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Random Images while traveling the Deep South in October . . .

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Holiday Linky Love & Last Day for Sweetie deal

South Louisiana – LSU Lakes – Birds as Ornaments flocking the trees

For the holidays, here is some linky love. I’ll be back to “regular links” next Friday, but for today, I am posting those I happened upon this morning that had a holiday theme. I didn’t come across any with any other holidays besides Christmas, and if I had, I’d link to them as well – so if you have a different holiday tradition than Christmas, link it in the comments and I’ll update my post!

Despite my Grinchy post below, today I am feeling full of holiday cheer – and no, not because of vodka *sigh* oh, I still have not received my Crystal Head Vodka — I want that skull *laughing* to help my cheer along – dang it all! :-D

Then, there is the annual posting of the link for my Moonshine & Santy Claus – a quirky Santy and menopausal appalachian woman story, published by Vagabondage Press. And how interesting to see my bio then when I was ‘in the query process’ – well, dreams do come true, y’all *gratitude*

I love this blog – full of Appalachian everything and always positive: Blind Pig and the Acorn – Appalachia through my eyes – Christmas folklore

Michelle Teacress has a short video that made me tear up – *still sniffling* – it struck my heart: The Coat: A story of charity - it will warm your heart.

saw this in South Louisiana near LSU – laughing! love it -you can’t see the picture of the LSU coach Miles in that shiny square:-D

Speaking of charity – Every year I do Toys for Tots, and as well, I do the Angel Tree (look for those Christmas trees with “ornaments” hanging that have information on children you can purchase clothing and toys for), and another place I like to give memorial gifts on behalf of my brother, granny, and now my father, is Heifer International - I’m linking you to Nathan Bransford site, for he information there and an incentive. These are the things that take me outside of myself and remind me what this season is about: giving and charity and loving and remembering. It’s especially for the children. You may have your own charities, but if not, these are wonderful places to think about giving. But, yes, people need us all year round, no matter the season – however, during the holidays, harder times are oft-times more keenly felt.

And the Pudgy Penguin has on his santy suit  (so cute) and is having a book give-away. Even if you don’t enter, just a look at that penguin makes a smile.

And, last time I’ll be mentioning my book like a used car salesman (no offense to any car salesmen *laugh*), but it’s the last day of the One-Week Deal at Amazon where SWEETIE is discounted for this promo. (Firefly Dance, the anthology, is on that same deal.)

Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

And now, I will leave you with an oldie but goodie – Christmas Lights Gone Wild

Random Photos: South Louisiana Early May 2011

boiled Louisiana Gulf Shrimp 
I was in South Louisiana last weekend & snapped some photos – enjoy!

fried catfish

Hymel’s in Convent, La - food above is from there
Paulina, Louisiana

My second ever painting – went to Canvas on the Rocks with Alaine again – LOVE Canvas on Rocks!

Fest For All 2011 & Beloved Grandfather Oak

Old State Capitol Baton Rouge

inside of Magnolia

George’s Baton Rouge

Spillway

This is the large (HUGE) nest -you can see the bird there

oh the spanish moss!

Inside Old State Capitol, BR

New Orleans skyline

Fest for All 2011 – lawd

Canvas on Rocks, Baton Rouge

Coon pic yesterday in my little cove; Coon leg eatin’ in South Louisiana – LAWD!

yes it is a coon leg – GAAAAACK!
folks, while I’m trying to decide what to do about my blogging schedule, I have, however, decided that at least until I make my deadline for this novel, starting next week I will write a post only once a week on Wednesday and the other two days I will only post a video or photo(s) without words. For now, some of you may remember these — Enjoy from Fest For All last year 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Lawd be.  

our visiting coon – which we will not be eating thank you very much South Louisiana! :-D laughing

South Louisiana will feed feed feed you . . .

