Five Things on Friday

It’s Friday once again. I am ready to start my day with Five Things on Friday. I post five short items for your online perusal.

  1. I survived Hurricane Zeta. We had a hurricane pass through the New Orleans area on Wednesday evening. Fortunately for me, the storm veered eastward after passing directly over New Orleans, narrowly missing my town, Abita Springs, which lies 45 miles north of New Orleans. It went onward toward Mississippi, so all I experienced was about an hour of somewhat gusty winds and heavy rain. However, the storm knocked out my power for 24 hours, which was a minor inconvenience. This was the quickest hurricane I have experienced. It rushed in and rushed out of Louisiana in a matter of 8 hours or less. Less time meant less rain, less wind damage. I experienced no damage whatsoever to the house or yard, just the minor inconvenience of losing power.
  2. After a tropical storm, the weather turned cooler. Zeta blasted onwards to the north and east, ushering in a cold front. For this part of the country, it feels almost cold. I woke to temps in the 50s this morning. Combined with a bit of wind and lots of cloud cover, it feels downright like winter around here. Usually, it’s impossibly hot and humid after a hurricane, and combined with no electricity and air conditioning, the conditions can be downright brutal. Not this time. It’s now sweater weather.
  3. I have lost 25 pounds and counting. I have been using a phone app, Noom, to track my weight loss since July. It’s more than a weight tracker though. I am using the app’s many resources, such as a food diary, calorie counter, daily lessons and personalized advice. This morning, I am wearing a pair of new jeans, a size smaller than normal. I have got a bit complacent in the past weeks, as I expected to be 30 lbs. lighter at this point. However, I am still glad for the 25 pound mark.
  4. A family of Guatemalans came to my neighborhood yesterday. Yesterday morning, three bucket trucks were lined up and waiting to work outside my front door. Two trucks eventually left for other parts of the neighborhood, but one truck remained at my corner with a team. It turns out the entire team were from Guatemala. In fact, four out of the five were family. I talked to a man who introduced me to his uncle, his bother, and his nephew. The outlier was not family, but was still from Guatemalan. Did they come here directly from Central America? Of course not! They were a contracted crew from Alabama. They did a thorough job of cutting trees that were blocking an electric pole. Thorough but slow. It took all day for the work to be done, and electricity restored. Central Americans are not known for their haste, and neither are Alabamans. I wanted a crew from New York, I suppose. If there’s one thing I can say I like about Yankees, it they usually work fast.
  5. It’s almost Halloween…and election time. If having a hurricane wasn’t enough, this week offers Halloween and just a few more days afterwards, Election Day. I’m ready with my Halloween decor, which was speedily taken down for Hurricane Zeta, and then put back in place immediately after the storm passed. Most people in my town took down their election signs, too, for the storm. No need for passersby to steal election signs from yards when 100 mph winds are passing by. I hope neither day, Halloween or Election Day, will be particularly frightful.
Boo to you! Enjoy your Halloween. Then vote, if you haven’t done so already.

Five Things on Friday

It’s Friday once again. I don’t know how I managed to do it, but I’ve skipped a few Fridays since posting. Here are a few things happening in my world this week. Even more exciting, I have an idea for a blog post that will be more than just snippets from my daily life. Stay tuned!

Gargoyle House

This house is for sale in Abita Springs. Aside from the gargoyles, it seems fairly innocuous. Don’t be fooled. There’s the bottle tree on the right corner of the house for starters. Also not pictured is a gigantic wooden sculpture on the right side of angels surrounding a cross. I would love to see inside the house for any further eccentricities.

Waiting long?

I don’t know what you think, but I think that pile of bones on the bench doesn’t help the local pizza joint’s reputation for slow service. Look at that guy, will you? He’s been waiting awhile for his delivery.

Joy of Christmas

I got paid $300 for my story on Christmas at the local jail by Guideposts Magazine. And three free copies arrived in the mail this week. I’m on my way to earning BIG bucks.

Jack-o’-lantern

My front porch has been sporting a stacked set of jack-o’-lanterns. I remember as a child carving real pumpkins for Halloween. I don’t think very many people do that anymore, but I can carry on with my lighted ceramic pumpkins to keep the tradition somewhat alive.

Big Hair

Yes, in the 80s I had big hair. And big glasses, too. Perms were in fashion, and I kept my locks curled and high on my head. I am not sure what looks more outgrown in this picture, the fern behind me or the mane on top my head. Fortunately, I now manage my hair in a neater fashion these days.

Five Things on Friday

Once again, it’s Friday. Since I am not putting in the effort today to write a longer post on one subject, I am offering up five short items. I hope you enjoy Five Things on Friday.

