Covington Farmers Market

Every Saturday morning, the yard between the courthouse and police station fills with vendors. These folks offer fresh food, prepared foods, plants, and even seafood. In the middle stands a gazebo where local musicians play a fiddle, guitar or the like as shoppers browse and sample the wares.

I go almost every week. The diversity of the products as well as the people surprise me. The shrimp come from an old gentleman who is a native of Vietnam. His English is poor, but the Gulf shrimp are big and fresh off the boat. The Italian cookies and artichoke pies are made and sold by Brazilian immigrants of Italian descent. The fresh beef is raised on a farm owned by an American and oddly, his Costa Rican wife.

Did I mention the pralines? The coconut pralines were the best I have ever eaten even if the price was outrageous: $3 per small praline. By the way, she was the only African-American vendor at the market. In this part of the world, diversity is good, as long as we keep a respectable quota on the darker members of the community.

Covington Farmers Market
Covington Farmers Market has directional markers on the state highway running through town.
overview
Musicians take center stage at Market every Saturday.
pupusas
These pupusas on the grill were made by a couple hailing from Honduras and El Salvador. Yum!
praline bits
Samples of pralines from the Praline Lady. Oh, my! They were divine.
wine lady
Serendipity wine owner from Bush, Louisiana, looks happy, as any wine lover should be.

Join us for Sundays in My City, even if my offering is a Saturday affair, at Unknown Mami’s blog. SIMC

The Dog in St. Tammany Parish (Sundays In My City)

The Dog has been a big part of my life since I moved back to the US from Honduras nearly a year ago. He’s longer needed as a guard dog, but I have tried to give him a somewhat meaningful life as a companion animal. Since the US is more calm in many respects than Honduras, we actually take long walks in our parish (county in other parts of the nation).

He has a calmer persona than the machissimo attitude he portrayed in Latin America. If he were running for office, I think his new attitude would go further in the polls long-term than the loud stuff he used as his signature style in the past. Another thing to note, I don’t think he would approve of laws in the South that prohibit hunting with dogs for most of the season. He takes it personally when he can’t pursue to the end a deer, squirrel, or gator run or even the occasional lunge at the annoying gringa in the neighborhood.

10841980_4948770094525_195102956626059378_o
The Dog at Fountainebleau State Park
FullSizeRender (1)
The Dog at Bogue Chitto State Park
IMG_2307
The Dog at Hunting Lodge
IMG_2423
The Dog behind English Tea Room
IMG_2826
Shop in Covington, Louisiana. No dog in picture because he’s not interested in weapons. The Dog can’t get a hunting or fishing license, either.

The pSIMCost is linked to Sundays In My City, which is sponsored by Unknown Mami.

 

The Noise-Maker

The Dog
The Dog

Ask anyone who has visited my home whether in the US or in Honduras about their first impression of their visit, and invariably, their first response is concerning The Dog. He’s a classic black and tan German shepherd, uncommonly large but not fat, weighing 100 pounds or over.

Not to brag, but he’s quite a stand-out. Just a few days ago, I stopped for gas with the dog in the backseat. As I parked, two ladies walking from inside the store approached, began to speak excitedly, noting what a beautiful dog he is.  A man in a pick-up paused momentarily, flashing a smile filled with gold teeth, nodding his agreement to the assessment that the ladies pronounced over my canine.

Earlier that same day, I stopped for breakfast, driving through a take-out window at a local fast-food joint. The woman at the window exclaimed at The Dog reclining on the backseat, and she held up the serving line by calling other employees to view the marvel in my car. I sometimes tire of the accolades he receives because it’s largely due to genetics and good kibble.

He’s more than big and showy.

The Dog is uncommonly loud.

When he guarded my residence in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, he barked with such a tenor that a brass fellow on a shelf inside the house regularly lost his horn due to the bark of this massive dog. Grown men, even men with guns who guarded the neighborhood, reluctantly approached my home with multiple reassurances that The Dog was out of harm’s way. When I moved to Louisiana, a woman who lived on the next street complained that his early morning reveille bounced sound waves off her house.

Once, since moving to the US, he opened the door (he can open levered doors) to the laundry room where he was being held, and he ambled into the kitchen to say hello to my sister. My nearly sixty-year-old sister leaped four feet onto a high stool in one quick move, then climbed onto the countertop, showing her prowess in yoga as well respect for The Dog. She does have osteoporosis, so I am concerned about future leaps.

Do I love The Dog? Of course, I do. Is he the best dog on the street?  No, he is not. His temperament is tricky. Although he’s never bitten anyone, he’s had scarce opportunity to do so since his bark (as well as the occasional lunge) first attracts then repels people or animals. He has to be restrained for the sake of peace when in public.

Donald Trump speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor MD on February 27, 2015. (Photo by Jeff Malet)
The Donald (Photo by Jeff Malet)

Thus said, I wouldn’t vote for The Donald.  His temperament is tricky.

