Friday, October 26, 2012

Louisiana Redux

It is always good to be back in my home
state of Louisiana.  I eagerly anticipate the food, the music, the coffee, the ambiance,  the culture unlike anywhere else in the country, and most of all--my family.

Isn't it fun to find unusual art pieces in unexpected places?

Dozens of these gems appeared all over the city of Opelousas.  I am sure they are a tribute to the great fiddle playing that this part of the world is known for.  'Long live Zydeco music!'

And there is no denying the French culture.

The French are enormously proud of their history as it relates to this little part of the U.S.

And I truly hope they instill their culture enough in their children so that it does not melt away into that giant Campbell's soup of McDonalds, Walmarts, Chuck Cheeses, etc.

Here is an example of one of the many shrines to good eats...

It did not take long after stopping at the cousin's Riviere in Gramercy, Louisiana that we weren't off to find a great meal.

Cousin Jamie, wife Linda and Linda's Mom, Ethel took me north to Middendorf's on Pass Manchac, a canal that connects Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas (in other words--swamp country) for some world famous, thin-fried catfish.  This restaurant has died several times due to hurricanes and been reborn  better than ever since its founding in 1935.  For the latest catastrophe, you can see the flood line from Hurricane Isaac in the photo above.

But soon after the flood the restaurant reopened and it is still going strong.   A testament to its greatness is that it has a multitude of accolades from every notable southern publication, was named as 'best place anywhere in the south to get fried catfish' by Southern Living magazine, and was written about in Carl Hiaasen's book, "Double Whammy" and again in "the Sweet Potato Queen's Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner".  Now that should be enough for anyone to start planning their next vacation.

The restaurant also has this outdoor dining area that makes you want to sit all afternoon with family and friends and just watch the boats go by...

or sit in the sand and let the fried catfish finish clogging up your arteries. 

Our next stop was one of those festivals that every little town or parish can throw at the drop of a fried shrimp on a stick.  Food and music combined--Ahh, Devine Mercy.


And it was here that I met my very newest cousin, Lindsey Marie Hymel.  She is a true southern beauty and I had the pleasure of worshipping her for a short time....

And she showed her natural disdain for all the fawning attention that came her way.

Not to be out-done, her two brothers, Andrew and Michael, showed me their skills at the 'Chicken Dance'. This family just exudes charm and talent.

When I first drove into Louisiana I stopped by for a few days visit with my Aunt Pauline and her daughter, Tinker.  Aunt Pauline is not at all well so it was a quiet visit while we sat for hours and exchanged jokes and memories of days past.  
Then I took another day with my Uncle Joe and his wife, Doris.  Last year when I drove away Uncle Joe was struggling with his health and that seemed to get progressively worse throughout the year.  Until this summer that is, when he did a complete turn-around and is now looking and feeling his old self again.  So things can change, people can heal and there is always room for optimism.  
The wonderful parts of this trip are the re-connections I have been able to make with family and friends.  Not money, not standing, not anything but TIME--It is time that I prize the most.  The time to drive many miles to sit with a brother-in-law in need, to visit an aunt that can tell me funny jokes,  to listen to an uncle describe to me how he fell in love with his wife more than 50 years ago.
So, for all of my friends and readers out there--I wish you TIME.    


  1. You are truly on the trip of a lifetime. I am impressed by the number of family members you have.

    1. Allison...Even more than I thought. And you are right--it is such fun to get to know all the cousins. Thanks for the comment, Toni

  2. Toni,
    Really enjoyed this post. I had missed you the last few days, was wondering if something had happened. But you look well and happy, I glad to say. Hope to see you in person before too long, here in Tucson.

  3. Great posts Toni....enjoyed the Robeline entries....thanks for sharing...I posted it on the Lambert Wedsite and hopefully some of your questions will be answered.

    Dean Lambert
    Many, La.

  4. It was a wonderful pleasure to have met you at Pops books in Weatherford..Hope to see you again when you visit here again..Pete