BayouLife Magazine May 2020

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44 32 / SETTING THE MOOD These Mood Boards From Local Stores Offer A Glimpse Into the Aesthetic That Makes Them So Popular

MAY 2020

44 / ST. JUDE DREAM HOME This Year’s St. Jude’s Dream Home is a Collaboration of Local Professionals Who Are Contributing Their Talents and Resources in the Fight Against Childhood Cancer 62 / MOTHER’S DAY PLANT With Mother’s Day Right Around The Corner, Bayoulife Asked The Flower Experts For Their Favorite Blooms To Gift 64 / FRESH TAKE ON COLLEGE With So Many Uncertainties, Local Colleges And Universities Are Offering Advice For Incoming Students


76 / SPRING FORWARD These Looks From Plume Showcase Spring’s Freshest Looks 84 / BAYOU EATS - TAKEOUT EDITION Local Restaurants Offer Patrons Curbside Service And Dine-At-Home Options

110 / BAYOU BEATS Local Musicians Have Banded Together, Keeping Their Art Form Alive Using Social Media Outlets 114/ POSTURE PERFECT Shannon Shares with BayouLife How to Improve Your Posture to Decrease Pain

APRIL 2018

92 / CALL TO SERVE For His Unselfish Devotion To His Patients, To His Constituents, To Louisiana, And To His Country, Dr. Abraham Is Our May BayouIcon 99 / ORDINARY HEROES Throughout Our Community, Ordinary Citizens Have Gone To Great Lengths To Offer Help And Hope

128 / BEDROOM MAKEOVER Kelly Moore Clark Gives Us Tips On How To Restyle A Space In Your Home Using What You Already Have 130 / ART FORMED Inga Woods Is A Glass Artist And Student At Louisiana Tech University. Where Art And Science Meet, Beautiful Jewelry Is Formed


his month is our first time to publish a magazine that is exclusively online. We really learned to be creative this month and still within the confines of a stay-at-home order. Kelly Moore Clark experimented with her first FaceTime photo shoot – directing the subject on lighting and composition through her phone. I volunteered my beautiful sales rep, Katelyn Tolbert, to model and shoot our fashion spread for Plume this month. We took screenshots of bands performing solo at The Eli and from their own homes to use in our BayouBeats article, and we even got a little takeout to photograph for our BayouEats Takeout edition. It’s definitely been a trial run and has made our online issue more user friendly, but it hasn’t been without a few tears. We love print, and, next month we hope to be in your driveway again. But, there was no sacrifice of quality to produce this issue. We are all proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, and hope you enjoy reading it. On Easter Sunday, I found myself huddled in my closet surrounded by a mattress and pillows waiting for severe weather to pass through the area. When the storm finally passed, we had minimal damage other than some debris from our neighbor’s yard floating around. But, when I started scrolling through social media, I realized the devastation that we narrowly avoided. The last month has been an eye opener for me. I know that people complain about living in North Louisiana, but I have to say that I feel blessed to be here. In a time when a lot of people are struggling, there are those waiting in the wings to help. On page 99 we highlight some of our ordinary heroes, from Gail Cupit who has become well-known through the NELA Needs group page to Sandy McMillan, the owner of Haven, and her staff who have been busy making masks. There are so many more people who are out there feeding the hungry, serving in



ministry and on the frontlines saving patients. We are so grateful for the work you are doing, and are praying for our community to rise up stronger and more unified in the upcoming months. When I was younger, I’d often make trips to the veterinarian with my parents – we were always up for adopting stray dogs and cats. Our local vet was Dr. Ralph Abraham, “Doc” was adored by humans and animals alike and when he went back to medical school and finished, he became our primary physician. It’s no surprise that he fared so well as our Congressman, but his heart has turned to serving our community in a different way – back to the bedside, and we couldn’t be luckier. Read his article on page 92. I can’t skip this opportunity to say that Dr. Abraham has fully endorsed my dear friend, Luke Letlow, who served as Abraham’s Chief of Staff throughout his time in congress. And a big congratulations to his wife, Julia Letlow, a fellow ULM alum, for making it to the top 18 in the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Presidential search. It’s so important to support our community right now. Whether it’s sewing handmade masks, donating blood, offering a meal, strapping tarps on roofs, buying goods from a local store, getting involved in local politics – it all makes a difference. There is no level of involvement that is too small. To all of our advertisers and contributing writers – THANK YOU! Thank you for sticking with us through this storm. To all of our readers, please shop local. Our local business owners are ready to help. Need something delivered? Pick up the phone. Want curbside delivery? They’ve got it. For us to make it through this, we need money to stay in our LOCAL economy. As always, we hope you enjoy reading this month’s issue of BayouLife Magazine.


BayouLife 1201 Royal Avenue Monroe, LA 71201 Phone 318.855.3185


PUBLISHER & OWNER Cassie Livingston GENERAL MANAGER Ashley Hubenthal COPY EDITOR Cindy Foust GRAPHIC DESIGNER Meagan Russell ADVERTISING SALES EXECUTIVE Amanda Singley ADVERTISING SALES EXECUTIVE Katelyn Tolbert ART DIRECTOR Taylor Bennett CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Maré Brennan Dan Chason Laura W. Clark Kenny Covington Shannon Dahlum Lou Davenport Cindy Gist Foust Lori French Kerry Heafner April Clark Honaker Heather Land Paul Lipe

Erin Love Meredith McKinnie Guy Miller Georgiann Potts Kay Rector Vanelis Rivera Cathi French-Roberts Delia Simpson Beatrice A. Tatem Kasey Witherington Robert Kenneth Wright

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Taylor Bennett Kelly Moore Clark Rachel Danzy Shannon Dahlum Heather Land Katelyn Tolbert ON THE COVER Be Mine, Honey Cocktail BayouLife Magazine is published and distributed by Redbird Publishing, LLC. Circulation: 14,000 copies monthly. Postal subscriptions ($30) can be ordered online at www.bayoulifemag. com. BayouLife Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited photographs, manuscripts, or other materials. Opinion columns do not represent the views of the publisher. Reproduction of contents without express written permission is prohibited.


Staying Home The Impact of Social Distancing BY BEATRICE TATEM, PH.D., LPC-S, NCC, ACS


ET ME START BY ACKNOWLEDGING THE OBVIOUS. These are emotionally, socially, physically, and economically different times. Times that can be described as uncertain, difficult, unfamiliar and unpredictable. Times many feel they have little to no control over. We are living in a world many of us no longer know and are attempting to get to know in order to survive mentally and physically. A world where the concept of staying home has taken on a different meaning and purpose. In past “Home” editions of BayouLife I have made reference to “home” as being a sanctuary; a special place in one’s life where you can retreat in order to relax, rejuvenate and recharge. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the need to discuss “home” as a refuge from one of the deadliest pandemics known the world over. Eyes glancing over masked faces; glove wearing individuals transacting business, mindfully washing hands; food shortages; restaurant shutdowns; hoarding; no Lysol on shelves; limits on bleach, hand sanitizers, paper towels and toilet paper; death toll rising; telehealth versus in office health care; essential workers on the front lines; news anchors working from home; “air hugs” in place of physical hugs; home schooling versus classroom instruction; mailed stimulus checks; increased unemployment; business closures; layoffs; special occasions cancelled; gatherings limited to ten or fewer people; mandated physical distancing; millions dying at home and abroad without reassuring looks and touches; grave side burials; rise in depression, anxiety and stress; amplification of preexisting health conditions; reminders to stay 6 feet away; to stay healthy, alive, safe, to stay home. In the wake of COVID 19 life is not usual and therefore we cannot treat it as usual. Since the outbreak, I have found myself looking closely at the human reaction, functioning and response to the world and the impact social distancing has on our emotional health in times when we need physical contact the most. When it has become necessary literally and figuratively to look at the world from inside out. Different circumstances have brought about the need for different reactions and responses. Some have made the necessary changes to survive happily, many are reframing life to get use to the “new normal,” while others are frustrated, tired and feel as though the “new normal” has already become old. Society is learning new ways to express the flood of emotions many feel. As a therapist, I was trained to always hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I know things can be better I know things can always be worse. Whereas, I am aware life goes on in the midst of crisis and


many are having their own individual crisis, never did I anticipate while struggling to understand the pandemic residents of Monroe, Louisiana would experience a tornado leveling their homes, their places of refuge. As we strive to restore our minds, our souls are lives we must be mindful we are getting an abundance of information from a variety of sources. Be careful what you own and who you are listening to. Select the information you consume without it consuming you, discern what to let go and delete alarming text messages. At one point the news of the spread of the virus kept pace with the worry, confusion and fear of the virus; find creative ways to release and relax. Maintain emotional connections, physical distancing does not mean isolation, use the quarantine to be closer to home allowing us to spend more time with family. “We are all in this together,” it is more than what is happening in your world…. it is happening across the world, have a mindset to take the time to care for others, know that is okay to not be okay. “These are the best of times, these are the worst of times,” an all too familiar saying. When it is hard to find the positive, when so much seems to be going wrong, it is important to remember the strength of the human spirit. Whereas, we did not see it coming, nor did we anticipate the magnitude of its impact, and while there is the question as to how long it will last, fear as to how many will perish, wonderings when “if” became when “it” will hit us, hope resides in our knowing we will get through this ordeal. The coronavirus outbreak and resulting emotional turmoil has put us all on an uncharted path. With each day there has been new challenges, new demands, some days more questions than answers. Despite the uncertainty of this insidious virus, this pandemic has revealed the best in us. Like the speed bump in the road, the pandemic has slowed society down forcing us to stop, reflect and appreciate. Hopefully, at the end of this pandemic we will be an improved people, stronger in our understanding of one another, empathetic in our actions and genuine in our giving. My wish is for humanity to emerge from this crisis standing stronger, wiser and more resilient physically and mentally. May what we are learning through the crisis help us to be better children, parents, spouses, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbors and citizens; after all what does not destroy us will make us stronger. For more information on counseling and outreach services contact Dr. Beatrice Tatem at Wellness Initiatives, LLC, 2485 Tower Drive, Suite 10 Monroe, La 71201, 318-410-1555 or at


7 Ways to Support Local Downtown Ruston is Still Open for Business


HERE IS NO DOUBT ABOUT it – small businesses are currently operating in an uncertain and unprecedented time. With protocols and precautions changing daily to help fight the spread of COVID-19, our local businesses are having to adapt their business approach to continue serving the community. Now is the time that they need our support the most. Here are a few safe ways that you can support local and small businesses during the coming weeks: BUY GIFT CARDS This is an easy way to support local shops and restaurants immediately. Go ahead and stock up on gift cards for birthdays, holidays, teacher appreciation, and other occasions that call for a little happy. Several businesses offer gift card purchases online, so you don’t even have to leave home to support local. ORDER TAKEOUT/DELIVER We all have to eat, so you might as well carve out a few meals a week to support local restaurants via takeout or delivery. All Downtown Ruston restaurants are offering take out and curbside delivery, and some are even offering local delivery in Ruston. Several local eateries are also offering family specials for added convenience. For a full list of Ruston restaurants offering to-go ordering and delivery, visit SHOP OVER THE PHONE Local retailers are being super flexible to make sure you still have access to local goods, spring/summer arrivals, and gifts. 10 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

Downtown stores are encouraging patrons to call in orders, which they will deliver or ship for you. Some shops are even offering FaceTime shopping to help you browse the stores remotely! SHOP SMALL ONLINE In addition to phone orders, several retailers are also offering online shopping via their websites, social media channels, and Facebook groups. Check out your favorite store’s online presence for more information on how you can shop and order online. There are also several shops offering special discounts for online orders, so take advantage while you can. LEAVE A REVIEW Help local and small businesses keep the conversation going by leaving them a review on platforms like Yelp and Facebook. Share about a time they went above and beyond to provide you with exceptional service or give a shout-out to an employee! PROMOTE SMALL BUSINESSES ON SOCIAL MEDIA Social media sharing and promotions are a free and easy way support our local businesses and help spread the word about adjusted hours, accommodations, specials, etc. Share your photos when you shop small or grab take-out from a local restaurant. Help spread a message of positivity! HONOR PREPAID ORDERS While everyone’s situation is changing and we’re all being required to be flexible,

try to honor prepaid orders if possible. This will help keep small businesses afloat in these uncertain times. Yes, you may have to cancel a birthday party or you don’t need that outfit for a special event anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a custom birthday cake in your new cocktail dress from home ;). For an updated list of open businesses and more information on how to support Downtown Ruston businesses, visit downtownrustonla.


Herb It Here



Basil is a fragrant herb that tastes great in many dishes – and is a main ingredient in pesto. Basil will grow best in a location that gets up to 8 hours of full sun daily.

Get growing this spring with these four herbal mainstays. Basil, mint, thyme and rosemary are essential for great grub and craft cocktails. Whether your investing in an indoor planter or looking to start a garden, these herbs are the bees knees. Photo by Taylor Bennett


Fresh mint is so versatile that it should be a staple in every garden. From drinks to desserts, this super herb is easy to grow but can quickly overrun a planting bed.


Thyme is an evergreen shrub which stems and leaves are used in various dishes, either in whole or dried form. It also has many health benefits with one of the highest antioxidant concentrations in any herb.


This perennial herb has fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves. It can be used as a culinary condiment, to make perfumes, and for its potential health benefits.

Here for You Since 1976 Through Difficult Times, A Community Comes Together


O SAY THE LAST MONTH HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE, is a complete understatement. Through it all, we have been so encouraged to see our community come together in creative ways to support local businesses and love one another through sidewalk chalk, organize drive-by egg hunts and lend support to those in need after the Easter tornados. This is who we are as a community! In Northeast Louisiana, we may not have some of the same opportunities as many of the larger cities around the country, but what we do have are the most amazing people. We have people investing in one another in big and small ways. We have people that truly care about everyone around them. We have a goldmine of talent and we give and give and give. These are the reasons that John Rea Realty is so proud to be a part of the landscape of Northeast Louisiana. We see that the value of our community grows as deep as our agricultural roots. As a real estate company, we hope your home provides a much needed sanctuary. We want you to love the home you are in, or help you find the home that makes you happy. The values we stand for at John Rea Realty are the same ones we are all now tasked to embrace: care for those around you, lead with gratitude, and stay positive. We are a small company doing our best to make it through this and we want to continue to help you find the perfect home for your family and inspire you to love your community in both big and small ways. We are proud to say that March 2020 is the best March our company has ever seen, since its humble beginnings in 1976. We have some incredible, professional agents that made this growth a reality. We also know that it is our community that sees the value we have to offer and knows our goals are so much more than just selling more property. Our true goals are making Northeast Louisiana the absolute best it can be, we just happen to use real estate to accomplish this. Thank YOU for trusting us to help you navigate through the challenges of buying and selling your homes, land and commercial properties. You continue to show us that our care for the community is evident and appreciated. There are many changes that have come about in our industry as a result of the coronavirus, just as there have been in almost every business. We are trying to make sure we keep you informed on these changes as they happen, while serving you to our best ability. The real estate industry is one of constant change, even when times are not challenging, so please know we are confident and ready to accommodate these changes as they happen. 14 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

The next big challenge will be bringing back our economy after this shut down. We are grateful to say that we continue to see new home sales and new listings, as well as, good movement in the commercial division. This gives us confidence that, despite the challenges, people are still moving forward with their plans and still continuing to bring industry to our area. We know there will be many hurdles in the coming months, and maybe years, but we know that Northeast Louisiana is resilient and creative. We have weathered many challenges in the past and will continue to approach this catastrophe in much the same way… with a fighting spirit. John Rea Realty 1901 Royal Ave. Monroe, LA (318) 388-0941 “It was wonderful working with Barbara Thomas and Elizabeth Freeman to sell our home. During these difficult times we were unsure how the process would work and if we would even be able to get it done. After a week of having our house listed with John Rea Realty we had an excepted offer. Barbara and Elizabeth were in constant communication with us and kept us updated on everything. Truly loved working with them.” -Amanda S. April 25, 2020 “Brian is the best in the business! From beginning to end, he made us feel like we were his only client. Brian’s marketing abilities are incredible. Our house had more than 10 showings in the first week, and it was under contract in just 8 days! Every step of the way, Brian gave us realistic expectations, and he delivered in every way. If you are looking for a true professional, who is honest and has a firm grasp on the market, Brian Bendily is your realtor. -Matt April 15, 2020 “I thought Linda is a great real estate agent. She helped me and my wife by going out of her way to get answers we would have. And we had a bunch of them but she never seemed to get annoyed and just did a great job. -David F. March 31, 2020




ay is really the month to get outside and get our gardens and landscapes into apple pie order. There’s so much to be done this month, it’s hard to know where to start! POLLINATOR GARDENS With the spring bloom comes the spring nectar flow. Consider planting an area of your landscape specifically for attracting a variety of pollinators. Give special consideration to butterflies and honeybees. Butterflies will need plants for both feeding and for laying eggs. The use of milkweed by monarchs is well known. But, other butterfly species will be attracted to your yard or garden if you plant the right things. Giant swallowtails will use citrus trees, spicebush swallowtails will use spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and sassafras (Sassafras albidum). Black swallowtails will use dill, parsley, fennel, rue, and Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota). You may notice a more productive vegetable garden if you can attract bees. Beans, cucumbers, and squash always attract a variety of insects. For flower beds, bee-friendly bulbs include flowering onions (Allium sp.), grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum), and openpollinated varieties of daffodil (Narcissus spp.). Flowering perennials that will attract honeybees include anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), cornflower (Centaurea cyanis), goldenrod (Solidago sp.), and fall asters (Symphiotrichum spp.). Bee-friendly herbs include borage (Borago officinalis), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), mint (Mentha spp.), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), rue (Ruta graveolens), and thyme (Thymus sp.). A surprising number of native trees are good honeybee attractors. These include red maple, American holly (male and female plants), black locust, eastern redbud, tulip poplar,


magnolias, sycamore, and interestingly, Chinese tallow tree. Yes, it’s an invasive, exotic tree. But it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, so we might as well make the best of it. The real stars of the show in spring are seeds. If you’re gardening for the first time or are still a relative newbie, locally purchased seeds are the way to go. Our local garden centers and hardware stores are excellent sources for quality seeds. Have you noticed the resurgence in popularity of many heirloom varieties of flowers and vegetables? Variety names like Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon, Brandywine tomato, Musselburg leeks, balsam Impatiens, and many more are all becoming more and more popular. Seeds are remarkable things. They can be as large as coconuts or as small as grains of sand or smaller. One of my professors in graduate school explained that seeds were basically babies with a blanket and a bottle. That is, a seed contains an embryonic plant (the baby) that is supplied with a temporary source of nutrition (the bottle) and is

enclosed in a protective coating (the blanket). So, the analogy seems pretty accurate. I’ve always considered starting plants from seeds a daunting prospect. My grandfather, however, had it down to a science. He had his own little version of the Manhattan Project going on in his greenhouse, which was a greenhouse in only the academic sense. He could have tomato seeds germinated in as little as three days! But, when you think about some basic principles of plant biology, starting seeds shouldn’t be scary. Just as seeds come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, seeds also have a wide range of environmental requirements for germination. Also, just because you read it in a book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the gospel truth. For example, I can tell you from personal experience that certain bags of soil are labeled specifically as seed starting




mixes, but they may not work out that way. A lot of that “organic seed starting medium” contains sticks and twigs and chunks of so-called soil that are so large that a germinating seed could never penetrate the surface. I’ve also encountered the other end of the range; some are so finely ground that the powder-like medium is impossible to wet. Water just beads and rolls right off. Also, in my opinion, your seedsowing medium, whatever it may be, does not have to be sterile. A sterile medium may be preferred, but certainly isn’t required. The soil in a forest surely isn’t sterile. Yet, plenty of seeds still germinate in a forest. Depending on what plant you’re trying to grow, certain seeds have certain requirements for germination. Some require light for germination and should be sown by simply scattering on the soil’s surface and barely scratched in or otherwise sown very shallowly. Seeds of lettuce and celery are examples. Still, others require total darkness and germinate best when sown anywhere from 1/8 of an inch to 1 inch deep. Many seeds also require a period of stratification. That is, they need to be chilled for a certain period of time before germination. This can usually be accomplished by keeping the seeds in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Typically, by the time you purchase seeds, they have already been subjected to this simulated winter, a necessity for the embryo to break dormancy and become metabolically active. Many seeds also need to be subjected to scarification, which allows water to penetrate the seed coat, a process called imbibition, and for oxygen/ carbon dioxide gas exchange. This, in turn, allows the conversion of starches into simple sugars to take place so the embryonic plant can grow. Scarification can be as simple as soaking seeds in water for twenty four hours, like with okra and moonflower (Ipomea alba) seeds, or as complex as physically breaking the protective seed coat with a file or with nail clippers. My grandfather soaked his okra seeds in kerosene for two hours before planting them. The LSU AgCenter heartily suggests you not do this, especially if you like to puff a cigar while you’re outdoors like I do. Some seeds, and this is mostly in non-cultivated plants, will not germinate unless they’ve first passed through the digestive tract of an animal. So, if a persimmon tree or blackberry vine seems oddly out of place, remember that’s what fruits are for: to entice a critter with a sweet tooth to munch the fruit and disperse the seed in the process. The seed packet should tell you everything you need to know in terms of germination requirements, so it’s worth a glance before setting

“The seed packet should tell you everything you need to know in terms of germination requirements, so it’s worth a glance before setting yourself up for disappointment.” yourself up for disappointment. Many seeds can be sown directly into the garden, be they flower or vegetable. And, don’t worry if you don’t see anything for a while. Some seeds take weeks to germinate. When they do, you’ll see the embryonic root, or radicle, first. Either one or two seed leaves, or cotyledons, depending on whether you’re germinating a monocot, like a grass, or a dicot, like a bean, will soon follow. Cotyledons are the baby’s bottle so to speak, and will nourish the embryonic plant until the first set of true leaves develops. Then, the alchemy of photosynthesis will take over feeding the young plant. Before you know it, that tiny seed will have produced a fully grown plant. In a coming issue, I hope to have good news to report about some watermelon seeds that are almost twenty years old. More on that later! So, let’s be grateful for spring’s renewal and take time to get outside, get your hands dirty, and watch the outdoors come alive again! Good luck, and good gardening! For advice on how to make your garden thrive, click on the Louisiana Living link under News at and submit your questions. I’ll answer them every Tuesday on Louisiana Living!



Dieffenbachia This houseplant is one of our favorites. Also known as the dumb cane, this plant is recognized for it’s brilliantly-hued folliage. As the lower leaves drop, the can bottom is more apparent. Photo by Kelly Moore Clark.

plant CARE HOW MUCH LIGHT DOES IT NEED? Bright, indirect sunlight with protection from the sun is preferred. Dieffenbachia puts out new leaves in the spring and summer, during this time it is especially important to keep it under filtered light so the leaves don’t burn. W H E N TO WAT E R ? This tropical plant loves high humidity. Dieffenbachia likes a moist, yet well-drained soil. Allow the soil to dry out about an inch below the surface before watering again, making sure it’s not soggy. Note: Parts of these plants are poisonous to humans and pets, so an oozing dieffenbachia may be harmful. Always wear gloves when handling Dieffenbachia.


Waffles however you please. These homemade gluten-free waffles were rolled in cinnamon and raw coconut sugar hot out of the waffle iron. Next, drizzle with coconut caramel sauce and top with coconut whipped cream.





s a professional organizer, I teach my clients that uncluttering and sorting are the first steps to take before the organizing process can really begin. But, you have to have a plan that works for you and your family. The good news is that it does not have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn’t be! If a procedure is too complex, the least likely you will keep it up. When I organize for a client, I try to create simple yet effective systems that work. Generally, I follow a few “basics” that I am going to share with you today. Please enjoy! EVERYTHING MUST HAVE A HOME. The first basic of organizing is that everything must have a home. After all, the number one reason that items don’t get put away properly is because they do not have a permanent, well-defined, and easily-accessible home. To find the perfect place for an item, ask yourself “Where would I be most likely to look for this when I need it?” You want items in the most logical place, so you may also need to consider how often and where you use them. If you currently have a home for specific items, but those items are not being used, now is the time to ask yourself why. Perhaps they are not conveniently located, or you are no longer in need of the item. Finding the perfect home for all items that are loved and used is what will help keep you beautifully organized. WORK WITH YOUR CLUTTER. If you take a good look at the things that are currently lying around in your home, they will give you a clue about what systems you need to put in place immediately. For instance, is your dining room table or kitchen counter the dumping ground for anything and everything that comes through the door? If so, you are not alone. This is a common problem among many of my clients. To combat the disorder of the space, I suggest creating specific work centers for each activity. Here are a few examples of specific zones that I usually find in the kitchen and dining areas of a home: 1. Mail-sorting station. This could be as simple as a wicker basket or as elaborate as a mudroom-inspired landing zone. 2. Homework zone. Set up everything that is typically needed during a homework session and have the space ready. Again, this can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it. I have done everything from setting a basket on an empty chair to corral homework items to creating a whole desk area inside of the dining room. The trick is to make it easy and doable.

3. Arts and crafts station. I suggest creating a bin to hold everything that you need to complete one project at a time and find a permanent home for the rest. Not only will this save space on your dining room table, but it will also help you finish a project instead of starting many. Designate clutter-free zones. There are some areas, such as the dining room and bedrooms, that should be clutter free. The way I see it, we should all be able to sit down as a family and eat dinner, and we should each have a sanctuary to call our own. Your sanctuary should be a place you can go to read, write, and/or think in privacy. You can do very little in a cluttered area.

CONTAIN AND COMPARTMENTALIZE. Use containers, trays, and bins to organize everything. You want to place all like items together in one container, for instance, so that they are easy to find and easy to replace. Bins with lids are great for making use of vertical space. I too often see vertical space that is not being utilized properly. Stackable bins will rectify this issue quickly. Compartmentalizing makes it so easy to see, and therefore, use everything that you have. And that is the point, right? You want nothing in your home that you don’t love and use. LABEL EVERYTHING. You can contain and compartmentalize until your heart’s content, but if you don’t know what is inside of those bins and baskets, it is useless. Be sure to add labels to everything that you contain. No matter if you think you will remember what is inside of them or not. It is much easier to know what is inside of a bin at a glance instead of trying to remember. Think of all of that time you will save, too. There isn’t a second to waste. THIS IS A LIFESTYLE. Finally, the most important basic rule of being organized is that it is a lifestyle. You must make organizing a priority and a habit. You must change your habits to create the lifestyle of being organized. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So there you have them. My “basics” of getting and staying organized. Which one resonated with you the most? Please share with me!


