You know you’re at a South Louisiana restaurant when . . . Sunday, Sep 28 2008 

you don’t have to ask the waitress to bring Tabasco sauce–a handy bottle is permanently stationed at each table alongside the napkin dispenser with a bottle of Tabasco’s natural

Louisiana condiment partner, a bottle of ketchup.

I took this shot last week at a business “eatin’ meetin'” (another South Louisiana tradition) with friends and colleagues from the Acadiana Writing Project (local affiliate of the National Writing Project). We were fellowshipping and working at a popular Lafayette watering hole, the Hub City Diner.

To show how this South Louisiana tradition is unique, my family visited Memphis last spring for the NJCAA Word Series (that our LSUE Bengals won!). Since our anniversary coincided with that trip, we found a spicy-looking regional food restaurant on historic Beale Street. I ordered fried catfish, which was done to perfection insofar as being fried well, but I had to wait several minutes to begin eating after the waitress served my platter because I had to ask her for Tabasco sauce. (She brought the ketchup with the order. She had that part right.) I eventually got the Tabasco, but I waited for several minutes. The wait was frustrating because a true Louisiana fried seafood gourmand simply does not begin eating without the Tabasco and ketchup tandem. All I could do was sit there and stare at this appetizing plate of food, its pleasing aroma tantalizing my senses, wishing she’d hurry along with the hot stuff.

I’ve actually known Louisiana acquaintances who never travel without their personal bottle of Tabasco. They keep a “private stash” in their overnight bag or purse just so they’ll be prepared if some restaurant in Alabama or Texas or South Dakota or wherever doesn’t respect our regional taste by keeping the goods on hand.

So here’s to the spicy stuff and to another grand Louisiana culinary tradition: Nous-autres, on aime notre piment!

Payton and Bossie the Cow: Recycling Toys Wednesday, Sep 24 2008 

Bossie and Payton

Bossie and Payton

When Payton’s Daddy was a little fellow, one of his favorite play-pretties was Bossie the Moo Cow.  Payton’s Honey was sufficiently aware years ago when Zach outgrew Bossie that such a day as this might come.  So Bossie was preserved, and that day is come!

Bossie’s moving parts don’t work quite as well as they did twenty-five years ago (but whose among us does?), but you can still blow on the plastic tube (that used to have a squeeze-bubble on the end) and evoke Bossie’s unmistakable “Mooooooooooooooooouh.”  Payton seems pretty delighted with her bovine friend.

Stormy Daze: Remembering Rita 3 years ago Sunday, Sep 21 2008 

Ike recovery around Houston and the coastal areas of Louisiana still dominates regional news and conversation, but thank God the tropics appear quiet insofar as heading anything new  toward the Gulf of Mexcio in the forseeable future.   Out of curiosity, I just looked in my ’05 journal, thinking this was right about the time we were growing concerned about Hurricane Rita, and sure enough, September 21 was the date three years ago that Rita achieved Category 5 status.   This is what the formidable lady looked like on that day, three years ago,  more or less south of our house (and heading WNW at the time–we thought then that Galveston was in the bull’s eye, in fact, but that track didn’t hold up as Rita ultimately showed a greater determination to visit South Louisiana along the Cajun Riviera at Holly Beach in Cameron Parish).

Scientifically, a dispassionate meteorologist might look at the symmetry and the tiny little eye right in the center of all that wound up fury and gasp, “How stunningly beautiful!”

But me, I say “Ugh!”

(Thanks to Wikipedia for the satellite shot of Rita.)

Doctors, mechanics, and the art of bad news Thursday, Sep 18 2008 

Doctors, sensitive ones, anyway, are adept at breaking bad news to patients. Imagine that you go to your friendly general practitioner with an ailment. You suspect it may be serious, but you encourage yourself by running through your mind of all the relatively minor possibilities that could be causing your problem.

But after the examination when the doc comes to put his hand on your shoulder and tell you, “Son, I’m afraid I can’t figure this one out. You really need to see an oncologist, so I recommend you make an appointment with Dr. So-and So.”

Uh-oh. Too numb to ask probing questions, you leave the exam room, stopping at the desk on the way out to settle accounts. When the lady at the desk tells you, “Oh, don’t worry. There’s no charge,” then you really know its grim. You’ve become a charity case, and the only people who get charity are people with some material or emotional exceptionality.

At least that’s the way I imagine the situation would play out, and I thought of it with the recent experience with the mechanic who checked out my ailing 2000 Dodge Ram. First of all, he kept the truck all day and overnight. When the first thing he “fixed” turned out NOT to be the problem, he ran this test and that test and every other experiment to rule out the most obvious causes of the truck’s ailment. So I got the phone call: “David, I’m sorry, but I just don’t know what’s wrong with it. You need to take it to a dealer who has the diagnostic computers to analyze the engine and identify the problem.”

