Friday, May 31, 2013

Bertha Harris Exhibition at Louisiana State Exhibit Museum

Local folk artist Bertha Harris will have an exhibition of her work at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum Sunday June 2 - June 28.

The opening reception is Sunday from 2:00 - 4:00 and will include a documentary film of Beene Gin, an important locale in Mrs. Harris's life.

Bertha Harris, besides being a fabulous artist, has published her memoir, "The Courage to Rise Again" which I reviewed here last year.

Mrs Harris will be at the museum on Sunday signing copies of her book and greeting the public.  She's a wonderful lady with a compelling story.   Light refreshments will be served.

Her art is created on canvas and on other materials such as wood or cardboard.  She has often been compared to Louisiana legend Clementine Hunter.

The museum is located on Greenwood Road in Shreveport.  Admission is free.

"Flotilla" or "Floatilla", Either Way, It Needs to Be on Your Calendar

Pull out your calendar and add these events to your list of things to do this weekend, if you're in the local area, that is.

Tonight, May 31, the American Legion Post 14 is hosting their pre-Flotilla Party, open to everyone, at the post located on Lakeshore Drive on Cross Lake.  You do not have to have a boat, or be on a boat, to have fun at the Flotilla.  There is plenty to do on land, based at the Legion, as well.

On a side note, I admit, the linguist in me has some trouble with this flotilla/floatilla thing.  Technically, I believe the spelling is "flotilla" but the event is billed, and has always been billed, as the "floatilla."  I'm sure there's a back story there but I don't know what it is.

However you spell it, tonight, there will be a catfish dinner ($10) and registration for tomorrow's Poker Run will be open ($20).  You can get your 2013 Flotilla t-shirts on sale as well.  

It gets even better:  The Soulfish Blues Band will be playing in the lounge until 10:30 or 11!  If you haven't seen this band yet, you're in for a treat.  Fabulous!

The 2013 Flotilla is tomorrow, Saturday, with opening ceremonies and placing of the flags on the pier at noon by veterans and the Boy Scouts.  The Poker Run is from 1:00 to 3:00; the decorated boat parade is at 4.  The Back When Band will play live in the parking lot at the Legion from 2-4 with sound by Paxton Sound.  There will be plenty of food vendors at the Legion and the bar will be open, of course.  The after-party will continue at 6 in the American Legion Lounge on Saturday with the Backbeat Boogie Band.

Last year's boat parade was a display of great creativity and whimsy!

The Facebook page for the event is here.  Here is the official event poster.

Don't miss it, and don't let the threat of rain scare you away!  That'll just keep you cooled off if the sun gets too hot!

Why Don't More People Observe Traditional Memorial Day?

Yesterday, Steve and I attended the Memorial Day service sponsored by the Disabled American Veterans Chapter No. 30 at Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport.  This is our fourth year to attend this service; we are partial to it because we have adopted several veteran's graves in the cemetery.

The event is sparsely attended each year and I don't know if that's because most people are at work, if the event isn't well publicized, or if people just figure that once that three day weekend is done Memorial Day is over.

There was precious little media attention there this year with the notable exception of the fine John Andrew Prime from The Shreveport Times who wrote a lovely write-up of the event for the paper.

The ceremony began with a moving rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by a young lady with the Parkway High School AFJROTC.  (That's a fine looking Jeep in the background, isn't it?!)

There was a posting of the colors and the introduction of the guest speaker by James M. Cox.  There were other dignitaries there as well, and various patriotic groups were represented.

The guest speaker was James Vanderberry, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant.  He reminded us that the sacrifices of the veterans we were there to honor should never be forgotten.  It made me think of the Kelley brothers, resting nearby, one of whom was killed on D-Day and the other brother died that same year in November.  A third brother was also lost and is buried in another cemetery in town.  I could not help but think of that family and what 1944 was like for them and remember that there were many, many more families like that throughout the nation.

There was a presentation of wreaths from various groups, including the VFW Post 2238, the VA Medical Center, the National Order of Trench Rats, and the Pelican Chapter DAR, among others.

Parkway High School AFJROTC did a flag folding ceremony...

...and then the Sons of Confederate Veterans fired off a triple volley salute.

John Long and Wilbur Snelling represented the group this year.

As always, I wish the ceremony had been better attended, but I always come away from this one feeling proud of the young people that take part.  Parkway High School JFROTC does a great job each year with this and they are to be commended.