Alumni Spotlight ULM Alumnus: AJ Siggers


GRADUATE OF BALL HIGH SCHOOL IN GALVESTON, Texas, AJ Siggers played football and baseball, but his heart was always with baseball. After competing in a Louisiana vs. Texas All Star football game, AJ was introduced to a ULM coach and offered a preferred walk-on position at ULM in the fall of 2003. He eventually found his way onto the ULM baseball team as a starting outfielder. He figured if he was going to ride the bench, it best be in his preferred sport, but his hard work and commitment to athletics paid off. Academically, AJ initially pursued aviation, before changing his major to General Studies to really ponder his next move. His mother worked for an accounting firm and had always praised the work of CPAs, so AJ ventured into accounting. He graduated from ULM in 2008 with a double major in Accounting and Finance. The relationships he built on the ULM baseball field along with his education at ULM continue to influence his business endeavors today. Ms. Patti Roshto was AJ’s introductory accounting teacher. She was nice and caring, and made AJ feel welcome in the discipline. Ms. Roshto’s daughter Dr. Aleecia Hibbits taught AJ his junior year and also served as his advisor. Dr. Michelle McEacharn taught upperlevel accounting courses, and her approach was more professionally driven and required students to prepare themselves for the classroom. In hindsight, AJ realizes Dr. McEacharn was transitioning students for the workforce, demanding more responsibility to create better professionals. AJ’s time at ULM enforced personal responsibility; he learned his future success depended on how well he performed. College afforded him the time and space to adjust to that reality. Sports required AJ’s full time commitment. The team was his fraternity. Coming from out of state, the relationships formed on the field have been essential to his direction after college. That kinship among teammates helped AJ ween homesickness. Many of the other players were far from home as well, some from the New Orleans area where AJ’s mother was raised. He realized how small the world actually is. Coach Holland was the head coach when AJ joined the baseball team, with Coach Shake as assistant. Coach Trahan was the outfield hitting coach and had a special way of reaching the players. AJ learned the importance of a team, of working together, and that knowledge has helped him develop successful business relationships ever since. His first job after graduation was with a CPA firm, a contact from the baseball team. AJ married Mary Francis Ardoin, a fellow ULM alumnus. who graduated in 2008 in Business Adminstration. The two actually 24 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

met during their time at ULM and married in 2011. The following year, they had a daughter Aubrey, who was born prematurely at 31 weeks. Weighing only 3 pounds, she spent a month in the NICU. Tax season was in full swing, and AJ’s job required a lot of overtime hours that he needed to spend with his family. The experience opened AJ’s eyes to what mattered most, and he began to fall out of love with doing taxes. He needed a professional change, one that suited a young family that needed daddy home more. AJ ventured into the banking world via another baseball contact, Scott McDonald, now Athletic Director at ULM. AJ spent a year doing credit analysis for OIB before the bank merged and he began looking elsewhere for more stable employment. He then took an accounting position with Blue Heron Homes, forming a business partnership with owner James Reneau and David Sorrell for future projects. His time spent at ULM has come full circle at this point in his career. He, along with Reneau, served as the project managers and oversaw the construction of the Laird Weems Center, home of the ULM Foundation and the Alumni Association on campus. Part owner of Blue Group Construction, Eason Manufacturing, and now Custom Carpets, AJ knows the value of building and maintaining positive relationships in the business world. He is thankful for the more relaxed lifestyle his career affords him and his family. Though not a born and raised Monrovian, AJ considers Monroe his home. He particularly sees the positive effects of a local university on businesses within the community. He is proud ULM is his alma mater, and wishes even more people would recognize the advantages of having a university in our backyard. AJ and Mary Francis purchase season tickets to baseball, football, and basketball games at ULM and support the school in any way they can. Being a good citizen of a community means giving back, and supporting our local university is one way to directly influence the immediate world around us. The ULM Alumni Association reaches, connects and celebrates alumni and friends to build lifelong relationships, and commit to the university’s missions of academic freedom, scholarship, diversity, excellence, integrity and service. We represent alumni who honor the traditions of our university and who share a sense of achievement and pride. We create a network of professionals, establish scholarships and advocate for our University through community engagement. Members of the Alumni Association support countless initiatives, and annual memberships are just $35. To learn more or to become a member, please visit our new alumni network at

OUTSIDE IS IN and Inside is Out “We have no longer an outside and an inside as two separate things. Now the outside may come inside and inside may and does go outside. They are of each other. Form and function thus become one in design and execution if the nature of materials and method and purpose are all in unison.” Frank Lloyd Wright




here is no doubt that getting out of doors will lift your spirits and change your mood. Just sitting in an old lawn chair can be fun if you add a soft pillow and bring a good book… search through your library of favorites and leaf through the pages again. Our favorite: French Flair (modern vintage interiors) by Sebastien Siraudeau. This thick volume is a collection of photographs taken throughout rural France. But, even a novel can be reread, and you’ll be surprised at the details you may have missed on the

first read through. Trees, plants and greenery in the spring are so beautiful, but if you need a bit more green, mimic @lindaandwinks and surround yourself with easy indoor potted varieties. African Violets are a favorite in the kitchen or anywhere the light is adequate and these sweeties bloom reliably and are easy to grow. What a reward when the flowers appear. Bike riding has become a bit of an obsession these days and our great suggestion is keep your bicycle inside (yes, as an art object!)

This will keep it clean and ready to go and also as a reminder to take it for a spin. Whether vintage or brand new it is a treasure, MARGARET ANN ZETNER (home for a bit) has a new turquoise beauty with matching basket for spring cruising. MARK ASHBY has sent us so many handwritten cards over the years and they are saved so we can easily leaf through them. We could never throw them away as they represent a friendship of the written word… meaning pen on paper, a postage stamp and walk to the post.


Bayou Pages


“She’d learned that the beginning of one’s life mattered the most, that life was too heavy in that way.” This family saga by Keane is the fictional story of two families, who begin as neighbors in 1973 New York. The husbands, both rookie police officers, work in the same precinct briefly, but then are reassigned and only have contact over their respective fences. Their wives struggle to communicate, instead, hearing about each other’s lives via the friendship of their children, Peter and Kate. The twosome forms an incredible bond that is abruptly ended when one of them is forced to move away in the 8th grade due to a tragic event. This story is about friendship, hardship, longing, love, and ultimately, forgiveness. Peter’s mother struggles with mental illness, a condition rarely discussed or acknowledged at the time. Peter’s father chooses to ignore the episodes, as if not responding can will them to stop. Peter and Kate, while the children of the adults in the novel, serve more as the authority figures of the story, seeming more attuned to the realities of life than their parents. Their bond is cemented by their shared experience, and their varied reactions to the trauma of the incident speaks to the truth of how one person feels can vary greatly from another. The story follows both the parents and Peter


and Kate over the next 45 years, showing us how the events in one’s childhood can shape the rest of one’s life. Keane’s writing style is slow and methodical. It is not plot driven, but more so centered on character development. We meet these people, are intrigued by their differences and curious how they will interact. We find hope in the bond between their children. Some may call this book heavy, and that’s accurate in that there is this ominous tone throughout, as if we’re waiting for something worse to happen. As I was reading, each day I pictured in my mind was cloudy, as if the sun refused to shine on this story. Hard truths are expressed, and Keane does so without telling readers how to feel. The characters just are who they are, slowly discovering their vices and limitations, and coming to understand the beauty of love and the reality of it rarely being a fairytale. Keane’s writing is smart, yet subtle. She touches on the harder parts of life with grace and dignity, without sugar-coating anything. This is her third novel and is listed by several publications as one of the best books of 2019. At 400 pages, it is one of the books readers can get lost in, for quite some time. It is not in search of a happy ending, but rather an appropriate one that explains the unique title of the book.

Bayou Pages

NIGHTSTANDS & COFFEE TABLES “Whisper Network” by Chandler Baker REVIEW BY MEREDITH MCKINNIE “How did we know when behavior was inappropriate? We just did. Any woman over the age of fourteen probably did. Believe it or not, we didn’t want to be offended.” The debut adult novel by Baker sizzles with sharp wit, intriguing narrative plot points, and timely commentary about the workplace for women in America. Having experienced the difficult climb up the corporate ladder, Chandler Baker sought to meld a bit of her own experience at the age of 24, with countless stories of women in her position. Instead of telling her own tale, or theirs, she melded the lives of five fictional characters, some on their way up, conditioned to question the other’s success, suspect of their own choices and accomplishments, and what or what does not constitute harassment. The five characters: Sloane, Grace, Ardie, Katherine, and Rosalita, are all working at Truviv, Inc. when their boss, soon to be named CEO Ames, jumps to his death from the high-rise building where they all work. Sloane, Grace, and Ardie are seasoned attorneys at the corporation; Katherine is a newly hired attorney with a checkered past at her last firm, and Rosalita is the night-worker accustomed to cleaning their offices and wondering about the lives of women with more opportunities than she ever had. The narrative unfolds delicately, balancing each woman’s experience, backstory, and deposition with attorneys after a handful of them file suit against the company for ignoring complaints against Ames, shortly before


his untimely death. This book is about the shame women put on themselves for being preyed upon and the shame they put on each other for not speaking up sooner. It is about ambition, pride, self-preservation, and the reality of working while also being a woman. Baker writes with a sharpness that feels like it’s cutting to the core of who we are and what we are willing to accept. As women, we read this knowing the truth behind our own experiences, and yet doubting the truth of others. We are conditioned to keep quiet and groomed to speak out. We know the safety of staying out of the limelight of conspiracy and battle the urge to fight against what we know in our core is wrong. It’s hard to read this novel without some experience resonating, thinking that has happened to me too, but I wouldn’t react that way, I wouldn’t go that far. We judge ourselves by the choices we made and choices we insist we would never make. As readers, we inevitably judge these women, and then resent the fact that they are being judged. It makes us question what we know to be true, what we know we have felt, and what we’ve allowed to persist with our silence. The novel is timely, in that women are finding their voices, refusing to stay silent when they feel the product of injustice. It is also timely, in a time when so many have the courage to speak out, so many of us refuse to believe them. This novel is not so much about women versus men, as much as it is about what is more convenient to believe and why.

Setting the Mood


HAVEN Haven has a beautiful collection of hand selected gifts for all ages. Influenced by classic interior design styles, Haven offers bedding and home accessories for practical living.

WOODSTOCK GARDEN AND GIFT Expertly curated with home goods, garden and gifts, Woodstock offers everything from nature-inspired paintings, to natural textiles, unique furnishings and plants.

PALETTE HOUSE Textures and colors from nature combine with quality, handmade elements to add a one-of-a-kind touch to your home. Let Palette House transform your home into a calm and serene space.

MATERIAL THINGS Joyce Sims has a knack for combining textures and elements to create interesting design. Whether it’s pairing Oriental with Occidental, modern with ancient or abstract with traditional, Material Things offers something for everyone.

Office Technology Provider Committed to Customer Satisfaction, Community Involvement, and Their People WHO IS RJ YOUNG? RJ Young continues to grow their brand of customer-centered business solution services in Louisiana a year after moving into the market. Despite being a newcomer, the company has been in business for more than 60 years. RJ Young was founded in Nashville, Tennessee as a printing company in 1955 and has flourished as an IT services, office solutions, and technology dealership, with $127 million in sales and backed by 30 locations across nine states. RJ Young is recognized as the largest independent office technology dealer in the Southeast. The acquisition of Automated Imaging Systems, AIS, in Monroe in 2019 further expanded RJ Young’s footprint throughout the southeast, moving into the state of Louisiana for the first time. RJ Young helps modern professionals become more successful in their businesses with solutions to securely manage paper and digital information and empowers businesses with leading printing technologies. Through the decades, RJ Young remains committed to their customers by living up to their corporate tagline: “Your productivity is our mission.” WHAT DOES RJ YOUNG PROVIDE? RJ Young is an IT services and office solutions company that provides managed IT services, managed print services, process automation, document management, office equipment, interactive whiteboards, wide format equipment, remote monitoring, outsourced printing, promotional products, apparel, audio visual, phone systems, and more. RJ Young carries the Canon, Océ, Ricoh, Lexmark, and HP lines. RJ Young prides itself on consistently delivering award-winning service to every customer and partnering with the best brands in the industry. Last year, RJ Young acquired three businesses: Automated Imaging Systems of Monroe, Louisiana, Business Electronics of Birmingham, Alabama, and Digitec of Jackson, Mississippi. By acquiring these businesses, RJ Young was able to bring additional services such as software, production print, and managed print to these businesses to help them grow even further. CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND PEOPLE The center of RJ Young’s business is customer satisfaction, community involvement, and their people. With a community-centric mindset, RJ Young proactively seeks out new opportunities to make an impact on the local economy through investments and partnerships with local charities. As part of their core values, they are committed to investing resources back into the communities they serve. They are continuously seeking 36 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

ways to invest in their community, increase community involvement, and partner with other family-owned and operated businesses. Through all of their activities, RJ Young seeks to provide: • 100% customer satisfaction • Office solutions that exceed customers’ expectations • An environment where employees can achieve their personal and professional goals within a profitable organization •O pportunities to utilize resources as an investment in the community Every product and service they offer is backed by their “We Make It Right™” guarantee: “If you are not happy with our equipment, service, supplies, billing, or anything, let us know and we will make it right, right away.” With over 650 employees, RJ Young also strives to provide an environment where its employees can achieve personal and professional goals, exceed customers’ expectations, and utilize their resources as an investment in the community. UNPARALLELED CUSTOMER SERVICE RJ Young takes pride in offering unparalleled customer service, as well as additional opportunities with their products and services that other dealers don’t offer. For example, in-house leasing is available for all products they sell, giving financial flexibility to businesses so they are able to adjust and accommodate for future growth. RJ Young’s in-house leasing program provides customized leasing options for businesses’ specific needs, with a guarantee for the duration of the partnership. Businesses are also given the option to upgrade to newer, improved equipment at the end of each leasing term, giving them the latest technology. RJ Young is always searching for ways to optimize efficiency for a customer and deliver true solutions. RJ Young’s approach is more than just quoting and being the low-cost provider- they invest time and resources to find solutions for their customers. This philosophy extends to their service technicians and salespeople who both have the ability and authority to do the right thing. WHAT IS ON THE HORIZON FOR RJ YOUNG IN LOUISIANA? The company is in the midst of a very exciting time, with a focus on expanding their presence in the Louisiana market and rolling out new products and services. As RJ Young continues to grow within Louisiana, they strive to stay true to their core values. These principles will be the guiding force for any future acquisition activity. For more information on the products and services RJ Young provides, please visit, call 800-347-1955, or email RJ Young has offices in Monroe, and Alexandria, Louisiana.

Trail Ridge Townhomes A Sound Investment Starting at $159,900


OCATED JUST NORTH OF I-20 IN RUSTON, TRAIL RIDGE Townhomes offer a unique architectural design with modern 890 square foot floor plans. “When we started this development, we set out to provide a home for college students that simply isn’t currently available,” said Jott Delcambre. Jott and his business partner, Dicky Nealy, envisioned the project with local Louisiana Tech students in mind. “We really studied what was on the market and the options were extremely limited. They included older homes that require significant work, and homes built more than 20 years ago with concrete floors, formica countertops, and showing signs of age.” said Jott, who has years of experience as a local developer, including building and managing apartment complexes. “Another option for students is staying in a dorm room, with shared parking and no inhouse laundry room, and still costs around $600 a month. With a starting purchase price of $159,900 for a townhome in Trail Ridge, a parent can buy a luxury townhome for around $800 a month. They would have their own kitchen, laundry room, parking and more. In addition, they are building equity and owning a piece of property they can potentially sell with a profit, or use as investment rental for the future. While purchasing a townhome in Trail Ridge makes perfect sense for a college student, they certainly aren’t limited to college students. With the appeal of low-maintenance yards, smaller living space and affordability, they have found that Trail Ridge is the perfect home for retired residents, working professionals, married couples and more. People want new construction because they want the latest features and amenities…and that is just what Trail Ridge offers. With granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, a top of the line security system, vinyl plank flooring and crown molding, Trail Ridge has it all. “In a nutshell, Trail Ridge are small, energy efficient, highend, low maintenance condos,” said Jott. When it comes to investments, real estate is always a sound investment, that doesn’t necessarily follow the trends of the stock market. “Here in Ruston, we have seen an approximate 3 percent growth in appreciation in residential real estate year after year,” explains Dicky, realtor and broker at Lincoln Realty. “And with


interest rates at historic lows, that just adds to the value of purchasing a townhome now in Trail Ridge.” Trail Ridge Townhomes will be move in ready this month and they have a starting price of $159,900. Each townhome has the same floor plan with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a small fenced backyard area. They are located minutes away from LA Tech and are in walking distance to the Rock Island Greenway Trail from Cook Park. Some of the features include: • Architectural Controls • Underground Utilities • Lawn Maintenance Including Irrigation • Curbed and Guttered Streets • Cable • Granite Countertops • Stainless Appliances • Fenced Yards • Security Systems • Fiber Optics • Sidewalks • Landscaped Front Areas • All City Services • HOA Controlled To ensure the success of Trail Ridge Townhomes, Jott and Dicky are working with a Lincoln Realty agent that is also heavily invested in the Ruston community, Bobbie Dyer. “I am excited for this opportunity with Trail Ridge Townhomes. In addition to the location and amenities, this is a great investment with our current low interest rates,” said Bobbie. If you are interested in setting up an appointment to look at Trail Ridge Townhomes, call Lincoln Realty at 318-255-7480 or contact Bobbie Dyer at 318-245-3178. You can also take a virtual tour by scanning the QR code on the adjacent page or visiting

Cedar Creek Pre-K

Play-Based Learning Prepares Cougars for Academic Success


ELPING THREE AND FOUR YEARolds “fall in love with school at the very start” is how Pre-K teacher Mallory Hall describes her mission as an early childhood educator. Hall, a 2005 Cedar Creek alumna and Louisiana Tech graduate (B.S., 2009), teaches one of three Pre-K classes in the school’s Early Learning Center. The all-day program features small class sizes and a curriculum designed to promote learning through play. Students move through interactive centers based on academic, social, and cultural themes—meteorology, Michelangelo, Mardi Gras. Field trips and activities like Bubble Day, Fall Festival, and the Teddy Bear Picnic enhance classroom learning and create a year of memories that children (and parents) treasure. “We intertwine work centers with social and creative play each day,” Hall said. “Pre-K is most passionate about creating a safe environment that helps children have fun as they explore and learn.” Hall remembers fondly her own childhood experiences at Cedar Creek. “Cedar Creek has been a huge part of my life since I began my journey here at 5 years old,” Hall said of her decision to return to her alma mater after college. “I knew I wanted my daughter to experience all the traditions and receive the same amazing education I did. I couldn’t wait to have my family back at the Creek!” It is the school’s family atmosphere that draws many former Cougars back to Ruston and Cedar Creek. Lauren Warren (B.S., Northwestern State University) said, “Cedar Creek is like home, and I couldn’t wait to get back here to teach. I knew I wanted my children to go here because it is such a fabulous school.”


Warren, Hall, and Meagan Stephenson (B.A. Louisiana Tech) have more than three decades of combined experience in early childhood education. The trio say collaboration, a well-trained staff (including three full-time teacher assistants) and continued professional learning are essential to the program’s success, making it clear that play-based instruction is not just fun and games. “We prepare children for kindergarten through a rigorous program that includes math, science, fine motor activities, and social interaction,” Stephenson said. “Every unit is designed with skill development in mind.” Warren said most Pre-K students are reading and writing by the time they finish the program. “We teach letters and letter sounds and work on writing,” she said. “We also incorporate technology into our lessons to give students new ways to create and share.” That technology has become even more important as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the school’s transition to virtual learning. During the statewide quarantine, teachers have been meeting with students and parents online, teaching virtual lessons in math and science, reading stories, designing art and music projects, and much more. Because our teachers were already using technology platforms in the classroom, we were prepared for the transition to virtual learning,” said Karen Roberson (M.A., Louisiana Tech), Cedar Creek assistant principal and elementary coordinator. “Of course we miss that face-toface interaction, but our teachers have done a wonderful job maintaining connections with our students and families and supporting fun learning at home.” When students do return to campus,

Stephenson said everyone looks forward to continuing the popular Cougar traditions and events that make the Creek environment so special. “At Cedar Creek we are a family,” she said, “and we encourage and love parental involvement.” A few weeks before the quarantine, Pre-K hosted its most popular event: the annual Mardi Gras Parade. Each year, parents design colorful miniature floats and costumes, and students ride through campus throwing beads, candy, and trinkets to parade goers. Even the high schoolers get involved, lining up early to get a great spot to watch. “Our whole school spends the morning supporting these sweet children,” Hall said. “It is my favorite event.” Roberson said Cedar Creek’s PK-12 environment offers many ways to build community, including campus favorites like pep rallies, Read Across America Week, Socka-Saurus Day, and the Pre-K Trike-A-Thon for St. Jude’s. Hall said the best thing about teaching Pre-K is forming lasting relationships with her first-year Cougars and their families. “My students become like my own babies during the school year,” she said. Cedar Creek’s Pre-K program follows an 8 a.m.–3 p.m. schedule, with daily recess, lunch in the school’s Dining Center, and after-care available until 5:30 p.m. The school has a fulltime resource officer and registered nurse on campus. Now enrolling for the 2020-21 school year! For more, visit or email Leeanne Bordelon at lbordelon@cedarcreekschool. org.


Fishing With Kenny

Prepare for What Might Go Wrong... Because One Day it Will article by K E N N Y C OV I NGT ON


enjamin Franklin coined the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In my mind there is no doubt that he was an outdoor person. If your passion is hunting and/or fishing then you probably have your share of “what can go wrong, will go wrong” stories. Fortunately, a lot of these mishaps can be fixed or even avoided with just a little bit of preparation. Unfortunately, a lack of preparation can turn a simple problem into a bigger issue. Having fished tournaments over a span of five decades I must admit it isn’t often I am surprised while on the water. I have always prided myself on being able to deal with the controlled variables of my sport but I have also taken a lot of pride in being prepared for the variables that I can’t control. Only once have I ever had to quit fishing a tournament early due to a mechanical malfunction. I try to think of what might happen and prepare for just that very thing. However, some things are unavoidable. A blown engine. A broken trolling motor shaft. These things can and will happen if you fish long enough. But what about things such as running out of gas or batteries going dead? These are avoidable mishaps. Always check to see if you need to put gas in your boat or fourwheeler. Check and maintain your batteries, especially if you don’t use your boat very often. A little preparedness would go a long way! Some common problems I have witnessed over the years are also the ones I believe to be the easiest to avoid. A broken trolling motor prop is a good example. While fishing with a long-time friend of mine once, his trolling motor prop broke. I asked him where he kept his spare prop and he told me he didn’t have 42 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

one. I asked him why and he said, “I have never broken one before so I never thought of buying a spare.” To add insult to injury, had he had a spare prop, he didn’t have the tools needed to change it out. If you spend a lot of time on the water there is no reason you shouldn’t have a spare trolling motor prop as well as a spare prop for your main engine as well. However, you also need the proper tools to change them. By now you may be asking yourself “what are some things I should keep with me to keep a small issue from becoming a day killer?” The first thing, since we have already spoke of them, regardless if you are a hunter or fisherman, you should always keep a good supply of tools handy. If you know your sport, you should be familiar with the pitfalls that may come your way and be able to keep the necessary tools to help with the most common scenarios. When it comes to tools, remember, you will always need several sizes and styles of pliers, a few special application sockets and a set of screwdrivers. With those few things you can do a lot. What about electrical issues? A good electrical connector kit, a roll of electrical tape and a set of crimpers are must haves. Often this is all that is needed to fix a bad connection or a loose wire that may keep your trolling motor from working or your live-well pumps from working properly. Most electrical issues in a boat or outdoor based, once they are discovered, can be easily fixed if you have the proper equipment. One of the most important things to always have in your possession is a good first aid kit. The importance of this can’t be stressed enough. A few years ago, while fishing a tournament I accidently stabbed myself in the

thumb with the sharp point of a culling ball. Once I was able to dislodge it from my thumb my immediate thought was to wrap it up as tight as I could so I could stop the bleeding. While I am not much of a medical professional, I was able to keep a bad situation from becoming a lot worse. Without a good first aid kit, I could have been in a lot of trouble. Since we are in the outdoors all the time, what about clothes? Well, that’s a great question. I have always kept extra clothes in my truck at all times. During the winter months I keep spare clothes, including socks, in my boat. I also keep an extra pair of gloves in case the ones I am wearing get wet. Once you get cold wet hands or feet without a way to get them warm and dry, your day is done. Rainy weather presents its own set of issues depending on the time of year. I have two types of rain suits. One I use during the winter months as protection against the winter weather and cold winds, the other I use for normal rain suit purposes. Another thing to keep in your truck or boat is a good parka. It always comes in handy when your fishing partner forgot to bring his rain suit and a downpour is looming. It may not keep them completely dry but it will at least keep them from getting totally soaked. Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, extra boat plugs, for both inside the transom and outside, can be a life-savers. A survival kit, while it may seem extreme, is something more and more people are carrying with them. You just never know what may happen at any time when you are spending time outdoors. Extra life jackets are a good thing to have in case you need to loan one to someone who may have forgotten theirs. Sunglasses and Sahara hats should be mandatory in the hotter months of the year. Both make warm summer days on the water more pleasant and enjoyable. Here is something you may not have thought of, even if you don’t fish tournaments a good weigh-in bag is a good thing to keep in your boat. It will allow you to bail water if your bilge pump quits working or will let you fill your live-wells if your pumps go out. All of these things are simple additions that can make your time in the outdoors more enjoyable. Remember, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure! Well, it looks like we have run out of time and space for another month. Time sure flies when you are having fun! I sure hope we were able to help give you some ideas on ways to make your outdoor experiences safer and more enjoyable. Please be careful in the woods and on the water. Practice safety, use caution and be patient. See you next month!


IMAGINING FOR THE DREAMERS p h o to g r a p h y b y K E L LY M O O R E C L A R K ar ticle by MARÉ BRENNAN

You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one. magining a world without pediatric cancers seems hard to do, but when everyday people like you and I band together to support the incredible, day-in day-out work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the result is unmistakable. St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Though St. Jude costs an average of $2.8 million dollars a day to operate, patients and their families are never charged for their care. How can we in Northeast Louisiana support families here and around the country who turn to St. Jude to help them fight monstrous illnesses? One of the easiest first steps is to imagine yourself buying a ticket (or two) for a chance to win the 2020 St. Jude Dream home. Tickets are available online at www.dreamhome. org and go to the Monroe, LA tab or by calling (800) 726-9874. The giveaway will be broadcast locally on FOX 14 and KTVE 10 on June 18th. Located in the idyllic, luxury residential neighborhood of Egret Landing, this year’s St. Jude home is nestled between Bayou DeSiard and the Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to the Dream Home Giveaway, you could win a 2020 Kia Optima LX, courtesy of Sparks Kia and Dream Day Foundation. The 2020 Dream Home’s Lead Designer, Jan Hales Strickland, has dreamed up the perfect refuge filled with swoon-worthy appliances by Bosch, up-to-the-minute flooring and tile by Shaw Flooring, HVAC systems by Trane, and jewelry-like fixtures by Brizo, all national sponsors for St. Jude Dream Homes throughout the country. Teaming with Ray Bendily Designs to develop a Dream Home floor plan, Strickland’s 2020 version of a Contemporary Tudor home is sure to stand the test of time. Elegantly painted brick exteriors, a distinctive Tudor roofline with ridge tiles, and large paned windows that ensure interiors are flooded with light set the tone for a St. Jude Dream home to remember. With an estimated 2,600 square feet, the open concept home features a flexible 3 or 4 bedroom plan and 4 full baths, as well as a generous laundry room and covered outdoor living area.


