Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sitting on the dock of the lake

John Keats had painful tuberculosis and was high on laudinum most of the time. During one of these opiate states, he was sitting in a chair outside as the sun sank in the sky and the air became cool. Wrapped in a blanket, he watched a bird as it flitted among the leaves high up in a tree.
Reminiscent of Coleridge's drug-induced Kubla Khan, Keats discussed the absence of pain with the bird.
He felt its freedom to fly without a care in the world. His face turned to the sun, eyes closed. The breeze lifted him higher and higher, farther and farther from the racking of his body.
I was thinking about this as I sat on my dock wrapped in a blanket the other day. The sun beat off the water but was unable to penetrate the cold air as the steam rose off the clear, glass-like lake. The wind blew waves over the water and my hair out of my face.
Nature is the world's best medicine.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cajun Food

There is a fantastic Cajun restaurant in the middle of the projects up in Nashville that is a must-visit every time I'm in town. The man who owns it is from Lafayette, Louisiana, and the place fits 20 small-sized people. It's a shack with falling roof pieces and walls full of country music singer pictures. The neighborhood it's in is full of industrial complexes filled with smoke stacks and railroad cars that absolutely tower over the joint. The only way a potential customer would know it was there is because a sad little sign protrudes out into the street and reads "Breaux's Cajun Cuisine."

Regardless, this little treasure has a platter that any Cajun would fish in the Ponchatrain for. Boudin (that's boo-dan), crawfish etouffee, gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice and more flavors of shrimp than even Bubba could come up with. The flavors drift to your nose and instantly your mouth waters with the little perks under your jaw going crazy. It's the French Quarter and voodoo all mixed in one. It's the swamp, Mardi Gras and witch doctors. This is the type of Cajun I'm used to.

And last night I found another. Served up on iron skillets with sweet tea and Cajun bread...Wetumpka's Cajun Grill is NOT Breaux's but it sure is close. Situated in a tiny little strip mall between the nail salon and auto parts store, I almost missed it. But like a fly to sugar, it screamed at me as I passed it on the highway. All I need are candles for the spirits, jazz musicians and moss on the trees.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fishing with Caiden

Last night was warm and perfect for fishing if you're amatuers like us. We trounced down to the dock around 5:30. The neighbor hollered and asked if I was catching dinner. I laughed and said I just hoped we caught something. Caiden toted the white plastic bowl with the holes in the lid that she grabbed off the counter at the local gas station/grocery store/restaurant/tackle & bait shop earlier. I thought that was cute that she was going to fish with worms. She held them close to her in one hand and in the other was her pink Barbie fishing pole. I followed along with my pole and the little pink tackle box that matches her fishing pole.

We set up on the edge of the dock and I made sure all the hooks and bobbers worked. And then she dug into the cool, damp dirt that filled the plastic bowl. The squiggly worms were all cornered on the bottom which meant she and I were covered in dirt before we got the worms out. She was good with snagging them, she was not good with piercing them to her hook. So I took on that job. Once she was all set, she cast out about 5 feet and waited for the bobber to be drug underwater. Too cute.

I cast out and tried to remember where my fishing license was. About 20 minutes and 100 worms later, she screamed because a fish about the size of my little hand had grabbed a hold of her worm. She danced around, screeching and crying and wanting me to take the pole. So after making her hold it until I could reel mine in, I reached down and pulled out a flopping little thing that I would assume was a crappie or a blue gill. Anybody reading this who knows the difference between the two can feel free to let me know. The locals assured me that this was all we would find near the shore. All I know was that if skinned and cooked, it wouldn't qualify as an appetizer much less a meal. And my hysterical daughter had me laughing until I cried. After I unhooked it and threw it back, she decided that she could indeed put the worm on and that became her new job.

Casting out another 5 feet, she was very excited about fishing again. Less than 2 minutes later, a slightly bigger fish snagged her worm and the screeching began again. This tough little sucker wouldn't let go of the darn hook and I practically had to stick my fingers in its mouth to get it out. At the same time, all I'm hearing is "Mommy! Mommy! Get it out! Get it out!" By this time, the full moon was up and I hadn't caught a thing. But I did get two great pictures of my little fishergirl standing with her pole in her oustretched hand as far away as possible with the silver little fish dangling and twisting from the end.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pumpkin seeds and candles

I love Halloween! It's one of my favorite holidays. As we strolled into the produce section of Walmart the other day, Caiden starts pointing and ranting about pumpkins. The little ones, big ones, white ones, orange ones were all on sale. So we spent hours choosing the best three of the small ones and the largest, roundest, longest-stemmed of the big ones we could find.

