Dan and I sneaked around, not letting Cappy know that Dan was even here. We had two more days to go before Cappy got off the boat, and were working feverishly trying to get it completed, when Cappy called and said that he was getting off the boat NOW! "Come and pick me up at the office in about an hour and a half". (It takes an hour to get to his office from here.)
I have no idea what happened next. The whole half hour til time to leave was a blur. Sweat was rolling off Dan's nose, I do remember that. We had all the furniture stashed in the middle of the room, and Dan was still putting up moulding. In half an hour we were ready to roll and the room looked great. How???!
Cappy's tugboat was parked on the Intercoastal Waterway right next to the office. It was dark out, and as Cappy was coming down off the gangplank, walking toward our vehicle, Dan hopped out to greet him. (Giggling here.) All Cappy could see was a dark outline of some 'man' getting out of his SUV. He stopped in his tracks and dropped his seabag. Lest Cappy get the wrong idea, Dan quickly said, "Pop, it's me, Dan!" Cappy was totally stunned. Blown away. He grabbed Dan in a big bear-hug, buried his face in his neck and just hung onto him, saying, "Oh, Dan! I'm soooo glad to see you, man!"
To celebrate, and because Cappy hadn't even eaten all day, we went to Outback Steakhouse, instead of going on home, as usual. We three chubby funsters sat there in our booth, laughing, when the waiter came up. I had to ask him if he had a gluten-free menu. (I'm a celiac) The waiter surveyed us up and asked, kinda confused..."Huh? The diet menu? Is that the Glutton-free menu??" After we explained that I can't have anything with flour in it, etc., he said he'd have to check it out in the kitchen. As he was walking away, I laughed, "Do we LOOK like we are glutton-free??"
The next day, Cappy, still delighted with what we had done to make his new den for Christmas, worked with Dan to hang the outside lights I had gotten, too, as a surprise for his homecoming. For the next two weeks, these guys were inseparable. We went to New Olreans for the opening night of Celebration
in the Oaks. It's a New Orleans tradition. Last year I felt like one of the little kids being dragged along by a parent. It was awsome. Cappy and I hadn't been to 'town' since Hurricane Katrina tore it apart. We had been getting conflicting reports in the media; they are begging for people to come back. Familiar business' are open again. There are traffic reports, as usual. On the other hand, people are still being randomly stopped going into New Olreans. But! The Celebration in the Oaks was running, so alrighty then!
This year, we drove along on the way there, singing Christmas carols, feeling so merry, telling Dan what all we were going to see. Laughing all the way, ho ho ho. As Airline Highway turned into Tulane, there was a distinct something in the air, that said, "Nobody's really home here". Strange. We turned north to go to the Celebration, but the streets were eerily dark. No street lights, no traffic, no house lights. Then we saw huge piles of people's things all along the curbs. Furniture, hunks of cement, clothing. On one dark corner was a large animal crate, like SparkyBear and MarkyBear have for travel. On it someone had written in big black letters, "DEAD DOG".
Oh...nobody IS home around here. We drove on and on in the dark in downtown New Orleans. Suddenly I felt guilty and ashamed. "I think going someplace to celebrate and have fun is kind of decadent now." Cappy thought for a minute and said, "No...we need to give them our support. Those people worked so hard to try to bring some kind of normalcy back, and we're going to at least give them our money. If you still want to leave, then, we can." So. We went. There were no long lines waiting to get in. There were no lines. There were no lights or signs to follow. Usually one can see for miles around the huge Live Oaks strung with colorful, dancing lights and animated characters in and around the park. We knew where we were going and where to turn in, but it was as dark and hushed as though it were closed. We were about to turn around, when we could see some Holiday lights, wayyy back in somewhere, so we headed that way.
The displays although beautiful, were not as many as they usually are. We enjoyed what we did see. What we saw, shining more brightly than the thousands of pretty lights, were the exhausting hours that the handful of workers had put into the effort. The hopes, and undying love for a city and her people. There were, in fact some other people who visited that night, as well. There were a few tiny children with shiney eyes, who put their mittened hands to their faces, staring at Cappy as he walked by, and whispered to their parents, "It's Santa Claus". Occasionally, Cappy would bow down to one of them, and say quietly, "Ya never know WHERE Santa might be, do ya?" while the parents beemed. A group of giggly teen or tweens all said in chorus as we walked by, "Hi, Santa!". When we walked into the different display building, adults would address Cappy as Santa Claus. It was a beautiful,crisp clear night. Truly a Celebration in the Oaks. As we were leaving, the park workers looked almost imploringly at us right in the eyes, and to everyone who came, as if to try to make us understand what all they had gone through to put it all together, and said, "Thank you sooooo much for coming tonight." Our hearts were touched.
"TWAS THE NIGHT BEFOR JESUS CAME"
Twas the night befor Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, No not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
in hopes that Jesus would not come there.
The children were dressing to crawl onto bed.
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom In her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show, while I took a nap.
When out of the East there arose such a clatter.
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that "Jesus was here"
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!
The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus returning Just like he said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.
In the book of Life which He held in hand.
Was written the names of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name:
When He said "It’s not here" my head hung in shame.
The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to his Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound.
While all the rest of us were left standing around.
I fell to my knees. But it was to late:
I had waited too long, And thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight:
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.
In the words of this poem the meaning is clear.
The coming of JESUS is drawing so near.
There’s only one life and when comes the last call
we’ll find the BIBLE was true after all!
(We don't know who wrote this poem, but God Bless them!)
CAPPY & PEGODY"S OYSTER CORNBREAD STUFFING 375 degree F.
3/4 Cup of melted butter
1 qt. of well-drained raw oysters (keep the juice)
1 Tablespoon of Cajun seasoning or to taste
2 Cups of finely chopped onions
1 Cup of chopped celery
1/2 Cup of bell pepper (we use red bell pepper finely diced for color)
1 Cup of finely sliced green onion ( just the greens)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
8 Cups of cornbread, crumbled**
In a big, deep skillet (at least 12" diameter) bring melted butter up to saute` temperature. Put the well-drained oysters into the melted butter and season with Cajun seasoning. Saute` oysters approximately five minutes, til they are curled. Remove the oysters and let them cool. Put onions, celery, bell pepper in the pan and saute` til the onions are transluscent, retaining a little crunch. At that point, add oyster juice, bring to slow boil and let reduce slightly. Add 1/2 Cup of milk and the green onions. Bring to a slow boil. Turn off the heat and let cool.
While sauce is cooling, dice the oysters. Add the oysters to the sauce. In a large mixing bowl, combine the crumbled cornbread, eggs, and oyster sauce. Mix well. It should have a thick, lumpy batter consistency.
Place in a greased 9x13" cake pan and bake at 375 degree F. oven for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Serves 8-16 people, depending on appetite.
**You can use cornbread of choice, either homemade or a mix. A good choice would be two boxes of Jiffy Cornbread mix.
Cappy has been out on the boat since I blogged last. He still has another week to go. I've been busy working on different Christmas projects...the card above being one of them. I apologize that it's so faded. I still can't work this computer very well yet. To make matters worse, I hurt my back AGAIN somehow, so that even typing hurts the darned thing. To surprise Cappy with the projects I started him as his Christmas gift, my son, Dan is coming down tomorrow from NYS to help me out. So Cappy will be surprised with the finished projects, and seeing Dan again, which I know he'll love.
