Where Have I Been?

Where have I been? Well, most assuredly, not here at the Gumbo blog.  I haven’t written a scrap on the blog in months, save for a plea for mammon yesterday for needy kids. See yesterday’s post if you care to help.

I have no excuse. Nothing. Nada.

I write. I began a journal as a Lenten exercise.  I didn’t stop at the Resurrection. I have seventy odd pages in a secure place.

I am tutoring:  children and adults. I teach Spanish for gringos; English for others. I have foreign students, such as Japanese, French, and Brazilians.

Bubu, my German Shepherd, died this fall. He was old. No pain.

Rosa, my foster, is unhappy to sit still. She’d prefer to be chasing a tennis ball.

Now, I have a foster who may be adopted tomorrow. Rosa is a mature girl, 6 1/2 years old.  She’s active and happy. If the prospective family fails to take her, consider adopting Rosa.

If you don’t receive a Christmas card from me, consider this picture as your personal card.

I hope to write more about future plans in 2017. I am bored with the RWPs (rich white people) in the US. My self-imposed hermitage must end.

Adventure calls!



What about decency?

Every week, I spend an hour, or two, or twelve walking on the grounds of nearby Fountainebleau State Park in Mandeville, Louisiana. It’s a wonderful place to walk, whether on the shores of the lake or among the mossy, live oaks.  The remains of an old sugar cane mill remind me that the place’s history is rooted in history, too. When the sugar planter died, he bequeathed the land as a public park.

At some point in the early 20 century, a large old-fashioned bathhouse was erected on the sandy northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  The state of Louisiana recently renovated the place to the original floor plan, complete with row upon row of semi-private changing rooms, shower stalls, and toilets. There are 2 wings, one for each gender.

It’s almost always empty. Who changes in privacy before using a public beach?  Why would men and women in our enlightened age need separate changing areas? Who cares if the family loads into the car with sand and mud clinging to their bottoms and feet?

Bathhouses are as anachronistic as the plantations themselves. I don’t know if I care about the bathhouses in particular. It’s the subject that comes to mind that I care about.


I am bothered by the utter lack of decency in the leader for the Republican ticket. He has no sense of decency in language, in actions, or the way he conducts the campaign. Whether it’s insulting a war veteran, speaking of a women’s menstrual cycle, laughing at a disabled person, or insulting entire ethnic and religious groups, he has no decency.

When the Israelites were a small confederation of tribes, the elders tell us that they asked God for a king. Loosely speaking, God said,  ‘Let me be your king.” God wanted them to not look to one man, but to keep the older tradition of judges, elders and prophets.

The people persisted. Saul was the first king. He was tall, good-looking, and a total failure. He led Israel’s sons into battle against their enemies and finally against each other. He died in suicide on the battlefield, a tragic figure in Biblical history.

Sometimes, we get what we ask for.

*My inspiration for this post that I spent all of 15 minutes composing came after reading Pastor Max Lucado’s column, Decency for President.





A Winter’s Tale: Mandeville, Louisiana

red berriesI walk with my dog nearly every day. We often head for a sparsely occupied business park that neighbors wooded areas. The weather has been unusually warm, so we see lots of color, some in-season and some out-of season. Yesterday, I was able to enjoy nature as my dog ran about among the empty fields and under-used buildings. There really is no dramatic tale for me to write, as nature itself provided the material. Feel free to interpret or insert your own dialogue. I concluded with another’s thoughts on the beauty around us.


rain results


Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that? St. Augustine. 

This post is linked to Sundays in My City, whose host is Unknown Mami.

No periods needed

I recently read texting is viewed favorably if periods are not used. Readers who receive phone texts with periods tend to perceive the messages as unfriendly. Texts without periods are considered sincere. Of course, we haven’t said goodbye to the exclamation point, individually (!) or in multiplied groupings (!!!) to show enthusiasm. And we can’t forget the startling use of multiple periods used to suggest an ellipsis. . .

The rest of this post will contain no periods  I do want to be sincere as possible  Of course there is another reason to cease with the antiquated period  It’s been several months that I am living without periods, ahem, the other type of period, that is . . .

A few weeks ago I was startled by this lack of punctuality  Glee soon followed!!!  I have borne this punctual reminder of hormones for over 40 years

Hormones are nothing to be taken lightly  I was painfully self-conscious to be known as the second-youngest in my fifth grade class to achieve this rank  I demanded my mother allow me to stay home during those dreaded cycles  She was sympathetic for a few months until the school secretary caught on and refused to allow the excused absences…

Those days are gone   Now I am free and I plan on living as such

I can drive a tiny red car whilst escorting a mammoth-sized dog wherever and whenever I choose   I can take long swims in the lake and after sun-bathe on a white towel with complete aplomb  I can go out and about without a purse without you-know-what inside   In fact, I can toss the purse aside and travel lightly again as I did before you-know-what happened

And to the shock of locals and those abroad I can choose to follow whatever political figures I like even left-leaning old guys with frumpy hair  I do live in one of the most conservative districts in a most conservatibernie2ve state   I fear that my Baptist neighbors don’t approve of the decal that is slapped on the Hyundai

Who cares?

