We are in Louisiana now and what a change from dry Texas to moist Louisiana! Hair, skin,a good thing, crackers and fried pork skins-good and soggy.We went to Riverside Cafe on Vermilion Bayou and were waited on by a young fellow who included a lot of all y'alls in his speech. Larry and I had a conversation about the bayou as I had noticed the water flowing rapidly toward the Gulf. When our waiter came I asked if the bayou was a tidal river. He said 'Wall I don't know m'am, I'm not from around here.' That begged the question-where are you from? He came closer and said-'Salt Lake City'. I said WOW what's with all the y'alls. He said 'Oh, you have to do that around here- you have to fit in.' We had a tour of the McIlhenny factory on Avery Island where they make Tabasco sauce. Interesting process, got some doll sized free samples of their new products and shopped at their store. We ate a sausage on a stick which was tasty but made our eyes water and noses run. Maybe I'll included that trip in my next book. Today, a trip to a place called Rip Van Winkle Garden. Built by 19th century actor Joseph Jefferson who was cast as Rip on the stage and made the play famous. Made lots of money doing it. Designed and built a lovely, gracious home overlooking a lake in New Iberia. The trees in the lake are loaded with Roseate Spoonbills. The property was bought by another fellow some years ago and tragically someone drilling for oil nearby drilled thru a salt mound and into a cravass beneath and all the water flowed all at once into the hole and the lake was no more. Well, being Louisiana the lake filled up again in 2 weeks. The area is, after all, 7 ft below sea level. It filled up with salt water. Down at the Gulf the drilling rigs are cheek by jowl at the dock. The shrimp boats are packed together at the docks like sardines in a can. Drill, Baby, drill. We are paying Brazil to drill in the Gulf. What possible difference can it make to the ecology if Brazil drills or we drill. Hypocrisy is rampant in DC.
We left the park we were living at for the past 6 months with hugs from our friends and promises to keep in touch and advice from those who know about what to see on our way East. I have put away my paints and canvasses for a little while as I will earnestly work on my illustrations of my latest children's book. I sent out the manuscript and 2 copies of illust. to a publisher with hopes they they will at least read it. I am charmed with Texas. The trees are starting to leaf out and wildflowers are strewn about. Even in a drought things are turning green. The views are expansive if not vast and in the Edwards Plateau hill country and east the scenery is so different from the Panhandle and the Gulf edge. The Texans are friendly and generous of spirit. We went to the 11th St. Cowboy Bar in Bandera Wed. night and it was such fun seeing all ages dancing in their clean, even ironed, jeans and boots and hats. Some women wore dresses with bling belts or bling tees and jeans. Texas women wear make up often and have nice hairdos. I can definitely say that women that work in retail look spectacular. They are warm and courteous, will be helpful if needed and stay back if you are 'just looking'. You do always say thank you when you exit a store esp if you haven't bought anything. At my fav fabric store, Creations, they are beyond helpful, they are sincerely interested. I am making a jacket as a reward for losing weight,wait, I don't get to wear it til I'm done, but the clerk made sure I was choosing the right fabric and the right size and had me try on a sample they had in the store with out being a nudge. The day before we were leaving L. said to me 'what are going to do with all thee rocks, you don't even know where they came from". Oh yes I do sez I, I had written on them in ink just like an artifact museum. He had to agree to take them. I shall be sorry to leave Texas but maybe I will bring some of that spirit with me. I learned this week that my one woman show I have been working toward has been postponed as the building is being renovated. Well, it will give me time to paint more.
Here's a 'did you know'. El Paso,Texas is closer to the Pacific Ocean then it is to Houston! Not only is Texas big, everything about it seems to be big. The concept of ranch size is boggling. Larry and I recorded some music at Gazelle, a studio in Kerrville, TX, last week and Louie, at the studio, told me his grandfather or maybe great grandfather in the 1850s came out here and claimed land, I am sketchy here, with a Mr Shreiner. Shreiner said he'd take everything north of the Guadalupe River and Mr Real took everything south of it. That was something like 12 million acres for Mr. Real. In the ensuing years much of it got sold but they still retain 6-7000 acres that they ranch raising horses and prize lambs and have a hunting lodge. See Real Ranch. My Massachusetts mentality says Wow! Actually, my national view has expanded since I have been on 'the road'. Seeing The Great Plains-farming takes on a whole new meaning. But-my farm in Massachusetts is lush and fragrant in the summer and it is intimate like a draperied living room. One can see the details like an early 19th century French painting. The trees, leaves, veins on leaves, caterpillars on leaves and the eyes on the caterpillar. Mid West farms are Cecil B. De Mille productions in Cinemascope. A painting with great washes of green or ochre depending on which end of the summer season, and a broad brush of ultramarine/cobalt blue sky with perhaps a pale Naples yellow ribbon of a road. Too expansive for small details. Last night we had a campfire and sang songs and ate popcorn. It had gotten cold so I had a blanket around me. Looking over the treetops by the Guadalupe at the pale moon I was reminded of Rousseau's Carnival Evening. Very atmospheric.