Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Chance to Do Nothing

"I never thought that I’d have to work so hard and pay so much to give my kids a chance to do nothing. Not nothing, per se, but activities that don’t transfer well to a resume, like swimming in a lake, running to get mail, talking without the aid of technology—the types of activities we used to just call life—the type of activities they still call life in the tiny village of Fresvik."


I could easily be a mom living in Fresvik, Norway. Easily.

Contentment is my middle name. I like nothing better than to take long breaks and walks and picnics.

But I'm living and raising kids in 21st century America. Times have changed. Summer has changed.

I've spoken to three families in the past month who could not schedule a family vacation into this summer because of overlapping sport schedules and camps. The time, money and energy needed to orchestrate activities for the children made it near impossible for the family to regather around the ol' wagon wheel.

I picked this up somewhere as I eavesdropped into a conversation:

"My girlfriend recently gave me her daughter’s college resume to review. It was four pages long. Every minute of high school was meticulously accounted for and for what? She is going to the same college that I attended. Will she fare that much better there than I did? Will she fare that much better in life? And what about my girls? Will they have to run track, preside over student council, paint for the art show, spearhead the Homecoming Committee and save the whales to get into college, too?"

I hate to tell this lady yes, you will and so I turn away from the prospect. It's a dead subject anyway.

I've sent three children into the larger world. I know the reality. Prove yourself bigger and better than the next person is the battle cry. If you aren't doing something you aren't being productive. Whatever happened to creative boredom? Whatever happened to lazy dog days of summer? What happened to being barefoot on the front lawn? What happened to just saying no...not only to drugs but no, to the world controling our summers? It's an exciting new world we're living in.

Scary exciting maybe. I'm one of those hippie types who thinks too much stimulation and excitement is the cause of our country's discontent with things, places, and one another. We are living high on expectations and anxiety and aren't willing to come down off our experiences in order to admit that we need to take a break from this exciting new world.

Most of us realize that it isn't only the school programs that dominate our lives but the clubs and communities we are a part of. We aren't happy with being content anymore. We have to be better than that and we're dragging our kids along with us.

I sit at dance competitions and in school hallways and I hear the talk. We compare over-scheduled planners and lives, myself included. I've always excused my life as the fact I didn't stop with the normal quota of two kids. The more kids one has, the more the to-be, to-do, to-go list grows. But the schedules I compare mine to under a magnifying glass mostly consist of families with two or three children.

When did we give up contentment for chaos?

For myself, it began when I became a mother...and I compared my schedule (or lack of) to other parents' schedules. I've been part of the rat race for a long time. Now I'm looking for my Fresvik-ville.

Something tells me there's a Fresvik, Norway available for all of us...even families who cannot schedule in a summer vacation. Here in Louisiana, Hodges Garden State Park provides and affords any family a small spot on earth to get away from the current century of fast living and just breathe a little.

Known as the "Garden in the Forest", this state jewel is as tranquil as a still pond. There are cabins on the lake at various prices or it's an affordable day trip for campers surrounding Toledo Bend Lake area.

There are streams, waterfalls, stone quarries, and a Natural Garden  along with hidden stone paths throughout the forest.

There are also lookout towers, goldfish ponds, and the sweetest little lighthouse.

My only regrets are that Flag Island and the greenhouse, which I remember from my childhood, are now closed. But the park's assets are alive and green and flourishing. These photos were taken this past spring. I'm sure the heat of summer is stifling and the blooms have finished their life's cycle, but if you're a natural walker, the forest paths are cooling and the shaded towers make this an excellent walker's paradise for those who desire to walk all year long.


For others...the cool days of autumn are right around the corner...directly after the start-up of school and dance classes and new clubs and church beginnings and rec sports and everything else life has to offer.

I know your days will be busy (and some weekends too) but look now at that crazy, lop-sided schedule and search for one weekend that promises a chance to do nothing.

Nothing at all.

Read the History of Hodges Gardens.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Facing the Gulf

I stood looking at the Gulf of Mexico; deliberating it. My husband and daughters were playing tag with the surfs and they needed another floatie device. I had it … and they needed it.

The reason for my deliberation was not what you would think. In fact, there were no tar balls, oil, or BP representatives in sight. My deliberation was based on a childhood fear instead, a tide-pounding fear of being stung by a jellyfish. I found myself in a “sticky” situation standing on that shoreline. Quite honestly, I’ve never let anyone know about this fear. I’ve always inhaled my fear and put one foot in front of the other to do what I had to do to keep my children from thinking their mother was a total wimp.

