What time is it? ¿Que hora es?

This parody always makes me laugh. If you know just a few Spanish words, you will like this. The title? What time is it?

If you want to learn a bit of Spanish, I have a few suggestions:

  • Try Coffee Break Spanish podcasts. They are free and easy to understand.
  • Learn informally by talking with native Spanish speakers.
  • Take lessons at a library or learning center. Colleges often have low-cost classes for informal learning.
  • If you know a bit of Spanish, and you are ready for the next level, News in Slow Spanish has free and paid audio lessons.

Little House in the Big Woods

I live nearly equidistant between Abita Roasting  Company and Abita Brewing. I like having options when it comes to beverages. Neither of these fine establishments are within the tiny confines of the city limits of Abita Springs. And neither am I.

la casa
This was summer. Now most of the yard is covered in leaves. Grab a rake and drop in someday. 

I live here, in this tiny cottage on the edge of a densely wooded thicket. On one side on this country lane, I have one neighbor. The other, the almost impenetrable forest. I like my neighbors: a fine family next door of immigrants, and the other side is a thicket, home to rabbits, raccoons, squirrels,  and the like. I believe in diversity. I am the only white mammal in the bunch. 

Drop by sometime, but call first. The GPS will lead you to a house further in the dense wood, by a road best not travelled by most of us. In fact, I am too scared or too smart to not pass close to the dwelling that most GPS trackers label as my home. Even the UPS driver won’t deliver to that address that the trackers point as my dwelling. I am fairly confident I can enjoy my Sunday afternoon nap without any of you dropping by. You cannot find me and that’s fine with me.

 

A Floyd Is Born

This is the first installment of an occasional series about my father and his forebears.

FLoyd 39-40 age 7_8
My father is about 7 years old in this picture. The shirt isn’t dirty. It’s a thumbprint from God knows when.

On December 24, 1932, a boy was born. His mother was 40, and his father 45. He would be the youngest of eight children. It may have been a starry night, and perhaps some of the family had attended church services that featured a Christmas carol or two, maybe even the one about the star that guided wise men to Jesus. The family had little resources or time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as my dad was making his way into the world that day on one of the holiest nights of the year  in the midst of the greatest economic downturns the nation had seen or would ever see again. That boy would grow up to be my father.

His parents’ called him Harold. His sister preferred his middle name, Floyd. She thought perhaps the name Floyd was pretty and infamous, like the bank robber/Robin Hood folk hero of the same name. The name stuck. He would always be known as Floyd, not Harold

I am fairly certain that my grandmother and namesake, Laurentine, was not interested in another child. She had six other sons, and as well as one daughter. She had named the seventh child born a few years before after her husband. No other Junior had been planned. The couple would have no more children after Floyd, my dad, was birthed. 

Floyd, the pretty boy, would grow and become in many ways the elder of his seven siblings. That’s a story for another day.

FJ Kenneth Floyd
Dad is far right. Also pictured is his older brother and another relative. His brother is holding a pet rabbit.

The Matherne family was like many families in the 1930s. Strapped for cash, my grandfather sold some  farmland. His second to youngest nearly died of typhoid. Floyd, my father, escaped unscathed from disease during those lean years. His memories of his early years were happy ones. 

One of his favorite stories took place with the boys in the picture on the side of this post. He and his brother were playing in the family barn, and somehow, the littlest, a nephew, was left tied in in the loft for most of the day, His mom went looking for him at dusk, only to find him hanging from a rafter. No one was hurt, although Floyd and his brother probably earned a switching behind the woodshed for that prank.

Pretty boy Floyd, that is my father, not the outlaw, had many adventures as did his forebears. We’ll pick up later with some of those tales. For now, we leave Floyd in his youth, having fun in bayou country.

 

Writing Without Periods

I can write without periods I am confident about this statement This is a moment I have longed for It’s not a disease at all It’s a blessing! There comes that moment in a woman’s life when she realizes true freedom This is it gals and guys who follow the Gumbo YaYa I am a happy liberated woman at last

For my reader’s sake I will resume putting proper punctuation in further postings even though I am free now from that infernal mark of womankind Even better I am not balancehormoneshaving hot flashes.

As Martin Luther King, Jr, said “Free at last! Good God almighty, we are free at last!”

Freedom from a 28 day hormonal cycle is indeed worthy of celebration although I wish I were free from other things too I would love to be writing without 60 pounds of extra weight  It would be nice to write without fear and without shame, something the human condition so easily accepts as normal Fortoday I am free to write without periods which is something that makes me happy

It’s a freedom only women can understand I feel like Helen Reddy, a singer that the young’uns among us cannot appreciate I will end this post with her song I Am Woman

Stay tuned!

The YaYa girl has lots of gumbo stories to serve with punctation and even periods as needed.

 

Gumbo and Grace

mama dearest
Gumbo Queen

Finally! It’s gumbo weather in Louisiana.  Temperatures are mild, and the humidity is low.  Time to stir up a roux in a cast iron pot and get cooking. Even better, it’s a good time to ask my mama to make a gumbo.  When it comes to gumbo, I can’t think of any I have had that compares to her gumbo. Especially her seafood gumbo.

The roux is turned into dark brown.* The holy trinity is added. ** Stir in a tad of finely chopped tomatoes,  and lastly fresh shrimp and crab.

 

And best of all, okra. I love okra. Just the name, okra, makes me smile. It sounds southern and exotic at the same time. It’s a weird-looking vegetable, spindly and green on the outside. On the inside, it’s full of muokra and rouxcilage and seeds.

