treading water, not literally

We got very lucky in the recent flooding; or maybe “lucky” is not the right word: the first house my parents bought when they moved back to south Louisiana was twice destroyed in hurricanes. They had to strip it down to studs and rebuild it after Rita, and when the exact same thing happened in Ike, my mother went “eff this” and they moved. They looked at elevation very carefully when they looked for that 2nd house.

There was flooding all around us, including in town (we live outside the city limits of Abbeville) and we were kind of stuck in our immediate neighborhood during the weekend, and I couldn’t get to work on Monday or Tuesday because the bridges over the Vermilion were closed and LA-14 was under water. But we were fine, I’ve seen more water in the ditches and on the lawns during the average summer thunderstorm. The worst thing we had to deal with was a dog that hates to poop in the rain.

I spent most of the time watching movies on the MST3K YouTube channel and doing cross stitch, finishing two projects:


(The text is my own addition, I found the alphabet by Googling “backstitch alphabet”, here’s a link if you’re interested.)


And I got started on a big project, a copy of the original 1723 map of New Orleans, the pattern is by the same woman who did the hurricane tracking map of the Gulf of Mexico that I did for Mom a few years ago. I’m doing it on 18-count as opposed to over 2 squares of 28 count (so 14, essentially), so the finished project won’t be as large, but the pattern is just as big, so I expect that will occupy me for at least the rest of the year.

Other than that, I’m just waiting for summer to end. I have my October vacation all planned, I’m spending a week in Galveston and renting a studio apartment (via Airbnb) that’s a block from the beach. To say I’m looking forward to it is a massive understatement.

Another weekend on the River Road

Specifically, LA-44.

In my never-ending quest to go to all of the festivals in Louisiana at least once (or at least, the ones that I think sound interesting), on Saturday I went to Frisco Fest, at the San Francisco Plantation in Garyville. I’ve been to the plantation before; in fact, a photo that I took of it is the header image I use for my Facebook page. Frisco Fest is a local arts and crafts festival, and I always like to what my fellow artists are making. I left with 3 bottles of fruit wine (made in Independence, LA), a set of embroidered flour sack dishcloths (made in Metairie, LA), and a pottery ikebana vase (made in Gonzales, LA). I was so impressed with the quality of the goods being sold that I talked Mom into going on Sunday.

Then I drove a little ways down the road to the remains of Tezcuco Plantation, built in 1855 and destroyed by fire in 2002. These are just cell shots but I also took some film shots.

Tezcuco Plantation

Okay yeah, I totally hopped the fence. It’s like knee-high and there are 2-foot gaps around several trees, how could I resist?

Tezcuco Plantation

Tezcuco Plantation

Tezcuco Plantation

Tezcuco Plantation

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Vacation #2: Windsor Ruins, B&W

This is slightly expired Fuji Neopan shot in my wide angle Vivi Ultra W&S knock-off. I shot this combo for the first time last spring and loved it, and this is a good subject for a wide angle lens anyway.

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

The Windsor Ruins

This is the last batch of vacation photos, but 2016 is already shaping up to be a busy travel year. I’ve got Krewe of Muses (already booked my Airbnb accommodation for that) and the Little Rock pen show in February; back to Lynchburg for the Monacan powwow in either April or May (they won’t commit to exact dates until it’s a bit closer); and at some point during the year I hope to spend some more time on Dauphin Island. I’ll probably do the Dallas pen show again, too.

My hopefuls for 2017 are FINALLY going to Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri, and visiting my brother in Chicago (during the Chicago pen show), if he’s still there and if his crazy boyfriend will simmer down long enough.

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Le Feu et L’Eau

Fire & Water is a local arts festival in Arnaudville that I went to on Saturday. It was an absolutely gorgeous day: low humidity, sunny, about 72 degrees. It’s put on by NUNU Arts & Culture Collective, which was started about 10 years ago by the painter George Marks, when he moved back to Arnaudville from Baton Rouge. It’s a small town, I don’t think there’s even 1,500 residents, and it had been slowly sliding away since the 1960s. But if you go there now, there are galleries and studios and a couple of really good restaurants and the Bayou Teche Brewery. You can buy some art or watch a demo or even take a class.

I really enjoyed the show and seeing what other artists in my area are up to. There was a little bit of everything: painting, pottery, quilting, mosaics, poetry and short stories. And photography; John Slaughter had a table, and there was someone doing tintype portraits (which I had done a few years ago). I bought a copy of John’s new book, a collection of photos of Catahoula hounds, the Louisiana state dog. They are some gorgeous photos, I really admire people who can photograph animals. He was nice enough to sign it for me, too.


I picked up some information about joining; I let my membership to NOPA lapse a couple of years ago because I just felt like I wasn’t getting anything out if it. I live too far away from New Orleans to really be involved in that arts community, which took me a while to come to terms with because I do love the city and it has given me some amazing photos that I am truly proud of. However, I have no desire to live there full-time; I’m just not a city person and I never was. The planning meetings for NOPA were always on weeknights, and even though the workshops were usually on a Saturday I rarely went because I’d have to get up at like 5:00 in the morning to be there on time.

So long story short, I’ve been looking for a more local arts community to join. NOPA had the advantage of being focused entirely on photography, but it was just too far away. Lafayette has a similar group, but their website says their focus is specifically on digital photography, which doesn’t make me feel like I’d be welcome. I’m not going to decide anything until the new year, but an artist’s membership is just $25 annually, so it does seem like I could try it and not be out too much if it doesn’t work out for me.