Then, after I went to the office to pay the bill, the fellow there called the mechanic, had a brief conversation, hung up the phone, and told me, “No charge for that.”

No charge?  This good fellow had worked on that truck off and on for more than a day.  I began to suspect the worst at that point. So on I went to the “specialist” at the Dodge dealer (the Dodge Ram oncologist?), and sure enough, the computer diagnosis was grim to the tune of almost a thousand bucks.

A thousand bucks and having to leave the truck there for several days b/c the parts are on order is the bad news, but I guess the good news is that the case is not terminal. My old green Dodge Ram will live to ride again.

And now I know a little how I might feel one day when the doctor puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “Dave, I can’t help you, but I know a great oncologist who hopefully can.”

On a lighter, happier note, “Happy Birthday, Mom!” Monday, Sep 15 2008 

After the adrenalin-draining last three weeks of watch and warning, wind and rain, fluster and bluster, the north breeze ushered in as  Ike’s backside swept across the Midwest and Northeast brought a sense of closure to this busy part of the hurricane season.  Mama celebrated her 81st (or 82nd?) this morning with Daddy and other family in Covington.  The parents’ smiles in the photo, though perhaps masking the grim realities of aging with its attendant physical and emotional trials, brighten this Monday as we emerge from our bunkers and storm shelters to face another week.  Life goes on!

Sun Roofs by Gustav: a la mode in Louisiana Wednesday, Sep 10 2008 

What a lovely concept! Before the Designer Gustav visited my back yard, I never imagined a patio cover with a sun roof. I can now sit on the side of my patio that’s shaded from the sun and look up through the sun roof to behold the blueness of the sky, or the whiteness of the puffy clouds, or in the dark of night, the claire de lune! The unabated sun also provides energy to dry the clothes, thus saving energy and cost. And when the patio plants need watering, I can simply leave them under the sun roof when rain is forecast, and mother nature will take care of her own. How cool!

These sun roofs are quite the vogue in Louisiana since September 2. One can see themes and variations of the concept literally from one end of the state to the other. They’re truly a la mode!

I wonder if the idea will ever catch on in Texas?

“Home in the Cone” (of uncertainty, that is) Tuesday, Sep 9 2008 

We’ve lately spent much time checking the Internet and the TV newscasts for the latest updates for a number of tropical systems that have made this hurricane season as exciting as Dr. Gray et. al. promised in their pre-season predictions.

Reading Jeff Master’s Wunderblog earlier this afternoon for the latest updates concerning Ike, I found a post by a blogger named “Malachi.” Malachi posted the following little parody:

Oh give me a home, where the yellow globe roams, and the winds and the rain like to play,

Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the cone is around me all day……

Home, home in the cone…….”

LOL. “Home in the cone.” I know that feeling!

I wish I knew more about Malachi and who he/she is, b/c I always like to give a writer his due for any creative act. I went back to Jeff Masters’ blog again to try to find the link, but its lost in so many posts.

The Saints are back! Sunday, Sep 7 2008 

Gustav is gone, and Ike may or may not be on the way, but for certain today, the Saints were back!  The first ritual football-after-church Sunday afternoon of the season  provided a welcome diversion in the aftermath of the week’s other excitements.  In spite of the fact that our team were disadvantaged to spend last week in Indianapolis preparing for this home opener, because of the mandatory evacuation of New Orleans that kept them from staying in town to use their own facility, they came home all fired up to give all of us (fans, anyway) an uplift we needed after a hurricane-induced week of stress.  They beat a really strong Tampa Bay team in a well-played game that gives us a good feeling about the season’s prospects.  I mean to say they really looked sharp!  (The picture of Drew Brees above comes from the Saints website, which also has some nice recaps on today’s game.)

Geaux, Saints!

The sights and sounds of Gustav Friday, Sep 5 2008 

My blog-postin’, camera-totin’ niece chronicled the sights and sounds of Gustav as he blustered through our Cajun hometown of Eunice, Louisiana last Monday. Could have been worse!

Here’s the link:

Hurricane Watch? Wednesday, Sep 3 2008 

We admire the heroic vigilance of our canine friends as watch dogs and protectors of our lives and property.  That’s why I love shots like this, showing our puppies at rest after the exertions of their labors on our behalf.  In January ’07, I blogged these valiant creatures as “fire dogs.”

Today in the aftermath of Gustav, I celebrate them as “hurricane watchmen.”  Behold the heroic spark in their penetrating gaze, which inspired confidence in all of us at the peak of the storm when our human frailty bid us fear.  Yay, what steadfast creatures!

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