March 12, 2013
This is jokingly called a coonass microwave. Inside is a hog being roasted for a wedding shower at the VFW Post 9822 where we stayed at Duson for a week. They rent out their hall for receptions, weddings and other special events. I spotted it mid-morning before going out for the Jam on Saturday.
Folks at the post invited us to attend a wedding shower, but we returned to the motor home figuring a wedding shower is a personal event and I was about to fix dinner when Richard, on the right, came knocking at our door and insisted we should join the festivities. It was late and most of the afternoon guests had left by then, so we walked over and joined them.
Here then is the groom and bride to be. The young people were having fun.
I asked one of the bridesmaids-to-be if this was a tradition. “Well, yeah”, she said as she smiled and crossed her eyes.
Happiness was evident everywhere.
A frame is set up and a table with costumes is available for everyone to play with.
Mother of the groom was up and tapping her feet, and half dancing while visiting with family members.
After we ate a marvelous meal with asparagus, dirty rice, green salad with pecans, scalloped potatoes, the roasted pork and more, the pans were just about empty.
Beautiful cakes for dessert with fresh flowers. It resembled a wedding, rather than a shower. A long table spread with gifts and all the elements of a wedding except for the preacher. Wow!
I didn’t get any names, well, I got them all but don’t remember. The guy on the right is from California and he enjoyed talking to someone who knew California. His dad was in the Contra Costa Co. Sheriff’s department so we had a lot in common. He loves Louisiana, but misses his old stomping grounds. Camping at Big Trees, skiing at Kirkwood, and Bear Valley, fishing at New Mellones.
Richard is the grandfather of the bride-to-be.
It was a lot of fun and just another feature of the friendliness of people in Louisiana. (Me, dancing with the commander.) All about us was the message “HAPPILY EVER AFTER.” To every bride and groom I impart the same wish: “May you have as much happiness in your marriage as I did in mine.”
As I leave the Motor Home of Fun, I can only say, “I wonder what’s around the bend?”
February 23, 2013
Mark Conner kindly took time to take us out in his boat to show us how he catches catfish. We loaded in at his dock seated on his fish tubs.
He held the boat steady. I brought my little pocket camera because I thought my big camera would be in the way. It doesn’t take as good pictures, but is adequate.
He quickly sped out a couple of miles into the Lake which is fed by the Manmertau River. He likes fishing for catfish and has done it since he was a boy. He was born and raised here in Lake Arthur.
He slows the boat and takes a visual read of points on land that give him the position of his underwater nets-no instrumentation. He’s done it so many times, he just knows where they are. He plants a stake in the bottom of the lake that keeps his net in one place.
He tosses out his home-made drag anchor.
He hand pulls the drag until it catches the ring on his net.
The ring he hooks is only about six inches across.
The ring is attached to a heavy anchor you can see between his feet. Then Mark drags up the heavy net. You have to be strong to fish without a hydraulic lift. The water here is only about eight feet deep, but there is no visibility.
Up they come, a seething mass of catfish. Normally, he would have waited another week to check his nets. Most of them were thrown back in for size.. He pulls them out with his bare hands. They have stinging whiskers and it is important to avoid getting stung.
He got four nice sized fish, three channel cats and one other type I’ve forgotten the name of. I didn’t know that catfish had different species that plied the same waters.
Since we were out anyway, he lined up on another net near this flooded island. The state has put a wood duck nest on a metal post that you can see to the right of center in the picture.
The second net, he has eleven, didn’t have anything in it but his bait and he steered us back to his house.
This time he steered the 16 ft. fishing boat right between those cypress trees in the middle, and brought us to shore instead of the dock.
He gutted the fish on his stainless steel fish cleaning station.
The fish is hung from a hook and Mark uses a special tool to grab the skin and strip it off. He works amazingly fast.
After skinning, the heads and fins are cut off.
Even though his partner, Marlene Ritter, bought him a beautiful filet knife, he prefers this big blade that he’s used forever. Mark will sometimes clean 100 fish a day or more. He works in the petroleum industry. Fishing is his hobby and he gives most of the fish he catches away.
He showed us a logger head turtle skull from a turtle he bought and ate. He told us you are only allowed to catch one turtle a year. They are pretty scarce and hard to find. Marlene gave me a bag of the special corn flower to make a batter to fry the fish. Louisianans do fried everything very well.
My first batch was a bit light, but the second one was the right color. They tasted heavenly and with Marlene’s recipe to fry some mustard into the batter? Scrumptious and fresh as it can be. What a delight. The fish provided 8 beautiful filets, perfect, without a hint of bone because Mark slices that filet away from the rib cage on both sides and tosses the middle.
