Black and White Sunday: Marathon Cheer

B&W 1-18-15 thek9harperlee

I spent the morning cheering for all the humans running the Louisiana Marathon.

Good job, runners!

Thank you to Black and White Sunday Blog Hop hosts Dachshund Nola and Sugar the Golden Retriever.

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Honoring the Heroes

Honor 1 thek9harperlee

This coming Monday is Memorial Day in the United States. The three-day weekend kicks off summer vacation season and revolves around beaches, barbecues, and baseball. More importantly, Memorial Day is a time to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

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My human mommy and I started this day with a visit to two memorials that honor local heroes who lost their lives serving the citizens of our state. Our first stop was the Louisiana State Police Memorial.

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Names of 26 fallen state police officers are on 12 pillars that flank the memorial fountain. The earliest hero was Officer Neill A. Yarborough, Sr., who died in 1925. He was only 32 years old and had worked as a state highway officer for just three months. The most recent hero, DPS Corporal John Kendall, died in 2011. He was 64 years old and had been a DPS officer for seven years and nine months. He had also served in Vietnam with the Marines and was a retired Louisiana State Police sergeant with almost 23 years of experience. To read more about each officer, please click here. Their stories will make you very, very thankful for the sacrifices made by these men and their families.

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The Louisiana Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial is just a short walk from the State Police Memorial.

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The Roll of Honor lists the names of all known Louisiana firefighters who have died in the line of duty. One hundred six names dating from 1859 to 2011 appear on the granite wall and the plaques beside it.

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An eternal flame pays tribute to the traditional fire code 555–five rings of the fire bell three times, known as “The Last Call,” to indicate that a firefighter has been lost.

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I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend filled with tons of fun and sun. I also hope that you’ll take a moment to remember the brave men and women and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to serve each and every day.

The Country Girl: Part 1

Butler Greenwood thek9harperlee

Last Friday afternoon, my humans loaded my chariot (with, among other things, all that human food my mommy had prepared the day before, one of my beds and several toys that I would ignore for the next 48 hours, and a healthy supply of wine) and we headed to Butler Greenwood Plantation and Bed and Breakfast for a little rest and a lot of relaxation. Butler Greenwood Plantation is located in St. Francisville, Louisiana. It’s less than 45 minutes from my house, but it feels like an entire world away. This was actually my third trip to the B&B. The photo on my very first blog post was taken at Butler Greenwood almost a year and a half ago when I made my second visit.

Chase's Cottage thek9harperlee

Butler Greenwood guests stay in eight cottages that are situated on the plantation’s beautiful grounds. On our previous visits, my humans and I have stayed in The Treehouse, which features a three-level deck on a beautiful wooded ravine, and The Cook’s Cottage, a 19th-century building that was home to the plantation’s cook. This time we checked into Chase’s Cottage, which is located on the edge of the pond and features a steep-pitched tin roof and a lovely porch that is perfect for a summer stay.

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My daddy unloaded my chariot, my mommy got everything settled, and then the three of us set out on our first walk through the big field behind the plantation home and cottages. I love to run through that field . . .

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. . . and to check out all the wonderful smells. It is heavenly.

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After our first walk through the field, we settled down on the beautiful, breezy porch where we would spend most of our time during this visit. We watched the activities in, on, and around the pond. My humans read books and magazines. My daddy and I dozed, and–of course–my mommy took lots and lots of pictures with that crazy camera. I was simply mesmerized by all the sounds–birds and baby birds, frogs of all sorts, ducks, and even a peacock who would entertain us with a lovely show later in the day.

Baby Birds thek9harperlee

Some barn swallow babies, crammed into a nest that was safely tucked just beneath the porch’s ceiling, were our constant companions.

Barn Swallow thrk9harperlee

The adult barn swallows swooped from atop the porch lights, to the surface of the pond where they collected bugs, and then up to the little nest to feed those bugs to their babies. They rested briefly on the porch railing, and then started the process all over again.

