1.23.2009

The Butcher, The Baker, The Cabinet Maker

Here are a few photos from this past whirlwind when Cappy was off the boat. We had so much going on that I'm hard-pressed to remember all of it, and I don't know why, but this darned chest cold has been hanging on and on and on, despite antibiotics even, so that didn't help matters, feeling all down and sick most of the time. From talking to folks, tho, I see that I'm not alone in the matter. Seems everybody has got it.
Well, ANYwaze.
Cappy's sister, Maria and her fun, wonderful family came over for the first family bbq of the new year and brought me a couple gifts for my birthday. Dan and his family sent a big very pretty bouquet of flowers with balloons, and Jude and Sonia gave me a lovely bunch of pastel orange roses, which I just love in front of the mirror in our orange and white hall. I was in the shower when from what, to my wondering (plugged inner) ears did I hear, but such a wild commotion going on. When I finally got dried off and 'decent', I went out to the kitchen where Cappy presented me with the big basket full of flowers, festooned with a colorful batch of balloons that had just arrived from Dan. He said that when the doorbell rang, as usual, the dogs 'exploded', barking the paint off the walls, then ran out their back doggy door and 'greeted' the delivery lady by jumping all over her. In all the hubbub, the balloons somehow got loose and tried to make an escape across the lawn, with the dogs in hot pursuit, and the poor lady, basket in hand, was hot on their trail, petals fluttering in the wind behind her. The dogs caught up to the balloons before the lady did, and were having so much merry fun, but Cappy somehow managed to 'call off the hounds' and rescue the terrorized gas bags; however, one of them did not survive. (I hope he gave her a nice tip.) By looking at my beautiful gift, I would never have guessed what it had just gone through; it looked lovely, and it was only after I heard the 'tail' that I found the dangling string, still holding on for dear life to the hapless, broken and deflated orange balloon. Poor thing. No matter; it was a wonderful birthday present.
Before the bbq, Cappy and I rode around rounding up the supplies. After a couple of stops and a phone call to our good buddy, Sam, we finally found the perfect butcher shop, located in Thibodaux. Sam had told Cappy that when we got near the place, all we had to do to locate it, was to roll down the windows and take a deep breath; that we would smell the meats smoking, and sure enough it was true. We bought a bunch of meat, and for langiappe, they gave us samples of their beef jerky. Oh Mama! My mouth is watering again, just thinking about it. We've just got to get more of that stuff sometime.
Now since this whole cookout dealy was supposed to be for my birthday, and I hadn't had real cake since 1995!! when I came down with celiac disease, and although Cappy's sisters, Maria and Melissa had made our wedding cake from one of my gluten free cook books, I honestly can't remember eating more than a bite of it, in all the excitement of the day. So, in light of that, for our bbq party, I made a German chocolate cake, with white frosting. What a production. What with all the precise measurements and the unusual ingredients, like xanthan gum, an hour later, two sinks full of dirty bowls, measuring spoons, cups, whips, beaters, etc., I had the cake in the oven, finally. Sam and his pretty wife, Mrs. Louise showed up, as Cappy was lighting the pit and hurrying around getting ready to start cooking. (I feel guilty now, because instead sitting down to visit with Mrs. Louise, as this was the first time I had met her, I was rushing around in the house trying to chop, peel, dice, and put together the other dishes for the meal. I should have gotten all of that taken care of the day before, tired as I was from all the running around shopping, etc., but I didn't. She offered to help, but when I'm in the 'hot and heavy of cooking', I get nervous when people are in the kitchen with me, for fear that I'll get burned...remember I was badly burned as a child..., so I left her outside with the guys. In hindsite, that was so very rude of me.) As I was frosting the cake, Maria and her family arrived, and what a joyfully boistrous time that always is...I just LOVE those people!!! The dawgs just love those people!!! And they love us. As Cappy would say, "It works out well that way". It was also Claire's 16th birthday (Maria's daughter) a few days before, and our friend, Melissa's birthday, so she and her younger daughter, Melan showed up...YAY!!