 

My mama is the Gumbo Queen in my mind. I didn’t know, until recently, that she feels she has spent a lifetime in pursuit of the perfect gumbo, and after 85 years on this earth, she hasn’t gotten it right yet. She’s always comparing it to her mother’s gumbo. She feels insecure mainly about her chicken and sausage gumbo.We figured it out maybe. Her mama used fresh chickens from the yard, killed the same day as the gumbo is fixed, as well as using her own lard, not oil in the base. The okra would have come from my grandfather’s garden, picked by one of her seven children.

I think she should allow herself a bit of grace. A store-bought young fryer chicken never will taste like a large hen from the chicken coop. Nor will frozen okra compare to the pods one can pick from the garden. I scarcely expect her to find fresh pig fat either.

Maybe her roux isn’t as good as my mother’s mom did it, but it’s good, no doubt. For me I consider it a success to not burn the roux.  There’s a trick to it, after all. Only the best cooks can get a smoky, dark roux just perfect without burning the oil and flour mixture. Too little cooking, and a light brown watery broth makes for a tepid bowl of gumbo.

My Cajun mama needs to give herself permission to have an excellent gumbo even if her mama had a better one. I need grace, too. Not just with gumbo. But with myself, with my family, and everyone else, for that matter.

Smiing Adele.jpg
Grandma Adele in the 1950s.

 

*A roux is made from equal parts of flour and fat/oil heated over a low flame, turned constantly until the mix becomes dark brown.

**The holy trinity of most Cajun dishes are these three: celery, onions, and bell peppers.

 

 

Nicaragua, Smoothies and Grace

Yesterday, I returned to Louisiana after a week’s stay in Managua, Nicaragua. I was scouting out mission and non – profit groups for further projects. It was hot. I was raised in south Louisiana, and I choose to live here now. I have spent entire days fishing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I know what hot feels like. Furthermore, I have complained countless times about the heat here in Louisiana.

sweaty lady

Nicaragua has tropical heat, which is a whole different type of heat. It’s the type of heat that causes your hair to  look really ugly, sweat to pour out of ALL pores of your body, and most importantly, your brain cells go on slow mode to prevent shutdown. You just can’t think in that kind of climate.

I got heat exhaustion, though I did no labor or exercise other than walk to restaurants or take a plate of food to a table. My head  hurt, people in the room began to float in space, and I felt faint.

Furthermore, I lost the ability to speak in complete sentences, either in English or Spanish. It was the delirium of the mind that caused the greatest concern. I am seldom at a loss for words. I tried Spanish first, since I find it best to speak in the native tongue of a region if one can. It’s the polite thing to do.  Then, I would try English. Sometimes Cajun French would escape my lips, the language of my people.

 Nothing. Nada. Rien. I was dumbstruck. Nothing I said made much sense.

Air-conditioning helped. I sincerely believe God gave air conditioning to all peoples on the sixth day when he created mankind. Air conditioning made the Sabbath, the seventh day, possible, so that man (and woman) could rest.

best thing in NIca.jpg

However, what helped the most was smoothies. Frozen concoctions, made from ice, liquids and fruit, became my salvation. I drank a coffee smoothie each morning. Who could or would drink hot coffee if the temperature is nearly 85 degrees inside the house early in the morning? (My hosts did, but I’m not in favor of this at all. Sheer foolishness to add heat to a hot body.)

Later on, in the afternoon, I would find a coffee shop for a fruit smoothie. Salvation is a gift from God to deliver us from evil. Well, I was saved, in a sense, by smoothies.

Amazing. Grace is labeled amazing. Yes, that’s true. I believe that.

Smoothies are amazing, too. It’s how I survived the tropical heat of Nicaragua, and in the process, learned gratitude for Louisiana heat. Louisiana, as hot as you can be, are not nearly as hot as Nicaragua.

Grace. It’s amazing. So are smoothies.

The Gumbo Ya-Ya Premieres Today!

gumbo yayaIt’s me, the Gumbo Lady. I used to write as Madame Gumbeaux at the blog, Honduras Gumbo. I left Honduras over three years. I am living in Louisiana. I don’t think I will be around much longer in the area north of New Orleans. Something is stirring in the gumbo pot. I am ready for the next adventure.

This week I am in Managua, Nicaragua. I am checking out different ministries and organizations. My hosts are missionaries with i-61.org. The number and letters are taken from Isaiah 61 which talks about all sorts of good things that God promises for us now and in the Kingdom to come.

Look up Isaiah 61 when you have time. It’s crammed with revolutionary verses about beauty coming out of ashes, good news for the poor, healing for the brokenhearted  and more ridiculous and  wonderful stuff. Read it for yourself at Bible Gateway online, then pop back here for more from the Gumbo lady.

Gumbo is a soup full of good stuff that we Louisiana people borrowed from French, Spanish and African cultures. It’s an eclectic and delicious dish. No one makes gumbo right unless they learned it from your South Louisiana ancestors. It’s in our blood to make gumbo. Other gumbo in different parts of the US usually tastes like dish water. I have been served it like a chowder. God forbid! If you can’t make a roux, then don’t even try it.

Why Ya-ya? Well, long ago,  Lyle Saxon wrote a classic compilation of Louisiana folk tales titled,  Gumbo Ya-Ya. The term, Ya-Ya, has many meanings including everyone talking at the same time.  My take on Ya-Ya will be to tackle a broad range of subjects, rather than simply writing solely about  mission stuff, or just Louisiana tales, or my solitary musings.  It’s going to be a Gumbo pot of all that’s happening in my storied life.

We’re going to have some fun around here. I can guarantee that. This post will be cross-posted under my former site, The Gumbo Pot. See ya’ll soon.