While in Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Book Festival, I did not for moment go hungry . . .
Go to South Louisiana and you will be fed, you will be fed often, and you will be fed cheerfully. They think if you are not living in South Louisiana, you are starving, you are lacking in what is known as “good eating.” Go to South Louisiana and be prepared to taste—taste the spice (which is not only pepper and cayenne and Tabasco as some “not Louisiana” restaurants seem to think, but the spices, the heat, the eclectic mix of spice and imagination), the gulf shrimp, the oysters, the crawfish, the catfish, the boiling frying grilling blackening, the jambalaya, the gumbo, the etoufee, community coffee, bread pudding, George’s, Louie’s, Don’s, Hymels (which is part grocery, part bar, part gas station), Mike Anderson’s and Ralph & Kacoos been there forever restaurants, the bait stores that are also groceries with cheeses and wines and Stage Plank gingerbread, french bread, po’boys—even hamburger po’boys . . . yes, they will feed you.

Don’t say “Well, I’m a Flexetarian. I’ve just about given up meat . . .” Say that in South Louisiana? Ha! You will be told you must have meat for protein! You will find meat on your plate. They don’t see it as meat—South Louisianians see it is Needed, a Requirement. I do not eat pork, and this causes the raised-up eyebrows. No bacon? Nope, no bacon. No hamhocks? Nope. No sausage? No no no! Step into a restaurant in South Louisiana and you may not find a vegetable on the menu, unless it is cooked with fatback or saltpork or a big hunk of poor little petal puss the pig.

Some restaurants fry fry and more fry, everything on the menu is fried, even dessert. Oh, but if you indulge as you will indulge because everyone is saying “Eat eat eat! eat eat eat! eat eat eat!” then you will never go back to plain ole fried food again—did I say Spice is King in South Louisiana? And even the smallest most awkward looking eatery knows how to cook with those spices, and knows how to fry.

Don’t you Dare go to certain chain seafood restaurants that boast a big ass lobster on their sign; no no, not in South Louisiana, although you mayfind them occupied down there anyway by tourists who do not know better; however, for sale signs abound in chain seafood restaurants; oh, but I’m sure even those chain Scred Bropster type places put the South Louisiana touch on their food.

Go to South Louisiana and they will feed you, then after you are so full you can only pat your tummy and say “Please, no more! no more!” (I actually got tired of eating! I actually got sick of food! Imagine!) then they will take you around and show you their Place. Don’t go in June, July, August, September unless you are used to 150% humidity and near-100 degree heat—the combination that leaves one wilted and a bit sick to one’s stomach. You only THINK you know how hot it is; you only THINK you know what heat and humidity is; you will KNOW it once you spend a summer’s day in South Louisiana. Here’s a way to know how if feels: go to your local gym and step inside the sauna turned up high; sit there for an hour and when you come out drenched in sweat, about to puke from the heat, well, that’s a South Louisiana summer you step out into. So, when you go, in the spring (which can still be quite hot) they will show your full-stomached self around. They will say—

see our grandfather oaks? their branches touch the ground, the moss blows in the warm breeze. see our cypress and cypress knees? see Louisiana State University and the Fighting LSU Tigers and their Golden Girls and the Marching Band, the white pelicans that come in winter, the brown pelican that is the state bird—Louisiana-the Pelican State. see Huey Long’s phallic symbol (okay, I call it that, chances are your guide will not say that . . . they will call it the Baton Rouge State Capitol Building). see the unique architecture? the swamps? the gator? the white croaked-calling egrets? the stately blue heron? see the mardi gras beads still hanging from the trees and wires? see the church, see the steeple, open it up and see all the diversified people.

Go to South Louisiana and they will feed you, not just food, but feed your soul and your eyes and your spirits. It’s a place like no other, that I can guarantee you.

FOR THOSE WHO ARE ASKING WHAT A POBOY IS: That photo above of the sandwich with the fried shrimp spilling out of it is a poboy. You can make a poboy out of any kind of meat or food- but you need the right bread – good french bread – where it’s kind of soft and fluffy on the inside, but crispy on the outside, so you bit into it and it crunches but doens’t fall all apart or break apart. You can have it “dressed” or not dressed – dressed means like having tomato and lettuce on it versus not having L&T on it – if I say I want it “dressed” – I know it’ll have everything on it – lettuce tomato, mayo, maybe onion in some instances….