Red Car (Sundays in My City)

I have been enjoying life in the United States since returning in 2014. Perhaps the pace of life has caused me to forego writing and posting pictures as was my regular habit while living in Honduras.  Of course, maybe I just enjoy exploring in my red car in Louisiana since giving up my work and pick-up in Honduras.

Whatever the cause, I proffer a few glimpses of life around and about my small town. Some of these are photographs from Covington, Louisiana. My apologies. Abita Springs is a Very Small Town.

IMG_2822
Red Car Goes Shopping
Red Car Goes Antiquing
Red Car Goes Antiquing
IMG_2832
Red Car Goes to Park
Red Car Buys Local
Red Car Goes To Market
IMG_2827
Red Car Goes To Art Gallery
IMG_2838
Red Car Goes To Church

My apologies to the famed local artist, George Rodrigue and his muse Blue Dog, who inspired this insipid post. Rest in peace, Mr. Rodrigue. Your work deserves better, but I don’t have a blue dog, just a small red car.

SIMCThis post is linked to Sundays in My City, which is sponsored by the inimitable Unknown Mami.

Fountainebleau State Park (Sundays In My City)

Last Sunday, the day dawned misty, cool, and foggy. I went for a walk with my dog in Fountainebleau State Park, on the outskirts of Mandeville, Louisiana. We almost were completely alone in the shroud of fog and mist on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain.  In the mist, we discovered several groupings of does, most near the sugar mill ruins of the great plantation that once sat on these lands.

905783_10200471226500661_8140932789421298934_o

10847402_10200470597404934_8826223533925336649_oI saw more deer nearer the lake, but I only had a camera phone, not a camera with a scope lens. Besides I had a large German shepherd on a leash, so I decided against walking closer for more shots. These two will have to suffice.

whipping treeJPG

This tree’s wonderment cannot be captured by any lens, I am convinced. At least I cannot capture its essence. It’s beauty in its tortured, hurricane driven stance is impossible to see without pausing in wonder.

Maybe the Anglican hymn popularized in the All Things Bright And Beautiful series of James Herriot books captures the spirit of this majestic place better than most words.

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all

He gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell, how great is God Almighty, who has made all things well.

SIMC

Sundays in My City is sponsored by Unknown Mami. 

Red Eyes and Brassieres

blog laurieI haven’t written much lately as I contracted poison ivy on my face. I couldn’t see clearly for almost a week. I knew there were poison ivy in the back corners of the yard,  but lacking a gardener or goat, I knew it was up to me to tackle the weeds.

Amazon has a program, so I have heard, that allows one to rent a goat to clear weeds out. It’s not available yet in Louisiana. Supposedly they can eat poison ivy, whereas cows and such get sick from the weed.

The allergens first attached to my eyes while I lay sleeping Tuesday evening. It wasn’t a pretty sight that I saw, albeit not clearly, in the mirror in the morning. It appeared I had been possessed of a crying fit of mythical proportions.

The noxious weed spread its nefarious reach to my bosom, skipping the chin and neck. I  spent days cursing the invention of the brassiere, as my apparel cuts right across the rash’s path. In public, I try to maintain a bit of composure, but when I can steal a private moment, the sling is slung away, and relief comes, albeit briefly.

If one contracts a rash due to poison ivy, I recommend Zanfel. This wonder drug makes a paste when moistened. Apply, then wash off. The relief is almost instant.

I  debated seeing a doctor about this malady, as Zanfel can’t be used on the eyes, but after a day or two of blurred vision, my eyesight was restored. I also was concerned about a new doctor’s bill, as I am not 100% positive that I don’t owe $835 from my last eye exam.

As I conclude my little essay, I feel no itch, no discomfort. I can see. All is well in Laurielandia, as least as well as I can be. This rainy month may go down as #1 or surely #2 in the books. My new sunglasses purchased over a month ago have not been needed to block the sun yet, but I have used them to travel incognito around town to hide my weepy, red eyes.

My Exterior Life

“Where are you living?” is a question that I hear often from family and friends.  I moved to the US in mid-2014. The good Lord knows I am a wanderer at times, but I am in Louisiana again, folks. This is my street. The house number is not mine as it was not in existence when Google took this image.  I am on a wooded lane in Louisiana, about an hour’s drive from downtown New Orleans.

I live in a small village that is having growing pains as the wetlands to the south disappear and New Orleans continues to shrink due to decay, crime and the like. The area is filled with new settlers fleeing the south. Recently the good folk of Abita Springs, my small town, revived a local myth about the town. Abita was supposedly an Indian maiden whose name mean life. She used spring water from a cypress stump to heal the sick.

IMG_2676

Whether or not the tale was fact or fiction, we kept the water and made beer. Abita Beer is a fashionable hand-crafted beer that is produced here. It’s frightfully expensive, and I don’t care for the taste. Otherwise, I might have produced a photograph for you, but nay, I don’t like.

Okay, now you have it – the street view as well as the most prominent public figure of the town. Soon, details on the rest of my exterior life – such as details on gainful employment and such. One cannot remain a former missionary forever, after all.

