About The Saints Football Team….

As I have previously posted, Hubby is the big football fan,but I’ve come to appreciate it more since watching with him. However, being in a traditionally male career included understanding enough about football to “join in” during social events that included watching a game. Also, when one grows up with a hometown/home state team, there is often a certain degree of fondness. I do believe I may have indeed posted about the Saints several years ago. New Orleans is a great place to visit and I did set “Georgina’s Grief” there and it does feature in some chapters in the upcoming, “Small Town Quilting Treasures.”

The team, though, does not have a long history of being a winning team. There was a time when faithful, yet sparse fans donned paper bags with “Ain’ts” written on them rather than Saints. On the other hand, New Orleans is a party city and partying in consolation works almost as well as celebration. They once hired a well-known coach to try and turn the team around. I knew it would not be a good fit because from my perspective, the individual simply didn’t have a compatible attitude with the fans. He was a good coach, by the way; just not the right one for New Orleans. Then along came the current coach and Drew Brees. I always find it fascinating when one or two individuals can have such a tremendous impact. There are those though who can definitely, “bring out the best” in people, or in this case, a team. Don’t get me wrong, there were other players and staff brought in to build on success, yet the real catalyst was Brees. Now, there is the other notable individual – Teddy Bridgewater – who’s stepped in when Brees was injured in only the second game. For people who knew his background, his superb performance is perhaps not too much of a surprise. For the rest of us, it has been. More importantly, the entire team seems to have stepped forward to prove they do not depend only on Brees. They won again yesterday on the road and have in fact won every game since Brees’s injury. Will it carry them through? Hard to say, but at least for now, they are on a roll.

More Unique Talent…..

As our Seminole Theatre enters the new season, the original director has gone on to greater things. That was to be expected at his age. He was immensely popular and the woman who was his assistant from almost the beginning and who has held multiple positions within the small staff is now director. They had worked together prior to his departure to select what is called the Showcase Series. Those are the major performances locked in for Oct-May, one or two which are well-known and also the most expensive. This year’s “big group”  is Asleep at the Wheel. Anyway, the others are a continuing search for a range of options to appeal to different audiences. Last night was Shana Tucker – Chambersoul Chronicles, a singer/songwriter who does jazz with a cello. That did catch people’s attention and she added to it by collaborating with a nearby community’s children’s group to incorporate them into a couple of numbers. It was a thoroughly enjoyable performance. She has a wonderful voice, engaging stage presence, and the children were quite talented. Unlike what I had thought, she opened the show and a few numbers later had the members of the Children’s Voice Chorus begin to sing from the back of the theatre and then come on stage for more.

As for the cello, she did use the bow, but played it more like a bass with plucking. In yet another unique aspect, she had some sort of synthesizer for one number where she literally recorded what she was singing, put it through to become just as if she had backup singers; all done flawlessly (at least to my ears). I don’t know how that technology works; only that it had a great sound.

Her background and the many musical/artistic endeavors she is involved with make for fascinating reading. That’s www.shanatucker.com

Trip, Day 7…..

The trip up was easy and uneventful, passing old familiar landmarks. There aren’t many motel choices in Minden and I waited too long to book the “nicest one”, but I like the alternative. There are also limited dining options, especially for someone alone and not needing to take leftovers. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, they did finally allow liquor by the drink although based on what I’ve seen, there may not be package stores. Those are in the adjoining town; a short drive to the west.

Interestingly, quite a few years ago, the gas station/food mart next to the motel where I mostly stay included a small café (no beer and wine) with food that quickly gained them a reputation. While they do have some packaged “grab and go” items, everything else is made to order and the menu has quite a variety of burgers and sandwiches, to include gator. Aside from the fact I can get gator in Homestead, it really isn’t something I am overly fond of. I am a bit surprised they don’t have catfish at this place, but I’ll be going to the traditional spot for that today for take-out for Daddy’s “treat lunch”. Anyway, the point is, this place is about more than good food. It’s friendly service and people who apologize when there are delays – which they try to keep to a minimum. I am only here a few days each year so perhaps they have “slumps” I’ve simply never observed. On the other hand, there was the year I was here four times and it was the same. I did indulge my “spicy taste” with the jalapeno burger last night and they were liberal with the peppers. As it turns out, my friend who would have made for my “seventh” meeting isn’t available tonight so I might stop in at the Italian place. That’s the one where they converted an old bank and the building is charming.

Trip, Day 6…..

Segment two, three and four of the trip are completed; five and six yet to come – may possibly squeeze in a seventh. Yesterday was pleasant although hot. Mariners on Sibley Lake continues to be a favorite spot for brunch and when you pick an early enough time, a table by the window is usually available. I have now had my next to last culinary “must” of Natchitoches mini-meat pies and they were as delicious as always. The prime restaurant for them wasn’t open on Sunday, but most everyone does well with them. My friends are doing fine and have a couple of nice trips planned for next year to include their first time to Paris. I’ll send some tips later as well as the link to the Paris card where they can get museum and Metro passes combined.

