Saturday, July 31, 2010

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The Natchitoches Edition

I'll share one more picture from Natchitoches with you and call this the Natchitoches edition.  I've spent the past couple of days getting caught up on things and working in my classroom at school.  In case you missed it, I'm moving rooms for the fourth time in ten years and it's a lot of work.  I'm not even going to go in to it, but suffice to say, this has not been a happy move.

One more week of summer vacation and I want to do as little as possible; my reading stack has grown rather than decreased over the summer.  I'm going to work on that a little.  I'm just starting the Stieg Larsson trilogy and am loving that!  I love a book you just can't put down!

I haven't paid a lot of attention to the news this week; as I suggested last night, I think I've just been on mental political hiatus lately.  That's probably a good thing because my batteries will be charged and ready for the fall elections.

That said, let's get caught up on what my fellow bloggers have been doing:

William Teach notes Obama's pronouncement that the economy is growing but isn't buying the cheerleading routine:

That said, Obama is not cheerleading, he is clearly delusional. Growth is slowing, people are tired of the high unemployment, and people are tired of being unemployed. Companies are sitting on their earnings, since they are unsure what this raging clueless neophyte partisan hack will push for and/or do next. He picks and chooses which parts of the economy he wants to increase, and which ones he wants to damage.

Heh!  Read the whole thing.

No Sheeples Here has a heart-warming story of a soldier reunited with a dog who saved  his life.

Legal Insurrection has a good post on the Weiner meltdown.

The Other McCain is asking for help for a fellow blogger, a CPA about to lose his home because of prolonged unemployment. 

Pundette makes note of the whooping cough epidemic in California.

This is a perfect recap of Obama's presidency so far; Reaganite Republican nails it.

American Power digs out info on the back-door amnesty memo.

Wyblog examines Obama's ever expanding control over the internet.

Camp of the Saints:  Oh.My.God.  Seriously.  This is just awful.

Red has a precious Dr. Seuss poem.

Over at Catalog Living, Elaine should have known better than to trust Gary to build the fire.


Short 'n sweet.  Got to get moving.  Things to do.  A house to clean.  A dog to bathe.  Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Am I On Strike?

I think every blogger, at some point, becomes demoralized, dejected, disgusted.  No, this is not an "I'm retiring  from blogging" thing at all, but I admit to having backed off a bit in the past few weeks as real life has taken over my world.  I can't string two coherent thoughts together anymore, much less a blog post.  I know things will settle down and return to normal at some point, but man, oh man.  Life has been crazy.  Implosion.

So I'm checking the sites tonight to see what I've missed this week and here's Ed Morrissey's post entitled "Did the Government Cause the Gulf Oil Spill?"  Well, hell. 

As it turns out, maybe, indirectly, yeah...

The generally accepted view of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has focused on the blowout preventer and the non-standard procedures BP conducted just before the explosion and fire.  However, most of the damage and the main source of the spill came from the collapse and sinking of the DH platform rather than the initial explosion.  A new report by the Center for Public Integrity, based on testimony from people on scene and Coast Guard logs, contains evidence that the platform sunk because of a botched response from the Coast Guard, which failed to coordinate firefighting efforts and to get the proper resources to fight the fire...
Well, no wonder Obama shook BP down to foot the bill on this one.

Read the rest of Ed's post for the whole story, as well as this one by Rob Bluey at the Washington Examiner for the full story on that. 

I'm so sick of this administration - from their pushback on Arizona to their own failure to secure the border; to Obama's party, party, party White House while the nation rots, the complete and total destruction of our country and the Constitution...; the way this administration has fought my own Governor at every turn on the oil spill management....I don't have to itemize all of it.  You know, because if you're reading this blog you're sick of it too. 

We try to blog about it, we try to write and tell people, but hell.  Is anybody listening?    According to Rasmussen today, 26% of the nation's voters "strongly approve" of the way Obama is doing his job.  WTF is up with that?  What's wrong with these people?  Did they just end up in the wrong country?  Hell! 

Maybe my subconscious is resting for the fall elections.  Because I am fairly certain that come November, the Democrats, no matter how they've ranted, raved, smeared and played demagogue, they'll know the power of the conservative voter.  Epic.

I'll round-up the week tomorrow.  Maybe next week I'll kick it back into gear.  Right now, I'm just pissed.

Bleh.

Getting Lunch at Peters Grocery

Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation

We have returned from Natchitoches.   I posted a few pictures via iPhone but I'll fill in some gaps here.  Let's take a trip!  (Disclaimer:  This one is pretty long - better get a cup of coffee...)

We hit Natchitoches in time for lunch at Lasyone's - meat pie platters, of course.  One of the things I quickly noticed that I don't remember from before is the sketchy cell phone service in Natchitoches.   I tried to post a picture of my meat pie lunch, but I see now that it didn't go through.  It looked just like this one from last year, though, if you want to see it.

