Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer Memories

As a way of saying 'goodbye' to summer, I'd like to present some of the pictures I captured this summer. 

Southern Grandiflora Magnolia
Vicksburg National Cemetery

Chaste Blossom

Purple Lantana

Summer Rose

Grandchildren growing up before our eyes ...

Grocery Store Flowers

Homegrown Tomatoes

 Crape Myrtle Blossom after a Summer Rain Shower

Black Swallowtail just Passing Through

Hummer visiting our Chaste Tree

Wild "Ditch Lilies"

Live Oaks of South Louisiana

Church Yard Daisies

I hope this has inspired you to think back on your summer and recall some of its shining moments.  I wish you a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend as we say a fond farewell to summer and look forward to Fall's upcoming arrival.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Thank You Note

Just a note to thank our local Entergy service crews for restoring our power which was out for about 45 minutes this morning. I called the Entergy power outage number about ten minutes after we lost power and was told, by a recorded message, that the outage had already been reported and that the problem should be fixed by 10:30 a.m. The message also gave me an option of being called back with updates if it took longer than expected.

I felt "lost" as I walked around the house ... everything I wanted to do required POWER (computer, TV, washing machine, lights in the attic to get Fall decor out).  I couldn't even go somewhere because I would have had to disable the automatic garage door opener, which I don't know how to do, and, of all things, manually lift the door. I couldn't think of a single place I wanted to go bad enough to go through all that. 

Luckily, the Entergy guys were able to fix the problem and restore the power sooner than expected.  But that brief 45 minutes of quiet ... free from the hum of appliances and ceiling fans and air conditioning turning off and on ... made me painfully aware that I have become so spoiled by this wonderful modern convenience called electricity that I take it for granted.  And not only that, I'm also guilty of taking for granted the service men (and women) who are out in the sweltering August sun, either up in the air working on power lines or transformers, or down in trenches working on underground equipment ... working to restore our power as quickly as they possibly can.

They are a welcoming and comforting sight during weather-related disasters like Katrina and Sandy, or catastrophic tornadoes ... putting their lives at risk as first-responders, doing all they can to help, not only to restore power, but to restore lives in the process.   

I was very impressed by the efficiency of the Entergy crews this morning, and appreciate their fast response and service restoring our power.  I will try to remember in the future to be more appreciative of our modern conveniences and not take them or, more importantly, the people who make them work, for granted.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Change in the Air

Is it just me, or does it seem to you that the passage of time is marching to a faster tempo these days? I feel as if it was just a few weeks ago when I was counting the days until Springtime ... and now here we are into the last week of August, and I can already feel a change in the air.  Granted, it's still hot and humid outside, but my "inner" season gauge has already kicked in and I'm ready to start decorating for Fall.

I thought I would wait at least until September 1st before packing up the "summer stuff," and getting the "Fall stuff" from the attic, but we're going to have our two-year-old grandson Maddox with us for a week beginning the first of September, and I know from experience that I won't be decorating or doing much of anything else besides playing and doing all the things that having a very active two-year-old boy underfoot entails.

His mommy and daddy are going on a cruise, and his big sister Avery will be staying at home with an aunt so she can go to school.  Maddox's great-grandparents are coming to help and to play which will be a big help to me and a treat for Maddox.  I'm so glad he is blessed to have them in his life and has gotten to know and love them.  And, of course, they think he and Avery are little Einsteins-in-the-making.

So, that's why I'm in my "Fall decorating mode" a little early this year.  I hope this finds you feeling a change in the air wherever you are, and looking forward to Fall, too.  It will be here before we know it!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cajun Country Lagniappe

This is the last in a series of posts featuring pictures from our recent trip through the heart of Acadiana, an area in South Louisiana, which is more commonly known as "Cajun Country."  

We drove the back roads that cut through endless acres of sugarcane fields, groves of magnificent old live oaks whose massive moss-covered limbs looked as if they were so heavy the trees couldn't hold them up any longer, and rice fields that stretched as far as the eye could see.

Louisiana is second in sugarcane production in the United States, and ranks third in rice production. This was very much in evidence as we drove through the heart of Cajun Country. There were thousands of acres of rice fields, ranging from lush emerald green to gold.

The rice tassles were as droopy as I felt after wandering around those rice fields in the midday August sun taking pictures ... isn't it pretty, though!



It would probably be very difficult to find a pantry in the State of Louisiana, especially south Louisiana, that doesn't have a package of rice on its shelves.  And in Cajun Country, chances are,  most of the classic Cajun dishes include rice.

