Sunday, January 20, 2013

Movin' on up

Lala Land has moved!

I planned to do this a little more gradually, but it was all so easy - I just took the plunge and did it! I've moved hosting of Lala Land from Blogger to Wordpress.

Nothing bad to say about Blogger, hell I've been using this same platform since 2005! I'ts just that Wordpress offers so many more whistles and bells!

So abra-cadabra!

Click here

or here

or here

See ya there!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Feathers, Beads, Food and Fun

In a couple of weeks, Downtown Dad and I will be taking a trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana to decorate and ride on floats wearing feathers and throwing beads.  We will also be eating our weight in crawfish and gumbo, and chasing a chicken through the back roads on horseback. 

Why would a couple of yankee Midwesterners be doing that you ask? Well, to the Cajuns of Southwest Louisiana, it's obvious - Mardi Gras!

I know what you're thinking.  You're picturing the New Orleans version of Carnivale.  The one where millions of drunk and disorderly people jam Bourbon Street, and the overhanging balconies in various states of undress.  Well, not that there won't be a fair amount of drinking, and a maybe a little disorder, but the best part about celebrating Mardi Gras in Lake Charles is that it is the Cajun version, and therefore it has a family friendly atmosphere.  Our kids are as much a part of the celebration as we are.
Our relationship with the Krewe de Charlie Sioux started many years ago, when we lived in Sioux City, Iowa.  A sister city relationship was established which married parts of each city's name and each region's culture.  Representative Sioux Cityans travel to Lake Charles each year to take part in and experience the lavish costumes and pageantry during Mardi Gras, then in July, a whole cadre of Cajuns show up in Sioux City to put on a glittery feathery gala, followed by a bead pelting parade, ending with regional free Saturday in the Park concert. It's magical.

The Krewe de Charlie Sioux is one of over 50  Krewes licensed and registered with the City of Lake Charles. A Krewe elects royalty - a king and queen and at least 2 dukes and 2 duchesses, who preside over the meetings, and during the week leading up to Fat Tuesday, take part in several galas, and parades wearing the lavish costume and headpiece (some weighing 50 pounds or more!) designed especially for them according to that year's theme.  Downtown Dad and I, while we haven't been King and Queen, have each had a chance to be Duke and Duchess.  

We've even added some uniquely upper Midwest touches of our own by bringing Viking horn helmets into the mix.  They were quickly adopted and dubbed bead catchers, allowing the wearer to use both hands for - what else - drinking!

New for DD and me this year will be a Cajun Chicken Run. The costume for this event is more humble and native than for the galas and parades, but still requires singing, dancing and of course drinking! This is a traditional rural Mardi Gras celebration, based on begging rituals - like trick or treating, except you don't beg for candy, you beg for gumbo ingredients, namely a live chicken, which apparently must be chased and caught. Don't worry, even though it's fate used to be the gumbo pot once caught, nowadays the chicken's role is mostly symbolic. 

Over the years, we've established some deep friendships with the ever-changing cast of characters that make up our Krewe. We've also added some colorful terms to our vocabulary
  • Pinch tail and suck head - to eat a crawfish Cajun style
  • Mudbugs - another name for crawfish
  • Throw me something mister - what you yell when you watch a parade
  • Feather up - to prepare and be strapped into your Gala costume
  • Coonass - the affectionate name for a Cajun to call another Cajun
  • Boudin (boo dan) - hot spicy pork mixed with rice, stuffed in a sausage casing
  • Chachere (sash er ay) - The Tony Chachere Cajun seasoning that's on everything  
  • Laissez les bon temps rouler - (lay zay bon tom roolay) Let the good times roll!

Feathers, beads, fabulous food and fun can only mean one thing - Mardi Gras in Lake Charles!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

We Have A Gym Membership

Back in the early eighties, fruit smashing comedian Gallagher added a bit to his routine that reflected how his life had changed since becoming a father.  He carried a diaper-clad anchor tied around his waist with a rope, and every time he came to a point in his story where someone would invite him to do something or go somewhere - he would throw the heavy anchor to the floor and respond morosely, "I'd love to, but ... we have a baby. We can't EVER go out AGAIN."

Besides being hell on the stages where he performed, (but what part of his act wasn't?) the anchor was a great literal metaphor.

I'm feeling a lot like Gallagher since being a part of the Healthy Lifestyle program. I know that eating better and being more active have changed my life for the better. The eating healthy part, more fruits and vegetables (Sledge-o-matic optional) has been a great and easy transition, resulting in a 20 pound weigh loss. But if I want to lose the remaining 20 pounds, the terrible awful truth is, I'm going to have to work it off.

When it comes right down to working out - I still feel like I'm dragging an anchor, or serving out the community service portion of a prison sentence when I schedule time with my personal trainer. Even though he is cute, that only goes so far in providing motivation. I've only got three more months left in my contract with him, after that, I'm going to have to find a reason to go there willingly on my own.

