Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sir Jeffery goes all Sgt. Pepper for Mardi Gras

Giant lava lamps, platform boots and bean bag seating were touches taking Krewe Mon Ami’s psychedelic Mardi Gras ball over the top. Jeffery Collins stood out with a blue satin military-style coat obviously casting him in a Sgt. Pepper role, of the Lonely Hearts Club Band fame. Collins, of Orange, designed the coat himself with twists even the most dedicated Beatles fans could overlook. The coat is a conglomerate of those John, Paul, George and Ringo wore, with bands and trim from one and colors and metal from others. I certainly enjoyed the show, and catching Collins get by with a little help from his friends.

Karma in Nederland

Several new shops line Boston Avenue that weren’t around the last time Nederland Heritage Festival came around. I loved Splash of Karma, which displayed interesting jewelry on beds of raw rice. I sorted past an adorable one that looked like a bird’s nest, with little pearly beads as eggs. I’m drawn to blue glass, so for a modest $4.95, I left with a big, blue bead ring wrapped in golden wire. It’s big enough for the Mardi Gras season.

A cool night out

My husband asked me “out” to a A Cool Night Out, which turned out to be a reception at Previty – Clinic for Surgical Care which specializes in CoolSculpting, a non-surgical treatment that deals with freezing and fat cells. The office, near Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, is beautiful, with glass floral sculpture. There was abundant wine and cheese, and I was strolling through, I came upon a woman who was actually undergoing treatment during the party. She volunteered so she could tell people how it felt (no complaints) and had a hot chocolate afterward. Everyone was having such a good time talking to her, it felt like some reality show in Europe.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wanted: Families and visitors for festival fun

Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas has been filling Port Arthur with color and beads for 20 years, and Wayne Toups will again be a headliner during festival weekend, Feb. 16-19.

Over in Nederland, the close-knit Nederland Heritage Festival community has already kicked off their season, naming Brent Weaver as Mr. Nederland. This gang always fills the festival office on Boston Avenue with supporters who know supporting fun in Nederland translates into goodwill and good dollars for the community.

Poor Wanda Hollier had to confess to big-time “lying” to keep Shannon Hemby from knowing the annual program was dedicated to her, which is a huge Nederland honor.

“Wanted: For a Good Time” is the theme in Nederland, with the big weekend set for March 16-18. But they’re not done then. A golf tournament is set for April.

Mardi Gras spirit

Jan Walker reminds revelers that Spirit of Mardi Gras is the theme for Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas and Krewe of Aurora. The focus is on traditional symbols.

They “plan on going all out this year,” she said, and hinted at prized Zulu coconuts.

Apparently, they don’t mind making New Orleans runs for research. What dedication.

Psychadelic Fantasy

Jody Holton is beside herself with excitement over Krewe Mon Ami’s Fantasy Ball and its Psychadelic Fantasy theme, set for Saturday. Wanna come?

We do have a limited amount of tickets for sale at $50. each, contact . It will be a far out evening of peace, love, and dancing to some very groovy tunes,” Holton said.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sixth Floor Museum keeps JFK story relevant

It’s a chilling scene. A museum with an unfinished corner behind glass is made up to reflect how the Texas school book depository looked the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

The rest of the Sixth Floor Museum has a modern ‘60s look, with oversized black and white portraits and footage telling much of the Kennedy story and how the world reacted to his death. I’d visited years ago and wanted my husband to see it. We went through the exhibits with headphones, in a private way. All this happened before we were born, yet it seems as if we’d lived it in the collective conscience of America.

At end, in the gift shop, he mentioned something being the same as “before.” After all the maneuvering to get to the museum, park, pay, etc., he never mentioned he’d been before… with me, in fact. I can only sum up that the experience is so intense and personal, especially as one is listening to headphones instead of engaging with companions, that in my memory, I was all wrapped up in my thoughts “before.”

My Dallas/Plano venture on a cold, rainy winter’s weekend included a burger at Deep Ellum’s Angry Dog after a nostalgic trek through vintage shops and a quick gaze at Neiman Marcus’ $600 handbags. My rare brush with uber expensive window shopping involved “occupy” type protesters on the street.

But don’t worry, I took refuge down the street at St. Jude Chapel. The sweet women there directed me to the downtown Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe for a memorable Saturday evening Mass.

With weather too dreary for more touristy fare, eating became a big deal and I’d like to thank the Plano Hampton Inn front desk for sending me to Gloria’s and Patrizio. Gloria’s featured Salvadorian food and reminded me of the kind of restaurant featured in “CSI Miami.” There were beautiful couples in beautiful clothes in this glamorous place with hot Latin music. We feasted on foods wrapped in banana leaves and enjoyed the view.

Patrizio is Italian food that somehow fits in a glorified strip mall. I don’t know how they did it, but once inside it looks like an old house with a fireplace and rugs (and a giant bar in the corner.) We chose one eggplant dish and one lasagna, but wondered was on high stands at other tables. It was the pizza, and diners we quizzed said it was good.

I spent about 20 minutes and $6 at an ALDI market. I’d heard of these basic, money-saving stores and I consider them like a Sam’s for singles. In other words, you can save money by bringing your own sack and shipping from cardboard boxes, but you can leave with a single can of mushrooms instead of a case. For my $6 I got cans of food, pork rinds for my road trip home and an amazingly- good merlot. When I got home, my husband pointed out this bottle of Winking Owl seems slightly smaller than other brands. For a price like $2.69, I’m not complaining. I opened it and watched “Spartacus” for the first time.