Be sure to read John Andrew Prime's write up; it was lovely.  And if you're able, please come out next year to support this very worthy endeavor by the Disabled American Veterans.

Memorial Day Service at Greenwood Cemetery 2012
Memorial Day 2011
To Most People It's Just a Bar-B-Que Day

Monday, May 27, 2013

Aboard the Train With the 40 & 8 For Memorial Day

It was a busy, but memorable, Memorial Day in Shreveport with multiple ceremonies and remembrances scheduled throughout the day.  Steve and I made two of them.

We were invited to ride the 40 & 8 Voiture 137 train to the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Keithville.  The 40 & 8 is a veterans organization and Steve was privileged to join them early this year.

We met up with friends and fellow train riders about 10:00.  Riding the train was grand fun! I should have taken a group picture of us all, but I am an idiot and failed to do so.  This is just part of our party:

This is the train:

There was about twelve of us riding today; we rolled along to the cemetery; our engineer, Jim, would sound the horn and run the siren on occasion and spotter Ed would fire the canon.  It was grand!

Inside there are bench seats on each side where everyone can sit comfortably.  The hero of the train was Janice who brought sandwiches and banana bread to snack on as we rode along!

Riding the train was a fun way to get from one event to another today and we had lots of laughs along the way.

We stopped at a gas station near the cemetery where the Patriot Guard staged and let me tell you, it was impressive seeing all those people.

I should have taken out my iPhone and made a panoramic picture of them all because you can't tell how many there were from this picture; but, I am an idiot and didn't think about that.

Steve climbed up on the front of the train to place our flag:

The ceremony at the cemetery began right before noon with the arrival of the Patriot Guard.  I tried to get video of the ride-in - it went on for quite a long time, but I'm still trying to figure out this new camera and I haven't tried the video function yet.

 At twelve o'clock the flag was raised from half-staff.

Steve and his friend Ron Chatelain:

Ron spoke at the Hillcrest ceremony earlier in the day; we were sorry to have to miss it.

And this is John Powell of the 40 & 8 Voiture 137, Ron Chatelain, and Louisiana state commander of the American Legion Herbert Petit, Jr., who spoke at the ceremony:

There was a rather large crowd paying their respects today:

The wreaths were presented:

Taps was played, and it was done.

We boarded the train again, broke out the sandwiches and drinks, and headed over to the American Legion Post 14 on Cross Lake for the 2:00 ceremony by the Fleet Reserve, siren wailing every now and then and the occasional canon shot!

We got there in time for a quick drink in the bar before heading out to the point for the ceremony:

The bell tolled for the fallen:

The wreath was tossed upon the waters:

Shawn Bohannon, historian for the 40 & 8 Voiture 137 captures the moment:

At the end of the day we boarded the train once again and headed back to our car.

By 4:30 we had the grill fired up and loaded down with alligator sausage and chicken.  It was a solemn day of remembrance but I was glad to share it with good friends.

And thanks to our engineer Jim for letting me ride his train!

Thursday, true Memorial Day, the Louisiana Disabled Veterans group will hold a ceremony at Greenwood Cemetery located on Stoner Ave., just south of downtown.  The event begins at 10:00 and is a favorite of ours.  I encourage you to attend if you can.  The veterans section there is quite old and has graves dating back to the Spanish American War.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Events in Shreveport 2013

More than just the start of summer, or an excuse for a bar-b-que, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of those who have fallen in defense of our country.

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United Statesfound itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday. 
We have a full schedule of events to attend this weekend, starting with a gathering of friends this evening for a backyard party (and we're hoping the rain holds off).

Tomorrow Hillcrest Memorial Park will hold its annual service with guest speaker retired Army Major Ron Chatelain.  Ron (below right) and wife Ann are friends of ours and are wonderful people.  He was presented the Distinguished Service Cross...

 ...for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. Captain Chatelain distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 14 June 1969 while serving as a forward observer in support of an ambush patrol engaged with an enemy force on the Bau Dieu Peninsula. After Captain Chatelain had directed fire on the hostile positions from his helicopter and had succeeded in silencing the enemy, his craft landed to take aboard casualties. Just as the aircraft set down, it was struck by rocket-propelled grenade fire. Despite his own wounds, Captain Chatelain immediately began helping the more seriously wounded crew members to safety. Organizing the remnant of the patrol into a defensive perimeter, he called in and adjusted gunship fire on the hostile positions. He then supervised the medical evacuation of his wounded comrades and directed his men to unleash a barrage of rifle fire on the enemy until a relief unit arrived. 

