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I still mostly make my own Conjure items, but one there's one seller on Etsy that I absolutely love, Rita's Spiritual Goods. I got a couple of items from her last week.

work space protection witch bottle

This is a Work Space Protection Witch Bottle, she listed one several months back and I loved it, but I was unemployed at the time so I couldn't very well justify purchasing it. I've been watching her listings like a hawk since I started my new job in March, waiting for her to list another, and when she did I snatched it up within seconds. It's on my desk at work. I can identify a cats' eye shell (for deflecting the "evil eye" from negative co-workers), safety pins (witch bottles always have pins or needles or shards of glass in them), and what looks like Spanish moss, which is usually a money-drawing element. But there's also some stuff that's a complete mystery, herbs and bits of stone and something that looks like a nut that's been painted gold. The seahorse is a good luck symbol and also carries meanings of patience and peristence.

hand of fatima charm bottle

I bought this Hand of Fatima charm bottle at the same time, I just really like that symbol (also known as a hamsa). I recently bought a necklace that looks like a rosary except there's a hamsa on the end instead of a crucifix. In this one I can identify allspice berries and lavender, which I use in every positive work I make myself, an evil eye bead, and a skull bead. The skull is a near-universal symbol with a thousand different meanings, but in Conjure charms meant to bring fortune to the bearer it usually has a "reverse bad luck" meaning.

hamsa rosary

This is the necklace I mentioned. The Etsy seller was shutting down her shop, so I got it for 40% off.

Crown of Success charm bottle

This is a Crown of Success charm bottle that I made myself last week. In the center is a High John root that I anointed with Crown of Success oil. It also contains cinnamon stick, allspice berries, vervain, lodestone gravel with gold magnetic sand, and rock salt. I sealed the top with gold sealing wax, sprinkled orange glitter on it, and pressed a crown seal into the top. (I didn't have to buy the seal, it's part of a set I already had.)

I've also recently become interested in Lenormand cards, a style of card divination similar to Tarot that was used by Marie Anne Lenormand, a Napoleonic-era French cartomancer. I bought a deck on Amazon yesterday; you know I'm a sucker for a pretty deck so had to get Ciro Marchetti's "Gilded Reverie" deck:

gilded mass market cover

I don't know a lot about the method yet, but I look forward to learning. As I've said before, I don't believe that cards can "tell the future", but I think they can be a helpful tool to explore your subconscious. (And Carl Jung believed that too, so I'm in good company.)
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We don’t get too many 3-day weekends at the job; between receiving raw materials from all over the world and shipping finished product all over the world—places that don’t necessarily share our holidays, in other words—production falls behind too fast if we’re always shutting the place down. We’re even open on Mardi Gras, highly unusual in south Louisiana. All of which is to say that I savored every moment of my Memorial Day weekend. (Except for all of the self-righteous sneering I saw on Facebook yesterday about people having BBQs and whatnot. Do you think the people doing the sneering spent all day weeping and wailing in a military cemetery? I don’t.)

I kicked around several ideas for something to do on Saturday, and at the last minute remembered that my department manager mentioned last month that she went to the Strawberry Festival in Ponchatoula and that the town has a lot of antique stores, which she knows I like. I Googled it, and most of them are clustered around the intersection of Pine and Railroad, the original town center. I pride myself on knowing where all the best antique stores within a 2 ½ hour drive are, so I had to check it out.

I wound up buying another Polaroid SX-70, which I know is kind of crazy because I just bought one last month that I haven’t even started to refurbish. But this one has the metal body, which I really prefer over the plastic. However, it’s also an autofocus model with a sonar unit (I didn’t take a photo of the camera but this is what it looks like), which I’m not crazy about. For one thing, it seems like something that’s likely to no longer work. For another, I prefer to focus the dang camera myself. Also, I dislike it on purely aesthetic grounds. I wish it could be removed, although it can at least be turned off and the camera returned to a manual focus setting. Anyway, it was only about $30, and the patches were already halfway peeled off so it looked like an easy clean-up. I got them all scraped off and bought a set of oilskin patches from an Etsy seller that have a graphic flowers-and-birds design in primary colors on black. I’d had that favorited since I bought the first SX-70, but since that one has a black plastic body I don’t think that skin would look as striking on it (because it would be black on black). For that one I may spring for the alligator skin, or maybe I’ll just come up with something crazy myself. Whichever camera I wind up liking better I’ll keep, and put the other one up for sale in my Etsy shop.

