tiny red lightsWe’ve had weeks of rain. Some days, torrential, and others light but steady. Grey and darkening skies have become a constant this December in Louisiana. While on a nature walk, I had time for one or two pictures before a downpour chased me away. This one tree with lights drew my attention.

On my way home after the walk, I noted some homes in my neighborhood passed the season with lights and decorations surrounding their homes. I enjoyed seeing each neighbor’s display as they interpreted the season. A few homes on the street are very dark, without decorations, lights, or even a lamp inside on in the evening. I am curious about those sitting in darkness in such times of dark weather as well as news daily of violence, terrorism and such.

My prayer for those in physical or spiritual darkness this season has often centered on this verse that was used to prophesy the coming of Jesus.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.  Isaiah 9:2

Jesus is the light of my life. Without him, the darkness would not be just on the outside, but inside me as well. I hope and pray we all embrace the Light of the World this season. He is the Light of the World.


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.


happy tday

I want to offer my gratitude for all of you who have offered prayers, thoughts, and comments as I journaled my thoughts and stories through the years. The children pictured above are some of the children that I worked with while living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Even though Thanksgiving is not celebrated as a holiday in Honduras, giving thanks is universal, or at least it should be. These kids often expressed in prayer or thoughts about their gratitude for many things: parents, food we provided, football (soccer), even our lessons and books were dearly appreciated as the poor of this world don’t enjoy much variety or choices in schooling or resources.

If you have a house, food, clean water, and clothes, be thankful. While many of us may  have challenges with our health, finances, employment, etc., if you have access to the internet to read this, you have a wealth of resources compared to the poor of this world. Wherever you may be today or whatever is your state, I pray you will be blessed today with the knowledge that you are loved. I hope you have a table with abundant food, family and friends to share today.

Riding in Cars with Pets

11892473_10200958670366453_6210215544902797380_oI wrote a few posts over the past month or so about riding in cars with sisters. Today, I will not be writing about sisters. My sisters are employed full-time and have busy lives with husbands and children. They are far too busy for road trips with me. One just got back from a trip to the Promised Land, i.e. Texas. That’s the term that we in Louisiana use when referring to Texas.

Texas is the land where the roads have more pavement than potholes, and the politicians tend to avoid federal prison. Over yonder, young people finish high school. It’s a Biblical nirvana of milk and honey when compared to Louisiana

Instead of my sisters, I am traveling the highways with my German Shepherd. He’s old. He’s cranky. He’s loud.

When we’re in the car, he often hangs his head out of the window, tongue wagging and ears flapping in the breeze.  Since he’s cranky, he’s inclined to do more than enjoy the sunshine. He barks.

He barks unusually loud. People’s reflexes are good in Louisiana, by and large, as I see old people jump up several feet and lunge for safety when Bubu lets out a bark.

When I reach 55 miles per hour in the Hyundai, he pulls his head inside the car. He leans back on his haunches, and we talk. Often, we talk politics and religion – two subjects I try to avoid with humans.

Today, we headed towards bayou country. Bubu proffered that he’s uncomfortable with David Vitter, the Republican candidate for governor of Louisiana. My dog surfs cable TV when I’m gone for the day.

He’s not liking Vitter’s ads.  In fact, my dog is offended. One of the candidate’s ads featured a German Shepherd thanking David Vitter for his work in the Senate to outlaw dog fights.

“I can hold my own, ” says Bubu. “I don’t need a US Senator to fight my battles.” I reckon he’s right. I have seen it twice – pit bulls running from the mighty jaws of my 100 pound fur-beast.

“Well,” I told my furry friend, “I think David Vitter won’t win. We’ll see tomorrow night after the polls close. He’s failed to capture the good will of the people of Louisiana, let alone the dogs.”

BuBu believes that dogs and humans should be more authentic.

“Don’t send us to doggie spas or doggie day-care,” he said. “Just toss us a cow femur or a deer antler once in awhile.”

We agreed that humans should act like humans, too,  not like, you know, pets.

“It’s high time,” I said to BuBu, “that we let go of fear of other humans. Whether the man or woman is Christian, Muslim, Arab or French, we should strive for peace.

BuBu read on Facebook today (yes he’s got his own account*) that the Canadians aren’t afraid of Syrian refugees. Canada is moving forward to welcome 25,000 Syrians by the end of the year. Folks, that’s just six weeks away.

Well, which is the Promised Land? Where should the Dog and I go for a Christmas holiday? Texas or Canada?

*Want to be friends with Bubu on Facebook? Connect here.