If only the rest of my family would join me in this. Things would be different.  If only I had support peer pressure encouragement from the people I love so I could work in working out.  I would become an energetic, muscular version of myself, with Michelle Obama's arms, and Syd Charisse's legs.  I'd happily bound through the gym doors, dressed in my stylish Lululemon yoga pants, my water bottle in hand, ready to take my sluggish metabolism to dizzying heights.....


Who am I kidding? The truth is, after working all day, I'd much rather head to the local pub, or park my butt on the couch with a glass of wine. Relieving my frustrations on a treadmill, or some weight machine, while it may be a healthier option, is not my idea of relaxing, and just isn't the first thing that springs to mind. (I grant you the glaringly obvious conclusion is, that's how I got to where I am.) But I don't do it that often, or to excess - usually.

But, much to my horror surprise, for Christmas, in response to my nagging begging request (did I actually say all those things out loud?!?) Downtown Dad got the family a gym membership! And they are using it! Almost daily, when I come home from work, or worse - on the weekend - one or more of my family members will come bounding toward me in full work out regalia, yank the wine glass out of my hand and drag me to the dreaded gym - like it's fun or something.

I guess from now on, when my friends invite me to go somewhere, or do something, I'll have to shake my head and reply morosely, "I'd love to, but ... we have a GYM MEMBERSHIP. We can't EVER go out AGAIN."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Silken Tent

It comforts me to imagine that once they've passed, our mothers' memories exist as a protective silken tent, woven of their lives.

In time, once our tears have dried, each tent sways slightly in response to the wind of our thoughts. They are not - or are no longer - tense or tired, but instead relaxed, comfortable to be around.

The tent's pole, is its strength, backbone, character, and firmness, perhaps the lessons she has taught us. But she is not - or is no longer - dogmatic or insistent.

Rather, grounded in part by her deep investment in friends, family, and community, she is gently bound in our memories of her.

The Silken Tent

by Robert Frost

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one's going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

Visit Rosemary's Pink Saturday

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm all out of Mothers

It's official, I'm all out of Mothers.  Birth, in-law, out-law, ex and current.

Last year, in March, my own mother passed away after a long, sad journey with Alzheimers. I should say her body passed away - the mother I knew, and who knew me had been gone for quite some time.  In September, my ex-husband's mother passed away - apparently cracking wise until the end. I loved that feisty old broad.

Yesterday we got the news that Downtown Dad's mom, Helen, had passed suddenly, although not unexpectedly. As with my mom, the Helen we knew had left us a couple of years ago.

Certainly this is a time of transition for our family, and though it is a sad one, it has been a long time coming.  We've had plenty of time to process this, but you just never know how you'll feel until it happens. I have to admit though, to a certain sense of relief along with the sadness. (accompanied by a heapin' helpin' of guilt for feeling that relief) But like I said, this has been a long time coming.

In processing through this, it occurs to me that mothers, or mother figures, in addition to being a key relationship in our lives, also represent safety and comfort in an iconic way.  As if having lost their presence in the world, we are somehow more exposed to danger.  Not any tangible danger, but the misty, vague kind of danger that is the stuff of childhood nightmares.

...or maybe, just maybe, its the excitement and fear of having to stand on your own for the first time.

Relating everything as I do, to Disney movies, and always looking for a silver lining - I started thinking that mothers represent a comforting, safe theme in movies and stories too.  And heroes, especially Disney heroes hardly ever have a mother!  Think about it...

  • Pinocchio - no mother.
  • Peter Pan - no mother.
  • The Sword in the Stone - Wart has no parents.
  • The Rescuers - Penny is an orphan
  • Tron Legacy - Sam Flynn - no mother. 
  • The Great Mouse Detective - Olivia Flaversham - no mother.
  • Beauty and the Beast - Belle - no mother
  • Aladdin - orphan. Jasmine - no mother
  • Pocahontas - no mother
  • Pirates of the Caribbean - Elizabeth, Jack and Will - no mother.
  • The Little Mermaid - Ariel no mother
  • Bambi - Mother killed by a gunshot.
  • The Fox and the Hound - Tod - Mother killed by a gunshot.
  • Finding Nemo - Mother killed by barracuda 

I think, in fiction, and maybe in real life too, heroes who participate in epic journeys and adventures have to learn, grow, and stand on their own without a parent to provide guidance. The death or absence of a mother or guidance figure, brings this point to light, and creates the tension or drama that makes things interesting.

Could it be that by removing our sources of comfort and safety, some kind of drama or adventure for would-be heroes Lala and Downtown Dad is about to begin, as we are forced to confront the challenges of 2013 alone?

Tune in next time to find out!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Hello 2013!  OK, well I guess I'm gonna have to stick with what I told you I'd do then?