It didn’t take long to see all the stores, and at close to 90 degrees it was a bit warm to just wander around. Although it did look like an interesting town and I’m adding it to the list of possible meetup sites. I knew I was going to pass Denham Springs on the way back home, which is another town that has a lot of antique stores in the old downtown area. Most of them are in buildings that date back to the beginning of the town, like the first furniture store and movie theater. My favorite is Heritage House, which is in the old boarding house. Every room is like a little store all on its own.

American Tourister train case

When I was a kid, we still had kicking around the house a set of light blue Samsonite luggage that was my mother’s when she was first married. Either to my father or her first husband, I’m not sure, but they were probably 15 or 20 years old by the time they became my toys. I was obsessed with the train case and used to daydream about running away from home just so I’d be able to actually use it. I have no idea what happened to that luggage set, probably it got sold or given away when we moved from the house on Torres Avenue to the one on Conovan Lane, because I never saw it again after we moved.

All of which is to say, I’ve had a vintage train case-shaped hole in my soul that I’ve been trying to fill for years. They’re a not-uncommon item in antique stores, but they tend to be overpriced and/or torn to hell on the inside. I found a closet at Heritage House that had 3 train cases; one of them was way too beat up, one of them was too small, and then there was this one. A few light scuffs on the outside, I can live with that, inside… it was definitely used a lot, but it had an interior plastic lining that could be very easily cleaned. It even had the sectional tray that fits inside the lid! Vintage train cases are ALWAYS missing that tray. Cost, with tax: $23 and change. And at the counter they gave me the key, so I can even lock it if I want. I Googled this brand, looks like it dates from the mid-1960s.

The rest of the weekend I was pretty lazy. Sunday I cleaned and ran some errands in Lafayette, including to Ulta. I now own all 3 of the Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palettes, so my life is complete. (I like make-up, okay DON’T JUDGE ME.) Oh, and I think I hit a dove with my car on the way home! Two of them were in the road, they flew up as my car approached but one flew TOWARDS my car instead of AWAY from it. There was a thump and an explosion of feathers. I love animals, but whatever. Doves are basically the pigeons of rural areas, and to quote George Costanza, we’re supposed to have a deal with them: they get out of the way of our cars, and we ignore the statue-crapping. I would feel worse if it had been some kind of egret or heron, even though those are as common around here as seagulls were in California. After the ‘rents went to bed I watched the Hannibal season finale (OMFG NOTHING WILL EVER BE OKAY AGAIN), and streamed a few episodes of this insane Korean soap opera I have recently become addicted to, Vampire Prosecutor. It’s about this prosecutor? He’s a vampire. Monday I got the car washed, re-read The Virgin Suicides, and ate a hamburger. I like mine with melted cheddar, a pineapple ring, and BBQ sauce. Try it sometime!
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I really enjoy the drive on LA-82, which runs from my hometown of Abbeville for almost 150 miles to the Texas border (where it becomes TX-82). It’s very rural once you leave Abbeville, the largest town it runs through after that is Cameron, which has a population of about 2,000. I see something new every time I drive it.

These are just some digital shots from last weekend, I shot some film but didn't finish the rolls so they're still in the cameras.

Fishing cabin near Grand Chenier

This old cabin outside of Grand Chenier is famous. Seriously, everyone who drives on LA-82 stops to take a photo of it. A couple of months ago someone made an Etsy treasury inspired by True Detective, they used one of my photos of another subject, but they also used a photo of this cabin taken by someone else.

Our Lady Star of the Sea Cemetery, Cameron

It’s funny because it’s a dead end sign in front of a cemetery. Eh? Eh? This is the cemetery of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Cameron. (Incidentally one of the ocean goddesses I keep on my altar and a very important one to people who reside in hurricane-prone areas.)

Creole, LA

Of course one of the main attractions for me in Cameron Parish is, unfortunately, hurricane damage. (That overturned schoolbus I photographed several times was along LA-82 in the parish, but that seems to have finally been hauled away, I didn’t see it during the Sabine Pass trips.) This was the outskirts of Creole.