Life without periods will be a great adventure

A White Christmas (Mandeville, Louisiana)

Home on the shore of Lake Ponchartrain: foggy, lighted, and ethereal.

As is much of North America, a preternatural warmth has settled over Louisiana. One natural result is fog. On Christmas Eve,  fog shrouded the shores of the largest lake in Louisiana, Lake Pontchartrain, making everything a bit other-worldly.

Mandeville, Louisiana, was once a favored site for wealthy New Orleanians needing a break from the squalid city. Even the poor sought solace on the northern shores away from the city fleeing the summer scourges of the city. New Orleans often stood nearly empty in summer, as countless residents fled epidemics that took the lives of city dwellers before science chased away the plagues caused by mosquitoes breeding in fetid waters.

The cool lake breezes and the wooded landscape appealed to those seeking to ease body and mind. Ferry boats brought passengers for day trips, week- long excursions, or for the wealthy, season-long reprieve. When the mosquitoes had finished the work of death in the busy city, families returned to New Orleans to continue on with their lives.

rest a while 2
A restoration is underway for Rest A While, a historic retreat.
rest a while sign
The foggy weather causes Rest A While, a famous inn from the 1880s to appear ghostly and mysterious.
tree with lights
A view of the lake from the grounds of the big houses. The lake has disappeared in a shroud of fog.
The fog began to break as rain rolled in on Christmas Eve. The bridge connecting Mandeville to New Orleans is in the foreground.

If you are in need of rest for  body and mind, I can hardly recommend Mandeville. To the dismay of old-timers here, most of the natural landscape has given way to strip malls, gated communities and big box retailers. A few swaths of the past remain, such as this walk near the lake in  old Mandeville.

SIMCThis post is linked to Sundays in City, a meme hosted by Unknown Mami.

Happy Festivus

Kvetching, complaining, the airing of grievances makes Festivus the great American holiday that precedes Christmas. It first came to life in the comedy series, Seinfeld, in December, 1997. One of the characters, George Costanza revealed that his family had their own holiday, Festivus, generally celebrated on December 23.

Festivus also features feats of strength and the display of the bare aluminum pole, but I am choosing to focus on the airing of grievances on this blessed day before Christmas. Tomorrow, who knows? I might focus on blessings.

Here are a few of my grievances!

  • The weather is crazy this winter in much of the US. The weather seems angry, hot and ill-tempered. Why it’s the same temperature today in New York City as it was on July 4 of this year. WEIRD.
  • I can’t find decent tamales in my neck of the woods.  Having moved back to Louisiana, in the piney woods,  there is a serious lack of diversity. Not too many Latinas are across the lake from  New Orleans. WEIRD.
  • It’s quiet. It’s Christmas Eve. Therefore, the air is supposed to be filled with the sound of cheap fireworks. Oh yeah, see above. Louisiana, not Honduras. WEIRD.
  • Letters are delivered daily to my home.  EVERY DAY! In Honduras, I got mail delivered three times in ten years. WEIRD!
  • Blue Bell Ice Cream is on the shelves again after disappearing for almost a year. In this part of the US, we love Blue Bell which disappeared for months due to poisoning people with listeria in early 2015. Who cares? We want our ice cream! WEIRD!
  • Ben & 14 ben and jerrys festivusJerry’s is not planning to reprise Festivus Ice Cream. That’s just wrong. It Blue Bell had not returned, I would be even more aggrieved at the loss of Festivus Ice Cream. WEIRD!

I know this is an odd post. However, Festivus is an odd celebration. If you don’t believe me, check out the website, A Festivus for the Rest of Us. 

Feel free to fill the comment sections with your grievances, or, if you MUST, send greetings, blessings and the like. Happy Festivus!

Madisonville, Louisiana (Sundays In My City)

Madisonville, Louisiana, is a charming waterfront community on the shores of the Tchefuncte River near Lake Ponchartrain. It’s a stone’s throw from the Causeway Bridge connecting it by vehicle to New Orleans, less than an hour away. For most of its existence, Madisonville was a  little village on the water’s edge centered on fishing and boat-making. The center of town, along the main highway, Route 22, still retains its charm, although many other areas of the town are now inhabitated by weekenders and commuters with large sprawling homes and pleasure boats in the marina.

Let’s forget about the yachts and McMansions, shall we? Here’s a look at the old part of Madisonville that brings weekenders out for strolling along the banks, the numerous festivals, and the fresh local seafood.  Part of the charm is waiting on the bridge that divides the main highway, Route 22, near the town, causing vehicle long waits in the process.

Route La 22, Little Joe's Food Store
Route La 22, Little Joe’s Food Store
Old Creole House, Madisonville, Louisiana
Old Creole House on piers, Madisonville, Louisiana
pleasure boat
Cruising along the Tchefuncte River
Hot Boiled Seafood is the main attraction

The post is linked to Sundays in My City, hosted by the inimitable Unknown Mami.