So I left the shelter of the blue tent with the tailgate spread of sugary sweet watermelon h’orderves and iced-down water bottles, and gingerly stepped over a barrier of brown seaweed. I took the plunge and faced a primitive Gulf whose waves gently lulled me into its watery bed.

You have to know what we face in Louisiana that makes it so contrary to the Gulf entrances our neighbor’s (Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida) own and what their verandas open to. Louisiana beaches are not beautiful. They are not blue crystal. They are not sparkling mystical sands. They are not Florida.  They are not the Caribbean. For those beaches we must save up, pack up, and travel to Florida or go on a cruise.
I shared yesterday some photos of our recent stay in Florida and I shared how the beach is not my natural summertime happy place though I'm learning a newfound fondness of its pleasures from watching those around me who love it so.

But today I’m not writing about Florida’s beaches or the Caribbean. I’m writing about Louisiana and why those of us who go to the Gulf beaches keep going.  Sometimes it’s simply all that we have. Nothing more. And we learn to love it, even if it isn’t white sands and blue water.

Louisiana beaches are primitive and murky dull. If there’s a jellyfish floating on the bottom you aren’t going to see it until it’s too late. Louisiana beaches are not known for their beauty. They bear only God’s imprint of life in the nude. Just as God created beautiful people and places, He also created plain. Our beaches are not sculptured havens; there is no commercial success invested here. They are plain. Nowadays everything has become commercialized and Hollywood-ized. Louisiana never was. Louisiana is still the unknowing baby, the unruly toddler, the defiant child who rebels against being with the in-crowd.

This is not Hollywood. This is Holly Beach. We aren’t on Broadway. We’re on the boardwalk and many of those boardwalks got walked on and trampled by Hurricane Rita. We are simple people living a simple life. Lifestyles have not changed much in three generations. Many families live much the same way their great grandparents lived. Life is more technical and comfortable, true, but we still arise under a Louisiana sun, eat Louisiana food, raise our children here, vote for those we choose and trust, rarely eat seafood not caught in the Gulf’s waterways by the hand of a family member, and go to sleep with pride that the sun still rises and sets over the state of Louisiana.

The beaches here are known for their raw sense of taste, smell, sight, sound, and feel. We’ve had other problems in the past such as bacteria contamination not to meant oil spills. This is life in the raw and that image—without make-up and facelifts and computerized imaging—is not always pretty to look at. It’s not always attractive.

The other day my daughter asked her daddy “What exactly does attractive mean?”

Her daddy answered, “It means that it’s pleasant to look at. Easy on the eyes”

In making everything “attractive” and “easy on the eyes” we—in the 21st century—forget that life is not always beautiful. Life is not always attractive. Life is not always easy. In fact, more often than not, it is not easy at all.  It is often harsh and unpleasant.

In recent history, the people in Louisiana have had a front row viewing of life in the raw. It is not sucralose-coated or magazine perfect. We’re becoming too familiar with camera lens that are dirty and smeared. This panoramic view has taught us a lot about what really matters in life and what to do when you’re not the most popular kid in school. You learn that faith in God and family is more important than faith in leaders and government committees. You learn to look at what you have instead of what you don’t have and you realize that it’s good enough. You learn that humans take a lot for granted and that if the government takes something away it isn’t the end of the world. You also learn that you can do without a lot of things but land and family are something you need for survival and only God and the people of Louisiana can give you that. You learn to have more faith in yourself than you did before.

I hesitate to say that you have to be Louisiana born and raised to love these shores. Surely there are others who have come to these shores and thought them beautiful despite its mud-wafered sand, bountiful seaweed, and malt-frothy water. The shores are not beautiful but they are beauty personified.  

To love it here you have to sense it. You have to taste it, not as an adult, but as a child.

Louisiana children love Louisiana beaches for things we wouldn’t imagine: the sprinkle of sand in the hot dogs, the smell of everything beach, the splintering sound the watermelon makes when sliced with a knife, the taste of salt on your lips when you wipe the drip of watermelon off your chin with your wet hand,


...the clicking of seashells in plastic buckets, the cool lip of a shell on your ear and the lisp of the seven seas in your ear,

...the clear faucet water poured over sandy barefeet before being allowed inside the truck,

...finding a lost piece of coral and the teeniest, tiniest baby crab in the whole world! … (look for the tiniest crab in the world on the thumb)

… the overhead serenade of seagulls,

...and the sight of shrimp boats still catching edible pink shells on the horizon.

