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Monday, February 22, 2016

Rootless Relocation: Sold My Stuff - Again

My red chair bed, now with a new family.

With my departure from Lousiana imminent, it became time again to shuck off stuff that I won't take with me when I leave. When I left New Mexico, I left with a very full car. I wanted to do things differently this time, taking only the barest quantity of durable goods. 

Yesterday I sold all of the furniture I didn't want to take with me, in one fell swoop.

I put the lot onto craigslist for one price. Within two hours of my posting, my buyers contacted me, came to look at it, and took it away.

My red chair bed, now with a new family.

My beautiful red chair bed; you were in the lot. I will miss you. Such a rich, dark red. Your nubby fabric. The spare elegance of your lines.

My red chair bed, now with a new family.

I will miss the adventures of pushing you in and then pulling you of my car in the last three years. Of rolling you up and down staircases. Of dragging you over sidewalks on a tarp. Well, no, I won't miss any of those adventures. But I will miss your classy good looks.

My red chair bed, now with a new family.

Another sentimental sale in the lot was my poster from the Yukon, which I bought when my daughter and I took that road trip to Alaska so many years ago.

A poster from road trip to Alaska, now in a new home.

But I can come visit these pretties online any time I want.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Goodbye Louisiana: Letting Go of the Beads

Mardi Gras beads. Louisiana.

At my year-end intermission from Louisiana in 2014/2015, I turned in most of my beads to the local library for recycling. I knew it wouldn't be long before I'd recoup the same quantity or more when I returned in 2015.

And so it went.

Now I'm turning in my beads again to the local library, but this time it's for good.

Good-bye, my little pretties.

Mardi Gras beads. Louisiana.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Learning to Dance, Part 6: It Takes a Village

Cowboy Symposium, Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Lessons are good and even practicing steps in front of a mirror are good. But it takes a village to teach a dancer.

A sampling of native, transplant, and visiting villagers in South Louisiana who have helped me learn how to dance:

Agnes C.
Brian M.
Charles R.
Dale N.
Dennis W.
Doug from the Blue Moon
Doug Mc
Frank S.
Geoff R. 
Hannah B.
Harold ("Fred")
Jay M. ("and then there was a beautiful breeze")
Jeff B.
John D.
John R.
Kathleen Mc
Kay W.
Jacques ("shall we do the same ol' shit again?")
Mike H.
Paul S. ("1, 2, 3, 4. ...1, 2, 3, 4")
Ray H.
Ted C.
The Other Ted, the one who dances with that other woman from Missouri
Theresa I.
T.J. L.
Tony L.
Wilfred K. 

Thank you.

Related posts:

Learning to Dance, Part 1: Solving for X
Learning to Dance, Part 2: The Tao of Following
Learning to Dance, Part 3: The Pause
Learning to Dance, Part 4: Signals
Learning to Dance, Part 5: Anticipation

Monday, February 8, 2016

Elton, Louisiana: Ceaser's Mardi Gras Chicken Run

Ceaser's Mardi Gras Chicken Run 2016. Elton, Louisiana.

Saturday was the annual Ceaser's Mardi Gras Chicken Run in Elton, Louisiana. This particular run is a junior offshoot of a Ceaser's run that an elder generation puts on. That one takes place in or near a town called Soileau, if my trailer companions were correct.

Ceaser's Mardi Gras Chicken Run 2016. Elton, Louisiana.

Friends and I arrived at the Elton-based run about 10 or so Saturday morning. Inside the stable, there was a wood fire blazing within a drum. Two men, an uncle and his nephew, tended big pots of neonatal gumbo. It would be ready for eating by the time the trail riders returned to base in mid-afternoon. 

Ceaser's Mardi Gras Chicken Run 2016. Elton, Louisiana.

Flatbed trailers with folding chairs were parked in the pasture and alongside the road. Horseback riders began to arrive, either riding over from nearby homes, or via horse trailers and pickups. A family event, trailer and horse riders included children, adolescents, and adults.

Ceaser's Mardi Gras Chicken Run 2016. Elton, Louisiana.

Albeit tiny, Elton attracts me because it is a cultural intersection of Coushatta Indians, Creoles, and Cajuns. Once our ride got underway, with trailers leading and horses following, we wound our way through the village.

In front of a Baptist Church, the retinue stopped for drink replenishment, to use the port-a-john, sing, and dance. Was there irony in our stopping in front of the Baptist Church, a bastion of teetotalism? Or does a Baptist Church in South Louisiana take on some of the laissez-fairedness of the Catholic Church in some matters?

I held the reins of a man's horse while he used the port-a-john. The port-a-john rattled and shook from the jostling of its attached trailer bed, enhanced by the nearby rocking sound of speakers that accompanied our street merriment.