(google image from: www.poboyexpress.com)

Louisiana Book Festival (and volunteers & staff)

The day of the book festival, I climbed out of my hotel bed with cotton clouds in my head, threw on some clothes, and headed down to the Hampton Inn’s lobby to find coffee. After two cups and some yogurt, I still felt a bit discombobulated. Showered, put on my Authory Clothes, and GMR and I headed to downtown Baton Rouge—to the state capitol grounds where the festivities were to be festivitied.

The night before at the authors’ party, as we walked towards the state library, I watched as even in the dark the volunteers and state library personnel were working hard to set up tents and various and sundry other things that I and others would take for granted the next day. While I ate and drank and laughed in my dress and heels, those volunteers and staff were working. Even those at the party had a job to do. I can’t say enough how appreciative I am for what they do and how they do it. And, of course, everyone knows South Louisiana knows how to put on a party!

I can only imagine the amount of work that goes into a book festival of this size. Not only do the Louisiana State Library staff, and volunteers, have to corral and manage and feed and water and et cetera the writers who were presenting, but there were other exhibitors, and there was food, and music, and books and people and—this Louisiana Book Festival is a huge event. Last year they estimated over 21,000 people attended and thousands of books were sold. I don’t know the numbers in the aftermath of 2009’s festival, especially with our weak economy, but even half that would be impressive to me.

GMR and I parked in the spot designated for those who had a special parking pass. Already I felt embraced. A bit “special.” We headed in to the state capitol building to look for the author’s lounge area, where they had volunteers to give writer’s their lanyards with their name and “presenter” or whatever, and where there was coffee, soft drinks (or in Louisiana they also call everything “coke”), and food. I have to give a shout out again to the volunteers and state library staff—at every turn someone asked, “Can I get you anything? Do you need a ride? Can I help you find something?” It was amazing.

Once settled in, GMR and I decided to walk the festival, find the booksigning tent, and just look about until it was time for my panel. My cotton-cloud head was feeling a bit clearer, but I do admit I was a little nervous—would people come to my panel? Would the other author on my panel like how I presented myself? Would anyone come to my booksigning table afterwards? It’s an author pressure I never knew about until I became an author, and it squeezes my innards into a tight ball of anxiety–I don’t want to let anyone down, not the State Library, the bookseller, the publisher, et cetera.

The Louisiana State Capitol grounds are unique and the area is the perfect place for a festival. They can close it off to traffic, and more important, it is just a lovely place to have an event. The capitol grounds’ gardens are stunning—big granddaddy oaks with heavy limbs touching the ground, magnolias, other flowering plants and trees, the big phallic symbol of Huey Long rising up to the sky (teehee), and a statue of Huey himself facing his symbol of power.

Stretched out on the road before the capitol grounds were tents full of books, food, music, and drink. And threading throughout all of this were the people. Soon, it was time to head back to the capitol building to prepare for my panel. I’ll talk about that tomorrow . . .

Google image of the back of Huey: http://pics4.city-data.com/cpicv/vfiles8831.jpg

The thread of friendship stretches, but will not be broken–

I was born in West Virginia, but I have also lived in (no particular order because that’s how we sometimes moved): Virginia; Alpha and Dayton Ohio; Jacksonville (or was it Jackson?) and Fort Worth Texas, Shreveport and then Baton Rouge, Louisiana (where I lived in at least eleven different homes); and my Final Home, the little log house in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Home is important to me. Belonging. Finding roots to set far into the earth.

Visiting South Louisiana brings out varied emotions—I feel like a tourist, but at the same time, I lived there for many years. And, I left behind good friends there—a solid group of friends it took me into my forties to find, and a teenaged friend I have found again after not seeing each other for years. But it is always with a sense of relief when I see those mountains rising up in front of me as I round a corner in my BoopMobile. Just as I feel a sad seep into my bones when I see the mountains retreating in my rearview.