Once I reached the dip of the embackment into the seabottoms, my husband did the gentlemanly thing and held my blue chariot so I could slip onto the float and ride the waves. My heroic walk into the Gulf was worthy of a trophy ride on the waves. On that blue floating chair I no longer worried about stepping on a jellyfish or a broken beer bottle or mistaking a wisp of seaweed around my ankles for a jellyfish. I could just relax and enjoy the gulf breezes and the hint of salt spray on my lips.

It took me back to my childhood.  Back to sand-encrusted hot dog buns, ankles with disappearing feet in brown water, fears of jellyfish fields, watermelons seeds buried in sand, castles built on sandy foundations, tar moles on flip-flops (back in the 70’s), year-old swimsuits turned dingy with chicory-bleached beach water, and the realization that brown water feels just as good on skin smeared under a Louisiana sky as crystal blue water feels on skin lotioned under a Florida sky.

I’m digging for reassuring words here. Digging …

… but for a moment nothing mattered. None of it. Not the  new hurricane year. Not the oil spill. The Gulf was, for me and my children, simply what it was. It has always been there, always a part of my life. It isn’t the Atlantic or Pacific. It isn’t Palm Beach. It isn’t the French Riviera. It’s just the water in my backyard.

The same trepidation and deliberation that foreshadowed my barefoot convergence into the Gulf has followed me in deciding whether to write anything about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in this little space. In my mind, plenty has already been written. Too much, in fact. Too much written. Too little done. Why should this little column that boasts, toots, and dishes up all things Louisiana spew more ink on the massive spill of words out there?  Words are sometimes simply words and don’t get the job done.

I am neither an oil rig worker, a government official, an pipe expert, the CEO of an oil company, or a Hollywood star with Kevin Costner status. I am none of these things. I am simply a hometown girl from Louisiana. I am a little voice in a tidal wave of controversy and endless discussion. This gives me no clout.

What I am is a child who was brought to these beaches as a child. I am a mother with children who are native to Louisiana and who I wish to see grow healthy and happy and at home here in the wilds of Louisiana. I am a granddaughter whose grandparents all came from the oak-lineage of Acadian roots to the prairie farms of Southwest Louisiana where the Cajun drawl was sharpened by a twist of Texas twang.

My grandfather worked in the oil fields of Louisiana and my husband’s grandfather had oil wells in Nebo, LA that were divided nine times over then split again amongst my husband and his brothers. It’s a mere drop in a much larger bucket. Our son now works for an oil company. Pretty ironic, isn’t it? Yet that is the circle of life here in Louisiana. We depend upon these oil refineries for our livelihood. Many workers are fishermen themselves. We live and work in harmony and peace with the shrimpers and fishermen who make their modest living in the shadow of those oil rigs which bring in substantial incomes and a better way of life for Louisiana. It’s a dance between big business and the people of Louisiana. We have danced well for decades. Now someone must pay the fiddler.

Who will pay? Who will?

We all will.

But, to keep a postive note here, it really isn’t within big business or the government’s power to give or take away from us. It’s what God and family hands down to us that matters and what we do with it. What have you done with your children and grandchildren this summer? Have you sat indoors watching CNN or FOX and berating the government?  Or did you offer your children a taste of salt and wind from one of Louisiana’s many beaches? Did you offer him a chance to carve his name in the sand, and look out over a Gulf where the water still feeds brown pelicans and porpoise still ride in unison next to shrimp boats?

Have you taken your children down to the Gulf and let them look in wonder over the horizon to the end of the world?  And know that their feet stand on a slippery slope?  Do they realize how shifting, how unstable, how fading sand really is?

I want my children to know that not all beaches are beautiful and pure. Some are just plain ol’ beaches, a little tired, a little used, but, like an old pair of flip-flops, they are comfortable. Their simplicity is what welcomes the simple folk. These beaches are just as alive and teeming with life as their neighbor’s sandbars. They are worth our time and our admiration.

Life is so simple really, especially in Louisiana. Don’t allow the hurricanes of defeat and doubt to take away your faith in Louisiana. Take the hand of your children and walk towards the Gulf sometime this summer … this month. It’s still out there, cleaner than I’ve seen it in a long time. It’s beautiful. Don’t listen to everything you’re fed on the evening news. Instead, take your child by the hand and feed him a piece of Louisiana this summer. If you don’t, who will? Rest assured, it won’t be the oil companies and it won’t be the government.