Here's hoping you all are well and having a happy/busy holiday season.
Peggy aka Pegody
I'm goina go find something to read. (I missed Ya'll too...pray for me....arrrgh.)
It was another two weeks of rushing around as soon as Cappy's feet 'hit da banks' (got off da boat). We had a lot planned, and got a lot accomplished, including this new computer, which is installed, but all the buzzers and whistles aren't buzzing and whistling just yet. Our old one was like someone in the desert,crawling on it's belly, panting, tongue hanging out, desperately trying to get to a watering hole, all the while not able to fend off buzzards. In this case, spybots. Cappy was going to Blog using this new computer, but didn't get the chance and had to get back on the boat for another four weeks, so now ya stuck with me again for awhile.
The first thing on our agenda was to help out with the Gospel Choir director's 50th anniversary party for her parents. We only did menial things, cuz she had it going on, with all kinds of people helping. The next day I sang with the group at Church, then the "ParTay"!! I play Christian Rock Accordian with the Contemporary group at Church, then off times, I sing with the Gospel Group. Cappy likes to brag that I look like a white marshmallow floating in a sea of sweet warm cocoa in the Gospel Group. Well, at the anniversary party, even with Cappy's tan, we both looked like marshmallows. We had so much fun! There were about two hundred people there. Talk about Classy people. I've always thought that when African American's are all decked out...NObody can outclass them for classiness. We took a lot of pictures, but they are stuck in the old computer picture files for now. We'll get 'em out eventually, and show you. And then, of course, there will be the pictures of just ol' "us" at the party, too.
A couple of days ago, one of Cappy's crew, who 'shrimps and fishes' to suppliment his income; what with his wife and FIVE kids, and all...sold us 50 lbs. of 'fresh out da wadder' shrimp. Here's a picture of Cappy "poppin' da heads off da shramps", with his side-kick SparkyBear slurping up any extras that happened to find their way into the mix, while they were catching the shrimp, like small minnows or tiny soft crabs. I bagged them in zip-lock bags and stowed them in the freezer.
We managed to go out fishing a couple of times on our own motor boat. It hadn't rained, not really, since Katrina waayyyy back in early September. It's been so dry, that the water level in the bayous have gotten very low. It took us a matter of time figuring out where the fish were hiding....DEEP along pilons. We caught this bass and three 'sac a lait' ("bag of milk" in French) on the second day. The first day was not a waste. Actually, thinking back now, we didn't fish the first time...we rode all around investigating bayous where we'd never been before, looking for perspective fishing places. We took the dogs and had a fun time. I really admire women who have grown up around boats and fishing, who know how to hunker down in the boat and 'potty' in cans way out in the woods in a boat during hunting season,without emptying their entire bladder into their downed overalls, and all over the deck of said boat to the horror of their two dawgs and husband, then having to pull up the warm, dripping overalls, strap them back on and ride in the wind. A technique I swore through gritted teeth on the way back across the open lake, that I would master.
The next day, we headed out for the Achafalaya Basin, putting in at Belle River. We drove in some of the most beautiful country God has ever made. The last time we took the boat out in that region for my very first time, I fell in love with Bayou Pigeon and actually wept, being so privileged to see such beauty that not many people get to see. Well, last week, this new-to-me territory, took me by surprise again, just as Cappy predicted. We rounded this one corner in our boat, and slid into an area where this world meets Heaven...all open area, and is pushed right up into Heaven. You can feel it, not just see it. It went on for miles before it all passed. On the way back through, it was all there again. Nobody was there. Few people ever go there...only those who work out there in the hidden away oil fields, or a few people who go to fish. Curious. It was so devoid of humans, yet somehow 'busy'...teeming with life. And as I had mentioned...there was Heaven...I could feel it. It defied all my Bible larnin'. Maybe there's a 'portal' to Heaven right there or something. I kept thinking, "THIS is the 'place'...how come everybody isn't out here? They think big cities has it all, but if they could come here and see this place...". Cappy baked these fish to perfection. I swear, if New York State, where I grew up had fish that tasted so fresh, I would have loved fish. Most everyone I know up there says they don't like fish. Fish should not smell 'fishy'. Cappy doesn't understand it. It confuses him. I told him about popular fish stores in western NY where you about get knocked over with the smell, about fifteen feet from their front door...and going INto the store about makes ones eyes water and sets off the gag-reflex. He asks why anyone would buy anything there. On numerous occasions, including the ice-chest full of shrimp you see above, he has told me "go ahead...put your nose right down almost ON the fish...what do you smell??" I always tell him, "Uh...nothing....water??" He says if you can smell it...don't eat it...it's spoiled. The first time Cappy stopped with me at a fish store down here in South Louisiana, I can't tell you how much I dreaded the trudge the few feet to the door of the place. When we got inside, I was shocked to only be smelling 'sea air'. I had to look around to be sure there were fish anywhere in the place. There were. Everywhere. Fresh fish and seafood of all kinds.
These fish were so delicate in flavor and texture. They were wonderful.
The freezer, small as it is, is now full of fresh shrimp on the bottom shelf. Because we had to celebrate Thanksgiving two weeks early, Cappy made 'dirty rice mix' to go with the turkey. He makes a big batch, then freezes the mix so that most anytime, we can just make some rice and stir an unthawed bag of the mix into it. It's Goooood stuff, Yankees. He also made some oyster/cornbread stuffing. Omigosh. That was "to dah fo" good. Of course he's never alone in his cooking ventures...I always peel and chop TONS of onions, bell peppers, garlic,"seller-eller-ellery",green onions (just the greens) two or three different kinds of Cajun sausages, and anything else that comes to Cappy's mind that might need chopping. Then I'm there to 'round up the usual suspects', like our spices or pots 'n' pans, clean up behind us, as best as I can,(he tries too) and just generally be his (how d'ya spell "Soo-Chef"??) and accomplice, working on my own projects, as well.
There were just the two of us this year for our Thanksgiving, but it was so much fun, and we were very Thankful to have two weeks and two dogs to spend it with, and end up with full hearts and full tummies..all four of us. Now when the 'real' one this year, rolls around, I can spend the time enjoying our family up north, on this new computer watching them celebrate, and maybe eating some leftover Thanksgiving stuff in that freezer.
It was sad that Jennifer got sick just as we were getting there. She's always had bad bouts with pneumonia and bronchitis. The only time she got to go out day-tripping with us to show Pop the sights, was our first real day there. That day we went to the Charlotte Beach with her, Tim and son, Dan, then to get some fresh apple cider AND the obligatory cake doughnut.