Between my making Cappy's bbq beans, our special chopped coleslaw, running hither and yon between the patio and kitchen for sundry things Cappy needed me to do, and making my Mom's special recipe barbecue sauce, when our cabinet-maker, Keith, showed up needing to re-measure important things in the kitchen, and ask very important questions. It needed to be done right then. It really did. I tried to keep up with my boiling pots, while chopping bell pepper, wielding a sharp knife, trying to think of what I needed to do next, as Cappy said that the ribs were ready to come off the pit, and I still had things that really had to finish cooking, holding one end of the tape measure for Keith, and trying to make decisions about certain details of cabinet design and kitchen layout. (He said he really couldn't come back later, and was patient, despite, in answering a couple of his questions, I'd run outside to see why Cappy had just called to me.) It was a madhouse. I kept thinking, "This too shall pass", and it did. That phrase has helped me a lot in the past. I remember one time years ago, in a similar situation that I had put together, when my Mom, a professional chef and dietician, who was very organized in her approach to big cooking affairs, found herself overwhelmed by all the commotion and confusion. I just calmly kept going, doing the best I could under the crazy conditions, chopping and peeling, and doing. Mom, standing beside me, whispered, "I don't know what you are on, but I want some!"

(Boy! I miss that woman.) This is a picture of Mom with my neice and nephew, Chrissy and 'Little Danny'...







But that's what I truly believe, "This too will pass". The whirlwind of Cappy's two weeks home passed all too quickly. This chest, head-cold will get over and done with some time; it just has to. The party ended that night with the worst karaoke singing ever...it was wonderful!! The good times and the bad; it all becomes history eventually. I like that no matter what I'm going through, that I know The Real "Cabinet Maker" is standing beside me, enjoying the goings ons, or comforting, or offering advice, or "just" Peace.
I love the song in this video, and I always have. I don't care if it's been "politicized"; I just love it, and I sing it to the Lord, strange as I am, perhaps.
(If it doesn't load and play well on one link, then it will on the other. If you have the option of viewing in the "high quality", go for it; this version gives me the 'freesones'...mispelled, I'm sure...means goosechills) And hey! I recognize "Papa Elliot" from New Orleans, and the duolian guitar player near the end of the video, too.



1.19.2009

All the Best Wishes (updated)

I woke up this morning with an old song running through my head, and surprisingly, I thought it kinda/sorta made sense for this particular day; however, in typical Pegody manner, I got the words all wrong. It wasn't 'til Cappy found the lyrics that I, once again, saw the error of my ways, song-lyrics-wise. I don't care...I thought in some lame way, it still made sense...to me anyhow. And that is this:
I've heard the Billy Preston song, "Will It Go round In Circles" for years, but always thought it went: "Willie go round in circles? Willie fly high like a bird up in the sky?" And that's always how I sang along to it.
So...sitting there this morning sipping my coffee, it's Inauguration wall-to-wall on the television. Not a bad thing at all. But I just don't wanna hear his speeches. Too "Hollywood" for me. (who knows, maybe most or all of the past presidential speeches were "Hollywood", but I personally don't care. It's just that we all witnessed Hollywood and the news networks doing their 'dangest' to get the man elected...polished him and showcased him at every opportunity, to their joy and success.) It's been no secret that George Clooney had been coaching him; I guess that's ok, too. A couple of days ago ol' George Clooney rolled up to visit Mr. Obama again. ....(whateverrrr.) Upon the threshold of another well crafted (I'm sure) speech, I turned the channel, humming the tune and, as usual, thinking the wrong words, "I've got a song that I want to sing, I'm going to sing it to the world" (but I don't want to hear it)
Well, later, just now I'm reading the real lyrics to the other verses, "I've got a story, ain't got no moral, let the bad guy win every once in awhile" (Well, that didn't help) "I've got a dance, I ain't got no steps, no I'm gonna let the music move me around". Ah, like the winds of "Change" maybe. So, I'm going back to how I like to sing the thing, " Will he go round in circles? Will he fly high like a bird up in the sky?" Will he be 'business as usual' (around and around we go again), or will he really succeed and take this country on to new heights? I don't wanna hear his song. I don't wanna hear his story. That's his talk. I don't even wanna see his dance...I want to see his walk. I want to see where he leads us. I'm really hoping (and praying) for the best.
It all remains to be seen: Willie go round in circles? Willie fly high like a bird up in the sky? Poor guy's going to need our prayers, too. He's not even behind the desk yet and already his hair is getting gray. God Bless America and God, please bless our new President Barack Obama and protect us all. Amen.
Well, I watched his acceptance speech, and I liked it. Cappy and I shed a few tears as we humbly prayed along with the rest of our country, wishing our dads and mothers could be here to witness this giant step our country has just taken.I hope it's not all Hollywood, and that President Barack Obama's prayers...what he promised The Lord are for real. Now, finally, I hope people can put slavery in the past; it's history, and that now all races, shoulder to shoulder, equal human beings all under the Eyes of God, can together, go forward striving for good.