From there we went across the street to the gift shop of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, now a minor Basilica.  We spent a long time in there visiting with the lady who has the shop and I bought a pretty stained glass cross to hang in my window.



On to Front Street where we encountered heartache.  The Pioneer Pub is closed for vacation until mid-August.  Oh!  Devastation!  I almost got in the car and went home.  At loose ends and unsure what to do with ourselves, we wandered back down to Kaffie-Frederick Hardware Store for a cold coke.  We wandered the aisles and soon began to regain a bit of composure.  I saw a cute Sock Monkey Jack-in-the-Box which made me feel better.

By then it was getting close to 3 p.m., so we decided to go check into our hotel and regroup.  The Church Street Inn is lovely and beautifully furnished.  We can just park the car and get almost everywhere we want to go on foot.



Our next stop was The Book Merchant.  Still smarting from the loss of The Pioneer Pub, we were glad to find the bookstore open.  We weren't the only ones lamenting the closure of the Pub; the Book Merchant himself was in a fugue of depression, too.


I found a couple of books I wanted to buy and Steve found a DVD of The Red River Campaign.  We visited for a bit, pet the shop cats, and moved on.  We picked up some Sam Adams at a grocery store and went back to the hotel.

This is the view from the balcony:


The Cane River is over there to the left side of the picture; you can see the bridge going over it.  That big building is the old Nakatosh Hotel which is now home to shops on the ground floor and condos on the top two floors.

As we sat on the balcony sipping our Sam Adams and trying to figure out where we were going to eat dinner in light of the calamitous loss of the Pioneer Pub, we saw a woman and her dog on the third floor.  It was kind of neat; she apparently had a place up there for her dog to use the bathroom, so she stood out there with him, talking on the phone and watering plants until he finished.  She looked over at us and said hello and she and Steve exchanged a few words about the dog.  Very nice.


You see the dog?  He's over to the right, a little, in this picture.

So we eventually ended up at Papa's Bar and Grill for dinner, after much floundering and debate.  They at least had Sam Adams.  We had an appetizer of fried onions and jalapenos which was pretty good.  Steve had a hamburger and I had a stuffed potato and a salad.  My stuffed potato was still cold in the middle so I just ate around the edges and ate my salad.  My heart wasn't in it.  Steve said his hamburger was okay.

After dinner we walked along the river:


...where we met some nice people.  Everyone has a story and people just talk to Steve.  We met this really nice guy who was fishing along the bank.  He had a dog with him and since we were both missing our dogs, we asked if we could pet his.  It was named Tom and he likes to fish and chase cats.  This was a great dog:


Tom's owner is an evangelist named Paul; Paul is founding the Veteran's Center of Hope in Natchitoches, a very worthy project which you can check out here.  Basically, its purpose is to help veterans assimilate back into the lives they left behind during their service, provide housing and job training.

Tom and Paul didn't catch any fish while we were visiting, but we had a lovely time talking and getting to know one another.  By that time, it was beginning to get dark, so we moved on and walked back up Front Street toward the hotel.


We sat out on the balcony again, had another Sam Adams and visited with a couple of girls who were also from Shreveport; they worked for Chesapeake Energy and were in town on business.  Again, nice conversation with some nice folks.

Our first order of business this morning was a stop at The City Barbershop where Steve let a fellow named Bill give him a first class shave and facial.  This was a 45 minute operation, at least.  Very luxurious!  Steve enjoyed it immensely and has it on his list of things to do whenever we go back!

We stopped in The Kracked Kernal for a fresh brewed cup of Mello Joy coffee where we met with, not the owner, but a fellow who helps run the place.  He's a former Marine and he and Steve had a long visit; yet another guy with a fascinating story to tell.  I'd love to relay his tale, but it's his to tell and you'll have to visit for yourself and hear him tell it.  While there, we bought some sugared pecans and Steve bought a truffle.  They'll be opening a sandwich counter there in the next few days and already are serving sodas and shakes at the ice cream fountain.  I really wanted a root beer float, but it was a little early for me.  I'll give it a try next time!


The main objective of the day was to visit one of the nearby plantations before heading home.  We settled on Oakland for this trip and decided to do Melrose the next time.  Oakland is a little closer; it's about 12 miles outside of Natchitoches.  The drive along the Cane River road was just beautiful.  Very curvy and scenic.  I liked this church:


and Steve liked this crazy birds that looked, at first, like flamingos.  We looked them up when we got home, however, and found out they are called Roseate Spoonbill.  They're crazy to watch as they skim the water with that beak, sifting out food!


