Where did the summer go?

It’s been a long time coming, and I feel like I haven’t really sat down and visited with y’all in forever.  This has been a whirlwind summer for our family, especially for me.  It was a landmark summer as well, with major life events–some good, some not so good; but we’re only going to talk about the good.  Is that okay?

First, before anything else, I want to thank my lovely, generous Dotter for planning such a fulfilling summer for Miah.  On Mondays she took him bowling, and every Wednesday morning, they volunteered at My Heart’s Desire no-kill animal shelter.  He learned how to clean cat cages and food bowls, sweep, mop, and then as his reward after all his hard work, he got to walk his new friend, Pedro.  Dotter took him swimming a couple times, and to the movies several times.  And before I knew it, it was time for school to start, which he did just this week.  This is his second year at Terrebonne Career and Technical High School in their Food Service program and his last year in the public school system.

Miah and PedroSo, how about a little recap?  June was a blur to me, guiding four fishing charters with some fantastic fisherwomen. Also in June I wrote 3, I repeat THREE, grants as part of work at my part-time gig as executive director of Keep Terrebonne Beautiful (one of which we were awarded this month).  June 30th also found me racing to meet another writing deadline–my third in a series of four natural history articles for Country Roads Magazine.

As I said in the comments section of a previous post, the birds and squirrels got all the figs; first because they just didn’t taste very good this year, and second because I was just too dog gone busy to do anything with them.  So, I’m grateful the figs weren’t up to par.  Not sure why that was since we had plenty of rain, but the tree had an overabundance of big leaves this year. Regardless, lots of other folks had bumper crops of figs and found the fig preserve recipes here, which makes me very, very happy!

July was the month for birthdays for my son, Dan, and me.  My third child, Dan turned 27, and I’m starting to feel really old.  He’s now the youngest full-fledged tugboat captain in the Enterprise Marine fleet, and I am very, very proud of him.  

Dan eating-crawfish-on-boatThis was also the month that I did a rare thing–I hopped on a plane and flew up to Little Rock to spend a few days with my high-school friend, CK.  She and I reconnected at my first Bayou Woman Adventure in June 2012, and she returned this June with two of the veteran BWA attendees.  My trip to her happened during a cool snap, and the weather was amazingly divine.  We played Thelma and Louise (except for the ending) and hit the back roads up to Altus, Arkansas because I wanted to visit the Wiederkehr Vineyard there.  Who knew there was one, much less three vineyards in the beautiful hills of Altus?  

Wiederkehr Vineyard
Overlooking the Wiederkehr Vineyard


Wiederkehr Vineyard 2
After tasting 4 delicious wines

The flight back touched down in Houston, and while taking photos as we descended, I wondered intuitively if Capt. Dan was down there on his tugboat.  Turns out, he was, and no doubt the plane had passed right over him. Although too short, the trip was a much needed refreshing, relaxing break from the norm, enabling me to return home with a fresh frame of mind and renewed energy.  I’m more grateful to her than words can express.

Descending over Houston

August brought lots of surprises with it–one of which was a visit by an explorer by the name of Dale Stewart.  We had only communicated via Facebook, but when he said he was coming down here to explore the wetlands, see the loss, and connect with the Houma Indians, I knew I wanted to help him.  He spent a few days at the camp as his base while I set up interviews with the Houma people, as well as French and Cajuns, for an upcoming series on his radio show, Nature’s Edge.

Radio show interview with Houma Indian, Jamie Billiot

We took a boat ride at the end of which my I-phone jumped out of my pocket as I jumped out of the boat back at the dock.  He went in the water and searched around in the soft, silty bottom for an hour trying to retrieve it.  Oh yes, it was wearing a Lifeproof waterproof case, but it sank like a brick, never to be seen again.  