We went back to the bar to say goodbye to our friends. A crawfish farmer was planning to take us out in a mudbug and we waited on a phone call. By the time it came, we were showered and dressed for the evening’s dance. I wanted to buy some boiled crawfish to take with us before we left and the next thing you know, we were at Leslie and Cody’s place and we left there with a date with Cody. “I’ll take you he said.”
I was too tired to dance, so I peeked in the door and took some pictures. Marlene and Mark, he has his back to the camera in the afro wig, cuttin’ a rug. These folks know how to have fun.
February 14, 2013
These women were selling tickets to the gumbo dinner at the Grange Hall in Iowa, (I-o-way), a small town east of Lake Charles. The dinner is gumbo made from the chicken, the rice, the pig, or whatever can be begged, borrowed or stolen on the ride through town. That is tradition. Now, the dinner is cooked ahead of time and only the chicken gets chased, caught and released.
Everyone was getting ready and excitement filled the air.
Some chase with horses, others bring their ATVs, and trucks unload the kids who do most of the chasing.
The girl in pink told me she always catches the chicken and the boys get mad at her, so this year she isn’t chasing. “Besides, it’s to too wet and dirty out there.” She is so right. It has been a very rainy Mardi Gras.
These two men entertained everyone waiting to get started for the first drop. They drop chickens at several predetermined spots, and the chase commences.
The gumbo wasn’t ready when we arrived, but it smelled heavenly as we walked around and visited. Thanks go to this lovely lady cooking the chicken.
We would liked to have watched the chicken chase, which has a very serious history, but we had the good fortune to be invited to ride a float in the Fat Tuesday Parade. Isn’t that cool? The peasant classes in medieval times would get hungry as their stores got low. At times it was necessary to beg for food from the richer people and landed gentry. No one wanted anyone to know they had to beg, so they resorted to hiding behind masks, and costumes. Since just about everybody did it, it became a “festival”. They went out in a group with their wagons and horses to ask for food. Land owners wanted to be rid of the motley crew of beggars, so they would throw out a chicken or a pig and get back inside for safety. The beggars had to catch the chicken or pig. Sometimes they would find a bag of rice, bread, or onions left for them. They would go back to town and share the goodies and cook up a big gumbo for everyone to eat. The beggars, being masked could curse the king, make jokes about the aristocracy, or verbally flog an offensive neighbor without fearing retaliation, as they hid behind their masks.
The plan was to drive to Renola Simon’s house to meet the various krewe members who were riding this year, and to enjoy a lunch of deer sausage and king cake. The sausage was so good, we found out where we could buy some. And, we got our first look at the float which has been stored at Renola’s house where it was first built by her husband and other krewe members in 1989 or 90. Renola told us a horror story about the float. Right after the men finished welding the frame together, lightning struck nearby and ball lightning rolled about the metal float. A frightening and unforgettable experience. The men had just gotten off the float and gone into the garage to put away tools. This is the back-end of the float where we entered. It also has a bathroom, which, by law, all floats have to have.
Krewe members loaded hundreds of pounds of beads, roughly 50,000 strings of beads.
Behind the beads are boxes of Mardi Gras plastic cups.
Jim is showing off his dance technique after we loaded enough beads on hooks to throw. The bags next to the rails hold moon pies and other goodies to throw. One bag held snacks and drinks for the crew. One member brought cookies. We learned that riding a float is a big party. If it isn’t fun, why do it?
The logistics of lining up a parade of huge floats are enormous and once you are in place, there is lag time. We took a walk and examined other floats.
Other Krewes were dancing…
This krewe drove in with their beads in a trailer. You can see the back-end practically touching the ground. They were just unloading their beads and getting them onto their float.
After our walk, we did a bit of partying of our own.
Some guys got us wired up for music, and you can see the dance floor isn’t very big, but dancing is part of the deal. I get the guys names all mixed up, but I think this is Cliff and his wife. She made their costumes and put all those sequins on. He taught me to Cajun dance. The steps are pretty simple if you don’t look at your feet.
Everyone began to costume up. Some members like to throw stuffed animals and tease the crowds who scream for them.
This guy walked by the floats to show off his unique costume.
This young woman was also riding a float for the first time. She is a nurse and engaged to one of the krewe member’s son. We got a short lesson from Eva about how to throw beads.
When everyone was ready, they posed for a picture. Don’t they look great?
Then we were moving and throwing beads to the waiting crowds. It was so much fun to catch someone’s eye and land the beads right within their grasp. The crowd was thin and we only used half the beads, but what a thrill.