I took pictures of an old gin, a store and other random things which I'll upload to Flickr later.  We finally got to Oakland which is assumed to be the most intact Creole plantation left in the country.  The land was acquired in 1789 by  Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prudhomme as part of a Spanish land grant.  It's now part of the National Parks system, having been turned over by the family in the 1998.  There are 29 original buildings still standing, many of which have been restored.  This is the main house with its famous Live Oak Alley which faces the Cane River; those trees were planted around 1825:


Construction of the house began in 1818 and was completed in 1821.  The timber is hand-hewn cypress; the walls are bousillage (a mix of clay, deer hair and Spanish moss); the plantation blacksmith made the door hinges and other hardware, the bricks were made by hand on the plantation and sun dried.  Most of the glass is still original and came from Switzerland.

Here's a little closer view:


Just inside that picket fence is what's called the "bottle garden"; it looks like the families through the years buried bottles of all kinds, bottom end up, to line walkways and paths.  I didn't take a picture of it, but the tour guide that took us through the house told us it's very unique and that the families who've lived in the house through the generations have continued the tradition and added more bottles.  So, some of them are quite old, dating back to the 1800s, and there are a few old Budweiser bottles in there, too!

The house originally consisted of four main rooms - a parlor, a dining room, and a couple of bedrooms, arranged in a square and surrounded by a large porch.  The house is, as they almost all were, raised off the ground where there was a small living quarters for the nanny and plenty of storage.  There's also a wine cellar under there, accessible by a trap door in the house.  Through the years, generations of family members have added to the house and now there is, for example, a kitchen which was added in 1948, and a bathroom.  This is the original dining room (looking into the parlor):


I liked the old plantation store which was actually still in operation until 1983; the gas pumps outside say $1.25.  The store was also the post office for the Bermuda area.  The store was opened after the Civil War and was used by sharecroppers and tenant farmers who bought supplies from the Prud'homme family.


The store sits closer to the main road (Hwy 494); the gas pumps are out of frame to the front and the main house was to the right and farther back.  Right by the flag is an old water pump which was cool.

Another view:



Other buildings on the property include pigeonniers (pigeon coops!):


The plantation was fairly self-sufficient and they raised most of what they consumed, including pigeons (squab) to eat.  There are mule barns, a carpenter shop, the doctor's house, and a wagon shed.  This is the poultry shed and turkey shed area where chickens were bred, hatched and fattened as well as turkeys.  This is just behind the main house:



It seems like everyone who visits Oakland takes a picture of the huge cane syrup pot which sits outside, so I did too.  The main house is just to the left; those live oaks are part of the Oak Alley leading up to the house.  The picket fence surrounds the "bottle garden".


This is the Overseer's House; it would have been his job to manage the workers, livestock, land and tools.  This particular residence was build in 1861:


This building was open for you to walk through and while not furnished, you can still see various patterns of linoleum on the floors and different wallpapers that were up through the years.  The parks service has an informational display set up near the front door and fireplace:



This is one of the slave cabins:


And finally, here is the corn crib and giant cistern.  The corn crib was built around 1821; the cistern collects rainwater which was used to water the stock.  It is 16 feet deep and held 4804 gallons of water.


Originally, the plantation consisted of some 2,000 acres, on both sides of the river, but the area now held by the National Parks service is much smaller than that - I think about 30 acres.  Some of the family still lives nearby and the farmland is still in cultivation throughout the area.  This was the first plantation west of the Mississippi River to farm cotton on such a large scale.

All in all, it was a fascinating experience and one that really gives you a vivid picture of what plantation life was like.  As you sit there under the live oaks and pecan trees, you hear the cicadas and birds, it's easy to imagine what it would have sounded like back then with all the various kinds of labor going on.  The blacksmith shop, the sounds from the river, human voices, animal sounds, carts, wagons, tools...the plantation was a busy place.

I couldn't stop taking pictures of the huge trees...


...but a photograph just doesn't capture it.

By this time we were about as hot and sweaty as we needed to be so we headed back to the car and to home.  Like I've said before, we visit Natchitoches often, but each time we try to do something new, or add a new stop to our itinerary.  This time it was Oakland.  Next time:  Melrose.

If you've stuck through this post to this point, kudos to you, and thanks!  You deserve a Sam Adams!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oakland Plantation

Red Beans and Rice

At the City Barbershop

Steve gets the full treatment!

Locked out

The last thing I said was "Steve, you have the key?"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nightcap

Cane River

Papa's

We found a spot.

Since The Pub is closed, we're drinking Sam Adams on the balcony.

Sock Monkey Jack-in-the-Box!

Heartache!!

Heading to Natchitoches


We're headed to Natchitoches today.  First stop, Lasyone's for meat pies.  Then on to Front Street and a cold one at The Pioneer Pub.  We'll stop at my favorite book store in the world, The Book Merchant, and the greatest hardware store evah:  the Kaffie-Frederick Hardware store.  We'll check in at our hotel around three, The Church Street Inn, and then maybe visit Melrose since we've never done that.  It depends on the weather: might be raining today. 