Design and Coordination: Strickland Interiors, Jan Hales Strickland, Allied ASID Construction Contractor: Bradley Allen, BRACO Construction House Plans: Ray Bendily, Bendily Designs Landscaping: Bradley Hall, Riverside Landscaping Interior Staging Furnishings and Decor: Jo Tiffany Faulk, Sleepy Hollow Furniture Neighborhood: Egret Landing National Sponsors: Brizo, TRANE, Shaw Flooring


ith a legacy of building quality residential projects in northeast Louisiana, BRACO Construction never shies away from service to St. Jude, and this year’s home is the company’s ninth Dream Home to date with plans for 2021 already in progress. BRACO’s Bradley Allen relates that the timeline from slab to finished home is tight. This year’s Dream Home was built in a mind-blowing four months. Says Allen, “As contractor, we have to line everything up, and every part and subcontractor has to work perfectly together to meet our deadlines. The weather also plays a big factor. And we couldn’t have done this without Jan.” “This entire project is about teamwork — the whole building community and beyond — coming together for St. Jude and these families affected by childhood cancer,” adds Strickland. “Three years ago, when Bradley Allen of BRACO asked me to be the lead designer for the Dream Home, I immediately thought of my best childhood friend, Tiffany Greer, who was a St. Jude patient. She is always at the forefront of my mind when I do this project. Tiffany and I danced together from the time we were three years old, and almost every childhood memory I have involves Tiffany. Every year before dance recital we’d get tater tots with cheese from Sonic. Just before she passed away at age 16, she stopped me in the hallway at school to say she remembered my dad playing hide and seek with us and making chocolate milk for us,” remembers Strickland. “I want her to live on through this project. She is my inspiration.” Strickland designed a built-in niche with shelves incorporated into side of the staircase in the foyer where the double height ceiling soars. Photos of Strickland’s three childhood friends, Greer, Amber Tamburo and Claude Williams, who succumbed to childhood cancers are placed prominently on the shelves. Jo Tiffany Faulk, whose company, Sleepy Hollow, provided the furnishing and decor for staging the Dream Home says, “St. Jude means a lot to me personally. To know a child who has depended on St. Jude for survival is to change your perspective on faith and hope. To know the parents of that child is to change everything. Knowing what families walk through on their child’s cancer journey, I’m so thankful St Jude takes away the financial burden of medical costs for these families. A parent should never have to choose what’s best for their child’s survival based on what they can afford. Seeing what a powerful ministry St. Jude has been to a friend’s family keeps me motivated to do whatever I can as long as I can to raise money for St Jude Research Hospital.” Adds Bradley Allen, “My wife’s sister-in-law is a childhood cancer survivor thanks to St. Jude.” Practically everyone is touched by knowing a family who has benefitted from the groundbreaking research that takes place at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since actor and philanthropist Danny Thomas opened the doors in 1962. “Going to the St. Jude Dream Home Summit makes you thankful to play a part in providing funding for the hospital. These families are going through some really bad, rough times,” he says. Chris Fairley, BRACO’s construction manager on the Dream Home, adds, “Being a part of a good cause is what’s so special about being involved and seeing this project come to completion.” Both Fairley and Allen point to the garage floors, which are signed by the craftsmen who worked on the job, as well as some of the local St. Jude patients. Covering the floor are favorite Bible verses mingling with signatures and artwork created when the Dream Home hosted a signing party to kick off ticket sales. Explains Faulk about Sleepy Hollow’s long-standing role as a Dream Home Sponsor, “What I love about sponsoring this project each year is how each home has its own personality and style. I get to watch the entire process come to life from plans to furniture placement. When we meet at the home for each milestone, it reminds me of the milestones the children celebrate. We start with the ground breaking, sign the studs with prayers and encouraging words, and we sign the concrete with hope. Every milestone is worth celebrating. Just as these children need our encouragement all along the way, we stick with it and work together as a community to support these families through the work of the St. Jude Dream Home.” Sleepy Hollow has sponsored the Dream Home for the past 6 years. Says Faulk, “Staging the home is the final touch to help show off all the features of all the sponsors in the house. Once the house is staged, it feels like a home. To me, that’s when everyone’s hard work comes together and it truly becomes a dream home.”





Pro Tip: Strickland says one way she created a cohesive mood for the 2020 Dream Home was to limit her interior color palette to basically three key Sherwin-Williams paint colors: Tricorn Black (the high gloss used on doors and the kitchen island gives a dramatic lacquer-like look), Country Squire (a robust green selected to match the velvet sofa in the living area), and Alabaster (flat for walls with satin trim on moldings on interiors and was used as the exterior paint color on the brick). Remember: The same paint color in a different sheen like flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss or high gloss can take on different qualities in changing light, giving any one paint color lots of versatility. Through double barn doors to the right in the foyer upon entering the home, what could be a fourth bedroom is staged as a home office. Portraits of just a portion of the local children who are patients at St. Jude fill an entire wall behind the minimalistic desk on hairpin metal legs. Small Woods donated the frames and photos, which will be given to the patients’ parents after the Giveaway. The ceiling in the room is painted a robust green, providing the perfect foil for the gilded woven metal pendant lighting. Just off the study/bedroom is a full guest bath, which incorporates a herringbone patterned mosaic tile by Shaw that runs the length of the bathroom floor and continues up to the top of the shower/bath wall for a seamless floor to ceiling treatment. The two ends of the shower wall are covered in a mini subway tile with stunning, black Brizo fixtures in the tub/ shower and the vanity sink. A custom shower curtain sewn by Fabulous Fabrics finishes the look. The Egret Landing home is Strickland’s third St. Jude Dream Home as lead designer, and she is determined each

year to “push the limits and inspire our community with the latest items available in interior design.” Strickland notes that last year Bosch recognized the 2019 NELA Dream Home with a national award for their innovative use of the latest Bosch products. Not to disappoint, Strickland again chose top of the line Bosch appliances for this year’s home, including a luxury built-in stainless Bosch coffee machine, that makes baristastyle espressos, cappuccinos and so much more with the touch of a button. “I love that every year, we get something new to showcase in these homes,” adds Allen. The open concept living room, dining room and kitchen is made all the more unified through Strickland’s use of Shaw Flooring’s resilient, waterproof and vinyl-backed hardwood floor. The bleached walnut wide planks play a prominent role throughout the first floor. The same hardwood flooring but in a dark stained hue is incorporated throughout the home’s second floor with dramatic effect. Custom Carpets did all the expert Shaw Industries tile and flooring installation throughout the home. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 49

Pro Tip: Soft close drawers that were incorporated throughout the home created an added feeling of luxury. Whether in the kitchen or in the master closet, soft closing doors and drawers add to the restfulness of the Dream Home. In the kitchen, Via Lattea Marble sourced from Louisiana Stone and fabricated to a honed leather finish by Twin City Granite adds a graphic punch of black with striations of white to perimeter countertops. Rucker’s Custom Millwork built and installed cabinetry throughout while M&M Millworks built the cabinet doors and provided soft closing hinges and latches for the project. Strickland designed Shaker style cabinet doors, painted Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster, that stretch to the ceiling with glass doors on the uppermost cabinets. A white, hexagon tile backsplash paired with a dark grey grout adds visual interest. Strickland chose state-of-the-art stainless steel appliances from Bosch, including a built-in coffee and espresso maker, convenient double wall ovens, a gas stove, and counter-depth refrigerator with French doors, a full-width chiller drawer for commonly sought after items and a bottom freezer drawer. The oversized island is painted Sherwin-Williams’ Tricorn Black. An undermounted double sink of black porcelain is a striking counterpoint to the white Bianco Rhino marble. A Brizo faucet in black is accented with a gold nozzle for a luxe look which is repeated in the wall-mounted pot filler beneath the custom vent a hood faux finished by Amy Simmermaker with a gilded accent. Three pendant lights, designed by Progress Lighting and sourced from Coburn’s, provide ample task lighting above the island. A trio of metal counter stools and a cowhide rug complete the vision. A well-equipped, walk-in pantry provides even more storage for serving pieces, linens and essentials. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 51

The kitchen opens into a voluminous living area with vaulted ceilings and a fireplace feature wall bookended by built-in cabinetry beneath large windows covered in remote controlled Roman shades from Smith Blind and Awning. The fireplace surround was faux finished by Chad Sanders of Decorative Concrete Coatings and provides a contrasting focal point that lifts the eye toward the ceiling. A large abstract piece of art commands attention above the gas fireplace. Jan chose a rich, green velvet sofa from Sleepy Hollow to make a bold statement in the room which is illuminated by a modern sputnik-style chandelier. A neutral rug and gold-tinged accent and coffee tables help to create cozy conversation areas. It’s easy to imagine carrying the party outdoors with the covered patio accessed via the living room. Under foot, Decorative Concrete Coatings has created the look of slate tile. A stainless gas grill from O’Neal Gas keeps the chef happy and flipping steaks, while guests enjoy plump cushioned, swiveling lounge chairs and seating in an allweather rattan sourced from Sleepy Hollow.


Surrounded by the beauty of nature, out of doors is just as lovely as inside. Bradley Hall of Riverside Landscaping designed flower beds filled with native iris and grasses along with foundational plantings of boxwood, azaleas, sweet olive and Indian hawthorne and installed everything, included sod, in a record 2 days, using lights to lay the grass after the sun went down. When the weather isn’t agreeable, bring dinner and fun back inside. The dining room, designed by Jan, features a round table, perfect for lively dinner conversation, paired with upholstered chairs. She chose a graphic rug and accent vases to complete the chic look. Curtains were custom made by Fabulous Fabric and are hung from an acrylic rod. A large gold decorative mirror reflects light back into the space and hangs on an accent wall, which is painted SherwinWilliams’ Country Squire green. In the spacious laundry room which is located near the garage entrance, Strickland chose a black and white graphic patterned tile from Shaw Flooring and paired it with stunning black lacquered


Pro Tip: For added drama, doors throughout the home are extra tall and are painted a high-contrast, high gloss black (SW Tricorn Black). Gold-toned levers by Schlage were donated by Russell Moore and add a glamorous flair.

cabinetry topped with honed, leather-finished Via Lattea marble countertops. Laundry day is never a chore with an extra sink for soaking and upper cabinets for extra storage. Across from the laundry room, just as you enter the home from the garage, you’ll find a trio of built-in cubbies in the mudroom hallway, perfect for stashing book bags, athletic equipment or raincoats and boots. The master suite conveniently located on the first floor is accessed from the central hall by double barn doors which were custom crafted by BRACO’s Bradley Allen for this project. If a home can be likened to theatre where life unfolds, then Strickland has certainly set the stage for a life lived with luxurious appointments. Upping the ante, the ceiling is painted Tricorn Black creating a deep backdrop for a striking, pared down gold pendant. Fabulous Fabrics created custom privacy drapery in a neutral geometric pattern. A carved wooden bed, starburst mirror and nightstands from Sleepy

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to go big or bold! “I often encourage clients to just go for it,” says Strickland. “Why do it if it’s not a ‘Wow!’” The use of a bold accent color on a wall or built-in cabinet can make a room sing. Likewise a strong graphic pattern on a floor or curtain can add interest without overpowering the entire room when the surroundings are kept more neutral.

Hollow set the tone for a restful get-away. Calming neutral bedding and pillows allow natural nesting instincts to take over. Strickland’s favorite Bible verse sits beside a modern tri-legged brass lamp atop a bedside table: “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 The ensuite master bathroom is a modern masterpiece. A free-standing soaking tub, private water closet, walk-in glass-walled shower, and generous, well-appointed master closet feel like you’re ensconced at a 5-star spa. Strickland employs a large-scale Shaw porcelain tile in a black and white graphic print underfoot. Double vanities with undermounted sinks are separated by a tower of incredible storage. Cabinetry is painted the home’s signature deep green Country Squire by Sherwin-Williams, and soft brass pulls give a traditional English country feel to the space. Countertops are Bianco Rhino marble. A large window of textured glass above the soaking tub lets natural light pour into the space but maintains privacy without the need for window treatments. The shower features rain shower head along with a hand-held nozzle. All fixtures are courtesy of national sponsor Brizo and were ordered through LCR Plumbing Warehouse. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 55

he wide and welcoming stairs lead to the second floor landing which could double as a kids’ hangout, a study or a bonus loft. When drawing plans for the space, Strickland and Bendily devised a small eyebrow extension to the loft area that would overlook the living room — the perfect touch when viewed from above or below. A custom iron railing, created by Kelly Metal Craft, adds a contemporary sensibility. Bradley Allen describes the distinctive iron railing as a game changer and one of his favorite parts of the project. Decked attic storage lies behind a door at the far end of the loft. At the top of the stairs to the left, Strickland has staged the first bedroom as a little girl’s room that any princess would love to inhabit. The color palette is soft pinks, golds and neutrals. Automated blinds add beauty to high technology features. All furnishing and decorative items were sourced from Sleepy Hollow in Monroe. The en suite bathroom features tiny black and white hexagonal tile flooring and high gloss, textured Shaw tile with soft gold-toned Brizo fixtures. Strickland selected an abstract gold and neutral fabric for a custom shower curtain created by Fabulous Fabrics. The vanity is topped with Bianco Rhino marble with an undermounted, oval Kohler sink and Brizo Fixtures. What Strickland has envisioned as the boys’ room is located to the right of top of the stairs and is also furnished with love by Sleepy Hollow. The en suite bathroom feature the same glossy, rectangular tile in the combination tub/shower, but this time is executed in a pleasing grey hue the Brizo fixtures includes a handheld shower attachment as an amenity.


Pro Tip: Trend Alert! While the furnishings and decorative accessories used throughout the Dream Home for staging are right on trend now, Strickland says to not be afraid to switch things up when the mood hits. When everything is the correct scale for a space, individual elements can be switched out easily to accommodate for trends in the future.

T H A N K YO U TO T H E S T. J U D E D R E A M H O M E S PO N SO RS A N D PA R T N ERS Plumbing: Roy Wiggins of Mangham

Custom Millwork: Rucker’s Custom Millwork Custom Cabinet Doors and Hardware: M&M Millworks

Stone Countertops: Louisiana Stone

Countertop fabrication: Twin City Granite

Says Strickland about the Dream House, “God is in control and I believe in St. Jude’s mission and in our community’s ability to support our children in need, their physicians and caregivers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.” Adds Faulk, “Our goal is to encourage people to buy tickets. If they win the home, wonderful! Either way, the home raises money each year to help children fight cancer. Our home, our community, our community kids helped!” To keep up on all things happening with the St. Jude Dream Home in Monroe, make sure to follow @stricklandinteriors on Facebook and Instagram for behind the scenes looks at the making of this year’s home. To buy your tickets, go to Ticket purchasers who buy before April 10th are eligible for the Kia drawing as well.

I hope some day you’ll join us And the world will be as one About Jan Hales Strickland: Jan Hales Strickland is a Richland Parish native, mother of two and professional interior designer. She began doing design projects for her parents at the tender age of 15 and soon determined interior design to be her calling and passion. She majored in interior design at the University of Alabama and is an Allied Member ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) member. “I’m trained to work on projects from a logical point of view, envisioning the final product from just a set of plans or the bare bones of a space,” she explains. “Everything needs to have a purpose as well as to adhere to the elements and principles of design.” About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of St. Jude Children’s Hospital founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay. See something you love in the Dream Home? After the Giveaway, all furniture, art, rugs, mirrors and decorative accessories used in staging the 2020 Dream Home will be available for purchase at Sleepy Hollow in Monroe. All custom shower curtains, drapery, rods, and roman shades created by Fabulous Fabrics will be at their Monroe location for purchase.

Flooring and Tile Installation: Custom Carpets Faux Finishing: Amy Simmermaker Iron Railings: Kelly Metal Craft

Interior Remote Controlled Shades: Smith Blind and Awning

Exterior Gas Lanterns: Hart Lighting

Interior Light Fixtures (Progress Lighting) and Bosch appliances: Sourced through Michelle Miller, Coburn’s Electrical Contractor: George Word, Word Electric Staging Drapery and Shower Curtains: Fabulous Fabrics

Sheetrock: Trey Banks, Joe Banks Drywall and Acoustics Gas logs & Grill: O’Neal Gas

Decorative Concrete: Chad Sanders, Decorative Concrete Coatings Brick: ACME Brick

Painting: Antonio Rubia

Brizo Supplier, Plumbing Fixtures, Sinks: LCR Plumbing Warehouse

Exterior Metal Awnings and Flashing: Les Jones, Proflashing

Lumber, Windows, Locks, Hardware: Brian and Randy Russell, Russell Moore Lumber Photography Framing: Small Woods Furniture Delivery & Set Up:

John Reed Loflin, McCorquodale Transfer Paint: Sherwin-Williams

Security System: Automated Alarm Internet: AT&T U-Verse

St. Jude Metal Logo: James Machine Works Garage Doors: Overhead Door

Mirrors and Glass for Kitchen Doors: AAA Glass Insulation: Tempco Insulation

Media Sponsors: Fox 14 and KTVE 10 Television, BayouLife Magazine & Z107.5 Big Country Radio

Dream Home Giveaway Sponsors: Sparks Kia, Dream Day Foundation, Egret Landing Subdivision, Sleepy

Hollow Furniture, 3B Outdoor Equipment, Assurance Financial

QuesTECH Expands Offerings QTL Announces Several Valuable Additions


UESTECH LEARNING HAS BEEN providing its high school students an excellent, effective blended learning environment for several years. What exactly is blended learning? Taking the best features and the flexibility which online learning provides and combining them with live instruction and support is blended learning, a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Partnering with FuelEd, QuesTECH provides high school students with a catalog of courses (and state certified online teachers) that a school of QTL’s size would not normally be able to produce. Combining those excellent course offerings with the added benefit of daily contact with live experts results in a learning environment and experience with proven positive results. Now we are making a great thing even better! In fall 2020, QuesTECH Learning will take its blended learning high school to the next level. QuesTECH Higher Learning will include both a newly expanded, cutting edge learning facility as well as a bold new vision of what high school education can be. In addition, the redesigned, reimagined facility will also allow us to provide additional technology learning opportunities to other regional learners during after school and summer hours. The grand opening has been delayed by COVID-19; however, beginning with the upcoming Summer Program for all NELA learners, QuesTECH Higher Learning will offer Drones I and Drones II, led by FAA Licensed Remote Pilot in Command John Nix. Older learners will benefit from Code to Success, affording students the opportunity to develop skills in HTML, CSS and Javascript. All of these will be taking place


in our reimagined and expanded QuesTECH Higher Learning facility. Visit facebook. com/QuesTECHLearning for additional information on our Summer Program. We are in the final stages of finishing our upgrades and expansion which will result in a high school learning environment unlike anything else in NELA. Following our grand opening later this summer, the high school experience at QuesTECH Higher Learning this coming fall will be nothing short of spectacular. In addition to the bright, open setting the redesigned facility provides, our high school students will have Technology Career Track choices including Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Services and Architecture, Coding (with an emphasis on Python), Cyber-Security, Industrial Robotics, and Drones Enterprise and Operations (with FAA licensure). “The traditional TOPS 4-year university track is always available to learners, of course, but we are thrilled to offer these technology career paths and supplemental learning opportunities to all students as well,” according to Principal Kevin Branson. Students completing their particular university or career tracks will be prepared for further formal learning in a 2 or 4 year college or university, or immediate employment in a high demand, high paying, high tech career. QT Higher Learning will feature a Collaborative Coding Center where HS coders will work both individually as well as in teams with all progress spanning the Coding Wall populated with eight large screen monitors. The Coding Wall will allow all coders and instructors to easily engage with one other and their individual and collaborative coding projects in real time.

QuesTECH has always offered face-to-face tutorials, and we have recently successfully launched QTL LIVE Online Tutoring. With the impact of COVID-19 and into the future, QTL will be able to link students through technology with qualified tutors in a wide variety of subjects. Using personal lesson plans designed by QTL professionals, tutors become live mentors adapting to students’ unique needs as they continue their success journey. These online services will prove invaluable to families not only in Ouachita Parish but also in outlying parishes. These personalized, engaging sessions may be scheduled Mondays-Thursdays, 1-5:00 P.M. Weekend times are an option as well. “QTL realizes that after this challenging time, you will be ready to have your kiddos spend time at QTL this summer, and we are ready for the youngsters as well as the high school learners,” according to Director Donna Underwood. We would love to speak with you about your learner’s needs, be it tutoring (in conventional or technology-related subjects), summer learning, or blended learning next fall as full time high school students in QuesTECH Higher Learning. We know you will be as excited as we are when you see all the possibilities, which our vision, and now our QuesTECH Higher Learning reality, affords your learners. Please give us a call at 318-3226000. QuesTECH Learning is an LDOE Approved and Cognia Accredited 501c3 not-for-profit school governed by a board of directors. QuesTECH Learning has an open, non-discriminatory admissions policy.



Flowering Her with Gifts With Mother’s Day right around the corner, BayouLife asked the flower experts at Carlstedt’s and Sonny Panzico’s Garden Mart for their favorite blooms to gift. From timeless plants like orchids to brightly hued bougainvillea and mandevilla, flowering plants are an excellent choice for gift giving. Photo by Kelly Moore Clark.


Fresh Take On College



Local Colleges Have A Plan BY R O B E R T K E N N E T H W R I G H T


n March 23, 2020, Governor John Bel Edwards’s stay-home order went into effect at 5:00 PM. That declaration changed life in Louisiana, leaving many anxious and concerned about the future. One group of Louisianians in particular was concerned…. high school graduates. For them, this meant a premature end to their high school experience. No prom. No signing of memory books. No graduation. No goodbyes and farewells. It also meant that going to college was questionable. Since the March declaration, the world they knew has changed, and the challenges have compounded with unpredictable weather and a tornado that left many in Ouachita Parish without electricity and gas for a week. Despite all of the events going on around them, many high school students continued Google Classroom and Zoom conferences designed by their teachers in order to complete their requirements for graduation. Many have worked hard, and families have made sacrifices so their students could finish up high school and head to college. Three local colleges are ready for them and have laid out a plan for them to enroll and be successful in their first semester despite the uncertainty surrounding the fall season. The question remains…will school be online or face-to-face? Online or Face-to-Face? Seth Hall, Executive Director of Enrollment Management at Delta Community College, said that incoming freshmen should apply as they would normally for the fall semester. “Even now for the summer, the classes we have posted for summer registration are all online courses. Some of them were offered face-to-face, but because of the order (Governor’s), we converted them to online. But at Delta, you don’t have to be listed as online or face-to-face to take courses,” Hall said. Delta, like many other colleges and universities throughout the state, converted their normal face-to-face classes to online classes in order for students to complete their work. He said that although he is optimistic about the fall semester beginning normally, the college is planning to continue the online platform, if it is not given the order to open for students in face-to-face classes.


Unlike the four-year universities in the state, Delta does not have oncampus living. So students would not have the challenge of finding living accommodations, if they are forced to continue a full online program in the fall. “We’ve got a Subway, but we don’t offer meal plans. So, anyone planning to come to Delta would have to seek out their own housing with their family or in their own apartment,” Hall said. Tree George, Director of Admissions at Louisiana Tech University, said that when students enroll at Tech, there is normally not a differentiation between an online or classroom matriculation. “They will simply apply for the sake of admission. Their admission will be determined by their GPA, ACT and the courses they took in high school. As to whether they are online or not, Tech is not an online university. Our goal is, although it’s dictated by forces outside of us, that we will be back to our normal in-person regular campus this fall when these students start,” George said. Students in their current term at Tech are taking online classes because of the COVID-19 stay-home order. George said Tech did like other universities in converting their classes to online. “Tech, along with the other nine UL System schools made that transition. From the middle of March, we’ve been teaching everything online. So, that capability does exist. We will teach the first summer session online and then, depending on the course of the virus and what the Governor says we can or can’t do, that the second summer session, which takes place in July, we will be in a position to come together again,” he said. At the University of Louisiana Monroe, the Director of Admissions advises that students should plan to attend classes as they would any other time. “Students should apply which way they choose to attend. If a student intends to attend on campus, then he or she should apply for an on-campus program. However, if someone prefers to work online, they should apply for the online program,” said Dr. Robyn Jordan.


ULM was one of the colleges in the UL System that converted to online classes following the stay-home order from Governor Edwards. However, Jordan said that by August, she expects students to be back in class. “Considering the data regarding the virus that has been presented statewide and nationally, as of right now, we fully intend to hold face-to-face courses in the fall,” Jordan said. She added that her office will also waive application fees through May 1st. Preparing for a Longer Stay-Home Order Despite the local schools’ optimism about the fall, being prepared for the worst-case scenario is important for incoming freshmen. If classes will be delivered through an online platform, it is paramount that students have access to a computer and adequate internet service. That is the sentiment shared by all three schools. “They (students) have to be able to have access to how these classes are being taught. Most of them are being taught on Zoom, which is an online classroom where everyone can participate in the lecture. The professor can share screens and the students can look at what he or she is doing. It’s our university platform,” George said. Hall said that students could take many of their tests and participate in online learning using their cell phones. “Technically, you could do it from your phone, but it becomes a bit challenging. You would need a good device and access to internet,” he said. Because the testing platform is technically demanding, Hall said that it is best they have a laptop or desktop computer, for at Delta, students take tests while being video monitored.

