Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Glimpse into Plantation Alley in Louisiana

It's been a long time since I joined in with Five on Friday.  And, now it's being held on the FAST blog.  So, I'm linking this post to the new host at FAST and joining in.  If you haven't visited, FAST and Five on Friday, it might be nice if you jump over and pay them a visit :)

For years and year's I had wanted to visit Plantation Alley in Louisiana and recently my wish was granted.  My daughter booked this tour through a local tour operator in New Orleans.  We left early in the morning and traveled about 50 miles, crossing the huge Lake Pontchartrain on our way to Vacherie, Lousiana along with our bus driver who was an excellent guide.

The first stop was at Laura Plantation.  This house might not look as grand as many, but the history attached to this home is amazing.  My daughter had bought the book written by the Laura Locoul Gore who was the last member of the family who started this plantation.  Her memoirs can be found here.  

Laura's great grandfather, Guillaume Duparc, came over from France in 1803.  The home tour starts in the basement of the home where they have reconstructed the history of the founding family members.  Laura was born in this home back in 1861.  The family were Creole, Catholic and slave owners.  Laura inherited the plantation in the later 1800's and ran it until 1891.  She sold the property in the early 1900's where the new owners occupied the property until 1984.  The land is now owned by a local sugar company and the buildings are held in a non-profit trust.

Our young tour guide did an excellent job of telling the amazing story of this family.  There was lots of infighting between this family let alone the atrocities they did being slave owners.  

Laura Plantation had a fire back in 2004 that destroyed most of the home.  It has been rebuilt for the most part.  It was amazing to see the original beams in the basement of the home that were original.

This is the back of the home and originally it was a U shaped floor plan.  

A few years ago I visited a plantation near Charleston, South Carolina.  I accompanied my husband on a business trip and one evening they reserved a large coach for us to travel to the plantation for a tour and dinner.  Right from the beginning I felt uncomfortable; there was a middle aged white woman dressed in her period southern finery who was our host.  The whole evening it made me feel like there is a huge line drawn between those who have and those who don't have.  Being from the west and raised in a small farming community, I grew up with no prejudice whatsoever.  But, I really felt it in Charleston, unfortunately.  Luckily, as I said above, our tour guide at the Laura Plantation painted a completely different picture for us.  He felt for all people who lived during this time; especially the slaves.  As you can see above a sample of the slaves and their cost.  Very sad indeed. . .

The land surrounding the plantation is beautiful.  It was a gorgeous spring day with no humidity but I can only imagine how hot it becomes during the summer.

A short walk away and we arrived at the slave cabins.  This was so interesting to hear about the stories of those people who lived here.  We found out that most of the slaves who came to the Laura Plantation at the beginning were from Senegal.

Our tour guide told us that some of the descendants of the Laura Plantation slaves lived in these cabins up to the 1970's. 
This is what is left of the large home that Laura's grandmother built for herself after Laura's father occupied the main home.  They are hoping to restore this home in the future.  Laura's grandmother was a very hard hearted woman.  Laura recalls a story of meeting an older slave at the family's well.  His forehead had letters inscribed on it.  She asked him about it and he told her that your grandmother branded me after I ran away.  Laura was appalled to say the least.  Laura's father was a gentle man and after the Civil War he was kind to the people who worked on his plantation.  As I mentioned, Laura grew up in a French speaking Creole family.  In her late 20's she decided to abandon the life she knew and she married a Protestant doctor from St. Louis where she moved and started her new life.  If you read the book, you will find that it's a fascinating story.

From the Laura Plantation we headed back down the road to the Oak Valley Plantation, also on the West side of the Mississippi River in Vacherie, Louisiana.  It has all the trapping of the Gone With the Wind scenery that was in my head . . .

This time we were on a self-guided tour around the outside of the grounds.  Here you see what remains of the slave cabins.

We waiting a bit outside before we were escorted inside the main home.  The woman attendant on duty was extremely dour and a bit rude to us.  Once inside, we had an Acadian tour guide, dressed in period clothing, who told us about this home.  It kind of made me sick to my stomach to hear the stories of slave labor that built this home.  But, I found it to interesting to see this "shoo fly" or as they'd call it in India, a "pukka" fan.  Someone stood in the corner and pulled the rope that made this fan move back and forth and keep the bugs away.

This plantation dates from the mid 1800's and the 300 year old Virigina Live Oaks are so majestic.

Here's my lovely daughter, Heidi, standing in the front of the home with the mighty oaks lining the walkway.  Oak Valley Plantation doesn't have the same appeal to me as the Laura Plantation. After the original owner died, the plantation passed to a couple of owners and after the Civil War it became very difficult to keep up the property.  From what I understand, it was in ruins until it was bought in 1925 by Andrew Stewart who bought it was a gift for his wife Josephine.  They restored the home and lived there until Josephine died in 1972.  

