Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Here she comes....and there she goes....

Elizabeth returned home from her freshman year of college enthused with all the tales that one's first collegiate year brings, but she did accompany those adventures with a 4.0, so no complaints here.  Bottom line is she loves her college, has made great friends and seems to be moving along the great path of life. For a mother, it is bittersweet, because you want this so badly for your child - but you also want them home with you.  She only had two short weeks with us, before she was to be off on another adventure...but as usual, we packed a lot in! 

After unpacking and moving into her new "digs" ~ Ellen's old room, we headed to Natchitoches...home of the meat pies.  Now whomever came up with this was a marketing genius, because anyone in Louisiana knows that if you pass through Natchitoches, the thing to to eat a meat pie. Well, we didn't exactly go for the meat pies! We went for....

These two girls (Ellen and her friend Racheal) that were to receive a fairly, nice honor!  It was a four hour drive and they were super excited, mainly because they got to spend an entire day together and skip school!  Parents are more impressed with the reason they were there than they seemed to be... because they achieved the state level  of the Duke Tip Awards.  It is based on standardized testing, and from those scores, you make it into the Duke Tip Awards.  Then those seventh graders actually take the same SAT or ACT that a High school Senior would take and are scored as if they were the same age as special breaks.  Duke accesses the scores and those that do very well, go to the state level and a very elite few (only two from LA made it) make the national level for a ceremony at Duke.  We parents were excited about our children making the state level, but these two...just happy to have a day off of school! 

Of course, we had to get a meat pie, even though I will let you in on a secret...they really are not very good.  Every time I go to Natchitoches, I try so hard to like them...but they are hamburger meat in a fried pie shell, and I need to accept the fact that I just don't like them that much, and neither did anyone else at the table! 

A pleasant benefit to going to Natchitoches for the big ceremony, in spite of a four hour drive, is that it is one of the most adorable towns you will ever set foot in.  Located right on a river, it is one of the first cities settled in Louisiana and has done a fabulous job of keeping their downtown area vibrant and full of eclectic, unique stores.  So fun to poke around! We arrived early enough to do that too! 

One of the neatest stores I have ever shopped in is the general mercantile store in Natchitoches, LA! Established in 1863, it is full of just about anything you could possibly imagine, and it really feels like you have stepped back in time when you enter the doors. 

There are toys.....

Gumbo Spoons!

Cypress knees that are hand painted to look like St Nick...

Lots of them! 

Every size of pot and pan that you could possibly need....

Unusual artwork ~ this section featured painting by an artist that used only coffee grounds as his medium! 


The real, old fashioned kind! 

Candy Canes ~ the real, old fashioned kind!

And this is really the cash register that is still used to complete their transactions!

You might ask ~ "why in the world are stainless steel paddles in the cooking section"? Well,
Only in Louisiana, we cook gumbo, crawfish and jambalaya in big batches, outside in large pots.  These  paddles come in mighty handy for stirring our monster sized, cooking portions! 

I have one of these pots and have featured it on one of my blogs, way back when! I call it my "back breaker pot" and often can't lift it in or out of the oven when cooking large batches of ducks in it....(I once really did throw my back out trying!) so I call Gary in for that tough job! 

Hmmm ~ do you think this is a manual plow for a garden?

Believe it or not, I only walked away with one thing, and it was one of these hand-made brooms.  I am so glad I bought it, as it sweeps better than any broom I have ever used.

I could on and on but we but move along to the rest of the day......

 Here we are in a cool toy store that let you "play" with everything!  Elizabeth is shooting cans off a log!

The girls spent quite a bit of time in here and had a few toy stores actually let you play with everything!  It was their day, so we let them spend as much time as they wanted!

The day was beautiful, and soon we were drawn to the river...there were so many photo opportunities.  These gorgeous wrought-iron benches line the brick walkways,
that allow you to stroll along the river.

I noticed that 1714 was on every bench and chair, and sure enough, after doing the old google thing, discovered that this is the year that Natchitoches was founded! 

One of my artsy photos....

This is a "Live Oak Tree" and a beautiful one at that....they take a really long time to grow and mature to look like this! Louisiana is famous for Live Oak trees!  

Elizabeth spotted some geese and could resist checking (ok, chasing) them out!
 She really is still a kid at heart.

I thought this photo was kind of cool...doesn't she look like she almost
  belongs in the gaggle of geese? 

Our girls truly would have stayed there all day, but we had to get on our real reason for the trip...
The Duke Tip Award Ceremony
It was a nice ceremony ~ only an hour (yay) ~ and representatives from Duke University had traveled down to deliver a speeches and present each recipient with a medal! 

Afterwards, we headed towards home. There is a great restaurant called Prejeans that is on the way, so we decided to stop there.  If you ever want to experience a truly Cajun meal and atmosphere....
this is the place! 

A rather large alligator greets you as you walk through the doors.

The food is very good, and you feel like you are in a cypress swamp!

The ladies room entrance! 

Our girls ~ clowning around! 

And now, back to the rest of our short time with Ms. Elizabeth.  Here she is, letting me practice some settings with my camera! I am constantly snapping photos, but they are patient with me...

I love this photo of her..we had been outside in some pretty hot and steamy weather, and she grabbed a cold, glass of ice water.  The light shining on the glass caught my eye, so I snapped a shot...doesn't it look refreshing?

Fortunately, her time extended over Mother's day... although the credit for this goes to Sara and Ellen!  They brought it to me on Mother's Day is a "camp pancake".  You pour batter in a skillet and cover the pan, throw in chocolate chips and bananas or whatever you like, pour more batter on top and cook to perfection.