Presently, we pulled ourselves together and reloaded, after which we proceeded to an open field. There, the hosts facilitated some chicken runs ... um ... let's call them chicken tosses, into the air, with children ready to run them to ground.

Ceaser's Mardi Gras Chicken Run 2016. Elton, Louisiana.

(Just so's you know, there were four chickens to start with. One escaped into a residential area after an exciting chase by the kids. The other three ended back in their shared cage, having survived several chases. The chicken in the gumbo we enjoyed when we got back to the home base was not so fortunate, but we had not been introduced to her previously.)

In the video below, one of the men led a traditional Mardi Gras song in French:

And then more dancing, of course!

Eventually, we returned to our trailers and horses, and made our way back to base. The gumbo was ready - so welcome on this chilly afternoon.

A slide show of the day below:

A fine day.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Passport Ritual and the Beginning of Good-Bye

Moving house, Louisiana.
Today I sent in my passport renewal application.

Today is the first day of my last month in South Louisiana.

It is a good day to remember what Temperance "Bones" Brennan once said about what her future held:

"I await my own surprise."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Flashback to December 2010: Guatemala May Be in My Future

On December 22, 2010, I wrote this post: Guatemala May Be in My Future:

Guatemala May Be in My Future

This apartment rents for $700 per month at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Perfect for a vacation, especially with a roomie or two

I wonder if there's a language school in the area. Will have to check.  

As nice as the above is, apparently one can find hotel rooms (private bath + wireless) for less than $200 per month.

On today, December 22, 2015 --> Stay tuned.

Monday, December 7, 2015

South Louisiana: Buggy Mayhem

Within days of making South Louisiana my temporary home - back in November 2013 - I noticed two things:
  1. Parking lots strewn with shopping carts (aka "buggies"), abandoned willy-nilly by departed customers, taking up valuable parking lot spaces, even handicap spaces; and 
  2. That maddening phenomenon in which an individual squats like a fat spider in a parking lane, waiting for her target parking spot to free up, when the customer hasn't even quite arrived at his vehicle yet, much less unloaded his purchases or got into his car, thereby said spider jamming up traffic for everyone else. 
Dear South Louisianans, I love you, and I'd like you to know that the above behaviors are NOT universal. In most communities, inhabitants actually park their carts in the corrals designed precisely for such a purpose. As for the squatting, I see this happen in other regions, but usually it's restricted to prime holiday-shopping times.

I mentioned the buggy abandonment to a native South Louisianan recently. She looked startled for a moment, then said, "Oh, I do that all the time! I never even thought about it. I don't know why I do it."

Sometimes, when looking out upon the field of scattered buggies, I consider theories of how this custom might have originated: 
  1. Someone Else Theory: "It's someone else's job to put the buggies away, not mine." (Or you could substitute "someone else" with Mom.) 
  2. Job Protection Theory: "If we put away our own carts, someone might lose their job." 
  3. I'll Be Damned Theory: "I work hard all week and I'll be damned if I'm going to put away the buggy. Let the store do it, by God, they take enough money from me as it is."  
  4. Everyone Else Does It Theory: "Everybody else does it. If I put away my buggy, I'll look stupid / weak." 

Is the buggy-abandonment tradition tied to the sad litter problem in South Louisiana?  I don't know, but it seems possible. On the other hand, New Mexico also has a litter problem, but based on my anecdotal observations, New Mexicans put their carts away. (According to this article, Louisiana is one of the 11 most littered states in the country.)

I met a woman once who makes a practice of herding abandoned carts into the proper corrals. She does it as a way to give anonymous service to others, which helps her in her personal growth. Frankly, this would never have occurred to me as something to do, but ever since she told me of her practice, I follow it on occasion, too.

Oh, and here is The Parking Lot Jesus:

When I encounter a habit that appears irrational on the surface, I remember a story.

Some years back, in a village in South Africa, the elders dug a well in the middle of town. There was much gladness for the well because girls and women no longer had to walk a long way to the nearest stream to gather water. The close-by well saved time and energy that could be devoted to other pursuits.

But shortly after the well was dug, vandals broke the mechanism designed to draw the water up. The village made repairs, but again, vandals broke the mechanism. Why someone would do harm to such a wonderful amenity was inexplicable! This happened one or two more times before the vandals were caught.

The culprits were adolescent boys. Why did they do it? Hahahaha - they did it because the well had closed off their opportunity to flirt with the girls when they walked down to the stream to get water. What had appeared irrational on the surface now made sense.

So I'm guessing there is - or was, at one time - some rationale for buggy abandonment in South Louisiana.