All thanks to this matriarch of the krewe, Renola Simon. When we returned to the house, she showed us her Mardi Gras room, with many costumes, prizes, souvenirs, and memorabilia of her many years in the krewe which was her and her husband’s social life. They went dancing every week, sometimes twice a week. She served as President, was queen twice, and now is financial officer. “It keeps me young,” she said. She is a marvelous personality I will never forget.
And Eva, too. Unforgettable personality. Her accent I only wish I had recorded, that down home true Cajun twang. And, she makes a great margarita, doncha know. I hated to say goodbye to Krewe des le Cajun.
February 10, 2013
The gumbo cook off was a tasty, wonderful, loud mob scene. We went late and spent about two hours. This is outside the Civic Center which had gumbo booths we didn’t ever get to.
From above, you can see what it is like. You pick up a bowl and taste and walk to the next booth.
Inside the building, it was the same, gumbo booths around the perimeter with about 30 booths and every one tasting different.
The Krewes compete for best gumbo and they don’t stint on ingredients. Sausage, chicken, ham, bacon, duck and at this booth a hock in every bowl. OMIGOSH! Everyone I tasted was better than Steamboat Bill’s gumbo. You can’t describe the flavors, and how they differ, but I was in foodie heaven. We would beg them to give us one SMALL bowl, then Jim and I with two spoons would taste. Everyone throws what they didn’t eat in the garbage. I quailed at the waste.
These ladies are from Le Krewe Du Le Originales Et Les Enfants. Toni, on the right, has a son in the State of Washington at McCord Airforce base, Jim’s old stomping grounds. We may be going to their ball and chicken run.
While you taste, the band plays and people dance.
This character, we assume from the winning Krewe in the parade the night before, walks around holding this scepter?, or whatever it is, with his entourage. He makes a swing periodically through the crowd to much applause and noisemakers, and hoots.
When the band identified a Krewe, they all hollered and made sure you knew who they were.
Members of the Entourage from the winning Krewe, danced along with everyone else. The Krewe is the Madelaines.
These two women were the best dancers on the floor. The woman on the right moved so fast, it was hard to get a picture of her. Cajun and Zydeco tunes are jumpin’. It was wonderful to watch the dancers.
This woman was, I think, trying to help the band play and dance at the same time. I might mention that this fun fueled event is not fueled on alcohol. Beer is available, but people don’t seem to swill and get drunk. We enjoyed the spirit, the mobs of friendly people and hated to see the end of all that good food though we could eat no more.
Then we went to the children’s parade. Many cars carried “winning, elected” children honored for something. A local event of some type decides who rides an honor, from very young like this tiny girl on top of a car throwing candy to teen-aged kids.
Everyone loves a good band.
This little girl was standing next to me.She and her mom kept offering me candy the kids picked up. I gave her my beads before we left. Kids are so photogenic and responsive.
This little puppy is only seven weeks old.
The dogs have to be registered, and this great dane could hardly stand still. It took five people to get her dressed for the parade.
It looked worth the effort.
This woman was hugging, and cooing and comforting her baby who was shaking and reluctant to be part of this mob of dogs.
There were cute kids everywhere. This little girl was peering warily at Jim as he tried to get her to smile.
Little brother kind of waved at me and moved closer to his sister. Shy, but he wanted his picture taken too.
And this little girl too. The kids love the camera.
All these bands play “modern” washboards, two of them. Quite a difference from the first Cajuns who used a washtub, washboard or whatever made sound to get their joy and spirit across.
Sitting next to me, Pam, a 65 year old nurse who still works. She was originally an entertainer in Columbia. I loved her hair and she was obviously very proud of her beautiful tresses. Oh, that I could have hair like that. I’d show it off too. So much talent and beauty in one day. Wowzer, baby, wowzer!
January 7, 2013
Yesterday warmed a bit and we spent a restful day with a few small chores. Jim pumped up all ten tires and fixed a valve. I treated the sinks with a baking soda soak and scrubbed the cutting board covers on the sink.
Every morning, the little tree outside our window fills up with tiny flitting birds. We can’t see what they eat and they don’t stay long enough to figure out what they are.
It was warm enough for the jack rabbits to come out of their dens by afternoon. They are gangly; all legs and ears. You can tell this is a nursing female.
There appears to be nothing for them to eat, the grass is sparse.
We dressed up after dinner for a dance at the American Legion..
We arrived just as the band was setting up. I brought my pocket camera and the room here, especially after the music got started, was very dark with only the disco ball flashing lights about the room.