My aunt and cousins are also doing well; three of them came by for a visit and we all got caught up on everything. My aunt is adapting to her need to slow down and the massive pine tree in front of the house did have to come down since my last visit. By the time they carefully removed it and extricated all the roots, there was speculation a pool was going in. Not that it would make sense in that spot, but apparently it was a quite a large hole. The house – originally purchased by my grandparents – has been updated somewhat over the years, yet the welcoming front porch and much of the floor plan are still the same. The drive up to Minden was easy enough and I head out in a few minutes to go see how Daddy is doing. Not sure if will be meeting with another old friend either this evening or tomorrow; we’re trying to see if schedules will sync.

Trip, Day 5…..

As I have mentioned in the past, Natchitoches is the town in Louisiana where I lived the longest – 4th grade through college. Daddy was transferred to Minden (1.5 hours north) during my senior year of college. In leaving after graduation to go into the Army, I did not return for 20 years. It was, in fact, a high school reunion that coincided with our travels that brought me back into the “circle” of the three women I knew best in high school and college. I did use parts of Natchitoches in the creation of the fictional town of Wallington, Georgia for the “Small Town” quilting series. Aside from it being the oldest town in Louisiana (contrary to what some people believe about New Orleans), its modern recognition comes from Hollywood. That is the “Horse Soldiers” for the 1940s folks and “Steel Magnolias” for later generations.

Anyway, unlike so many towns that struggle with downtown revitalization, they have succeeded mostly by becoming a city of different festivals. The “Christmas Lights” – again made famous in the movie – had always been a draw and attendance literally exploded after the movie became so popular. Subsequently, the idea for even more festivals took hold and I’ve lost count of how many they have now. Like everywhere that does this, parking has become an issue, but there’s not much way around that. There is a charming art gallery and it’s another place where artists can choose to work in the store in exchange for exhibit space. The woman on duty yesterday also happened to have some notecards she and her husband had done. Since we don’t need more pieces of art at home, I always buy cards. Granted, the artist doesn’t make much, but it is a level of support.

Lunch with friends yesterday was in another fairly new place and the friend crawfish atop salad was good. Brunch is later today with other friends, then I will probably be off the grid until late Monday afternoon.

Trip Day 4…..

In general I like to be at an airport 2 hours before a flight. I prefer to sit and relax as I most often have access to some kind of lounge. In the days before that, I would simply take my time strolling about and having a sit-down meal. When I came through the Springfield Regional Airport, I noticed there wasn’t much in the way of amenities (just as there isn’t in Shreveport). I therefore told my friend I didn’t need to be at the airport until 12:15 or 12:30. We actually arrived closer to 12:40, but that was still okay for me to get through check-in, security, have a quick bite and an adult beverage. Or so I thought. Now, in all fairness, it is possible this was a day where every single point was unexpectedly short-staffed; that can happen. And in all fairness, when one books an afternoon flight, there are likely to be more people checking in and I didn’t check in on line. With that said, it was the worst experience I’ve had. While there were two points through security there was only one TSA agent checking IDs, so there’s a bottleneck. The single bar and place to have food was jammed and definitely understaffed. I didn’t realize at first, you had to go order in the food area, get a number, then they would bring the food. That isn’t unusual, except it was quite obvious the process wasn’t moving quickly and by the time I finally got a beverage, there seemed little chance of making food happen. I had a fairly tight connection in Dallas, but since both planes were “puddle jumpers”, I properly calculated I wouldn’t have to change terminals. There was a BBQ spot close to my gate and although the selection was limited, it was okay.

I’m not going to get into the annoyance of the rental vehicle I have and traffic from the airport was lighter than expected. There is a Texas Roadhouse next to the hotel for my first stay (part of why I booked there). It was very crowded, however, there was a seat at the bar. They were staffed as well as they could be and quite professional. I did order a larger size steak than usual.


Trip Day 3…..

Mother Nature did indeed come through and it was if other things aligned as well. My friend wanted us to go to Silver Dollar City for their Pumpkin Harvest festival. The storms that came overnight cleared and it was cloudy, but pleasant as the sun then later came out. We found a good parking spot which in the massive number of people who can park was not inconsequential. In fact, attendance was lower than she expected and it was quite nice wandering with no big crowds. There are some rides in the Theme park (mostly rollercoasters neither of us care for) and they have different shows. Shops and crafts are more the thing and we wandered through many of them and yes, some purchases were made. A show we were particularly interested in was Circq Eloise, Lumberjacks. It is just as it sounds and works better than you might think. We – as in my family – had seen a Circq Eloise of a more traditional theme years ago. Not as famous as Cirq Solei, they are still quite talented and this troupe had three performers who did the make-you-catch-your-breath acrobatics and the others did impressive, but not as tricky movements.