During his stay, he shared stories of his adventures paddling the Amazon and living with indigenous peoples; but his most recent paddle of the four rivers of the Water Trail of Tears was the most interesting of all.  Like many folks I’ve queried about this topic, I thought all the Indians east of the Mississippi walked to Oklahoma.  To learn more, be on the lookout for the release of his book and a documentary, both with the same title – Four Rivers.

august-2014-interviews (9)
Interview with Cajun general store owner, Cecile Lapeyrouse

In the midst of Dale’s visit, my friend Kim, the jewelry maker, (who makes my signature Gar scale earrings and wrap bracelets) came for a short visit.  It’s always great to reconnect with Kim’s gentle spirit and positive attitude.  Since she’s a canoe and kayak paddler, hiker, camper, and all around outdoor woman, she and Dale swapped lots of stories, comparing notes, having been to some of the same places in their paddling journeys.  Her visit wasn’t long enough, but it never is.  Together we designed a new Bayou Woman fish bracelet, which she will weave on her bead loom after she settles back at home in beautiful New Mexico.  I can’t wait to see the final result and show it here on the blog. The rest of our time was spent exploring and bird watching. Below are two of our great finds. (As always, you can click on the photo to see larger image.)

Female night heron
Female Yellow-crowned Night Heron with crawfish in its throat


Female and Male Night Herons
Female and Male Black-crowned Night Herons

And if those two adventurers gracing Camp Dularge weren’t enough excitement, after three long years of waiting, the demolition crew finally showed up to take down the old house the day after Kim arrived. Wow!  What an amazing undertaking!  I have a great series of photos to share with you in a separate post, but these two show the before and after.  It’s utterly astounding how so much square footage of wood and metal can be reduced to a pile of rubble in minutes.  

Old House Demo1
View of old house from front porch of new house.


Old House demo2
View of old house demolished from front porch of new house

But if my August hasn’t impressed you yet, here is my Pièce de résistance.  August 8-10th was the 69th Annual Conference of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, of which I’ve been a member for about eight years.  As my good fortune would have it, the conference was held in Houma again this year, as it was in 2011.  The event kicked off early last Friday morning with a fishing trip for big reds with Capt. Bill Lake. All I had to do was jump out of bed and drive down the road a couple miles and jump on his boat. We had a phenomenal fishing trip, catching our 5-person-5-fish-each limit of red fish by 9:30 a.m.  I plan to write an article about that trip, so I’ll spare you the details now other than to say I had a blast fishing with such a skilled guide on his boat!  I think the smile on my face says it all!

Me front view red fishLil Sis was able to join me for the rest of the conference weekend, sharing in the fellowship and rejoicing over my awards.  Yes, awards!  I will now unashamedly proclaim to y’all how proud I am that the two articles I wrote this year for Country Roads Magazine received first place prizes.  To make the victory that much sweeter, something I wrote for y’all, “How Do You Like Your Eggs?” received a first place award in the Electronic Division.  Having my hard work recognized by outdoor writer judges from another state (in blind judging, by the way) spurs me on to keep writing.

EIC-awards-2014I’ve been calling this a banner weekend for me, and indeed it was.  I guess I could say it’s been a banner summer, all the way around, except for the figs, of course.  With Camp Dularge having its best summer of rental business yet, what more could a girl ask?  Well, there is something else I’d like to do, which has been a dream for over a year now.  This week an opportunity that would make this dream come true presented itself to me.  It’s still a bit premature to share that with you, but believe me when I say that when this comes to pass, you will be some of the first to know.

So, I leave you with that little teaser, because life away from this desk is calling to me, and I must heed the call.  I’ve so much more to share with y’all, and this has just really been a summary.  Now, as always, I want to know what y’all have been doing this summer.  And to our new readers, I truly mean that.  I expect to come back here tomorrow and read the highlights of your summer wherever you are in the whole wide world!

Riding high and smiling wide,

Bayou Woman 

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  1. Love the awards and that handsome store owner sitting in the garden—
    As always really enjoy reading anything you write——
    Hope we get to visit soon!

    1. Ah yes, that handsome man was in rare form that day. So sorry we didn’t get to chat, but I was sort of “working” taking photos. Looking forward to a visit, too!

  2. Super proud of you. As always enjoyed your post. You and the fish both smiling happy happy. Bill

    1. Ha, Bill, I hadn’t noticed that smile on the fish’s face! Guess he figured it was his last 15 seconds of fame, LOL!

  3. Congrats on the awards! I missed one of the Country Road articles. I’ll check on it later.
    Now, as far as my Summer…I was on “grandparent duty” a good bit this year. Sun. mornings and Wed. pm are for church, I spend time with my dad at the nursing home at least once a week (BTW,he’ll turn 93 next week), at minimum 1 day a week is for cutting grass in Ms. (we’re usually there 2 days though), we had soccer, softball and baseball games to attend and the rest of the time is playing catch up around the house. I don’t know how you do what you do.

    1. The third article hasn’t been published yet, Steffi. It was written for the August issue, but they pushed it back for some reason. My fourth article is scheduled for the November issue. You are so busy with family obligations from grand kids to grand parents. Hard work, my friend, hard work and dedication to family. That is what matters most, after all!

      1. PS – you don’t know how i do what i do? Sheer necessity AND i don’t have grand kids to spoil or elderly parents or grand parents to care for. That’s how!!!

        1. No grandparents, just Dad now. I’ve also been busy doing the “Executrix” thing for my aunt’s very complicated estate. I’ve caught myself rolling my eyes and taking a deep breath when I see the attorney’s number on caller I.D.

    1. Thanks, Kim, and I hope you enjoyed the post. Nature blessed us with some very cool bird sightings. I believe you bring the bird mojo with you when you come!

  4. Congratulations on the awards and a belated Happy Birthday! You deserve those awards. Your writing is interesting and catches ones attention. And the photos are the topping on the cake for me.

    My summer has been super busy and extremely short it seems. I run back and forth to my moms checking on her or taking her to the doctor, picking up her meds, etc. I was working at the food pantry 2 days a week but, I had to tell them last month I was retiring after 10 years. I did tell them to call me if they were short handed and I would come in. (My retirement lasted 3 weeks!) 🙂

    I made arrangements for my niece to take over for moms care for 2 weeks last month so we could have a much needed vacation. We went to Oklahoma City and went thru the museum of the Alfred P. Murrah building. A soul wrenching experience. We left and headed to Kansas for a day at a live, working, western town. Then north thru Nebraska where I became extreme ill from my allergies. Seems I am allergic to corn pollen and the fir trees that grow in abundance. I do know I no longer crave corn on the cob after seeing thousand upon thousand of acres of nothing but corn plants! We went further north northwest to South Dakota and went to Mt. Rushmore! Oh my heavens that is beautiful. The black hills and badlands are so gorgeous we called our kids and told them to sell the house and send the money because we were not coming home. 🙂

    1. Ahhhhh, we need an edit in here. The above posted on its own.

      We headed to Sheridan, Wyoming from S. Dakota and spent 4 days there. My friend was getting married the 19th and we made it! We went sightseeing at different places within a hour or two of Sheridan and had a blast. We left there the 20th and headed to Utah where we met Dan Oaks and toured the facilities of DVO Cook’n. I use his software to publish my cookbooks. We finally headed toward Arizona and had to decide if we wanted to go to Vegas (we were 200 miles from it) or on to the Grand Canyon. The Canyon won. After a couple of days there we went to New Mexico to visit our niece and then headed back to Texas and the humdrum of daily life.

      And all the time we were gone, we kept our fingers crossed hoping the great grandson wouldn’t be born before we got home. And he is still not here but a couple of weeks past due!! I came home to find the food pantry very short handed and worked last week and today. I hope those who were out ill last week are back next week. I am ready for my retirement to start over again.

