Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

April 11, 2012

ON THE ROAD - ALONG THE LEVEE

... while in baton rouge we arranged for a tour of "laura," the creole plantation where colorful west african oral tradition stories were recorded by joel chandler harris as the "uncle remus" tales ... the tour was wonderful, especially due to our charming guide who kept everything light and humerous, until we gathered in the slave quarters, that is, where she made it quite clear that "in regards to slavery the creole plantations were like any other ... there was no such thing as 'better' slavery" ...


... laura's history was fascination, especially the powerful and commanding role that woman assumed in creole life ... "business is family and family is business" ... the house and grounds were beautiful, peaceful, possessing a certain serenity that seemed almost to be saying, "here, you need no clocks or watches," but, still ...


... still, i couldn't get it out of my mind that i clearly recall from my childhood the death of the last black american who was born into slavery ... with that thought, this cabin seemed incredibly dark, and i could feel the presence of those for whom the blue sky outside meant just another brutal day in the fields, and the distant horizon was a dream they struggled to keep alive in the verse of their soulful music ...


NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1

ON THE ROAD - FAREWELL KINGFISH


... we had a pleasant visit with my uncle keith and his family in baton rouge ... while there we visited the state capital building, which is so tall jon had to stretch a bit in order to get in the picture ... inside the building we examined the numerous bullet holes made by the machine gun bullets that huey long's bodyguards fired at the assassin after he had done his deadly deed ... (or, according to some, in order to have a convenient patsy for a much more complex plot) ...


... we only had a few minutes, but from the top of the building we enjoyed the view of the baton rouge ... somewhere in the center of this picture, just to the right of the oil refineries, is the little house in which i lived for a year while my dad was stationed alone overseas ...



NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1



ON THE ROAD - BIG LIZARDS

... on the way to baton rouge we wandered a bit along some back roads, one of which i've a haze of childhood memories ... we ate some really good fried chicken fingers, and, being from a state where the snow was still falling, enjoyed watching the bass fisherman casting into the bayous and streams ... then, per our mission philosophy that "there's no such thing as too hokey to stop and see," we visited the alligator farm ... it was fabulous ... if anything, i learned that dull, sluggard, lazy reptiles can move astonishingly fast when a chicken leg is dangled above their heads ...


... almost as exciting, adrien did a good job of managing her aversion to any and all feathered creatures by almost touching a giant emu ...


... since i enjoyed the alligators so much, i decided to give them a second go around ...


... mmmmmmm ... and, of course, it's clear that the alligators liked jon and adrien ...


... on the way out we tried to avoid purchasing any souvenirs ...


... and in the parking lot we made a point of avoiding anyone who had ...


NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1



ON THE ROAD - REMEMBERING

... i was in the seventh-grade in bellevue, nebraska ... it was after lunch, and my "core" (english/history/literature)  teacher had just put us to the task of diagraming a few of our english textbook's rather complex sentence examples ... i detested diagraming, thinking then, as i do now, that the whole exercise was the invention of someone who truly hated writing and wanted to instill that value in others ... i wasn't about to let my teacher know this, since my great respect for him was in no small part based upon my dread of the impact his gold service ring could make against the back of my skull ... in the afternoon, once my peanut butter and jelly sandwich had settled nicely into the bottom of my stomach, i would stare out the classroom window, like eddie rickenbacker or chuck yeager searching the clear blue sky above the distant horizon for the tiny speck which would provided me with yet another enemy plane that was soon to join the neat little row painted upon the fuselage of my trusty p-47 thunderbolt ... (yes, there was usually a girl involved, somehow needing rescue from the dastardly hun aviator) ... i would masterfully maneuver my massive pratt & wittney powered fighter, from out of the sun's glare diving upon my surprised opponent ... but, unlike the other more common flyers, it was not then that i would hurl fiery tracers and armor piercing rounds into my foe ... no, such a simple kill was not for one with my areobatic talents ... instead, i would pull alongside the terrified german, allowing him a long look at what was to be the source of his demise ... then, with a flip of a salute, i'd allow him the first move in our little dance of death ... he'd roll, i'd counter ... watching him attempt escape with an immelman, i'd dive to pick up speed, reverse into a chandelle, then control a violent hammerhead that would place me onto his tail ... he'd jinx left, i'd do a scissors, line him up in my sights, and pull the trigger ...

... bam, stars would exploded in my eyes ... was i in a flat spin ... had another german flyer snuck into my blind spot ... what was happening ... was i going down ... was this what it was like to "buy the farm" ... my final thought was a fervent hope that she'd at least notice my effort to save her ...

