Tag: palmer

Greens on the Red!

So many Spring festivals! And this isn’t even a Small Town Festival. This is Greens on the Red, which happens to be about two blocks away from my house. Palmer and I walked Penny over for a visit this year. I don’t know how we’d missed it before, but we’d never been.

Of course I didn’t take my good camera or photos of the actual festival offerings, which included some pretty impressive foodstuffs made from local greens from arugula to dandelion greens. There were at least 15 or 20 dishes to try. Most were vegan, but there was some cheese mixed in, too. Even better, our favorite Slow Food representative was there dishing up a delicious gumbo z’herbes, which I particularly enjoyed. Every table also handed out recipes. I went home with several because YUM.

We had a great time. Penny even got to eat a brussels sprout! As we headed out, we stopped to listen to the music in the Community Garden.

Greens on the Red is a lovely little festival, and it’s so nice to have something like this going on right down the street from our house – especially since Penny can come, too.

Seedlings and projects and ethics, oh my!

Now that Christmas decorations have been stowed and the surprisingly calm (for me) Mardi Gras season has begun, things have calmed down, and we’ve been able to focus on more mundane, non-family-related projects.

As usual, Palmer did an excellent job decorating the mantle.


I’ve been up to my usual crafty shenanigans, at least for this time of year, crocheting things.


This is the beginning of a temperature afghan. Each line of single crochet represents a day. The color is chosen depending on ten-degree variations in temperature. You can see that January has been a little crazy. For instance, the temperature yesterday hit 76. In the middle of January! The wind was also raucous, though of course it refused to perform properly when I took out my camera.

In other project news, I’m attempting to grow herbs from seeds. I planted seven pots – five with basil, two with dill.


I put them in my kitchen where I’d see them often, and Palmer was kind enough to mount a grow light on the wall behind them. And surprise, surprise, I have a sprout!

One of my basil seeds has sprouted! 🌿

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Three, actually. I’ve forgotten how to use manual focus on my good camera (and am obviously too lazy to figure it out today), so you only get to see an Instagram photo from yesterday. Isn’t it glorious!

Palmer has also been up to his own projects, making diorama model scenes. A few amazing trees and ginormous spiders were involved.


There’s also Louise, who you see in the featured photo. She’s her own project. I promise she’s not always angry, though she is always angry if I’m trying to get anywhere near her.


Hopefully she’ll come around eventually.

omnivoreIn other news, I finished The Omnivore’s Dilemma, of which I was downright terrified. It had been on my TBR pile for well over a year, but I was under the impression that it would instantly turn me into a vegetarian, and I wasn’t sure that was the best idea. Turns out that’s not what it’s about at all, really. Yes, it details some of the terrible things that happen to industrialized farm animals, but it also explains that there are relatively humane options, say, from small local farms like Mahaffey. You can actually visit them – I have. The animals are in pastures and eating what they’re supposed to eat: there are no cows piled into disgusting feedlots being forced to eat corn and beef fat. Mahaffey’s cows eat grass. That’s what The Omnivore’s Dilemma is about: knowing where your food comes from so you can make informed, ethical decisions about where you’re willing to spend your money and what you’re willing to eat. The best option for those criteria seems to be places exactly like Mahaffey, as “industrial organic” has its own problems. Anyway, The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a book you should probably read, whatever side of the vegetarian/non-veg or organic/conventional arguments you fall on. It’s good to know what happens to your food before it reaches your plate.

And with that, I’m out. School has just started, and I’m taking three classes again, so we’ll see how much time I have to write blog posts. I’m already waffling on my 50-book reading commitment because I’ve made my massive school to-do lists, and there’s already too much reading on that end. Hopefully I’ll handle this semester a wee bit better than I did the last. Wish me luck!

Time to put up the Christmas decorations


Yep, it’s Twelfth Night, the proper day to put away your Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving this year. It’s also time to pull out the Mardi Gras decorations and eat every available piece of king cake. Shreveport’s Whole Foods, for one, is prepared. They’ve actually been prepared for a few days – I just wouldn’t let myself partake until the Proper Day, which happens to be today. Guess who’s going to Whole Foods.

Christmas this year was blissfully uneventful. You saw the beginning and Penny’s second-long tolerance of Santa. (Yes, she’ll be doing it again next year.) After that was a flurry of family-related activity that left everyone exhausted, as the holidays tend to do. At least I ate well.