Even so, I can now feel excitement when I cross into the Louisiana State Line and know I’ll see my friends and know the food will be good and those granddaddy oaks will rise above me with their Spanish moss hanging, and the egrets flying over water water water water, slooowww moving water, the LSU flags, the cars and people and, well, all those things from the post below.

This trip was with a purpose—the Louisiana Book Festival. I can’t tell you how honored and happy I was to be invited. I’d attended a few of them myself, when I lived in Louisiana, and always in the back of my brain was the thought, “I hope I can do this one day as an author.” Getting that invitation from the Book Festival folks had me yippe yo kai yaying and whoohoooing!

On Friday night, at the author’s party, I stood in my black dress and heels, lipsticked and mascaraed, a glass of wine in my hand, a big ole grin slipping round my lips, and I looked out over the crowd of people. I had a badge on! I was an author this time! I saw Wally Lamb across the room and knowing our friend Angie Ledbetter (Gumbo Writer) loves him, and also knowing Angie was coming to the author’s party, I stepped over to him and said, “I have a friend in love with you and she’ll be here soon . . .” He smiled, introduced me to his wife, we said whatever we said, and then I said my goodbyes. Later, when Angie and I were standing around, eating from a heaping plate of fried fish and other Louisiana delicacies (oh, all the food was good – including the chocolate fountain we later found); I glanced across the room and saw Wally Lamb and his lovely wife listening to another gentleman. I said, “Come on; I told him you loved him . . .” Angie and I headed over there and as soon as Mr. Lamb turned to us (which was quick as a flea’s blink!), I introduced Angie to him and stepped back to watch. Teeheehee. Angie said, “I can cross this off my bucket list now…” Made me laugh and smile.

Later in the evening, Angie and I escaped outside to sit in the cooling Louisiana night. The jazz band’s music and the lights from the State Library filtered out in that way that gives the impression of the party, but leaves it separate. I knew the next day I’d have my panel and book signing, and I admit I was a bit nervous. But right then, it was just my friend and me, sitting on the concrete steps, looking out at that night, being friends, wishing we didn’t live so far apart. For a moment, I could almost forget I lived 11 or so hours away; almost forget I didn’t leave my friend far behind to find my Home. The thread of friendship stretches far but never breaks. Still. I miss her greatly. We chatted a while, in our dressy clothes, our make-up, our missing each other.
The Louisiana night sky hovered above those two friends and covered them. The next day’s activities were far enough off to leave the evening peaceful, but filled with anticipation. But then, right then, it was all about the friends, nothing else was important.

I turned to my good friend; she turned to me. We smiled, wistful. That thread between friends is strong and will never be broken. I sit here now writing this and feel a bit like crying. Her Home is South Louisiana. My Home is the Mountains. Our thread is stretched far and wide.

Friday Shoot Outs: Signs & Leisure(from last friday)

I’ve been enjoying the cleaning up our manuscripts posts on dangling participles, similes, tic words, and “body parts that do things on their own” . . . now for just a little break for Friday Shoot Out!

This Friday Shoot Out is: Signs, and from last week I think I can include Leisure. I think these photos could encompass both, since a vacation is leisure, right?

We are “supposed” to do “our town,” but this town happens to be Las Vegas (and one from Spanish Town Mardi Gras in BR at the bottom). I went to LV in July, with my brother Tommy (and in earlier posts I told some stories of our trip).

A thought to consider for today or the weekend….Sometimes we say, or will hear someone say, “In My Next Life, I . . . “

What would you do in your next life you couldn’t or can’t or won’t or didn’t do in this one, if you were to come back as someone/something else? This isn’t a trick question, where I will say, “Then do it!” this is meant only for fun. Or, if you will, what do you want to look like in your next life, or do you even want to be human? Sometimes I’ll say, “In my next life, I will be tall and have long thick glorious hair.”