Old house between Abbeville and Mouton Cove

This is between Perry and Mouton Cove, not far from Abbeville. Last year when I passed by you could barely see the house for all the stuff growing around it, but someone seems to have decided to cut it back. Which is probably why I just this time was confused by the fact that there’s a fireplace on the OUTSIDE of the house.

Holly Beach

This was on the outskirts of Holly Beach, “the Cajun Riviera”. You couldn’t pay me to vacation there, it’s basically an acre of trailers and shacks crammed together on the beach. It looks like a Central American barrio. Apparently it was even worse before the hurricanes, which wiped the place off the map.
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Between Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon, Pointe a la Hache lost over 50% of its population, so there are a lot of abandoned properties in the town, especially along LA-15, which runs parallel to the east bank of the Mississippi River. Hope and I picked one more or less at random to photograph.

Old House

There was some damage around to the back of the house, nothing that looked like it would be impossible to fix. But if whoever lived there lost a steady income thanks to the oil spill, maybe they couldn’t afford even minor repair. Or maybe they just couldn’t afford to keep it up; those old houses need constant repair, and they are really hard to heat and cool. It’s sadly ironic that what made them suitable for the climate in the days before central air/heat—raised off the ground, high ceilings—now makes artificially cooled/heated air leak out of them like water through a fishnet. Too, since the levees were built they don’t get as much natural a/c from river breezes. And of course insulation has come a long way in the last 100 years.

Old House

Someone’s keeping the property mowed, but the house is starting to both sink and crack, and vines are growing over the outside. Left to itself, it will be unrepairable within not too many more years.
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St. Thomas Cemetery

The cemetery wasn't all that interesting, but I liked these peeling old statues found at the back.

St. Thomas Cemetery

St. Thomas Cemetery

The weird swirl they elected to use in place of an O gave me True Detective flashbacks.
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Cameron Parish

Fire is one of those things I've learned to ignore since moving to south Louisiana. There's always a column of smoke billowing into the sky somewhere on the horizon, and it's always just someone torching a canefield or a pile of brush or a bunch of garbage. We have a semi-tropical environment, which means rain all year 'round, which means it's never dry enough for fire in a rural area to get out of hand. Very different from my upbringing in California, where every summer some idiot's improperly doused campfire winds up burning down half the state.
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I had my photography group's meetup here last month. Pointe a la Hache is the parish seat, but since Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon it's almost a ghost town. It's right on the east bank of the Mississippi and the primary business was fishing, so both of those things really hurt the town. There are less than 200 people living there these days, and the only business left is a combination diner/convenience store. (Unless you count the Catholic church.)

The damage to the courthouse precedes the hurricane, though. Some idiot who was about to go on trial in 2002 decided that burning down the courthouse would be a good way to destroy the evidence against him; instead he was convicted of his original crime AND arson. Parish business is now conducted in the town of Belle Chasse; there have been several ballot measures to move the seat there officially but they always get rejected. Sentimental reasons, I suppose.

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Jail

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaqumines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Jail
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Sabine Pass Light

Remember how I said I couldn’t get close enough from the Texas side to get good photos? Yeah, this is pretty much the best photo I got—taken with my digital of course, because I don’t have long lenses for any of my film cameras. I hardly ever need them, because I don’t take photos of things like wildlife. I prefer to get close to my subjects. I could try to crop out a bit of the foreground, but I don’t know how much that would improve things; you can only do that so much until things start to get grainy, in a bad way. Too, I find something kind of interesting in this photo, the old wrecked lighthouse in the distance, at the end of a cracked and littered pier.