Guess where I am. ❤️❤️❤️

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That, by the way, is arguably one of Shreveport’s greatest delicacies: the marinated crab claws at Ernest’s. Palmer’s parents took us there a couple days before Christmas. Yurrm.

Until just a few days ago, it still looked like Fall around here. I took this picture on December 22 while I was walking Penny:


The temperature was in the 70s on Christmas, so I didn’t even get to wear my ridiculous kitten sweater. Penny has taken advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures for some surrious backyard play time, though I’m sure she’d be willing to roll around and play fetch even in below-freezing blizzard conditions.

Really, she might prefer below-freezing blizzard conditions. Hopefully we’ll find out at some point during her lifetime.

In other happy(ish) pet news, Louise appears to have figured out how to play:

I turned on my webcam when I saw her play for the first time. She was especially angry for a few days after I took her to the vet for her shots, but she seems to have calmed down again.

Aaand I just realized that I only took a couple pictures on Christmas. I have to be better at pulling out my camera. Here’s the highlight:


Last year, I got a box of Christmas crackers and forgot about them, so this year Palmer and I opened all six at once. A good time was had by all.

In other household news, we tried unsuccessfully to complete a 1000-piece puzzle. We gave up after only a couple days of kitty helping.


For New Year’s, Charlotte visited from Portland, and we had a time unlike I’ve had since I was about 25. It was an…adventure.


She also finally got to meet Penny, which made everyone happy, especially Penny.


So, now that Christmas is over, what’s next (besides a hunk of king cake)? I’ve got a few projects. There’s the 50-book goal, school’s about to start again (UGH), and I started a Massive Craft Project that I’ll blog about in the near future because I think it’s pretty neat. I’d also like to carry my good camera around everywhere and Take All the Pictures, but as only one of the photos in this post were taken by said camera, I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Puddles in Pensacola

Before our weekend trip to Pensacola, Florida, Penny was already an interstate traveler, as she visited the Wildflower Trails Festival in Linden, Texas (at which there were no wildflowers or trails) in April. This, though, was a much longer trip – hours longer, even, than our trip to Mandeville earlier this year. We took the long way there, down I-49 to I-10 because there’s a dog park right off the interstate in Baton Rouge, and I wanted to give Penny a break.

We spent somewhere around 8 hours on the road, and by the time we made it to Pensacola, we were both exhausted. We were very glad to see Palmer, though, who was working for there for two weeks. It was around 6 o’clock by the time we got there, so we headed almost directly to dinner at Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grille, which welcomed us with excellent food, a lovely sunset, and a bowl of ice water for Penny.

The next morning, we headed to the beach, where Penny found her true love: big puddles of water. She was so excited and pulled so hard to get out into the surf that Palmer had to hold her because she was about to pull me in.

We couldn’t go to any beach in Pensacola, though. We had to go to the Dog Beach. It was really nice, though, because there were no fences and it was just a section of normal beach bounded with signs. The caveat was that dogs were supposed to stay on-leash. Not that half of them did. Penny, though, followed the rules.

After tiring ourselves out at the beach, we went to Shaggy’s for lunch. I ate a pile of super-fresh fish and had a local beer. I could get used to eating by the water.

26668270503_2e011f5d63_kAfter lunch, we took Penny to another dog park, this time inland, so we she’d really be exhausted. She had a great time and made a new friend! A couple brought their two dogs, one of which was a lab mix, and he and Penny ran around and around until it was time to head back to the hotel for a serious nap.

We had dinner at the Sunset Grille on Perdido Key. There were a few too many children for my taste, but the food was good and the sunset was amazing. They chose their name well. The sunset alone was worth the 45-minute trek from the hotel.

The next morning, Palmer had to do laundry, so Penny and I paid an early visit to the dog park. We played Ball, and she ran around with the other dogs like she was a regular.


Palmer and I decided that Penny needed more beach time. The first time we went, we weren’t wearing swimsuits, so Penny was limited to the shoreline. We had a really nice breakfast at George’s Artisan Bakery and Bistro, picked up some necessities, and headed back out to the dog beach. We had underestimated the ridiculous amount of traffic headed onto Pensacola Beach on a beautiful Sunday. There’s only one bridge over the bay, and it’s a huge bottleneck. It took us well over an hour to get there, so by the time we made it to the island it was time for lunch, and everywhere was crowded. Since our restaurant choices were severely limited because Penny was with us, we ended up back at Shaggy’s and had a good time.

Finally, we were off to the beach, this time with swimsuits, beach towels, and an umbrella. The trade-off to preparedness, though, was no camera and very limited phone use because Sand. Penny bounded into the water as soon as we got there. Palmer took her farther out in the surf, and I guess she got intimidated because she was almost instantly ready to go.


Luckily, though, she came to her senses and enjoyed herself after that. I, on the other hand, finally came to terms with my absolute hatred of sand. It gets everywhere and it’s hard to clean off. I think Penny will probably be limited to rocky seashores and lakeshores for most of her future, but I’m pretty sure just about any puddle of water will suffice.

After allll of that adventure, we were exhausted again. We’d planned to go to a restaurant/bar called The Oar House, but when we pulled into the parking lot, it was already crowded. Bad music was blaring, and it was full of sun-baked partiers, most of whom were over 50 and generally gross-looking. We decided instantly that it wasn’t the place for us and ended up back at Jaco’s. At least we knew the food was good and they like dogs.

I was so tired of seafood, so I ordered the filet mignon, and it came out in a pool of barbecue sauce? It was good enough, but it tasted more like the sauce than anything else, so I was disappointed. The server said the kitchen must have used the wrong bottle because it was supposed to be steak sauce. They also said the chef was new and was working out the menu, so I’m not sure which was the actual case. So I’ll call that meal adequate.

Penny, however, had an excellent time. She got all of the attention and tasted her first filet mignon! She liked it so much that she refused to eat her puppy food afterward. We watched the sun set, then crashed. I think Palmer and I were both Done for the weekend.

On Monday morning, we took the shorter route home through Mississippi. Penny was so good, but she really hates long car rides. She spent most of the time napping, but every time she’d hear an unusual noise, she’d jump up and look out the windows. Then she’s lean her head against the back seat and look pitiful for several minutes before lying back down. Just before we got to Vicksburg, I stopped in a green area next to a Tractor Supply parking lot to give her a break and let her eat her lunch in relative peace. I think she was grateful.

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When we finally made it home, we were both tired but glad not to be on the road anymore. Penny seemed to have a good time, but it’ll be a while before we take another field trip that involves driving 8 hours each way – maybe even until we make it to the Rocky Mountains, which will hopefully happen next summer.

I should also note that I took most of these photos with my sparkly new camera. It’s a Sony a6000, and I love it. I was planning on getting a new Nikon DSLR because mine is almost ten years old and is totally outdated, but then I stumbled on this new mirrorless trend. They’re smaller than DSLRs but have interchangeable lenses and take photos that I think are just as good. I don’t need a professional-level camera because I’m not a professional, but I wanted a nice mid-grade one. This Sony fits the bill. (A super-duper thank you to Palmer for choosing a most excellent birthday present!)

Here’s a link to the entire Flickr album in case you need to see even more photos.

Tick City, Louisiana (+ a surprise!)

Palmer and I spent most of Saturday hiking Sugar Cane Trail around Caney Lake near Minden, Louisiana. It was a seven-mile proper Trek that didn’t offer much elevation, though it offered more than enough distance. It almost killed us, in fact.


Okay, not really. We just weren’t quite prepared for how far that was. I generally don’t do more than three miles, which was the farthest Penny had ever gone. Two days later, we’re still sore. It didn’t help that while, for the most part, the trail is well kept up, there was a sizable section that was totally washed out. We ended up off the trail and had to wade through a bunch of mud once we found the blazes. That’s not surprising, I guess, considering how wet it’s been in this area lately.

One good thing: it was my first good opportunity to use the Sparkly New Camera Palmer got me for my birthday. It’s a Sony a6000, and it takes pretty amazing photos.

And then there were the ticks. DEAR GOD, THE TICKS. They were everywhere. We counted at least ten each slowly making their way up our legs, and we found more once we got home. Penny was – and probably still is – covered in them. She was dirty from the (mildly muddy) hike, so Palmer bathed her when we got home. When we discovered that there was Every Tick Ever, we went to PetSmart and bought a tick shampoo, so she got another bath the next morning. Good thing she doesn’t particularly mind baths. Good thing, also, that the’s the most patient dog and would sit for several minutes at a time while I occupied her and Palmer dug ticks out of her ears and fur. Ugh.


There was also the matter of the snake, to which she seemed as oblivious as I was – until I got maybe three feet from it and screamed bloody murder. I didn’t even realize that it was in this photo until we got home:


Surriously. We were so grateful when we saw the car. Seven miles is a lot for people (and dogs) only used to three. It was fun, but I’ll be sticking to shorter trails for the time being. I’ll also be upgrading from Deep Woods OFF to the 100% DEET stuff because geez.

Check out the whole Flickr album.

Here’s a video Palmer made chronicling the whole trip:

Oh! And shortly after we did get home, Palmer shuttled me over to what turned out to be a surprise party! I was about 90% clueless and expected to be sitting on a porch with a couple friends, drinking wine and eating Mexican food. Turned out it was an actual party. Happy 35 to me! I have some pretty great friends and an awesome husband. (Of course, I was to busy to take proper photos. Thanks to Palmer for realizing that I might want at least a couple.)

We climbed a mountain!

Okay, that’s kind of a lie. It’s not technically a lie because “mountain” is actual name of the place. This “mountain,” though, really only qualifies as a largish hill. The actual hiking elevation was less than 200 feet, and the whole hill tops out at a whopping 535. So I jumped onto a bench by the sign and acted like I’d just climbed Katahdin. Palmer chose a more reasonable pose.

26870297121_98b78f190d_kOn Sunday, we “climbed” Driskill Mountain, which is just south of Arcadia, Louisiana. It’s the state’s highest point, and it’s just about as underwhelming as you’d expect for the Bayou State. That said, we had a Most Excellent time. Penny was so excited, she couldn’t stay still for long enough to get a good photo. That, and another family appeared from the trees with their own dog in tow, and Penny wanted to play.

It only took us a few minutes to get to the top. There are two trail choices: the main one, which we took, is about 1.9 miles up and back. There’s a second one that weaves through the trees, which are marked with blue blazes. I want to go back to try that trail.

There weren’t many signs along the main trail, but, for the most part, it was crystal clear. Driskill Mountain is private land, but the owners do a great job of keeping it up. There was a tiny bit of mud in a couple of places, but it was easy to get around, and our feet stayed dry. Penny, of course, bounded through every little puddle. There were only to slightly steep places, and Penny was more than willing to pull me right up. The only problem was that she was just as willing to help me get back down, especially since she was following the other dog’s tracks. We really need to work on excitement-pulling.

Almost everything I’ve heard about Driskill Mountain is about its being underwhelming. It’s a “mountain” in Louisiana: how can it be that spectacular? Louisiana makes bayous, not mountains. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because I knew exactly what to expect. Will I go back? Definitely! I want to try that secondary trail. I’ll also probably have a look for other trails in the vicinity, though, as it’s kind of a long drive for such a short hike. Here’s the gpx I recorded (thanks, Alltrails!), a file format I just learned about:


In other news, Shakespeare also had an excellent day on Sunday:

Yay Christmas! (And we survived Thanksgiving.)

The various end-of-the-year holidays are always exciting, but for me, it’s all just a build-up to Christmas. It’s been so long since I’ve lived in New Orleans now that it’s eclipsed Mardi Gras in my Hierarchy of Awesome Holidays, and I start looking forward to it once the first Fall cold snap hits.

Speaking of Fall, Shreveport is beautiful right now.




We don’t get the amazing colors of the Northeast, but it’s good enough for me.

Did I mention that we somehow agreed to host Thanksgiving for the first time this year? I’m still not quite sure how it happened. We had six guests: Nunpoo, my uncle David, my mom, her husband, and Palmer’s parents – and somehow everything went well! Palmer was well-prepared with a 21-lb. turkey, which he put in a brining bag in our ginormous refrigerator for a full 24 hours.


It turned out beautifully.


There was SO MUCH food. I made brussels sprouts with apples and bacon, zucchini boats, and autumn squash soup; my mom made the famous Sweet Potato Business and a green bean casserole; and Palmer’s mom brought a(n amazing) pumpkin pie, a pecan pie, macaroni and cheese, cornbread dressing, deviled eggs, yeast rolls, and…I’m probably missing something. One table wasn’t big enough to hold it…


So Palmer had to carve the turkey on the coffee table.


The food was excellent, and we all had a good time.


I even volunteered to do it again next year.

But wait, you say, where’s Zelda in all of this? She’s young and energetic and super-jumpy, and I’m always terrified that she’s going to knock Nunpoo down, so she was locked in my library until we’d finished eating and everyone had settled down and stopped moving. She napped during most of that time and behaved admirably once she was released. I made her Puppy Pumpkin Pies, which might have made her feel a little better about things. She was exhausted after everyone left.