“It requires you to have a video on your computer. We use this to ensure that no one is cheating. We are, however, doing our best to provide services to students who don’t have laptops or don’t have cameras,” he said. ULM’s Dr. Jordan said that proper preparations should be a priority for students when engaging in online learning. “A student should have access to a laptop or computer and internet. Students should also practice time management, create a weekly schedule to follow, and set reminders for themselves,” she said. Jordan thinks that distractions play a key factor in whether students are successful at online learning. “Students should eliminate distractions and set up their workspaces away from the television where Netflix might be tempting,” she said. Accommodations for ACT Testing The final two ACT test dates for the 2019-2020 school term were April and June 2020. Since these tests have to be taken at an on-site location, many graduates who hadn’t taken the exam before were not able to do so because of the stay-home order. However, the schools are planning to make accommodations for students who missed the last two test dates. George said that most students will have already applied and have been accepted. However, the few who haven’t done so will be accommodated. “Those last two tests (ACT) will impact a small percentage of students. It will mostly be students who have a math or English subscore issue. There is good news though. Our main workaround, if they don’t have the subscore is a placement test called Accuplacer. It’s a single subject placement exam that usually community colleges use for the proper level of English or Mmath. We can use it via the Board of Regents to substitute for an ACT math or English subscore that is not at the minimum,” George said. At Delta Community College, taking the ACT is not a requirement. Hall said students should be at ease, if they missed

the last opportunities in April and June. “We are an open-admissions school. So even if you don’t take the ACT, you’re admissible to Delta. The only catch is that if you don’t have a score or if your score is low, then you’ll be placed in a remedial class to start. They can still enroll for the fall,” Hall said. Hall echoed the sentiments of George in that Delta Community College also uses Accuplacer to acquire the proper levels of students when the apply. “Depending on what you (student) score on the single subject tests, you could place yourself into a higher remedial or even college level English or math. Right now, students can actually take those courses remotely,” Hall said. Jordan said that accommodations will be made for students who had difficulty with ACT testing. “We do not want the inability to take the ACT to hinder the students from attending the University of Louisiana Monroe and will make accommodations based on guidance from our Board of Regents,” she said. Everything Will Work Out The optimism is high at Delta, Louisiana Tech, and ULM. The admissions officials say that students should look forward to their college experience despite the ongoing social situations. “Students should apply for admission to Delta Community College as usual. We have a free application and are open admissions. Even if you have done poorly on coursework, we will make accommodations for you. For the fall, we will offer as many courses as possible, whether they would be face-to-face or online,” Hall said. Hall added that orientations at Delta are being completed via internet in place of the regular summer face-to-face meetings. Jordan said that for ULM students, they should come prepared for college and be ready to engage in the courses. “ULM has a fall Convocation every year in conjunction with the Week of Welcome. That will be full of events for our new students and those returning to

campus. We also plan to be celebrating a new President’s investiture during that time, so there will be plenty of opportunities for incoming students to make new memories,” she advised. At Tech, George said that everyone is facing the same unknown, but students should get ready for fall semester. “Because this landscape has changed in the last month, we’re going to take operational flexibility as far as admissions. We’re going to do things that make it as easy as possible for these students to transition,” he said. According to George, Tech will be allowing freshmen to submit their own transcript as a result of school closures. He said that many counselors did not have access to the official transcripts, so the students may submit them. “We’ve never done that before. We are also going to be generous with fee waivers for application. We will be waiving it for anyone that asks at this point. We will work with them on a oneon-one case basis and do everything in our power to be as absolutely accommodating as we can,” assured George. As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close with students completing assignments and final examinations online, many will remember the experience and will likely carry over those skills into their collegiate matriculation. Whether it be through online learning or with face-to-face classes beginning this fall, the Coronavirus Pandemic has left a lasting mark on the high school experience of the Class of 2020. It will be their story in years to come of how a viral epidemic stormed the entire planet, tornadoes ripped through their town, loved ones died, their schools closed, they didn’t celebrate prom or a traditional graduation….but they persevered and finished their course. Beating all of those odds, getting into college should be a walk in the park for these champions. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 67


Be Mine, Honey This simple and refreshing cocktail is perfect for backyard nights. From flowery notes to bubbly fizzes, this drink combines our favorite flavors: mint, lemon, cucumber and honeysuckle. Photo by Taylor Bennett What You Need: Cucumber Fresh Mint Leaves Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka St. Germain Ginger Beer

Combine mint, lemon juice and cucumber in a glass and muddle. Add 2 oz of Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka and 1 ounce of St. Germain. Fill the glass with ice and top with ginger beer. Genty stir and enjoy!


B AY O U H O M E | M A K I N G Y O U R O W N C L E A N E R

So Fresh So Clean

With household cleaner high in demand and harder than ever to find, Kelly Moore Clark shares her favorite ingredients to make your own solution. Photo by Kelly Moore Clark What You Need: white vinegar water essential oils glass container This DIY cleaner solution is simple and easy to make with very few ingredients. First, find a mixing jar and combine 1 cup of white vinegar, and add 1 cup of water. We suggest using tea tree oil for the next step, but other essential oils can be substituted such as rosemary, peppermint or eucalyptus. Mix in 20 drops of tea tree oil or your preference and stir. Pour in an amber glass spray bottle and start scrubbing. *This is not a substitute for EPA recommended cleaner.



than me, was struck with polio. She I REMEMBER how, when I was suffered the loss of a major muscle in a young teenager, our nation and her left arm, but survived the polio the world faced a health crisis that attack. She was a Christian, and was similar to the one confronting because of the loving care shown by us today. Back in the late 1940s and the church to my family during this through the 1950s, we were seriously ordeal, my parents were converted. impacted by the spread of the lifeSeveral years later, I also put my threatening onslaught of polio. At trust in Jesus. its peak, this “plague” caused over Hopefully, as was the case with 500,000 deaths each year all over polio, the coronavirus threat will the world. In addition, polio left be conquered by the development thousands more with debilitating of a deterrent that will defeat and health issues as it attacked the eradicate this dangerous enemy. Let muscular and respiratory systems of us pray that God will bless us to that its victims. Polio was not selective in UNIMAGINABLE RESOURCES ARE BEING end. choosing its targets, but mercilessly However, God is not primarily attacked young and old alike. UTILIZED TO COMBAT AND CONQUER THE concerned with healthcare. He does The coronavirus, with which PRESENT FOE. care about our physical needs, but we are currently contending, is there is a more serious threat to His indiscriminant in its attack, as well, but the elderly and those with conditions that weaken the immune human creatures, and He gives that His primary focus. As dangerous as was polio and as is the coronavirus, there is system, are at greatest peril. The effects of this virus have been catastrophic – businesses, schools, ordinary habits (like going to a an even more prevalent danger facing all of humanity. That threat ball game or out to dinner), and even the worship services of the comes in the form of sin. And none escape this foe – “All have church have been impacted as never before in the history of our sinned…” (Rom. 3:23) – it is a “disease” that infects every individual on this earth. And the result is death (“The wages of sin is death…” country. Although polio was less selective than this virus, targeting young – Rom.6:23a). There is no man-made cure or preventive measure and old, the sick and healthy with deadly and wide-spread zeal, the relative to this “disease,” and its consequences are beyond disastrous. current battle to conquer this enemy has surpassed all prior efforts The Salk vaccine and the oral vaccine that was developed shortly in the struggle for a solution in such a crisis. Unimaginable resources after Dr. Salk’s breakthrough brought polio to its knees, and our hope is that the same will happen to the coronavirus. We need a cure. And are being utilized to combat and conquer the present foe. In the case of polio, massive efforts were also exercised in the we need a cure for sin. God has provided a solution for this problem. In our current conflict, many have ignored the directives that effort to find a cure for the disease. The result was that, in1957, Dr. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine that reduced the threat of this dreaded came from our government officials (keeping distance from others, disease. Two years later, Albert Sabin introduced an oral vaccine that washing hands, etc.), probably assuming they were in no danger was administered via a sugar cube. These discoveries practically from the virus. Such behavior is not wise. In the same vein, many, even MOST pay little attention to the cure relative to our sin and its eliminated polio in the U. S. The best news in critical times such as these is that God is consequences. That behavior is foolish, as well. And consider this: so awesome and powerful that He can bring good out of every the cure for coronavirus is extremely costly, but the cure for our sin circumstance. He works all things out for the good of those who sickness is free! “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our love Him (Rom 8:28). He did just that for our family when the polio Lord.” (Rom. 6:23b). So, as we turn to God for help against this virus, epidemic struck one of us. My sister, who was a few years older let us also find refuge in Him for our spiritual needs.) ▪

ar t i c le b y PAU L L I PE 72 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

CARES Act Summary

Justin Mailhes with Argent Advisors in Monroe Explains


N MARCH 27TH, PRESIDENT Trump signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. There is a lot of relief details in the 880-page Act so we will just highlight the retirement account contributions and distributions changes in this article. There are four key points about retirement account contributions and distributions that have changed because of the CARES Act for 2020. First, the deadline for 2019 contributions into traditional and Roth IRAs has been extended to July 15, 2020 mirroring the tax return deadline. This also applies to contributions into Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Archer Medical Savings Account, and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESA). Secondly, there are no required minimum distributions (RMDs) for 2020 from IRAs, Beneficiary IRAs, and employer-sponsored plans. The Act does not address “undoing” 2020 RMDs already taken but consult an


advisor as new guidance might be available. Thirdly, the 10% early withdrawal penalty is waived for COVID-19 related distributions taken in 2020 up to $100,000 per individual across all company-sponsored plans and IRAs. Please talk to your advisor or plan sponsor for “COVID-19 related distribution” qualifications. Distributions are still taxable, but the taxes may be spread evenly over the next three years, beginning in the year the distribution is taken. Alternately, the taxpayer has three years to roll the funds back into the plan or IRA. Lastly, the maximum loan amounts from company-sponsored retirement plans have increased from $50,000 to the lesser of $100,000 or the full account balance for individuals impacted by COVID-19. Loan repayments scheduled due after March 2020 may be suspended for up to twelve months. The loan must be current to qualify. We are going through an unprecedented time relating to COVID-19. This Act has been passed to help lessen the blow of the economy

and country being shut down. We wanted to help summarize some of the key points of the Act that individuals could take advantage of during these hard times. If you have an advisor, please discuss with them before taking money out of IRAs and 401ks. If you do not have an advisor or would like to learn more about the Act or discuss the opportunity cost risk of taking money out of the market, please contact our office. The short-term need might do more damage to your long-term future by taking money out after market selloffs. WHY CHOOSE ARGENT ADVISORS IN MONROE? Our mission is to help establish, manage, and protect our clients’ financial plans, and we take that very seriously. The Argent Advisors team in Monroe has over 60 years of combined financial planning experience. No matter where one’s objectives fall, we help our clients establish a definitive goal-oriented plan for current needs and for the future. Argent Advisors in Monroe is a fee-based, Registered Investment Advisor firm. We agree on an annual management fee, and then we work for YOU. We do not make money on account activity or have proprietary products. Our independent process assures you that we are acting in your best interest, not in ours! If you have any question about your financial planning needs, please contact our office.

Your Number One Local Dealer

B&L Marine Has Been Serving Our Community for Almost 50 Years


HE BEST WAY TO SPEND YOUR quarantine is on the water. If you are looking for a way to have some fun while being safe, B&L Marine has you covered. Summer is here and everyone is ready to get out of the house. The sun is out and the temperature and our spirits are rising. If you have been on the fence about getting the boat you’ve been wanting then the time is now to get up and get on the water. Whether a boat for leisure, water sports or fishing B&L Marine in Monroe has been our community’s marine and will continue to do so through this “new normal.” For 47 years, B&L Marine has been family-owned and operated and conveniently located in the Lakeshore area of Monroe. Bill and Hazel Buckley started the dealership in 1973. In 1985, their son in law, Pat McDonald came to the dealership and started working his way up. He purchased the dealership in

1997 from Bill and Hazel and continues to run it today with the help of his son Nick McDonald. The family is deeply rooted in the Lakeshore and Swartz area and continues to support the community which has come to know B&L Marine as a local landmark. Bill and Hazel’s goal was to make B&L Marine the best choice and a one-stop dealership for your sales, service and on the water fun. They continue that philosophy today with great customer service, the best products and the ability to handle any boating need that you may have. They offer a variety of marine products, and their selection of high quality boats is second to none. B&L Marine prides itself on having the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff in Northeast Louisiana. They have been here in Monroe for almost 50 years and have no plans of stopping now. It is

their goal to help customers find the perfect boat to fit their lifestyle, along with the right parts and accessories to truly keep you on the water! B&L Marine 110 Old Bastrop Rd Monroe, LA 71203 (318) 343-1250


Feel and look good in this eyelet, ruffled, flowing dress — perfect for any occasion. Featuring a v-neck opening with button closure and additional waist tie, this dress has the perfect touch of femininity.


These looks from Plume showcase spring’s freshest looks. From eyelet dresses to subtle stripes, Plume is your local headquarters for fashionable finds. by Katelyn Tolbert

Add a fun statement piece to your spring wardrobe collection. This subtle blue striped loose and airy dress is perfect for the warmer weather. Opposite page: This blouse is the perfect staple item to mix and match with any look. The high neckline and versatile white eyelet fabric make it perfect for any occasion. Pair it with these low rise girlfriend jeans featuring small destruction details on the thighs. Available at Plume in Monroe.

April Showings Bring May Closings Local Realtor Helps You Sell Your Home


PRING IS IN FULL SWING AND EVEN with the current state of the world, the housing market is still hot. Historically low interest rates make it a perfect time to make a move. Plus, you can take advantage of the time at home by getting your home “show ready” with these simple DIY projects that can significantly improve the appeal of your home. BREATHING ROOM Your first inclination might be to arrange all your furniture flush against the walls. Though this may add a little extra room to move through the room, it’ll make everything feel more crowded and congested. Instead, try arranging items at an angle, or pulling them six inches away from the wall. MIRRORS AND STRATEGIC COLORS Dark paint will make the room feel smaller. Instead, opt for whites, light grays, and other light colors. A well-placed mirror will also expand the room’s appearance. Just think of the times you’ve been in a restaurant and a mirror made the space look twice as large.


RAISE YOUR WINDOW TREATMENTS It’s common to hang your curtain rods just a few inches above your windows, but to make the ceilings appear taller, you can hang them just a few inches below the ceiling. It can have a dramatic effect. BAD LIGHTING Have you ever seen the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry’s date looked different depending on where they went to dinner? It was the lighting. I know you may feel that your “daylight” white light bulbs help to reduce fatigue, but it’s very harsh lighting. Soft warm lights always have a cozy, inviting vibe. Some things are better left to the professionals. No matter how handy you are, I would not advise tampering with electrical, plumbing or other systems that require a licensed professional. Which brings me to my next point, the services of an experienced Realtor and a full service professional real estate firm. I have systems in place to address both common and not so common issues that arise

when selling a home. My extensive network of licensed contractors are on speed dial when a home inspector comes in and finds a laundry list of items to repair. My knowledge of the local market is invaluable to circumvent problems like having a low appraisal. My contacts with local title companies are essential when dealing with a title issue you never knew about. These problems only come into play after you get a buyer on the hook. My marketing strategies and systems are proven effective time and time again. You can’t sell the home if nobody sees it, or worse, if buyers see it and are turned off by a bad impression. I showcase your home in it’s best light with professional photography and videography to ensure maximum exposure in today’s digital age. In this “new normal,” I have adjusted the way I show homes, ensuring clients’ safety, while still maximizing the ease and accessibility of showing options. Many of my listings have three dimensional 360 degree virtual tours available, allowing buyers to virtually walk throught the home. This is just one of the ways that I work to exceed my clients’ expectations, ensuring that they get their home listed, sold so they can move on. Again, it’s best to leave the big jobs to the professionals. I would love to be your real estate professional.


Carlstedt’s Celebrates Mother’s Day Flowers, Plants and More Available for Pick Up


OTHER’S DAY MAY LOOK A LITTLE different this year but Carlstedt’s is here to make sure it is just as pretty and beautiful. The local floral wholesale shop is open with curbside pick up available. You can call the shop and tell them what you are looking for; pay over the phone; and drive up and have it put directly in your car. Flowers and plants are a perfect way to spread some joy on Mother’s Day - or any day for that matter. You can pick up at Carlstedt’s and drop off at the recipient’s door step, allowing you to share your love, even in this world of social distancing. A popular choice for Mother’s Day is a potted orchid and Carlstedt’s has some gorgeous options in white. The Phalaenopsis or “Moth Orchid” is the most common of its kind. They are easily grown in the home and bloom for a very long time. They also carry Cymbidium orchids, that are a bit more delicate, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Potted hydrangea plants are another favorite for Mother’s Day. Carlstedt’s has options of

pink, white and blue. Any true southern mother would love to receive a beautiful hydrangea this year! Carlstedt’s also has a selection of potted green plants. Even the darkest of thumbs can care for a Zamioculas zamiifolia plant, commonly referred to as a ZZ Plant. The plant has wide, attractive, dark leaves that make it favorable for an office or house plant. It tolerates neglect and drought and accepts low-light conditions. Its waxy, smooth leaves reflect sunlight and truly brighten a room. As an added bonus, its also an air purifier and removes copious amounts of toxins from the air. Another long-time favorite of those with or without a green thumb is the Spathiphllym, commonly referred to as the peace lily. The green plants have a showy part of the flower that features a white, hoodlike sheath, that is the true spotlight of the plant. Need something for your mother-in-law? How about a mother in law tongue! The scientific name is Sansevieria Trifasciata and this slow growing plant can

be grown by just about anyone because of its low and high sunlight tolerance and ease of watering. When it comes to flowers, Carlstedt’s has a wide selection of spring mixes and colors. You can get anything from glorious gladiolus to delightful daisies, to put together a perfect arrangement for mom. They also carry containers, pots, tape and tools to help put together an arrangement. Carlstedt’s has an easy and convenient website as well, where you can place your order. They collaborate with thousands of florists and designers from all over the world. Visit, click on “Floral Concierge,” fill out your information and one of their team members will connect with you. Carlstedt’s is conveniently located in the heart of midtown Monroe, off Tower Drive. They are open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. You can call them at 388-0080 to place your order to pick up curbside or have it delivered!


Here For Your Mental Health Providing Tele-Health Counseling Services


HE WELLSPRING’S COUNSELING & FAMILY Development Center (CFDC) is a premier provider of counseling and mental health services. Our counselors are certified in tele-mental health and can assist with personal growth, self-esteem, empowerment, grief, relational difficulties, depression, anxiety, family violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and trauma. The CFDC was developed as an extension of the agency’s grant funded survivor services in an effort to more fully meet the needs of individuals and families in Northeast Louisiana. While trauma related work in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse remains an area of deep specialty, the CFDC also offers more generalized individual and family therapy services including services for the LGBT community. COUNSELING SERVICES We understand there may come a time in anyone’s life when circumstances present challenges that seem overwhelming or beyond one’s ability to manage alone. Certainly now may be one of those times. Life events, related decisions and their impact may lead to the need for the help and safety of a trusting relationship with a professional counselor. At the CFDC, we respect individuals as the author of their own lives. We work with our clients building on their strengths to meet their goals and actualize their full potential. CHILD SERVICES Verbalizing feelings and thoughts can be difficult for children. Our therapists work to meet children where they are. Within the trusting and accepting counseling relationship, therapists use various modalities, including play therapy, to facilitate communication and understanding with young clients. Play therapy builds on the natural way children communicate and interact with others and the world around them. Children learn to express feelings, modify behaviors, develop more effective problem-solving skills and experience alternative ways of relating. The effectiveness of play therapy has been demonstrated for children whose problems are related to usual life stressors such as divorce, grief, peer relationships, as well as the impact of trauma and abuse. The CFDC employs several licensed clinicians who are also Registered Play Therapists. RELATIONAL SERVICES Recognizing that families may encounter a multitude of challenges, the CFDC offers a full range of relational services to support families as they work to strengthen some of the most important relationships in their lives. We are providers for most major insurance plans. For those who are unable to afford the full fees, a sliding fee scale may be available. Call (318) 323-1505 to schedule your appointment.


Cleaning and Sanitization

Recommended by Residents and Businesses


ITH THE CURRENT SITUATION, MANY homeowners are obviously spending more time around the house than normal and may be making a list of the projects that need to get done. If you notice algae growing on bricks, a stained roof, mildew growing on the side of the house, be sure to call SaniCan. Simply power washing does not kill algae, fungus, mold and other bacteria that grow on structures and roofs. When you use SaniCan, not only will your home look great, but it will be sanitized. In 2010, Matt Rainwater had a crazy idea to start a garbage can cleaning service. After figuring out a business plan, working out the kinks, and securing the financing, SaniCan was officially born in February 2016. Little did they know, the backbone of their business would not be cleaning garbage cans and dumpster sites for long. In November 2016, SaniCan introduced a new style of exterior cleaning to the area known as a SoftWash. Using a low-pressure application of a biodegradable, eco-friendly solution, customers no longer have to worry about the damage that comes along with typical high-pressure washing. SaniCan’s state of the art system allows them to customize solutions to clean any type of surface depending on the finish and amount of build-up. With SaniCan’s SoftWash system, the job gets done safer, more effectively, and will last longer. Their objective is to be the area’s first premier exterior cleaning service by offering quality customer service and amazing results. Hundreds of residents and business owners all over Northeast Louisiana have been utilizing this service and here’s what a few of them had to say: “When we saw our concrete around the pool turning black and our porches, eves and furniture covered in mildew and pollen, we knew to call Matt Rainwater with SaniCan. Matt came out and gave us a bid and set up the job. He even sent us email reminders! Matt and his crew were very meticulous. They moved the outdoor furniture with care and put it all back. Their soft wash system was perfect for our aging paint. After they were done, everything sparkled and looked brand new!” - Lew Hubbard “I would highly recommend SaniCan on any and all exterior cleaning projects. We have used them on commercial and residential projects. Matt and his professional staff always stayed within their estimates and delivered outstanding results.” - Trae Banks SaniCan has become the company to call when it comes to washing your house, roof, fence and decks as well as gutter, sidewalk and driveway cleaning. If you want to see what everyone is talking about, visit the SaniCan website, find them on Facebook or give Matt a call!


THURMAN’S FOOD FACTORY Classic frozen entreés from Thurman’s Food Factor y include staples like Craw fish Fettuccine.

Bayou Eats



The Takeout Edition

Skip cooking and head to Newk’s Eater y for dishes the whole family will love like this Mac and Cheese with Asiago, Vermont White Cheddar, Parmesan and Swiss cheeses.


In the catastrophic wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries have been brutalized. As measures issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) limited the congregation of large groups of people, the restaurant industry quickly became financially susceptible in the aggressive upheaval. To survive, many employers rapidly changed their business models to match the demands of a new dine-at-home normal, exploring and incorporating innovative ideas and concepts. The lesson: the times, they are a-changin’, and so should we—for now. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” says Will Erwin, Operations Director of Newk’s Eatery. A significant adjustment for Newk’s, as well as everybody else in the industry, has been making food in an empty dining space; yet, Newk’s had already been developing a curbside model, following the growing trend adopted by many US retailers like Walmart and Best Buy. Though only testing at a few restaurants, they had to “roll it out” for all locations once restaurants shut down following orders from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on March 16th. Like most local restaurants that have kept their kitchens open, Newk’s has had to become flexible and work within the confines of changes in consumer demand. But ordering meals from Newk’s is still straightforward. You can go to their website or app, select the “Curbside Pickup” link, park in a designated spot, and call them once you’ve arrived. They’ll bring your order out, and place it in your passenger’s seat or trunk. “This is probably something that we’ll continue going forward because guests really love it,” says Erwin. When asked how she had been holding up, Jenifer Johnson, owner of Trio’s Dining, replied: “The only thing I can say is that we’re taking it day by day.” Keeping on, keeping on like the rest of us, Johnson is still dusting off her amazement, revealing that in the twenty-five years she has been in business, she never experienced anything

to this magnitude. Though curbside service at Trio’s is manageable because of their drive-thru window, they’ve had to tweak in different areas. Employees who would normally lean out the window to better interact with customers are now keeping their head inside, using sanitizer, and changing gloves after every customer. “The front house is a constant cleaning as if we had people in there, but we don’t… just because of people going home and coming back to work,” she says. Already holding themselves to a high level of sanitation, using bleach water and color-coded cutting boards, they are regarding the high stakes of prevention with all seriousness. Even restaurants like Newk’s, “notorious for being clean freaks,” says Erwin, are taking

their employees’ temperatures at the door, and having all workers fill out forms to confirm whether they or any of their family members have felt symptoms. Additionally, some of the Newk’s sanitation methods have increased; high-touch point areas like door handles, drink stations, and registers are wiped with a sanitation solution every hour. At the center of this revolving frenzy are the service industry’s finest. Ashley Keever, owner of Monroe’s Chicken Salad Chick, and co-owner of The Muffin Tin and Trenton House, credits her team with the progress her restaurant has made adjusting to curbside pick-up. “I love my team members,” she says. “We’re kind of like a family. It’s stressful, but on the other side, I’m very happy.” Morale has been high WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 85


Delicious fried eggplant is ser ved over angel hair pasta and topped with Parmesan. Drive thru Trio’s dining window or pickup for mouthwatering daily specials.


Whether you’re looking for a meal bundle that feeds the whole group or large quick chicks, Chicken Salad Chick is ready to feed your family.

“If you’re going to learn anything from this pandemic, it’s that it’s the neighbor, the person next to you. Those are the people that matter most,” says Cory Bahr, owner of Parish Restaurant. “When you buy a meal, you’re helping employers keep their employees working. At this point, we’re all essential helpers in a chain of survival.” at Chicken Salad Chick due to employees helping each other out. A smaller staff has seen the front and back of the house line dissolve. The kitchen staff, in particular, has enjoyed the change of scenery when needed at the front of the house, having to run orders out to guests or answering phones. The group that has stayed with Keever are some of her core people. “They’ve risen to the challenge one-hundred percent,” she says. “They bend over backwards and stay past shift time.” Across the board, layoffs have been inevitable, but many restaurants are striving to keep as many employed as budgets allow. Trio’s has kept a full staff. “My employees, work really hard… I always feel like the mother bear,” says Johnson. “Everyone’s hanging in there,” she says, adding that Trio’s has kept their normal working hours, the consistency of the scheduling helping provide stability. Still, front house employees who depend on tips have been the most affected, so at Trio’s these employees alternate working the window at a different pay rate, plus pick-up tips. “People have been pretty generous in that area,” says Johnson.

“We’ve been working our butts off,” surmises Chef Cory Bahr, owner and founder of Parish Restaurant. Bahr acknowledges this is a terrifying time but chooses to embrace the challenge and aims to come out of this stronger and better prepared to serve the community. The Parish team is making use of this time to create and cook “fun food,” meals the team usually enjoy. These family dinner packages can be ordered at the Parish website and are delightfully themed and versatile. From Tuesday’s “Dinner With Your Italian Friends” (Nonna’s handmade meatballs, creamy stone-ground polenta, arrabiata sauce, Parmesan, and garlic butter breadsticks, and more) to Saturday’s “Family BBQ in the Backyard” (St. Louis-style ribs, smoked pork shoulder, classic potato salad, “damn fine” baked beans, and more), comfort food is steadily becoming Parish’s culinary theme. “We’re using this as a time to almost metamorphosize into a better version of ourselves. We’re going to get back to the basics. We’re going to come out of this better,” says Bahr. People are ordering their favorites

wherever they go, grasping for normalcy and comfort in foods usually tied to family, good times, and celebration. Specializing in varieties of casseroles, southern staples, fresh bread, and all-American sweets, Thurman’s Food Factory is ready to serve customers what their hearts and taste buds desire. Top sellers include casseroles like chicken cheese spaghetti, chicken tetrazzini, lasagna, and their number one creation, the Blend of the Bayou casserole. Desserts are also available—cakes, pies, and individual sweets like lemon squares, brownies, Hello Dollies, and their wall of cookies (made everyday). Though running into a few challenges, particularly with suppliers limiting products, owner Thurman Dickey has made do with quick thinking and improvisation. “We’re trying to make people’s lives a bit easier,” says Dickey. Most restaurants are taking note of the need for larger-scale orders that are not only affordable but also nutritional. At Newk’s, that’s taking the form of catering and meal kits. These meal kits don’t just offer lunch and dinner essentials for families, but present an alternative for shoppers to WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 87

get basic grocery necessities like bread and sliced meats. That’s not to say that ordering from the regular menu is not an option. Their customer favorites are still in demand, especially the healthy items. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not eating the greatest,” says Diedra Adair, Marketing Director at Newk’s. Knowing she can pick up her favorite Newk’s salad on a regular basis to save on “those calories and carbs,” eases her daily frustrations. True to their motto, the Newk’s team is feeding what matters. “We want to provide delicious and fulfilling meals to our guests,” says Erwin. This locally owned franchise has been adding weekly deals and promotions on their Facebook page and E-Club as a helping hand to their customers, just another way to say “We’re missing our guests! But we’re thankful to still have jobs and service our community.” “We are fortunate enough to still offer our full menu,” says Molly Jeter McCullar, manager of Enoch’s Irish Pub & Cafe. One of their top-sellers has swiftly become their new family pack—two adult cheeseburgers with fries, two kids meals with fries, and a fruit cup. Other specials keep getting added on a weekly basis to combat the financial hardships wrought by the global standstill, like their new lunch special where you can buy one menu item and get the other half off.