An illustrated house and garden tour

Recently, a reader asked to see pictures of my Louisiana home. Since we, citizens of the US, are accustomed to sharing of all aspects of lives online as well as simultaneously obsessed with preserving privacy and security, I had to consider what I was willing to share with the dozen or so readers who occasionally poke into this neglected corner of the blogosphere. It’s quite the conundrum.

When I lived in Honduras, I felt confident that almost no one could find my address even if I had posted the physical address. I shared lots of details of my daily living arrangements from those years in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, which was a a labyrinth of streets, mostly nameless and numberless. If by chance, you happened upon the correct house, one would be greeted either by high windowless walls or a wrought-iron fence that was guarded by my German shepherd, whose enormity, fierceness and loud tenor caused most to move quickly and quietly away from my home.

IMG_2713Okay, enough dithering. Here’s the tour, albeit limited. As in the semi-tropics of Honduras, Louisiana is warm most of the year. It’s much wetter than Tegucigalpa, so plastic sandals are a must.

IMG_2698After donning sandals, we proceed to the backyard, where newly poured cement has been laid. The capped post will serve as a foundation for a clothesline. The cap will keep water from filling the foundation, as poles and lines need to be removed during tropical storms and hurricanes.

IMG_2699Living in the southeastern US means central air-conditioning and heat is a necessity. The climate is quite intemperate, save for a few days in early April (already too late – don’t come, I am warning you) and one day in October is often quite nice.

I have a well in my yard, too. It’s a fancy system with a separwellate filter alongside, that flushes through the black line in the picture every third day. My water quality is excellent.
IMG_2702 (1)

There are a few creatures in the ‘hood too. This crawfish is dead, an offering from the neighborhood heron population. They eat tails and leave the shells on posts, mailboxes and the like. My neighbor left Mardi Gras beads on her mailbox, which the herons take as a signal that shellfish are welcome.

IMG_2201BuBu, aka Iggy, is still around. Louisiana’s climate is wreaking havoc on his immune system. He’s been inside for almost 2 weeks, due to his nearly constant sneezing, coughing and scratching.

My office is my favorite room in my new home. I don’t care for wall-to-wall carpet, but the bedrooms came that way when I purchased the house. IMG_2693The rest of the house is wood or tile. IMG_2684

The beautiful cottage below is not my home.* It is an actual house in my village. It is typical of the cottages in Abita Springs, Louisiana.

*Due to the fact that my US home is not surrounded by high walls, wrought iron and an electrified fence as was the case in Honduras, I am not displaying the exterior of my home. Please see first paragraph for explanation of my utter ambiguity. 

Des Allemands, Louisiana (Sundays In My City)

blue godzilla2Blue King Kong* tempts wayward motorists to get a cup, a pint, and even a gallon or two for the road along US 90. My father’s ancestors settled in this small village near New Orleans almost over 200 years ago. Then, they migrated further westward, away from blue concrete creatures hawking sweet, intoxicating slush.

This postSIMC is linked to Unknown Mami, our host for Sundays In My City.

*Corrected. I had written in Godzilla. My apologies to the Japanese.

Speaking of Southern Comfort

SC logoSouthern Comfort is a liqueur invented by a bartender in New Orleans in the 1870s. The branding is ingenious. Life in and around The Big Easy is supposed to be, well, easy, isn’t it? And intoxicating as well, with cocktails wrought in the French Quarter.

Well, life isn’t always comforting nor intoxicating. For one thing, Southern Comfort is sold in varying strengths. If you are not observant, you may purchase less than 100 proof. And life in the South can be less than 100 proof comfort, too.

I moved north to Louisiana about six months ago, after nearly a decade in Honduras. I love home comforts, again. Soft beds, bathtubs, hot water, regular electricity, English spoken everywhere are very nice comforts.

Louisiana living isn’t paradise. I am reminded, in often rude ways, that my dog is too loud. Well, in Honduras, everyone and everything is loud. Amplified music and amplified dog barking were the norm, not the exception.

I forgot about the zealousness of rules here. There are laws regulating everything, some of which are very costly. I can’t drive without insurance in Louisiana. I have to buy homeowner’s insurance in order to qualify for a bank loan. Even getting a library card involves multiple forms wanting reams of personal information.

Then, there’s the high cost of comfort. I can’t buy a bag of fruit from a truck vendor on the corner. It’s against the law. Instead I have to pay high supermarket prices or even higher prices at legally sanctioned farmer’s market, who pass on the city fees to me, the consumer.

My very identity feels under siege as I adjust to life in the US again. Thank God I have had a period of time to adjust before I need to work again. All of this comfort is sometimes quite uncomfortable as I make the transition to my birth country.

Jesus promised in his last words to his disciples that in his place he would send The Comforter after he left this life. He was referring to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. I am glad that I can ask daily for the Spirit to dwell in this place, namely within me, so that wherever I live, I can have the comforting presence of God guiding me along the unexpected paths of life.

That’s true comfort, knowing Him, whether I live in a developing country or in the midst of southern comfort once again.

This entry is linked to Velvet Ashes, where expatriates and mission-minded folks are pondering what comfort means this week.