Category Archives: Acadiana Life

Moving away from Louisiana changed me

There are days when I think about how my life would be different had I never left “home” (Louisiana). Then, I sit back and realize how much my life has changed because I left Louisiana.

Oak tree with exposed roots

Roots of an old oak tree in Arnaudville, LA

I made the decision to move away from Baton Rouge during my last semester at LSU. I’d accepted a job with a big computer company for the sole reason that I would be allowed to live in Baton Rouge. My new job would require nearly 100% travel each week. It was the perfect arrangement: I had the option to live near my family, but it was a great job and I’d get to travel the world. I was going to set the world on fire.

Then as it always does – life happens.

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Cajun Cultural history: A story of sadness

I’ve been re-reading a favorite book of mine – “Bayou Farewell” by Mike Tidwell in preparation for our Bayou Book Club call this Sunday evening. The book focuses on the erosion of the coastal wetlands of South Louisiana and the culture of the people who live in that region. Mr. Tidwell weaves an interesting tale through his journeys with the colorful individuals he meets while traveling through the region. One thing that I love most about his writing is how to describes the culture in an entertaining, but respectful way. As a native Cajun, I’ve seen all too often how the culture has been characterized as an out of touch, simple, rustic and uneducated bunch of hillbillies eating snakes in the swamp. It’s refreshing to hear someone describe our culture in a manner in which is it valued. Cherished. Appreciated.

"A Cajun will give you de hat off his head on a hot sunny day if you need it"

“A Cajun will give you de hat off his head on a hot sunny day if you need it”

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A Cajun documentary nearly 30 years in the making….

Through a wacky series of events, I had an experience a few weeks ago that left me speechless. Let me tell you the story of 30 years of activities that culminated into a single experience that confirmed that the path that I’m on is where I’m meant to be. Grab some popcorn and settle in for a good ol’ Cajun tale.

It’s no secret that I love arts & crafts, but I LOVE to sew – it’s likely my favorite crafty medium.

Because of my love of sewing, I’m a member of the American Sewing Guild (ASG) and as part of our Atlanta ASG Chapter, we’re affiliated with the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance organization (SEFAA). SEFAA has some really excellent shows, classes and demonstrations and since I’m a group leader in ASG, I also get SEFAA emails. In February, SEFAA sent out an email that caught my eye – they listed an upcoming screening of the film “Coton Jaune: A Cajun love story” – I looked at the description of the documentary and watched the trailer and I and thought “Yeah, right. How can this Cajun tradition exist and I haven’t heard of this? I was born + raised in the HEART of Cajun Country and I’ve never heard Acadian Brown Cotton. Could something this important really exist and me not know about it?”, but something whispered in my soul “Desi – you should go.”  So, I emailed a few friends, tried to drum up some folks to come with me (even other Cajuns that live in Atlanta) – no one responded. I was on my own.

Coton Jaune - a documentary about Acadian brown cotton

Coton Jaune – a documentary about Acadian brown cotton

The day of the film screening came and since I’d paid my entry fee, I decided I’d go – what did I have to lose? I was still a bit skeptical about this tradition I’d never heard of, but I went with an open mind. I walked into the building, knowing no one, but seeing a group of knitters working on projects they’d brought with them. These were my people – I’d fit in with these folks — a sigh of relief. I must say that SEFAA folks are a very lively, friendly and creative bunch. Continue reading

How Can I Help?

It’s been a while since I last posted to this blog and for that, I apologize. Let me just say that my personal life has been crazy and I’d rather not say much more than that at this time. Maybe someday I’ll share some of the lessons learned in the past year on this blog, but today doesn’t feel like the day.

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.; and what I should do and can do, by the Grace of God, I will do.

What has been on my heart & mind is what’s going on with Louisiana’s oil and gas industry lately. Anyone who is familiar with life in South Louisiana knows that the oil & gas industry is the main driver of the economy in the region. With oil prices being so low at the moment, many companies are cutting their US production resulting in job losses across the board. This hardship has affected my family as well. Even though I’m not living in Louisiana, it saddens me greatly to see my family and friends struggling. Knowing that the oil & gas industry can be volatile, this doesn’t surprise many of us. When things are good, they’re great. However, when they begin going south, it happens quickly and affects just about everyone in the region.

All I can keep thinking is “How can I help?”. So, I want to ask that question to you. I need your feedback & input. What would help you better navigate through this difficult period?

I am happy to share my skills, experience and direct you to resources that may help you in acquiring and strengthening those skills that may help you find employment in another industry. I’ll share my ideas of complementary jobs that may fit your skill set. I’ll be happy to review and give resume advice if necessary as well as navigating job boards, creating a profile on LinkedIn, etc.

Creativity doesn’t just apply to arts & crafts. The “Creative” in The Creative Cajun also applies to finding creative solutions to everyday problems. I hope that I can be of assistance in generating some creative solutions to help tide you and your family through this tumultuous oil & gas economical downturn. Continue reading

Lafayette Strong: Proud to be Cajun

I’ve always been proud to be born & raised in Acadiana. This last week has illustrated just why I love my hometown.

When I heard about the shooting in Lafayette last Thursday, my heart sank. At first I was in denial, convinced that the breaking news I was reading on Twitter was a mistake. I started texting my family members to check on them. They were all okay, but I still couldn’t sleep. Acadiana will always hold a special place in my heart and that’s painfully evident during a tragic event.

This Louisiana prayer flag banner hangs in my soap studio. It was printed by Parish Ink and sold at Red Arrow Workshop. Jillian, one of the victims of last week's shooting helped found both of these businesses.

This Louisiana prayer flag banner hangs in my soap studio. It was printed by Parish Ink and sold at Red Arrow Workshop. Jillian, one of the victims of last week’s shooting, was a co-founder of both of these businesses.

