Thursday, February 28, 2013


Yesterday was a beautiful weather day. Jim fixed a blown fuse on the back-up camera, and a few other little chores. I lost my mobile home to an indoor flood and dealt with the related issues much of the morning and late in the day. Jim received news that Aaron Canvasser, a good friend of his died and he was feeling blue.


This is Aaron giving me a haircut on the first day that we met in 2010.  He came to visit us where we were staying in Yuma. Then I gave him a haircut. He was so much fun to be around. It is a haircut I’ll never forget.
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We didn’t feel like doing much so we drove around the park, took more swamp pictures. The swamp was  gray and cheerless. I kept trying to find color.
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Moving water and shadows produced an abstract.
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This one tree near the boardwalk had three different pieces of tackle stuck in it.
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This piece was hanging in the wind. The third piece was one of those yo-yos.
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I talked to five fishermen on the board walk. This guy was using a baby crawfish for bait. He said he usually gets perch in this lake, and an occasional bass. None of them had fish yet. He told us about an alligator farm nearby.
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The boardwalk here is lengthy and makes a pretty pattern.
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A clump of iris. The green just emphasizes the gray of the cypress.
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But, spring is just around the corner. I expect to see  green leaves soon. We spent the late part of the day sitting outside for the second time this winter. It was comfortable enough to read our books and enjoy the fresh air right up to supper time. Life is good.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


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After the horrific storm from the previous day, we woke up to a few puddles. The whole river of water covering the ground just disappeared. DSC03420 (Copy)
We drove about 7 miles to Ville Platte, a town of  8,000 population. The Chamber of Commerce suggested we visit this beautiful old restored bank building, Jack Miller’s  Sauce and Seasonings Company, and  Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasonings Co.
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The restored bank building has been turned into an upscale restaurant called The Cocks Tail.
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It is as beautiful on the inside as the outside.
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The gorgeous old gas lamps have been wired for electricity.
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The old broken tiles replaced with new stuff; period border tile sets off the brick and flat tile.
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Ditto the metal ceiling tiles and corner decorations. Replaced with a replica of what was there.
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What a delightful place. A great menu as in shrimp etouffee stuffed baked potato, portobello soup, all the usual southern fried dishes and a huge variety of tempting sandwiches, flatbreads and wraps. Yum.
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We headed out to Jack Miller’s place promising to go back for lunch. We were intrigued by the fact Jack Miller’s carries a line of salt free seasonings. This is a picture of a picture of Jack Miller, the founder of the company, now deceased.
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His son Kermit Miller runs the company with his wife, two sons and one employee. The no salt seasoning is an interesting story. His parents owned a restaurant where Jack was always fooling with sauces and seasonings for his dishes. He had a friend whose daughter was born without the ability to tolerate salt, none at all. Jack fooled around with spices and flavors and made seasoning for the daughter without salt until she finally grew out of the condition. During that time, he perfected a tasty concoction that suited other people’s needs who prefer not to use so much salt.
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Jack Miller’s Bar-B-Que sauce though, is their top seller. It was developed out of need. Jack  Miller’s American Inn Restaurant couldn’t get enough ground meat, beef, during the war years. In 1941  all these service men were in town and they were hungry. He realized the farmers in the area had some pork and lots of chickens.  So, he fooled with sauces to make it tasty and it was. Over the years, people would come to the restaurant with their own jars and ask Jack to sell them a little of that sauce. (The sauce pictured above as raw ingredients, ready to cook.) Jack  turned one part of the restaurant into a sauce “factory”.
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Kermit’s son, Christian, loads one of three steam tubs where the sauce is cooked.
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It flows by pipe into the next room where it is bottled.
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We happened in at the end of a run. Kermit hit the handle of the auto filler to make it squirt out the last bit of sauce. (Partially filled jars.)
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His employee hand fills the jars and sends it back through the bottle labeler and capper.
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The finished product that is made daily, 500 to 700 gallons a day. Come May when the weather warms, it flies out of the warehouse. Kermit talks fondly of his father’s ways. He did everything by hand. On a restaurant stove, stirring and stirring the product so it wouldn’t burn. He would deliver to a Mom And Pop grocery and sell the a case of sauce and explain, I’ll come back and if it doesn’t sell, I’ll take it back and give you your money back. “You can’t do business like that anymore,” says Kermit.
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Walmart approached him about selling in their stores. He has several products other than the original sauce. It is carried in all Louisiana Walmarts. He ships to a winery in California, to Chef Prudhomme, to Japan…literally all over the world from on-line.  Tabasco asked him to design a sauce that added tabasco, and they sell it under Tabasco’s name and worldwide reach. Prodhomme sells his own seasonings but keeps Jack Miller’s name on what they buy from him.
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Kermit is a true Cajun, laid back, friendly and humorous. He calls this his secret Cajun Engineering. A huge sewn together plastic bag, fitted with a wood stove damper, from which he dispenses cellulose packing “peanuts” or nuggets for shipping his product. He reuses boxes and prefers to use the biodegradable cellulose instead of styrofoam. What a neat guy and an interesting success story. He sent us home with a gift pack of his product. And, recipes. I’ll get some of them on the blog sometime soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


