The Land Haunts Me

So I have this haunting feeling. In Louisiana the present goes back to the past. Past the civil rights, past slavery, past the English, Spanish, and French. Past the Tunica and Biloxi. Maybe it is the past comes forward.

In other places, I lament not feeling a connection to the past not knowing the history. But now I don’t know if I can handle the sinking dark feeling of the past. I know in some ways its dramatic and ignorant but in other way there is something to what I’m feeling.

This past weekend was the Pilgrimage in West Feliciana. It is an amazing display of local spirit put on by the historical society. An eighth of the town gets dressed up in settler regalia and warmly leads incredible tours of a number of the mansions and plantations in the parish.

But beneath the excitement, I mourn the evaded story. The larger truth over looked that could have innumerable and immense implications to life in the town and the state if it were confronted. No mention was given to the truth of the means employed to achieve the opulence. To the human or ethical cost. To the force employed to dominate. Or to the justifications.

But to address the past would require addressing the present. Where the past lives in perpetitutity. Where the great great great heirs to the power and wealth live in power and wealth. And the great great great heirs to the marginalization and poverty live marginalized and in poverty.

And I feel this. I carry it. Its in the land. In the speech. I want to change it. I want to change the past. To make our better selves, be our better selves, and always have been our better selves. But I can’t and it haunts me.

A Perfect Pizza Made by Me

So I got home had some leftover corned beef and crashed. I woke up around 7:30 to the smell of something cooking and thought I’d either come downstairs and try not to eat everything my roommate was cooking or I’d make something. I got a hankering for Papa Johns but its a forty minute drive and I like to eat at home so I made my own. Employed the lessons learned from the last pizza: corn meal the pan, coat the crust with olive oil, half bake the crust, and add the fresh everything.

DIY Pizza Crust:

Dissolve sugar in some pretty warm/slightly hot water. Add a teaspoon yeast. Let sit a few mins. Add a cup and a half of flour and some olive oil. Mix together and roll out immediately with some flour to keep it from sticking. Lay it over the pizza pan, coat with olive oil. Let it sit to rise for a tossed crust or cook now for thin crust. Bake at 450 for 8 mins.

DIY Awesome Pizza:

Add what’ll do you right. I experimented by coating the crust with some garlic yellow pepper sauce made in Peru with a little tomato sauce over it. Then added string, munster, and some shredded cheddar.  A thinly sliced yellow tomato, red bell pepper microwaved for 2 mins and sliced, sliced mushrooms, and 8 sliced basil leaves.

Cooked for ten minutes and then broiled for two. It hit the spot. I ate three quarters of it at nine and had already eaten at 4:30 when I got home. Not that I recommend it, or would eat that much regularly, but it was good. Feel free to experiment and buen provecho.

Louisiana Parades: Fam, Friends, Beads & Booze

So Louisiana loves its parades. In Louisiana a parade equals family, friends, food, floats, music, beads and alcohol. Lots of beads. Lots of alcohol.

Two years ago my wife and I went to the Mardi Gras Parade in Baton Rouge and were completely caught of guard at the energy and enthusiasm in the crowd. People kept coming. I’d never seen so many people in Baton Rouge before, but then again I haven’t been to an LSU game. People brought their kids and their beer coolers. Turns out they both double in helping to gain height to snag more beads.

The floats start and don’t stop. Unless you’re raised here, the parades may very well outlast you. The proof is most every float has its own port-a-potty. When the participants can’t make it through it without going you know the parades are long and you know they plan for drinking.

Anyway lots of excitement. Lots of fun. You mark the seasons by the parades. Homecoming, Christmas, Mardi Gras, St. Patty’s Day, Crawfish Festival, and on and on.

So yesterday was the St. Patty’s Day Parade here in Baton Rouge. Two years ago we didn’t know it existed but happened to drive through part of the route a couple of hours after it was over. We didn’t know what happened there but we could tell it had to have been a lot of fun.

This year we made a date. Unfortunately, she’s still north, so I had to go alone with a couple friends. It was fun. Lots of people. Lots of green. Lots of beads. And the most beautiful weather. 

If you’ve never lived in Louisiana, it is something altogether different.

Water’s a Little Cloudy, But the Discus are Growing

So my discus are growing. Crazy fast for only having had them for two months yet terribly slow for watching them hours a day. I just can’t wait for them to become perfect, round saucers. But the persistent nagging worry is that they won’t. I’ll have almost discus and then where will I be.

I think I’m at the stage with the big one where the face is a little more pointed and the eyes seem a little too big, right before out of nowhere they finish growing out and fill out to their iconic full roundness. But again he may not, so the suspense continues.

I have two red turquoise that are really starting to get their color. the red is coming in nice. Though the color’s ever-changing, overall a couple seem to promise future grandeur.

On a little side note, I got sick of the discus occasionally picking off a cardinal tetra and eating ’em, so I took the whole group of cardinals out. They can enjoy a peaceful existence in their own planted tank and the discus will once again have their own. Sad day for the hope of the perfect aesthetics of an amazing school of cardinals schooling through and around the suspended discus. At least until I can emotionally and financially handle the requisite cardinal losses.

Live Oak Haiku

branches every way

defy Newton hauntingly

pollen drives wife north

I’ve Got the Carrier, Bring on the Babies

So, while I was studying Kaqchikel Maya, a couple of years ago in Guatemala, I was amazed and attracted to the traditional way Maya women carried their babies around. I was hooked. Hooked on the variation in textile and hooked on the simplicity of the practice.

I had previously decided that before I had kids, I needed to find better alternatives to the awkward American practice of transporting a baby to the side in a heavy plastic car seat like trying to carry a five gallon bucket of water. I longed for something simpler and more intimate. Something less consumeristic and something more aesthetic. I found that something in Guatemala, in the ye old Maya practice.

In Guatemala they call these things cargadores de bebes which literally means carriers of babies and sounds pretty cool in Spanish. I think they haven’t quite caught on in the English speaking world for lack of a catchy name.  Baby carrier, baby sling, baby wrap all fall a little short.

The things themselves, however, I could see really catching on with Gen Y as we’ve experienced excessive consumerism  and  are looking for alternatives. A number of those alternatives seem to lie in the simpler ways things were done in the past, ways we are now rediscovering and re-embracing. Here’s my contribution. A simple way to hold your baby close, take him or her everywhere, and avoid the bulk of lugging around strollers or the plastic car seat out of the car.