By the time we got her home, Jennifer was plainly feeling not good. They gave up their bed, to us, the guests, and she sat up on the couch all night, and for the rest of the time we were there! Actually, she sat up coughing most of the nights, the poor thing. Getting her to go see the dr. was hard to do, cuz she, like her Pop, don't wanna do that if they don't have to. So... echinechea and golden seal and vitamin C were advised, as usual, by..uh..."dr." Mom. Finally, the last day we were there, she started feeling a little better. I was sad because I didn't get to see her very much while we were there. We sat outside some on her porch, chatting lightly, while I admired her flowers. She's got nice mounds of lavendar mums. Because of that, when I got home, I put in some mums like it, too. ( I know I'm digressing, but I also put petunias in the window boxes, because it's about to be winter season down here in South Louisiana. Everybody is trimming damaged branches and limbs from the hurricane storm damage. I had some nice shade plants that were all comfy in the shadows of our neighbor's trees. Yesterday some guys came and chopped all of them to the ground, then buzzed the stumps into sawdust! My ferns! My ivy! My hostas'! My impatiens! Oh well, the lady is a sweetheart and knows what she's doing. Wish I did. We'll find another place for them, or find a way to shade them again. .....now back to Sookie's garden...) Jennifer has a lot of roses, too. That's one thing I haven't tried growing in the South. I think she has my grandmother's green thumb, cuz it comes so easily for her.
I wish I hadn't had to spend so much time in Olean and Port Allegany with 'closure issues'...past hurts, etc. from my childhood, that I wanted to share with Cappy. We had planned on getting back to Rochester in time to go to the drive-in with Jennifer. We had really looked forward to it. Rats.
Our last day there came much too quickly. It was sad to be leaving. Jennifer had her household all assembled on the front porch as Cappy, the dawgs and I were in the SUV about to pull away. Cappy and I had gotten into the habit of giving the 'Cajun Yell' (AAAAAAAAIEEEEEEE!!! the "I" being a yodel in the middle), as we drove away from anyone of the kids' houses while we were there. As we were driving away, she had them all give us the Cajun Yell, then added, "The Cajuns have left the building, but they have not taken all the Spirit!!" That means we left them with Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life).
His wife, Jean, is a ball of creative energy. This woman is always on the go and always has something up her sleeve. She organizes initiatives for fund drives, or at Christmas time makes so many different kinds of cookies so as to make one think she's running some kind of cookie factory, or she's quilting by HAND the most gorgeous quilts or embroidering beautifully something or other. Last year she held an authentic Hawaiian Luau at their house, replete with roast pig. She even lined up an Hawaiian dancer. She made many, many costumes for her guests to wear. Hula skirts, leis, etc. Oh gosh! If you hadn't known better, you would think that, by looking at the pictures in her photo album, that the whole thing MUST have taken place in Honolulu. Plus, she's an amazing cook. I know I'm not including all the things she's done or been involved with. I for sure, can't keep up with her. She leaves me panting in the dust.
If you've read the archives, you know that Mr. Ed and Jean came to visit us last Spring. We had so much fun with them, we could hardly wait to get to see them when we went to visit western NY last month. We just couldn't wait to "hug their necks", as Cappy puts it. Well, we got to see them. We only got to see them the one night, but it was absolutely wonderful. They invited us out to dinner with them. Unbeknownst to us, they were including us to join them in celebration of their anniversary. What an honor. I don't remember ever having had such a sumptuous meal. It was my first time eating...I think they were King Crab legs. Well, now I'm spoiled. When Cappy gets off the boat this time, THAT's what I want. We dined like royalty at a wonderful restaurant near Rochester, but the name escapes me. The meal lasted for a couple of hours as we relished in each others' company. Mr. Ed, a chemist by profession, is an intelligent conversationalist, who tosses humor into the mix, which is how Cappy talks as well, so they always have their heads together. You'd think they'd known each other for years. (they haven't) Jean, is so sweet and funny. I love hearing about all her new adventures. Just talking about this couple makes me miss them so much (....hey!Pegody! No puddling up here on 'da blog'!)
We went back to their house afterward and before we left, you should see the 'welcome basket' they had prepared for us. And Cappy & I thought we had the market on (Southern) hospitality....the Northern hospitality aint not that bad either. We had them down here for a couple of days. They only had us for a couple of hours, but they sure did it in a big way. Mr. Ed said at the restaurant, "We're gonna shoot for the moon tonight!" I think we musta shot a hole right through it...if not, his wallet then. They wouldn't let us pay for a thing.
Now look at their picture again. Can't you just see the fun in their eyes?
More like AddenDumb. These boys have always been into mischief and making messes from early on. This is one picture where I literally 'caught' them in the act, when Mark was still a puppy.
I was thinking about yesterday's post about the dog cah-cah and lipstick smeared all over the bathroom. No matter how much makeup or coverup one can use, it's still not going to make real s*** any prettier.
YeahYeahYeah, I was kinda down after coming back from New York State. Back home to our little town here in South Louisiana. I guess a lot of people are depressed around here what with all the hurricanes. In THAT I wasn't alone; I just didn't know it cuz I was alone. I wondered why nobody around here was around here much lately. It appears everyone has been sort of keeping to themselves, just quietly recouperating. I really got to feeling cut off from society for awhile, so whenever I was able to talk with poor Cappy on the phone, I whined. A real nice thing for a tugboat cappy to have to hear from the 'homefires'.
Finally yesterday the phones started working better, so we got to talk for hours. Ya gotta know Cappy. He had me laughing in no time, concentrating on things that were going WELL, instead of things that were going wrong. He had me see the humor in the other night,when I had felt exhausted and wary, so I locked the dogs in early with me and went to bed. I closed the back door in such a way that they didn't have access to their doggie door. Around three a.m. I got up and staggered blindly into the bathroom, not turning on the light, as I usually do. I got halfway across the room, then skidded and slipped the rest of the way.(?) Whaaaa? I stomped around in the dark, back to the light switch, feeling something very wrong underfoot, and dreaded what I was about to see. Turning on the light I saw it. All over the floor. Upon not so much further inspection I noticed red smeared all over too, amongst the doggy-doo. Wait, tho...it wasn't blood. It was ...lipstick??? How had lipstick gotten down on the floor, too? Dang that SparkyBear...he's taken to jumping up and ferreting around for things on the countertop. So, I had dog cah-cah slathered on the bottom of my left foot, and lipstick caked on the bottom of my right foot, and I had been using them both as pallets and as art brushes on the canvas of the floor. Did I mention all over the floor? At three o'clock in the morning? Too late to get angry at the dogs. Sitting on the edge of the bathtub lathering up my feet, I had to admit the warm water felt kinda good. Then I got the floor cleaned up. In the whole production,what with my yelling when I took off on one heel across the bathroom floor, almost falling when I first went into the bathroom, and the water running in the tub, etc, the dogs, who always investigate whatever I'm doing, were suspiciously absent. When I finally crawled back into the blankets, they were sound asleep, snoring. Snoring too fast, I thought.
Been in a funk lately. Oh, I've been keeping busy, for sure, but since coming back from the trip and Cappy being back out on the boat for four weeks, it's just plain kinda depressing. WhineWhineWhine. And dat's why I haven't been blogging lately.
And what in the world happing'd to da squirrels? Since coming home, just after Hurricane Rita roared through here, MarkyBear, SparkyBear and I have not seen 1 squirrel! Not one cute cuddly squirrel nor one miserable squirrel. They packed up our pecans, and flew off into the next parish (county), with the help of Rita,I guess.
Although I know I'll never be a real Cajun, I love their attitude about making good things outa bad circumstances. Like life handing Cajuns lemons and instead of making the usual lemonade, they make zee poofy wonderful lemon merangue pie. So, I took the squirrel situation and tried to find zee poofy wonderful humor in it. Cappy wanted to make zee poofy wonderful squirrel gumbo.
