I took some photos this weekend FINALLY!

You guys! It was still 90 degrees all weekend but I decided I DID NOT CARE, summer should be OVER and maybe if I just act like it is I can end it WITH THE POWER OF MY MIND. Or maybe I was just super-bored and itching to get my finger on a shutter button after WEEKS AND WEEKS AND WEEKS of hiding from the horrible apocalyptic hellsummer of south Louisiana. I went somewhere close to home and got going as early in the day as possible (for a Saturday).

Roberts Cove is a community in Acadia Parish, technically part of the town of Rayne but quite rural. It’s one of many communities in south Louisiana with German heritage; France recruited for colonists pretty heavily in the Catholic areas Germany. Roberts Cove was actually predominantly German-speaking right into the 20th century, when WWI put a stop to that. But many buildings in town still bear distinctive Bavarian architectural details, such as the tiny “chapel in the woods” on the grounds of St. Leo. (Although in this case the “woods” is a single enormous live oak.)

These are just cell phone shots, but I shot some black and white, too (still trying to shoot my way through all of the Fuji Neopan that I hoarded).

St. Leo woods chapel

St. Leo woods chapel

St. Leo woods chapel - pieta

St. Leo woods chapel

St. Leo woods chapel

Not an ambitious shoot, but a charming subject and a good one to ease back into the routine.

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2nd visit to Istre Cemetery

I first went to this cemetery, which is about an hour north of Abbeville, in Acadia Parish, in late spring of last year. I read about it in the south Louisiana guidebook that I took from Granny’s apartment after she died—I love that book, it mentions some really out-of-the-way places that I probably would never hear of otherwise and has led to many photos I might not have taken without it. The book mentions this cemetery because it’s the only one in Louisiana with grave houses, a custom that is more common in the mountain south (Appalachia, mainly) than the deep south. I wanted to see if any new houses had been constructed; the practice had been dying out, but is undergoing a local revival and there were 2 new houses when I last went.

There weren’t any additional houses, but instead I became interested in all the Virgin Mary statues. This is a heavily Catholic region of the country and those statues are by no means unusual, but it seemed like this cemetery had a particular abundance of them. They never seem to get re-painted or cleaned, and you can judge their age by how much blue paint is left on Mary’s robe and how much lichen is growing on her.

11/08/14

11/08/14

11/08/14

11/08/14

11/08/14

That was Saturday before last; last Saturday I went to the Frog Festival in Rayne but the only photo I took was an Instagram of deep-fried Oreos. I try to go to a new festival every year, but this one has always been on Labor Day weekend before, which is hot as balls, so I never went. I guess the town decided they were competing with too many other festivals on that weekend and moved it. I couldn’t complain of the heat this time, it was a lovely 60° or so, which of course means the natives were bundled up like it was January in Detroit.

It wasn’t that interesting, to be honest. It had the same fair rides, the same ugly crafts (there’s ALWAYS a booth selling hideous fake-leather purses covered in fleur-de-lis at these things), the same local bands as every other small-town festival in south Louisiana. I guess the bands are okay if you like Cajun music, but it all sounds the same to me. (Same with reggae music. Every song has the same beat!) But they had good food, so it was worth the drive. Frog legs of course, both fried and sauce piquant. Frog legs are an old-fashioned kind of food, not very many restaurants around here still serve them. They taste like a chicken and a fish had a baby. And there was selection of all the other wondrously unhealthy kinds of fair foods you find in south Louisiana: boudin balls and red velvet funnel cakes and fried… everything. Pickles, alligator meat, Oreos and Twinkies and Snickers bars.

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Ocean Goddess Altar

ocean goddess altar

I went back up to the Worthmore 5 & 10 in Rayne last weekend, which I like to think of as “the store that time forgot”. I saw rolls of heavy duty elastic in the sewing section labeled CORSET REPAIR. And I picked up a pack of onion skin typewriter paper. When’s the last time you saw something labeled as being specifically for typewriters for sale?

They have a cool religious section with some unusual items, including some very nice resin statues. Usually resin statues have awful paint jobs that look like they were slapped on by blind children in the midst of an epileptic seizure, but they had some small ones for just $5 that were perfect. I bought this one of Our Lady of Regla, to go on my altar along with Yemaya, La Sirene, and Stella Maris. I consider all of these matron saints who are associated with the ocean to be different aspects of the same spirit.

Rayne, LA: the Frog Capital of the World

Don’t get sentimental about it, they’re for eating. I feel vaguely bad about eating frog legs, I always picture little disabled frogs rolling around the bayou in tiny wheelchairs. I mean, I know they kill them when they cut the legs off, and it’s not like I think being dead is preferable to being legless. It’s just that my brain is a bizarre place. But they are tasty–like a chicken and a fish had a baby. It’s about 35 minutes’ drive from Abbeville, north in Acadia Parish.

Saint Joseph's "wrong way" cemetery

St. Joseph’s Cemetery is “backwards”: they dug the graves north-to-south, and burials in every other Catholic cemetery in the world (as far as is known) are done east-to-west. They’re supposed to face the rising sun, symbol of Christ’s resurrection. No one knows why they did it; probably it was just an accident and by the time they realized they’d fucked up it was too late to do anything about it.

Saint Joseph's "wrong way" cemetery

Open mausoleums always disturb me. Either they’re vampires that never came back (or zombies?), or they got yanked out and thrown on the trash heap because their descendants stopped making payments. This is one of the reasons I want to be cremated.

Saint Joseph's Catholic Church stained glass

Stained glass in the church. The pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, but it’s also a heraldic device that conveys self-sacrifice for the greater good: in medieval times, pelicans were thought to feed their young with their own blood.

Hoyt's German Cologne mural on the 5 & 10 Worthmore building

There are a lot of murals in the town, most of them frog-related. This one looks old, it was on the Five & Ten Worthmore Building, which has been in business since 1936. That’s right, Rayne has an actual Five & Ten store. (Also, the ice cream store sells bubblegum cigarettes. It’s like the Town That Time Forgot.) I’m halfway convinced that the store is some kind of museum underwritten by the town, because most of the merchandise looks like it’s been sitting on the shelves since Nixon was in the White House. All the plastic wrap had gone yellow and brittle.

Hoyt’s Cologne is often used in Hoodoo, mostly in things to do with gambling. (It does sometimes occur to me that Hoodoo practitioners might not need works to attract money quite so often if they gambled a little less.) There was no Hoyt’s Cologne inside, but they had a pretty cool little religious section. Other than a few frog tchotchkes that they probably sell during the Frog Festival, it looked like the only merchandise that people actually buy. They had some items that I’ve never seen at the Catholic bookstores, like a Seven African Powers medal–that’s more of a Santeria thing–and a Saint Expedite holy card. He’s an official Roman Catholic saint, but Catholic bookstores never seem to carry his stuff. Probably because he’s such a favorite of spirit workers.

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