There is something magical about moonlight sometimes. It made me want to get out of the car and dance in the middle of the road.
Check it out:
There is something magical about moonlight sometimes. It made me want to get out of the car and dance in the middle of the road.
Check it out:
My partners in crime and I decided to attend the Music In The Park last Friday, put on by volunteers from the Community Club, supported by the merchants and alternately by the Arts Council. Above is left to right, Sue, Janice, Becky and Jan. Everyone brings snacks and drinks and networks with friends. Or, you can buy dinner from a local caterer and buy wine and soft drinks from the club’s “Hut”.
While you don’t have to be a Community Club Member to enjoy the event, the club invited members to a repast of wonderful hors d’ oeuvres and a free glass of wine preceding the music. The food was so scrumptious and good, I wasn’t sure I should buy dinner. Now that I’m on the road, I don’t volunteer anymore, I only pay my dues.
Small towns in rural Calaveras County have no city services and the Community Clubs step in to provide garbage service, pay for street lights on Main St. and so on. The volunteers provide an excellent service and I love being a supporter. This woman is a smiling ambassador who makes sure every one is happy. I’m forgoing names because I see so many new faces.
The women pouring wine and drinks from the Hut were so busy I had to grab them in a rare moment to get a picture,.
I’ve worked with Peggy before. She’s been a member for a while, but I think I have them all beat. I’ve been a member since 1979 or 80.
These volunteers sell the drink tickets so those pouring don’t have to fiddle with money and change.
Other members are there to enjoy and have worked in the past like myself. Kind of retired, temporarily anyway.
The music was provided by a group called Sequoia. A mix of lovely folk tunes and original instrumentals, great listening music.
Sometimes the bands that play are very danceable. Not this group. But, Walt Marcus and his wife decided that one lively tune was very danceable and they gave us all a show as they did a lively jig much to the delight of the crowd.
It doesn’t get much more fun than that.
It might look like we are a bunch of drunks, but, not true. Jan is a teetotaler and the rest of us didn’t even finish one bottle of wine. We tried, though. To see all 17 of the photos I took, click the link below.
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?”
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.
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.
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!