  1. Every morning I start the day with a cup of coffee. I drink one cup in my big Snoopy cup. I read a bit, pray a bit, then hit the Tammany Trace for a 45 minute bike ride. This morning, I couldn’t shake off the lethargy, even after the ride, so I decided I needed the big guns. Lucy. I filled her up with a second serving of Dark Roast Community Coffee brewed in my French press. Community Coffee by the way is the only brand of coffee suited for Cajuns. Now I can face the day, thanks to caffeine with attitude.
  2. Speaking of coffee, the small village of Abita Springs now has a coffee shop. At least it’s sort of a coffee shop. It’s a take out service from a retro trailer. I like the vibe. The only problem is that it rolls away in the afternoon. In the morning, I prefer my coffee home brewed. An afternoon cup to take from here and enjoy in the adjacent park would be nice. C’est la vie. Maybe the hours will expand as my fellow Abitians learn to enjoy the afternoon cup as much as the morning java.
  3. This morning I set up my new wireless ear buds. I don’t know why I didn’t buy this before. It’s so nice and freeing to listen to podcasts or music via these fancy ear thingies. I look forward to afternoon walks in our cooler air in October with the buds connected to my Apple watch. In the past, I have listened to podcasts when driving. My faves are Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! and Stuff You Missed in History Class. I need new material to enjoy while walking. Do you have a favorite podcast or playlist that you want to recommend?
  4. Since we are still in a limbo of sorts in regard to covid restrictions (Louisiana is now in Phase 3, whatever that means), I am limited in social events that are available. Most live music is a no-no, and festivals and fairs, so popular in Louisiana in the fall, largely have been cancelled. Therefore, I must entertain myself at home more than normal. I purchased this big baby from Amazon. It’s a toaster/convection oven/air fryer. Last night, I used the convection setting for sweet potato fries for the first use of the oven. Delish!
  5. Since we are in a bit of a limbo with social events restricted, I have been enjoying spending my evenings reading. The Abita Springs library is open for drive up service, so I have checked out a few things. Lately I have enjoyed Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea , and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I also borrowed a huge book, an encyclopedia of cooking from my mom’s library. This tome was published in 1947. I have enjoyed reading the old recipes and suggested menus. My favorite section thus far has been the chapter, Brains and Sweetbreads. There are two recipes for scrambled cow’s brains. Doesn’t that sound appetizing?

Friday Shorts

Back when blogs were popular, back when I lived in Honduras, back when I published lots of posts, I used to have a regular Friday post called Friday Fragments which were short items about various topics. I linked to a now extinct blog by a friend who hosted a link for other bloggers to publish their Friday Fragments. Today’s items are just short items I felt like writing about.

Do you want to buy a church? There’s one for sale in Abita Springs. I don’t know the whole story, but I read that the pastor AND the congregation of 80 or so persons have moved, so this building is for sale. Sounds a bit cult-like to me, doesn’t it? The entire congregation is moving. Who does that? This church was originally located in eastern Canada, and the pastor had it shipped in pieces down to Louisiana, then reconstructed on the outskirts of Abita Springs. Anyway, the church and the adjacent day-care center are up for grabs if anyone wants it. I like the idea of making it into a restaurant, as happens every now and then with old churches.

Weather is strange at times isn’t it? Well, the weather around here is REALLY strange this time. Early next week there most likely will be 2 named storms in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time. That would be a first. Of course, it’s 2020, so what’s so strange about two hurricanes blasting away at the same time? What area is right in between the cones? Well, none other than New Orleans, Louisiana.

Have you heard of Noom? I’m using this weight loss program to lose weight. It’s a psychology based approach to losing weight. All of the stuff is on the app. I like it. The food diary is easy to use and automatically subtracts calories from your daily allowance. There are behavioral lessons of about 10 minutes each day. Each week there’s a personal coach who interacts with me via the app to guide me. Thus far, I’ve lost 15 lbs. since starting to use the app 60 days ago. Go Noom! Go me!

Did I mention that I have been married before? I found my wedding picture while scanning old photographs from my mother’s collection. I don’t remember marrying my older sister, but the evidence shows it to be true. I don’t remember who was the officiant, perhaps my other sister? My sister remarried as an adult, to a man. I haven’t remarried.

Well, that’s enough short items for today. Enjoy your weekend. Next post may be about the convergence of two hurricanes along the Louisiana coast. I hope not, but who knows. Now I’m on my way to Walmart to stock up on hurricane provisions. At the very least, it’s going to be wet next week.

It’s Juneteenth and All is Well

I never knew about the day called Juneteenth when I was growing up. As far as I knew it was June 19. It happens to be my sister’s birthday, but that’s not of national import. I am happy for African Americans who may be celebrating their day of independence today.

