Tag Archives: Louisiana

Half-Wild Beach Cows


When I was in middle school, my parents went on a camping kick.

I suspect it was my dad who decided the family should go camping. Why would my mom want to camp? It only made extra work for her: making sure everyone in the family had packed everything s/he needed for the weekend; packing every ingredient for every meal, as well as appropriate pots, pans, and utensils; listening to the children complain; gathering and packing necessary bedding and towels; washing sand out of everything when we returned from the beach.

It was to the beach we went on our first few camping trips. This beach was not a white-sand beach in Black White MosquitoFlorida or the ruggedly beautiful coast of Oregon. No, the beach we frequented was the nasty oil-slicked beach of the Louisiana Gulf Coast where the water was brown, trash washed up on the sand, and the mosquitoes were huge. This beach was ugly, but it wasn’t very far from home, and camping there was free.

Our first camping shelter was an old-school canvas tent. I suspect my dad got it, like so many items from my childhood (scratchy wool blankets, BAND-AID® brand adhesive bandages in bulk, Mercurochrome) from a discard pile of mythic proportion from his days in the National Guard.

After a few trips to the beach, my dad liked camping so much, he decided to buy a tiny camper to pull behind the family truck. He bought the camper from an old couple, and it was only after he got it home that he discovered the pressboard it was made from was mostly rotten. My father dismantled the camper down to the frame, then replaced every bit of wood and every scrap of insulation before putting it all back together again.

As far as I was concerned, he could have saved his energy. I had no desire to camp. There were no showers at the beach, no hairdryers, no flush toilets. To young teenage me, the beach was barbaric.

I can’t remember how many times my family went camping at the beach in our refurbished camper. I only remember the night of the half-wild beach cows.

A friend of the family had come with us. She was in her 60s, flamboyant, liked board games, and was patient with my sibling and me. I have not idea why she wanted to spend her weekend at the beach.

The family friend was supposed to sleep in the screen ten, but my dad built the campfire too close to it and melted the screen. No way could she sleep in a tent with a huge hole in it; the mosquitoes would have carried her away. Instead, she had to sleep in the camper with us.

It was already tight quarters in the camper at night. The kitchen table folded down into a double bed; that’s where my parents slept. My younger sibling slept in a bunk that folded down from above the table. (My mother was afraid my sibling–a tween at the time–would  roll out of bed and meet death on the camper’s floor, so she crocheted a huge net to stretch across the bunk.) I usually slept on the cushioned bench across the front of the trailer, but on this night I was relegated to a pile of blankets on the floor so our elderly guest could have what barely passed for a twin bed. If I was uncomfortable–and I was–I wonder how our rather large friend managed to stay on her narrow bed.

animal, black and white, cattleNo one was sleeping well when the commotion started outside, but we were soon wide awake. We heard animal noises and hooves hitting the ground, and it was all very close. It was so close, we began to hear and feel thumping on our camper. The camper swayed and rocked as one or more big somethings bumped it.  In the distance we heard humans yelling. What could possibly be going on out there?

My dad must have grabbed a flashlight and shined it out the window in order to report: cows. They were half-wild beach cows, let loose to graze, I suppose, although there wasn’t much in the way of tasty grass where we were parked. It must have been open range out there, and the cows were allowed to move about freely on the beach.  We had come into their territory, and they seemed none too happy about it.

I don’t remember how long the attack lasted, but we couldn’t get back to sleep after the cows moved on. I don’t think any of us got much sleep that night.

In the early daylight of the next morning, when we emerged from our little trailer, we saw the aftermath of the visit from the cows. Tents and temporary clotheslines had been knocked down. People must have spent a long night in cars to escape mosquitoes and marauding bovines. What else can you do when half-wild animals knock your tent on top of you while you’re sleeping in it? My family had been lucky to have a sturdy camper to keep us safe.


Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-white-mosquito-86722/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/animal-black-and-white-cattle-close-up-551618/.

AZ International Marketplace



I recently shopped at the AZ International Marketplace on the second day of its grand opening weekend.