After a huge dinner and a nice, long puppy nap, it was Christmas!

On Friday, Palmer and I headed to Santa’s Woods in Frierson, where we always buy our Christmas tree. It proved a little difficult because the latest Arctic Vortex killed most of the pines, which looked bad this year, anyway. So we ended up with a cypress.



We were both worried about how Zelda would react once we got it home, but things didn’t go badly at all.


Palmer got a video of her first reaction, which we both thought would be different.

You can’t tell from the thumbnail (which I should probably change since it looks a bit violent), but all was well…until we noticed she was picking little pieces one by one. I think she’s stopped.


Later today, we’ll be putting on the lights and garland. After that, we might add a few ornaments if the puppy allows. We’ll see.

We’re gearing up for a fantastic (or at least very interesting) Christmas!


Merry Christmas!


Okay, I haven’t finished my book, so this isn’t a review because I don’t have anything to review yet. In my defense, Bleak House is an especially looooong book, and somehow Dickens doesn’t read as quickly as George R.R. Martin. I’ll probably finish by the end of the year. (I guess now’s the time to write my big end-of-the-year post, anyway. Which I skipped last year. I know.)

So. Since it’s taking me a long time to read this behemoth, and I haven’t posted in a while, I figured I’d offer a Christmas update (in the last half-hour before Doctor Who makes me cry. But that’s neither here nor there). So here goes. And since this post will be mostly photos (and thus very long), I’ll add a Read More here… Continue reading

2013 Books #54, 55, 56: Wheat Belly, The Worst Hard Time, World War One

Okay, here’s a threefer. You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m generally not a nonfiction reader, though I seem to have turned a 180, or at least a 90, since half of my last six books haven’t been “fake” (as my seventh-graders called fiction Back in the Day). I’m combining them into one big post because (1) I don’t have very much to say about them and (2) it’s almost the end of the year, and I’m a little burnt out since I’m well past the 50 mark now. There’s also a book of Billy Collins’s poetry that I read sometime around the middle of the year and am not including, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, in the order that I read them, and briefly:

wheatbellyWheat Belly is about how terrible wheat is for you. Over the past fifty, or so years, it’s become so genetically modified that it does terrible things to the human body. Don’t eat it. I read Wheat Belly because I went gluten-free for two weeks, and I needed encouragement. It makes a lot of sense: it raises blood sugar really quickly and causes various types of irritation. Two weeks wasn’t too bad, but it was very expensive and didn’t make a lick of difference for me, so I’m back on the wheat. Davis approaches it from the perspective of losing weight, and that makes sense, too, but while losing a few pounds wouldn’t hurt me, I was more interested in what wheat does to my stomach. He also makes lots of unfunny jokes and makes too many derogatory remarks about overweight people. I gave it three stars on Goodreads because I learned a lot, and it kept my interest.

worsthardtimeNext up was The Worst Hard Time, which is a fantastic history of the Dust Bowl, told in personal stories of the people who lived through it (instead of moving to California like the family in The Grapes of Wrath, who didn’t really fare any better). Around 1900, the government lied to get people to move out to West Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, saying that the soil was perfect for farming. They moved out in droves and planted wheat until there was so much of it that prices dropped, so they planted more. In the process, they plowed up all of the prairie grass, and after a few years of drought, the soil turned to dust and blew across the whole country in terrible storms, some of which even reached Washington, D.C. The book is really well-written and soooo interesting.

ww1Finally, there’s World War One: A Short History by Norman Stone. I didn’t know much about World War 1, and I figured that short was the way to go. That’s not entirely accurate: to keep the length down, Stone just had to rattle off historical facts rather than exploring their causes in any detail. So now I have an idea of what happened during World War 1 but only a vague one about why. Which means I need to read a longer, more in-depth book about it. This book is like a dry, extended Wikipedia article, and it’s best virtue is that it’s such a quick read. I probably would have gotten bored and given up otherwise.

I don’t know what got me interested in nonfiction all of the sudden. Next up, I think, might be a history of the Cold War because it’s always fascinated me. For right now, though, I’m back to fiction and breaking up my most recent tear with a long one, The Magus by John Fowles, which should take me a while. And I’m still one book behind on this blog, but I’ll get to that soon.

Bonus: Thanksgiving was a couple of days ago. More importantly, it’s Christmas season, and Palmer and I went on our annual voyage to get a Christmas tree. This year, he documented our adventure in a Youtube video, which I present here for your amusement.

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