Ducks thek9harperlee

I watched the ducks on the pond and something deep, deep, deep inside of me said, “Hey . . . Harper Lee. Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a bird dog? Did you know that somewhere way back in your past you had canine family members who actually retrieved those things?” I chose to ignore that crazy voice and just watched those pretty little ducks paddling from one end of their pond to the other and back again. In the evening, they really did settle into their floating duck house for the night.

Humphrey thek9harperlee

As my humans sat on the cottage porch enjoying a yummy early dinner pre-prepared by my mommy, they glanced across the pond and saw handsome Humphrey, the plantation peacock, performing his nightly show. He seemed quite pleased to have an appreciative audience.

Chipmunk Pair thek9harperlee

Our post-dinner wine stroll brought this cute surprise: two chipmunks peeking out of their little chipmunk home. If I used all four paws, I think I would run out toes to count all the different types of animals I saw and heard last weekend. It was magical.

Tired Pup thek9harperlee

It was also a little exhausting. Back at Chase’s Cottage, I quickly dozed off. Let’s face it: Human rest and relaxation can be overwhelming for a Golden Retriever, and my humans and I would need our rest for the next beautiful day at Butler Greenwood Plantation and Bed and Breakfast.

The Rites of Spring in South Louisiana

Abita Strawberry thek9harperlee (2)

It is officially spring and I have welcomed the season in true South Louisiana style. Last weekend I enjoyed my first Abita Strawberry Harvest lager and my first boiled crawfish of the year. Yum!

Abita Strawberry thek9harperlee

The Abita Brewing Company was founded in 1986 and it’s located about an hour from where I live. They make a lot of different “brews” (I guess that’s beer talk for “kinds of beer”), but my personal favorite is the Strawberry Harvest. It’s only available for a limited time because it’s made with real Louisiana strawberry juice, which is added after the filtration process. The best strawberries you’ll ever eat are grown right in the area of Louisiana where Abita beer is brewed. How serendipitous! (Now, I feel obligated to offer this little point of truth: I am not a big fan of strawberries–unless, of course, they are in beer. I am really more of a banana and apple girl; but, my humans tell me that Louisiana strawberries are really, really good, so I guess we’ll just all have to trust them on that.)

 The nice people at Abita describe their Strawberry Harvest as

a crisp lager with a sweet strawberry flavor, aroma and haze. It is wonderful with desserts or lighter fare such as salads and pastas. Fresh cheeses such as Burrata, chèvre, Crescenza, mozzarella or Teleme pair well with Strawberry Harvest.

Sounds pretty fancy for a beer, huh? So even I know better than to drink it with crawfish. No . . . I save the Abita Strawberry Harvest for after a hard day of spring gardening with my human mommy. It’s just the right refreshing treat to enjoy as you relax at the end of a hard day of weeding, pruning, planting, mulching, or whatever else she does while I sit loyally by her side and watch. All I know is that as soon as the gardening tools are put away, the Abita Strawberry Harvest comes out and I get a little taste. Just one of the beautiful things about spring in South Louisiana.

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Which brings me to my next beautiful thing about spring in South Louisiana: boiled crawfish. Much like the Abita Strawberry Harvest beer, crawfish are only available for a limited time, so humans in South Louisiana eat them every chance they get. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: gross . . . mudbugs . . . crayfish . . . gross. But, really, until you’ve had crawfish boiled spicy in South Louisiana with corn and new potatoes–and, of course, ice-cold beer–you have not lived. There are a few things that humans must keep in mind when eating crawfish:

  • Do not wear your best clothes. Crawfish guts will somehow manage to get on your clothes and, no matter what detergent you use, crawfish guts do not wash out easily.
  • No matter how many paper towels you have on hand, you will need more. This is not a neat treat to eat.
  • Above all, if you are eating crawfish at home, it is vitally important to plan your consumption for a day that is as close to your trash collection day as possible. There are few things that stink as much as crawfish shells and stuff that have sat too long in a trash can. I am a dog, and even I am repulsed by that smell.

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So, even though for many of you spring my seem like a distant dream with all of the crazy non-spring-like weather, and for others who live below the equator you still have your winter to endure before spring appears, I wish you a beautiful and tasty spring from South Louisiana. Bon appetite, and let the “springtimes” roll!