Not to worry, I've got more 'lemons'. I've got little fingers, not big paws that handle tools very well. I'm on my third weed-eater in three years. Cappy says, "You're da man!" when he's out on the tugboat. Well, I got this one all ruined already and tried fixing it myself. I took it in to be repaired. Still not working. I put it out to the 'curb' and even the garbage guys won't take it. I've been down to Thibodaux three times looking for another one, to no avail. Meanwhile, I have healthy corn stalks growing tall around the bird feeder. Am still fumbling around for a recipe for dis lemon.
Lemon #2. Zee dryer won't start. Oh well, I'll figure out something. Until then, I'm enjoying hanging my laundry out, and avoiding the area on the line where the hummingbirds like to sit. They are tiny, yeah, but their poopy stains. I had to laugh this morning, remembering my Grandma bringing frozen towels, stiff as boards, into the house in the winter up north. Not sure what I'm doing wrong, but mine are stiff as boards, too, and they sounded like metal bending when I folded them. It's going to be an adventure toweling off with them.
Lemon #3 Wilma. Can Fred, Barney and Betty be far behind? Beam me up, Cappy!
When we first got to New York State, we stayed at daughter Jennifer's house with her husband Russ their nephew, Tim. We were so excited we didn't even get pictures of them or their house, but will be posting pics of them in the future. Jennifer wasn't feeling well at all, so she didn't accompany us on our excursions. The first day, she did (and so did Tim and our son, Dan.)when we visited Lake Ontario, an apple orchard and the traditional ice cream stop at Abbott's at Lake Ontario...it's a Ya Gotta Do. Cappy took these pictures of the Genesee River Outlet area. At Kelly's apple orchard stand, we got the walk-thru of the place where they make cider. Cappy tasted his first raw apple cider AND had the doughnut with it. He kept asking, "Why do I have to have a doughnut??" Well, now he knows. They just go SO well, together. It was also his first time seeing an apple orchard and eating fruit right off the trees. He also got to see the Lake. Being a boat cappy, he's always interested in waterways. It was a beautiful day for the trip.
One of the places we stopped had several of their bottles displayed high on shelves, looking for all the world as though they had been Olympic winners, festooned with all sorts of medals. It was definitly a 'high-dollar' place. We all bellied up to the 'bar' to sample. The lady was very prim and proper and knowledgeable about her wines to be sure. I've been a wine 'newbie' for at least ten years. I know nothing much about wines; my taste has never matured to begin asking for more dry wines, like "they" said I would. Dan wanted to sample Merlot, but Cappy and I wanted something sweet. Then we wanted something sweeter. Then something sweeter. The lady was finally at a loss, so I joked, "Ya got anything that tastes like Koolaid?" She might have guessed by our appearance, that we weren't the upscale clientele she was used to, so the question shouldn't have shocked her as much as it seemed to have. She composed herself, pursed her lips, raised one eyebrow, looked down her nose again, to see us further below than she had initially realized, then uttered, "Perhaps you would be better off visiting Bully Hill's winery". Well, dang if she wasn't right! We found Bully Hill, and boy! if those people weren't having fun! Large crowds were milling everywhere. Tour guides had everyone laughing. Big tour buses were parked everywhere. Inside the wine tasting was a mass of people laughing with the people who were serving them. They had the crowd repeating after them,"Bully Hill is Fine Wine" (bully hill is fine wine) "Napa is Auto Parts" (hahahaha) So, at Bully Hill we bought some SWEET wine. So there.
Cappy said this "Old boy" is one of his heroes. When we got to Canandaigua Lake this gentleman was sitting there fishing. Before he even really looked at the lake,Cappy walked over and struck up a conversation with this man, asking him what kind of fish he was looking for, what kinda bait he was using, etc. He learned that the man was in his 90's and came fishing everyday. I can't remember what he caught and what he used for bait, but Cappy walked away saying, "Man, that's what I wanna be doing when I'm in my 90's"
The views were gorgeous, looking down into the lakes. I don't remember which lake this was, but it was so nice having son, Dan, there with us, acting as our 'tour guide', and just enjoying his company, and wackysenseofhumor...wonder where he gets that!? These pictures were taken from the porch of one of the many wineries in the area. The grape orchards are behind us.
When Cappy saw the "Pink House" in Wellsville, he called out,"STOP DA truck", got out and took a bunch of pictures. It was his first time in New York State at all, so of course, he'd never seen it before. On the other hand, (I) we used to live a few houses down from it. I never did get the actual story about this house, but it's a gorgeous place.
"A Thousand May Fall at Your Side, Ten Thousand at Your Right Side, But it Will Not Come Nigh You..." Psalms 91
The morning we left my brother's house to head for New York, Cappy and I went to a Bob Evan's Restaurant while we were waiting for the dawgs to be finished with their grooming. The waitress asked, "You aren't from around here, are you?" This launched a discussion about Louisiana; how beautiful New Orleans was when she visited, the disaster, and now the new hurricane, Rita, playing coy with Texas and Louisiana. After she left with our order, two distinquished black gentlemen sitting nearby took up the conversation with us. They, as are we all, were very upset with the politics of it all. The delays that caused so much more death and anguish. I have to admit we got heated up along with them, got out our soapbox, agreeing with what they were saying about the situation and the feeling of helplessness. It was refreshing to have a venue to vent, even if it was only in an intelligent conversation at a breakfast table in a restaurant in Winchester Canal, Ohio. As they got up to leave they came over to shake our hands. We hated to see them go. Cappy stood up, clasped each of their hands in his and told them what an honor it was for us to meet them. When the waitress brought us our breakfast, she told us that the two gentlemen had paid our tab! I had a hard time seeing my plate during the whole meal; everything looked blurry because of the tears in my eyes. Here we are, nobody...we hadn't suffered any loss, but they paid for our breakfast.
This happened to us a couple more times. We are still shaking our heads over it.
In Port Allegany, PA, I took Cappy to one of our family 'traditions'. We 'had' to stop at the Tastee Freeze and get a soft swirl ice cream cone with a crunchy chocolate dip. (I had to settle for just the ice cream in a dish). While we were waiting for the lady to fix us up, I showed Cappy the local high school booster sticker on the case. It read, "Go Gators!" He looked a little confused til I explained that Gators are the high school mascots and the name of the team. Somehow that sparked the same conversation about Louisiana and the hurricanes with the lady who was serving us. When we handed her the money, she refused and said, "No, let me buy your ice cream for you". I was going to protest, but Cappy gave me a look that said not to.
When it happened again, at the Texas Hots in Wellsville, NY, I was starting to feel as though we were somehow taking advantage of very nice people, and we hadn't suffered at all...not really, from the Storms. Cappy explained that even though they had mentioned that they had sent help of one kind or another, such as donations to the Red Cross, etc., he thought it was their way of somehow reaching out touching Louisiana in a personal way. He said, "Sometimes ya just gotta let people do that; accept the good that they are trying to do. If you refuse, you hurt their feelings and it's like a slap in the face to them." I think I understand.
Cappy wanted me to post this picture. He took it while driving his tugboat up Bayou Lafourche after Katrina. This home came within inches of being destroyed by the tree falling into it. The tree still stands there, off-balance, hovering only an inch or two, over the house. There's a statue in the yard that shows someone in the home has Faith. To Cappy it speaks of The Hand of God Protecting and Blessing His people while the storms around them rage.