I head to the airport in a few hours to begin the Louisiana segments of the trip and what in the Army we referred to as, “duffle bag drag”. In other words, five or six more “stops” in four different spots. Ah well, I do check off a lot of blocks. No new books to distribute, but I did get “Small Town Quilting Treasures” off to the editor before I left.

Trip Day 2….

Ah, Mother Nature will have her way. The expected thunderstorms and rain slowed down, so the indoor option for yesterday seems to have lost use of what turned out to be a nice day after all. However, having been properly primed for the movie “Downton Abby”, there was a stop for lunch at a Deli featuring Greek. I do send sympathies to my friend that would greatly love for us to have such a place in Homestead. The spicy gyro was excellent. The matinee on a Wednesday was obviously mostly attended by people our age and older. Since I have not followed the series, I think I would have enjoyed the movie anyway, yet would definitely have missed a number of important relationships and dimensions of characters. My friend, the avid fan, thoroughly enjoyed it and I heard only good comments from other people.

We drove back by a different route and down to the Table Rock Lake RV/picnic park closest to their home. It was quite nice and about ten minutes from their house. They have a spectacular view of the lake from their upper terrace although they can’t access it. The park – part of the Army Corps of Engineers work – has a fairly spacious area for boats and a ramp as well as a small beach and section of lake marked off by floats to allow swimming protected from boats.

As I always mention on this trip, fried catfish is something no one in our part of Florida does very well and therefore it is a goal each time I come this way. Aside from not having hushpuppies, a “dive bar” close to my friends does fry up good catfish and they serve it with curly fries and decent cold slaw. They do take-out and dinner last night was piping hot when we went and picked it up.

Trip Day 1……

And so I began my trip yesterday with no real chance to get on-line. I was up early as usual this morning, but having network issues which I think I have sort of resolved. It will be this way during my Missouri leg, but so it goes sometimes. Anyway, early flight out of Miami was uneventful and layover in Dallas was good. Flight into Springfield was bumpy for second part as weather had set in a day earlier than anticipated. My friend was somewhat distressed with the rain as there are some outdoor plans involved. However, we do have Plan B and the rain did stop as we had lunch at a local and excellent BBQ place. She lives about an hour from Springfield and at least there was only sporadic light rain on the drive back.

Catching up of course took us into dinner and since Plan B for today includes a matinee of the Downton Abby movie and I have never watched the show, she found a season by season synopsis for me, then we watched Episodes 1 and 2, Season 1 so I could have an idea of characters, setting, etc. I have a number of friends who are big fans and I must admit I can see why. I doubt I’ll go back and look for the show on DVD, but it’s not totally out of the question, either. Anyway, I expect my sleep patterns will be disrupted for a few days – as if I don’t have enough trouble with insomnia – yet, that is again normal for when I travel.

The leaves have not really begun to change here and the general consensus is they probably won’t have a good “leaf season”. It is always so dependent on rain and temperatures. They do still have a few hummingbirds lingering though and that’s nice.

Summers in Maine….

Photos aren’t posted yet, but the kids made the 12ish-hour trip up to Maine yesterday. They’ll visit for four or five days, then make a stop to see a longtime friend in Rhode Island on the way back. Granddaughter is old enough now to really understand and remember the visits. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Dustin spent at least a month every summer in Maine, often longer. While we were there each Christmas as well, either for, or right after Christmas, summertime is very different. There are, of course, the masses of tourists to cope with as Grandpa swore each summer he would stay tucked away, “on the farm”, until after Labor Day. Taking Dustin on special excursions did make for the exception to his rule, although since was also still working, it would often be Gram and Dustin going somewhere as they “made memories”. It was important for him to embrace that part of his heritage and since my daughter-in-law is one of the few in her family to move away from Mane, granddaughter has deep roots there. The cottage on the lake makes for a perfect setting, except I’m sure even in August, the water temperature will be cool. Naturally there is the spot where they make a fire underneath star-filled night skies.

Blueberries in all shapes and forms, handmade ice cream, maple candies, and lobster for the adults are givens. I’m not sure if granddaughter has developed a taste for seafood beyond fish sticks, but there will be plenty of fried haddock nuggets. August can bring black flies as a nuisance, so here’s hoping it might be a mild year for them. I’ve probably forgotten some special culinary treat, and will no doubt see photos soon on Facebook as they make the different rounds to see family and friends. Perhaps Mother Nature will be kind and keep the weather sunny for them.