Happy hour prices on alcohol sales are still available as well, “To get us all through,” as they’ve been saying. Trio’s has also been taking advantage of the state’s decision to allow the sale of carry-out containers of beer and wine with food orders. Though not open for Sunday brunch, Trio’s is still offering gallon mimosas. “Staying in is the new going out. You can still get a really nice bottle of wine and a nice meal,” says Johnson. Coronavirus hasn’t halted everyone’s life, which is why restaurants like Chicken Salad Chick are turning their attention to the healthcare heroes at the frontline of this pandemic. “You know they’re stressed out, working their tails off. They’re in all this gear that’s hot as Hades. They’re worn out,” says Keever. Acting on the restaurant’s motto— “spread joy, enrich lives, and serve others”— has never been so necessary. Her team has been taking meals to hospitals and clinics. As a result, they’ve gotten an outpouring of gratitude. Recently, they received a touching selfie from the respiratory therapy crew at St. Francis Medical Center. “It makes your day when you see them smiling because something went right that day for them,” says Keever. Paying it forward is our life force as a community, and it’s being practiced by customers, too. Many people are buying restaurant gift certificates for

friends and family members in need. At Enoch’s, the widow of Police Officer David Elahi called in to donate $500.00 to cover law enforcement orders, a kindness beyond description. “If you’re going to learn anything from this pandemic, it’s that it’s the neighbor, the person next to you. Those are the people that matter most,” says Bahr. When you buy a meal, you’re helping employers keep their employees working. At this point, we’re all essential helpers in a chain of survival. “I’m trying to think of something that Enoch himself would say,” says McCullar when asked what message she’d want to send customers. “Dad likes to say, peace, love, and Guinness gravy,” she laughs. As her tone takes a contemplative tone, she finishes with, “Good music. Good food. That’s what we’re about in Louisiana. We know what to do. So keep being Louisiana strong.” Currently, many local restaurants are offering curbside pick-up. To find out more, call your favorite eateries and/or visit the Facebook group NELA Curbside Pickup, Catering, Delivery Restaurants, and Local Markets.

Perfect Gifts For All Occasions

Offering Gift Delivery for Graduation, Mothers Day and More


ITH A FANTASTIC SELECTION of hand-picked gifts, and outstanding customer service, Haven is Monroe’s premier shopping destination. Little things can make all the difference when you’re spending a lot of time at home. Haven has a selection of items you and your family can enjoy. Reading is a good way to pass the time. Haven has reading selections for the whole family including devotionals, self-improvement books, cookbooks and interesting design books. Haven’s selection of children’s activities, card games, and toys are ideal for keeping your little one’s busy during the day. They also carry puzzles for all ages, games, and poker sets. Gardening is an enjoyable way to get out of the house without having to leave home. Haven carries a beautiful selection of vases, which allows you to bring the outside in. Other excellent gifts are gardening books, shears, and journals. Haven has amazing gifts that your mother will love! A luxurious throw, silky pajamas set,

or a cozy robe is perfect for lounging around the house. They have a lovely selection of aromatherapy bath products, all wonderful for relaxation. Other thoughtful gift ideas include the ever popular Nest candle, practical and beautiful Etta B Pottery, fun summer earrings, Stephanie Johnson cosmetic bags, and of course anything Barefoot Dreams. A gift card is also a great way to celebrate a special mother. Graduates need some extra love this year and you can shower them with a special gift from Haven. Be watching out for Haven’s yearly grad guide they will post on their social media. It will have amazing ideas to help make this a memorable time for a graduate. If the graduate lives in the immediate area, Haven is offering to drop off your wrapped gift to the recipient, free of charge. What an easy way to shop for and celebrate that deserving graduate during this time. Haven’s owner is an interior designer and owns Intelligent Designs, interior design firm. They offer a wide range of design services

for your home. Some of these items can be found inside Haven such as bedding, design accessories, lamps and pillows. Other services such as custom draperies, rugs, lighting, headboards and other furniture pieces are available with help from one of their designers. Follow on social media (intelligentdesigns. monroe) to see their design services, including a new convenient option called E-design. Even though you cannot go into the store to shop, you can shop Haven’s social media. Here is how it works: Haven posts new merchandise pictures every day on their social media @haven. intelligentdesigns. You can text the Haven staff at (318-267-7577) or Direct Message them for additional pictures or questions. You can pay over the phone and then take advantage of their free local delivery or no contact pickup at the store. Their knowledgeable staff will go above and beyond to accommodate any requests and assist you in finding just what you need. Treat yourself and your home with a gift from Haven.


Community Matters at Creed & Creed Local Attorneys Serving Northeast Louisiana FIGHTING LOCALLY Creed & Creed Law Office believes that a focused practice, local client service, and a thorough knowledge of the law gives their clients the best possible legal representation. Their dedication to this standard of representation reflects their commitment to their clients and community. Christian and Catherine have built their reputation for excellence upon the ability to consistently deliver outstanding representation to the people who live and work in northeast Louisiana. They are committed to providing clients with high quality, cost effective legal service. Christian and Catherine Creed focus their practice in the area of personal injury litigation, including auto and 18-wheeler accidents and admiralty law, including offshore and brown water accidents, and social security disability claims. Christian is a skillful trial attorney and is an effective, persuasive negotiator. He is also a licensed investigator and has formerly worked as a claims adjuster for several national insurance


companies. Christian’s former work with insurance companies makes him familiar with the techniques and strategies used by insurance adjusters and personal injury defense lawyers. This experience gives their clients a great advantage when negotiating settlements on their behalf and developing their cases for trial. COMMUNITY AT THEIR CORE Their commitment to our community extends beyond our practice of law. Christian has served and continues to serve on several boards, including the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Med Camps of Louisiana, Ouachita Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America, ESGR and the United Way of Northeast Louisiana. Christian’s commitment to community service is evidenced by his being selected by the United Way as its first recipient of the Community Spirit Volunteer Leadership Award, recipient of the James Shipp Business Award and the 2017 Better Business Bureau’s Good Neighbor Award. Catherine is the past co-

chairman of Prevent Child Abuse of Louisiana (Monroe chapter), an active volunteer with United Way, and a sustaining member of the Monroe Junior League. Together, they support the local arts through their involvement with the Twin City Arts Foundation, Masur Museum, and the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, including being the title sponsor of the Downtown Art Gallery Crawl. THANK YOU Christian and Catherine have been serving their clients and their community for 25 years as “Your Local Injury Attorneys.” Also, they are proud to call Monroe their home. Through the many up and downs our area has faced, they too have been a part of it all and understand the unique character and resilience of its people. Recently, that character and resilience has shined brightest among our first responders and healthcare workers. To all those fighting on the front lines, Creed & Creed would like to say, “thank you.” COVID 19 presents new concerns, but like those other obstacles in the past, the community will overcome this too. Creed & Creed values the safety and health of their clients and staff. That’s why they now offer consultations by phone, email, and Facetime. If you have been involved in an accident, they are still here for you. If you or a loved one is in need of an injury attorney, call Creed & Creed today.

Let Me Help You Raise Your Hand Voice Your Ideas with Confidence


O YOU REMEMBER BEING CALLED “bossy” as a little girl? How did it make you feel? Young girls are often socialized to be nurturers and peacekeepers. Consequently, we tend to avoid uncomfortable situations such as negotiating our salary or voicing our ideas during business meetings. Or, we suffer from imposter syndrome—the belief that we don’t deserve the titles we have earned. We find ourselves saying apologetic phrases like, “I just think that…” or “I’m sorry, but can we try…” These common communication pitfalls can decrease our credibility. I can help you overcome these challenges so that you can achieve your professional aspirations—without apology. I CAN HELP YOU: • Tell your story through a dynamic LinkedIn profile, resume, cover letter, & job interview • Speak with confidence, whether you are addressing a large audience or one person • Negotiate your salary, title, and promotion

• Feel self-assured when presenting your ideas, regardless of your age or experience • Write and speak clearly—without apology • Embrace the word “bossy” Vivian’s Voice is a consulting company for professional women seeking to strengthen their communication skills and advance their careers. Vivian, my maternal grandmother, was born in 1912 and raised in Monroe, Louisiana. She graduated valedictorian of her high school class and raised five daughters while working as a teacher. She taught me to raise my hand in class. Now I want to help you raise yours. I founded the company after working in the non-profit and corporate arenas for more than 15 years. I noticed a trend: several talented female professionals were not achieving the recognition they earned. After researching the communication differences between men and women, I felt compelled to share what I had learned. I invite you to read the kind review below. “Laura Clark is a conscientious and creative


communicator. Turning her formidable talents to Vivian’s Voice as a conduit for women to find their own voices, Laura can shed light on the best way to handle a particular issue – whether it’s public speaking, speaking up in a meeting, or knowing when and how to stand up for ideas, beliefs, and/or oneself. I learned from Laura not just how to handle a tense meeting with grace and firmness, or the importance in verbal and nonverbal communication in the workplace, but also how to create a space at both work and play that is conducive to productivity and encouraging of new and different ideas. Her approach in all things, admirably, is one of fearless fortitude that is sprinkled with humor and sensitivity. Laura’s intuitive ability to lead and guide women in learning and wielding their voices, whatever industry or role they find themselves in, could only result in more women ‘raising their hand in class,’ as Vivian herself used to say.” – Kelsea McCrary, Director of Civic Design and Cultural Districts at LA Office of Culture, Recreation, & Tourism







here are two recurring themes in Dr. Ralph Abraham’s life --- he always responds to the call to serve whenever and however it comes, and he always uses every opportunity to talk about the people and place that he loves and calls home. The Northeast Louisiana region, Louisiana as a whole, and our nation have all benefitted from Dr. Abraham’s presence and expertise in countless ways. His impressive life includes successful careers as a veterinarian, a (as he calls it) “human doctor,” a Congressman, and a volunteer. The best news? He isn’t finished yet! For his unselfish devotion to his patients whether animal or human, to his constituents, to Louisiana, and to his country, Dr. Abraham is our May BayouIcon. One can only imagine what thoughts went through the head of a young, junior high school boy as he adjusted to life on the farm. One thing is certain. He never thought that he would one day be meeting presidents and kings, traveling the world, and playing an important role in the revitalization of his own beloved Northeast Louisiana.

Small Town Life in Rural America

Ralph Lee Abraham Jr. was born in 1954 in Monroe, Louisiana. He was one of two children (Monica is his younger sister) born to Ralph Lee Abraham Sr. and Bertie Marlene Posey. His paternal grandparents were emigrants from Lebanon. Having relatives who had experienced the journey to America to begin a new life meant that Abraham had a personal understanding of what it meant to be an American “by choice.” The family moved from Monroe to Alto, a tiny unincorporated community in Richland Parish, when Abraham was beginning junior high school. It was an ideal place for a young boy to grow up in the 1960’s and early ‘70’s. Here love of family, faith, and friends permeated the everyday lives of those living there or nearby. Abraham’s father was CEO of American Bank but had always wanted to own a farm in the country. When land became available, he purchased the farm and moved the family there. He worked at the bank during the week and then spent his weekends working on the farm. Abraham laughs when he remembers the early farming days. “Dad wanted a farm badly, and he was totally unprepared for either farming or ranching,” Abraham says. “Still, he made it work – with a lot of hard work!” Abraham credits working as a boy on the farm beside his father with instilling in him a work ethic and sense of fairness that have lasted throughout his life. There were many jobs to be done, and his father assigned specific tasks and chores that Abraham was expected to complete. These were not easy “little” jobs as anyone who has lived and worked on a farm knows. Abraham built and repaired fences, cared for the animals including shoeing horses and herding cattle, picked up “chunks” to clear land for pasture and crops, and even broke a wild horse or two. The closest school was in nearby Mangham, and Abraham began his junior high studies there, graduating from Mangham High School in May, 1972. A young lady, Dianne Johnston, caught his eye in junior high. They attended the Alto Baptist Church as well as school together. During high school, Abraham tried to date her but she wasn’t interested. Later, when he was a student at Louisiana State University, he tried again and this time she agreed to go out with him. “The rest, as they say, is history,” Abraham says with a chuckle. Abraham’s first job away from the farm was on the Olan Mills paper mill assembly line in West Monroe during the summers of his freshman and sophomore years at LSU. “I was trying to make money to go to school,” he says.


“My job was to catch boxes as they came to the end of the line and stack them.”

A Lifelong Partnership Begins

In 1975, while Abraham was a student at LSU, he and Dianne married. Today Abraham clearly still adores her. He readily describes her as not only his spouse, but also his “best friend.” Abraham admits that he has spent most of his life taking opportunities as they come and making the most out of them. As a result, his career path has not been either traditional or predictable. As he described it recently, Abraham lives his life “by ear.” Dianne has been the perfect partner for such an attitude toward life, supporting Abraham at every turn. No doubt both his proximity to animals on the farm and his awareness of the need for rural veterinarians led to Abraham’s becoming a veterinarian. He had a successful practice for ten years before deciding to study “human” medicine at LSU-Shreveport Medical School. While he was in his veterinary practice, Abraham saw many people when they brought in their pets. He noticed that many of these people were sick. “Country folks couldn’t get adequate healthcare easily,” Abraham remembers. “I made notes over time and finally decided in my 30’s to go back to earn the second degree. I attended med school during the week, and practiced veterinary medicine on the weekends. Dianne took a teaching position. We made it work together.” Abraham began practicing medicine fulltime in Mangham in 1995. This was the second of several “calls to service” that Abraham was to answer. The first had come in 1986 when he walked in one day and told Dianne that he wanted to join the Army. They had three very young “stair-step” children by that time (KiAnne, Lee, and Ashley), but Dianne didn’t hesitate to support Abraham’s decision. In 1980, Abraham had earned his pilot’s license (later adding helicopter to his fixed-wing credentials) and thought that he might use his flying skills in the service. Abraham joined the United States Army National Guard and served in Company C 2/20th Special Forces Guard from April 1986 through June 1989. As part of a Special Forces unit, he parachuted and honed the survival and rescue skills that he would use later through his work with medical humanitarian trips abroad. In 1989, Abraham was awarded the Army Achievement Medal for meritorious service while serving as the Special Operations Executive Officer during annual training trip in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. He was cited for his tactical expertise and leadership while working in the snow-covered mountains and sub-zero temperatures. In the same year, he resigned his commission as a 1st Lieutenant as he prepared to enter medical school. Today he looks back on those days in the service with appreciation for all with whom he served. “Those were just great guys,” he remembers. “I loved the military! Still do.”

Abraham Answers Call to Serve in D.C. With an established medical practice, Abraham settled into what he calls a “fairly structured” life. The children were grown, married, and had children of their own. His workdays began at six in the morning and ended around six every afternoon. He would get home by seven and Dianne would have a light late supper prepared for him. They watched television in the evenings, and specifically began listening to Bill O’Reilly. He remembers thinking that the country couldn’t possibly get any worse, but then it did. He and Dianne discussed what might be done to help, and they agreed that should an opportunity arise for him to run for political office, that they would go for it. Once again, he was answering the call to serve. “There was never any hesitation on Dianne’s part,” Abraham says. “Once again, she was ready to go wherever life led us.” In December 2014, “Doc” Abraham became Representative Abraham when he was elected to represent the 5th Congressional District, Louisiana’s largest in terms of area. He quickly began adapting to life in the political arena. When asked recently what lessons he has learned from being in politics, Abraham’s answer was immediate. “I haven’t really learned much that is new,

become interested in a career in politics as a result.” During his three terms as U.S. Representative, Abraham has been a busy man. His military background has made him a valuable member of the House Armed Services Committee. His farming experience has made him equally valuable on the Agriculture Committee. He has also served on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology as well as the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. In addition to committee assignments, Abraham has also been a member of several influential caucuses. He has served on the Doctors, Veterinary Medicine, National Guard, Coast Guard, Sportsmen’s, Mississippi River, and National Guard Youth Challenge caucuses bringing his education and life experiences to the table for each. In every instance, Abraham’s service has been focused on the needs of his constituents. Abraham readily admits that his medical education and experience have overlapped with his political career. As a member of the Doctors Caucus, he is part of a group that has a very strong voice in D.C. “We help write and direct policy on national, and occasionally, global levels,” he says. “The Cabinet listens to us. Colleagues in D.C. look to me for advice on health matters, not so much personally, but in general. It’s interesting – a country doctor who makes house calls gives a perspective that very few politicians in urban America ever encounter.”

Dr. Abraham’s Quieter Voice

“This old country doctor from rural America has been allowed to serve for this wonderful country with some phenomenal folks. It has been quite a privilege.” ~ DR. RALPH ABRAHAM

but this experience has reinforced my belief that the way I’ve always tried to live my life has been the right way,” he says. “I have always believed that the key to a truly successful life is to learn not to be influenced by others’ agendas. A person has to think for himself and make his own decisions.” Abraham also quickly learned that others holding political offices don’t always have the overall good of the country in mind. That was a hard lesson, but Abraham recognizes that it was an important one. He worries almost daily that we are forgetting the lessons taught to us by the Founding Fathers. “The Founders got it right,” Abraham says. “They invented this nation – and it is the greatest one on earth.” The hard lessons learned from politics can be very distasteful, according to Abraham, but people should still get involved. He is particularly insistent that young people get involved in the political process. “Everyone has a voice, and needs to use it,” Abraham says. “There are still plenty of good people in the political arena with whom you can work for the greater good.” One of Abraham’s favorite ways to encourage young people was to take visiting children from Louisiana on tours of the House of Representatives’ floor. He would introduce them to the speaker pro tempore and let them hold the gavel as C-Span was filming. In that way, their presence could become part of the historical film archives. “It is a once in a lifetime experience for them,” Abraham says. “The architecture, the history – it makes an impression that I hope will remain with them throughout their lives. I hope some of them will


During most of his life, Abraham’s voice has been soft-spoken. While a dynamic leader, Abraham’s preferred method of operation is considerably quieter. His volunteer spirit permeates much of his “under the radar” activities. In 2007 when Pilots for Patients was founded, Abraham signed up to fly. These missions were designed to provide free flights for patients who had to go for medical treatments often out of state. With typical humility, Abraham turns any discussion of this work to its founders, Philip and Sharon Thomas and the late Dr. Richard “Doc” Worthington. He continues to fly missions as often as his schedule allows, and says that the program is a ministry for all involved. “Philip and Sharon are wonderful, and I’ll keep flying for them and the patients as often as I’m able, for as long as I’m able,” Abraham says. Most people are unaware that private citizen Abraham went to Washington long before he became an elected official. His mission back in 1986 was to speak on behalf of his animal patients before a congressional subcommittee hearing on humane treatment during cattle branding. Abraham’s testimony earned him notice in The Humane Society News / Summer 1986 edition as one of the “Capitol Hill Heroes” by Martha Hamby, HSUS director of federal legislation. His humanitarian trips have gone mostly unnoticed, and that’s the way Abraham prefers it. Again, he considers these to be just another part of living one’s life to promote the greater good. In 2010, one such trip sharpened Abraham’s awareness of just how much more is needed to provide healthcare in impoverished countries. The horrific earthquake that devastated Haiti was yet another call to serve for Abraham, by now a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) captain and Louisiana Wing pilot. Abraham signed up to go on a relief trip to Haiti for Hospitals for Humanity. He joined a team of medical professionals and spent time there treating approximately 400 patients. The conditions were Third World, and the people were in desperate need of even the most basic essentials – clean water and food. Performing surgeries in the midst of aftershocks with patients often lying on the ground because cots weren’t available, Abraham experienced firsthand a level of devastation he had never encountered before.

Coming Home at Last, but to a Pandemic The time came, however, when Abraham missed home and was ready to leave Congress and return. He had pledged to serve only 3 terms when he first ran, and was a strong believer in term limits. He had been honored to

interact personally with President Trump and Vice President Pence and the Cabinet. Although he will always cherish those memories, he knew it was time to leave. “This old country doctor from rural America has been allowed to serve for this wonderful country with some phenomenal folks,” he says. “It has been quite a privilege.” Among his fondest memories is joining a small group of others to fly on Air Force 1 with President Trump to New Orleans to attend the NCAA football national championship game in the New Orleans Superdome. For LSU graduate and pilot Abraham, this was a special treat. The group enjoyed lunch with the president onboard and then enjoyed the LSU victory together. Ironically, once again Abraham has been called to serve – this time by his constituents back home as COVID-19 staggers Louisiana, the country, and most of the world. While the House has not been in session recently because of the pandemic, Abraham has remained quite busy with daily conference calls with the Administration and with the Louisiana delegation. They are working on the coronavirus challenge, constituent issues, and finding funds for tornado victims. In between his multiple daily calls, Abraham has been volunteering in a rural health clinic trying to do his part to blunt the impact of the virus. His presence is a godsend to the people, many who have known him for most of their lives. Abraham says that the biggest thing that he is noticing right now is that people have a palpable fear of not being able to go back to their “normal” lives. He is especially worried about the children in the impoverished areas who are losing not only the knowledge that education brings, but also the structure and food that are so badly needed and that the schools provide. “Our school teachers are the heart and soul of our region,” Abraham says. “They hold everything together.” Abraham is certain that Louisianans will see this crisis through as they have so many others. He says that people in Louisiana are smart, and that they understand what they need to do to prevent the spread of this disease. “We are a resilient people, and we don’t tend to run from anything. We embrace it,” Abraham says. “Once we have our questions answered, we know how to address it and we learn to live with it.”

And the Future

What Abraham looks forward to the most about coming home is having more time to spend with his nine grandchildren. He has spent as much time as possible with them when he has been home, and relishes having even more soon. Often, “Doc” (as they call him) can be found roaming through the woods with them – sometimes hunting, sometimes fishing, and sometimes just roaming. “I believe that children need some supervision, but I think they also need to have the freedom to make their own choices sometimes,” Abraham says. “That way they can experience firsthand the results of those decisions, whether good or bad. By spending outdoors exploring, hunting – they grow up more confident and smarter.” Eight years ago, Abraham stood at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world. That was an impressive climb for a country doctor late to the mountain-climbing game, to be sure. But there are mountains left to climb, metaphorically and physically, and Abraham will no doubt seek those, too. Not long ago, Abraham and Dianne watched Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, “The Mule”. The song that played at the movie’s end resonated with Abraham. One line -- “Ask yourself how old you’d be if you didn’t know the day you were born” – was especially meaningful to him. The song was written and performed by Toby Keith. Its title? “Don’t Let the Old Man In”. It was written in 2017 after Keith and Eastwood had played golf just a few days before Eastwood was to begin shooting the movie and coincidentally celebrate his 88th birthday. Keith asked Eastwood how he managed to keep so active at his age. Eastwood responded that he just didn’t let the old man in.



Recipe and Photography by HEATHER LAND

Mint growing in the garden or patio pots? Pinch it off fresh or keep cuttings in a glass of filtered water in the fridge, along with some sliced limes so that you are always ready for a cool drink at the end of the day. Muddled mint mixed with minerals and electrolytes hydrate and refresh without all the sugar and additives. Grab a stainless steel cup and fill with lots of ice. Add TOPO Chico (or your choice of sparkling mineral water) over ice and muddled mint. Roll the mint between your hands to release its oil. Next, add a squeezed lime wedge and sprinkle of salt and finish with drop of liquid Stevia (optional).


The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone in Northeast Louisiana in some way. As of April 17, 2020, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 23,118 positive cases of COVID-19 statewide, with 830 of those cases in Northeast Louisiana. 470 cases were in Ouachita Parish, where 11 patients died from the disease. Schools across the state are closed and shelter-in-place orders still restrict gathering, shopping and work activities. An unprecedented 16.8 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits during a three-week span in April 2020. In Louisiana, more than 80,000 unemployment claims were filed in just a oneweek period. Businesses have closed and laid off workers at alarming rates. With residents reeling from a sudden loss of income and families struggling to buy food and other basic necessities, agencies such as the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank and United Way of Northeast Louisiana have been overwhelmed as never before with requests for aid. Throughout our community, ordinary citizens have gone to great lengths to offer help and hope at a time when so many are suffering. Good Samaritans abound in our community. BayouLife salutes all of the “ordinary heroes” who have given of themselves and their resources during this crisis. It would be impossible to recognize all of the individuals and businesses who have done so much to help those in need. Here, we highlight a just a few of the “heroes” who make Northeast Louisiana a better place to live.


