Home, Sweet Piano Home Wednesday, Aug 5 2020 

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This poor old piano sat in Mamaw’s empty house for the better part of eleven years.  Sarah fretted over most of those years over just what to do with the piano.  Sell it? Donate it? Move it to our house?  Include it as part of the deal in the final sale of the house?

None of those alternatives worked out, though, so the poor old instrument just sat there in the dark of an empty house with no climate control.

Finally, when the closing on the sale of the house came to materialize a few weeks ago, all of the sudden, the solution became clear: Bring it home!  The decision was kind of like the decision to adopt a stray dog when we weren’t looking to adopt a dog.  When that puppy looks at us with heartbroken eyes, our heart melts.  We give in: “Come on, puppy.  We’ll bring your home.”

Looking at Mamaw’s piano in the last few weeks had the same effect.  We don’t need a piano.  Our house doesn’t have an ideal place to put a piano. But remembering all the years Mamaw played gospel hymns on that piano, how proud her husband was to give her the piano years ago, and how much it meant to her was like looking in to that puppy’s  eyes.  We gave in, kind of like when we took Marley in as a homeless stray: “Come on, old piano.  We’ll bring you home.”

So there she sits, prettier than ever.  She needs some tuning and maybe some other maintenance, but I believe we did the right thing.

Honey’s Hot July Kitchen Thursday, Jul 30 2020 

IMG_0766 2The girls set an ambitious culinary agenda for a single afternoon: a birthday cake for Payton’s dad, chocolate chip cookies, and bang-bang shrimp—- They’re slingin’ the pots and pans in the kitchen during Payton’s summer visit with considerable gusto.

A cake, of course, means someone has to lick the beater paddle.  Payton was quick to volunteer for the chore but has to watch carefully that Marley doesn’t endeavor to swipe a lick for himself, too.

By now, they’re on to the shrimp dish, the entree for supper.  Payton will assume the role of chef with Honey serving as the sous-chef.  This will be interesting.

Happy Birthday 2020 Sunday, Jul 26 2020 

The list of birthday oyster venues grows one year longer:

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2012 Fezzo’s Restaurant in Scott, La.
2013 D.C.’s in Eunice, La.
2014 New Orleans Food and Spirits, Covington, La.
2015 Acme Oyster House, Baton Rouge, La.
2016 Frog City Travel Plaza, Rayne, La.
2017 Acme Oyster House (the original Acme) in New Orleans, La.
2018 Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Lafayette, La
2019 Soileau’s Dinner Club in Opelousas, La.
2020 Half-Shell Oyster House in Lafayette, La.

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The birthday feast: A repast incomparable!

 

 

 

 

This year, the pandemic threw us a curve.  Indoor restaurant eating wasn’t an option we were comfortable with, so we ordered out and enjoyed our oysters at home.  We got fried okra for the side, so that added a unique (and delectable) touch to the culinary experience.

Of course, Sarah was not to be outdone for the at-home after-church birthday dinner.  She served up char-grilled bison ribeye and charbroiled oysters on the half-shell.  I believe it was the best birthday meal I’ve ever had!

 

Lost Cause Alert: Sorry, friends–The War ended in 1865. Time to move on! Friday, Jul 24 2020 

Growing up in the Deep South in days of staunch segregation, I recall this romantic haze hanging in the air over remembrance of the Confederacy and the Civil War.  Famous generals of that era, including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and a Louisiana fave, Pierre Gustave Toussaint Beauregard, were venerated as heroes.  The exploits of the generals and their acknowledged military brilliance were in truth vastly superior to the yankee generals, so much  that maxresdefaultit  seems that the South should have won the war!

But that didn’t happen.

An undergraduate degree in history and several decades of understanding the issues of the failed Confederacy later, amid a current national uproar that clamors for the removal of Confederate statues, memorials, and icons, I have a clearer understanding than ever.  Removing the monuments and icons from public places is totally appropriate.  Not only are the memoirs offensive to minorities in our society who suffered generations of discrimination and persecution under the shadow of the “stars and bars,” all Americans should recognize that the icons do not represent anything worth remembering, save   that they symbolize a monumental lost cause whose rebellion  resulted in almost five years of brutal carnage during the Civil War.  We should remember the bloody horror of that era so that we’ll never turn off on the road of sectional division ever again!

To that end, I will always be puzzled at how and why poor dirt farmers from the South were willing to lay down their plows and hay forks to leave their families and join an army that fought for the right to perpetuate the plantation economy and culture (including slavery).  That cause served neither the social nor economic interests of those misguided brutes, so many of whom gave up literally life and limb.  We should regard the war’s violence as a national disgrace and an additional reason to take down the icons.

To that end, we should take down the memorials and place them in museums with placards at their bases explaining what they represent and what their role was in the lost cause of the Confederacy.  Thus, we memorialize them not to celebrate achievements nor glorify the cause, but solely to learn  hard lessons from history: If we do not recognize the mistakes and confess the sins of our past, we are doomed to repeat them in the future.

Growing Away: A Little Girl and her Dog Monday, Jul 20 2020 

Payton and Marley are both 12 years old.  They’ve grown up together!  We have an album of Payton + Marley videos and photos covering all the years from 2008 to the present.  Last weekend when they were together, I noticed how the times are changing for both of them.  Even as they’ve grown up together, in certain ways, they’re growing away.

IMG_6878 2For Payton, the first thing she wanted to do when she got here was to fish out the Barbie doll collection that she’s played with since she was old enough to sit upright.  She and Honey were having a blast, sitting on the floor playing Barbie and Ken games.  But when Honey wanted to take a picture, “Whoa!!”  No go—-the self-conscious “tweener” would die if her friends saw her in a photo sitting on the floor playing with Barbie dolls!