It can only be you.

Let your child embrace Louisiana as it is now. Let his eyes see the water. Let his face feel the wind. Let his ears hear the cry of the seagulls overhead. Let his hands roll and inspect petals of shell in his hands. Let his tongue taste a watermelon on the beach.

Future generations of Louisiana may not remember Katrina and Rita of 2005 or the oil spill of 2010 but they will remember your hand in theirs and the beauty of a day on the beach with you. And they’ll be able to tell their children and their grandchildren that Louisiana’s beaches were just as beautiful as any other beach God ever made. Most important of all, your children will know that you cared about them and the place they call home.

Oh, one last thing … be sure to bring a watermelon with you.

(Today's pictures are from a day long past, but were taken on Holly Beach. And sand is sand...no matter what beach you're on.)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Discovering Your Summertime Happy Place

I've never been a beachy person. I don't know how much of it is from having a mother who detested sand or from not having anything more romantic to frolic in but Holly Beach.

I've tolerated the sand. I've enjoyed a good swim and a sandy hot dog, or two.

I've even enjoyed the beach. A summer has never gone by without a splash in the surf and sand.  I've made sure my children ate watermelon in the sand and collected buckets of seashells.

But I've never been one to stand and look out at the ocean and breathe with contentment.

The expanse of the ocean (and I've stood at both at the Atlantic and the Pacific) gives me a deep unsettling gulp in the middle of my belly. It's overpowering, overwhelming. It's one thing that reminds me that---as much as I deny it---I rather like being in control and the ocean reminds me ...threateningly...that I am not in control.

My father taught my brother and me to swim at an early age. It was both our parents' wish. My mother not only hated sand but she didn't rate water much higher. Still, as proof of fate, she met this carefree lifeguard/competitive swimmer/ instructor at the public swimming pool and he became my father. I've known how to swim all my life. I learned how in the safety of my father's arms.

But from a safe distance, my mother's cautious voice reminded me how wide and far and powerful water was. So I've never felt completely free at the beach. Comfortable? yes. Guarded? yes.

Yet I was always romantically curious about the souls who visited the beach for medicinal purposes. And I was always slightly envious of family stories about annual summers spent at beach houses. My parents preferred to head West and took us through the desert and over the mountains and into the sunset.

Maybe that's why I've never been a very beachy sort of person.

Yet lately...the older I grow...the beach appeals to me. It beckons me in a mystical way. Perhaps I'm being brain-pooled by all those Facebook posts. Or maybe it's because a little blue bird twitters about lovely freeing adventures by the seashore.

Or maybe it's how casual and effortless a walk becomes when you're clocking steps between a pier and nothingness.

Or maybe it's how nice it is to pretend you're a bum along with everybody else.

Or maybe it's the innate love I see my girls have for the beach. One of their favorite beach activities is to seek seashells (and baby crabs) by the seashore with flashlights into the late night hours.

Or it could be how one can take a free week on the sand and literally sit between two worlds. And nobody cares where you go or where you've been or if you fall asleep instead. It's a perfect vacation.

At any rate, I find myself Pinterested into an awareness of the love other people have for the beach and the sand and open air sunsets. I'm more open-minded that maybe the beach is a part of summer that I'm only now beginning to appreciate.

Or perhaps it's as simple as this sign says: "Some people see more in a WALK on the BEACH than others see in a trip around the world."

And that's really all a Happy Place needs to be to make one perfectly happy, isn't it?

Join me for a sit this summer?

{This was not Louisiana, folks. It was Florida. We have another trip planned to the Gulf sometime soon. Sorry for any false advertising. }

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gulf Coast Delivery

My apologies. Sometimes (especially during the crazy month of April) I get lost in the swamp and it takes me some time to find my way back to where I'm supposed to be. ;-)

While I blow the pollen off my keyboard, I'm going to share with you all this piece (and a recipe)...

....simply because I'm hungry for some of my mother's home-fried shrimp.


“They’re catching shrimp like crazy in the Gulf,” my friend told me the other day. “You want any?”