The services at Hillcrest are at 9:00 a.m.  Via The Shreveport Times:
The 36th annual Memorial Day service at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Haughton will be at 9 a.m. Guest speaker is retired Army Major Ron Chatelain, Vietnam War veteran and, as holder of the Distiguished Service Cross and several other awards including five Purple Hearts, the most-decorated living resident veteran of Louisiana. The master of ceremonies will be retired U.S. Air Force Col. George Finck, a recipient of the Air Force Cross. Representatives of area veterans and fraternal organizations, as well as active duty, Guard and Reserve units and area Junior ROTCs will lay wreaths. The Veterans of Foreign Wars 12th District Honor Guard will render a triple-volley rifle salute and the playing of taps will close the service.

The Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery near Keithville will hold a service at 11:45.  There will be a procession by the Patriot Guard and retired Air Force Major Carroll Michaud will be master of ceremonies.

At the American Legion Post 14 on Cross Lake, Branch 98 of the Fleet Reserve Division will host the annual tossing of the memorial wreath into the waters of the lake.  Here's a photo from last year's ceremony:

Thursday, May 30, the Disabled American Veterans, among other groups, will host its annual ceremony in the Veterans section of Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport off Stoner Ave.  It begins at 10:00 a.m. Steve and I tend the graves of several of the war dead there, including the Kelley brothers:

and Kenney Dean Chappell:

Around the web, I liked this story of a woman who has found a use for old flags that can no longer fly:
Susan Wells, who started the project, collects discarded and damaged U.S. flags and removes the stars. Each one is washed and pressed, then placed in a small bag with a note that reads: "I am part of our American flag that has flown over a home in the U.S.A. I can no longer fly. The sun and winds have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that you are not forgotten."
Now that's a neat project.

On a related note, we watched this documentary last night about The Ghost Army of WWII; it was fascinating.  Check it out.

Wherever you are, take a moment this weekend to remember the fallen.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The SIGIS Summer Begins

It's officially summer for me!  School closed yesterday at long last.  It's been a very long year, what with the implementation of Common Core, and a new teacher evaluation system which created a lot of stress for everyone.  My mom fell back in August and fractured her neck and I missed a week of school; she passed away in March and I missed four more days.  All in all, it was a stressful year.

Bring on summer!

I am ready.

I go back to work August 4 (Open House) and it will come all too soon.

We spent the day yesterday in class taking our Caesar final.  There is always a lot to do to close school, and the kids all checked out after their last final which left the afternoon pretty much open for us to get our paper work done and final grades recorded.  Before they left my last class of the day left messages for me on my whiteboard which just warmed my heart:

We had a really good semester in that class.

They were eager to learn, they all got along together, and they did every single thing I asked of them.  They really got into Julius Caesar!

I hated to erase the board, really.

Love those kids.  Really.

So now it's time for some rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.  Bring it on!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Obama Should Have Done With That Umbrella

There is much ado about the umbrella stunt today.

Obama knows the optics are terrible, but like the looky-loos at a train wreck, he can't help himself.   

Didn't you just love that "Why don't we get a couple of Marines, they're gonna look good next to us...".  


Not enough sense to come in out of the rain.  I'm fairly certain taxpayers wouldn't mind ponying up some money for a tarp for such occasions when walking inside is logistically difficult for this man.  

No, he knows it looks bad.  He's just sticking a finger in your eye.

Nothing to see here.  Move along.

Now, if Obama had done this, I'd have been impressed:

(H/T:  Memeorandum)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Six More Years of Mary Landrieu

Senator Mary Landrieu picked up a new Republican challenger today which will effectively split the Republican vote and ensure Louisiana Purchase Mary six more years.

Rep. Bill Cassidy has already announced his candidacy.

Meet retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness.

Way to go.

If Benghazi is a "Side Show" Harry Reid and Jay Carney are the Clowns

Bing West at National Review has a very compelling piece on Benghazi in response to former secretary of defense Bob Gates who on Sunday launched a defense of the Obama administration's lack of response to Benghazi.

The administration is sticking with its "Benghazi is just a circus put on by the Republicans" line, right down to Sen. Harry Reid who today continued to claim that the Republicans are only interested in giving Obama a black eye and taking shots at Hillary Clinton which is why they are trying to find out why four Americans were killed and nobody has been brought to justice.  Reid also continued to blame the Republicans for refusing to fund embassy security, a lie which has been totally debunked by Charlotte Lamb and also here in this Heritage Foundation report.

