Morning in the life

It’s just after noon as I type this. This is the first time I’ve sat down all morning since getting up at 5:30.

I’ve changed clothes three times, mopped the kitchen and the floor of Mike’s office twice, washed the dog twice, and am washing my second load of towels. I am kind of ready to go back to bed, but it’s time to get started working now lol

Don’t mind me – I look like I just got dragged backwards through a wet hedge – but look at the size of that damned hornworm. Ugh.

Chickens have to be tended at dawn every day, period, no matter what. And then if you are doing some kind of organic farming or gardening, and especially if you live somewhere like just off the bayou in southernmost Alabama/Mississippi, this is also your best time to make the rounds of whatever you’re growing and tend to anything that needs tending. If you wait until later in the day, even for cooler weather right around dusk, it will still be hot as hell, approximately 1000% humidity, and thick with mosquitoes who think your Deep Woods Off makes a nice condiment. Not that the mosquitoes aren’t already out just after dawn, because they are, but later in the day, they’ll be impossible.

Well, it’s been raining nearly every day for over a week now, and I don’t like to garden in the pouring rain, but tomato hornworms and leaf hoppers and army worms don’t mind snacking on everything in a rainstorm, so you can lose the race *fast.* And sure enough, the sticky nightshade I relocated to be near one of my tomato patches to act as a trap crop was showing signs of a significant hornworm depredation. These things can strip a plant of leaves overnight. So impending storm or no impending storm, I had to find that hornworm.

Well, I didn’t find it before it started pouring rain. Fortunately I found it before lightning had hit nearby too many times, but I was cussing there towards the end of that hunt.

As soon as the storm let up, like within 15 minutes, because I had only just gotten into dry clothes and found some food, Roo alerted me that something was going on outside. She was running from the back yard into the house, to the front door, and then when I didn’t open the front door, back to the back yard, rinse and repeat, whining the whole time. I can’t see things further away than a few feet because I desperately need to go to an eye doctor. The tenant who lives in our cabin IDed the disturbance as a fox, a rather large one.

In a moment of supreme and undercaffeinated stupidity, I let Roo out the front to chase it. And she did – she took off like a bolt of lightning after it through the woods, moving surprisingly fast for a dog her size. Still, she wasn’t gonna catch the damn fox. So after less than five minutes, we called her to come back, which she doesn’t always do right away if she’s chasing something really exciting, but to her credit, she did.

What she caught instead of the fox included a few pretty deep mud puddles and probably some old barbed wire from a decrepit old fence (which is why I shouldn’t have let her out). So she came back soaking wet, dripping a combo of mud and blood, and we couldn’t tell where the blood was coming from.

Have I mentioned she doesn’t like baths?

Chickens are getting pretty tired of this.

Finally got her cleaned up enough to identify that she’d nicked the edge of her ear and had a little gouge in her thigh, not vet-worthy, I was thinking. I try to get her quiet and calm so the bleeding will stop. Meanwhile, Mike is packing up his tools to go to a job site — and while I’ll do in a pinch when he’s not around, Mike is Roo’s person, her north star, her beloved. Once she realizes he’s leaving, she’s back out in the (very muddy, very swampy) yard to watch him, which she will continue to do until the car is no longer in sight. The vantage point for this in the yard happens to be the point of lowest elevation in the yard, so she’s basically sitting in a puddle for all of this.

Washed her off, got her *back* inside, mopped the floors again, and noticed she’s limping now, which she wasn’t doing at first. Cue inspection of foot pads, toenails, legs, etc. Probably that little gouge in her thigh is worse than it looks and her whole leg hurts now. Vet’s not open at this point anyway – just have to keep an eye on her and keep her as calm as I can.

Then it was time to head back outside to look for any storm damage and do things with the plants *other* than look for the damned hornworm.

I’ve been busy as hell for over 6 hours and I haven’t even started “working” yet. First order of business: caffeine. We have some yaupon out here, and I’ve been making tea out of it and drinking that instead of coffee. It’s pretty good. Just don’t think about the Latin name – it’s a complete misnomer.

recent reading roundup: poison, atchafalaya ethnology, faith healing in Louisiana

photo credit jclk8888, Pixabay

I don’t have time to summarize anything right now, but I’m hoping if I leave this here, it’ll spur me to do so later.


James H. Diaz. Atlas of Human Poisoning and Envenoming, 2nd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2014.


Hilda Roberts. “Louisiana Superstitions.” Journal of American Folklore 40: 156 (1927), 144-208.

  • We’re gonna have to talk about this one when I have some time. This sure does have some… stuff in it. I mean, totally aside from its being “a product of its age” and all that. The blanket conflation of hoodoo doctors and Cajun traiteurs is a pretty humongous one. This would never get published today, and it’s not because of the language. It’s because of shoddy scholarship / painting with too broad a brush.

F.A. de Caro. “A History of Folklife Research in Louisiana.” Louisiana Folklife: A Guide to the State. Nicholas R. Spitzer, ed. Office of Cultural Development, 1985.


John L. Gibson. Archaeology and Ethnology on the Edges of the Atchafalaya Basin: A Cultural Resources Survey of the Atchafalaya Protection Levees. Center for Archaeology Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana. Final report to the Department of the Army, New Orleans District, Corps of Engineers, Jun. 1979 – Jan. 1982.


Maida Owens. “Louisiana’s Traditional Cultures: An Overview.” Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana. Carl Lindahl, Maida Owens, and C. Renée Harvison, eds. University Press of Mississippi and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, 1997.


Alec Sonnier. Cajun Traiteurs: Faith Healing on the Bayou / The Cajun Traiteur and Transmission of Cajun Folk Healing Knowledge. Master’s Thesis, Dept. of Anthropology. California State University Northridge, May 2020.

  • A quick note that Alec Sonnier’s preface reprints two prayers that a Louisiana traiteuse shared on her Facebook page in early 2020 as the coronavirus epidemic was spreading across the country. You really, really gotta love at least a couple of things about the 21st century – at least a traiteuse sharing healing prayers from her personal practice on social media.
  • I don’t know if that was her private Facebook page or what, so I haven’t posted those prayers here. I don’t know if everybody’s the same way about this, but a lot of times those prayers are not for public consumption. I’m not gonna be the one to assume they are. But in his conclusion, Sonnier prints a prayer shared by another traiteur, Mr. George, who received it in a dream. Mr. George said it “can be used by anyone who wishes to be healed of an ailment” and he encouraged people to use it “to help themselves in the healing process” (131). It goes like this:

“Heavenly Father, I call on You right now in a special way. It is through Your power that I was created. Every breath I take, every morning I wake and every moment of every hour, I live under Your power. Father, I ask you now to touch me with that same power, for if You created me from nothing, You can certainly recreate me. Fill me with the healing power of Your spirit. Cast out anything that should not be in me. Mend what is broken. Root out any unproductive cells, open any blocked arteries or veins, and rebuild any damaged areas. Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection. Let the warmth of Your healing love pass through my body to make new any unhealthy areas, so that my body will function the way You created it to function. And Father, restore me to full health in mind, body and spirit so that I might serve You the rest of my life. I ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

(Mr. George qtd. in Sonnier 131)

He cites a 2008 article on traiteurs by one Julia Swett, too, which is a name one or two of y’all might know :). But careful, y’all, look – this Sonnier’s father is kin to those Heberts, and you know you gotta watch out for those Heberts!

(Just teasing an Hebert – I’m only playing 🙂 )