      1. WOW!!! What a summer you have had, Cammy! your vacation sounds great. i will have to do some reading about the places you visited. i’m so happy that you and hubby got to get out on the road together for a change! The food pantry just isn’t the same without you! They are going to keep you as long as they can! Tell mom hello for me an tell her i said to let those bones heal up before she does cartwheels again, lol!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Nice as always. Sounds like the family has been busy. I am trying to talk friend into coming down but have my low expectations meter on stand by. I think this will go down as my worst summer ever for fishing. But scooter madness has fill a bit of the void. And of course every boy needs a dog or three too.

    Going to try brewing up some kool aid pickles.

    1. Oh my, what are Koolaid pickles? or dare i ask? yep, you’re past due for a trip down, but I understand not getting your hopes up. And what kind of adventures do you take on that scooter?

      1. child, they is from the delta like tamales and cigar box guitars. Plan is drain juice off a gallon of whole dills, 2 cups sugar (yum), and 2or3 packs cherry or ???? koolaid.

        1. How long do you let them sit? And do you let them sit room temp, dark room, or ice box (frig. to you yankee types, lol)!! BW gonna make some Delta Dills!!!

          1. Chilled for as long as they last. I just had my memory refreshed by a sidebar in Gardens and Guns Mag. Saw them on food network on one of my trips to Camp Choup. Not doing well today hoping it is a breakdown in my prayer circles and not in me. grrrrr…..


            1. Okay, folks, step up the prayers for Blu. please? I subscribe to garden and Gun and somehow missed that sidebar. page no. please?

    1. It is a wonderful place, Blu. of course, Miah wanted to bring pedro home, but my little Ti Du is a jealous bitch, if ya get my drift. An estate left them 7 acres of land in East Houma, and they have turned it into a great place for these animals and formed adoption portion of course. The Capt. has a very mean housecat–a stray kitten stranded on the highway I wish now I had not rescued–clawed up every piece of wood furniture i own plus the leather couch and loveseat. Anyway, Miah met a sweet gray cat at the shelter he named Smoky. He came home one day and told me he had a great idea–take Dad’s cat to the shelter and swap her out for Smoky! I thought it was a great idea, too, but the Capt. wouldn’t bite. Too bad.

        1. I am with you Blu. Declaw that cat! Not only will you save what is left of the furniture but also your legs, arms, etc. Had a friend who lost part of his hand and nearly died when his girlfriends cat scratched him and he got cat scratch fever! I thought that was a joke or old wives tale but, it isn’t.

          1. Well, the furniture is long gone, and no fear about my arms because the cat is so evil that she won’t even get close to me, which is fine by me!!!

  6. Congratulations my friend on the awards, you deserve every one of them and I’m sure many more! One of the highlights of my summer was getting to spend the day with you, something I look forward to again. Please remind me about the book coming out about the Trail of Tears, as you know Natalie sings at quite a few dedications for markers along the trail as they are discovered or become a landmark. It’s amazing the tales of the different journeys to get to this area. I travelled to San Diego in June for work and head to Albuquerque next week. The end of summer, Labor Day weekend is the Cherokee National Holiday and we will be joining many other tribal members in Tahlequah for a weekend of powwows, parades and art shows.

    1. MrsCoach, do you know any info on a Cherokee Medicine man named Red Feather? That is my great grandfather on moms side and I am having a real hard time getting any information because my grandmother lost her folks to the “fever” and was taken in by her white moms family. They raised her to believe it was not something one admitted to being if they were half white and half Indian. It is partly written in the family bible but, my uncle inherited it and when he passed, his son, my cousin. He passed about 5 years ago and his wife took it and refuses to let anyone from our side of the family see it. I have begged her to copy the family info and send to me and I would pay for it but, she told me to talk to my grandmothers aunts who are all passed on. I am hoping that someday one of her daughters can get it away from her and back to the family. But, I will not hold my breath. I do know that Red Feather came to Oklahoma from the east and my grandmother was from Talihina, OK.

      1. I don’t want to steal Mrs. Coach’s thunder, and she may be able to help you, but Dale Stewart might also be a good resource as he has many friends in the Cherokee Nation up in NC. And since he came ‘from the east’ there might be chance Dale can help you find his descendants. I’m curious to see if she can help you. How cool would that be???

        1. BW, that would be fantastic. Mom cannot remember much anymore and all she actually had were bits and pieces of info she had overheard from the adults talks. I do believe that the “fever” my great grandfather and great grandmother died from was probably yellow fever. I also know that mom had heard mention of the Trail of Tears they had to travel and that many died during that. I have done some research on it but, keep hitting blank walls.

        2. Cammy, Do you know if Red Feather had another English name? Many Cherokee of the time had their Cherokee name and English name. For instance the great Cherokee Sequoyah’s English name was George Guess. I would recommend you visit the cherokeeheritage.org website and go to the geneology section. You may also want to visit cherokeemuseum.org site for a list of resporces that may help.

          1. Dale, no, I do not of another English name. Mom said grandmothers maiden name was Redd. Whether that was from her dad or the name her aunts who raised her had I do not know. I do know that the Wolf Clan is where we are supposed to be descended from.

    2. Oh, Tara, I thought about you the entire time he was here talking. He kept mentioning Tahlequah over and over. He told a very neat story of how he spent a lot of time with the Gaduah (?) at and around Cherokee, nC before he embarked on this trip. He wanted them to approve of his trip and sanction it. Before he left, 4 of the elder women each gave him some kind of stick of wood and placed them all in a basket he was to take with him, which he did. When he got to OK, 4 elder women there took the basket, each took a stick, and performed some sort of blessing, then gave the basket of sticks back to him and asked him to return it to their motherland to make the circle complete. the story touched me, as he was so touched when the event happened. i kept thinking about Nat singing the youth choir, and how proud I am of the seed corn necklace she gave me. Would you do me a big favor? Would you respond with a comment and explain to me again all the significance of the necklace? I can’t do it justice! I, too, look forward to seeing you again. Maybe one day when Life permits, I can travel up your way and share in the beauty of OK. (We can go spy on Pioneer Woman, LOL!)

      1. Explanation of corn seed necklace: Legend says that anywhere a tear fell along the Trail of Tears a corn like stalk plant grew and produced a corn-like bead that was a grey color. The corn bead is tear shaped and the color is called misery to represent the misery of the people. The corn like plant grew all along the trail. We actually grew our own this year for Natalie to use in her beadwork. The seed bank at Cherokee Nation has seeds that directly come from seeds carried here by our ancestors.
        Cammy- I am not very good at the genealogy part of it. I would check out the Dawes and Bakers rolls online. If they were around the Talihina area look at Choctaw nation too, Cherokee is usually who people assume they are related to if they had ancestors on the trail but several tribes came across and that’s now Choctaw Nation area. Cherokee.org has some good genealogy info on it.

  7. What an amazing summer you and your family has had. Congrats on the awards!

    Too bad about your figs. Publix has had them the past 3 weeks or so but they are so expensive. I try to control my cravings until they have the ‘buy one, get one free’ deal and then pig out.

    Have been rather out of it the past few weeks. Have had one of the worst colds I’ve had in years, along with a flare up of another health issue.

    I’m ready for some coolth, too. It’s been really hot and muggy here lately. The unusual cool weather some folks have been having didn’t dip this far southeast.

    Blu, you’re in my thoughts and prayers.

    (Rats… I always forget to do that math problem!)

    1. Oh, summer colds are the worst. Dotter caught one, lost her sense of taste and smell for over a month. unheard of! She’s slowing recovering her senses, though. The cool air is coming and will be here before you know it! hang in there and hope you are feeling 100% soon!

  8. What a wonderful summer you’ve had. Congrats on the awards, and congrats especially on carving out time to do some writing for publication. That’s a very good thing.

    It’s been hot and quiet here. I’ve kept up the blog, done a few one-day road trips, but most have kept working, trying to finish up some jobs by fall. I hate working in the heat, but, on the other hand, who wants to vacation when it’s so miserably hot? Not me. I’m going to try and carve out some time and pile up some money before the pleasures of fall arrive.

    Heat index here today? 107-110. Isn’t that a joy? I need to get out of here and get cracking before it heats up. Oh, wait. It’s already 80 degrees. I think I won’t even look at the heat index. 😉

    1. It has been a wonderful summer, although it passed too quickly! Writing for publication is a welcome necessity that helps pay the electric bill 🙂 Your road trips are always wonderful stories later! I’ve been reading Deep Delta Country by Harnett T. Kane, 1944. Reading it makes me think of you for some reason . . . the way you weave your stories. Inspiring. I would like to travel more, around my own state, and write about it. All in due time, my friend, all in due time. This is not really the season of travel for me, but my day is coming. Nah, don’t bother with the heat index!

  9. I enjoyed reading your post. I did get to meet Dale Stewart and I did enjoying hearing about his adventures. He is a very interesting man.

    1. Hi Yvonne, and welcome to the blog. I’m so glad to have you here and glad you enjoyed the post. Dale mentioned to me that he met you and also mentioned that he should have interviewed you, too. yes, he is an interesting person, very friendly, and has led such a wide-spread life, so to speak! I’m sure we will be hearing more from him, as he intends to come back for more research and learning about our culture and way of life. I really look forward to having you as a regular reader and honored that you took the time to stop by! See you soon! BW

  10. Sounds like you’ve had a productive and fun Summer! I agree it is going by too fast! I’m one of the folks that found your fig preserve recipe and i’m glad I did : )

    1. Hello again, Marianne. Following your page on FB, I fell like we are old friends and kindred spirits, even though we’ve never met! You are welcome here any time! BW

      1. I feel the same way! My only complaint about your page and FB page is I wish you would post more! LOL, I know that is hard when you are so busy!

        1. I lost some of my readers a few years ago because they thought i was switching to Facebook. I was expanding to FB, but they misunderstood; and since they don’t do FB, they dropped me altogether. However, the following here has built back up, and I’m very thankful. This is part of my professional presence, as well. FB is a different audience, too, but I can dream of doing as good a job as you do! I don’t know how you post as much as you do. You must take pics with a smartphone and post from there, right? What kind of phone do you have? Sorry, but this is what we do here . . . yak yak yak!!!

          1. I do upload a lot from my ‘phone. It’s just a plain ole Iphone 4. I’m too cheap to get the 5, LOL! I am thinking about going to the Samsung, however, they seem to take really good pic’s.

            1. As you read, my first and only ever Iphone 4 succumbed to the bottom of the bayou 🙁 a couple weeks ago. Can’t upgrade until Sept. and like you, am wondering about Samsung. Two of my kids made the switch and truly like it. I’m in a quandary over the entire electronics thing: windows based vs apple vs android. I’m so ocd about that stuff . . . and ready to buy a notepad and new phone and not sure which system to go with. Hey, everyone else, chime in if you have some preference, suggestions!

  11. Anybody notice where most of the top 10 happy places were in America? We knew that already I think.

    1. Ha ha! We DID know that, but honestly, I’m not quite sure why! I’m happy, but I don’t live in Houma. I think “down the bayou’ folks might be even happier!!!!

  12. BTW, Wendy, you probably saw on my page, I’ve had a pair of Rufous hummingbirds the past few days. I understand they often winter in South La. even as far North as Baton Rouge and are even spotted up here in mild Winters. Have you seen them where you live?

    1. I’m terrible about identifying hummers because I haven’t been good about putting out feeders every year. however, I have 4 out this year in hopes of luring them. Others down here have posted photos of them in their yards recently, including Rufous. if you want to join their page, it’s the Terrebonne Bird Club, and i think you would enjoy it! Your lilies are gorgeous, by the way!

      1. Thank you! I will look them up! I’ve been watching Mr. Rufous this am~he’s taken a position on a row of tomatoes and he is fighting off the Ruby throats and visiting my okra blossoms~so pretty. My stupid camera battery is dead, GAAAAHHHH!!! Took some shots with hubby’s camera, but don’t know how they will turn out.