“How big are they?” I had to ask…just because.
“How much is he selling them for?” My pocketbook had to ask…just because.
“No! They’re beautiful. He’s got large for $3.75 lb and mixed for $3.00 even.”
“Yeah, I want some. Call me when he gets in with them and I’ll come meet y’all.”
By the time the shrimp came in, they were all sold out. My brother’s cast net was equally profitable and his freezer (and pocketbook) was very happy.

It took three more phone calls before I was able to cut in line get ahead of all the friends and acquaintances on the other end of the phone, get some shrimp iced down, and delivered to my kitchen.

There was plenty to share with the family. We donned aprons, chopped bags of ice to layer inside ice chests, and tolerated hand piercings and itchy thumbs in order to get our fill of the Gulf’s abundance. Our freezers were very grateful.

While peeling my shrimp, I couldn’t help but think of Pawpaw’s annual shrimp hunt and Mawmaw’s white porcelain sink filled with his harvest. Stacks of white plastic containers dated with a piece of tape and stacked neatly inside their chest freezer are forever labeled in my mind. My mother never fried shrimp other than those caught in Pawpaw’s cast net. Ever. I was fed on Gulf shrimp all my life. It was sacrilege to think of buying shrimp from anywhere other than Pawpaw’s freezer.

Naturally, as I bagged my little wares of fresh shrimp, I thought of all the Louisianans, past and present, who have leaned over kitchen sinks, peeling and de-heading and de-veining hundreds upon hundreds of slippery shrimp in order to feed their families: during good times and bad times, during war time and peace time, and during recent recessions and economical bounty.

After a couple of hours of pinching heads and tails off and unwrapping transparent life vests off these little swimmerets, my back was protesting and my kitchen smelt like high tide, but those clear freezer bags of fresh Gulf shrimp swam in peaceful slumber within my freezer.
* * * * *
Don't forget to enjoy the process as well as the meal as you make your Gulf Coast deliveries this summer.


Oma's Fried Shrimp

Have on hand:
  • Shrimp
  • Seasoning
  • Oil
  • Egg
  • Pet milk
  • Bisquick

Soak shrimp in Pet milk and a beaten egg (for an hour or more, overnight if possible)
Heat cooking oil over medium heat.
Dip soaked shrimp in Bisquick batter and fry in oil until crisp and golden brown.

Make sure oil does not get too hot or shrimp will cook too quickly.
Pet milk and Bisquick make all the difference!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hurricanes, Ice Storms, and Last Minute Milk Runs

This picture (scouted from the Louisiana State Police Facebook Page) got sent around a lot because snow is Louisiana is a rare commodity.

But one photo from Shreveport, LA never tells the whole story, does it? Especially when shared on social media. Sent around on social media, everyone assumes Louisiana is encrusted in snow and ice.

Here's a weather update...

While the rest of the country got piles of snow as February drifted out of sight, Southwest Louisiana has gotten only rain.

And there's more rain projected this week.


We wish!

And I admit that, while watching...from afar...the rest of the country's white wintery wonderlands blanketing my social media venues, I've had those moments of wanting that snowy fun, that sugar white bliss, that cold fuzzy, and those thousand worded pictures in my own backyard.

I've nodded with sympathetic naivety at cumbersome sharings which I clearly know nothing about. I've been keyed into their conversations, these friends from afar, about chiseling ice off vehicle windows, digging out vehicles and driveways with their snow blowers, and making last minute grocery store runs to get that final gallon of milk before the blizzard hits. Yet none of it seemed to replace the images of homemade igloos and the snow sled videos.

Our northern neighbors get to experience such fun and wonder in their comfortable houses and prepare to be blanketed inside for days using that gallon of milk to create warm hot cocoa. It's not quite a treacherous as Ma Ingalls' trip to the barn while holding the clothesline and arriving back in the house on Plum Creek with a bucketful of iced milk.

These conversations, and most definitely the instant digital imagery, left me thinking about how my last minute milk runs are always before a hurricane...or Christmas dinner.

Louisianians are very familiar with empty store shelves and last bottles of milk being snatched out from under us.

But there's a difference, I'm wont to add.

A last minute grocery store run here in Louisiana can equate into a mandatory evacuation which calls for leaving our homes and worrying about that gallon of milk going bad before we get to a relative's house or hotel far away from the threat of an impending storm.

It means the possibility, as we saw with Katrina and Rita in 2005, of being homeless for weeks on end.

For a brief flurry, one might be compelled to feel icy pricks of envy towards our northern neighbors blanketed in front of warm fireplaces, sipping hot cocoa under warm quilts while shrouded from outside commitments.