We got to my brother and sister-in-law's house around 10 a.m., took the dawgs to a doggy-salon, where they had a reservation to visit for a couple of days. They were pampered and bathed and played with...the whole 'lah-lah'. Actually, my brother had reservations about da dawgs...that's why we took them to the doggy hotel. Would you believe not everybody would welcome the idea of rowdy Bichons jumping all over them and their furniture and terrorizing their cats?? Obviously their reputation had preceded them. And you know what? I appreciate my brother's honesty. I find it refreshing when people let us know right out how they feel about having these crazy-nutzee dawgs in their houses. It saved a whole lot of trouble all around and the dogs had a blast. The groomer did a great job.They came out looking like two beautiful white clouds bouncing all over the place.
Meanwhile, my brother and his wife took us to one of their regular corner restaurants for an early lunch. They ordered tuna melts, I had grilled chicken salad, and Cappy ordered a 'garbage' burger. It was so good seeing "Butch" and Doreen again. I hadn't seen them since I'd moved to South Louisiana 4 1/2 years ago. It was the first time Cappy had met either of them. Whenever I get together with my brother he has me in stitches most of the time. His stories and the way he looks at life is so funny, so cool, and off the wall. Kinda like The Far Side.
After lunch we wandered around their town, a suburb of Columbus. The town had open market day along the main street. We picked up a couple of huge cantalopes, some fried-egg shaped gummie candies,a few real green tomatoes,a Christmas ornament for my friend, Jean,in New York State and a few other things. The Christmas ornament was of some kind of light wood, ornately carved or cut out. Gorgeous. The man who was selling them had thousands of the most beautifully elaborate things for sale that he had made himself. I wondered how he had the time to make everything. I was astonished to learn later that the man has palsy; his hands shake uncontrollably. I hadn't even noticed. He had shown us the tiny saw blade he used to cut the wood. Each piece had intricate swirls and flowers and leaves cut along the edges. My brother said, "Can you imagine how smooth and straight those edges would be if he didn't have palsy?"
We spent the rest of the day laughing and catching up on family things. Finally I just had to take a nap. Lazy me. When I woke up, dinner was ready. They had made this large array of cut up fruit...YUM! Grilled (outside) chicken, wild rice, and steamed kale. My kinda meal! Cappy busted out the Abita Ambers for them to try and some Abita Turbo Dog. I think they preferred the Turbo Dog.
The next morning we all got up and went for a two mile walk. Because of a health scare, they have been involved in a "Commit to Be Fit" program there in Columbus. It was a nice hot day. I think there were about fifty people involved, and Doreen mentioned that the pretty lady whom Cappy and I had been talking with when we first got there,was a local television celeb. The trail wound through some pretty meadows, smooth terrain, rough terrain, with a few places to sit down and a few signs informing us about the vegetation and wildlife we might see along the walk. Although we might have been sorely tempted to sit down for a bit, Cappy and I were already bringing up the rear, having had old people and young children pass us up. I drank most of the water in my brother's water bottle. I think we embarrassed our hosts because one of the guides had to stand by on the trail to wait for us to catch up. I'm glad we did it. We had been sitting since we left home.
After we freshened up, we got a tour of Columbus, then a short stroll through the German district. Very, very pretty. Some of the courtyards we could see behind the red brick buildings looked like those found in New Orleans. We went to the original Max and Erma's Restaurant there for dinner.
Just as we got seated, our waiter came rushing up to our table, twirling the menus, flashing a huge "Dudley Doo-right" toothy grin, gliding the menus to a perfect touchdown in front of each of us,and quickly reciting "Hi, I'm TAH-ahd (Todd), your host this evening,hereareyourmenus,canIgetyouanything,ifnotI'llberightback". He was in mid-turn to go when Cappy stopped him. Cappy wanted to know all about the menu and what contained wheat and gluten products. Todd's huge smile froze, but one eyebrow got up, stood up straight and began to flutter. He had lost his place. After a discussion of sorts, we all got our orders placed and Todd was back to flitting around from table to table..."Hi, I'm TAH-ahd, I'll be your host..." Cappy picked out some good kinda salad for me, everybody else had some kind of deep-fried something or other as an appetizer. Cappy was trying the local brews, too, to be sure. Although Todd brought about four or five, out of them the only one that Cappy liked was some kind of Octoberfest. Gliding by one time, Todd slid a tiny paper cup in front of Cappy,the size of perhaps, three thimbles, containing a special soup and said, "This is a sample of the soup". Cappy looked at it and muttered, "I should hope so". But what he ordered was the Garbage burger. Again? He said it was one of the best burgers he can remember ever eating. "One of the top four, EVER." We eventually wore Todd down and he started having fun with us. Cappy left him a GOOD tip for all his trouble, and as we were walking out...customers have to enter and leave thru the bar area, Cappy noticed what appeared to be a ship's figurehead. He had to have a pic of that. The bartender was only too willing to sidle up to it again. You could tell he was practiced at posing with 'her'. I noticed the great set of legs on one of the stools so had to sit on it, just to say I did.
All in all, we had a very nice visit. We left them with a scented candle from one of the fav. candle makers here in Louisiana, a bottle of Louisiana sweet wine and a promise to get back to see them sooner next time.
We left the next morning, Monday Sept 14, to forge on to western New York to see family. In the back of my mind I was wondering what kind a surprise Nick Tahoe's Garbage Plate, in Rochester was going to be to Cappy. That had been the only 'garbage' I had planned on feeding him, but he had found some along the way on his own.
We drove all night up through Mississippi and stopped somewhere in Tennessee around noon, got a hotel, slept til midnight, then got up and drove til we got to my brother's in Columbus, Ohio. One of the first things we did 'somewhere in Tennessee', was to take the advice of the hotel receptionist, and have Cappy try the barbeque at the little wooden stand right across the road. He had a couple of their specialties and a pickled jalapeno pepper. The best part of his meal was the jalapeno. The dawgs and I had chicken and fruit. (Oh, and they always had their real dog food in a bowl, handy.)
Getting up at midnight and driving all day was actually a lot of fun. We were refreshed, invigorated; the stars were bright, the dawgs were behaving themselves; only 'mewing' when they had to stop to potty, so we all took advantage of that at the same time, and got back on 'da road'. We laughed and sang, then listened to the radio about a new hurricane headed through the Gulf named Rita...what the heck?
Somewhere along the road, we picked up some Crystal Burgers for Cappy. It's his 'burgers' of choice for road-trippin'. "They are so small ya gotta eat plenty just to get full". We ordered a couple with no onions for 'da dawgs'. Mark wolfed his and Sparky's. Sparky and I had chicken and Arby's CURLY FRIES!! (I was breaking down.)
When we got up into southern Ohio, where I was more familiar, and once I got outa Cincinnati, which has always been white-knuckle driving for me, what with the bridge across the Ohio River and the confusing signage, the traffic flowing like schools of fish all around me, ...I could relax. And so did Cappy. He dove his paw into the ice chest and brought out his first ice cold Abita Amber. He refilled the dawgs' water dish with ice cold water and they all drank, leaned their heads back and said, "Ahhhhh".
