kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2012

Flashback Friday

Over theses past years, I've written several hundred posts. Sometimes I like to go back and read about what I was doing or thinking a year or two or three ago. So I've decided to start a weekly Flashback Friday, where I'll share favorite posts from my archives.

Today's flashback reminds me of my fascination with the French Cajun culture. Since my arrival in SWLA, I've been intrigued by the unique surnames -- names I'd never heard of before moving to Louisiana. I'm as curious about local last names now as I was two years ago. Read that post here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Little Kirby that Could

You've heard the expression "You get what you pay for." Often this is in reference to something you wish you'd paid more for. But in some cases, pricey can pay off. I'm reminded of this about once a week, when I pull my trusty Kirby vacuum cleaner out of the closet and we dance awhile around the house.

Sometime in 1994, I was pregnant with our twin sons and, I don't recall the exact circumstances -- it likely started with a phone call from a salesman. But a Kirby rep found his way to our front door. He gave a very convincing demonstration, and by the end of the evening, we had spent what seemd like a ridiculous amount of money for a vacuum cleaner. But the salesman assured us we'd never have to buy another vacuum. That it would last a lifetime. And weren't those babies worth it? Oh, they'd be crawling around all over those floors. And didn't we want them to be really clean? This may have been the beginning of my OCD nature.

But you know, the saleman was right. It's been 17 years, and this workhorse of a vacuum just keeps on cleaning. We change the bags when full, and the occasional belt, but otherwise, it's been maintenance-free. I fully expect to be pushing the beast around the house for the foreseeable future.

How about you? What purchase has surprised you with its longevity? Or disappointed you in some way? Did you get what you paid for?

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I’ve lived in Lake Charles almost five years, and I’m still trying to figure out how to garden here in the south. It’s completely different from gardening in the northeast. There are two growing seasons here instead of one – that’s a bonus. But I’ve struggled to get the knack of starting so early. Planting a garden in February just feels . . . wrong. In Pennsylvania, no one in their right mind plants a seed or puts in a flat of flowers before Memorial Day. Never know when you might get a rogue frost. It’s not unusual for it to snow on Easter back east. So until this year, I never got most of my plants in early enough, and before they’d start producing, the heat sapped the life right out of them. I’ve managed to grow peppers, cucumbers, spinach, and, to a lesser degree, lettuce. Oh, and a couple radishes. Herbs have done well. But strawberries? Withered away. Tomatoes? The plants grew but bore little fruit. And don’t dare take a vacation in June. We completely missed our blueberries last year. And the green beans succumbed to the heat and died of thirst.

This year, I planted the tomatoes early.

Because I love to garden, I went to the Garden Show at Burton Coliseum today. The flats of strawberries were oh so tempting. But unless I made jam, which I don’t, what would I do with that many? It was great fun to peruse all the beautiful plants. Such a wonderful assortment . . . orchids, bromeliads, perennials, vines, bonsai, herbs, hanging baskets, vegetables, trees.

A couple things I was interested in but didn’t see – composting ideas and rain barrels.

Worst aspect of gardening? Weeding. Especially when the beds are beleaguered with fire ants. I’d love to know how to get rid of these vicious pests. Most fire ant killers only make them move their mound over a couple feet.

Got any gardening tips for me?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Prior to moving from the big city to a smaller town, a concern I had was that there wouldn't be much to do, comparatively. Not yet knowing anything about Lake Charles, I associated the town with industry. How much fun could there be?

I could not have been more wrong. And I'm so glad to say that! Lake Charles embraces a vibrant cultural scene, with music, arts, and festivals galore. If I could clone myself, there still would not be enough of me to see and do everything I'd like around here.

Take this weekend for example. Tonight begins a music fest called Live @ the Lakefront. For the next three consecutive Fridays, Arts and Humanities Council and the City of Lake Charles host bands at the lakefront outdoor amphitheater. And I'm thrilled because this evening, one of my favorite artists, Wendy Colonna, takes the stage. See a video of her music here. Click here for more info on Live @ the Lakefront.