Or so we imagine.

As I mentioned, I am a Louisiana native...beyond naïve about northern things. When making trips as a child to northern states, it was strictly a vacation thing. Someone else did the work, I enjoyed the snow.

Forever living in Louisiana, I guess I never grew up and learned the hard lessons about living with snow.

Until this winter...

This is when one realizes that no matter how old you get, social media only shows you what you want to see. You have to dig deeper to see what lurks behind the beauty of the snowflakes.

When New Englander Melanie Bettinelli mentioned she suspected their ceiling might be leaking, I thought, "Well, being buried in snow isn't a good time for that to happen." And the thought that it was melting snow causing the leak did cross my mind. But we fix leaky roofs here in Louisiana all the time.

Not a huge threat, right?


I had no idea...because I just didn't know any better.

It was when she mentioned that they were told to scrape their roofs before the next snow storm or the heavy weight of snow and ice could cause the roof to collapse that I realized blizzards are as dangerous to their homes as hurricanes are to ours.

And while I thought how lucky there were to not have the threat of leaving their homes due to the elements, I never dreamed that what looks like an ice castle to us can, in fact, crash like shards of glass over their heads. Literally. The thought was horrific to me...one so far away from the threat.

I know water. I don't know ice.

So I have to apologize to our northern neighbors that I clearly had no idea that---other than skidding on roadways, freezing on the streets, and sword piercing icicles falling from rooftops as one exits---there were risks to staying home when a storm threatens.

I'll go back to prepping my pirogue for the spring rains and know full-heartedly that ice castles can clearly shatter the hearts entrusted to them.

Queen Elsa reminds us of that.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Welcome to Louisiana!


Welcome to Louisiana! Or, rather, to this new column that promises all things southern, saucy, and spicy.

This column is my attempt to offer you a peek at what the state of Louisiana offers. The mission of this column is taken from New Orleans Daily Picayune writer Catharine Cole (ie: Martha R. Field) written in 1892:

“We shall never begin to truly succeed and prosper until we acquire a pride of state that can only be acquired by informing ourselves of our possessions. We are like the ignorant possessors of a priceless bit of old Delft-ware that we hide away in a sort of dishonor on a kitchen shelf until some connoisseur comes along and opens our eyes to its beauty and value. Did we but know it, we have the greatest state in the union.”

Chef Emeril reminds us that “There are 49 states; then there is Louisiana.” Few can deny that Louisiana is an enigma of all things colorful and versatile. Even fewer will deny the cultural flair and red hot cuisine that are trademarks of this state. We are a culture, a state all our own.  We are the spice that flavors this great melting pot called America. We know who we are and what we are.

I’d like to play a part in encouraging all of us to “open our eyes to its (Louisiana's) beauty and value.” In this recession, and due to the wrath of hurricanes in our area, it can be wearisome to look for the good in a state much less find it. We are discouraged, humbled, at a stalemate. 

But it’s time to pull up our bootstraps and remember who we are and what we are. We are not the bottomless end of a great nation. We are the boot!

I hope that this column will be a thing of “beauty and (most especially) value” to the people who live here. I hope it offers you a sense of “pride of state” that Catharine Cole encouraged people to have back in 1892. I hope it informs you of the possessions that are here in this state. I hope it gives you a sense of pride to say “I’m from Louisiana.”

We will explore possible “staycations” (versus “vacations”) in our home state (a popular concept taking flight due to hard-luck times and soaring gas prices); or, at least, hug the things of home when we venture outside of it. We will use books and movies featuring Louisiana as our tour guides and history text. We will follow the trail Evangeline took into Louisiana. We will “pig out” on a Cajun cochon de lait and ladle up PawPaw’s home-style BBQ sauce. We will stir the mud in these swamps to search for folklores and customs and Jean Lafitte’s hidden treasure. We will cast our nets into the Gulf while exchanging tips for crabbing, shrimping, and fishing in Louisiana. We will search old mines for things in the state that can help us survive the recession while maintaining our way of life. We will find out more about this place we call “home”; this place where we live, work, sweat, cry, marry, bear children, and celebrate as family.

Won’t you join me? This is the place for tracking our itinerary. Consider this your passport to all things that hum Louisiana, the things that create the panache that is distinctively and stylishly Louisiana. If you care to join us, please check in periodically and throw in your two doubloons worth. Trust me. It'll be worth the booty.

Bienvenue! And welcome!