We'll be back at The Pub for dinner and again for lunch tomorrow before we head out, because they have the greatest food, and we love the atmosphere there.  Are we going to Natchitoches just for a bar?  Nah!

I told my mother yesterday we were going to Natchitoches today and she said, "Why!?  You've done that so many times already!"  But we love it.  We try do visit some different site each time we go, and last time we went to the historic American Cemetery.  Beautiful, and fascinating. 

I'll have a meat pie for  you guys; see you tomorrow!

Tax Calculator

The Foundry has a nifty calculator where you can input a little basic info and get an estimate of your 2010 tax bill.  You'll get three results:  1) If the Bush tax cuts expire, 2) if they're extended and 3) an estimate under the plan where some tax cuts are kept and some are not.

It takes about five seconds to do.

If the Bush tax cuts expire, based on what I made last year, I'll be paying $600 more this year.  I'm not a high-income person by any means.  I'm a school teacher.  One income.  One teenager. 

This year my filing status will be different; Steve and I will be filing jointly this year.  We'll be paying about $500 more if the tax cuts expire. 

Under both scenarios, we'll come out better under option number three - if some are kept and some expire.  Of course, it's just an estimate, but it gives you an idea.

Curious about your own?  Here's the link.

(H/T:  Memeorandum)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This is Theodore

This is Theodore, or Teddy to his friends; he lives at The Glen, where my mom is undergoing rehab and physical therapy.  Teddy lives in the office and is always there to help you after hours...



He's very serious about his work and sees everything that goes on and everyone who comes in and out!

Take a Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden, Louisiana

Steve and I took a little day trip to Minden today to visit our friend Milly Rose at Second Hand Rose Antiques.  I've written about Milly and her shop before here.  We were instant fans of Milly and her store when we went in for the first time and discovered she has two shop dogs that look just like my Checkers!

Milly has been buying trash and treasures for years and her four floors hold a little bit of everything.  She has a vivacious, engaging personality and truly never met a stranger.  We were instant friends.  Truly, we spent three hours in there today and heard one story after another;  Milly sells props to a lot of the movie crews that come through here and has met many of the big films stars who return again and again to buy from her.  She's full of stories!

Here's a shot of the store from the stairs going from the first to the second floor:


There's also a basement, and two other floors; the top floor has a lot of old books that I'd LOVE to dig through but there's just never enough time.

One of the things I'm going to get next time I go, if it's still there, is this fabulous cast iron tea kettle:



It's very heavy, of course, and would look perfect on my antique Chambers range!  I need it!

Look at this cute Road Runner!  It's a little blurry, but still...


It's hard to tell here, but it's pretty small and glass.  Very cute.

I loved this glass vase; it's more of a turquoise color than it appears here - the color of the deep sea.  Milly's tag says it's from Spain.  She quoted a good price to me but I just don't know where I'd put it. I kept tapping on it with my fingernail every time I walked by it - it made the most lovely, resonate sound.   I'll think about it for next time, though.  I don't think it'll stay there long.  One of the movie people will grab this in a heartbeat.



I also loved this lamp - I'm going to call it Tiffany style but someone more knowledgeable please feel free to correct me:


I didn't ask Milly how much it is, but she'll always make a deal with you.  Practically nothing is as marked.

Here's a turquoise grouping:


I like that fat round bowl on the upper right shelf.

I also liked these candlesticks!


Milly had just acquired a pair of these nudes which she was very pleased with; again, some movie prop person will snatch these up:


Again, it's rather difficult to tell by my photo, but this is a very tall piece of frosted glass.  Lovely.  Wouldn't fit in in my house, but it's neat.  Art Deco?

Milly and Steve visited while I took pictures:



I liked this green vase;  I have a thing for green:



Notice the top of it is uneven; I thought that was neat.

Steve likes the campaign buttons:



And I liked this table of tarnished silver pieces; just out of frame is a nifty shallow bowl with filigree edges; I gave serious thought to that bowl.  Next time.


I also liked this cracked glass pitcher; it's about 8 or 10 inches tall; and GREEN!  I'd use it for a vase.



Jewelry more your thing?  She's got lots of that, here...


and here...



Monkeys?



Frogs?



Loved this piece of furniture!


And so after all that, what did I buy?  Heh!  I bought this crazy, tiny purse which is just fun; I've looked at it the past three times I've been and Milly finally gave me a deal I couldn't refuse:



I also bought a green vase (you knew I would!)



And to cap it all off I got this snowflake broach to pin on my black blazer, and some sterling heart earrings:



At the end of the day Milly walked us out and waved goodbye, until next time!


Milly's website is here, but I'd recommend a personal visit; that way you get to pet the dogs and hear the stories!  And she'll always, always give you an ice cold drink and a free trinket with any purchase!  Fun day!