I could have gotten a little closer if I’d walked to the end of the pier, but there were about 20 no trespassing signs scattered about, hand-scrawled on pieces of plywood in a script I think of as “redneck murder font”. I may have attempted it anyway, but there were people fishing right nearby, and for all I knew it was their property. I don’t want to get shot over someone thinking I’m trying to steal their moldy lumber and desiccated tire scraps.
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Wrong-Way Cemetery

This is from a roll that I shot in the Smena 8M and recently had developed. I’ve never known this camera to have light leaks before, but I shot the first half when I went to Rayne (this was taken in the “wrong way” cemetery), and didn’t finish it until I went to Madisonville, a few months later. I suppose it could have gotten jostled at some point. Also, the film shot in this camera has to be removed and wound back into the canister by hand inside of a lightproof bag, due to the fact that the original take-up spool is missing and I had to cannibalize the inside of a film roll. Another possibility is that the bag wasn’t as tight on my wrists as it should have been; however, the second half of the roll was mostly free of light leaks, which points to the former scenario as the more likely culprit.

Anyway, light leaks are one of those things that give digital perfectionists fits and make them prone to dismissing all vintage/toy/plastic camera enthusiasts as hipster dilettantes. They like to point out that the effects of these cameras, if for SOME reason they are desired, can be replicated with Photoshop. To which we reply, where’s the fun in that? Stop being such a control freak and see what happens!
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This isn't the most recent meetup, but the one before that. (I told you I was behind.) Madisonville is on the Tchefuncte River where it drains into the north end of Lake Pontchartrain, and is kind of a weekend spot for New Orleans. In the 18th and 19th centuries, anyone who could afford to get the fuck out of NOLA during the hottest months did so, and this is one of the places that they went. A lot of people still own vacation homes here, and a lot more people rent.

Tchefuncte River Lighthouse

The Tchefuncte River Lighthouse is another one of Louisiana's few surviving (mostly) lighthouses.

old houseboat

There was this rusty old boat anchored just offshore. I have no idea if it's still in use, but I hope that toilet on the deck isn't.

Madisonville Cemetery

The marina is draining its water into the adjacent cemetery. I wonder what the West Nile Virus rates are for the people who live across the street from it?
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Sabine Pass Battleground

I drove to Sabine Pass a few weeks ago, just for the day, it was the first time I’d been in Texas since driving out to Louisiana from California in 2010. Interestingly, this is right in the area where my mother grew up; although my maternal grandmother’s family has lived in the same area of south Louisiana for several generations, my grandparents lived in Port Arthur, Texas for many years and their three eldest children were all raised there. I think Sabine Pass was its own town when my mother was growing up, but now it’s within the city limits of Port Arthur.

I primarily wanted to see the Sabine Pass Light, which is actually on the Louisiana side of the Pass. But all the online directions I found direct you to the Texas side, I think because there’s no longer actually any road on the Louisiana side. The Light was de-activated in the 1950s, and the last private owners donated it to Cameron Parish in the 1990s, and of course they haven’t done shit with it. If a hurricane came along and wiped out the road any time since then, I doubt they bothered to fix it. But I may try to get there from the Louisiana side, or at least see how close I can get, because I couldn’t get close enough to get any good photos from the Texas side.

However, I don’t count the day wasted, I drove around and found some other interesting things to photograph. I like that drive too, it’s straight down LA-82 (and then TX-82) for most of the way. It’s a highway, but it’s a 2-lane rural highway with pretty scenery, and to get across the Calcasieu River I took the Cameron Ferry. Louisiana used to have dozens of ferries; nowadays I think there are 8 of them left. You can take I-10 to get there, but it goes so far out of the way that it doesn’t actually save you any time.

One of the places I found was the Sabine Pass Battleground. There was a Civil War battle fought here. I liked the contrast between the little shell-scarred bunker, and the weird modern machinery hulking in the background. Sabine Pass is like that, it’s very rural but surrounded by refineries and everywhere you look there’s refinery towers or oil-drilling equipment looming over you.

I recently read a book called Visit Sunny Chernobyl, in which a journalist, inspired by the titular trip to Chernobyl, decides to visit the world’s most polluted places. One of those places is Port Arthur. (If the Keystone XL Pipeline ever gets built, the American end is going to come out in Port Arthur.) But even with all the refinery crap cluttering up the scenery, it doesn’t really LOOK polluted, at least not in Sabine Pass. The sky was blue, the vegetation was all healthy, and there were birds everywhere. Not all pollution is immediately visible, I guess. It’s not anything obvious like oil spills or smog, but you know it’s there when you look at the cancer rates for the area. Chernobyl is beautiful too, according to the book I read. The flora and fauna are all flourishing in the area. But people who go there have to wear radiation detection badges, and can only stay so long.
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I am SO BEHIND on posting photos. I started a new job last month; my commute is twice as long as I’m used to (although largely on rural highways very light of traffic) AND I’ve been working a lot of overtime—I even came in for about 3 ½ hours on Sunday! I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually, and I’m certainly not complaining about the money, but lately it feels like I barely have time for anything else.