For me, this year, Juneteenth means it’s the end of May. Confused? Let me explain. Until this weekend, we have had a most unusual month in Louisiana. The weather has been mild, not oppressively hot and muggy like it usually is in June. It’s been like May, warm in the day, not humid, and cool each evening

Everything in nature has responded in turn to this remarkable stretch of nice weather. In my yard, the rose bushes are full of happy buds, not drooping in indolence and shame due to heat exhaustion. The hydrangeas are blooming merrily, full of white blossoms reaching Amazonian heights. My blueberry tree was overloaded with fruit this year, much to the delight of the birds who consumed much of the harvest. I hear the din of frogs and insects in the twilight of midsummer eve as they rejoice in May days. It’s grand.

I don’t have a vegetable garden, but folks with gardens are enjoying a great harvest. In Louisiana, we don’t have a harvest in late June. Plants (and some people) usually just give up and die about this time of year in the sweltering heat. Not okra. Okra thrives in the summer heat. But, no, it’s not just okra growing in home gardens in late June. There’s still tomatoes and peppers and zucchini and corn being harvested in back yards in Louisiana.

According to the weather guy on TV, this glorious balmy month of May will end sometime on June 20 or 21. That’s this weekend. So Juneteenth is being celebrated in my house as the last day before the awful blast of Louisiana summer begins. I’m happy to celebrate the day because the days and nights of lingering May has been appreciated.

I popped a huge bowl of popcorn. I plan on watching Madam Secretary on Netflix. Why not have a Netflix binge with popcorn? That’s how I plan on commemorating the end of May. Happy Juneteenth, y’all.

News From Abita Springs

I am tired of bad news broadcasting daily into my home. What about something different? In my little town, there’s news of armadillos, coyotes, pot-bellied pigs and more.

Animals have been out and about. In the daytime, coyotes have been spotted in town, creeping out of the woods. Hide your cats, dogs, and chickens! It’s not safe. Baby armadillos about the size of pickle jars were seen scuttling across the St. Tammany Trace this past week.

A local resident reports the presence of pot-belled pigs in her yard. Who do they belong to? When will the owners retrieve the errant pigs? Will an interloper snatch them up for a Friday night barbecue? If there are updates to this developing story, I will let you know.

The children’s park and the splash pad remain closed as they have for the stay at home orders in the spring. The park will remain closed because of needed repairs. The splash pad is going to re-open most likely in July.

The Abita Springs Trailhead Museum and the Abita Springs Farmer’s Market have re-opened for Sunday visitors. One can buy fruit, veggies, farm-raised eggs and prepared foods from 11-3 each Sunday. Next door to the Museum and Farmer’s Market, the Abita Brew Pub is open with fifty percent capacity per state guidelines. The outdoor seating is quite nice under the large shady oak trees. On Sundays, there’s also live music in the pub’s outdoor space.

undefinedThe Abita Mystery House and UCM (You See ‘Um) Museum remains closed. It’s time to write another post about this eccentric site full of treasures and charms that continues to grow its displays of odd collectibles. I’ll wait until it’s open for new pictures. Until then, content yourself with the photo of the lady alligator who greets guests in the main room of the UCM house. If you can’t wait for my post, and you have access to local public television, WYES of New Orleans, will air a segment on the Abita Mystery house tonight at 7:30 and 11:30.

That’s all the news of the week in Abita Springs. Coyotes and armadillos, markets and museums, all are part and parcel of the news. I hope you enjoyed a small town news respite from the national news of the day.

The Green Bus

 

green bus
Picture stolen from Phys.org.

When I was a girl, a grocery bus passed in front of our house every Saturday. My memories are somewhat hazy, since the bus stopped its route in the early 70s or late 60s. I would have been maybe five or six when the bus quit coming down Bayou Blue. On Saturday, I remember waiting on the side of the road with my sisters, looking for the green school bus.

My childhood memory was that the bus was outfitted with wooden shelves filled with rows of candy from top to bottom. I remember Sugar Babies, Sweet Tarts, Now and Laters, Lemon Heads, and Hot Tamales. Making a choice of only one candy was a perplexing choice each week.

When I talked to my older sister about the green bus, she gently remonstrated me about the bus’ contents. According to her, and later confirmed by my mother, it was a bus filled with groceries and hardware items, too. Need a potato? Check the produce bins in the front of the bus. Want a step ladder? They were hung on the ceiling, parallel to the floor. Scrub brush? Near the back. Can of soup or bag of sugar? Middle aisles.

Every Saturday, Mr. Boudreaux drove from Thibodaux, Louisiana, down a rural route along Bayou Blue. He sold his wares to housewives and children who waited by the road. I suppose he had other routes on different days. I remember that our day was Saturday. In my mind, Saturday had to be the best day for a green bus full of candy to stop in front of my house.

In those days, home delivery wasn’t a novel concept. The milk came in bottles from a milkman in his truck. Fresh fruit came from Mr. Ledet’s customized pick-up truck. Of course, frozen confections were available from the ice cream truck, sounding its way down the road.