First, the particulars.

According to the AZ International Marketplace Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AZInternationalMarketplace/info/?tab=overview), the store is comprised of

100,000 Square Feet of Groceries and General Merchandise from all over the world…Hundreds of thousand of products can be found in this marketplace.

It’s located at 1920 W Broadway Road in Mesa, Arizona, and is open 9am to 9pm every day.

I went with a friend and we walked down every aisle in the store.

Most of the packaged food seems to be Asian. A lot of the Asian food is highly processed, snacky food.IMG_6021 We saw a lot of crackers, chips, cookies, and candy. In addition to the junk food, we also saw a lot of dry noodles and rice, as well as spices and sauces and oils.

In the middle of the marketplace is a large meat department. If there is a part of a cow or pig you’ve always wanted to cook and eat, you can probably find it in that meat department. My friend is a vegetarian, and I don’t buy and cook raw meat, so we didn’t stay in the meat department long or even look at all the items available. However, I did see cow lips for sale for the first time in my life. There were only a few cow lips left, so maybe they are popular in some dish I don’t know. Next time I have access to pay TV, I hope to see an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern in which cooking with cow lips is explored.

Just past the large meat department is a large produce department. In addition to many fruits and vegetables I am accustomed to seeing in supermarkets (red peppers, yellow peppers, green peppers, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes), I also saw huge jackfruits, tiny bananas, IMG_6039and bundles of cinnamon sticks which looked like doll-sized bundles of firewood and smelled delicious.

A small part of the store (a back corner really) was dedicated to prepackaged food from Africa. (Reminded me of the time I rode the It’s a Small World ride at Disney World and the entire continent of Africa was represented by three brown children and a pink elephant.) In addition to several brands and varieties of red palm oil, we also saw Mama’s Choice plantain fufu mix, bagsIMG_6016 of cassava starch, and Tropiway brand fufu flour in both cocoyam and plantain flavors.






The marketplace also boasts a rather large section of food from East India. Unfortunately, by the time we made it to those aisles, I was in overload and didn’t get any photos of interesting East Indian packaging. We saw huge bags of spices, prepared vegetarian entrées at the good price of $1.69 per serving (I resisted loading my cart with them), cans of gulab jamun (delicious dough balls soaked in sweet syrup), and jars of ghee. I was most interested in the ghee, which looked a lot like the ghee I recently made: solid and pale yellow as opposed to the translucent liquid I was expecting. Maybe my ghee wasn’t a disaster after all.

We were looking at different bouillon powders when my friend picked up a package and declared it penis in a can.IMG_6027

Ok, obviously, that’s a mushroom. The can is even labeled granulated mushroom bouillon. But I’ll be damned if that doesn’t look like a walking penis. Do people in other countries not see that and think PENIS? Maybe Americans (or maybe it’s just me and my friend) have very immature senses of humor.

IMG_6026One of my favorite packages showed these kids carrying a giant peach. I don’t know what kids in rompers or a giant peach have to do with the dried noodles in the package, but I like the illustration a lot.

One of the most impressive parts of the store (at least to me) was the cooler containing tofu. I didn’t count the varieties, and I (stupidly) didn’t take a photo, but there must have been 15 to 20 kinds of tofu in the cold case. Some of the tofu had been pre-fried, and there were an assortment of brands. It’s the most tofu I’ve seen in the same place at the same time.


I apologize for this washed out photo. I have problems dealing with my flash. I hate taking photos in artificial light.

Maybe because I’m an anthropologist at heart, I’m fascinated by products that seem completely normal in one culture, while closely resembling torture devices in another. Case in point: the ear pick. American culture says it’s dangerous to stick cotton swabs in the ears. Another culture says it’s ok to shove wooden sticks with scoops on the end into the ears.

In addition to aisle upon aisle of “international” food, at least one-third of the store was dedicated to American (as in U.S.A.) or at least North American food. We saw Eggo waffles and Aunt Jemima. We saw Oreo cookies and canned vegetables. I was surprised the store carries food available at any supermarket in the valley, but I guess they want the place to be a one stop shop.

