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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Louisiana: Delcambre: Blue Boats

Blue boats, Delcambre, Louisiana. August 2014.

Blue boats, Delcambre, Louisiana. August 2014.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Louisiana: Are You a Teacher?

Oh, how many times have I been asked that since I've lived in South Louisiana!

Strangers ask me this question, and it happened again just last night.

I respect teachers. And because South Louisiana must have more teachers per square inch than perhaps anywhere else in the world, I've had the pleasure of meeting many lovely representatives of the teaching profession here.

I have discussed this "are you a teacher?" question at some length with a local buddy, also a transplant from Not Around Here. He is of the opinion that he can identify a teacher from afar. His claim has some credibility because he used to be a teacher and had ample time to study many females of the species in their natural habitat. Last night I asked him to define exactly how one profiles a (woman) teacher, and here's what he said --> A woman is possibly a teacher if she wears a:
  • Jean skirt;
  • Flow-y skirt; 
  • Skirt that falls below the knees; 
  • Sandals with wide straps; 
  • Gabardine shirt;
  • Blouse that is worn over a skirt (i.e. not tucked in); 
  • Blouse or dress with a bold print; or
  • Shirt that covers her ass.  

He suggested I could probably go online and find websites devoted to what teachers wear. I said I would definitely do this, because based on my experience in South Louisiana, maybe my very own photo is on those websites as a Sample Teacher.

Here are the results of my search on what teachers wear. You be the judge of my buddy's analysis:

Teachers Have Lives, Too

Chioma's Evolution of Style

Pencil Lead and Lace

Again, I love teachers. But it's got to be said that teachers don't have the same panache as, say, librarians.With librarians you never know what they're going to do, like pull off their glasses, let down their hair from that tight bun, and you know, become very un-librarianlike while maintaining their presumed intellect. Librarians are unpredictable, thus a little dangerous. But not teachers. Nope, teachers go to prison for doing what librarians do.

This morning I shared my experience with several women, all of whom are native South Louisianans. I wondered if such queries might even be a local culture thing - maybe other people are approached with conjectures about their profession. Maybe it's just a conversation starter.

The jury's still out on all that, but we considered a couple of new responses to the question:

"Yes! I teach pole dancing! How could you tell?"

Flash a fake badge and say, "No, I'm with the FBI on an undercover operation, and things are about to pop. Move away or you might get hurt."

One of the woman said, "Well, what profession do you want people to think you have?"

Good question. I don't want them to have an assumption about my profession. If anyone is going to say anything, I'd like them to say to me what a stranger said to me in Bernalillo, New Mexico: "You are really having fun, aren't you?" and the answer would be yes.

Note: The fact that I am a teacher is beside the point. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lafayette, Louisiana: Sweet Baby Breezus!

Awhile back, one of my kind cultural informants introduced me to The French Press Cafe in Lafayette.

The menu seduces with smooth south Louisiana charm:

I remember my very first encounter with the sensual pleasure of a spoonful of Steen's Syrup. It felt like the shocking rush of a narcotic. Or what I imagine such to be. Not a substance to play with. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Louisiana: Lake Martin, Late Summer, #2

There's something about the lilypads on Lake Martin that draws me.

Lake Martin, Louisiana. September, 2014.

Lake Martin, Louisiana. September, 2014.

Lake Martin, Louisiana. September, 2014.

Lake Martin, Louisiana. September, 2014.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Louisiana: Lake Martin, Late Summer, #1

On a recent kayak tour on Lake Martin, I saw water droplets on lilypads that were more beautiful than any designer crystals. If I disturbed a leaf, the droplets moved like liquid creatures across the surface. 

Gad, how difficult it was for me and my companion to maneuver the kayak to the right spot and without movement to get a decent pic! Didn't quite succeed, but these are the best I could get:

Lake Martin, Louisiana, September 2014

Lake Martin, Louisiana, September 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Louisiana Lit: Katrina in a Nutshell

Titling a post "Katrina in a Nutshell" may sound grandiose.

But when I read the first chapter in James Lee Burke's book, Tin Roof Blowdown, I thought it might be one of the most powerful pieces of literature I'd ever read. When I say "powerful," I mean that in the sense of receiving a punch full in the face.

An excerpt from that chapter:

In the dream I [Dave Robicheaux] lie on a poncho liner [in Vietnam], dehydrated with blood expander, my upper thigh and side torn by wounds that could have been put there by wolves. I am convinced I will die .... Next to me lies a Negro corporal, wearing only his trousers and boots, .... his torso split open like a gaping red zipper from his armpit down to his groin, the damage to his body so grievous, traumatic, and terrible to see or touch he doesn't understand what has happened to him. 

"I got the spins, Loot. How I look?" he says. 

"We've got the million-dollar ticket, Doo-doo. We're Freedom Bird bound," I reply.  ... 

The Jolly Green [helicopter] loads up and lifts off, with Doo-doo and twelve other wounded on board. I stare upward at its strange rectangular shape, its blades whirling against a lavender sky, and secretly I resent the fact that I and others are left behind to wait on the slick and the chance that serious numbers of NVA are coming through the grass. Then I witness the most bizarre and cruel and seemingly unfair event of my entire life. 

As the Jolly Green climbs above the river and turns toward the China Sea, a solitary RPG streaks at a forty-five-degree angle from the canopy below and explodes inside the bay. The ship shudders once and cracks in half, its fuel tanks blooming into an enormous orange fireball. The wounded on board are coated with flame as they plummet downward toward the water. 

Their lives are taken incrementally - by flying shrapnel and bullets, by liquid flame on their skin, and by drowning in a river. In effect, they are forced to die three times. A medieval torturer could not have devised a more diabolic fate. 

..... When I wake from the dream, ...assure myself that the dream is only a dream, that if it were real I would have heard sounds and not simply seen images that are the stuff of history now and are not considered of interest by those who are determined to re-create them. 

... When I go back to sleep, I once again tell myself I will never again have to witness the wide-scale suffering of innocent civilians, nor the betrayal and abandonment of our countrymen when they need us most.  

But that was before Katrina. That was before a storm with greater impact than the bomb blast that struck Hiroshima peeled the face off southern Louisiana. That was before one of the most beautiful cities in the Western Hemisphere was killed three times, and not just by the forces of nature. 

 There's nothing I can add to that.