. The smile on their face when they get a word right and when they hear me say, "Great job!" . . . just pierces my heart.

Our church has also partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters to do Lunch Buddies at Oak Park Elementary. There are never enough volunteers for projects like these. If you think you might enjoy participating in the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these children, come join us at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Charles. We have a contemporary worship service Sunday mornings at 9:00 with an incredible praise team led by local musician extraordinaire Trip Wamsley, and a traditional service at 11:00 with a fantastic choir led by musician and Barbe High School's chorus director Chris Miller. We have a wonderful pastor, Chan Willis. And our congregation is "growing with the Spirit." For more information, check out our wesbite here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Art Gallery Promenade, 2012

Each year around this time, the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana sponsors the Gallery Promenade. (For more info, click here.) A dozen or more art venues open their doors from 5-9 p.m. this evening. Art enthusiasts can stroll from one gallery to another. As is so much of the fun stuff in Lake Charles, the event is free. Each gallery or museum showcases several artists' work. Often, there's food and music featured, as well.

I've been enamored with the eclectic art community here in town since arriving in 2007. I scrolled through the archives and found a post from 2009 on my appreciation of the various cultural venues. You can read it here. It's shocking to me how much my boys have changed and grown up over the past three years. And Stellar Beans is still a great coffee shop!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cayenne Kayak Challenge 2012

As many of you know, I’m in a fun kayaking club called the Pelican Paddlers. Our annual big event, the Cayenne Kayak Challenge, was held this past Saturday. We have it by Lake Charles’ North Shore Beach and invite the public, those who are interested or merely curious about kayaking. We have extra boats people can try out. And we tell them about our club.

One thing I love about kayaks – they’re so colorful!
First we have a skills relay race, where we do goofy things like try to paddle with our hands (most ineffective), spin our boats around twice and then paddle backwards (useful), move a tennis ball through the water without using our hands (why?). I’m in the red/yellow/orange boat.
Then we have a four(ish) mile race around the perimeter of Lake Charles. I won first place in the ladies division. But only because Terri didn’t participate.

Ship to Shore, a local boating store, came with donated door prizes and stand-up paddle boards for people to try. I could paddle one on my knees, but didn’t trust my balance to stand up.
We end the event with lunch, awards, and door prizes. Come out and join us next year!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pulling Up Stakes

Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Luke 18:22b
I drove up to Dry Creek, Louisiana today. I’d never been there before. It’s a small quiet country town, with a tiny post office, a general store, a fire station, a church, and a few people. It may be best known for a popular Baptist Church camp. But the reason I went there today is because a dear friend of mine, Curt Iles, and his wife DeDe, are having an estate sale. They are following a call to become missionaries in Uganda, Africa. And they are selling EVERYTHING, including their home and 5 acres.
 I pulled up to their house and thought, Wow, now there’s a testimony to the power of social media! I got there soon after they opened for business and look at the cars! Curt advertised on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. And he has a lot of friends.

As I perused the housewares, Christmas and other holiday ornaments, linens, tools, books, and whatnot, I wondered what it would be like to sell all my earthly possessions and move to a third world country. Hard to imagine.

I wonder what this pretty corgie thinks? I thought she looked a bit bewildered.

While shoppers sifted through the pieces of Curt’s life, he casually strolled through the crowd, greeting friends, saying goodbye, and assuring them, “Yes, we will see each other again!”
“It’s what we’re supposed to do,” he said calmly. “I have a peace about it.”
Indeed, he appeared to be peaceful.

Curt and DeDe, God bless and Godspeed.
Their sale continues through Saturday. Click here for more info.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blue Dog and artist George Rodrigue

Sometime after moving to Louisiana, I discovered Blue Dog. I don’t recall exactly when or where that was – it may have been at the Blue Dog Cafe in Lafayette -- but I became enamored from the beginning. That sweet puppy dog face. Those eyes that beg me to throw a tennis ball and play catch. What’s not to love?

So when I read that there was an exhibit opening of Rodrigue’s work at Lake Charles' Imperial Calcasieu Museum this past Friday, I cleared the calendar. It’s an exhibit that is part of Louisiana’s 200th anniversary celebration this year. “200 Years: The Faces and Places of Louisiana” will be on display at the Sallier St. museum until November 2nd.

I learned from a newspaper article, and discovered first hand at the opening, that Rodrigue is known not only for his iconic Blue Dog paintings, but for his portraits of famous people, as well. At this exhibit, I saw paintings of Chef Paul Prudhomme, Louis Armstrong, current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and his wife, Supriya, our Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, and many others. Newer portraits often include Blue Dog standing next to the famous person. This Cajun folk artist also creates posters for popular Louisiana festivals – the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Fest, New Orleans Jazz Fest, etc.

I have read that the inspiration for Blue Dog came from one of Rodrigue’s own dogs named Tiffany, and a painting he did on Louisiana’s legendary scary-campfire-story- creature, the Loup Garou.

