kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Yankee's First Mardi Gras Ball

As you know, it’s Mardi Gras season in this part of the world. It never occurred to me that I might want to go to a Mardi Gras Ball. Until we were invited to one. Well, I’m all about new and interesting experiences. Last night we attended the Krewe of Mystique’s 41st annual ball.

Since our arrival to Louisiana over five years ago, Mardi Gras has been a source of curiosity, mystery, and bemusement for me. I’ll be the first to admit that I “don’t get it.” I thought maybe going to a ball would help enlighten me. But no, I still can’t say I completely grasp the concept. But a few words come to mind. Grand pageantry. Giddy merriment. Indulgence. Aching feet. Kind of felt like a prom for grown-ups. I daresay, Bob and I hadn’t been that dressed up since our wedding over 20 years ago. I loved having an excuse to wear some vintage jewelry that had belonged to Bob’s grandmothers, given to me by my mother-in-law. Nor had Bob and I ever danced that much. Ever.

Yesterday afternoon, I had my hair put in an up-do. There was enough hairspray and bobbie pins in my hair last night to hold together a haystack in a hurricane.

When we got home, Bob and I spent an unduly amount of time pulling them all out. I counted – 67 bobbie pins.

So, you know, I don’t know much about Mardi Gras protocol, but I’d been told by a friend who attends no less than a dozen balls each season, maybe more, that it’s not totally unheard of to crash other balls. The Buccaneers were having their ball in the Civic Center room right below Mystique’s. I knew some friends there, so I thought we’d go say Hi. Just briefly, right? But yeah, um . . . no. We were promptly but politely asked to leave. We didn’t realize that no one is allowed at the Buccaneer Ball unless they are wearing proper pirate attire.Where’s an eye patch and a wench corset when you need one, huh.

Our friend Cissie McLeod, who also happened to be crowned Queen last night, graciously invited us to the ball. Her gown was exquisite. I wish we’d taken a photo before she took the mantle (the large ornate collar) off. She looked absolutely radiant and presided over her subjects with appropriate aplomb.

Here she is with two of her three daughters, Sara (L) and Martha.

Indeed, all the costumes were positively delightful – all colorful and sparkly and feathery. I especially loved this costume. I wish she would have held her mask up, but she is holding it down. She’s standing with our friend, Mark Judson, the Queen’s son-in-law and Sara’s husband.

 Happy Mardi Gras!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Home Show

As most of my regular readers know, I enjoy going to local festivals to learn about the unique and fascinating culture of southwest Louisiana. I've heard that the Lake Charles area boasts around 70 festivals each year, everything from arts and crafts to zydeco. Winter is the off season for festivals, but there are a few. For example, this weekend was the Fur and Wildlife Festival south of Lake Charles in Cameron. I considered going. It's one I haven't been to before. What do they do there? I inquired. Well, there's duck calling, skeet shooting, oyster shucking, trap setting, and nutria and muskrat skinning. A report in today's paper said an 18-year-old girl participated in the muskrat skinning for the first time, skinning the animal in 2 minutes! She learned everything she knows about skinning from her mother, who is also a champion skinner. Uh-huh. Yeah. Umm, no thanks.

So I went to the Home Show instead! There were booths with appliances, aluminum siding, and AC units, banks, bricks, and builders, contractors, concrete, and closet organizers, doors and decorators, exterminators, flooring, granite and garage doors, insulation and insurance agencies, cutlery and kitchenware demos, lumber, lawnmowers, and landscapers, water purifiers, plumbers, and pools, realtors, stone and decorative tiles . . . Everything you need for home buying or remodeling. Which I am not, at the current time. But it can be interesting to look.

Josh Guillory, of Custom Iron by Josh, was there. His ironwork is amazing. I wanted to stop by his booth and tell him how much I love all the work he did there at the Civic Center. But he was talking to someone else. And I was shy. Didn't want to come across as too much of a fangirl. His website is here.

My favorite booths displayed decorative tiles. They are so attractive and creative. Almost makes me want to re-do my bathroom just so I can buy some tiles.

And then there was Frank Thompson, a fused glass artist. It seemed to me he belonged at an art festival rather than a home show, but he definitely had the prettiest wares there. Certainly better than those toilets one salesman seemed especially proud of. Check out Thompson's website here.

What is your favorite booth at a home show? Or would you rather have gone to the Fur and Wildlife Festival?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Flashback Friday -- Mardi Gras Season

Well, it's Mardi Gras time again. When I first moved here (going on 6 years now!), the reality of Mardi Gras was the biggest revelation to this uninformed Yankee. I was curious about the colorful customs and fascinated by how entrenched Mardi Gras tradtitions are in Louisiana culture.

Here is a post from January 2010, when I was still a bit more wide-eyed over the concept. Amy is a reader from Pittsburgh who had asked me to explain Mardi Gras to her. Northerners truly have no inkling of the magnitude of Mardi Gras in Louisiana. Even though I am surrounded by it and am now accustomed to it, I have not embraced it. Honestly, it would exhaust me. And I don't wear high heels. But I do have a purple, green, and gold wreath on my front door.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Tis the Season for Soup

You hear it often this time of year. “It’s gumbo season!” I like gumbo. The cool thing is, no two gumbos taste the same. Each cook makes his or her own variation. I have no need to learn how to make gumbo myself, living here in Louisiana. It’s easy enough to simply eat everyone else’s. I prefer that. But we have had our own soup sampling marathon lately. It started several weeks ago. I made chili (I love my chili!). Then I was under the weather with a nasty cold and craved chicken noodle soup. My husband went to the store and bought both the canned condensed version and the dry boxed variety. We ate them both. That got Bob in a soup-making mood. He pored over recipes. First he made potato cheddar soup. Two batches. The second time, he added broccoli. Then he made a (large) pot of lentil and ham soup. And this evening, French onion. All delicious. Tomorrow night, we eat the leftovers that are piling up in the fridge.

This is a photo of the French onion soup covered with cheese. I made homemade seasoned croutons out of some day old (several days) rye bread that Bob had made. I know, we need those quaint brown crock bowls with the handles.

What kind of soup is warming you up this winter?