Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Young Cajun Girl Celebrates Bastille Day...

Young lady dances the two-step and steals the show!

This is my second year celebrating Bastille Day at the local library here in Folsom, LA. Bastille Day, which is celebrated in Louisiana every July 14th, herald's France's independence from the monarchy way back in the guillotine days of 1789. The program presents a mixed bag of American, French, American Indian, and Acadian history and how each contributed to the culture of southern Louisiana over the past three or four hundred years. The speaker is a friend of mine, Bernie David, who is part Acadian and part Mi'kmaq Indian, and one who brought along with his folklore, bag of artifacts, percussion instruments and native indian customs, his accordion.

And, two other Cajun musicians, Ed Delaony on violin and Gill Gerard, on acoustic guitar.

It didn't take long to get the blood stirring and the toes 'a tappin'.  Let me tell you, historical forays into Lewis and Clark, the War of 1812 and the Louisiana purchase, are all well and, well... educational, but it all pales when compared with that "chanka, chanka, chanka rhythm and bayou whine of Bernie's accordion. After a spirited singalong of "You are my Sunshine," it didn't take long for many in the audience to kick up their heels on the makeshift dance floor in a waltz or two step shuffle.
As there was at last year's program, an aged dance instructor from the "Northshore Cajun Dancers" club, offered lessons to any of the ladies who might be so bold to try and follow his lead and Bernie's Ah-EEEEEEE! He managed to intercept a few prospects as they went back for second helpings of jambalaya and boudin, which was excellently prepared by the library volunteers. 

During the two hour program, Bill managed to instruct just about half of the ladies there to the finer points of the two step, but the best and most entertaining student he had was a young lady named Haley, who managed to keep up with him and actually do it with a little bit of her own "pizzazz!" She and Bill had everyone laughing and clapping along until her sandal got caught on the rug and they both came crashing down to the carpet. Bill, who must be well into his seventies, bounced right back up with a little help, but Haley seemed embarrassed and ran off to her mother who was standing back behind the book rack.

But after the initial fear that someone might have gotten hurt in the fall, the audience's gasp turned into applause as they encouraged the little lady to come back out and finish the song.

And with everyone's approval and a big smile, Haley came back out to "center stage," took Bill's hand and did just that!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Isleford Island and "View of the Bay"...

The local parking lot!
Flowers were plentiful on the island!
We decided to take the ferry to some islands to avoid the bad weather. It drizzled most of the time we were on Isleford Island. There really wasn't much to see on this island which is part of the "grand tour" of the Cranberry Islands. Therese and I walked and snapped photos for about a half mile up the road, which really led to nowhere. There were flowers everywhere, on the lawns and in empty lots and everywhere, landscaped like the church's front entrance or just wild. I surmised the spring and summer time being so short this far north, plants take the immediate opportunity of warmth and sun while they can. 

 A native riding uphill on a golf cart laughed quizically when we asked her what was here for a tourist to see. She mentioned three buildings that sat just a few hundred feet from the harbor that we thought we had already investigated thoroughly.

Apparently not!

From the landing dock, a view of the co-op dock
and to the left of it, the Isleford Dock restaurant.
One on one pier was a co-op fish market, the other pier housed an art gallery and a restaurant and the other building housed a museum, which had steps leading from the double doors onto an uncut lawn. At the museum, there was actually a ranger giving tours, but it was only Tee and me, so we got the elite tour. The museum was full of artifacts from the fishing village's past including whaling tools, model ships and displays. It was, especially since we got the royal tour, quite educational. 

We would, later the next day, meet that same ranger on the big island giving a nature walk along the craggy, southeast part of Acadia National Forest.

From the outside, the restaurant/ art gallery, appeared a derelict shack running the length of a pier which looked even worse than the building itself. But once you entered the restaurant, it was totally together with views that covered almost 270 degrees of the bay. The interior walls were whitewashed with a knotty pine roof and large beams that continued invitingly from the bar to the art gallery, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The artwork wasn't gonna win any great contests, but it was more competent than most tourist trap offerings.

The food was excellent and priced like the owners appreciated your travels from the big island to this humble abode. Since, Therese and I are not frequent lobster diners, I can't really say it was the best I've ever had, but it was certainly big enough and tasty enough for me to recommend it to any one we met on the big island. The rest of the meal, cornbread, clam chowder and a veggie was also great, but the homemade wild blueberry crumble with ice cream was really the topper. It seemed there were wild blueberries everywhere on the island.

The whole experience was welcoming especially since it was a rather wet, gloomy day with not much else to see.
Me after lobster, blueberry crumble, coffee and a sketch...
My sketch, complete with spilled coffee, though unfinished, reminded me of a gruff, old, hostess at a South Pasadena sports bar where we would always take our son for pizza. After asking our son if the team won or lost, he'd asked us if we preferred a table with "a view of the bay" which amounted to a large grassy medium that separated the four lanes of Huntington Drive as it headed west toward Alhambra.

This time, not only was the food great, but we actually had, a great view of the bay!

Copyright2012/Ben Bensen III 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just An American And Celebrating That Fact Today...

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emmanuel Leutze
Without getting into the historical aspects of this painting, which y'all probably know has more about it that is incorrect than correct, for instance, river icebergs, crossing in the daylight, wrong flag, and too small a boat...etc, etc, I just want to maybe use it as visual celebration of all that is so good about America.

I can be a pretty cynical and embittered son of a bitch after my sixty plus years on earth, but today I just want to be, I don't know, "patriotic!" Maybe, it has to do with my recent trip to the New England states, rich with all that incredible history that has me feeling this way. Somehow, it seems to be a real big thing there. Maybe, it is because the citizens have to hibernate until almost late May that makes July 4th  so important to the eastern shore. In Louisiana, Bastille Day, at least, in the southern part of the state, seems somehow more important to the populace. I don't know if I can get the same goosebumps on that  day than I get on July 4th.

Today, call me the naivete. Life, in my humble opinion, isn't black or white! Screw Romney, screw Obama Care, screw, Dey-do-run Ron Paul, to hell with politicing, corporate greed, pedophilia, homophobia, isolationistic baloney, economic armageddon, and all that hell in a hand basket crap. I'm not a republican, not a democrat, not an independent, hate being prejudged and pigeon holed and denigrated by friends and relatives for "sittin' on a fence" and not picking a side.
I guess that's what artists do... I guess.

If you must, "Bother me tomorrow, today, I 'll buy no sorrow... Doit-do-do, Lookin' Out My Back Door!"

Actually, I'm taking my mom and brother and family to a ball game and a late night fireworks show!

Happy Birthday, America... now, git outta here, you crazee!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Monday, July 2, 2012

While I Was Gone, The Hits Just Keep On Coming...

Retif Oil shortstop Tony Fortier-Bensen ’11 has one of the hottest bats around in
American Legion baseball. Fortier-Bensen takes a strike here but two pitches 
later, slams a triple, his seventh of the season during Wednesday’s (June 27)
4-0 win against Brother Martin-based Peake BMW. It was the second 
time Retif shutout Peake this season. Fortier-Bensen’s play on the 
field and in the batter’s box is one of the reasons Retif boasts a 
17-1 record. In 34 at-bats in 10 games, Fortier-Bensen has 15 
hits, 21 RBIs, and 13 runs for Retif. He owns one of the 
highest batting averages .441 in the league.