Such a fun ride. Cappy put in a CD again, I got my shaker egg out and 'played' along with the music (traffic was light). We all 'sang' along, road-trippin' with Jimmy Buffet. We pronounce it "Jimmy Buffay", cuz we 'chubby Cajuns' like to eat, and...well, what would you expect.
Before the hurricane hit, Cappy and I had been planning on taking our vacation to western New York. Now, with our little town, who's good folks had taken in families, and the stores and gas stations running low, we decided to go ahead with our plans and kinda let 'the dust settle' around here.
I had everything all packed and ready when Cappy got off 'da boat'....but he didn't make it off 'da boat' til around 12:30 A.M. when I picked him up at the office in Houma, where the company he works for is located. It took us the usual hour-long drive home, and instead of resting, Cappy got a 'wild hair' and decided we should leave for NY right away, driving at night, when traffic was less congested. We loaded the rest of our stuff into the SUV, along with two very happy "licky-dawgs" and started off at 2:30 in the morning, pitch dark.
We had hardly pulled out of the driveway when Cappy pulled out his harmonica and the four of us were singing/howling/laughing along our usual winding road along the Mississippi River. I started to make the turn, when Cappy said, "Wait...I think I remember hearing that we can't travel north on I-55". I told him I had been listening to the news and hadn't heard that we couldn't. He then suggested an alternate route that would take us a millionty-two miles out of the way, and said, "Just humor me...back up and let's go the other way". I didn't want to do it, but I backed up across the intersection and sat there waiting for the light to change. I said,"I wish there were some way we could ask someone". And just then, as if in answer to my request, a police car pulled up from another direction and was waiting for the light to change as well. I excitedly said, "There ya go! Ask them!" Cappy hesitated, and asked, "Are you sure that's a police car?" I said, "Yes, see the writing on the side of his black and white car?" He hesitated again, and asked, as he was trying to get out of his seatbelt, "But are you POSITIVE it's a police car?" I was afraid the light would change and they'd leave before we got a chance to ask them anything. "Yes...yes, I'm positive!" Cappy got out of the SUV, stood in front of it waving his arms wildly and yelled, "Officer!!! Officer!!" The light changed for the 'officer', but the car didn't move. Cappy jumped around in his dark blue shirt and jeans, waving his arms frantically trying to get the officer's attention and yelling even louder, "Officer!! OFFICER!!!" The car just sat there. Nobody moved, except for Cappy, who was getting hoarse and tired from all the excercise. Finally, the car started moving very slowly. It had to come around the corner past us. It was, in reality a taxi-cab, most likely from New Orleans, FULL of passengers, who were all wide-eyed, all leaning toward the windows, gawking in the direction of Cappy. Even from where I was sitting, I could see that their driver looked kinda scared. As they quickly got up speed and zoomed off into the night, Cappy crawled back into his seat, muttering, "Well, that was humiliating".
Well, we'd all been warned about weirdos. We've seen the weirdos, and they wuz us!
The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for itbecoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasingin the slightest.
The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.
For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine or feline attendance is not mandatory.
The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's rear end. I cannot stress this enough! To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:
Rules for Non-Pet Owners Who Visit and Like to Complain About Our Pets:
1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the
furniture. (That's why they call it "fur"niture.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter
who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.
Dogs and cats are better than kids... they eat less, don't ask for
money all the time, are easier to train, usually come when called,
never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't
smoke or drink, don't worry about having to buy the latest fashions,
don't wear your clothes, and don't need a gazillion dollars for
college - and if they get pregnant, you can sell the children.
Actually it's a good thing we did drive all the way home last night, because SparkyBear had started coughing halfway home, then throwing up the rest of the night, from when we got home til we took him to the vet's this morning. He's still coughing and throwing up. The vet's not sure what's up, but gave him meds, etc. and will take him back in a week.
We NEED to get some sleep, but just finishing giving them both a bath, cuz they somehow had gotten loaded with fleas along the way.
Don't get me wrong; it was a fun vacation, which we'll relate as soon as we can think and see straight.
Ya know what?? We missed Ya'll, (yessss...YOU) and hope you are feeling just fine and missed us, too. Later.
The vet examined him and said that from what he could feel, he THOUGHT Mark tore a major ligament in his knee. He said what they usually do is to wait two weeks to see if the dog starts walking on it again, like with a sprain. If after two weeks, they are still not putting weight on it, then surgery must be considered. I told him it just so happened that we are going on vacation for two weeks, taking the dawgs with us. We aren't planning on any hikes or anything that would punish his knee. He can just have the family we are visiting 'baby' him.
...And, they weighed him at the vet's, too. He had gained another lb., even with all the excercise he'd been getting lately. I've always had in the back of my mind, that "Watermelon Boy" with "toothpick legs",... not a good mix.
Alright Miserable Squirrels, TAKE the stinkin' pecans...they are all yours...again...this year. Cappy and I are formulating another set of plans, and they don't include painting a bull's eye on Mark's back, ya rotten thangs! Rocky and "Bull's eye" indeed.
I was really ticked, as usual, but seeing the grey little 'cutie-pie' looking innocently down at me, pecan in his little paws...I had to clear my throat and 'let him have it'. "You are a bad squirrel! Those are MY pecans, not yours!" The dawgs started in, too, "Yeahhh, Mom...get him down for us". He just sat there on the limb, frozen. I was not falling for that one! I picked up one of the dawg's red toy balls and heaved it up at him. He half-jumped, half fell on top of MarkyBear, then both of them madly got their bearings and made for the telephone pole, Marky, two paces behind him. He went up and Marky went around and around.
The assaults on the trees have been furious these last three days. When Marky has one 'cornered' in the tree, he stands out there and barks and barks and....(you get the picture) barks, until I come out and do something like throw the ball up there again. Now I know those miserable squirrels are crafty, but why was it now that every time I go out after them with something, they always land on big fat ol' Marky??? Before that, if they didn't land on him....I swear to you, when they'd land hard on the ground, I'd hear an 'Alvin the Chipmonk', "OooFF!" Yesterday I was worried about Marky; I thought he had become fixated on them and was coming down with OCD. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). He's constantly patrolling the yard. He barks all the time for me to "come see", as they say down here. Of course, when he does that, there's always a squirrel there in the tree. But yesterday I went out AGAIN for the howmany times, looked everywhere in the tree...saw nothing. Tossed the ball...nothing. Looked everywhere up there, again, saw nothing. Mark insisted there was one up there. I shrugged and said, "sorry, Mark, you must be wrong this time". Well he kept it up. Five minutes later he was still barking, so I went out. Nothing. I looked everywhere and tried to convince him, with treats to come in the house. NO way. I gave up and came in again and just let him bark til his barker was sore. An half an hour later, I staggered out there again. Come ON....there's no squirrel up there! To prove it to him I got out the water hose, sprayed a jet up there, and watched as one of the fat little rats landed on Marky's back and took off toward the pine tree, while another one made a wild leap outa the tree into the grape arbor and through the neighbor's fence. Today they are at it again. There aren't many nuts left, but dang! That's not the point. There are lots of them, partially gnawed on the ground. The bird feeder has lots of good stuff falling from it all the time. We've zinc'd and fertilized, watched, waited, tried to distract them...all to no avail. I think they are trying to drive us nuts. Then they will have us.