The first real experience of watching a place I dearly love suffer was during the 2005 hurricane season. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the coast along Louisiana & Mississippi in the span of a few weeks.   Continue reading

When tragedy strikes your hometown

Last night, tragedy struck the place where my heart lives – Lafayette, LA. When something like this happens in a place that you don’t know well, it’s easy to send prayers, support and keep moving on with your life. When it happens in a place where the majority of your family lives, where you have so many memories and where your heart lies, it’s a whole different experience.

The Acadiana Flag + LOVE

The Acadiana Flag + LOVE

I remember grieving after my father died. I got the news around 3AM and I thought “Let me get some sleep and then I’ll drive to Lafayette.I’ll be thinking clearer in the morning. There’s nothing I can do at this point anyway.” (I lived in Baton Rouge at the time – about a 45 minute drive to Lafayette). I was physically ill all night from the grief. I couldn’t sleep. I felt like I was in a fog. When grief like this occurs, it’s amazing that you can feel that your whole world is falling apart and the rest of the world keeps turning. It’s mind boggling, but oddly reassuring at the same time.

For months and months after my father’s death, I’d try to sleep and wake up and think “Wow, I had this awful dream – that Poppa died of a heart attack” and then I’d realize that it was reality – it had actually happened. I’m having a similar experience tonight when trying to sleep. I keep waking up thinking this was all a bad dream. I wish it were – as so many do.

Tonight, I find myself recalling so many memories of the location of this senseless tragedy. The movie theater was once a GIANT supermarket called “The Real Superstore”. I remember how you’d have to deposit a quarter to get a grocery cart and that was a highlight of our trips there.  I recall the store being HUGE and it seems like you’d get lost in there for days while shopping. It was an epic grocery shopping experience. That’s my most succinct description of the place.   Continue reading

What being Cajun means to me: Friendliness

As I outlined in a previous post, I’m writing a series of blog posts about what being Cajun means to me – the traits typically found people who identify with the Cajun culture. In previous posts, I blogged about resourcefulness and our joie de vivre, the importance we place on family and our resilience. This week, I’d like to discuss our friendly nature.

Cajuns demonstrate their friendliness every day

Cajuns demonstrate their friendliness every day

For those of us who grew up in Acadiana, we understand how friendly and outgoing other Cajuns are – it’s not uncommon to make a friend while you’re standing in line at the grocery store. Hell, if you’re in line for hours at the DMV, you might just leave with a new best friend. You’ll likely have each other’s family history and discussed whether you know each other’s relatives.  I’d imagine the conversation might go something like this:

“Mais chere – do you know that Hebert family from Abbeville? Well, that’s my first cousin, yeah.”

“Oh yeah? Well, we went to high school together and my best friend married his brother”

Yes, we are that friendly – pretty much all the time.    Continue reading

12 Tips on what to expect at a Cajun wedding

Since moving away from Lafayette so many years ago, I’ve attended a number of weddings and it quickly became obvious to me that Cajun weddings are not “typical” – we have some traditions that other cultures don’t necessarily follow. To inform those not in the “know”, I thought I’d put together this handy guide about some things you may see or experience at a Cajun wedding

Our weddings are casual, fun and likely involve plenty of alcohol – and that’s just a start.

The chapel at Acadiana Village in Lafayette - a great venue for a wedding

The chapel at Acadiana Village in Lafayette – a great venue for a wedding

1. There is no “dress code”

You may wear anything from jeans and cowboy boots to a suit if you wish. No one will look at you like you’re not dressed appropriately. No pretentious people here, that’s for sure.

2. Food is served buffet style

Cajun weddings have no assigned seating and serving of formal, plated dinners. The best part is that you get to choose what you want to eat from the buffet, when you want to eat it and go back for seconds if you’d like. No judgement.

Table decorations at a traditional Cajun wedding - simple, no seating or table assignments

Table decorations at a traditional Cajun wedding – simple, no seating or table assignments

3. No assigned seating and table assignments

Since the meals are served buffet style – there’s no assigned seating at tables. You can sit where you like and even change seats during the evening. There’s no forced conversations between people you hardly know and no fussing about who will sit at which table or having to create place cards for each guest.   Continue reading

Bubba: An unexpected encounter with a gator

Last fall, when I was camping with my husband in Destin – we had the opportunity to pet an alligator. Now, don’t run off just yet – I was a total skeptic as well. Who in the HELL has a pet alligator?

Let me give you the backstory, first.

We were camping in Destin at Camp Gulf with some friends and family. Our family left to go home, but I wasn’t ready to leave. We decided to extend our stay a few days at the last minute. My friend Cindy came by our camper and said “Hey! We’re going to see Bubba – want to come? Desi, grab your camera. You’re going to want it”.  I thought nothing of it and we happily put on our shoes and followed them to meet this Bubba guy.

We’re walking toward the activity center in the campground and my friend is going on and on about Bubba and how he’s never there when they’re staying there – he usually only comes to visit during the summer and the kids love him. So, I casually ask “So, who’s Bubba?” and she replies “He’s an alligator. A live gator that you can pet. The kids love ‘em!” I totally thought she was lying. Come on – is this for real?

Yes, Bubba is a real, live gator

Yes, Bubba is a real, live gator

So, we walk into the activity center and damn sure if she’s right. There’s a @#($@ gator sitting on the table. This guy is petting him and his daughter (who’s around 10 years old) is flitting here and there. She pets him – the gator is perfectly still. He’s going through his little spiel – talking about his habits, what he eats, how he plays with the dogs in their house. Seriously? This gator is like a pet. His stories were insane and I would have NEVER believed him if I hadn’t seen the gator for my own eyes.   Continue reading