HUNTERS HELP THE HUNGRY ouisiana is known as a “sportsman’s paradise,” a place where hunting wild game is a way of life for many. More than a sport, hunting puts food on the table. Avid hunters often have freezers stocked with venison, duck, wild turkey and other game meats. In the midst of a pandemic, local businessman Bill Petrus called on his fellow hunters to share that bounty with families in need. Petrus is the owner of TP Outdoors Monroe, a sporting goods store specializing in hunting and outdoor equipment. In late March, as stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus resulted in widespread unemployment, Petrus was moved by reports he saw on television and social media. “I saw these stories about families who had lost all their income from being out of work,” Petrus says. “I could just see it coming-people were going hungry and were going to need some help. I had the idea to try to get hunters to donate some of their meat from last year’s hunt to give to people.” Petrus reached out to hunters in Northeast Louisiana who make up his customer base and requested donations of frozen, commercially processed venison and other meat. His friend Don Plunk helped arrange for a refrigerated truck to store the donated meat. They set up the truck, generously loaned to their cause by


John Trainer of Borden Milk Products, in the parking lot of TP Outdoors in Monroe. Petrus was also able to purchase large quantities of cereal, baby food and other non-perishable food items at cost from Eric Mansell of B & E Wholesale in West Monroe. Through radio announcements and a social media site titled “Hunters Feed the Hungry,” Petrus spread the word that he and his employees would be giving out food in front of his store at 3000 Breard Street in Monroe each Saturday in April. Petrus says that to his surprise, local hunters were a little slow to donate at first. By the afternoon of Friday, April 3rd he had only collected about 150 pounds of food and was really anxious about not having enough food to supply the crowd they were expecting. “I was sitting on my couch, just thinking about what I was going to do and how we were going to feed these people when my phone rang,” Petrus recalls. “It was like a blessing from God.” An anonymous donor was able to provide almost 2000 pounds of frozen meat product. Petrus, his son-in-law and other volunteers worked late into the night to stock the truck with the donated food. The next morning, hundreds of people lined up in the rain in the parking lot on Breard. Petrus and his store employees, along with several volunteers, gave out enough food

to provide over 1400 meals. They also made deliveries to families without transportation, giving away everything they had collected. Petrus says his store employees worked tirelessly in the rain all day, making sure each family that needed help was served. As word spread about the “Hunters Help the Hungry” program, more hunters began to donate from their freezers. Some purchased mass quantities of food from Sam’s to be given away. One TP Outdoors customer even bought a cow from a local farmer and had it butchered and processed into hamburger meat for distribution through their food drive. On Saturday, April 14th, 200 families picked up food bags in front of TP Outdoors Monroe, and Petrus and his employees delivered food to another 50 families over the next few days. Although his store has been closed to the public during the pandemic, Petrus has worked hard to give back to the community that has supported his family for almost a century. “We’ve been in business for 93 years,” Petrus says. “My great-grandfather started it and my father ran it. I own this store now and my brother owns the other store in West Monroe.” Petrus says they will continue the food drive as long as donations keep coming in. “There’s a true need out there,” says Petrus. “People are hurting. Anything we can do to help out we want to do.”

HELPING STITCH BY STITCH andy McMillan is an interior designer and owner of Haven, a local gift and home boutique on Forsythe Avenue in Monroe. Like so many local retailers, McMillan’s shop closed in mid-March in accordance with the Governor’s orders. Although McMillan has still been able to provide for some of her customers through social media posting, online shopping and contactless delivery, business has certainly not been booming. Instead, she found herself with an abundance of time and inventory on her hands during the normally busy month of April. McMillan’s interior design firm, a companion business to Haven known as Intelligent Designs, has been in operation for 22 years. Through Intelligent Designs, which specializes in custom draperies, McMillan employs a full-time seamstress and operates an offsite drapery workroom where her clients’ draperies, pillows and other custom items are created. Her workroom maintains an inventory of fabric and sewing supplies and is the largest fabric resource in Northeast Louisiana. McMillan says she read about the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment for those in the medical field and the lack of supplies necessary to make the needed masks and other PPE. “I realized that I had all those materials,” says McMillan. “So, I reached out to a friend who works at St. Francis and said if y’all ever have a need for fabric face masks let me know.” Aimee Kane, President of the St. Francis Foundation and Vice President of Business Development and Strategy, responded immediately. St. Francis supplied McMillan and her seamstress with specific instructions and requirements for the masks. “They requested a more fitted style mask that has a filter pocket and a metal nose piece that makes it more fitted around the face,” McMillan says. “We made two sizes, so they would accommodate most people.” Since her store was closed, McMillan enlisted the Haven staff to cut out the fabric pieces. Each mask requires four separate fabric cuts. The seamstress then spent hours sewing the masks together. Using all


the supplies they had in stock, McMillan and her crew were able to donate 80 masks to St. Francis for use by the hospital staff. McMillan also donated her inventory of non-woven polypropylene fabric, which she cut into squares to be used as filters for the masks. McMillan plans to make more masks just as soon as she can replenish her supplies. “I’m so grateful for the way my customers have supported me and other small businesses during this time,” McMillan says. “I feel like if we can help someone in our community, why would we not choose to do that?”

shton Hamby is accustomed to crisis. As a registered nurse working in the Intensive Care Unit of St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, she deals with highly charged emergency situations as a regular part of her job. However, caring for critically ill patients during the COVID-19 pandemic has been unlike anything she and her colleagues in the medical profession have experienced. The Intensive Care Unit to which Hamby is assigned was the first at St. Francis to receive COVID-19 patients. While there are multiple ICUs within the hospital, her unit was specifically configured to isolate and exclusively treat these patients. As of mid-April, the unit had 10 occupied ICU beds. Less critical COVID-19 patients are treated in other isolated areas of the hospital.

Hamby says her team was as prepared as possible to accommodate the influx of critically ill COVID-19 patients. She credits the leadership of Dr. John Bruchhaus and other doctors as well as the St. Francis administrative staff for the effective way the nurses have been able to respond to the crisis. Hamby worked in the Emergency Room for three years before transferring to ICU. She typically works three to four days a week, from 7:00a.m. to 7:00p.m. “We’re all working more hours than usual right now,” she says. “It’s all very different.” Besides the ever-present personal protective equipment (PPE), the hospital looks different due to the absence of family members and other visitors. These patients are alone except for the hospital staff. Hamby says that she WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 101

and her fellow nurses have become involved with the patients’ families in a way they never have before. The hospital provided a dedicated phone and set up an iPad for the nursing staff to use to help family members “visit” with their hospitalized loved ones. The nurses schedule virtual visits for families to Facetime or talk with their patient. “These are ICU patients and some of them are on ventilators,” Hamby says. “We have all of our PPE gear on. So, it can be kind of frightening, but at the same time it means so much for the family to be able to see them for a few minutes.” Nurses are facilitating virtual visits in other areas of the hospital as well, allowing less critical patients and family members to see and talk with one another in more interactive sessions. In this new role, nurses are using technology to boost patient morale and make recovery a bit easier. In Hamby’s personal life, things are also extremely different. She is married with a one year old child. Her husband is a school teacher. With schools closed, he has

been working from home during the pandemic. As a precaution, he and their child have been staying in his mother’s home during the week while Hamby is working. Although she misses them, this routine helps lower their risk of exposure. She thoroughly cleans and disinfects everything before they return home for her days off. For weeks, Hamby has refrained from visiting her parents or grandparents for fear of exposing them to the virus. Because she has seen firsthand the effects of this virus, she urges everyone to take these kinds of precautions, and to take this disease very seriously. “I’ve never seen people come together quite like they have during this,” says Hamby. “Doctors, nurses, pharmacists—everyone is working really hard and trying to help each other like never before. Nursing may never be the same after this. We’re all going through this together, and as one of our doctors said recently, this may well be the most important thing we do in our nursing careers.”

THE GAIL CUPIT PROJECT ne evening in March, Gail Cupit was scrolling through Facebook posts on her home computer when she came across “NELA NEEDS,” a Facebook page dedicated to serving those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Created by local residents Bethany Jett and Brandon Rodgers, NELA NEEDS acts as a virtual clearinghouse, connecting those in need with those willing to offer help to others in the Northeast Louisiana. “I read all these posts by people saying how this was affecting them. A lot seemed to be from people who worked in the restaurant industry,” recalls Cupit. “I told my husband that we needed to try to help these people.” Gail and her husband, Gene Cupit, both work for Entergy and have remained employed throughout the pandemic. “We’re very fortunate. We’re working from home and we’ve still got paychecks coming in,” says Cupit. “I cannot lay my head on my pillow at night knowing there are people who need food when I have a home and a full pantry and the means to help them.”

Cupit immediately reached out to a few of those posting on NELA NEEDS, asked for their addresses and offered to deliver groceries to them. She and Gene began making grocery runs, buying food and delivering them to families who, due to COVID-19 job losses, could no longer afford food. They had been making deliveries for about three days when Gail saw a post asking for assistance for a family of nine—two adults and seven children. It was at this point that Gail decided to ramp up her efforts. “Rather than taking this family of nine just thirty or forty dollars’ worth of food on my own, I thought I would ask if anybody else would like to contribute. That way, I could take them a lot more than just a couple of days’ worth,” explains Cupit. She posted a request on the NELA NEEDS site, asking for contributions of $5.00 from anyone willing to help. “I simply asked for $5.00 donations,” says Cupit. “Our plan was to get a few donations and be able to buy this family enough food for a couple of weeks until they could qualify for assistance.”

Within minutes of posting her request for $5.00 donations, Cupit started receiving money in her PayPal account. In less than an hour, she had collected $180.00. By the time she and her husband arrived at the grocery store, the contributions had grown to $284.41. Using those funds, Cupit was able to buy that family a large supply of food and other necessities. “I really felt like that was the end, but throughout that day the donations kept coming in,” Cupit recalls. “By the end of that night I had $756.00. My phone just continued to ding all through the night.” Cupit says strangers began to contact her through Facebook Messenger, wanting to donate and offering to volunteer time and money to her cause. Over the next couple of weeks, with donations continuing to pour in, Cupit was making more and more grocery runs, shopping for multiple families at a time and making four or five deliveries each day. “It quickly became overwhelming,” recalls Cupit. When the number of requests became more than Cupit and her husband could fill on their own, they enlisted the help of friends. Sandra Manley, Erin Finley and Connie Parker have all worked tirelessly alongside Cupit, shopping and making deliveries. Bridgette Harrison, owner of Gator Girls Catering, and her employees prepared casseroles and other ready-made meals with groceries purchased by Cupit. All the money collected by Cupit goes directly to purchase and deliver food and household items for families in need. From the beginning, Gene Cupit has carefully accounted for all donations and expenditures, and makes sure those donating can see where their money is being spent. In the early days of the project, Gail posted receipts on the NELA NEEDS Facebook page. “When I would come out of the grocery store, I would take a picture of the receipt showing how much was spent, what we bought and when. I would write the name of the family and the address where the items were going. We were posting on NELA NEEDS constantly, so that everyone would know which needs were being met and check those off,” says Cupit. Real-time postings became impossible as donations and delivery volumes grew, but detailed records remain readily available to donors. As of April 15th, Cupit had collected and spent $27,651.96 providing food to local families and individuals in need. While most donations have come through NELA NEEDS, Cupit says money has poured in from all over Northeast Louisiana. Her neighbors have left money on her doorstep. Fellow members of Christian Life Church have sent money to support her cause. “So many people have donated to this,” says Cupit. “We’ve had Walmart workers come up to us while we’re shopping and give us cash from their pockets, wanting to help. It is amazing how many people in our community want to help others through this crisis.” Cupit says the reward that comes from helping someone,


especially those struggling to feed their children, far outweighs the work involved. “Everyone has been so grateful. So many people can’t make it to the Food Bank or area churches that are providing food because they have no way to go.” As an example of that gratitude, Cupit shared a text message from a mother with pancreatic cancer. She and her husband were suddenly out of income and unable to grocery shop for themselves and their five children. Her text to Cupit reads: “I know I didn’t have very many words while you were here but I was shocked and speechless! You don’t know how much worry and feeling like we’ve failed you have taken off of mine and my husband’s shoulders. I never expected so much but you went above and beyond! After we got everything put away my oldest son (14) looked at me with teary eyes and said I’m gonna eat something now if that’s ok. Of course it was because he has acted like a little adult this past week and not ate like he usually would because he wanted to make sure his little brothers had eaten first. Y’all showed my boys the good in people and I will be forever grateful for that! You will be blessed beyond measure for all you are doing for this community. Thank y’all from the bottom of our hearts! When all this is done and our jobs get back on track, I will for sure take my boys out and pass it forward as much as we can!” Cupit insists she is just doing what she is called to do. “I would love to say it was some great revelation, but for me it was just something that I started,” she says. “The Lord gives us all gifts. Whether you use them or not is up to you. I believe that this is simply one of my gifts. I wanted to help and the Lord said ‘Gail, this is what you do.”



Surround yourself with the things you love. Make your bathroom a retreat from the ordinary by adding plants that will thrive in a humid environment. Grow where the light is. Bathe in your own jungle.


HONEY GARLIC Recipe and Photograph by HEATHER LAND

Fill a jar with roasted garlic cloves and cover withlocal honey. Let sit for at least one week, shaking each day. Use to top baked chicken, glaze salmon, drizzle over fresh toast or roasted roots, or blend in mashed sweet potatoes.

Show Your Local Love

Save Small - Shop Local - Shop West



EYOND THEIR SIZE, SMALL businesses are defined by their spirit. And at the helm are their courageous founders—innovative, determined, and resilient. They create and build despite uncertainty, because it’s what drives them. They take risks to move this community forward. Small business owners are our neighbors, our friends, the ones we call on to support our local teams and charities. They are the economic and social fabric of community. And we need them! A healthy presence of small businesses in communities also helps people learn onthe-job business skills, empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs. The West Monroe West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce is proud to represent these fine resilient business owners and their employees. We thank you for your patronage and remind


you to consciously support these charming small businesses. As we adapt to a new reality, small businesses are counting on our community to keep them safe and financially healthy. Please consider these simple steps. The benefits of shopping small extend beyond times of crisis. We all play a part in their survival. ORDER ONLINE If your favorite local business is a shop rather than a restaurant, you may wonder how you can help them while stuck at home. A simple way you can do this is to shop at your local store online as you normally would at their brick-and-mortar location. If the shop does not have an existing online platform, think about reaching out to them to see how they are continuing to conduct business during the coronavirus lockdown. Ask to set up a virtual video conference to look at

clothing, or gifts for Mom, Dad and Graduates. BUY GIFT CARDS Purchasing a gift card to help boost their immediate cash flow. A gift card is a great way to help local businesses now and you will have the added benefit of being able to use it down the road. You may wish to give a restaurant gift card to an elderly friend or family in need. Consider continuing to pay (even if services are temporarily unavailable). CONTINUE TO PAY If you typically pay a business monthly or even weekly (such as a local gym, personal trainer, or home cleaning service) consider still paying them as if you were using the service. Continuing to pay workers who depend on hourly commission is a direct way that you can impact and aid individuals and small businesses.

Your Hometown Urologist Dr. Robert Marx Specializes in Vasectomies


S PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES AT home with more free time, this is the perfect opportunity to schedule your vasectomy. With minimal downtime, you can back at home the same day and simply rest for two days. A vasectomy is a medical procedure in which two tubes (the vas deferens) that carry sperm from the testicles to the urinary tract are tied and sealed. This prevents sperm from passing into the seminal stream and fertilizing a woman’s egg. Although it is permanent, it is surgically reversible in most cases. Reversibility is dependent upon time elapsed since the vasectomy. When it comes to forms of permanent male birth control, a vasectomy is the ideal permanent surgical procedure available to men. The procedure carries a very low risk of complications and is available to be performed as an outpatient procedure with localized anesthesia. Dr. Marx performs a nocut technique, which is the least invasive. The

patient is sedated and local anesthesia is used in order to achieve a painless procedure. THE VASECTOMY PROCEDURE IS NEARLY 100% EFFECTIVE Prior to a vasectomy, patients may be asked to prepare by: •W ashing the scrotum to prevent infection • Not shaving the area • Bringing a pair of tight-fitting underwear or athletic support to the surgery to support the scrotum and minimize swelling • Arranging for transportation home to prevent extraneous movement • Avoiding anti-inflammatory drugs prior to and following the procedure, which thins the blood and can cause excessive bleeding.

AFTER THE VASECTOMY After the vasectomy



patients are advised to rest for two days in order to reduce swelling and allow the vas deferens to heal. Discomfort may last for up to a week after the procedure, with patients often being prescribed anti-inflammatory or painkillers for pain. Patients are encouraged to avoid heavy lifting, straining or squatting for 1 week. Also, keep the area dry for a week as well. If you are considering a vasectomy, call today to discuss your options with Dr. Marx. Robert D. Marx, M.D. is this community’s hometown urologist. He was born and raised right here in Monroe, Louisiana. He graduated from NLU, now ULM, and graduated from medical school and completed his residency at LSU Shreveport. Dr. Marx has traveled extensively working with the leaders of the field in order to keep up with the latest and most successful techniques in incontinence. He has been in practice for over thirty years and conveniently operates at Glenwood, Monroe Surgical and P&S.


The Hope Unit at Morehouse General Hospital Helping You Cope in a Healthy Manner


OR MANY MATURE ADULTS, AGING CAN PRESENT LIFE challenges that often require assistance to overcome. To assist you and those you care about with these concerns, Morehouse General Hospital has transformed a wing on the first floor into a stateof-the-art geriatric psychiatric unit. The Hope Unit (Helping Older People Emotionally) provides individual and group mental health therapy based on the individual’s needs. Our program is designed for individuals 55 years and older who are experiencing emotional, cognitive, or behavioral changes and challenges. Symptoms may include loss of memory, mood irritations, anxiety, difficulty coping with losses and transitions, or behavioral conditions that interfere with care at home or in a long-term care setting. We are here to help you cope with these challenges in a healthy manner. The HOPE unit can accommodate ten patients, all with all private rooms that were created with safety in mind. Each patient room has shatterproof mirrors and lowering platform beds. There are common areas and therapy rooms that the patients can utilize during their stay. COMMON CONDITIONS TREATED • Anxiety and Depression • Grief and Loss


• Isolation and Loneliness • Social Withdrawal • Coping Skills • Difficulty coping with changes in physical health • Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and suicidal ideation

ADVANTAGES OF THE HOPE UNIT • Combines individual and group therapies • Utilizes 24-hour nursing staff, Board-certified Psychiatrists and Physicians to assure that all needs are met in a safe and supportive environment • Monitors mood changes and initiates appropriate strategies as directed by the care team • Provides structure and assistance to maintain a daily routine. • Helps to address issues that are faced daily The HOPE unit, located at 323 West Walnut Bastrop, LA is available to help you or your loved ones. Medicaid, Medicare and most private insurance is accepted. Call today for a free, confidential assessment. (318)283-3900

Public History Interns Get Help Making History Offering Gift Delivery for Graduation, Mothers Day and More


ONDAY WAS NATIONAL LIBRARY Day, the equivalent of Super Bowl Sunday for folks like Nolan Eller, Louisiana Tech’s Archivist and Special Collections chief who deserves a standing ovation for his work as an internship supervisor during the Covid-19 challenges of this spring quarter. “He’s taken the students’ public history internships online,” said Dr. V. Elaine Thompson, Department of History Coordinator, “and yet the students are still actively engaging in activities that help the archives to meet their stated goals.” History majors and archive interns Ashlie Ellis and Caiyen Torres began the first week of the quarter March 11th with Eller in Prescott Memorial Library where they got hands-on experience working with physical materials and processing a collection. But by March 16th, the University had transitioned to online classes. One week later came the gubernatorial order to teach and learn from home.

Suddenly for both Ellis and Torres — and Eller too — the archiving business was not the same old thing. “The transition to online classes has been a lot,” Ellis said, “but it’s been relatively easy for the internship, and Mr. Eller always makes sure we are doing well with the course work and makes sure we know we can ask him any questions we have.” Ellis is scheduled to graduate this spring and hopes to work in the history field preserving artifacts. In a normal quarter, Eller introduces interns to processing and cataloging collections, finding aids, assisting patrons, and developing exhibits. It’s about the same thing now, except he’s figured out a way to make much of that happen at a distance. “Luckily, like many professions, the archival profession has been trending towards more digital initiatives and digital platforms, so the transition was much easier to do than one might expect,” Eller said. “Even though we all miss

meeting face-to-face and physically working with materials, this internship in the current environment will give our students a head start in the archives and museum professions. They will have hands-on experience working with digital materials and creating digital projects.” The two biggest project opportunities for the interns pre-pandemic were to process an archival collection and to curate an exhibit utilizing materials from our collections. “During the current climate we had to switch gears a little bit,” Eller said, “but our students will still be able to accomplish both of those tasks.” When the stay-at-home order went into place, Eller scanned and sent to both interns all of the materials they would need to finish processing their collections from home. They were able to finish the arrangement of their collections and create a finding aid for their collections too.





Strong Local musicians have banded together, keeping their art form alive using social media outlets. Screen-to-screen, they have been filling living rooms, kitchens, and backyards with the music of our hearts. ARTICLE BY VANELIS RIVER A


or those of us locked in, slowing down has also meant paying attention. For better or worse, the threat of contagion and the fear that arrives with uncertainty has driven us inward. Many have been examining values, past routines, and spirit. Life has forced us to stop and stare at ourselves, our family and friends, our neighbors, and our community. While turning to faith has always been a balm to our worries, there are other salves that can further aid us in this unprecedented time. Now, more than ever, we must focus on what speaks to our soul, and, perhaps, also what sings to it. “Without hard times and trouble, we probably wouldn’t have modern American music as it is,” says Ira Barger, local blues and folk singer/songwriter who developed the ongoing NELA Couch Concert Series. Barger, who lost three gigs in one day during the first week that bars and venues began cancelling gigs, began thinking of his peers, some whose only source of income comes from performing live. Full-time musicians usually book venues three to four days a week. Unless they also teach music on the side, the last weeks have been hustle after hustle of having to recoup those losses. Barger’s idea to help his fellow musicians came from Couch Tour, a phenomenon grown from the jam-band scene, where a private music event or a live concert is streamed live. As he began sharing his vision with peers, Barger quickly found that the undertaking would be greater than originally anticipated. He turned to established local musician Josh Madden, whose invaluable experience organizing music events like the Dylan Jam, John Lennon Birthday Celebration, and Woodstock: A Tribute, allowed the couch series to run on a sustainable model. “Here are our key words: virtual venue. That’s what we’re trying to be,” says Madden, who strives to undertake music live streams with a sense of normalcy. “If you approach something in a way that you’re used to, it’s not such a culture shock.” Not unlike a music venue, the NELA Couch Concert Series welcomes musicians to contact them and shoot them a demo for a performance spot. Like most clubs would do, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night slots are being filled by mostly up-andcoming musicians, but everyone is currently getting paid the same, though they prioritize full-time musicians by providing


them longer sets or regular weekly spots. “Anyone that contacts us that has experience playing live for an audience, we are finding a slot to put them in,” Madden says. Thus far, they’ve been able to fill each day of the week with one to three hours of music. Those judgement calls are made on a weekly basis, and depend entirely on their donation pool. “We do intend to keep doing this after the social distancing period is over,” says Barger, revealing their plans to move the organization into nonprofit territory. Another virtual music outlet with a similar donation-based setup to the couch series, is Locked Up Live with Monty Russell and Friends.“I’ve been at this for a long time,” says Russell, a 40-year veteran entertainer. “I know how the musicians feel.” Russell not only experienced the financial crisis of 2008, but also



“When you play for a living, you always have to adjust your model because people coming out to see live music kinda goes up and down. It’s like any other business.” ~ MONTY RUSSELL

the social shift that occurred after the September 11th attacks. “There was a whole new model in 2001. There was a period of time when nobody wanted to play anywhere of any size or travel anywhere. It took months to recover from that.” Though not as “drastic” as the current COVID-19 shutdown, it’s not the first time musicians have had to revamp their profession based on socio-economic turns. “When you play for a living, you always have to adjust your model because people coming out to see live music kinda goes up and down. It’s like any other business,” he says. Russell’s current adjustment emerged from a chance encounter with Jay Howell, owner of Cotton, Planter’s Gastropub, and The Eli. Having played at his venues before, Howell was naturally concerned with how Russell had been handling the turn of events. Before the outbreak, Russell had a jam-packed week of gigs spread across a few cities including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Austin for SXSW. “Right now, I’m just trying to find a new model,” he told Howell, who called him back about playing at The Eli. The focus of Locked


Up Live is to pay musicians as if they were playing a gig at The Eli. Musicians who utilize the venue have professional audio and video equipment at their disposal, as well as the visually captivating main lounge room. Keeping mindful of the social distancing guidelines, the team makes sure the only person in the room is the performer. “It’s pretty amazing the ability for us to get on Facebook and broadcast like that,” reveals Russell, who, though a seasoned performer, would get nervous when a fan would open Facebook Live in any of his shows. “Now, I gotta really play well,” he laughs. Russell, who hadn’t always had the chance to see his counterparts play, notes that an added advantage of music live streams is being able to tune in as a musician and listen to what his colleagues have been working on.” So far, live streaming has been going well for many musicians, whether they’re using affiliates or going solo on their own pages, but playing without an audience is a lonely experience. Like many musicians, Heath Work from the ‘90s alternative rock cover band Hidden Tracks, couldn’t help but think of the local venues he frequented with his band. “You know who this really affects is the workers at the music venues, because the nights that they have bands are some of their best nights for tips,” says Work. Acting on his concern, Work decided to create the Band Together fundraiser with the intention of taking care of the people that have taken care of them. “All these people and all these venues are like friends and family to me,” says Work, reminiscing about meeting his wife at Sal’s Saloon. Clearly, as has become painfully apparent while confined to our homes, live music venues don’t just impact our community economically, but also socially. In addition to the fundraiser, Work, wanting to use music to raise awareness and garner attention for the cause, scheduled a live stream concert for the first week of April featuring performances by Lowside Drive, Swamp Grass, The Cypress Knees, Echo Thieves, Josh Love, and, of course, Hidden Tracks. Unfortunately, some unexpected interruptions halted the planned live stream, one of which was lead singer of Echo Thieves having to opt out of a group performance due to her high risk of exposure as a nurse. Wanting to do the event justice, Work has plans to reschedule, particularly to show gratitude for all the patrons of live music who have generously donated. As of April 11th, $6,217 has been raised for the employees of venues with a history of regularly hosting live music such as Live Oaks, Tin Dog Tavern, Enoch’s Irish Pub & Cafe, Brass Monkey, Peppers Bar & Grill, and Sal’s Saloon. A second fundraiser is in the works, considering the possibility of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards extending the Stay at Home Order through May. As an art teacher, Work is no stranger to the power of creativity and music in times that call for deep reflection. It’s important to him that we pay attention to what impacts us individually and socially, and in so doing, find the urgency to preserve it. It may seem like we’re in the rubble, living in the figurative trenches, but while some wallow, others create, like Ruston-based singer/songwriter Jade Reynolds. On March 26th, she posted a

video of an original song on her personal Facebook page. Before singing, she began with: “I am legitimately scared and I think that you gain moments of perspective and clarity in times like this.” The song titled “Look for the Helpers” began its gestation period when Reynolds accidentally broke her 1962 Harmony acoustic guitar. When she posted a “rest in peace” post on Facebook, she didn’t think much of it, but in a matter of days, people were making suggestions on repairs and offering to help with payment. “I was really floored by that reaction,” she says. Having moved back to the south from Missouri, she’s been in awe at the strong and constant sense of community around her: “It’s nothing but people helping all the time.” A guitar collector she knew in passing reached out to her and told her to take her pick of his batch of fifty-plus guitars, and play it for as long as she needed. By this time, many were quarantining, so she met him at his home with Lysol, offering to wipe anything she touched because he is immuno-compromised. Still, even under those circumstances, he welcomed her. Arriving home with a new guitar, she thought about her community paralyzed by the pandemic, the people who haven’t ceased to show up, and the goodwill she had received, such as her boss paying her an extra day when businesses began to close. “All of this kindness and all of this compassion and goodness is what is going to get everybody through,” she remembers thinking as she looked at the little parlor guitar she was holding, a symbol of all of the generosity. “I’m not in a position yet, to be able to give back on the level that people have been able to help me so far,” she says, but the one thing she can offer, as she always says, is to write an original song or cook some good food. When she decided to write her “love letter” to the community, she kept coming back to Mr. Rogers’ quote, “Look for the helpers,” probably because, at the time, she was living it. Before composing the lyrics, Reynolds said a prayer asking God to give her some “comforting words.” Those words were on the page before she really even thought about what she was writing: “2 AM, I can’t even sleep / World is changing, no place for the mild and the meek / I cry out to you, God / In times like this it feels / We’re a million miles apart.” The chorus counters those sentiments with the uplifting message that faith can be found wherever you see “those doing more than just their part.” For the first time as a songwriter, she wrote lyrics without an accompanying tune, which is easy to do when you’re paying it forward by writing words from the heart. The phrase “support local music” gets repeated often, especially because most full-time musicians live hand-to-mouth. “It’s easy to say that when times are good,” says Barger, “but it won’t be long before these folks start to sell instruments to make ends meet.” Right now, supporting local musicians takes the form of weekly donations, tuning in to live streams, sharing and liking posts, and/or following musicians on social media. It’s an optimal time to connect to artists and their craft on a level unexplored before now. “Before, you didn’t have the time to sit down and just focus on the power of the song, the power of the performance, the truth in what people were singing,” says Madden. At one point or the other, we’ve all taken music for granted. We’ve allowed it to become white noise, background music, something to put on rotation. Like many other parts of our lives, we now have the opportunity to re-engage, to hold close what lifts us up. You can support local musicians by visiting the Facebook page of NELA Couch Concert Series, The Eli at Restaurant Cotton, and Hidden Tracks.