If Benghaz is a side show, Harry Reid and Jay Carney are the clowns.

On Sunday, Mr. Gates claimed that sending the military in "without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground would have been very dangerous."

From Mr. West's post:
Let’s do a quick review: The CIA did send in seven fighters; four special-forces soldiers in Tripoli were ordered not to pitch in; the Marines on Sigonella wanted to help; and there was nothing more to face than a mob inspired by a video (accoridng [sic] to the administration). But for the Pentagon, the risk was just too great. 
Message to those who were already fighting on the ground in Benghazi: You are on your own. SecDef believes it’s “very dangerous” to go into combat.
I'm not sure what more intelligence was necessary besides the real-time video they had at the Defense Department combined with Greg Hicks on the phone with Hillary Clinton at 2:00 reporting that Ambassador Stevens said they were "under attack."

Are we to assume that our military is no more flexible than that?

What signal does that send to the world?  Go ahead and attack wherever you like because the military needs time to prepare a response, so you can attack freely, or as Jay Carney might say, in an "unfettered" manner.

Any military veterans out there care to respond?


Read the whole thing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Take a Spontaneous Mother's Day Trip To Jefferson, Texas

Yesterday was just too gorgeous to stay inside.  I've been fighting off a cold and sinus infection for a few days and haven't felt up to par but I just couldn't stay on the couch with such a great top-down day in progress.

So, we pulled the top down on the Jeep and hit the road with no particular destination in mind.  We ended up in Jefferson, Texas.  It's only about 45 minutes or so from here yet it feels like you're far, far away.

I've posted a million times about Jefferson trips so I won't bore you with the same old pictures.  I really wanted a chance to try out my new camera though.  (I cracked the old Kodak Easy Share on the recent trip to Frisco.)   I upgraded to a Canon Rebel T3i; it's probably more camera than I really need for what I do, but I'm going give it a shot.  I really wanted an SLR so that's why I went that direction.  I have a lot to learn about it, though.  First think I want to figure out is why the pictures are not in order on my removable data card.  They're all mixed up.  And not all the pictures I took are on their; I probably didn't operate the shutter correctly.  It's a steep learning curve for this auto-everything kid.

Anyway, we stopped on the way over at the Texas welcome center to pick up some literature that might inspire us to new day trip destinations.

We picked up a bag full of brochures and guides, bought a coke, and got back on the road.

Once in Jefferson we wandered into a couple of shops and meandered around town for a while.  I covet all this Jadeite.

That ball pitcher in the back?  Only $600.00.  Yea, so, it's still there.

This same store sells heavenly fudge and they even make some flavors in a sugar free version:

It's also the store where I get my dark chocolate covered espresso beans!

We headed over to The Excelsior House, our favorite hotel in Jefferson, because we wanted to make reservations for a date in June when Soulfish Blues Band will be playing at Auntie Skinner's. We walked right up to the desk and reserved our favorite room without a hitch.  That just doesn't happen, okay.  I mean, that room is always booked far in advance, especially during June.  We felt very lucky!

Here's a shot of the lobby:

At The Excelsior, when you check in, they give you a room key (which is a real key, not a plastic card!) and a key to the front door of the hotel; they lock the door at nine or so.

This is the courtyard at The Excelsior; our favorite room is that one on the left with all the windows; it has a sun room with a wooden screen door that opens onto the courtyard.

To celebrate our good luck we went a couple of doors down to Auntie Skinner's for a cool beverage.

We met some nice folks while sitting at the bar.  Auntie Skinner's is loaded with atmosphere and good people come there.

After commiserating about the lack of IPAs at Skinners, our new friends encouraged us to stop by The Cork Yard which has been open for about a year.  It was very good advice!

It was just about the perfect place to be on a spring Sunday afternoon.  If you were hungry you could have boiled crawfish or order off the menu.  Two pages of the menu was just beer!

I tried two different IPAs; I preferred the second one:

The proprietor of the place was very friendly and welcoming.  He ran up and greeted everyone that came in.  There was live music and he got up and sang a couple of songs with them and recited a poem!

It was a grand, spur of the moment trip and we will definitely re-visit The Cork Yard!  Can't wait for June to get here!

And yes, I still have that cold I've been fighting but at least being sick was a little more fun in Jefferson, Texas.

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation
Take a Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Oktoberfest at BAFB