So, complete the sentence: “In my next life, I will . . . ” (look like, do, be, find, enjoy, become . . . etcetera!). Have a nice Friday, or weekend if you take a blog break! I’ll be back with some other “cleaning up our manuscripts” posts
(and later I’ll post more Las Vegas Trip stories, since these photos are reminding me – as well as Top Chef is on Bravo right now and it is in Vegas! meemoorrieessss….)

As I’ve said in other posts, it was hard to take good photos in vegas because of perspective – the sheer size, the crowds, things in the way…etc.

our hotel room at Cesars

the mall was full of designer stores…I gawked

I have included this one from the Baton Rouge Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade from this past spring (when Rog and I visited there) – the famous Spanish Town Capitol Grocery with all its signs in the window and the signs on the t-shirts of the employees doling out food! Food is EVERYTHING in South Louisiana!

Take me home, or curving roads…to the place I belong! Mountain Mama; I am home….

Home. All the snow melted before I arrived and it has warmed up enough to open the door. The breeze blows the chimes and the creek rushes — oh home on my mountain cove at Killian Knob!

Last night, our old fat raccoon came calling to the squirrel feeder. She was early –as very old people who go to cafeterias do. Oh, what am I saying? I am like an old country granny sometimes as I eat my dinner at 4′o’clock–while watching Golden Girls (when they are on).

I have so much to do, but last night I slept the sleep of one who is so exhausted they just drop down, drop far down, drop long way down, drop deep into the far reaches of nothingness of sleep. I know I dreamed at some point, but do not remember them. Far far far down I fell. Deep and heavy. I woke only two or three times. This morning when I woke, I was disoriented….where am I? What? Who? When? How? I rose from my bed, the morning sunshine slipping through the windows – and my legs were actually shaky. I blinked. I put on my robe and shuffled to splash my face with cold water. In the kitchen, I poured cup 1 of Deep Creek Blend. We later took a mountain walk to clear my head. It is still a bit swirly, but better.

I hope to get by to visit you today, but if you do not see me today, you will tomorrow. I thank you thank you for still coming by even though I have not been round your places — please know it is only because of circumstance of the novel and travel and etc…..soon, I will have to work on the second novel draft (oh thank gawd it is partly written already!). What a problem to have though, right? *smiling* — what a problem to have….ah.

Later my friends. Thank you to all you who have pre-ordered Tender Graces – *muwah* — and thank you for all your kind words. and for visiting. and for commenting. For everything you do.
(And later I’ll tell you some good news I have — I’m rushing now. )

Where have all my flowers gone?

My dear friends – I am still in South Louisiana! I hope you will forgive me for not visiting as I am on my computer only a few minutes in the morning.

As well, I hope to have some quiet time so I can look for the winner of the two books! I apologize that I have not done that right away as I usually have done with the other ‘contests.’

My son will be heading back to Oregon early tomorrrow morning, so I’ve been spending a lot of time with his and….his New Fiance! Yes! He has asked his gf to marry him – or did I tell you all that? I’m so happy for them. In between visiting with my son and fiance; I am trying to see all my friends, too — so, I am here there and yonder.

I’m also quite worried about my mother’s husband – he’s a lovely man and I adore him and he’s ill right now. Please keep him in your thoughts…

The photo above is the house I lived in while I was in Baton Rouge before I moved back to the mountains. I loved that cottage – real wood floors, a nice sunroom where I did most all my writing and where Virginia Kate first took her first forms. We always were sad that the previous owners had cut down a big oak tree in the front yard – we had plans to plant another tree, but never did get to it. In the back were an oak tree, a magnolia tree, Louisiana Iris, and on the side were Camelias; there were lagustrums, and in the front bed were these full lush beautiful yellow flowers that I’ve forgotten the name of, but they are dug out of the bed – the new owner must not have known what they were. But, I would not go back to that house or to So. La. – because the mountains are Home.
I’ll return soon – *muwah*

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