When we got back to the lake, my sister pulled the newspaper out of the garbage and spread it all over the table. I dug up two knives and Caiden scurried to her room to find her red marker. That way she could draw the faces on the pumpkins. Janie and I cut open the tops in zigzags and spent the better part of an hour up to our elbows in pumpkin pulp and seeds. Using huge spoons and forks, we tunneled through the muck to make sure the insides were completely scrapped out.

While Janie cut out eyes and teeth, I scrapped seeds that stubbornly clung to the pulp and spread them in a pan to roast in the oven. Now we have three very scary small pumpkins and a big Momma one sitting out on the dock. We put pink and purple candles in them so that the folks across the lake can see them.

Sitting out on the green chairs, we munched on salted pumpkin seeds and waved at folks as they boated by for a look at our pumpkins. It's a little early and I'm sure I'll be doing it again in a couple of weeks, but it's a lot of fun!

Monday, October 6, 2008

42 Steps - porch to pier

I love living at the lake! I always wanted to wake up to cool air bouncing off the water as it lapped up against the dock. The first cup of coffee in the morning is almost like good sex but sipping that first cup out on the pier while the sun lazily breaks through the dawn--there is no description for it.

This morning, the sun hadn't quite come up and neither had the neighbors so the air was a little cool, for Alabama, and very quiet. The water was like glass. The smell of coffee filled the kitchen and wafted into the Florida room that faces the lake. That Florida room is filled with wicker furniture and surrounded by large, pane glass windows. Perfect.

Yesterday, my sister and I pulled the green loungers from the screened front porch and carried them down to the dock. Counting the steps to the dock, it was 42 from the last step off the porch to the first step up on the weathered wood. We sat out sipping sweet tea and chatting about nothing. Occasionally a boat would tool by. And every so often, we could hear the sound of carp cut across the lake as they jumped and splashed.

I may never want to leave.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

VP Debate - a whole lotta fun

So I'm sitting here listening to the vice-presidential debate.

Joe Biden is his normal loquacious self. Ranting and raving, raising his hands and hitting grand slams on foreign policy. Exactly where he should have considering his extensive foreign policy experience. He explained the Ahmadinejad did not control the Iranian security apparatus but that the theocracy did. While that is a true statement, I'm not sure most of the American people won't understand that. The Supreme Leader Ayotallah Khomeini is the leader of Iran but the American people have been exposed more to Ahmadinejad -- the same man who stood behind the capture of UK citizens and the supplying of weapons to Shiites in Iraq.

Sarah Palin winks and uses lexicon that resonates with every American. While foreign policy is not her strong point, energy and economics are. She is scoring two-point conversions on those issues. Taking on major oil companies and McCain's tax voting record help her score those points. Her biggest message is a typical conservative one -- keep the government out of our business and let us raise our families and build successful businesses.

The one thing they agreed on is same-sex marriage. Neither support a definition of marriage as anything but a man and a woman. On the same note, they both agree for a civil union as such. This isn't too surprising since he is a Catholic and she is an Evangelist.

So far, I'd say Palin held her own up against one of the best debaters in the Senate.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Press One

Why? Why do I need to press 1? I have been on hold with the VA for what feels like a week. Elevator music rings in my ear and at the end of every concerto, I hear "If you wish to remain on the line, press 1" in the most reassuring, nauseatingly calm voice.

For the umpteenth time, I've pressed one. I feel like Phoebe from friends who refused to hang up because that's how the company got you; by wearing you down. That could go for the federal government as well.

It seems to me that if someone didn't wish to remain on the line, they would just hang up. Just hearing that guy's irritating voice in my ear is reason enough to hang up. That stinging music in my ear constantly interrupted by the idiot who keeps telling me to push one is enough to make me pull my hair out.

Where are all the attendants? Is the VA so understaffed? I refuse to be beaten.