I thought I smelled a gas leak but I think it was the mold growing on these trees from what I had read about them.  I've never seen anything like these magnificent oaks (except maybe the giant Redwood trees in Northern California).

Our day at the plantations ended and we soon found our way back to the bus (after having tried mint juleps) and headed back to our hotel in New Orleans.  Here's a few of my thoughts;
1.  If you are ever in this area, I highly recommend going to see the Laura Plantation.  
2.  It's not fancy compared to the others but it really gave me an insight into the life these people lived.  3.  And, it let you feel how life would be if you were on the other side as a slave. 4.  I always feel history is one of the most important things we need to learn about as it does and can effect our daily lives.  5.  I feel fortunate that I was fortunate to visit this area and learn about an era of our country that caused so much pain.

Wow, it's taken my a long time to write these words.  It's so much easier when I just pop in a photo of my knitting project and rattle on.  But, I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into a long forgotten world.  And, please feel free to share what you've been doing, too.

With my best wishes,


PS - Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who read my blog! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Discovering New Orleans

I have discovered a new favorite place to visit and it's less than a 4 hour plane trip away - New Orleans!  From the moment I set foot outside (at the airport) this beautiful city, I immediately had an affinity to everything.

I traveled there earlier this month with my dear husband,  daughter, son-in-law and my little grandchildren since we were going to depart from the Port of New Orleans on a cruise.  At the airport taxi queue, the taxi rep got us a taxi which didn't charge us for our little grandchild.  A very nice gesture.  And, our taxi driver turned out to be a member of the Coptic Ethiopian Church!  When he found out my husband was a Copt from Egypt, he gave him a beautiful handmade Ethiopian cross.  Such kindness.

 We arrived late at night but woke up the next morning to a rain storm.  The wind was whipping up and the rain was falling.  We decided to take a ride on the St. Charles streetcar.  It was a fun way to see some of the city.

Look at these homes that line the streets of St. Charles Avenue . . .

Such beautiful architecture . . .

I loved this sign on the Temple Sinai synagogue . . .

New Orleans is known for a style of home called "shotgun".  This was the best photo I could capture.  See how long and narrow this home is?

Look at this beautiful wrought iron fencing . . .

And those Mardi Gras beads find their way everywhere, including the tree tops!

Our second day there, we ventured into the French Quarter which was a short walk from our hotel.  We walked down Royal Street which is parallel to the famous Bourbon Street.  There were so many beautiful antique shops lining Royal Street.  I could have spent a whole afternoon looking through these shops.

We finally found Beignet Cafe and had our first taste of famous New Orleans Beignets and cafe au lait.  Fresh, hot beignets were heavenly.

Our hotel was 1 1/2 blocks from Canal street and here's the Starbucks that is located on the corner of Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue.  I love the old feeling.

On our third day in the city, we ventured back to the French Quarter.  The buildings were amazing.

This is St. Louis Cathedral  in Jackson Square.  It is the oldest cathedral in the United States.  Jackson Square was lovely and super clean.  In fact, the whole area we ventured through was extremely well kept.

Another example of the unique buildings in the French Quarter . . .

And, of course we had to sample the world famous Cafe' Du Monde beignets and chicory coffee.  Here's my little granddaughter and son-in-law enjoying these treats in the beautiful sunshine.

I was amazed at how old some of the buildings are.  One of them dated to 1826 and at one time was a bank; pre Civil War time.

My little grandson was ecstatic when this parade started through the streets escorted by the New Orleans Policemen on their motorcycles.  He collected a large cache of Mardi Gras beads!

We boarded our cruise ship on Saturday morning on the banks of the Mississippi River.  When they say "muddy" Mississippi, I can see why.  Tons of sediment passes through the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico.

We left port at 4:00 PM and didn't reach the Gulf of Mexico until around midnight.  The ship slowly made it way through the Mississippi River Delta.  This is a sugar factory that has been in business since 1909!  Louisiana is a big producer of sugar cane (I will write more about that in the next blog post).

After our five days of cruising in the Gulf of Mexico, we returned to New Orleans early in the morning.  I luckily woke up very early to capture the sunrise over the winding Mississippi River.

I love New Orleans and everything about the city.  It was amazing to discover the history of this beautiful city.  Being from the west coast, we don't get to experience such history in this way.  And, what we do hear about was in regard to Hurricane Katrina.  This city is so clean and vibrant.  I know they have had huge problems to overcome.   I was a bit hesitant to see this city probably because of some of the things I had read.  We never felt uneasiness but of course, we didn't go out late at night and took precautions as you would in any large city.  I really feel it's my "favorite" city!