I was most surprised to see that food from Louisiana is apparently exotic enough to have its own sections. Louisiana food perhaps seems less exotic to me because I grew up in Louisiana. But I was not expecting to see an IMG_6024endcap dedicated to Cafe du Monde coffee and chicory. I was also not expecting to see three sizes (including gallon jugs) of Louisiana brand crawfish, shrimp, and crab boil. Where’s the Zatarain’s? my friend asked. IMG_6035Unfortunately, it looked like Louisiana brand had a monopoly on the Louisiana products. There were all sorts of Louisiana brand products available for purchase.

To round out the food selection, the marketplace sells a variety of housewares (throw blankets, bowls, cooking utensils), cleaning supplies, and electrical appliances (rice cookers, teapots). Shoppers can also buy incense, joss paper (also known as ghost or spirit money), and other paper items to burn as offerings to ancestors.

While a did find some bargains at the AZ International Marketplace (on Huy Fong sriracha Sauce, children’s toothbrushes to fit in my little mouth, and sport sunscreen that’s not supposed to run into my eyes), I certainly did not find everything in the store to be inexpensive. Since I hadn’t been shopping at other international markets, I don’t know how the prices at the AZ International Marketplace compare to similar markets in the valley, or if any of the other international markets in the valley can be considered similar to this one. If I lived in the area, I would probably go back and compare prices on items I’ve been buying at other stores, and I would probably take advantage of the good deals in the produce section. I would also probably do some experimenting with all those varieties of tofu. I would not use this store as a one-stop shop or my go-to market. But walking around it did make for a fun afternoon.


I took all of the photos in this post.

Hard Times on the Highway


I was back to selling jewelry on the side of the highway at a small arts and crafts market near a large natural tourist attraction. I’d missed the summer crowd, and this bunch of mostly old, mostly stuffy visitors was not my target audience. Most of these folks had no personality; the ones who did have a personality, well, their personality type was “asshole”.

One morning a man strolled up to my table. I saw him looking at the rocks, so I said to him (as I say to almost everyone who looks at my rocks), Let me know if you have any questions about my shiny rocks. Usually people chuckle or say thank you, but this guy said (in a snotty tone of voice), I have a rock business myself. I don’t know if he meant, Don’t try to hustle me because I know about rocks and their prices or if he was trying to tell me he wasn’t going to buy rocks because he already had a bunch, but he came across as a real jerk.

I just said (coldly), That’s nice. 

Then he picked up a piece of skeletal quartz and demanded, Where did you get this? 


This is the piece of skeletal quartz the jerk man picked up. It may be difficult to see in this photos, but there are three clear quartz points that formed around a chunk of quartz.

I said sweetly, From my rock guy, even though I knew he wanted to know where on the earth the rock was originally found.

No. he said. Where did it come from?

I don’t know, I said (because I didn’t, although since then I’ve been told it came from Colorado).

By that point I was 97% sure the man was not going to buy anything from me, and I was 100% sure I didn’t want him to have that beautiful piece of quartz. If he had asked the price, I would have said $50, even though I usually ask $20 for it. I didn’t want him to have it , but I’d want $50 more than I’d want to keep the stone from him.

On another morning, two women and a man stopped at my table. The man was admiring the winter hats I’d made. He asked one of the women if she wanted one.

When have you ever known me to wear a hat? she snapped at him.

She stalked off, but the man and the other woman stayed at my table. The man asked the price of the hats, and I told him they were only $10.

Where are y’all from? I asked them. Due to his accent and the first woman’s attitude, I wasn’t surprised when he said Chicago.

I commented on how cold it gets in Chicago and said the lady must be really tough if she never wears a hat during a Chicago winter.

She’s tough as nails, the man said.

He asked me if men wear my hats. I said yes and told him about the man who’d bought one the day before.

He liked the hat my styrofoam model was wearing, so I told him he was welcome to try it on.


The man from Chicago liked the hat the model is wearing.

He pulled it on while I got the mirror.

I told him the hat looked really good on him. I wasn’t only trying to make a sale; the hat did look really good on him. He said he wanted it so he could keep his ears warm while walking his dog this winter.

With the hat on his head, he called to the woman who’d walked away and was now three tables down the line of vendors, How do I look?

She replied immediately, after barely looking at him, Stupid!

Wow! I said. Is that your wife?

Yes, he said. We’ve been married 30 years.

Wow! I said again. “Y’all must really love each other.

He called out to his wife again. Should I get this hat?

She looked totally disgusted and said, You’re the one who’d have to wear it.

He didn’t buy the hat.

I thanked him for his admiration of my work, and he said, We haven’t left yet. He said if his wife bought something, he’s be back, tit for tat, but I didn’t see him again.

A few days later, a young man and woman stopped at my table. The woman was wearing a pink hoodie with “Vinton, Louisiana” printed on the chest. Since I have family in that area, I asked her if she was from Vinton, Louisiana. She said no, she wasn’t from there. But there’s a pit there, she said. She turned around and there was a rooster screen printed on the back of the hoodie.

Cockfighting, you mean? I asked her.

Yeh, she said. My dad made his way down there…

Whenever they asked me the price of something, I added a few dollars–let’s call it a cruelty to animals tax–but they didn’t buy anything. It wasn’t until after they walked away that I realized I should have said, That’s barbaric, as soon as she confirmed we were talking about cock fighting.

The most annoying jerk was a young guy. He was clean-cut and looked totally straight, but the young woman he was with had long dreadlocks. It was the end of the day, and I had all of my rocks and most of my jewelry packed up.

They expressed interest in my highest priced necklaces.

Pendants of wire wrapped stones by James Smith. Hemp work by me.

These are the necklaces the couple was interested in.

I told them the pendants on the necklaces were made by a young local artist who charges $45 for them; I offered to let them have an entire necklace for $40.

The young guy said, They don’t charge that much at the expensive stores in town.

I replied (in a calm, neutral tone of voice), I don’t know where you’ve been shopping, but I know this guy charges $45 for his pendants.

The woman liked the lepidolite necklace, so I gave her the spiel.


This is the lepidolite necklace the woman liked. In real life, the stone is a deeper purple. Please forgive my overexposed photo.

That’s lepidolite. It’s a local stone, mined in this county. It contains lithium, so it’s good for lifting depression and stabilizing mood, and it helps with insomnia.

The young man kind of snorted and said, I’ve never heard of it before, as if I were lying to them about a stone so they would buy it.

Sure, there are people who would lie about a stone to get someone to buy it, and the guy had no way of knowing that I’m not one of those unscrupulous people. But this guy was acting as if because he’d never heard of lepidolite, it couldn’t possibly exist. I hear about new rocks all the time. I never think a stone can’t be real just because I’ve never heard of it.

The couple wandered off, and I continued packing.

Soon they were back, and the woman was looking at the necklace with the ledpidolite pendant again. I hadn’t made much money that day, and one more sale before I left would have been nice, so I told her she could have it for $30. The man was standing next to her, and he asked, Would you take $20?

I flatly replied, No.

It was cold and windy, and the man left to get his coat.

I told the woman, For $30, you’re getting all my work for free and $15 off the pendant.

The woman also looked at a short necklace with a pendant made with a local amazonite. I’d done the pendant’s simple wrap and was asking only $15 for the necklace. I told her the price and said the rock had been found locally.

The man walked back up to the table, and the woman showed him the necklace with the amazonite pendant.

That looks like just a rock, he said,

That’s because it is a rock, you idiot, is what I wanted to say, but instead I said, It’s a natural stone. It hasn’t been polished.

The man told the woman she should only get it if it were the best necklace she’d ever seen and she was totally excited about it. She put down the necklace, and they were off again.

I finished packing quickly, hoping they’d come back wanting the $15 necklace so I could tell them they were too late and had missed their chance. If they’d wanted the lepidolite necklace for $30? Well, I guess I would have unpacked that one.