Today, Walmart allows for orders to be made at home, online, and then picked up in the parking lot. Instacart goes a step further, and online orders are delivered to your door. These ideas are not quite new. They are just new twists on an old theme. The green bus of my childhood lives on in new ways all over the place.

Yard Art

EgretThe month of May continues with cooler weather than normal. We’ve had continued bouts of mild weather. This week is no exception. It’s warm, but not hot. The humidity is low. The good weather as well as continued caution in getting out very often due to the Quarantine has led me to enjoy working in my yard more than usual.

Today, I spent a few minutes looking for my yard art. I think yard art is a Southern thing. We like to display flags, signs, or metal fashioned into all sorts of creatures to grace our yards. For some reason, I haven’t been particularly generous with displaying my yard art. The only thing that’s planted in my yard that’s not a plant is my blue heron made of metal.

The heron falls a lot. He’s developing bent feathers from falling over. He’s starting to rust. But I like my blue bird. After every thunderstorm or bout of windy weather, I find the rusty bird and stake him out again in the flower bed.

SUNI have a few other items that need to be attached to the fence outside. I need to grab my hammer and some nails, maybe later today, and attach them outside. There is a metal sun to nail to the fence. Somewhere in the shed there is a an old license plate, as well as a sign that spells LOVE in swirly green and blue letters. Then, there’s the old piece of wood with a Bible verse on it. This is, after all, the Bible belt.

Any yard in the South without yard art is just a lawn. A true Southern yard has a collection of  eccentric, whimsical pieces scattered about. Heart signMaybe it’s a wooden, painted sunflower that was a gift from Aunt Edna. Or. maybe, it’s an American flag. There’s a house nearby that has a bathtub in the front yard. It’s not for bathing. It’s for decoration, for planting a few flowers. Those old tubs in yards are not uncommon in these parts. I’ll let you know what things look like after I dig around the shed looking for my yard art, although I’m fairly sure I don’t have anything that needs plumbing to add to my yard.

Quiet, too quiet, getaway

Inspired by an article in the Washington Post rating quarantine experiences, I wrote a review of my home as if I were staying at a vacation rental. 

2 stars

Quiet getaway

Abita Springs, Louisiana

When I arrived at Casa Gumbo, I noted the quiet, tranquil atmosphere. No other guests were there during my stay. I thought the rooms were clean but wouldn’t pass the white glove test. After my first night, I left the sign on the door requesting housekeeping, but no one showed.

The kitchen had ample supplies, but there was a noticeable lack of snacks and sodas. It’s as if the owner had eaten all of the fun foods before my arrival. Where were the chips? Sodas? Wine? Ice cream? All I had was boring staples for food. It was as if the owner had consumed all of the good food and drinks before I arrived. Speaking of food, I seemed to be expected to fix all of my own meals and clean up afterwards as well.

living roomThe picture of the outside of Casa Gumbo was misleading. Yes, this picture is exactly what one sees from the front living room, but the truth is the home is otherwise surrounded by other homes, and the absence of a fenced yard meant there was little privacy.

Casa Gumbo’s bedroom was comfortable. The bed’s memory foam made for a good sleep experience. I will say though that the owner should invest in curtains. All of the rooms had blinds, but no curtains. Therefore, sleeping in late is all but impossible as the bedroom fills with light at 6 a.m.

There was little in the way of entertainment for the solitary traveler. No puzzles. No games. The television had three remotes, far too many for one screen. I figured out the way to watch the television after considerable effort. No HBO or other premium channels, but at least the owner provided the cheaper, popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.

There was a bicycle, but the route in the neighborhood was rather limited to circling the three subdivision streets. In order to get a workout, one must endlessly circle the same three avenues or, otherwise risk traffic mayhem by crossing the busy state highway nearby to reach the Tammany Trace for walking and biking.

All in all, I rate it 2 out of 5 stars.

Lead Us Not

One of the hallmarks of the age of the coronavirus is the absence of hair stylists. In Louisiana, hair salons are considered a non-essential business, Non-essential businesses are closed.

I visit my hair salon often for a cut and color. On my own, I can handle coloring my roots. What I can’t do is cut my own hair. I keep my hair short so I get my hair cut often. Things are going to get real around here soon.

Laurie with bad haircut
What’s up with the zigzag on my shirt? One of my mom’s sewing creations perhaps?

 

I remember when my mother used to trim our hair. Most of the time, we went to a local hair dresser for a cut, but occasionally my mom trimmed the bangs of her three girls. I hope I don’t yield to temptation to cut my own locks anytime soon.

I suspect that my mom cut my bangs for this picture for school photos. I was in the third grade. I think this was in 1972.

O Lord, I beseech thee, lead us not into temptation!