On a more personal note, as a Louisiana native, I grew up eating rice dishes, and loved rice cooked just about any way you can cook it ... with brown gravy, red gravy, in soups, gumbos, casseroles, with red beans, and even rice pudding.  But about three years ago I developed a health issue which caused difficulty when swallowing, and after having several food allergy tests done, I was told that I was allergic to rice!  The allergist couldn't tell me why, after eating rice all my life, I was all of a sudden allergic to it, but I immediately quit eating rice the day I found out it was the cause of my problem. I have to admit that I miss it ... red beans and shrimp creole and gumbo will never be the same again ... but, thankfully, I haven't had any more difficulties swallowing, so it's a small sacrifice to pay.

Along with the rice fields, I would like to share some of the other scenes I captured during our travels, like this store called, "Just out da Bayou Seafood" ... gotta love it!

And the street signs that were printed in both English and French ...

I love the neon signs on these two old movie houses, in Crowley and New Iberia, respectively ...

Downtown Crowley, known as The Rice Capital of America, where "Life is Rice and Easy!"

New Iberia is also home to the beautiful Shadows on the Teche (ca 1831-1834)
Our time was limited and we weren't able to tour the house,
but I managed to get this shot through the front gate.

Two attractions in St. Martinville, Louisiana, caught my attention.  One was this charming bed and breakfast inn called Hotel Castillo (ca 1827) ...

A little historical lagniappe about the Hotel: Throughout the 19th century, steamboats sailed up and down Bayou Teche bringing travelers and goods to Acadiana.  Those who stopped in St. Martinville found lodging and hospitality in a large brick building that came to be called the Castillo Hotel.  It had one of the area's most luxurious ballrooms and was the setting for decades of community activities. When steamboat travel gave way to the railroads, the old hotel was sold to the Sisters of Mercy, who operated the Convent of Mercy School there for almost 90 years.

The second attraction in St. Martinville was next to the hotel -- the famed "Evangeline Oak," which marks the legendary meeting place of Emmeline Labiche and Louis Arceneaux, the counterparts of Evangeline and Gabriel, in Longfellow's poem, Evangeline. The poem immortalized the tragedy of the Acadian exile from Nova Scotia in 1755.

 Near the old oak tree there is a bust honoring Longfellow, as a "Poet of the People."

St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Abbeville, Louisiana

Breaux Bridge, known as "The Crawfish Capital of the World," prominently displays a giant crawfish on the bridge crossing Bayou Teche, leading to the historic downtown area ...

Downtown Breaux Bridge ...

More street signs ...

By the way, we stopped and ate at the Cafe Des Amis downtown, and enjoyed our meal so much that we stopped there again on the way home!  I highly recommend the shrimp gumbo, if you are ever in the area.  It was delicious, even without rice!

I hope you enjoyed seeing my pictures from our trip to South Louisiana, and found the stories behind them to be interesting.  If you would like to read more about our trip through Acadiana, you can click on the links below:

Off the Beaten Path in South Louisiana

Rayne, Louisiana: Frog Capital of the World

Audubon Bridge: A Work of Art

Stepping Back in Time

Adventures on Avery Island

Sugar, Sugar

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sugar, Sugar

Our recent trip to South Louisiana would not have been complete without pictures of a sugarcane field.

Louisiana produces about 20% of the sugarcane grown in the United States, on over 400,000 acres in 22 parishes.  In south central Louisiana you can see thousands of acres of sugarcane fields, most of which are planted along the roadsides.  This time of year they are lush green, and stand tall in the fields. 

As we traveled the back roads through the heart of Cajun Country, we stopped at an especially pretty field so I could capture a few "up close and personal" pictures.  

I like the contrast of the shadows of the stalks against the cracked, dry soil ... 

With August temperatures reaching the high 90s, it felt good to walk in the shade between the rows.

In the South, you can buy sugarcane stalks at farmer's markets or roadside vegetable stands, and one of my fondest memories from my childhood is my grandfather bringing sugarcane home for me and my cousins.  We would wait patiently (or not so patiently, if the truth be known) for him to cut pieces for us to munch on, relishing the sticky sweetness of the sugar from the cane as it melted in our mouths.

The fields will be harvested soon and during harvest time, sugar wagons clattering off to the mills are common sights on country roads.  I would love to go back and get pictures of the harvesting process, and perhaps even munch on some sugarcane ... just for old times' sake.

If you would like to read more about our trip through Acadiana, you can click on the links below:

Off the Beaten Path in South Louisiana

Rayne, Louisiana: Frog Capital of the World

Audubon Bridge: A Work of Art

Stepping Back in Time

Adventures on Avery Island