Jim has been promising to dance me. We dance about the motor home frequently but in public, he tends to be shy about dancing. He turned me around the dance floor and I lost my backless sandals on the first dance. I’d never danced in them before and we struggled along twice, with my shoes wanting to come off, so I vacated the shoes and I danced in my stocking feet. Later, a gentleman asked me to dance, asking me if I like to twirl. I told him yes and he twirled and twirled me about the dance floor. He came back for a second dance and the shoe police made me leave the floor because I was in my stocking feet. The gentleman urged me to try again and I did, and again, the shoe police kicked me off the floor. I explained to him my shoes wouldn’t stay on my feet-to no avail. Jim and I danced once more, a slow dance where my shoes didn’t go flying, and then we left. It was difficult to understand why there is such a rule since most women’s shoes are scanty and thin, especially dancing shoes. In fact, this is the first American Legion we’ve been too where there was a security guard. Maybe they drink too much and get rowdy as the evening proceeds?
Could be, judging from this guy’s bottle, Machine Gun Kelly whiskey. He was very proud of his purchase and told me “I got the last one!” He didn’t open the bottle, just showed it to everyone.
The American Legion here only sells beer. If you drink anything else, you have to bring it and the bar provides you a cup and ice and will sell you mix.
I was having a great time before I got kicked off the dance floor, a first for me. We wanted to get home early anyway to see if the Harlingen PBS station would be playing Downton Abbey. (They don’t even broadcast on Sunday.) Darn!
February 6, 2012
I received an email from a friend about a physician who treats veterans in San Antonio, Texas. The physician claims more veterans settled in that area of Texas than anywhere in the U.S. He was discussing his view on how under appreciated veterans can be, even by himself. He learned late in his career to ask each patient about their experiences and let them know how much he appreciates them as he listens to their stories, some of which are horrific. It put me in mind of the post in Ajo which shares a post with the American Legion and AmVets.
Most posts fly a POW-MIA flag. Ajo’s post has a table reserved for the lost man. We’ve stayed in many VFW and American Legion Posts over the years and I had never seen this done. I Heard someone ask what the salt on the table represented? I was curious as well. After reading the framed mission statement, I thought I’d share it.
The bible is behind the frame and not visible in my photo, nor is the lemon slice present.
Yesterday, the resort had a polka party which sold out very quickly. We went to Mesa to get the Bronco washed, but couldn’t find a place that washes without brushes. We bought a coffee pot since ours had a faulty handle. We returned in time to peek in at the dance.
Dancing the polka and schottisch is most likely something only our generation finds familiar.
One thing I know for sure, the dancers were having a great time.
And those who sat out were having a good time too.
For active seniors, “snowbird” resorts, are a fun way to spend your golden years. Many RVers use their own motor homes to stay at places like this and others buy a spot they keep all year. Either way, it’s a great, carefree, fun and economical way to live.
December 31, 2011
It’s New Years Eve, a cause for celebration. A symbol that all things from 2011 can be put away and everything begins anew. The idea is semi-idiotic, but we love its symbol of hope for better things to come. Why not make a resolution and promise to make the New Year personally better than the year we’ve left behind? There is room for much improvement in this world, so, lets celebrate: (Click the link.)
Its time to get the party started and put all cares away:
And have a toast or three to good things to come:
Here’s to the bright New Year
And a fond farewell to the old;
Here’s to the things that are yet to come
And to the memories that we hold.
In the New Year,
may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship,
but never in want.
In the year ahead,
May we treat our friends with kindness
and our enemies with generosity.
“Let us resolve to do the best we can with what we’ve got”, says
Worthy thoughts and deeds we set before us. It gives us a breath of happiness to see the numbers on the new calendar. Was the old year a good year? A bad year? We can spare for one day to set all of it aside and share with others, strangers even, a bit of nostalgia.
August 6, 2011
What a fun place Murphys is to live in. Beginning last night and through September, the town puts on free Friday Evening concerts in the park. The locals and tourists both love this event. People gather with their lawn chairs and ice chests. For me, it was great seeing old friends I hadn’t seen in a year or more with my new traveling lifestyle.
If you prefer, instead of carting your own dinner to the park, a local caterer, restaurant or in this case, Val du Vino winery prepared roast pork in an orange glazed chiopotlte sauce with orzo, fruit and brownie. Local wines, beer and water are available to drink. Delish!
The sultry singer took a break and rested her feet. What could be more perfect? Music, good food, friends and a gorgeous setting! I’m going to miss the next Fridays Music In The Park and catered dinners. Its one of my favorite events. If you can go, don’t miss it.