Anyway, on Saturday I made time for the spring sale at the Old Schoolhouse Antiques Mall in the town of Washington, thus continuing my unbroken streak—I haven’t missed one of the biannual sales (there’s another one in October) since I moved to south Louisiana. For a couple of years there in the middle they were kind of crappy, but they seem to have bounced back. I’ve gotten some of my best vintage cameras there, including my Land Cameras, and this year did not disappoint:

Polaroid SX-70

The SX-70 was the only Land Camera I didn’t have at least one type of*, and one of just three cameras still on my must-own list. (The others are a Rollei 35 and a Fuji Natura Classica. I don’t count the Arguses or Kodak Brownies I buy when I come across them, because I collect those brands specifically.) I only paid $20 for it because it has the plastic rather than metal exterior, and because it hadn’t been cleaned and restored. But the seller—who was selling refurbished ones for $100, so he clearly knows Polaroids—assured me it worked, and I figured I could afford to trust him for $20. Those old leatherette patches just have to be scraped off, and the old adhesive soaked off with denatured alcohol, then I can either buy a die-cut skin or make my own. I’ve seen tutorials where people used materials like old wallpaper swatches, or leather patches cut out of vintage purses.

Hoodoo Oils

And this is the other thing I bought there, a Japanese lacquered corner shelf. Some of the lacquer has rubbed off on the edges, but it was only $12 and I’ve always had a fondness for all the kitschy stuff the GIs brought home after WWII. Cheap as it was, most of it is still better-made and more charming than the crap Ikea sells. I think it’s meant to hang in a wall corner, it’s got a metal hook, but standing it on the dresser creates 3 shelves instead of 2. Which makes it the perfect size to hold all of my condition oils, which previously had been scattered about—some of them were actually being kept in my underwear drawer!

*I also own a 95A, the 2nd model ever made and one that covers the earliest roll-film era; a 150, which covers the classic ‘50s-‘60s era (mine is a 1963); and several late-model hardshells.
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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.
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Totoro in hydrangeas cross stitch (with flash)

This is the first cross stitch I've completed in a while. I got bogged down with those Celtic crosses; I wanted to do the entire book of designs (I think there were 8 in all), but as I was about to finish the 2nd to last one I got a serious case of the eff thises and didn't want to pick up any needlecrafts for the next several months. Which is my normal routine, I go in spurts where I'm obsessed with it and do it every waking minute, then I can't stand the sight of an embroidery hoop for the rest of the year.

This is a small design, actually one of 2 My Neighbor Totoro designs that I bought as a digital file from an Etsy seller for a few dollars, back when I was still working on the crosses. I usually like to ease back into things with a small project. I was just going to hoop it, but it's small enough that maybe I can use it for a clothing or a tote bag patch or something.
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muses shoe

Meeeee!

2013 was a pretty lean year for me so I didn't have the funds for a hotel room--especially not during the last week of Carnival, when they all jack up their rates--so I wasn't sure until the last minute if I would go. I decided to compromise by parking on a residential street near Jefferson and Magazine (you should have seen the amazing parallel park I pulled off on Camp, there was like a single inch between bumpers) and catching them at the start of the parade, before they join up with Babylon and Chaos. They were past by 9:30 and I got home shortly after midnight.

Actually, it wasn't that much of a compromise, because I don't really care for the other 2 krewes. Babylon at least has some interesting floats, but Chaos' are usually lame (and occasionally they're grotesquely sexist), and the krewe members are assholes--I've seen them like, shrug at people asking for throws. What the hell?

I thought it would be nicer watching from a more residential area too, but actually I missed my usual spot, on Gravier a few blocks down from St. Charles. There were people on porches, in yards, on the sidewalks, on ladders, on the grass between the gutter and the sidewalk, and in the streets, so the throws were more spread out and they literally threw a lot of them. On Gravier, they just drop them over the sides of the floats and into your hands. (Also, residential area = lots of children, or, as I refer to them, "throw hogs".)