1.17.2009

The Great Crawfishing Caper

Back in the day, a large group of friends yusta gather at 'da camp' in the swamp for weekend party outings. Always fun, but many a treasured memories of those times are slowly fading from my mind as the years slide by. I was reminded of this particular debacle yesterday, so I called a participant of past outings to help me flesh out some of my memories and decided to post it 'fore it fades away completely. Details are sadly forgotten and photos, to my knowledge, are non-existant. If any of the old crowd reads this and has pictures send 'em over and we will insert them later .
Well.... here goes: Usually around Wednesday evening the phone would begin to ring. It would be the weekend party crowd checking in, all singing the same old refrain,"What we gonna do dis weekend?"
On this one particular weekend back in the early 80's in the late Spring, I was informed 2 facts that shaped the whole weekend. Fact #1, our good friends Jim and Trish were coming in from Texas. Fact #2, it was discovered that neither one of these Texas city folk had ever been crawfishing. The stage was set for us to remedy this intollerable condition the very next weekend. In other words, it sounded like a great excuse for a party weekend at da camp. Several phone calls later, da plan was hatched.
A 'core' group, like, from 6 to 8 of us, showed up at da camp Friday night with a truckload of beer and some camp supplies. This was da crawfish "catching & boiling crew". The main group was scheduled to start arriving around noon, on Saturday to attend the crawfish boil. This may sound over confident to you, but remember it was Spring in da swamp land of Louisiana, and there was no doubt 'bout catching crawfish; we would get 'em. We settled down at da camp, started drinking, and it wasn't long 'til a heated debate ensued: Who was gonna go crawfishing and who was gonna stay back and set up the party. Well, despite the beer, a logical conclusion was eventually reached and the stage was set. I was goin' to do the net-lifting while Dave ran the boat. Jim and Trish were goin' cause that was da reason for the whole drunken debacle to start with, and Ginger was goin' cause she flat-refused to not witness da rookies in action. Da stage was set. In da morning, da 5 of us would get in da 2 boats and head down to a great place that I knew for crawfishing.
Dave, being Dave, was up before daylight rattling around and hauling stuff to the bayou bank. We all grumbled, swore and pried ourselves up out of our sleeping bags too, and since the first thing Dave had rattled up was da coffee pot, we didn't swear too long or loudly; just went about havin' breakfast (alka seltzers, aspirins, rolaids, and/or stanback powders) After my head quit pounding and vision unblurred, I stumbled out to da bayou, where a rather large pile of stuff had accumulated by the boat landing. 2 ice chests (1 beer, 1 munchies), a water can, empty buckets, crawfish nets, bait can, out-board motor, gas can, etc. As I surveyed the area, mentally takin' inventory, I happened to glance at the old willow tree that the boats were always chained to, and discovered a serious potential problem: Only one boat! (Apparently somebody borrowed da other one.)
Well, the argument flared up again: What do we do? Who goes now? Do we go at all? What about another place? Another?? Well, what? These sort of logistics problems were usually always left up to me, 'cause I was da guy with the most experience in this sort of thing, bein' a boat guy and all. By the end of this story ya prolly gonna doubt da validity of that reasoning, but anyways.... here's what I decided:
We would hang da outboard motor on da boat, move da boat to the dock and start loading our stuff in order of priority, 'til da boat was full and that would help decide the matter. I got in first (I was gonna do da dirty work). Dave started handing stuff to me in order of importance, in came the beer, gas, nets, bait, Jim and Trish (each wearing enough floatation devices to hold up a small car), and Dave. At this point we had a scant 6-8" of freeboard and I was worried, 'cause still on da dock was da water and munchies and Ginger, who at this point weren't too happy. Well, since I'd already made my decision, we set sail with Ginger aboard, but left the water and food sittin' on the dock. Believe me, it was the right choice. Ginger was the only one of the 3 that could and would fight back if we tried to leave without her.
A half hour down the bayou, we arrived at the spot I had picked; a flooded pipeline right-of-way. I knew that the water was about waist-deep and under the water was a flat grassy area that I knew from da past was teaming with crawfish. I showed Jim and Trish how to stretch out and bait the nets, then I hopped overboard, (scaring them to death). I grabbed the 15-or-so foot pole that I used to lift and set nets. I instructed them to tie a chicken neck to the center of each net, then I would hook it with the nail in the end of my pole and swing it into the water. Dave joined me in the waist deep swamp water and tied the boat's rope to himself. I set, like, a dozen or so nets in a big circle around us and decided to check the first one. Sure enough, it was "brim full" and overflowing with big ole Louisiana crawfish. Trish's expression, as I swung this dripping net, teaming with "pincher yielding little terrors" towards her is forever emblazoned in my mind. Before this, I had always thought "bug-eyed" with horror was just a saying. I had no idea anyone could actually achieve the expression. A few minutes later, after Trish's heart started beating again, we got back to work and fell into a rythem. I moved from net to net, lifting them up, each packed with crawfish, swung them into the middle of the boat, where Trish and Ginger would dump the nets, emptying them onto a piece of plywood that we used for a 'sorting table', shove the good crawfish into a 5 gallon bucket, and toss everything that wasn't 'good' overboard. When the bucket was filled, Jim would help them pour the crawfish into a sack. After awhile, Jim got brave and jumped into the water, swapping places with Dave and even pulled the boat around for me, all the while looking over his shoulder for "swamp critters". In very short order we had more than enough crawfish. In less that 2 hour's time we had 4 big ol' grass sacks full of crawfish in that boat and it was then that we discovered the next flaw in our plan.
After we picked up all da tackle, retrieved da nets and got it all loaded onto the boat; crawfish and all, we noticed the "free board" had shrunk to a scant few inches...and me and Jim still weren't aboard! Those 4 sacks of crawfish dressed out at, like, 80 pounds each!
Well how to get home?? While in the midst of yet another heated debate about our situation, I noticed a great big ole tree floating down da bayou. What ended up happening was: Dave dragged Jim and me out to that big ole floating tree, as we hung onto the side of the boat. Then once we got safely ensconced on top of it, they handed us the ice chest, which lightened the boat enough for their trip back to the dock and left us sitting there with this ice chest of beer between us, as we slowly drifted down the quiet bayou, so that Dave could run the crawfish and the gals back to da camp. So, there we sat, Jim and I waiting for them to come back for us. It took him a couple hours to go unload, make sure the shore crew was organized and then return. By the time he got back, me, Jim and da tree had floated a half a mile or so down the bayou. Dave said he wasn't sure where where we went so he killed da motor and listened. He was led to us by the sound of drunken singing.
When it was all said and done, we all got back to the camp and although slightly sun-burnt, managed to feed no less than 20 partying Cajuns and had a truly, almost unforgetable time.

