Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Wild Menagerie


For the past several weeks, there has been a vendor hawking curious wares on a street corner near my home. I chuckle and smile every time I see him, which is often, because he is near my home. The merchandise is so eye-catching, unusual, and, well, just plain quirky. I had some extra time today, so I stopped to take a closer look.


I spoke briefly with the vendor. He hails from Billings, Montana.  He buys these objects in pieces, welds them together and paints them, creating  objets d’art. If you are into that sort of thing. They are made of aluminum, so they aren’t as heavy as you might think. The smallest items sell for around $35.00 and the larger ones go for several thousand dollars. Lawn ornaments? Garden decorations? I don’t know what you call them, but it’s a fascinating menagerie of wild animals and an assortment of other oddities. There were golfers, fire hydrants, pink flamingoes on steroids. I saw garden benches, frogs, and wildlife-ish door knockers. For patriotic folks, he has a Statue of Liberty.


I’m not sure who would buy this chicken. Someone who owns a fried chicken establishment? A farmer who sells eggs from free-range hens? And why is the giant chicken being guarded by a blessed Mother Mary who is balancing on an orb?


Here's one for the avid sportsman. Yes, we have lots of those in southwest Louisiana.
 
 
What is that expression about when pigs fly? Hmmm.

 


I’ve always liked gargoyles. But these are just so . . . large. And I adore turtles.


Just makes me wonder. Does anyone buy this stuff? Or do they simply chuckle and smile when they drive by? In case you’re in the market for a giant standing roaring bear, the man says he will only be here a couple more days. Then he’s heading back north.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Sunday Afternoon Crawfish Adventure

So it’s crawfish season here in southwest Louisiana. It’s an exciting time of year, each spring and fall. Similar to the mom and pop donut shops so popular in these parts (read that post here), small drive through crawfish stands can be found on most every major Lake Charles roadway.

Today was a lovely sunny day – perfect for a Sunday drive. Bob and I decided to go on a crawfish adventure, just to see how many different places we could find crawfish.

In Moss Bluff, there’s the Hot Spot.



In Westlake, Crawfish 2 Go.



On Ryan St., there’s Tails to Geaux. I’ve seen this place sell snow balls (snow cones, for my northern readers) and BBQ. Now crawfish. Guess they roll with the seasons.



Country Club Crawfish is so named because it’s on Country Club Rd. But Country Cabin Crawfish would be more descriptive.



Also on Country Club Road is The Crawfish Stop. I love all the different cartoonish crawfish depictions.



Naturally, all these mom and pop joints are closed on Sundays, so to actually eat crawfish and not simply look at signs, we had to go to an established restaurant, and it’s not always easy to find one open on Sunday in Lake Charles. But we knew for certain Steamboat Bill’s along I-10 would come through.

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There should be a bit of preparation before one digs into a platter of crawfish. First, push your sleeves up securely. You don’t want them getting messy or in the way. Then pull your hair back snug, because you are not going to want to touch it once you get started. Then make sure you have plenty of paper towels nearby.

Steamboat Bill’s crawfish were quite small (I thought maybe it was because it’s early in the season or maybe the weather had something to do with it, until later in the afternoon, when we found larger crawfish elsewhere). And they were super spicy, which I don’t mind so much. But my husband has an odd allergy to hot pepper spice and was red-faced and sweating buckets by the time we got to the last crawdad. (We’re used to it.) We also thought the crawfish there were a tad overcooked. No worries. We love Steamboat Bill’s, as does everyone in town, and I know this one negative review won’t hurt their business one bit. Anyway, I saw something at this restaurant I’d never seen anywhere else before. A wash-up station outside the rest rooms. How cool is that! Because it is absolutely essential to wash your hands ASAP after eating crawfish. Even after a dozen washes, your hands still smell like crawfish for a least a day or two.



Bob and I shared a small platter at Steamboat Bill’s because we were hoping to find another establishment selling crawfish, so we could sort of compare and contrast, you know, things like size, taste, spiciness, price. We drove from Steamboat Bill’s to Mr. Bill’s on McNeese Street. Closed. We went to Seafood Palace on Enterprise. Closed. We were just about ready to give up when, as we drove north on Highway 14, we saw another Crawfish Stop. Open. Score!




These crawfish were significantly larger, less spicy yet very tasty, cooked perfectly, and less expensive than Steamboat Bill’s.



So there you have it. Our Sunday afternoon crawfish adventure. Where do you like to get crawfish? Never eaten crawfish? Come visit us some spring or fall. We’ll show you how it’s done.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Quiet Celebration

Have you ever noticed how some birthdays are simply more (or less, as the case may be) spectacular than others?

Today was my birthday, and truly, I think it must have been the most low-key unremarkable birthday I’ve ever experienced. It was quiet and peaceful. There was no party, no fanfare, no cake and candles, no gaily-wrapped gifts. The day was an exercise in appreciating small pleasures.

Several friends at my gym, Dynamic Dimensions, wished me a happy birthday this morning. Ms. Johnnie made me my favorite smoothie, a Berry Delite. My mom called. The sun was shining and it was warm enough to open the windows. I received some good news about a writing contest I had entered. The postlady brought a few birthday cards. And a Netflix movie. My husband made dinner and cleaned the kitchen. And no birthday girl could ever feel forgotten with all those Facebook friends! It was a pleasant day.

While the day may be over, the birthday has a ways to go. I have several breakfast and lunch dates with friends coming up. It’s not a birth-day, it’s a birth-week, right!