December 9, 2010
In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned the Red Hats. Joellyn Gano, left, is also a member of the Calaveras Arts Council and enjoyed both parties on the same evening at the Murphys Hotel. Her husband Dave is a painter. Joellyn plays a mean accordion, just one of her many talents. Penny West, served as director of the Calaveras County Arts Council and kept that organization growing and strong, nurturing all of us since 1981. She now shares that position with Mary Jane Genochio.
Judi Caine Papais, left, has a marvelous studio with wonderful north light and teaches as well as paints. She is a well known artists along with many others too numerous to name. Judi belongs to another arts group in the county. Murphys may have the most galleries of all the small towns in Calaveras, but there are many others if you wish to spend a day perusing the awesome talents of this community. If you are looking for culture, music, dance, visual arts, sculpture, or pottery, you will find it here.
Good friends, Dave Self and Pastor Meg Self attended. Dave, with talents previously hidden from view. He drew illustrations for Glen Wasson’s book and will be coming out with a book of his own poetry soon. He amazed me.
Glen with his wife Joan, a talented photographer. Glen provided the entertainment for the night and kept us laughing with renditions from his current book, Tales Mark Twain Would Have Loved To Steal.
Glen is well known for his doggerel. He writes on the spot and read a poem he composed just for the evening. But, I mentioned the Red Hats. Glen wrote “A Gentleman’s Response To The Red Hat Ladies” and kept us laughing at his indelicate response to the repression of men’s natural tendencies.
When I am old I will not care
About the kind of clothes I wear
They may be tattered, old or ripped
And I won’t care if my fly’s not zipped.
In crowded elevators I may break wind
And look as though I’m quite chagrined
At some innocent person standing there
Whom I’ll indict with a reproachful stare.
And I don’t care if the ladies mind
That I pinch them hard on the behind
I’ve always longed to play such sports,
Especially those with bulging shorts.
I’ll go to church in my overalls
Wear polyester plaid to formal balls
I’ll watch TV in my under wear
And scatter beer cans everywhere.
I’ll scratch myself in private places
Just to see the look on people’s faces.
In mixed compay I’ll tell lewd jokes
To scandalize those proper folks.
At dinner time I will pick my nose
And wipe the boogers on my clothes.
And to me it really doesn’t matter
If I grab the last thing from the platter.
Until I’m old I’ll still behave,
It isn’t nice to be a knave.
But, I can’t wait for that joyful day
When I’m old enough to act that way.
November 15, 2010
The dragon is not always a symbol of fierceness. The Lakota people consider the dragon a symbol of retreat; to journey inward to your own center of peace and quiet. Sharon Armstrong is a psychologist who does art work with her patients. Her strength is in mask making. For years she has taught people to make their own faces in a mask. It helps people clarify who they are and where they are going. Working on it provides them a kinship with themselves and others. But, for the Burning Man, held the Monday before Labor Day each year in the desert, Sharon built a 23 foot tall dragon. Sharon returned home and erected it in her mother’s garden at the Center for Creativity and Community in San Andreas.
The dragon’s name is Uncegila and is surrounded by a labyrinth. The unveiling was held Sunday and people came to walk the labyrinth and visit the Center, the Gallery, housed in a 100 year old restored barn, and the Garden.
Sharon, on the left, with Madalaine Krska, showed everyone around the Center which came about in an unusual way. Her mother, Floy, heard Sharon on a television interview comment that she wished she could found a Center for Creativity and Community. Floy decided right then and there that she could make that come true. Floy took her rental at 23 West St. Charles Place in San Andreas, and is helping her daughter transform the building into a non-profit Community Center. There is space for art work, teaching ceramics, photography, creative writing, video, painting, drawing, mask making and music. Their vision is to provide a gathering place for people of all ages to explore and express their unique creativity regardless of their ability to pay.
The Center is just getting started, but classes have already underway. Nanette Klass teaches drawing.
Ruth Nicols teaches harp and Tai Chi.
Floy’s vegetable and flower garden was planted by area children.
Sharon teaches mask making; and her husband, George, teaches landscape painting.
But you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy the center. My brother Bill, above, joined me and walked the labyrinth around the dragon. Eventually, the gazebo with a fountain and picnic area will be open to the public. The lovely Victorian House can hold an audience of 30 people for performance events. Two sound proof rooms allow people quiet space for writing or music lessons.
Or, like me, you can lie in the hammock and relax and contemplate the dragon from afar. The website is: http://www.center4creativity