(I took all the photos in this post)

To read more about customers, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/05/we-feel-for-your-situation/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/10/red-letter-day-2/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/26/turtle-ass/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/17/how-much-are-these/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/09/selling-hemp-again/ or here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/14/mean-daddy/

Your Arizona ID Won’t Get You on a Airplane


I got a one day temp job through an ad on Craigslist. My job was to help a fellow sell his sterling silver jewelry at a St. Patrick’s Day festival.

At the business owner’s direction, I was asking buyers to show me their ID before swiping their credit cards. When I asked one woman from Arizona to see her ID, she went on a rant about how at the first of next year Arizona driver’s licenses weren’t going to be considered federal ID, and she wouldn’t be able to use it to get on an airplane. I had no idea what she was talking about and just kind of smiled and nodded while thinking she must be paranoid and a little crazy.

Nope. Turns out she’s right. I did a little research, and found some interesting information.

I did not take this photo.

According to http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/12-news/2015/02/27/12news-az-license-does-not-meet-requirments/24124287/,

In 2016, your Arizona driver’s license won’t get you through the security checkpoint at the airport or into federal buildings that require a so-called “Real ID.”

Last year, more than 740,000 driver licenses were issued in MVD offices, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation [ADOT]. Those numbers keep growing every day and none of the cards meet federal requirements.

The new version of the Arizona driver’s license was issued last year on June 16 but even that one isn’t up to par.

After 9/11, the Feds put together a list of 31 things states need to do to make their driver’s licenses more secure. It’s called Real ID.

Arizona is among a handful of other states, such as Louisiana and Maine, that do not have licenses that comply. In fact, ADOT is prohibited from issuing a license that meets Real ID requirements because of current state law.

“Arizona got nervous that this was going to be a mandatory national ID card and people would be looking at meta data and all these things we sometimes worry about,” Senator Bob Worsley said. “So our state went the other direction, instead of doing it we said ‘We ban MVD in Arizona from implementing Real ID. We don’t want to do it. We don’t want to be mandated by the federal government to have these new cards.'”

But Worsley says that decision is catching up with us.

“They’ve already started to restrict Arizona driver’s licenses going into federal buildings of certain security,” he said.

If changes aren’t made by as early as January of 2016, it would mean Arizona passengers would have to show another form of identification recognized by the Department of Homeland Security, such as a passport or Permanent Residency Card.

Worsley is working against the clock with his Bill 1273 to make it possible for Arizonans to get a federally approved card before the January 1st deadline.

Bill 1273 would make it possible for the MVD to issue Real ID cards to Arizona residents who want them.

“Let’s just let people who want it, go down and be able to get it,” Worsley said.

The Real ID Act requires drivers to update their photo on their license every eight years. It also requires states to get certain documentation and take extra steps to verify the license holder is in the country legally.

And it will cost you about $15. The MVD will decide the final cost. But if you keep the current one in your pocket, it may cost you more.

“My passport was like 3 or 4 weeks and $300,” Worsley said. “So if you’re making Arizona citizens go get passport to fly to Salt Lake or Denver or El Paso, I think we’re going to have people pretty upset.”

Another big benefit — the Real ID card will make it harder for fraudsters to get a fake.

(You can find another news story with much the same information here: http://www.jrn.com/kgun9/news/Your-AZ-drivers-license-may-not-get-you-on-a-plane-much-longer-294936861.html.)

Here’s a follow-up article about Real ID and Arizona driver’s licenses: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/12-news/2015/03/03/12-news-license-arizona/24328927/:

Following last week’s revelations that Arizona is among a handful of other states, such as Louisiana and Maine, with driver’s license which do not comply with federal “Real ID” standards, many are asking if their licenses are okay.

The Real ID Act sets standards for identification used for boarding planes and entering federal buildings, among other things, which states must meet by the end of 2015. One of the fears is Arizona residents might have to present passports to fly domestically.

One of the Real ID requirements Arizona licenses currently don’t meet is that photos must be updated at least every eight years [as opposed to the current requirement in Arizona of an updated driver’s license photo every twelve years].