I took one bite and this is what I thought of it! 

We then headed to Gary's brother's house for a fabuous Mother's Day brunch
where a rare family photo was snapped! 

And even rarer ~ a photo of their grandfather with five of his granddaughters! 

The fun didn't stop ~ we loaded up the dogs and family and headed out to the country...
for a Mother's Day boat ride! 

Here is Gran-E ~ in her GranE mobile....the dogs just don't understand why they have to walk and aren't allowed to ride...."why Gran-E why"?

My garden is thriving ~ we are a having lots of rain this year so it is making gardening a bit easier.  The black material we laid down to prevent the weeds from growing is really working well.  I am psyched...just love my garden! Elizabeth has inherited a love of gardening as well and joined her school's gardening club.  One of the few student members, she became good friends with the some of the faculty that love to garden (including the president's wife) as well as the person who is overall in charge of maintaining the landscaping of her university.  He actually asked Elizabeth to give a speech at a function on Arbour's Day so it looks like gardening is continuing to live in our genes! 

My girls and I getting ready for the boat ride...wearing hats to protect our precious skin!

Elizabeth practiced her boat driving skills.

We enjoyed the day, and I practiced my boat lounging skills!

Great Mother's Day Outing! 

Such a cutie she is....

Sprinkled throughout the day were various Mother's Day treats that the girls had gone to a lot of trouble to plan...Ellen gave me this! And I unfortunately did not photograph my other goodies, but Elizabeth gave me clothes drying rack (which sound rather boring, but something I have needed forever and just wouldn't buy myself!) Don't you have those items...things you need and just won't buy?  I was glad to get it.  She also hand-painted me a beautiful frame and printed a cute pic of her and I to go in it....very special!  Sweet Sara bought me my favorite perfume in the whole, wide world ~ Beautiful by Estee Lauder ~ along with the lotion and body shower gel and a candle!  It was a great Mother's Day...probably one of the best that I have ever had! 

So, back to Elizabeth's last week.  It was pretty chill...just slow and easy going...which is what she needed after a very, fast paced college life with the pressure of making such great grades on top of that. 

We spent some time enjoying the beauty of the country and nature....

She couldn't believe how high we have managed to actually grow grass in our pasture ~ we have struggled for a while with this problem. I did a post last year about planting our pastures and look where we are now...well they don't all look like this but there is hope now! 

We just enjoyed hanging with the horses in the grass filled pasture!

The horses all  look so fresh and clean with their new summer coats. 

Nellie - what can you even say ~ pictures speak a thousand words!

Nellie and Elizabeth together ~ just funny!


Our grass probably shouldn't have these pretty, little flowers it it, but they are quite beautiful!

Oh wait, should that be in it? It is quite beautiful too! 

I do need to document these special gifts that I received from my other "daughters" aka, best friends of Sara's for over a decade!

Katherine gave me a lovely bouquet of sunflowers, homegrown on her farm.....She even came in the house and had them set up in a vase waiting in the kitchen when I walked in! 

and Laura brought over these pretty flowers ~ blog worthy my worthy, and Thank you! You mean the world to me and I love having all these fresh flowers in the house.  Why can't Mother's Day be Mother's Week...well it kind of was in my case! 

I don't think Elizabeth missed a day to enjoy a Lousiana Snowball ~ shaved ice that melts in your mouth, topped with your choice of over 100 flavors of syrup and then condensed is truly a Louisana treat and Elizabeth is the Snowball Queen! She knows where every snowball stand in the entire town is located, knows their hours and can rate them on the quality of their shaved ice! 

Like me, she likes to document life....a large part of her time was spent creating a scrapbook that emcompassed her entire year of college. She had saved everything, every note I sent her, every note anyone had sent her, had all her photos printed, and it took several days but she got it done!

Ellen chipped in to help paste and glue.

 I think it turned out to be about 150 pages, but it was awesome....Elizabeth just has a gift for scrapbooking.  It isn't the fancy kind but it is just enough that makes it attractive and appealing with all of her photos and momemtos included. 

We visited Dallas ~ her honorary grandfather ~ that used to live across the street but is now in a nursing home.  He is still going strong and dapper as ever. 

She waxed her car ~ the old fashioned way! Wax on....Wipe off!

And before we knew it, it was time for her to head on to her next great adventure of the be a counselor at the summer camp that she has attended for the last six years. She will be teaching paddling and kyacking skills (her passion)..hence the kyack on top of the car.  Here we are at 6:00 in the morning as she is about to make the nine hour drive to camp....she was meeting up with some friends who were also to be counselors so I was happy she could follow someone. 

It really seemed like it went by too fast, and now she will be gone for eight about a heavy heart for this Mama! I wasn't the only one.....

As I watched her pull off  - I looked over and....

there was Maisy...quietly sitting on our steps....she had been sitting there watching her pack.  By now, Maisy knows what packing a car means.  Dogs are smarter then you think.  As soon as we start to pack a car, she starts to fret and can sense that we are leaving.  

The other clue....they are playing happily together in the yard.  

And as Elizabeth backed out and pulled off, 

Maisy looked over ~ watched her leave 

and then turned her head away and laid it down.....she has slept in Elizabeth's room every night with her since she has been home, and I swear, I think she just knows she is gone now.  It is eerie what I dog can sense...all I can say is; "Maisy, I know.....I know.....
I know what you are going through."