I belong to a kayaking club called the Pelican Paddlers, and I'll be out on the Calcasieu River Saturday morning with them. More on that in a future post. There's a gardening expo this weekend at Burton Coliseum. I promise to write more on the joys of gardening in southwest Louisiana sometime soon, too.

There's the Iowa Rabbit Festival, but I went to that last year. Read the post I wrote last year here.

Saturday evening, I'm so excited to attend the long-awaited dual production of The Sleeping Beauty by the Lake Charles Civic Ballet and the Lake Charles Symphony. Info on this event is everywhere -- they've done a grand job of marketing. But look here if you need more.

Nearly simultaneously, our beloved Banners series presents Rhythmic Circus, one of Andrew's favorite shows. Feet Don't Fail Me Now! We haven't yet figured out the logistics of attending both of these events Saturday night.

But it promises to be fun! What are you doing this weekend?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bowl--ing For Dollars

I love annual events. Because if I want to go or participate in something but miss it for some reason, I can always go . . . next year. Such was the case earlier today. For the past several years, I’ve been curious about a fundraiser sponsored by McNeese State University’s art department called GumBowl. The art students create around 575 ceramic bowls.

For ten bucks, you get a bowl of your choice, and a bowl of gumbo. Popular local caterer The Brickhouse provided vats of gumbo, with a choice of chicken and sausage or seafood.

I laughed at myself because I imagined one would choose a bowl, and the gumbo would be served in that bowl. Immediately, my OCD kicked in. Are these bowls clean? Look, everyone is touching them! But I needn’t have worried. They wrap your bowl in newspaper and serve the gumbo in Styrofoam.

I couldn’t resist those shrimp. But swimming along with those shrimp were two plump juicy oysters. Can you see them? I’ve never liked oysters. And to prove it, I actually ate one today. Nope, decidedly do not like oysters. For my northern readers, that’s potato salad atop the gumbo.

I chose this pretty blue bowl. And a purple one for a friend.

Totally off topic here . . . does anyone remember the TV game
show Bowling For Dollars? Just thinking about that reminds me of my grandparents.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

If it's Springtime in Louisiana . . .

it must be Banners Series Season! Soon after my family and I moved to Louisiana, we discovered Banners, a cultural/arts organization associated with McNeese State University. Each spring, Banners presents various concerts with acts from across the country and around the world. Initially, we thought Banners was Lake Charles' best kept secret. We were astonished that, for $150.00, we got two tickets to over twenty concerts and lectures. But in recent years, the Series has become so popular, it can be difficult to find a parking spot or a seat in the theater. We've learned to get there early! The entertainment is so varied and diverse; musical acts range from classical to Cajun to country and everything in between. A few years ago, one of our favorite performers was Jake Shimabukuro, an incredible ukulele player. Dance performances vary from ballet to belly dancing. Andrew's favorite show last year was Rhythmic Circus, a group of fast flying-footwork tap dancers. The lectures discuss topics from politics and religion to the environment and social issues.

This afternoon, we saw MozART Group, a comedic string quartet from Poland. Check out their website here and see a video clip here. I found them to be massively entertaining. That's the great thing about Banners. Even when I think I'm going to enjoy a performance, I usually love it more than I thought I would. And we're just getting started with this season! See www.banners.org for more information.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bayou Writers' Group

As many of you know, I belong to a terrific writers' group here in Lake Charles, the Bayou Writers (BWG). We have a great website, as well as a blog, and lately we've been posting interviews with various members of the group. Today, I'm up. check out my interview here. http://bayouwritersgroup.blogspot.com/2012/03/author-interview-angie-kay-dilmore.html

If any of you live locally and have an interest in writing, come join us. We meet the 1st Saturday of every month at the Carnegie Library on Pujo St., 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. We have interesting speakers, opportunities for critique, and we host an annual writers' conference.