There will Part II to Louisiana.  Maybe I feel a connection to the south since my Mother's family came from Arkansas and Georgia!

I hope all of you are enjoying your week and spring weather!

With my best wishes,


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

Wishing you all the Blessings on
this Special Day,


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Asking for your Prayers and Hope for our Shattered World . . .

I wasn't planning on writing this blog post.  But, I woke up this morning and I felt so sad.  I'm speaking of the horrific attacks on the Coptic Christian churches in Egypt.  This time the violence hit too close to home.  I'll explain . . .

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on my other blog.  I was feeling sad and a bit sorry for myself.  But,  today I had a real wake up call.  I have nothing to be sad about in my life here in a free country.  A country where I can worship and do as I wish.  Egypt's Coptic Christians are marked from the time they are born.  How would you like to have a national ID card and your religion affiliation is mandatory on your ID?  That's how it is in Egypt.  And, your religion follows you 24/7 throughout your life.  It's a sad, sad case.

Copts make up about 10% of Egypt's population.  I go to a Coptic American church here in southern California.  We have lots of Coptic churches here in my area.  The reason the Copts immigrate to North America is because they truly have freedom of religion.  Yes, they do have churches in Egypt but their churches are filled to the brim with worshipers and the government doesn't allow them to build new churches.

As Americans, we complain of such mundane issues compared to rest of the world.  How about the terrible attack on little, innocent children that took place this last week in Syria?  You wake up and have survived but rest of your family have perished.  Family plays a main role in the middle east.  My heart goes out to these people, too.

What really got my feathers ruffled, so to speak, is I watched ABC news tonight and the announcer who covered the church attack in Egypt was quick to say how Egypt's leader is responsible for human rights abuses and a dictator.  Are you kidding me?   We are not talking about President Sisi. . . we are talking about innocent lives that were taken today in a cowardly attack!

When I said it hit close to home, the church in Alexandria, St. Mark, is the same parish that my husband's nephew and his family attend.  Thank the Lord that they are OK.  Please prayer for this shattered world that we are in and for all those who lives drastically changed today.

With my deepest sympathy to those suffering,


Friday, April 7, 2017

2017 Easter Bunnies Have Been Born!

Hello dear friends.  Sorry that I haven't written lately; I just returned last night from a fun trip with my family.  Hopefully next week, I will share some of the photos from this get away.

Can you believe that Easter is just around the corner?  Time goes by so fast these days.  As you may know, I have two little grandchildren now and it's been my custom to make an Easter bunny for them  each year.

Presenting Flora and Flopsy . . . Flora is made out of a chunky acrylic yarn and Flopsy is made out of  pure wool worsted yarn held double. 

I found the pattern for the bunny here on Ravelry
I made matching Easter baskets for the bunnies.  These baskets were crocheted without any pattern.  The insert inside is a clear deli container.  You can be creative and use whatever yarn or shape you wish to make your basket.  They take little time to make.
I think Flora and Flopsy are excited to arrive at their new home in a few days. . .

They wanted me to show you their cotton tails!  Aren't they the cutest?

And, you can't forget the chocolate chicks!

This pattern is free on Ravelry and you can use whatever type of yarn you may have leftover in your stash.  It's a fun, quick project that lets you create something for your little ones.

My best to each of you,



Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring has Sprung a Leak!

It seems like I haven't written in awhile and I missed hearing from my dear blog friends.  Life was feeling so good here as my  income taxes had just been compiled and given to the accountant.  When, ten days ago, my husband and I were sitting and chatting in the evening when we received a phone call. . . one of our rental homes had a dreaded slab leak.

Sadly, here in southern California with the new home subdivisions, slab leaks are a common thing.  We had just gotten a quote the week before from the plumber to repipe the house in order to avoid damages from an unexpected leak.  Unfortunately, we were too late.  It's now been ten days and the home is gradually being put back together.  Lucky for us and the tenant, it affected only the main floor area albeit the kitchen.  And, my muscles are still recovering from pulling up the soaked wooden floor from last Sunday (the flooring people couldn't do the job on time so I ventured forth and got it done!)  It really felt good to come home after a long day working.  I haven't worked in my rentals for a few years now.

But, I'm not going to let this get me down as we are so fortunate that we can remedy the problem.  And, our property manager has helped my husband to find the right contractors.  The repipe for rental home number two starts tomorrow morning.  Hopefully, this one will be smoother sailing as we don't have any leaks to our knowledge.  The beginning is each day can still start off beautiful . . .