So I didn't get as much swag as I usually do, but I can't complain because I GOT A SHOE! A lot of the large krewes have a rare signature throw (Zulu's painted coconuts are the most famous) that is the most coveted, and for the Muses it's women's shoes that have been decorated with glitter, feathers, and beads. This was my 3rd parade and I'd never gotten one; they mostly give them to little girls, people they know, or people who've made some kind of effort like holding a sign or wearing a costume. I wasn't trying to get one--I didn't even notice that one was being held out--but it dropped right into my hands!

I didn't take too many photos this year, partly because I didn't want to spend the money on high-speed film, but mostly because I thought I'd just enjoy the parade for once. I took more at Krewe du Vieux, which I went to for the first time on February 15th, so many that I haven't gotten them all edited yet.
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Anyone else watching this new HBO show? It takes place in my corner of Louisiana, Cajun country/Louisiana prairie. (Yes, south Louisiana has prairie. It's not all gator-infested bayou.) It's always nice when Hollywood remembers that the state isn't entirely made up of just New Orleans, much as I love the city. In fact, the murder victim in the pilot is found in Erath, which is literally down the road from me: if you go to the end of my street and cross LA-14 (which is a rural highway, so probably not what most of you think of when you think of a highway), you'd be in Erath.

true detective

Visually, I'd say it's entirely an accurate representation of south Louisiana, which makes sense because they filmed it here. The rustling cane fields, the murmuration (seriously, that's what it's called) of starlings swirling through the air, the single huge oak standing out in a flat field. And of course, the abandoned church. I'm sure it was a set built for the show, but things like that exist here; I've photographed a bunch of them. When something in Louisiana burns down or gets wrecked in a hurricane or just abandoned, it doesn't always get torn down and tidied up.

And the writing and acting is good, too. The storyline is more of a slow burn, but I prefer that to car chases and explosions every 30 seconds. Admittedly, the popular notion of Louisiana as (to use the A.V. Club's words) "a lawless, hothouse trouble spot populated by weirdoes, freaks, perverts, vampires, hoodoo wimmen, and gangsters plotting to assassinate the president" sometimes gets old to those of us that live here. The only show to ever realistically portray Louisiana as a place where (mostly) normal people live (mostly) normal lives remains Tremé; perhaps not coincidentally, that show had dismal ratings. (Also--sort of--the '80s sitcom Frank's Place. Which lasted a single season. And also the premise was that Frank had to run the family business and stay in NOLA rather than sell it and move back to New England because of a Voodoo curse. So that's really kind of a wash.)

But you know, I'll take weird religious serial killers and creepy abandoned churches and matriarchal brothels out in the wilderness over the current "reality" TV portrayal of Louisianans as a bunch of mouth-breathing, gator-wrasslin', drunken hillbillies.

Oh, and if you saw the photo of Dora Lange as a child surrounded by men on horseback wearing pointed hoods and thought OMG KKK, no. Those were Courir de Mardi Gras:

Courir de Mardi Gras_Dejouant ses bourreaux_HRoe_2012

The pointed hat is a traditional part of the local Mardi Gras costume. Wearing cheap plastic beads and flashing your boobs and/or dressing like a streetwalker is a New Orleans thing.
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I was there about a week before Hope and I went to Fort Pike, so I couldn't help but compare them. Gaines is in much better condition than Pike, which is not surprising, because Louisiana really doesn't have their shit together when it comes to parks and historic sites.

Apparently this is where Admiral David Farragut said the famous line "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!", during the Battle of Mobile Bay, in the Civil War. I thought it was odd that they would put it on all their signage and pamphlets, since Farragut was a Union admiral. But you know, we're all the same country now, so kudos to Alabama for refusing to give in to that stupid us vs. them grudge-holding mentality that is one of my least favorite things about the south.

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines
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Apparently that's where I shot that mystery roll of black & white.

028

018

017

Fort de Russy Cemetery

003

Fort de Russy Cemetery
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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.

June 2014

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