As for Marley as a 12 year old, he’s a senior dog citizen!  Our little fellow is still playful and still adores Payton (because he’s allowed extra privileges, like sleeping in the bed), but we know the truth that at his age, his years are numbered in a different way than Payton’s.  Her life is largely before her, Marley’s is largely behind.

So that’s the tale of a granddaughter and her favorite dog.  Sometimes we wish we could freeze them both in the present to arrest nature’s inevitable course.  How curious that life’s joy can so easily beget life’s sorrow.

But such is nature’s course!

A Summer Song: The “Flit” Truck Wednesday, Jul 15 2020 

About once every other week or so this time of year, right before dusk, the mosquito fogger roams up and down the neighborhood streets applying the vapors that are toxic to Flit truckmosquitoes.  I’m amazed at how little municipal mosquito abatement technology, at least the application aspect of it, has changed.  Indeed, I remember the mosquito patrol puttering in like manner along the streets of Covington late on summer days when I was in junior high well over 50 years ago.

As boys would, we ran to the street to immerse ourselves in the truck’s vapor trail, inhaling deeply the fragrant fumes (much to the consternation of our parents, of course).  When my kids were growing up, they did the same thing—-the boys mounted their bikes and pedaled hard to ride in the fog for as long as they could keep up.

“Flit” is a good advective to name the truck, because  the vapor discharge creates an “f-f-f-f-f-f-t” sound.  Also, those as old as I recall those tin cylindrical pump sprayers (forerunners of the tank sprayer?) that the folks used for applying pesticides in the garden.  That pump’s action also produced a “f-f-f-f-f-t” kind.  So the flit truck it is!

The Taste of Summer: ‘Mater sandwich season! Thursday, Jul 9 2020 

104673536_10222866321227960_1374072443794002791_nThe summer Sunday night supper I remember growing up: ‘mater sandwiches. Daddy’s tomato garden flourished this time of year, yielding more fruit than the family of eight could consume. Mama’s solution: Tomato sandwiches.

Tomato sandwiches are a southern cultural phenomenon, a feast fit for the common man.   Slather the bottom slice of bread with mayo, add a layer of pickles (and onions if you choose), and then apply a generous dose of salt and pepper to two or three layers of juiy-red, thick-sliced tomatoes, and apply the top slice of bread.  Eating such a sandwich creates a drippy mess, so  several napkins were generally requisite.

For the first time in years, we planted tomatoes in containers in the back yard last April, so we’ve had to deal  with the  question of what-to-do when all of those tomatoes that ripen around the same time.  The answer from our childhoods occurred to us immediately: tomato sandwiches!

We enjoyed this treat several times this season.  Now that the tomato plants are stressing out and shutting down as summer oozes into the dog days, we’ll shortly have a tomato hiatus.  But we’ve already laid plans to re-plant in August for a fall harvest.  Maybe we’ll have tomato sandwiches for Thanksgiving: They’re that good!

Midnight Meditation for Independence Day Friday, Jul 3 2020 

I forgot to put the trash on the street yesterday evening—-a rare instance of forgetfulness, at least regarding that bi-weekly chore.  Something tripped my memory a little after midnight, so I gathered the kitchen bag, carried it out to the garage, placed it in the garbage, and wheeled the tub out to the end of the driveway.  But as I turned to go back into the house, I was startled as the view of the full moon overhead arrested me in my tracks.

IMG_8294This lonely orb, attended nor aided by not a single visible star, strained with  its might to penetrate the smokey haze of  Saharan dust that had dulled the sky’s blue for the past several days.  On a clear night without atmospheric dust, the moon’s definition would have been crisp and luminescent, its tone joyous.

But tonight, its rays—-their resolution blunted—- were diffuse and ill-defined.  I found beauty in the sadness, nonetheless, as I found this vision strangely symbolic in these pandemic times.

So, since we’re on the the eve of Independence Day, I appropriated Sarah’s photo with the flag juxtaposed in the foreground.   Old Glory stands guard beneath the hazy moon glaring through the dusty haze, an icon of hope to carry the nation through difficult times, as hope has born those who have lived under it through crises past across four centuries.

The flag is singing “We shall overcome!”

What’s the problem with dogs? Wednesday, Jun 24 2020 

IMG_0736Why can’t I bring my dog—-properly restrained, of course—-to the public walking park in Eunice?  I can’t conceive any proper argument that supports the city fathers’ ban on pets at the walking trail.

Other municipalities in the region have dog friendly public policies.  For example, I can bring my dog (on a leash) to any public park  in Lafayette.  Lafayette even has one public park that provides a fenced-in recreational area exclusively for dogs.

The irony in Eunice, which I find particularly annoying, is that, while I am free to walk my restrained dog on the public streets, the ill-enforced (or more accurately un-enforced?) leash law results in frequent assaults by unrestrained dogs (and sometimes dangerous, ill-tempered dogs!) who dart out from driveways and front yards in the manner of an ambush to harass and frustrate my effort to enjoy a pleasurable walk with my dog.

So in response to the question posed in the title above, I suggest the following: The problem is not with dogs—- the problem is with PEOPLE—-particularly, the municipal leadership and the citizens who allow pets to roam, unsupervised and unrestrained.

So I beseech the city fathers—-let’s do right for the doggies!  (And their masters, too.)

 

Happy Father’s Day! Saturday, Jun 20 2020 

Father’s Day is tomorrow.  I posted the following on Facebook this afternoon.

104485468_10222929881176919_9020551394397137290_nFour best reasons for my happy Father’s Day: my late Daddy, who showed me how it’s done; my two fantastic, successful kids, Zach and Ann; and the incomparable mother of my kids, Sarah Ann, who prepared for me this sumptuous Father’s Day air-fried oyster feast.

I should say my life is blessed!

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