I couldn’t resist buying a picture book and some note cards.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11 -- Flashback on a Tuesday

It was a morning much like today. A Tuesday. Sunny and cool. So pleasant. In memory of 9/11, I'm reposting last year's blog here from the 10th anniversary of that devastating day.

I've been seeing lots of photos from the memorial in New York City. Have you been there? I'd like to visit it someday.

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's Marching Band Season!

I have a confession to make. Oh, I hope I don’t offend anyone here. But I’m going to be honest. I don’t enjoy Friday night high school football. Oh, I go to the home games. But not to see the football team. My son is in marching band. And I wouldn’t miss seeing him do his thing out on the field. Yep, I’m there for the band. Most games, Bob and I don’t arrive until just before half-time. Because that’s really all we are there to see. And Sam Houston’s Pride and Spirit is one of the best. They win numerous awards each year. I also enjoy visiting with my friends in the stands. During the game, I’m generally engaged in conversation. Or I stand in the concession line for a snack. Watch the bugs dart around in the bright lights. Try to find Andrew in the purple blur on the stands at the end of the field. Gaze at the moon. Watch the score board for the time. How much longer till we leave? Really, is it only the third quarter? Anything but focus on the game. Though I have to admit, when the crowd goes wild and that blasted horn blares, indicating a touchdown, and those goofy guys in purple and gold body suits run down the track with the school flag, I’m disappointed that there’s no instant replay. I’ve missed a moment of excitement.

When the clock ticks down to zero, I don’t rush out to the parking lot. I don’t leave early to beat the traffic jam. I stay to watch the band march out of the stadium, single file. It’s an impressive sight. With their hard work and dedication, those kids make me proud.

Tonight is the first home game of Andrew’s senior year. Go Big Sam!

Here's a video of last year's program.

How do you spend fall Friday nights?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bayou d'Inde

I enjoyed a pleasant 10-mile Labor Day paddle this morning with a few friends. I and a small contingent of fellow kayakers set off from Prien Lake Park, crossed the Calcasieu River ship channel, and wound our way up Bayou d’Inde (pronounced din), took a right at Maple Fork Bayou and shimmied up into Sulphur. Our club president and trip planner called it an “urban jungle” paddle.

We saw fish and birds, not much else. Bayou d’Inde has historically and notoriously been severely polluted by nearby industrial plants. Yet, it’s still a pretty place. Peaceful. I saw a few folks fishing. I can’t imagine eating anything out of that water. The EPA and other environmental groups have been coming down hard on the local plants to curb pollution, so I’d like to think it’s not quite as bad as it used to be. Nevertheless, I hosed my boat off very well when I got home.

The coolest thing was watching the moon set over the bayou.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Thoughts on Hurricanes

All this business with Isaac this past week has me thinking about hurricanes. I came here today expecting to post a Flashback Friday dealing with hurricanes, most likely Gustav and Ike, back in 2008. But I discovered I've never written a post on hurricanes. I started this blog in September 2008, a few weeks after Gustav and Ike. And that's the last time Lake Charles really had to deal with a hurricane.

The good thing about hurricanes, if there can be a "good" thing, is that, with today's weather technology, we have plenty of time to get ready for one. Unlike tornados, which often have little or no warning. We track hurricanes through the tropics for a good week or more, watching the spaghetti models and wondering about the odds of the storm coming our way. We have plenty of time to "prepare." We gas up the vehicles in case we need to evacuate. We load up on water and non-perishables, batteries, gas for the generator, toilet paper and such, should we need to "hunker down." If the path of the hurricane appears to be leading to our front door, we board up the windows. But along with those days of preparation can come a lot of anxiety.

I recall the first real hurricane we had to deal with -- Gustav. I remember watching the news and seeing that swirling ball of storm headed straight for us. My stomach was in knots for days. My fear of the unknown was palpable. I'd never felt so at the mercy of nature, no ability whatsoever to control the situation. We evacuated to my sister-in-law's in Houston, though we wouldn't have needed to. I don't think we even lost power. Hurricane Ike came barely a week later. We didn't have the heart to evacuate again. And again, we didn't need to. We didn't so much as lose a roof shingle, let alone power. Having underground lines helps immensely with that.

In 2007, Humberto came along as a Category 1 and basically was not much more than a windy rain event. This past week, Isaac scooted east of Lake Charles and only brought a bit of rain. School is always cancelled in these situations because hurricanes are unpredicatable. You just never know. All in all, in the five years we've lived here, we've been extraordinarily lucky in not having been negatively impacted by hurricanes.

My thoughts and prayers are with all the people in east Louisiana who have had extreme flooding and power outages from this recent hurricane.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Le Chien Cookers -- Southwest Louisiana's Dutch Oven Society

I’ve come to realize there’s a club, group, society, or association for everything. Name a career, hobby, or activity, no matter how obscure, and there will be an organization for it.

I discovered one such unique group of folks who enjoy cooking. But not just cooking. They cook outdoors in cast iron Dutch ovens. And they can cook just about anything in these sturdy black pots.