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We read a forbidding weather report and the day dawned dark and cloudy. This squirrel outside our window didn’t seem to mind a bit.
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We blogged, showered and breakfasted and got to the arboretum just as it opened. It is part of the park. The first raindrops had already started.
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Inside, good displays, pictures of plants identified. Braille leaves like these and bird and animal sounds. Great stuff for kids and big kids. We took the trail maps and chose the shortest one.
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I finely learned that this flower is a carolina jasmine. A woody, twisty vine.
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The woods are gray and drab during the winter, but you get to see the “bones” of the forest.
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Bright, shiny leaves against the forest gray, draw the eye. A swamp magnolia.
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White patches of christmas lichen. Named so because you can also find it in pink, turquoise, green and yellow. Sometimes on the same tree.
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More of it on this dead branch.
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A toothache tree. So called because of the swelling bumps that develop on the bark. Double click to enlarge.
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The swamp has  more mature cypress than Sam Houston Jones State Park, and less light on this moody day. The rain is stronger.

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The rain chased us home.
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Shortly after we settled in, the skies dumped and obliterated the air, the ground, everything. It poured, hailed, and quickly flooded the area around us. We gave up on the idea of hauling our clothes to the laundry. We stayed in all day and read, edited pictures,  uploaded albums and took care of on-line chores. Not without jumping once in a while at a gunshot loud thunder-clap. It rained so hard,  several times I felt the ceiling inside the closets because I feared they must be leaking. Thankfully not.

Monday, February 25, 2013


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We watched the sun set on the small town of Iota but everything was closed up tight on Saturday. Sunday morning, we headed  to Chicot State Park for a five day stay since it is fairly central to Eunice, Iberia and other smaller towns we can visit on day trips.
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After we got settled in, I took a bike ride around the park while Jim napped. (His bike has a flat tire.) Flowers seeded into this puddle and braved the cold.
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The woods have few leaves but plenty of moss.
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The park is huge. It has a boat launch, lake, arboretum, swimming pool, lodges and cabins. And, a lot of wood. Many people in camp have or had fires.
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I happened on this gravel road and took it for about a two miles and found three lodges, empty of guests; neatly painted. A nice, quiet place.
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I’ve seen this flower before, but never attached to its stem and leaves. Not only beautiful but fragrant.
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I ran into a couple taking each others picture and offered to take theirs together. They were just cooking gumbo and invited us to join them for dinner. I took a picture of Shawn stirring the pot.
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Huge pieces of chicken and a rich gravy. I could have sworn I took a picture of both Shawn and his wife, but I took three of them with their phone and thought I’d taken one on my camera. Dang!
They left the gumbo to finish cooking and went kayaking for the afternoon. They wanted to check their yo-yo’s and hopefully find a couple of catfish to bring home. I had no idea what yo-yo fishing is. Annette explained it as a bobber that is like a yo-yo. You pull the hooked string and it dangles in the water. The yo-yo itself is tied to a nearby tree. When the fish bites, the string zips up to the bobber and hooks the fish.
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At six p.m. I walked over without Jim to bring the California hippy salad I’d promised for dinner. (Jim wasn’t feeling well.) I expressed my regrets but this Italian Cajun cooks a mean gumbo and she insisted I bring some home. “You gotta eat it with potato salad, that is tradition in our family. The potato salad goes right in the gumbo”, she emphasized. Absolutely delicious. We didn’t have a chance to visit long. She is a grammar school teacher. Shawn works testing and ex-raying welds on the pipe lines. They leave this morning and I didn’t even get their last name. Double dang. Some days you forget to take your brain with you.  The weather is supposed to be wind, rain, hail, possible tornado. We’ll probably stick close to the park.