Improve Your Posture to Decrease Pain f you’re like most Americans, you spend a lot of time sitting. You sit to eat breakfast, you sit in the car on the way to work, you sit at work, you sit while eating lunch and dinner, you sit and watch TV, and you sit to read or browse on your phone. During the last month or two, while you’ve been forced to stay in your home more than ever, you may have increased your sitting time even more. While you’re sitting, you’re most likely doing something with your arms held in front of you, too. You’re holding your phone or a book in front of you, you’re typing on a computer, you’re eating, etc., and if you aren’t careful, these activities can put you in a slouched posture with your shoulders drooping forward, your upper back excessively rounded, and your neck jutting forward. This posture becomes the shape your body holds and even when you stand, you continue to slouch forward. The problem with this posture is that it inhibits you from properly breathing from your diaphragm, which triggers your nervous system to remain stuck in a state of stress. This forward rolled posture also causes the pectorals major (the largest of the chest muscles) to stay tight, which can lead to tension and chronic pain in the upper back and


neck, place excessive pressure on the spinal disks, contribute to headaches, compression of nerves, jaw problems, can limit healthy range of motion in the arms, and even lead to frozen shoulder. The downstream effects of chronically shortened chest muscles can be quite significant, to put it wlightly. Here’s a quick, easy test you can try to give you a good idea about whether or not you have overly tight chest muscles: ▪ Lay flat on your back on the floor with your arms straight out to your sides, in line with your shoulders, and your palms facing the ceiling. ▪ B ring your attention to the bottom of your ribcage in your back and engage your core muscles to actively press it down into the floor. ▪ B end your elbows 90 degrees, in the “touchdown” position. ▪ N otice where the backs of your hands are. If they’re comfortably resting on the floor and you don’t feel any resistance in your chest or the front of your shoulders, then you’re good! ▪ I f the backs of your hands are floating above the floor, or you feel a tight or pulling sensation in your chest, then you have some work to do.




To help loosen up those tight muscles, start by massaging them to break up tissue adhesions. Grab a lacrosse ball, a tennis ball, or anything similar you have on hand. Sit up tall, holding the ball in one hand. Extend that arm out to your side, at shoulder height. Then bend your elbow to bring the ball to your chest, but be sure your elbow stays in line with your shoulder. The ball should land just inside your armpit. Stack both of your hands on top of the ball and press it firmly into your muscle. Maintain pressure on the ball and massage your muscle with small, circular motions. “draw” three circles in one direction, then switch directions for three more circles. Next, while continuing to maintain pressure on the ball, pull it toward your armpit three times. Be sure the ball isn’t rolling toward your armpit, but rather sliding across the muscle. Then repeat this process on the other side. After massaging your muscles with the ball, give them a nice stretch. You can do this by placing your right hand on the wall in front of you at shoulder height, with your arm straight and your fingers pointing to the right. Now twist your body to the left, away from your hand. Hold the stretch for 1-2 minutes and repeat on the left side. Then, retest your pecs and see if your hands are any closer to the floor.

The above massage and stretch routine is a quick way to release your chest muscles and provide temporary relief. It’s not possible, however, to undo 18 hours of poor posture with 5 minutes of massaging and stretching. Do the above routine daily, and after finishing, prioritize a healthy, upright posture and avoid letting those shoulders roll forward. It’s also important that you don’t allow yourself to sit for too long without at least short bouts of movement. For every thirty minutes of static sitting, be sure to get up and move for two minutes. Small changes implemented regularly over a long period of time can make massive improvements. Consistency is far more beneficial than intensity! WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 115


Focus on What You Can Do and Stop Worrying About What You Can’t Do article by Cindy G. Foust


ell, hello there coronacation companions, how in the name of Star Trek the Next Frontier are you? Like me, that’s how you feel, right? Or can I get a big AMEN Brother Ben? Whoever in the cat hair Brother Ben is I don’t know but I am sure he is like the rest of us, hunkered down and staying in place. This continues to feel like somewhat of a really bad sci-fi movie, but now, after five full weeks of staying in place, we are, interestingly enough still in the same place… home. I hope this month’s column finds each of you and your family and friends safe and healthy in your own homes because that’s what we should be praying for, right? It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, I was in Baton Rouge with my daughter, living our best life at her dance competition, shopping, eating, dancing and well, just enjoying our “girl’s only” weekend. Fast forward a few more weeks and look at us now, we are still shopping, eating, dancing and enjoying each other’s company, only it looks much different, doesn’t it? Our shopping is now an online adventure that has you deciding between Lay’s or Doritoes and some off brand toilet paper that you HOPE they have when you do the curbside pick up. And the whole toilet paper shortage is still just a puzzle to me. Like why do we need to stockpile toilet paper for a respiratory virus? One of my really good friends mentioned today that she doesn’t understand it either 116 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

and even went as far as to tell her husband that it’s really not a crisis when you can just “use tissue or leaves.” Wait. I pretended I didn’t hear her because I can tell you what’s not going to happen for me, and that’s using leaves as a substitute for toilet paper. I often say I’m going to move to Montana and homeschool but I can promise you if I do, they will teleport TP in weekly… I just

ain’t that kind of girl. Wait. How did I let this month’s column get this far off track? It kind of feels like our life right now, though, really far off track. Or is it? Different for sure, but off track? Scott and I have been very fortunate to be able to maintain our jobs and have continued to work remotely from home, and when I tell you that I am so grateful to our employers, gratitude just doesn’t seem enough. So many people

are hurting right now, in so many ways, and it just seems as if we are all hostage to this pandemic. But how many of you spend your days focusing on what you “can’t do” anymore? Come on, let me see a show of hands. Wait. We are in quarantine, so I can’t see anything, but how many of you are worrying over what you can’t do rather than what you can do. I have to give credit where credit is due, and my pastor, Greg Clark, actually planted this seed for me, in the early days of the stay in place. He said “stop worrying over what you can’t do and start focusing on what you can do.” It’s a simple philosophy, but it helped shift my mindset, cause let me tell you, I was “wallowing in it” in the early weeks. It’s true. I actually spent the first two weeks thinking I had the coronavirus, walking around the house having everyone feel my head for a temperature. Or I would sit in my big comfy chair and stare at the window waiting on a cough to happen…of course it never did. After my pastor made that statement in one of our early virtual church services, I started thinking about that concept of what I could do and with that thought, here’s what I now know (in no particular order): I can enjoy my home. Like many of you, our homes are a gift…a safe haven from the rest of the world, where there is sickness and the threat of an illness that could take life our lives or the lives of our family and friends. I am


guilty of taking my home for granted, but in the past few weeks, I have moved from room to room with a different eye, working from different spaces and feeling such gratitude for a safe space to stay in place (I’m going to rhyme at every opportunity, but you already know this). I can enjoy my good health. Our health is also a gift…and the health of our family and friends is, too. I have a close friend, whom I adore, whose mother is battling the Covid-19 and we have stayed in touch on a daily basis. The pain of not being able to be with her mother during this time is nearly as excruciating as her mother being sick. Nearly. Because the days of uncertainty and worry have consumed Allison, but she has stayed the course of “faith” and focused on what she could do, which was write wonderful Facebook posts about her mother and prayed for her in a constant manner. I believe, as a result, that her mother will be healed, and she is now off the ventilator. I focused on what I could do with her, which was pray and listen and stay in touch. We are all going to be affected by this in some way, but the most important is our health and the health of our loved ones, so we can focus on staying healthy, mentally and physically. Which leads me to my next “what I now know,” and that is that I can exercise every



day. Before, I made up excuses or let my tired ole self be the reason I just “said no.” I am enjoying walking and the way it makes me feel knowing I am working with my body and not against it. If we weren’t in lockdown, I would challenge and beat my neighbor, David Cole, who shoots basketball every afternoon and tries to show off that he is younger and more athletic than me, but when this is over, I will take his money. I also now know that I can have blonder roots than I originally thought because dry shampoo is a gift from God and I wish I had invented it. And what I also know is if you hold it right above your hairline and spray, the white of the shampoo does look better than the brown of your roots. You’re welcome. I can also have meals with my husband and children every day because this stay in place has provided an opportunity to take time to sit together and eat. We also cook together, almost every day and are really enjoying the sort of Norman Rockwell feeling being in the kitchen together or sitting around the dinner table talking about what we did that day. Wait. That conversation is short so we spend a lot of time just talking about what we are going to cook next. I can also reach out to neighbors, family and friends, and just check in. Offer to go to the grocery store for those loved ones who

4 5


might have compromised health and don’t need the exposure. This has really empowered me, in a way that has made me feel needed and necessary…helping my parents, my friends who need to really stay in place. And finally, on the list of what I do know…I know we are all going to be okay. Because the reality is, there is no food shortage, or gas shortage, or water shortage. Most of us have warm, safe homes and we are in quarantine with the ones we love the most. For our other loved ones, we have access to them by phone or Zoom and we are able to check in every day. Listen, I’m not trying to depict that this crisis has gotten easier or that I haven’t struggled. I have, of course I have, but what I am trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be bigger than us. Hopefully the time is near when we will be able to resume some of our normal routines…although those will likely look different, right? But that’s a column for another day, but in the meantime, try to spend some time savoring this unprecedented and unique time and focus on what you can control, rather than what you can’t. Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the for weekly columns about home life, parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.



GROWING WILD Article and Photography by HEATHER LAND

A blanket of wild greens give a garden path both function and whimsy. White clover and wild plantain grow amongst a rogue patch of mint – choking out the spring stickers without the use of chemical sprays.Clover surrounds okra seedlings, helping to absorb the extra rainwater. White clover, mint and plantain keep young cucumbers nestled. Rows of sweet blue corn grow side-byside with the carpet of clover, keeping unwanted weeds from invading. 118 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

Take a C L O S E R L O O K Mother Nature is carpeting the lands right now with lush layers of clover and wild herbs. And while most folks want them gone in favor of a manicured lawn, there are actually a few worth swooning over. White clover is a very resilient species - helping with soil erosion, fixing nitrogen, and suppressing the real weeds. In a garden, it not only creates a soft place for bare feet to ground, it is as dreamy and whimsical as it is functional. Left to thrive around the base of vegetation, it can serve to insulate the ground surrounding the roots - locking in moisture and warmth. Also edible and medicinal, says “It’s also good for treating common cold symptoms, such as upset stomachs, nausea, and dizziness. White clover herbal tea can treat rheumatic aches and arthritis. It can also be used as an eyewash to cure minor eye infections or applied on the skin to heal wounds, burns, ulcers, and sores.” The sweet whimsical shoots of Wild Plantain can be used for cuts, scrapes, bruises, stings, etc as a result of working in the garden. Simply crush up in your hands and apply. “Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”






f all the people I’ve met in my 59 years there is one man who made a lasting impression on me years ago that has carried through for over 35 years. At the time, he was a top 150 angler on the Bassmaster Trail and dominated many tournament circuits both here and across the country. I was just starting my career in fishing. I personally met Dana Walker for the first time at a Red Man tournament event on Sam Rayburn. I had heard his name but only knew he was from Ruston. He was personable but in that tournament environment, we were competitors so there was not a lot of talk about fishing. Dana did well on the Red Man Trail in those years and was formidable especially on Sam Rayburn where he could mimic patterns that he learned on his favorite lake: Caney Lake in Chatham, LA. I remember when Caney first opened and sure enough, Dana was there. We caught a lot of fish but nothing that compared to the 10 plus pounders I saw he caught that day, only to be released after photos. He was a force on that lake for many years. But the one thing that Dana was most noted for was not his fishing. Dana was a registered nurse and sadly that is where our paths crossed when we were not in a boat. I had some health problems and at age 29 was suffering with a condition where I was facing my Maker. I had a sack that had built up around my pericardium and I was literally switching from panic attacks to the most horrific chest pains you can imagine. I went to St. Francis Medical Center ER and to my surprise was greeted by Dana. From that moment on, my perception of Dana Walker changed. To hear his calm voice and reassuring demeanor was a comfort. That is when he pinned my nickname“Big Boy.” Dana sat with me in that emergency room for over 30 hours, off the clock for most of it. When the panic subsided and the crisis left is the only time Dana would leave. And that was only with my insistence. From that day forward, Dana and I were very close friends. We didn’t get to see each other as much as we liked as not long after Dana moved to Arkansas. Now that my friend is another story.


Dana found a place on the Little Red River and soon fell in love with the cold waters, rainbow trout and the abundance of game found there. He bought a farm and was soon sending pictures of turkeys, deer and other game harvested. To say Dana Walker was a predator is an understatement. I have never in my life seen a man with more drive and more gumption than he had. He would leave his house at 3 a.m. to drive down to Caney to fish, leave there at dark and drive to Galveston to tuna and snapper fish with his brother, Johnny. He was a tenacious angler and hunter. He wasn’t just determined, he was gifted. He knew critters and he knew where to be and when to have success. This year was our year. Dana and I had began to work on a lot at Caney so we could have a headquarters there for fishing. In Dana’s words, “So us old dudes could come down here and show the young bucks how to catch big fish.” We had made our plans and I was coming to his place in April of this year for an annual turkey hunt. Dana called me and we talked for about an hour as he told me of his plans to start in Mississippi on opening day, go back to Arkansas, make the loop up to Michigan, North and South Dakota, then Missouri and end up in Texas so he “BIG BOY... I WENT could catch the birds “when they right.” During that call we talked about TO HEAVEN. AND how he had suffered a stroke over a year ago and how his health was good. The thing that sticks in my mind is when he MAN I CAN SAY talked about how he actually died when he had his stroke. “Big boy... I went to THIS, IT WAS heaven. And man I can say this, it was beautiful and I can’t wait to go back.” BEAUTIFUL AND Sadly, I got the phone call all of us dread. Dana had died at the turkey camp in Mississippi, prepping for his I CAN’T WAIT TO week-long hunt there. I was and still am devastated. This kind, gentle man who GO BACK.” accepted me as his friend will be one voice I will miss greatly. He was there to comfort me when my brother died last August. He was there through the highs and lows of my fishing career and now those phone calls are gone. I will never enjoy the front of a bass boat with him again or sit in the turkey woods and watch his face light up at the distant thunder of a gobbling turkey. No more cell pictures of him playing with a rattlesnake for fun and no more mammoth trout being caught off his dock while he rolled in laughter. They say only the good die young. Dana lived a fruitful life. He touched a lot of people. He touched me in ways no other person could as he could meet me on my level on common ground. He was much more talented, much more gifted but he treated me as an equal. In fact, he treated everyone that way. His soft demeanor and caring spirit are something I hope to capture and improve on how I treat others. Endeavor to share my gifts like he did and remember that life is short as are goals. And I say it again as I have said many times before: love them while you have them. Rest in Peace Dana J. Walker. And to tell you exactly what you always told me as you exited our phone calls: “I love you, brother.”

G A L L E R Y of H O M E S 1518 Frenchman’s Bend, Monroe

289 South Ridge Road, Rayville

303 Zachary Way, Sterlington

Talk about an amazing deal! Sprawling 4 bedroom and 2.5 bathrooms, with a pool on the golf course! Featuring two living areas along with a keeping area and fireplace in the kitchen. Complete with a security system, vaulted ceilings, a gas range stove and oven, and all the charm and beauty one could want in a home. This home is ideal for entertaining and is priced to move! MLS# 192189 Aleta Eley, John Rea Realty, 318-805-1695

This custom built home in South Ridge subdivision sits on a 5-acre lot. It has 4 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms – all on the lower level, and the upper level has an unfinished attic. A beautiful coffered ceiling accents the open floor plan in the living and kitchen area. An outdoor kitchen looks onto a massive backyard and landscaping around the home. Serious inquiries only. Call 318.303.6111 to schedule a showing. For Sale by Owner.

This beautiful custom home is located on Bayou DeSiard in Sterlington. Home features 4 bedroom and 2.5 baths plus an office. Large island kitchen with breakfast area, formal dining room and a patio to enjoy your view. Barrel ceiling in foyer, cathedral ceiling in living room, wood floors. Master suite with vaulted ceilings. Double vanity, oversized tub, custom tile shower. MLS#191337 Mark Sisk, RE/MAX Premier Realty, 318-801-4344

3512 Forsythe Avenue, Monroe

2102 Rosedown Drive, Monroe

3919 Jefferson Davis, Monroe

Beautifully renovated 4 Bedroom, 2.5 bath sits on one acre in the heart of beautiful Monroe, minutes away from local shops and restaurants. Includes an office, perfect for #WFH. New flooring and new sheetrock/paint throughout. Other features include, surround sound, fireplace and new energy efficient windows. Large master suite includes a walk in closet. There is also a floored attic that could be finished as a second story. Beautiful backyard features a shop. MLS#188454 Mark Sisk, Re/Max Premier Realty, 318-801-4344

Custom home in highly desired Louisianne Subdivision. Features include 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, an office, tall ceilings with heavy stacked crown moldings, and designer touches throughout. The brick courtyard was designed by Jeff Carbo featuring irrigation and lighting. Granite in the kitchen, on the fireplace and laundry. The rear entry garage has brick pavers and a portable AC to extend the entertaining of the home. MLS# 190810 Mark Phelps, John Rea Realty, 318-237-5153

Executive style home with 3245 HSF and is situated on the water. Each of the three bedrooms has an en suite bath and walk in closets. The laundry room has great built ins, a desk area and tons of storage. The front living room could serve as an office or living space. The family room has a fireplace, vaulted ceilings, tile floors and wonderful views of the water. Great patio for entertaining or relaxing after a busy day. MLS# 190491 Barbara Thomas, John Rea Realty, 318-355-5551



Article and Photography by HEATHER LAND

Not only are they striking to look at, these roots are a powerhouse addition to your plate. Rich in fiber, potassium, manganese, iron and vitamin C, beetroots and their juice are full of antioxidants and are also known for lowering blook pressure and improving blood flow. Raw beet’s mild, subtle flavor makes it the perfect power-packed punch of both color and nutrition to most anything including salads and tacos. Simply peel and shred. They keep better when stored sprinkled with a bit of lemon.





research tells us that parent and professional elehealth, also known as, education programs, like Stewards of teletherapy, e-therapy, internet Children, can actually prevent child sexual counseling, telepsychology, abuse by increasing protective factors and and telemedicine, is a form of reducing risk factors. therapy in which Kasey Witherington is patients receive counseling a mental health counselor from a licensed therapist or at Healthpoint Center in other professional via phone or through a video-conferencing Monroe, Louisiana. She has an app. It’s as simple as using independent practice, Kasey Witherington Counseling, LLC, your phone, smartphone or and sees children, teens, and laptop with a shared link adults in order to diagnose and to enable video, or other treat mental health disorders. electronic devices. Clinical settings often intimidate After graduating in 1996 from NLU, she worked as a certified children and adolescents, teacher in public and private and building rapport can be schools. However, she felt that difficult in an office setting. KASEY WITHERINGTON her calling was somewhere else. Childhood sexual abuse is an adverse childhood experience Therefore, she decided to go (ACE) that negatively effects children who back to school to pursue her master’s degree in counseling; and in 2006, she finished her will eventually become adults with mental, master’s degree in school counseling and physical and emotional issues that are battled community counseling which gave her the throughout life. Having a conversation about ability to work in a hospital or clinical setting. the things that hurt our children the most can be gut wrenching, but it is necessary. Even One of her proudest moments was receiving if the conversation about childhood sexual the “Heroes for Patients” award in 2017. abuse causes eyes to roll and individuals to profess, “that doesn’t happen in my family,”


Q: What is the most important thing parents need to know about telehealth? A: The National Alliance on Mental Illness explains that children, teens, and adults, report 90% satisfaction regarding telehealth. Many teens prefer online therapy for sensitive issues, like sexuality, and selfharming behaviors. Teens, especially show high satisfaction rates since they are often reluctant to participate in traditional therapy sessions for fear of being labeled of stigmatized by their peers. The fear of anxiously sitting in a waiting room worrying someone they know will see them is eliminated via teletherapy. Parents, over 80% of teens own smartphones and use them daily. Simply put: today’s teens are more comfortable on screen than communicating face-to-face. If you are questioning whether your teen would be interested in teletherapy and the validity of such a method, an Australian study shows 72% of teens with mental health problems say they would access online therapy if given the opportunity, and 32% said they would choose online therapy over face-to-face meetings. Q: Why should you consider teletherapy for your child or adolescent? A: Teens are comfortable using

technology, so they may be more likely to open up about difficult issues. Online therapy is more convenient; for example, teens do not have to leave school or work to make an appointment. Teletherapy is much more assessible to everyone, especially rural clients. There is less of a stigma attached with online therapy. Therefore, meeting a therapist online can reduce many of their concerns and allow them to see for themselves what therapy entails. Teens can assess therapy during difficult times such as physical illness or quarantine, shelter-inplace orders. They can even meet while wearing their pajamas. Teens, in general, have very high stress they days. Social pressures, the everchanging family dynamic, academic pressures, mood swings, and risky behavior put teens at higher risk for mental illness. Although teletherapy is a way for teens (under age 18) to privately share information with their counselor, HIPAA and the LPC Board require that counselors disclose high risk behavior such as suicidal ideation, self-harming, or intentions of hurting others. A parent does have the right to access the child’s diagnosis and treatment plan; however, psychotherapy notes are discouraged from being shared with parents as these notes are for personal use by the therapist rather than official diagnosis. If you suspect your teen has a serious health issue, such as a mood disorder, serious depression/anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, teletherapy is not recommended during the initial diagnosis and treatment. Q: What are some of the short- and long-term outcomes of telehealth? A: Therapy, in general, is not just for those who are looking for a diagnosis and medical treatment. Seeking therapy as a source of support is a great way to heal and grow mentally. Therapy looks different for everyone. The therapist is someone to get an objective perspective from in order to set a treatment plan in place. Others may be need to explore why they are repeating unhealthy patterns of behavior and guidance on how to stop the self-defeating pattern. Whatever struggle is holding a client back from growing, unbiased help from a licensed therapist can be explored in telehealth. Short term outcomes of teletherapy involve building rapport virtually and building a positive attitude regarding the use of e-therapy. Long term outcomes involve following through with a written treatment plan created with the therapist after the first or second session, and thus meeting objectives for each goal at each session- all through teletherapy in the comfort of your home or office. At a time when the need for mental health care is greatly growing, teletherapy holds great promise for providing parents with resources for addressing their child’s well being and addressing gaps in mental health -especially in rural areas.

mental health condition, face to face therapy is suggested. Take your teen’s best judgement and opinion into consideration. Whether your teen chooses face-to-face therapy or online therapy, his/her investment in getting help will make a difference in the effectiveness of therapy. If they are threatening to hurt themselves or others, please call 911.

RESOURCES Talkspace It can be difficult to wait days or weeks to get to your next appointment. With Talkspace, you can send your therapist a message whenever you’re near a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Your conversation carries over seamlessly across devices and uses banking-grade encryption to keep it safe and confidential. Check out Talkspace (

Jan Daniels, Youth Development Director at the Children’s Coalition, works with middle schools in northeast Louisiana to provide the suicide prevention program Signs of Suicide (SOS) and the abstinence-plus program Rights, Respect and Responsibility. Call Jan at (318) 323-8775 or go to to learn more about how you can get these programs at your child’s school.

72% of teens with mental health problems say they would access online therapy if given the opportunity.