1.15.2009

Makin' BBQ and Boudin


Yesterday afternoon I was struck with a thought; why not make some boudin? For those who don't know, boudin is kinda like a sausage. It's made of pork meat, ground liver, Cajun spices and rice, kinda like a "dirty rice mix" in a sausage casing. A phone call to my friend Sam, a trip to a butcher shop and a plan was hatched. Today Sam came over bringing the casing, very, very good deer sausage that he had made and brought for us to put on the bbq pit, and some frozen catfish for Pegody to enjoy while I'm back on the boat. In a flash of brilliance, Sam and I decided to call another friend, Todd and had him come over to join the doings. We had a grand old time! Watch the slideshow and join us. If it don't make ya mouth water then you aint Cajun.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCyzMScgE1w

1.13.2009

Cappy's Tug Boat Christmas

The hitch started 2 weeks before Christmas and stretched til a week after New Years. The weather was nice for the most part and most mornings were begun under sunrises like this one. The fog usually set in early, and for one stretch didn't lift for 3 days. The haze and humidity gave some sunsets almost a surreal cast when combined with lights from the platforms we dock at. The afternoon we pulled up at this place in the bay, the sky had a beautiful purple cast, blending in with the lights off the water.

Our little Christmas tree wasn't much, but it did a fine job of cheering up the back corner of the wheel house, along with the presents and stockings for the crew, and the singing snowman that cappyclaus's helper Pegody brought to us one day when we passed by a dock she could reach.
My crew that week, shown here, Darby my pilot on the left and Brian my temporary tankerman on the right were thrilled with the stockings and presents that Peg brought to us. I must say it was tough keeping them out of the "goodies" til Christmas morning.
David, my normal tankerman, shares a love of old gnarly dead trees with me, so I took this picture with him in mind. The old dead cyprus tree is beautiful enough all by itself. The flock of Cormorants that were perched on it, like decorations on some morbid- looking Christmas tree were just an added treat to a dead-tree-lover like me.

Winter sunsets are often quite beautiful, and we never tire of enjoying them. Whenever the man on watch sees a nice sunset he always passes word to who ever is awake and we watch the sun set most days. There were a few foggy evenings and not all sunsets can be enjoyed, but every once in awhile there is one that is so magical ya can't just take 1 picture. The last day on the boat I happened to look videobehind me at some seagulls following behind us in the sunset. I hollered for my pilot to take the wheel, and I stood there taking pictures and just glorying in the beautiful sight, thanking God for the privilege to live and work in the swampy paradise we call home.