... back to reality ... neither an explosive 20mm cannon shell, nor the impact of a machine gun bullet, it was just the concussion as my teacher's massive service ring smacked against the side of my skull ... an immediate discharge from the army air corp, drafted by my teacher it was back to the trenches for me ...

... except this day something was different ... as we slaved away the principal came to the classroom door and with a slight movement of his hand summoned our teacher away from his little throne at the front of the room ... the two whispered for a few seconds, subscribed to normal juvinile curiosity all of us peeked trying to learn the latest news ... as he turned and walked back to his desk, it was then that we all knew that something was different ... something had changed ... something was wrong ... our teacher, a man who had survived omaha beach, the battle of the bulge, even, as he'd told us, returning home to a world that "just didn't seem to understand" ... he with premature greying hair still trim on top and slick on the sides, eyes that as children we intuitively understood to leave him be when they flashed a hint of what some of us would later come to learn was "the thousand yard stare" ... there were tears in his eyes as he collapsed into his chair, muttering, "just keep working, the principal's going to make an announcement in a few minutes" ...

... we didn't, continue working, that is ... we whispered, notes were passed back and forth, some of us could see into the hallway where we noticed teachers and staff members in quiet huddles  ... the thing i remember above all else is how absolutely still the air became, as if we were on the deck of a sailing ship becalmed in the middle of a endless sea ... 

... "this is the principal ... it is with great sadness that i ... the president ... dallas ... shot ... dead ... we're going to release early, walkers can line up " ...

... as i walked west mission avenue's slight upgrade i noticed that cars were parked along the road ... drivers were sitting listening to their radios, and, in many cases, along side of each vehicle was a little gathering of very quiet adults ... some were crying, to varying degrees all appeared stunned ... nobody noticed me as i strolled by, and in the odd stillness i felt as if i were some solitary explorer wandering a landscape devoid of all life ...


... that night, all of us glued to the television, wanting so desperately for the man we trusted, walter cronkite, to inform us it was a mistake, my dad pronounced, "everything's going to be okay, but nothing's ever going to be the same again" ...



... how strange, now living in this future world, to realize that there are two classes of americans, those who will immediately recognize this landscape and those for whom this is simply a rather uninteresting street scene ...


... i also remember pa, who was a marksman, saying, "there was an element of luck, as there always is, but it was a doable shot" ...




... as i stood in this window, sighting down the length of an imaginary 6.5mm carcano rifle, tracking the flow of traffic and quickly working the bolt, i came to the belief that my ol' dad was absolutely correct about the shot ... i don't know if there was a "conspiracy" involved in the murder of john f. kennedy, but i do believe that if one is to form some sort of "alternative" explanation for the events of that day, it cannot be logically based upon the supposed "impossibility" of lee harvey oswald acting alone ... sometimes it's hard to accept that when all is said and done, history is never more than the stories of individuals ...


... just after snapping this picture i was busted because no photography is allowed in the book depository ... i didn't mind, thinking that pa would've done the same thing ... turned out he was right, too, about the world ... things never did go back to the way they were ...


NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1




ON THE ROAD - SMILE


... a pleasant drive from st.louis to dallas, with a little side trip along route 66 so that adrien could count kansas as one of the states she's visited ... i'm not up on current disney movies, but i'm assured that those of you who are will recognize this truck ... i'm told that it was the inspiration for one of the vehicles in the movie "cars" ... all i know is that the facial recognition feature on adrien's camera constantly fixated on the front end of this 1951 international l-170 series tow truck ... good thing it was in galena, kansas, rather than new england, other wise by now it would be nothing but a rusting heap of road-salt corroded sheet metal ...



NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1






ON THE ROAD - RESTING FROM THE MARCH


... last year's trip had called for a stop at the san francisco zoo to see the penguins, but time constraints resulted in one of those "we can do this, or that, but not both this and that" situations, so we had to take a pass ... this year we made up for it by spending almost an hour watching the the critters in their superb habitat at the st. louis zoo ... (read that, "brrrrrrrrrr," since the exhibit is clearly designed for the comfort of the birds) ... these are aptenodytes forsteri, emperor penguins, the largest and heaviest of all the penguins ... they can dive to over 1,800 feet in search of food, are able to regulate their internal core body temperature even when the thermometer reads -57F, and, sadly, due to the effects of global climate change, are probably one of the species which will be close to extinction by the turn of the century ...



NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1