Cappy calls me a 'salad-head', and I am. When he's out on 'da boat', I load the fridge up with raw fruits, nuts and veggies, start sprouts in the cupboards, and start the chocolate withdrawl all over again.
My kids used to look forward to meals with curiosity and suspicion. They called me 'the sneaky cook'. Well, heck, I wanted the food to be tasty first of all, but healthy as well. I didn't put tofu ("Toad-food") in everything. I cooked traditional comfort food most of the time, but...DANG...everytime I tried sneaking in something "healthy", I was always 'busted'. I'll never live down "Liver Soup". Even the dog took one whiff and was horrified...after that, even he was suspicious of what was put in his, now sacrileged, hallowed bowl. One time I told one of the kids, "Go tell your brothers and sister that supper is ready". Oh yeah...they opened the back door and broadcast the news to the neighborhood "Supper is ready!!!" One of them yelled back, "What are we having?!" " We're having spinach dumplings and liver!!!" I still cringe about that one.
You can only imagine what my Mom, a chef and dietician,thought about my meal planning. She and Cappy would have been best buddies, I have no doubt. Mom always got all animated and excited while planning and shopping for a big production meal. Cappy does the same thing, with the same mannerisms and 'electricity' of anticipation. As you can imagine by looking at our pictures, he is a most marvelous cook.
Cappy could put a meal together that only took an half an hour, and it would taste wonderful. He could, and he has, especially on the tugboat. What he really likes to do, is to take his time.(The first step is for me to chop tons of onions, which I really don't mind, because it's a symbol of Cappy being HOME and cookin'!) He puts the Blues blaring on the stereo, stands around the stove or bbq pit, beer in hand, bare-footed, singing, laughing, twirling me around for a quick dance, calling people on the phone reminding them that their names are 'in da pot,' so "come on over an' getcha some", and deglazing said pot every once in awhile. His food is 'tah dah foe' good. "Slap yo Mama good, cuz she done never made none dis for you before", as he calls it. Every fork or spoonful might race it's way to my mouth, but once it hits the tongue,I have to stop, close my eyes and savor each and every bite, it's that good.
Grocery shopping with him is fun and interesting too. We both spy large juicy heads of cabbage for instance, or piles of crisp green beans. "Oh!" he says, "I'm so hungry for cabbage or green beans, let's get a bunch of it." My fantasy at that moment is cabbage salad or lightly steamed green beans al dente. What in, fact happens is that, once we get them home, we chase the little suckers around the kitchen, catch them and smother them. Smother the LIFE outa them. Starting with the onions of course, which are caramalized, deglazed with wine (usually), Cajun sausage slices all nice and browned, our 'usual suspects' rounded up (our special Cajun spices), bell pepper, garlic...all kinds of good stuff. Then the prized veggies are marched to the pot. Well, then everybody in the pot stays there for what seems like hours and hours, to make sure nobody makes it out alive. And nobody does. We offer up a 'Requiem' of Thanks, and dig in. Delicious!!!
Back out on the tugboat. Yesterday they finally got supplies. They had been so low on water that they couldn't even make coffee. There was no meat in the freezer or fridge. They had no fishing tackle with them. Cappy, when faced with this dilemma, had previously joked that he was curious about what gourmet meals he was going to be forced into by his Cajun instincts and foraging. He was wondering what kind of critters were going to 'wander' into his cooking pot. For the last meal before the fresh groceries were trucked in, he made spaghetti for his crew. He found, way back in the cupboard onboard, some Spam and canned vienna sausages, some tomato paste and catsup. He somehow turned this unlikely mess into such a good meal, that the guys went back for seconds and 'tipped' him with many compliments.
So now. I can eat my raw fruits and nuts and veggies whilst he is on 'da boat', but if Cajuns eat smothered food and live to be in their 90's, I guess I can 'force' myself. You haven't lived til you've wrapped your lips around a delicious smothered 'anything' from down here in Bayou Country.
I reported to Cappy about those miserable squirrels. He's already making plans: In this corner, weighing in at "300 lbs of white flesh, glistening in the moonlight", butcher knife in one hand, large frying pan in the other, dawgs at his side, an angry Cajun Cappy. And in the other corner we have, scampering around, sticking out their little tongues at Cappy and the dawgs, weighing in at a hefty haul of our pecans, those Miserable Brazen squirrels! It doesn't matter. I know who's gonna win.
When I got home,I heard horror stories, as we all did. People I knew were afraid to go out of their houses. I became that way, too. I was suspicious of 'strange' people in our neighborhood. One tall person I'd never seen before was walking this huge pitbull down the street. Not a normal sight for our community. Oh yeah, and my dawgs had the temerity to 'call him out'. The guy and his dog just kept walking without even looking at them, and there they stood barking their fool heads off. Whew.
Everything in earshot was disturbing. I got very nervous.
I had a few groceries. I'm not fond of a steady diet of beans, as Cappy had insisted I buy tons of them for the storm. Easy for him...he wasn't home...good thing, too. I was worried about him. He and the other guys working the oil industry; the tugboats, and the men out on the platforms couldn't get food or water. I wanted to take matters into my own hands and try to somehow take some stuff to him,if I could get my hands on supplies myself. He forbad me from leaving the house. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I tried to involve one of my neighbors, who was already busy helping everybody else. He was hot and sweaty, picking up all of his neighbor's trash cans, putting them in his truck and taking it all to the dump, himself. A suit and tie man. I didn't like his quick, seemingly careless answer, so I felt helpless and became angry. His wife said Cappy would come home a few pounds lighter, too. (which in actuality, wouldn't hurt either Cappy or myself,as you can see from our picture). Instead of being grateful, I was so angry, I came and blogged all about it. Then, without thinking, (Oh Lord!) I emailed it to a lot of people whom I hoped might come up with some ideas to help Cappy. People I know. People in this town.
To err is Pegody. I hope to forgive is Cajun. So here I sit with my foot in my mouth, waiting for the other shoe to fall. I'll try hard not to stuff that foot in my mouth, too. If confronted, I'll be eating alright. Crow ettoufee and foot gumbo.
But, "letting the good times roll" must be gotten to, apparently, by letting the bad times roll off'n you. There was 'PawPaw' sitting on his pier,with his weather-bedraggled home behind him, fishin' for supper. Three crusty-lookin' ol' boys,with their white "shrampin" boots on, standing on the back of their shrimping boat, beers in hand, stirring supper in a big black pot, counting their blessings. Mama hanging clothes on the line, while the kids chased each other in the yard, climbing over or dodging fallen trees. Cappy was resigned to the fact that the crazy "weekend-warriors", as he calls them, being every danged where up and down the bayou for the holiday, were racing their...all KINDS of watercraft. As usual, some for the fun of it, would still play 'chicken' with him and his barge.
Even with all the tragedy and mayhem still fresh in our memories, it was still a holiday. And these are still Cajun People. Resiliant, capable, and above all else, joyful. No matter how hard a hurricane can sceam it's wind through these people, it will not blow the Love of Life from out of them. The Joie de Vivre.
The first year I was here, Cappy and I, much to the horror of the neighbors, put stove pipe around the base of the two pecan trees to try to keep the squirrels away from them. It worked for a few days, but then I had to tell Cappy, out on da boat, by then, that the miserable squirrels had built themselves little tractors, using our stove pipes for chimneys, and were merrily riding around the yard on them. We got about a gallon of pecans that year.