My final adventure was getting gas at one of those Buc-ee’s mega stops with the beaver. I kept saying we could make it, and the day was so gray we each kind of nudged the other into committing to fill the tank in the cold. My husband told me he paid for it, and headed to the bathroom while I walked around in search of my customary lucky penny find.

Miles down the road he exclaimed “You didn’t fill it up?”

We each thought the other had done so. We headed back and guess what? They remembered him, because the paying-without-filling transaction had messed up the tank order for the next customer. Thanks Buc-ee’s for letting the Castillos get our gas and make it home to Southeast Texas.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Janis

Janis Joplin and I were both January babies, and that’s one of the reasons I feel a connection to her. Hers in Jan. 19, and visiting her tribute at Museum of the Gulf Coast will be a great way to honor her.

On Sunday I caught the Carolyn Wonderland interview on National Public radio. Wonderland, an Austin singer, noted that growing up in Texas, singing Joplin’s songs was something one pretty much did in private. She’s included one of her tunes, asking “what good can drinkin’ do,” on her latest CD, but remains humble about any comparisons between her and the Texas legend.

Joplin’s musings for sale

Janis Joplin never seemed at a loss for words. Some of them will be for sale, according to an item published on the San Antonio Express News web site. The story focuses on a letter Elvis Presley wrote to a Fort Hood mentor and continues:

“Presley's letter is one of more than 700 pieces of rock memorabilia up for sale online in the Modern Music Auction Jan. 19-26. Items include Bob Dylan's harmonicas, Jimi Hendrix's guitar picks, a postcard penned by Lubbock native Buddy Holly and an eight-page letter that Janis Joplin sent to her fiancĂ© from her hometown of Port Arthur.”

Mardi Gras 2012

I caught Linda Hebert and krewe prepping for Twelfth Night and caught my first throw of the season. Parties are everywhere: Look for them.

The Pary Krewe of Southeast Texas, which is Krewe Mon Ami, if you didn’t know, has slated its Psychadelic Fantasy Ball for Jan. 28. Get on line for info on joining in.

Costumes are not for everyone, apparently. Krewe of Outcast stages its 5th annual Blue Bean Ball on Sat., Jan. 28, at the Commpany D Event Center at 343 North Twin City Highway. This is a $10 BYOB event for those older than 21. The magic number to call is 960-1628.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The sound of two wooden goblets in a toast . . .

Earl Rutherford doesn’t fill his hand-carved wooden goblets with wine, but he says it would hold. His beautiful bowls, vessels, eggs, etc. are carved from walnut, oak, hickory and ash he finds along the road. I met the artist and asked him to “toast” an empty goblet with me, to see how it would sound. The venture yielded a satisfying, muted “clack.” The next best thing was feeling how smooth he makes the wood.

The Groves native makes the wood speak to him from his Beaumont workshop. You can see it on display this January at Texas Artists Museum. Some of it is for sale, but don’t ask for the ice cream scoop with a wooden handle. He made it for his wife.

In Rutherford’s profile, he tells that he was first introduced to wood turning in his junior high wood shop class. He worked at Texaco and had a business on Twin City Highway, so he “shelved” his hobby until about 2000.

“You never know what the grain will look like until you turn the bark off and then, as you shape it, it continually reveals more hidden character and grain patterns,” he says. “And it’s quite rewarding to see the long shavings fly off as the shape evolves.”

The profile notes he’s active with Woodworkers of Southeast Texas and a group meets each fourth Monday at his Beaumont home.

And by the way, Earl says he’s not related to Verna or Cal, two of Port Arthur’s famous Rutherfords.

TAM is also hosting works by Lamar students this month.

Okra, prayer cards and Tet

Okra is African, Carolyn Thibodeaux said she learned while setting up Holidays Around the World at Port Arthur Public Library. The holidays aren’t over. Tet, Vietnamese New Year, will fall on Jan. 23 in 2012 and welcomes the Year of the Dragon. Buu Mon Buddhist Temple assembled ornaments for a holiday tree to help share their culture. Thibodeaux, who is the children’s librarian, said some cultures that don’t have a traditional Christmas tree took the tree as the American symbol to tie in their history. The display will remain up at the library, 4615 Ninth Avenue, through Jan. 10.

Thibodeaux and I admitted to each other that we sometimes learn things, forget them and relearn them. I believe I already knew that dreidels have letters to symbolize the words for “a miracle happened here.” These spinning toys where taken out so that Jewish scholars could pretend they were gambling instead of reading religious documents in public, the local display explains.

The book “Gator Gumbo” is put out in the Cajun display, where I loved finding a very old holy water bottle, and a photo book where someone had lovingly kept collected prayer cards. Fava beans from the Italian Americans, Kwanzaa candles and Mexican bingo and paper flowers help show how cultures decorate, eat and worship during the holidays.

“It’s a huge success,” Carolyn Thibodeaux said of the collection reflecting the area’s cultural diversity.

Ahsan Tariq, a native of Pakistan and a library employee, helped assemble a display that includes dolls in traditional garments. He said he hopes Holidays Around the World will promote a better understanding of people who call Port Arthur home.

Quilter alert:

Jenni Beaumont of Golden Triangle Quilt Guild has “patched” through a message that the Bi-Annual Quilt Show will be at the Beaumont Civic Center on Feb. 10-11.

“There will be over 250 quilts on display and for anyone who loves art and creativity this is a must-see show. It is like walking through an art gallery,” Beaumont said. “Our theme this year is Garden of Quilts. There will also be vendor booths, quilts for sale, a silent auction, a boutique and lots of special exhibits. We do have several members that are nationally recognized ‘Master Quilters.”

She says there are more than 200 members from Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. The website is: