Walking In Your Shoes creates connections

Walking in someone else’s shoes helps you understand them better. It helps build connections. And through those connections we can build so much together.  I share stories, photos, videos, and thoughts with the hope of helping us all build stronger connections. Hope you will also share your thoughts along the way.

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Everybody is doing it so I’ll do it, too (VA2LA)

How cold is it? It’s so cold that I saw an alligator on the bayou wearing ice skates.

I couldn’t resist. I joined the “Man, it is cold” frenzy. CNN was calling it a “Polar vortex.” Whatever the hell that is!

The fountain outside my apartment building shows how cold it is here.

The fountain outside my apartment building shows how cold it is here.

As I sat in my car yesterday morning watching the external temperature gauge frozen at 28 degrees, I tweeted out a few how- cold- is-it comments as I waited for my car to warm up. And I thought, this isn’t suppose to be happening here, not in south Louisiana.

My husband, who is holding down the fort in Virginia, and I had compared weather notes by telephone before I headed out the door.

Looks like it’s going to be colder for longer in Richmond than it will be in here in Lafayette. He may have won the it’s-colder-here contest but it that didn’t stop me from complaining about the temperature.

Then I remembered that we’d had a similar conversation back in August. That time I was complaining about the heat. My husband had reminded me then that Richmond had been hotter for that past week than Lafayette.

Guess, I’ll just shut up, strap on my ice skates and head to work today as the temp now hovers around 21 degrees.

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Great music ahead in 2014 (VA2LA)

Rockin' Dopsie ar River Ranch concert

Rockin’ Dopsie at a River Ranch concert

One week into the new year, I already know that it’s going to be another great live music concert year for me.

After all, I do spend most of my time in Lafayette, La. — one of the best and  most diverse music scenes in the country.

Don’t believe me?  We have three local musicians nominated for Grammys this year and another one who will be presented the Lifetime Achievement award.

So trust me, 2014 is bound to be a great year for me to catch some fabulous music performances.

In fact 2013, was a pretty amazing year. I saw artists ranging from Joan Baez to Rockin’ Dopsie Jr.and the Zydeco Twisters. And all right here in my own Louisiana backyard.

Happy New Year and hope 2014 is full of good music  and good times for you as well!

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Dueling Festivals (VA2LA)

Kids play at Festivals Acadiens et Creoles

Kids play at Festivals Acadiens et Creoles

I can’t attend the Richmond Folk Festival this year even though I promised myself not to miss it after going last year and having a ball.

I even volunteered at the Folk Fest last year helping greet some of the musicians who were playing at the three-day event.

I won’t be there this year. Instead, I’m covering a different three-day cultural festival in Lafayette. Today is the last day of Festivals Acadians et Creoles.

This festival celebrates two distinct but forever interwoven cultures including their cowboy music roots.

It’s not just one festival but three that were combined after being held separately to honor the music, food and arts of this rich south Louisiana culture.

So I’m sorry I’m missing the Folk Festival but so far I’m having one heck of a time at Festivals.

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Eight Months and Counting: (VA2LA)

It has been eight months since I started splitting my life between Richmond, Virginia and Lafayette, Louisiana (with a few side trips to Knoxville, Tennessee.)

To be honest, I’ve spent less time in Richmond than I intended to when I started this “commute.” Not that I don’t miss RVA and all that’s happening there. But I guess this was bound to happen considering that south LA has so much to explore.

Heck,  just consider all the chances to hear music. Watch. You’ll see what I mean.

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It was a “tough” assignment but somebody had to do it

I have covered or supervised the coverage of presidents, major breaking disasters and huge celebrations.

Covering last week’s Festival International ranks up there as one of the best assignments ever.

I got to hang out at Carpe Diem! Gelato-Espresso Bar and talk to people about their best memories and moments of a free festival with music from more than 80 bands from around the world.

I got to cover live performances by groups  including Red Baraatt  and  The Wailers.

Wish all my assignments were this much fun.

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Yeah, they really do call them boudin balls (Va2La)

In Richmond, we always enjoy going downtown to the 17th Street Market for the Brunswick Stew Festival.

It’s held each November. In the brisk afternoon of fall, you can sample stews made by cooks from all over the state.

Music by local bands fill the air as you stroll from booth to booth tasting the tomato-based stew filled with potatoes, vegetables and tender meat.

There’s a contest to see who makes the best stew. To my knowledge there is not a Brunswick Stew eating contest at this festival.

I can’t say the same for the Boudin Festival in Scott, Louisiana.

One of the highlights of the three-day event was a contest to see who could stuff down the most of these spicy pork and rice sausages in five minutes.

I don’t recommend this as the best way to enjoy this savory south Louisiana dish.

It’s better to take your time and enjoy what one person I met calls “rice weenies.” And if you’re not into pork, there are other options.

I opted for two seafood boudin balls sprinkled with a good  dose of Tabasco sauce. They were good. They tasted sort of like a fried crab cake but with rice filling.


I consumed them at a nice leisurely pace as I listened to an afternoon of Cajun and Zydeco music.

I wanted more but decided  to stop at two unlike the guys ( and one woman) in the boudin eating  contest.

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When the street lights came on

When I was a kid, droves of us would play outside near my house.

My five siblings and I would join with our dozen or so cousins and other kids in the neighborhood.

We would  run. We’d play kickball and “I Spy” – our version of Hide-and-Seek.

We played in the small yards near our red brick apartments in College Homes or in the big grassy courtyard out front.

Or we’d gather in clumps on the sidewalks or underneath the huge oak tree near the busy street that I wasn’t allowed to cross without an older sister or brother.

During the school year as soon as we’d finished dinner and homework, we went outside. In the summer, we went out as soon as we could escape after a half-assed swipe at our assigned  chores.

I squeezed every bit of fun out of each day. I knew that when the street lights came on, I had to go inside.

Street Light

That soft amber glow from the funny-shaped lights atop the green metal poles was the signal that another day of play was over.

Truthfully, I never went inside right away. I always pushed for  a few minutes more.

It usually took hearing my mother call my name before I would grudgingly surrender and call it a day.

She would be waiting on the concrete slab that was our front porch. She’d herd me in the door and up the metal stairs to take my bath.

I was the youngest and was always the first to be called inside.

The street lights in my old neighborhood are different now. The entire neighborhood has changed.

The oak tree is still there. It doesn’t seem so big now.

In an odd twist, here in my new neighborhood in Lafayette, the street lights are almost exactly like those from my childhood.

When I take a walk on these spring evenings, I try to time it just right so that as I walk out of my apartment door and head down the main street, the street lights are just beginning to glow.

Sometimes, I can almost hear my mom calling me to come inside.

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