 I just completed knitting my Ft. Myers Shawl, aka Nurmilintu Shawl.  You can find the info here on my Ravelry page.  After blocking it, I really like the way the lace section turned out.

On my needles at the moment, is a simple bias scarf using Lang Jawoll Magic Degrade' yarn.  I like the way the yarn is self striping.  It's going to be a long, bias scarf with beaded edges (you can probably see the provisional cast on I used).  Really simple, no brainer knitting on this one . . .

Speaking of that, Lilly and I are enjoying our quiet afternoon here at the house.  I'm going to do a bit of ironing and maybe watch an old British black and white movie on You Tube.  Rest of the family decided to venture south to the casino for the afternoon/evening.  I hate losing my $30 or so on the slot machines as I always come home and think that I could have bought the most beautiful yarn instead of losing my money!

I feel myself gazing out of this cave onto the beautiful sea . . . my traveling spirit is calling to me again (the painting above was done by my daughter, Heidi).  I will keep you updated on my travel adventures via another post.

That's the end of my update as to what has been happening around here at Lilly My Cat.  I hope that each of you are doing well and enjoying the start of Spring.

With my best wishes,


Monday, March 13, 2017

A Family Weekend Getaway to Rancho Mirage

I've missed chatting with my blog friends! I hope each of you are doing well.  My family and I have just returned from a long weekend in Rancho Mirage, California (Palm Springs Area) where we celebrated my dear son-in-law's 40th birthday!

We stayed at a condo in Rancho Las Palmas which has a beautiful setting.

You may know that California has been in the midst of a terrible drought.  That was until this winter when we received lots of rain and snow.  Look at the snow on these mountain tops!  I've never seen anything like this before on my trips to Palm Springs area.

The whole family was together but of course, the two little people stole the show!  Pictured here are my little grandson Oliver and my little grand daughter Sadie.  They loved playing in the pool (Mom and Dad are not shown in the picture but no worries as they were right there, too!)

I found a little bit of time for my knitting.  The orange blossoms were in bloom and their fragrance was heavenly.

On Saturday afternoon we ventured down the road a bit to Palm Desert.  It is such a beautiful, inviting shopping area and free parking too.  (I think after you spend all your money at the fancy shops, you have no money left to pay for parking. . .haha)  I spend my money that day on a handbag.

I'm always amazed at the desert landscape.  Isn't this beautiful with all the cacti?

Here's the birthday boy on the right; my dear son-in-law along with my husband on the left.  From their smiles, you can see they were enjoying the happy hour at Tommy Bahamas.

Us girls, had a good time too.  Pictured from left are my daughter Heidi, our dear Irina and myself.

And, here's my son Andrew along with Irina.

Rancho Mirage is about 115 miles (two hours) drive from our home.  As the crow flies, it is due east from where we live.  But, the problem is there are mountains so the main highways go around those mountains.  Going there, we took the CA-91 which is a major east west highway from Los Angeles and Orange County area.  But, it is a horrendous road with tons of lanes, cars, and trucks!  It is my least favorite road of all time.  It's the main road to link you to the 15 if you want to go to Las Vegas or south to Palm Springs, you need to go on the 91 (:

So, when it was time to leave to go home, I googled some different routes and we ended up taking California State Route 74.  It was amazing to say the least.  An old, two lane road that winds up and over the mountains of the desert below.  The scenes were so lovely since the desert had a carpet of green and so many wildflowers were in bloom.

We had to turn left to continue onto State Route 371 and we just missed the turn.  It wasn't a problem since there were no cars and we turned around in front of this amazing horse ranch.  It was such a wonderful feeling to be in touch in natural nature (is there such a word as natural nature?) We stopped in Anza, CA (population of just over 3,000 people) and ate lunch at DQ (Dairy Queen).  My children have such fond memories of DQ from their childhood.  It brought back happy thoughts of long ago.

You're probably laughing at me but if you've read my blog these past few years,  you will recall that I'm from eastern Washington where I lived for 43 years in small towns.  Small towns in that you had to drive for 1 to 2 hours to arrive at a proper shopping venue.  And, we had nature at our doorstep.  After living in south Orange County where everything is kept in a perfect, manicured state, I long for seeing something in its natural state.  

So, we could have driven home via the CA 91 and arrived in approximately two hours but instead, we ventured over the mountain and arrived home after four hours.  And, I got to discover a part of California that is still basically untouched and yet holds such natural beauty.

It's always good to return home and Lilly was happy to see us as were our plants.  Our warm temps have started to make their return.  Yesterday on our trip home, we passed near Oceanside, CA and there was tons of fog/marine layer in the afternoon.  I love fog.  

Thank you for visiting today and feel free to leave a comment if you wish.  I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into a beautiful area of California.

With my best wishes,