In a nutshell, here’s what you need to know:

*Presently, everyone with an Arizona driver’s license risks travel and other restrictions if the state does not comply with Real ID by Dec. 31, 2015.

*The current Arizona driver’s license may not be a good form of ID to get you in some federal buildings now.

*Arizona Senate Bill 1273 would bring Arizona driver’s licenses into compliance with federal Real ID rules.

*The bill is awaiting a hearing before the full Arizona Senate. If passed, it moves to the House.

*Even licenses issued since a new license was approved by the Arizona legislature in 2013 do not comply. All Arizona driver’s license holders are at risk if Arizona doesn’t start issuing new licenses which comply with Real ID.

(The only articles I found about Real ID and Louisiana driver’s licenses were nearly a year old.)

I just looked at my driver’s license, and although it is from neither Arizona nor Louisiana (and not from Maine either), it does not have a star in the upper right hand corner. Maybe I need to get a passport.

Janet Mary Riley


I got an email from an old friend of mine, a former radical librarian and current (probably still radical) indexer, editor, and proofreader. He told me he’d thought of me because he was “copyediting a volume of biographies of Louisiana women (dating from colonial times), one an inspirational librarian.”

Of course, I wanted to know the name of this librarian and wrote back, “Who is the inspirational Louisiana librarian? No one comes to mind, but it’s not likely anyone during my schooling ever talked about her.”

He wrote back promptly with a link to an article.

The librarian’s name was Janet Mary Riley. Of course, I had never heard of her.

According to a Loyola University website (http://www.gftpln.org/Article.do;jsessionid=F166F7C50F8CD31CF62068EE7FACA1C0?orgId=5342&articleId=23141),

Throughout her life, Janet Mary Riley…encompassed the ideals of equality, scholarship, philanthropy and public service. She was a Loyola University New Orleans alumna, librarian and College of Law Professor Emerita…

A lifelong New Orleanian, Janet Mary first earned her undergraduate degree from Ursuline College, then an affiliate of Loyola. She became a teacher and eventually earned a master’s degree in library science from Louisiana State University. She started working as a librarian at Loyola in 1941, left in 1943 to serve as a librarian at area military posts, and then returned to Loyola in 1945 as a law librarian. She first began taking law courses to familiarize herself with the language and terminology of the law, but she went on to earn her juris doctor in 1952.

However, opportunities for women to practice law in the 1950s were few and far between. Antonio Papale, Loyola’s law dean, offered Janet Mary a position as assistant professor and, upon accepting, she became the first woman to hold a full-time law school teaching faculty position in New Orleans, and the seventh to hold such a position in the United States. She remained teaching at Loyola for 30 years.

during her tenure as a law professor, she wrote the defendants’ brief for the case Lombard vs. Louisiana, in which three African-Americans were arrested for sitting down at a lunch counter reserved for white customers. Thanks in part to her work, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the convictions in 1963, eliminating much racial discrimination in Louisiana law.

An article at http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/rip_janet_mary_riley_crusading_womens_rights_lawyer, refers to Ms. Riley as a crusading women’s rights lawyer, and explains

Until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1971 that the Constitution banned certain types of sex-based discrimination, Louisiana’s community property law made the husband “head and master of the community” and thus granted him total control of his wife’s assets.

But after the high court’s ruling, Riley headed a task force to change the state law. The committee she headed disbanded, but a state senator [Tom Casey] picked up the torch using Riley’s proposed “equal management” approach. [This approach would let either spouse manage community property, with limited exceptions] The Louisiana Legislature adopted the model in 1979.

Michel Champagne, who went to the same church as Ms. Riley, said of her, ” Humerous [sic] and erudite, yet comfortably self-effacing, she never commandeered the converrsation [sic] and I never had any inkling of her accomplishments; she was a sheer joy to talk with.” (from the comments section of http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/rip_janet_mary_riley_crusading_womens_rights_lawyer)

Ms. Riley died of cancer on July 5, 2008, at the age of 92.

Hats off to a native of Louisiana who worked to advance the rights of women and minorities.