The second year, we had heard that Dial soap worked great as a squirrel deterent. Directions said to put the soap in pantyhose legs and hang them from the branches. I festooned the trees with bright yellow bars of soap in long silky legs of pantyhose. Well, if that didn't look pretty...with that and the stove pipe still around the base of the trees...some of the neighbors wouldn't look me in the eye.
By that time we had planted a line of small citrus trees down the length of the yard. Wouldn't you know, by the time the fruit came out, that birds started "snicking", as Cappy calls it, at the skin with their beaks, to get the oil. Books suggested netting. Cappy insisted that he didn't want netting, cuz it would look terrible in our yard. So he bought these disposable bright aluminum pie plates and hung several off the branches of each tree. Well, ya gotta know, when the wind rustled, or even when it didn't rustle, it looked like a Mardis Gras parade marching across the lawn. With that and the pecan trees all 'decorated'...
SparkyBear was getting big enough to chase the squirrels, but he had to be on a long rope, so he wouldn't go out of the yard. He's so headstrong, we needed the Invisible Fence, but as yet hadn't gotten it. Well, here come the squirrels from the sanctuary of the neighbor's yard across the street. They'd get so far into our yard, and Sparky would take off after them at a good clip, the squirrels would take off into the street, Sparky would hit the end of the rope,his top half would stop, but his back legs would keep going and out from under him. He'd fly up into the air and land OOF! on his back. It didn't take him long to figger it just wasn't worth the chase. The squirrels figgered it was a fun sport. When he did 'chase' them, they'd run back to the street and stop in the middle of it, fiddle around and slowly saunter back into their 'own' yard, kinda "high-fiving" each other.
This year we planted strong mint around the the pecan trees, bought big plastic owls,whose heads rotate in the wind. Cappy kept the squirrel tails from his last hunting trip to Mississippi. We kept those tails frozen in a couple zip lock bags since last December. In our freezer. With the meat and veggies. These tails were our "big guns". We'd put them in the plastic talons of the plastic owls, when we thought the time was right to put out the owls. We were calculating when the timing would be about right.
The timing was right when I came back from Texas for the Storm. Nuts were all over the ground. MarkyBear has been chasing the squirrels all summer, unfettered, til he hits the electric fence border...it gives him a "beep" sound before he actually hits the "correction", as it's called. (it's only a battery the size of a watch battery that 'shocks' the dogs, but they hate it anyhow) If I'm looking out the kitchen window and absent-mindedly say aloud the word, "squirrel", I hear a "whoosh" and the sound of the dog-door flapping. Marky might be "Jabba da Pup", or "WatermelonBoy", but I'll tell you, he cuts across that lawn, low to the ground, his little "toothpick" legs scissoring like chopsticks. He's almost caught a couple of 'em, too.
The last couple of days I've seen the squirrels actually IN the pecan trees, so I put one of the owls on the ground, by the one tree, with the huge shiney owl eyes staring at the neighbor's yard. (the squirrel tails hadn't survived the storm in our freezer, and had to be thrown away.) Every time I looked out the window, the owl was looking back at ME with it's big ol' shiney yellow eyes, as if to be pleading for help: "There are SQUIRRELS out here." Oh come ON...surely the breeze will turn the head back to the street.
Just now, I looked out the window and the owl was staring at me again, but with this look of: "Uh...a word with you, please..." Just above the owl was a squirrel in the tree blithely chewing on a pecan. I shrieked, "Why you Miserable squirrel!" The dawgs took off. Marky scared it outa the tree and up a telephone pole and stayed there snarling up after it. I was thrilled to finally hear SparkyBear, after these two years also barking at them! He kept barking so wildly I had to go see if he had one cornered. He saw me coming and looked back at his target to make sure it wasn't going anywhere til I got there. He was right in the owl's face, barking his head off at it, who was staring blankly back at him. It wasn't going anywhere, but in the trash.
But what was that racket a minute ago? What could have fallen that made that kind of noise? I couldn't sleep...I hadda know. When I got to the hall, I heard the toilet running like crazy. Oh gosh, it's good I got up or that thing would have cost us a ton of money running like that all night. After jiggling the handle, I was walking through the hall and noticed something on the floor in the middle of this computer/guest room. I turned on the light and saw it was a plaque that I had gotten in Sunday School, in Olean, NY when I was a very little girl. It has a picture of a little girl holding a robin on her finger, and she is saying, "Jesus Loves Me". I picked up the plaque, smiled and said to Him, "I know You do". I still can't figure how it fell off from behind the shelf where I keep it, way into the middle of the room like that. As I crawled back into the blankets, I was thinking that perhaps that happened, as so many other times in the past, to let me know that if He cared about small things like the toilet water running furiously all night, that I could be assured that He would also take care of us in the midst of the bigger things in life. Kind of a "just letting you know ahead of time" thing.
And sure enough, a few days later, He did take care of us again. I had been rushing around doing things in anticipation of traveling north to New York State to visit, when the 'thought' came, "Are you going to die in this Storm?" Where had that come from? What storm? I hadn't watched tv for a few days, so out of curiosity, I turned on the weather channel and was horrified to see that an hurricane, already named Katrina was headed this way!
I rushed around packing things, called Bekah, who lives in New Orleans, who only just recently moved down from up north and doesn't know what to in the case of hurricanes, either. Together, she and I quickly picked things up outside to prevent them from becoming missiles during the storm, packing them into the shed or into the house; plants, chairs, flower boxes, flower pots, ladders, bird feeders, bird bath, patio table, the dog's swimming pool (that wasn't fun). Cappy, on the phone, said he was worried the boat would roll away because the trailor it's on is moved so easily, just by lightly pushing it. He told me to put 2x4's in front and in back of each wheel. (He had said, wearily, "I'm seriously afraid that we'll never see our boat again." He loves that boat, and from his youth, has never been without a boat.)
After having done all that, we headed out north and west, with no real destination. We took back roads to avoid the slowly moving "parking lots" on the regular highways. Just as we gave up, exhausted and tried to sleep at a rest area, near Marshall, Texas, Bekah's step-father, a good friend of our's, Chuck, pulled some strings and got us a very nice hotel suite in Dallas, where we spent three nights. Since the Winsor Court in New Orleans, where Bekah was recently hired as a pastery chef, was obviously out of commision, and her apartment on St. Charles was definitly in harm's way, she and her 2 cats boarded a plane for Utah, where her mother and Chuck live, until things calm down around here.
SparkyBear, MarkyBear and I got home 2 days later, after learning that we were one of the first towns to get elec. back.
There was no real damage at all that I could discern on our property. Trees were downed in yards around us. A tree and fence five feet away from our house and shed were blown down. Branches from the neighbor's trees are still all over our yard. The wind must have been roaring through here.
As I swept the carport, of the leaves and branches of our neighbors, I had to move the 2x4's away from the wheels of the boat's trailor. .......(!) Wait a minute. How is it, that the wind was so bad that it knocked down trees right and left, high and low....but never moved those light little plaques of 2x4 wood? They were exactly where I had placed them. Normally, they would have been the first thing I would have put in the shed, not wanting them to fly off INTO a neighbor's house during a hurricane.
Then the thought came to me. The Lord has always used Wood to show us how much He Loves us.