To my surprise, there’s an International Dutch Oven Society, as well as a National Dutch Oven Society. So naturally, each state has its own Dutch Oven Society, and within that state, there are regional chapters. Here's a link to Louisiana's Dutch Oven Society.

I had the pleasure of attending the monthly gathering of southwest Louisiana’s Dutch Oven Society this past Saturday. The rain stopped just long enough for Bob and I to enjoy their company and their cooking. Dutch Oven Gatherings are called DOGs. The local chapter’s name is Le Chien, which apparently means dog in French. This band of black pot chefs meets monthly at Sam Houston Jones State Park, just down the road from my house. They camp and cook. And eat! Each month there’s a different theme. This month’s theme was Mexican. And can these folks cook! There were beans and burrito dishes smothered in spicy sauce and cheese, tamales and taco casseroles, Spanish rice and salsa. For dessert, we ate flan and some kind of fruit-filled fajitas. All cooked over coals in cast iron pots of all shapes and sizes. They discuss cooking methods, such as what configuration to place the coals for optimum cooking, the number of coals required to achieve a desired temperature, and which company makes the highest quality pot. One gentleman said, “The best pot is whichever pot I’m cooking with.”

The Louisiana state society holds its annual DOG each September, every year at a different park somewhere in the state. This year’s DOG happens to be at Sam Houston Jones State Park on September 22. And they welcome visitors!

See the two ladies seated in the background below. I asked them if they were sisters because I thought they looked alike. Ha, yeah, they’re twins!

Here’s a photo of Sam Houston Jones State Park, lovely even in the rain. Zoom in to see the white bird.


Saturday, August 25, 2012


My car broke down yesterday and there seems to be no car repair places open on the weekend here in Moss Bluff. Andrew had to take Bob's car into town for honor band practice. So I'm homebound and it's been raining steadily all morning. What to do? Here's my Top Ten List of Things to do on a Showery Shut-In Day.

10. Fold the laundry from yesterday.
9. Bake something. That would be a good idea if Bob and I weren't on diets.
8. Sort through my closet and drawers and remove everything I haven't worn in five or more years.Take them to Goodwill. When the car is fixed.
7. Read. Always a good option.
6. Watch a movie. We love Netflix.
5. Work on my writing assignment that is due on Monday. Maybe later this afternoon.
4. Clean the house. Hmmm. . .
3. Scroll through Facebook and see what folks are up to. Folks who have vehicles.
2. Go back to bed. Yes, I like this idea.

And my number one thing to do on this drizzly cooped up day . . .

1. Think about buying a new car.

This photo was taken last summer. On a much windier day. I'm happy to say this little oak tree is standing straight and a bit taller today.

What do you do on a rainy housebound day?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Flashback Friday -- Arts and Crabs Festival

Tomorrow is the annual Arts and Crabs Festival at the Lake Charles Civic Center. This wonderful event supports our Arts and Humanities Council. What would we do without them! We'd be seriously lacking in culture and fun.

I went to this event last year and really enjoyed it. Read about it here. It's a bit crowded, but worth the jostling.

I have a friend who is new to town and loves crab cakes but is having a difficult time finding any in Lake Charles that are more crab than stuffing and not visa versa. Local readers, where is the best place in town to find great crab cakes?

What is your favorite crab dish?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chicot State Park

I had wanted to go to Chicot State Park ever since a friend of mine raved about it a couple years ago. So when my paddling club planned a trip there yesterday, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t see the whole park, but from what I did see, namely a camping area, the boat launch, and several trail heads, it is indeed lovely. The park is home to the Louisiana State Arboretum. There are also cabins and a swimming pool. It’s north of Crowley, east a bit of Pine Prairie, mostly in the middle of nowhere.

Something unique about Chicot, from a paddler’s perspective, is their canoe trail. Unlike a hiking trail through the woods, a canoe trail has no beaten path. You just follow the signs, paddling from one sign to the next.

The lily pads and duck weed grew so thick in some places of this swamp, we struggled to get through it. But the flowers are beautiful.

We meandered slowly, taking it all in. Cypress and tupelo gum trees provided cooling shade and protection from the sun.

We saw several blue herons and oodles of dragonflies. Oddly, we saw no turtles. We saw no alligators or snakes. And surprisingly, no mosquitoes. The greatest threat to a paddler is this . . .

Wasps. And we saw lots of them. Their nests hang from low tree branches. If you touch them, or accidentally knock them with your paddle, they’ll attack. Your only hope is to retreat beneath the water and hide under the boat until they lose interest. I hope I never witness or experience this first hand.

I wonder what happened to this luna moth’s right tail wing?

These roots of a cypress tree are called knees.

I’ve been kayaking a year now, and this was my most enjoyable paddle thus far. Louisiana has so many beautiful places. I look forward to my next visit to Chicot State Park. Have you been there? What were your impressions and experiences?