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Vacation #1

(I’m also taking the first week of November off, hence the “#1”.)

I took the last full week of September off and spent several days at my parents’ condo on Dauphin Island, Alabama. While it was hotter than I’d hoped it would be, it still provided some much-needed peace and quiet so I could recharge my batteries. I would go down to the beach in the evening and watch the sunset, and I went into Mobile one day, but a great deal of the time was spent reading on the balcony or in quiet shaded spots on the island, and drinking lots of cheap pink box wine.

It wasn’t a photography-heavy vacation (the next one will be), but of course I took a few shots with my cell phone.

v formation and sunset

Shrimp boats on Bayou le Batre.

Shrimp boats on Bayou le Batre

I tried to tour Bellingrath Gardens, but it was just too hot. There was usually a breeze on the island, but the gardens were too far inland, and there wasn’t ANY air moving among all those plants and trees. I got about 1/3 of the way in, then had a gardener take me back to the gift shop in her golf cart.

Mermaid fountain, Bellingrath Gardens, AL

Magnolia Cemetery was one of the things I saw in Mobile. It was raining, so I just drove around (it’s one of those cemeteries) and shot some photos out of my car window. That was the only rainy day we had, and it stopped around 1:00, not bad.

Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, AL

I also had fried catfish and hushpuppies (THE iconic food of Alabama, like gumbo in Louisiana) at Wintzell’s Oyster house, strolled around Dauphin Street (Mobile’s answer to Bourbon Street, but much nicer, honestly–not as tacky and sleazy). I found a fun used bookstore called Bienville Books.

I came home on Thursday morning, spent one night at home, then got up early to drive to Texas for the Dallas Pen Show. It was MUCH bigger than the Little Rock show, the only other one I’ve been to, and I found my two wish list items and then some:

dallas pen show

The pen that looks orange but is actually red is a Pilot Vanishing Point, a “clickable” fountain pen. It’s got a stub nib. I love Pilots and have more of them in my collection than any other brand; I’ve wanted a VP but I wanted to see if I could find a used one to keep the price under $100. I just made it with this one at $95, it’s a few years old but was never used and came in the box. (A brand new base-model VP usually retails for $140.)

The pen beneath that is a Parker Duofold and it’s kind of a weird one so I decided it had to come home with me. It’s a Victory but apparently this particular color/shape was only made for the UK market. It’s a button-fill but it’s old enough to predate the distinctive arrow-shaped clip that Parker started using in the early 1930s (at least on American pens), and it’s got a 14k oblique nib.

Those were my two wish list items, but I had some money left in the budget, so I also got a 1960s NOS Japanese desk pen (some no-name brand, kind of a Pilot knock-off) and some ink. I went about $25 over budget when all was said and done, but I can live with that.

Oh, and I also got to eat a cheeseburger at In N’ Out Burger.

In N' Out cheeseburger

Well! Last month was certainly newsworthy.

SCOTUS both upheld Obamacare and told same sex marriage opponents to take their Bibles and go home, medical marijuana was approved in Louisiana, the asshole who co-wrote Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill is going on trial for crimes against humanity, and I BOUGHT A NEW CAR.


Well okay, it’s not BRAND new, but it’s newer by far than anything else I’ve ever owned. It’s a 2014 Nissan Sentra with less than 31,000 miles on it. I bought it from Enterprise, which I did research on and is a totally solid way to get a great deal on car that’s only a year or two old. Brand new cars are a waste of money, anyway. I didn’t get a great interest rate, because I’m basically a ghost when it comes to finances (never had a credit card or owned anything I didn’t buy outright), but they took a chance on me because I made such a large down payment (about 1/3 of the total price), and I can re-finance with my bank in 6-8 months. The car’s new enough that I can get a car loan and not just a shady unsecured loan.

I bought this steering wheel cover last week:



So now that I can stop saving literally every penny, I’m making some travel plans. I took 2 days off in February for Muses (although I wound up coming in to work that Saturday), and that’s it other than a few 3-day weekends. I’m in desperate need of relaxation, and I have 10 days of vacation I’m going to lose if I don’t use them by the end of the year, not counting some days around Christmas that I already have on the calendar.

I’m taking the last full week in September off, I’m going to stay at the ‘rents condo in Dauphin Island, Alabama for a few days. That will be a good time for it, the weather will have started to cool down and the kids will be back in school. Then I’m coming home for one night, and driving to Dallas the next morning for the Dallas Pen Show. I’ll stay overnight–I found a great Airbnb listing, it’s a loft space with its own bathroom, the family lives downstairs–and come back the next day.

And then I’m taking the first week in November off. That’s still in the planning stages, but on the 1st I’m most likely going to the town of Lacombe, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. There are a lot of cemeteries in that town that still practice traditional grave lighting on All Saint’s night, and I really want to get some photographs of that. I’ll stay overnight, either in the area or in New Orleans, and then I’m going to Mississippi for a couple of days. I want to explore Union Church, which is the first place my Galbreath ancestors lived in Mississippi before moving on to McComb, and I might go as far as Yazoo City. I’ll probably stay in Natchez while I’m there, I really like that town.

Patronize me

Have you ever dreamed of patronizing the arts, like some kind of badass Renaissance prince? Well, you’re in luck, because I just launched my Patreon. Pledge anywhere from $20 – $500 a month (why dream small, amirite?) and receive rewards such as prints, glass photos, and photo books. I also have specific goals listed, and a sneak peek at my currently in-the-works book project, Saints of Louisiana.

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