Q: How can I find help for my child if they are looking for telehealth services? A: If you believe teletherapy can help yourself or your adolescent, contact your insurance company to see if online therapy is covered. Many companies have opted to drop a co-pay for telesessions during this pandemic. You will need to check with your insurance company for details on coverage and suggestions for licensed providers. Should you prefer an online app or website, there are several available for mental health counseling: Betterhelp, Regain, Talkspace, Moodfit, Headspace, Happify, and Moodmission. If online therapy is something you would like your child or teen to engage, please talk with your loved one about the potential benefits and drawbacks of seeing a therapist online versus face-to-face. There are pros and cons to both. If your teen has a serious WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 125

Marsala Beverage Company Bud Light Family Gears Up For The Summer


INCO DE MAYO IS ALMOST HERE and Marsala Beverage would love to help you celebrate the holiday with the largest portfolio of imported brand in the US. Marsala Beverage has been a partner with Constellation Brands for over 20 years. Constellation Brands is the visionary company behind the beer, wine and spirits brands that you love and have celebrated with for over 70 years. Driven, smart, passionate and agile, we are never content with the status quo, or playing it safe. We thrive on innovation and new ideas, and are at our best when pushing our boundaries. As an entirely Americanowned company, they produce quality iconic brands such as Corona Extra, Modelo Especial, Corona Light, Corona Premier, Negra Modelo and many other beverages. Constellation Brands includes: CORONA EXTRA With a refreshing, smooth taste balanced between heavier European imports and lighter domestic beer, Corona is an even-keeled cerveza with fruityhoney aromas and a touch of malt. The flavor is crisp, clean and well balanced between hops and malt. A superior taste profile from superior ingredients. CORONA LIGHT Corona Light is a pilsner-style lager with a uniquely refreshing taste—brewed for outstanding light flavor with a crisp, clean finish. Its pleasant, fruityhoney aroma and distinctive hop flavor make it a favorite of those seeking a light beer that is full of flavor. Corona Light’s naturally easydrinking style makes it perfect for pairing with spicy and citrus-infused dishes. CORONA PREMIER Corona Premier offers the premium low-carb, light beer


experience you’ve been waiting for. Its refined, crisp taste and even-bodied feel makes it the smoothest and most drinkable Corona. With only 2.6g of carbs and 90 calories, Corona Premier is perfect for casual entertaining, sharing with guests, or rewarding yourself for a day well-lived. CORONA FAMILIAR The best beers are made to be shared. That is why Corona Familiar embraces the bright, crisp taste Corona is known for with a slightly fuller flavor, higher ABV, and shareable 32oz packaging. With strong ties to authenticity and heritage, Corona Familiar is best served in small gatherings with close friends and family, using the tradition of sharing to create meaningful experiences. CORONA REFRESCA Corona Refresca is a premium spiked refresher that brings the taste of the tropics from Mexico to you. Available in Passionfruit Lime and Guava Lime, it is a bright, flavorful malt beverage with 4.5% ABV and natural fruit flavors. Crisp, flavorful, and never too sweet, Corona Refresca doesn’t sweep you away to the tropics, it brings the topics to you. CORONA SELTZER The #1 most refreshing beer is bringing a lighter, less filling option to the hard seltzer category. Introducing Corona Hard Seltzer, the only 0g carb, all Corona, hard seltzer. With 0g carbs, 0g sugar, 90 calories, 4.5% ABV and glutenfree, Corona Hard Seltzer is a tasty, betterfor-you alcoholic beverage rooted in Corona’s chill attitude and high-end credibility. This 12pack variety includes: Tropical Lime, Cherry, Blackberry Lime and Mango. MODELO ESPECIAL Brewed as a model of what good beer should be, this rich,

full-flavored Pilsner-style Lager delivers a crisp, refreshing taste. Well-balanced taste and light hop character with a crisp, clean finish. Modelo Especial is characterized by an orange blossom honey aroma with a hint of herb. Modelo is the #2 imported beer in the U.S. NEGRA MODELO Negra Modelo, better known as “the cream of the beer,” is a Munich-type beer with 5.3º of alcohol that offers a balanced flavor and a delicate aroma of dark malt, caramel and hops. Today it occupies the first place in sales among dark beers in Mexico. This beer is accompanied by a bright deep amber color, which is adorned with abundant, white and compact foam. Negra Modelo was introduced in Mexico in 1925 as the dark beer called Modelo, to begin its great tradition. In 2014 it changed its image to a more sophisticated bottle but with the same content. Marsala Beverage is a local-based company that employs about 100 full-time employees, which all live and support the community of Northeast Louisiana. Each employee bases his or her success on never losing sight of delivering what is really important – quality products, timely service and a genuine concern for our customers’ needs. Please find us at www. or follow us on social media: Facebook: Marsala Beverage Twitter : @marsalabeverag1 Instagram: @marsalabeverage

ULM Awarded NSF Grant

To Study Tornado with Doppler Data and Drone Technology


RMED WITH CRUCIAL DATA ON the April 12th tornado collected by the University of Louisiana Monroe Doppler weather radar and other instruments, Todd Murphy, Ph.D., program coordinator in Atmospheric Science, acted quickly to apply for a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant to study the tornado that hit Monroe. He included the request for funding for the ULM Precision Ag and UAS Research Center to utilize its drone technology for aerial surveys of the damage. A $51,763 NSF grant was approved in a matter of days, putting ULM drones in the air and boots on the ground to survey the damage and gather information about the EF-3 tornado that ping-ponged through Monroe. Paul Karlowitz, associate professor and director of the AG and UAS Research Center, and manager Stephanie Robinson both have FAA Small UAS Pilots certificates to operate unmanned aerial systems (aka drones), which

is a grant requirement. “RAPID proposals are used when there is a severe urgency with regard to availability of, or access to data. In our case, we collected a great dataset using our Atmospheric Science instrumentation – radar, Doppler wind lidar, surface measurements, and microwave radiometer – of the storm and tornado that impacted Monroe. Given the close approach of the tornado to our radar, there is an excellent opportunity to relate the tornado damage characteristics to the actual radar data,” Murphy said. Since the cleanup began almost immediately, it was essential for Karlowitz and Robinson to launch the university’s Yuneec H520 drones with 4K video and 20 megapixel cameras as soon as possible to survey and document the damage from the air. Notified of NSF approval on Monday, April 20th, the next day Karlowitz and his team were maneuvering drones over the damaged hangars at Monroe Regional Airport. They will survey several

sites where the tornado touched down. “Stephanie did all the drone flying and filming. I was in charge of safety and the overall mission of data collection and responsible for obtaining the Class ‘D airspace authorization that surrounds the Monroe airport with a 5-mile radius,” Karlowitz said. The data from Murphy’s weather instruments and the drone documentation, along with the Nation Weather Service’s information, will be analyzed for a comprehensive report on what happened just before, during, and after the tornado. “This survey data, a combination of aerial and ground survey, will help us better understand the strength of the tornado at various points along its path. We will compare the estimated tornado intensity and size (damage path width) back to our radar data. This comparison could lead to improved realtime radar tornado information, which has the potential to improve future NWS tornado warnings,” Murphy said.



Bedroom Makeover



* Tip: Don’t be afraid to mix textiles and colors in a room. It’s really easy to completely transform a space just by adding a punch of color.


asked with making over a bedroom for our BayouLife Home Issue seemed like a fun and easy pursuit until the state was put under a stay-at-home order. Using materials around her home, Kelly Moore Clark volunteered for the challenge of transforming her mostly white room into a relaxing haven filled with colorful textiles and gorgeous greenery. A simple piece of artwork was relocated and replaced with an aztec-motif wall covering. Above the bed, a remnant piece of wood was salvaged and quickly become a focal point for some of Kelly’s beloved treasures. The

side tables that were once at the foot of the bed got an upcycle with the addition of casters and a wood top. Plants that were once scattered around the home quickly added color to bright white walls, while artwork was stacked to create depth on the newly constructed shelving. Kelly moved a vibrantly-hued green bed covering from a different bedroom to add over their white duvet and a blush-colored throw blanket picks up pinks from the wall covering behind the bed. A newly purchased bed skirt hides once exposed bedding. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 129

Art Formed




nga Woods is a glass artist and Louisiana Tech University student who grew up in Belize, which is located on the northeastern coast of Central America and borders the Caribbean Sea. The 27-yearold cyber and electrical engineering major took on several odd jobs to make money as a young adult in Belize. She worked as a mechanic’s assistant, was a cashier for a water taxi company, and slowly became a magnet for others’ creative projects. “I noticed that a lot of people would ask me to make things,” she said. While she was working as a mechanic’s assistant, she also learned new skills from her coworkers when extra hands were needed. One of those new skills was welding. Once she learned to weld, she liked it so much that she started experimenting in her spare time and making sculptures out of metal scraps for fun. Being creative in ways like these has always come naturally to Inga. She attributes her creative spirit partly to a language delay she experienced as a small child. Because she was nonverbal until she was 4, Inga communicated with sign language, gestures, and drawings at first. “I feel like being able to express myself in a nonverbal way with art has really helped me communicate with people,” she said. But Inga didn’t take herself seriously as an artist until she was an adult and had dabbled in a few different jobs. When Inga started welding and making metal sculptures for fun, she considered investing in a welding certification course. But before she dove headfirst into it, she decided to do a little research and see if there was anything comparable that she might like more. That’s how she discovered glass blowing and decided to learn more about the beautiful art form. Up until this point, Inga had been deterred by the starving-artist myth and had never seriously considered investing in her creative skills or becoming an artist, but she



found that people were always pleased with the outcome of pieces they commissioned from her, which helped build her confidence. When she discovered glass blowing, she thought, “Why not invest in it?” Soon Inga was taking classes and working with beads. She enjoyed making beads but said they were made of sodalime glass, which she found to be more temperamental and prone to cracking than borosilicate glass. According to Inga, borosilicate takes longer to heat, but it’s more durable and lends itself better to larger projects, which appealed to Inga because she’s the type to want to go big or go home. Today, Inga makes beautiful pendants, but they no longer resemble her early work, which was made with tourists in mind and included turtles, manta rays, and other animals native to the Caribbean. Instead, her current pendants are simple, minimalistic conversation pieces. Along with making these pendants and glass drinking straws, Inga has challenged herself to make some larger pieces, such as crowns and headpieces, and is challenging herself to go even bigger as she learns more. Inga’s current work celebrates femininity, which she attributes to having inspiring women in her life—four sisters and her mom, who is an extraordinary woman.

Although being a student has forced Inga to place some of her plans for bigger projects on hold, she continues to learn and create in the studio as well as the classroom. According to Inga, working with glass requires immense focus and steady hands. It also requires planning, especially for bigger pieces. She said, “You have to piece them in your head, and it teaches you to be efficient with your time and be patient.” At the same time, you have to work fast to shape it. To help those who have never worked with hot glass understand what it’s like, Inga compared it to shaping honey into a ball using chopsticks, while constantly rotating the chopstick to maintain the ball form. “You really have to zone in on it,” she said. “You have to have tunnel vision.” Despite the level of focus required and perhaps because of it, Inga finds working with glass relaxing.

In fact, she said that whenever she’s stressed, she wants to go into the studio and create things. “It’s a form of meditation,” she said, and it gives her a sense of peace. When she was still in Belize and practicing her new glass-blowing skills, Inga wasn’t terribly fond of the tourist trinkets she made, but tourists seemed to like them, so she kept making them. At the same time, she also continued to work her other odd jobs and was happily busy and independent when she met her husband, John. The two met when John’s cousin invited Inga to join them on an eight-person group hike to Victoria Peak, which Inga said is like the Mt. Everest of Belize. She was excited to go on the hike and accepted the invitation with no intentions of starting a relationship with anyone, but John made a point to come

to the back of the line to meet her and talk with her. “I thought he was a little player,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘Boy, I have no time for you.’” She was giving him one-word answers and brushed him off, but he was persistent, and eventually they discovered that they had some things in common and had a really good conversation. By the end of the hike, Inga had changed her mind and even agreed to go on a date with him. They have been together ever since. Because John is from Belize but American, his U.S. citizenship made it possible for them to move to Louisiana, where they are near his family and Louisiana Tech. Inga is just a freshman at Tech, but she is full of enthusiasm for her fields of study, and she’s using what she learns to make her a better glass artist. Currently, she’s been planning and building the components for a steam engine made entirely of glass that she hopes to surprise her professors with. The project is one that she’s passionate about and one that combines what she’s learning in school with what she’s already learned about working with glass. Inga believes that sometimes people mistakenly assume that art and science don’t mix well, but she aims to prove otherwise. “One thing I like is that at Tech I’m able to

integrate STEM into my art,” she said. “I feel like it merges very well, but nobody else really does it much.” Long ago, this separation of art and science didn’t exist. Some of the greatest figures in the history of art refused to limit themselves to art alone. Michelangelo was not only a sculptor, painter, and poet, but also an architect, scientist, and inventor. Similarly, Leonardo da Vinci was a polymath whose knowledge spanned numerous art forms and a lengthy list of scientific fields. He was a true Renaissance man and an inspiration to Inga. In fact, Inga has da Vinci’s iconic Vitruvian Man tattooed on her arm, but in the form of a woman, and she strongly believes that he originally sketched the famous drawing as a woman. In any case, it continues to be a symbol of the unity of art and science for many. For Inga, her artistic skills have made her a better student of the sciences and vice versa. For this reason, she wants to continue to explore both aspects of herself. “If you don’t do something outside your comfort zone, you’ll always be in your circle,” she said, “but being outside your circle is the best part of learning and growing.” She believes that being an artist has really helped her grow as a person and has helped to make her well-rounded. “It’s helped me expand myself and my ideas,” she said, “and it’s helped me with problem solving and thinking on my feet.” Because Inga always wished there was someone like her to learn from when she was little, she wants to be that person for other girls. She wants to inspire young girls to get into science and not limit themselves. Although she didn’t have access to someone like her when she was little, she was fortunate to find a role model when she was working as a mechanic’s assistant in Belize. That person was Reina Gonzales, a petite, female civil engineer, who was serving as project manager for demolition of Belize City Center, a major sports complex, at age 25. Inga found that being a mechanic’s assistant on construction sites brought her close to Gonzales. Inga said, “She would


The Hermes headpiece and Venom masks are both prototypes. She’s used these pieces to visually remind herself that there are no limits to what she can accomplish.


command a fleet of 20 guys on a site, and she held her own, and I was in awe of her. I thought, ‘I want to be like her.’” Inga believes wholeheartedly that if there were more representation of women in STEM fields, there would be more women working in those fields. According to Inga, young girls need to see women like Gonzales to know those jobs are accessible to them, and Inga wants to be one of those women— one of those role models to young girls. She wants girls to know that they can do whatever they want. At the same time, Inga is a self-described introvert. Although she can be extroverted at times, being introverted has been a challenge at times. “They always say that artists are very flamboyant,” she said, “but when it comes to displaying my work, I like to sit back and watch people.” Inga likes showing the product itself, but she likes watching from behind the scenes. In fact, during a trip to New Orleans last fall for fashion week, she decided to let her sister-in-law do the talking while she sat back, listening to people’s opinions and observing their reactions to different pieces of work. When people hear Inga’s accent, which happens the moment she opens her mouth, it’s like they forget about the work and just want to know where she’s from. She feels this can distract from her work, but she’s slowly coming to terms with the need to share more of herself to accomplish her goals. Despite her natural tendency to want to remain in the background, Inga has begun making a concerted effort to give her work and her social media a face—her face. She said it made her feel a little weird and narcissistic at first, but she soon learned that people like seeing more than the work itself. She also realized that showing more of her process and sharing her knowledge could maybe help someone else who is learning. One reason Inga strives to be open with her knowledge is that she’s been inspired by others who practiced the same willingness to share. One such inspiration is Nikola Tesla, the famous engineer and inventor. “He always thought outside the box,” she said. But she also admires Tesla, and others like him, such as Elon Musk, for their inclination to be open about their discoveries. “The goal for me is to learn as much as I can and make it easier for other people to learn it,” she said. One thing Inga has noticed in her own hunt for knowledge is that many of the videos and tutorials available on the internet might show how to do something, but they fail to explain the “why.” They don’t explain the underlying reasons that a given process, reaction, machine, experiment, or other endeavor works as it does. Inga said that in cases like these she likes to take it upon herself to explore the “why” for herself, so she can explain it to others. She loves the idea of bringing science and art together to educate and has plans to share her own knowledge online and possibly in workshops in the future. In fact, she’s already started a YouTube channel and has plans to post tutorials there. “The internet is really limitless,” she said. “You can learn whatever you want.” But at the same time, she likes the idea of hosting small workshops. While the internet is great, it has some limitations when it comes to communication. For that reason, teaching small groups face to face is appealing to Inga. “You can ask questions and get immediate feedback,” she said. Because she’s always looking for ideas and challenges to explore for herself, especially with science and technology topics, she invites others to reach out to her with their ideas or challenges. With her brains, creativity, and open mind, there are no limits to what Inga can accomplish. To visually remind herself of this fact, she’s placed one of her favorite sculptures in the center of her living room, a Hermes headpiece reminiscent of the mythical Greek god Hermes, who was a messenger capable of moving freely between mortal and divine worlds. Inga’s headpiece is made of dichroic glass and large feathers. The feathers are reminiscent of the wings often depicted on Hermes’ sandals, and the dichroic glass changes colors according to the angle and lighting, which Inga said gives the sculpture a magical, fluid appearance. From its central place on a table in her living room, the sculpture represents the height our ideas can reach. “If you have wings on your head, your ideas can fly,” she said.

Meredith’s Musings article by M E R E DI T H MCK I N N I E

morning I hugged my girls. The ringing alarm clock hasn’t woken me in weeks. Instead, I am lulled out of slumber by the ray of ironic sunshine that peers through my window, or the gurgles of my 8-monthold daughter in the bassinet, or my two-year-old‘s voice coming through the monitor saying, “Mommy, let me out.” Little Wilder hates being trapped, whether it’s in her crib or left in the bathtub, or even a prolonged embrace. Like her mother, she shies away from lingering physical affection. But these days, during these uncertain times, I make sure to hug my girls. I don’t have the words to explain why we’re all together and deviating from our normal routines. And thankfully, they’re so young they don’t even ask. But each morning, I bring Wilder into bed with her father and me, sandwich her between our bodies, prop Fable against her sister, and sit and hug my girls. We make breakfast. Our go-to meal is eggs and toast. Husband bought the fancy butter, the real butter, as we are learning to take comfort in the small things in isolation. We’re finding our rhythm, my husband rotating bread in and out of the oven we use for toasting, and my dancing around his towering frame flipping eggs on the stove. We all sit around the breakfast table, admittedly an act we don’t do nearly enough. We all tend to chew in relative silence, as there is little to report because none of us have drifted outside of our tiny microcosm in weeks. I’m always first to take my dishes to the sink, as I have always eaten more quickly than I should. I wash each plate as it comes to me, slowly, methodically, making sure each indentation is adequately scrubbed. I used to rush this process, but now these daily chores are the only routine I can indulge in, and I crave routine. I prefer knowing what comes next, and this odd reality of synonymous freedom and confinement feels stifling. Hugging my girls makes it all feel less so. Around noon we head outside. Anyone with small children knows the outdoors provide entertainment when a parent’s creativity is running thin. Wilder finds her father’s big yellow


bucket and starts collecting acorns. She likes making piles for the squirrels to fetch while she watches later from the breakfast nook window. She will inevitably plop into a puddle we hadn’t noticed, and we no longer chastise her as we once would. We won’t be going anywhere that requires clean clothes. If there were ever a time to roll in the mud, being isolated due to a pandemic is the time. Later when we hose the pants and boots down, as the girls’ laughter from the bathtub radiates through the house, we will not scoff at those stains. Instead, those stains remind us we’re alive, that we’re still living. It may not be what we planned, and we may not have all the answers, but we have today. And so, I don’t rush them out of the tub. I run more water, load the tub with a second round of bubbles, and just let them be. If this situation is forcing me to do anything, it is simply to pause and be. With less to do, we have more time to reflect. So I reach into the water, never mind the wetness, and again I hug my girls. Dinner happens around that same table. With little to do throughout the day, it feels like we were just there, wiping piles of crumbs into wet dishcloths and eliminating milk stains and coffee rings. The day feels both long and short. My husband and I started eating earlier in the evening. Before, with the nature of our jobs and schedules, we would often sit, just he and I, eating after the girls had gone to bed. Now we all eat at the same time, morning and night. Sometimes I will catch Wilder’s eye as she’s munching her beloved blueberries and I’ll wink. She is happy to be eating with everyone and not alone while her parents are otherwise occupied in the kitchen. After this is all over, I will replicate this dinner routine; it makes her so happy. I’m ashamed I never made sure we ate together before; it seems so obvious. A little after 7, my husband will scoop Wilder up. She will inevitably fake protest and then giggle, and then insist dad lift her high, higher than mom ever can. She will let her father carry her around the room, giving night time hugs and kisses to Fable and our puppy Lulu, and then to me. I will take her in my arms, hold her extra tight, and say as I always do, “Mommy loves you.” She will snuggle my neck, and say, “I love you toooooooo.” And all will be right again. Tomorrow morning, it will begin again. We will cuddle in bed, make eggs and toast, roll some in the mud and do an extra load of laundry for the luxury of playing in the dirt, sit as a family and consume the homemade food that was not made in a rush and then do an extra round of kisses and hugs before bed. And for the foreseeable future, if this is my every day, I couldn’t be more grateful simply to hug my girls. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 135



This month, we asked local home accessory stores to tell us some of their favorite items. From pillows to hand soap and key rings, these area retailers will have every inch of your home taken care of.

3 1







7 5



1. PALETT E H O USE + PLUM E 2. M ATERI AL T H I N G S 3 . WO O D S T O C K G A R D E N + G I F T 4 . P A L E T T E H OU SE + PL U M E 5. HA VEN 6. W O O DSTO CK G ARDE N + G I F T 7 . M A T E R I A L T H I N G S 8 . H A V E N 9 . M A T E R I A L T H IN GS 10. W O O DSTO CK G ARD E N + G I F T 1 1 . H A V E N 1 2 . P A L E T T E H O U S E + P L U M E 136 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM


Children’s Coalition

Announces New Executive Director


HILDREN AND FAMILIES ARE RAPIDLY FACING challenges, and the Children’s Coalition is stepping up to serve. Despite doors being closed to the Downtown Monroe headquarters, countless services have continued. Staff continues to provide classes remotely for our childcare providers in the Ancillary Teaching Certificate program, Child Care Connections and families in the Family Resource Center. Early Head Start families are also provided remote support and supplies like diapers and wipes. Many other programs are pivoting to address issues that are arising because of the shut down including mental health support for childcare providers and families as well as our Child Care Resource and Referral agency working with our essential personnel in finding quality child care. Operations have continued under the leadership of Dr. Lynn Clark, who will serve as Executive Director until April 10th. Since 2014, The Children’s Coalition has seen a rapid growth of services under the direction of Dr. Lynn Clark. During her tenure, the organization grew by more than 50 employees and nearly $5 million annually. Her innovation secured funding for federal and state programs including Early Head Start (ACF), Family Resource Center (DCFS), Child Care Resource and Referral (LDE), Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (HRSA), Drug Free Communities (DHH). Under her leadership, she centralized programs into one-stop in a high-poverty area to seamlessly connect families to child care, parenting and basic needs This allowed 1,000+ children and families in first years and 120 homeless children and parents to be served. She also created unique early childhood natural play space and 30-bed edible garden that wraps around one-stop and feed 134 children in the Early Head Start program each week and expanded Farm to Preschool approach to include 20 child care centers in second year. Dr. Clark announced her departure intent in late 2019 and has recently accepted a position as the Executive Director for the Alabama Humanities Foundation in Birmingham, AL. Dr. Clark remained fully committed to serving the Children’s Coalition and has been pivotal thought the period of transition. In addition, the Board was afforded time to devise a succession plan and conduct an extensive search. The Children’s Coalition Board of Directors is pleased to announce the hiring of a new Executive Director, Leann Bond. With over 20 years of working in the nonprofit sector, Leann brings experience in fundraising, management and planning. She most recently served as a consultant for multiple non-profits and as the Director of Resource Development for The Arc Caddo-Bossier in Shreveport. She has been very active in Louisiana serving on boards, the Mayor’s Advisory Council for People with Disabilities, and a recipient of the PTA Life Service Award. Although this transition is happening during a time of uncertainty, the Children’s Coalition has continued to respond to community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to serve children and families through this change in leadership. The Coalition began as a response to the 1997 President’s Summit for America’s Future in Philadelphia as Ret. General Colin Powell challenged Americans and communities to come together and make youth and children a top priority. In 1998, Northeast Louisiana began to organize their own efforts to focus on youth and adolescents, and later formally created the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana as a 501c3 membership based nonprofit. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 139

The Pandemic Doesn’t Define Your Life — You Do ar ticl e by L AU R A W C L A R K


’m writing this column while looking through the large living room window of my childhood home in South Dakota. I gazed through this window a lot growing up, especially when the world seemed too big, and my problems even bigger. It calmed me to look at our back yard and focus on the strawberry patch or the yellow dandelions, which despite being told otherwise, I believed were beautiful flowers. It’s March, so I’m currently looking at snow. The snow is beautiful in its own way—it blankets everything, including the dirt—with a clean, white cover. Like many of you, I want a clean, white cover to make COVID-19 disappear. I want everyone—including those I don’t know—to recover both physically and emotionally. I want my Facebook newsfeed to feature screaming goat videos and Napolean Dynamite memes, not daunting stories about people dying, healthcare providers working without protective equipment, and people ignoring CDC’s safety guidelines. But, I have no control over how others behave. And I can take some comfort in that. I can only control how I choose to react to the crisis we all face. I can stay home, I can reach out to friends, and I can look out my window and appreciate what I see.


After I was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, I started to think about who I wanted to be when the cancer disappeared. Was I going to be scared all of the time? Or would I try to live the best life I could, despite my lack of energy and the unknown nature of the disease? One day, early in my diagnosis, I casually said to my new neighbor, “I have cancer, so I have to undergo radiation.” He responded, “Don’t claim that disease. It’s part of your life, but don’t claim it as your own.” I didn’t really understand what he meant at the time, but later I did. The cancer didn’t disappear as doctors predicted; the disease stayed with me for 15 years. However, the cancer no longer had much power over me because I didn’t let it define me. My health worries lessened because the worst thing (at least in my 20-something-yearold mind) had already happened. And I survived it; I lived alongside it. So, who am I going to be during and after this pandemic? Am I going to mourn my freedom, which included several coffee shop visits and lunch dates with friends? Yes, I have grieved that loss. Will I berate myself for not accomplishing enough professionally and not investing enough time in my six-year-old son’s homework? Yes, I am guilty of all of that. But now, I’m trying something new. I limit my social media consumption to 30 minutes a day, not because I want to miss friend updates, but because my news feed is full of scary headlines. I also make an effort to call one friend each day. And I’m heeding my Southern mother’s advice: wear nice clothes and choose the red lipstick. So this week, I’ve ditched the yoga pants for actual pants, and I’ve been reaching for my Mac Russian Red lipstick. She’s right. I do feel better. I won’t be perfect. There will be days when I click on the ominous headline. However, I won’t berate myself for doing so. When I watch a movie and see people interacting—in person—I will momentarily mourn our loss of normalcy, but I will move forward and embrace what I can control: how I respond to uncertainty. Anxiety has always fueled me to take action. If I can lessen someone’s pain with a phone call or a Zoom meeting, then I’m contributing to something bigger than myself, and that brings me a sense of peace. I have also always been hopeful, sometimes naively so. And I have a lot of hope for our future. The other day, a police officer stopped at my parents’ driveway, stepped out of his car, and gave my son and nephew badges for “excellent tree-climbing skills.” My six-year-old son immediately slapped his sticker on his jacket, puffed out his chest, stuck his hands on his hips, and proclaimed, “I am a HERO.” The police officer didn’t use the word “hero,” but his actions made my son feel like one. As the officer drove away, he turned on his siren. Fueled by their new badges, both boys began climbing the tree with even more energy. In the time I spent writing this column, the snow began melting, and with it, the reality of our backyard began to appear. That’s OK, though. I can appreciate the temporary beauty until the snow—and hopefully soon, the flowers—returns. I know we can do the same in this unbelievable chapter of 2020. I want to thank and send virtual hugs to my friends/heroes working in the healthcare industry. I am in awe of you. I wish everyone hope, health, and happiness—whatever that looks like right now. Laura W. Clark, owner of Vivian’s Voice, LLC, a communications consulting company, can be reached at

ULM Nursing Students Receive Clinical Training


URSING IS THE HANDS-ON, FACE-TO-FACE interaction between healthcare professionals and patients. Nursing students learn the practices and procedures of patient care during “clinicals” – the hours they work in hospitals and healthcare facilities. When COVID-19 halted student nurses from joining professional nurses on the job, the Kitty DeGree School of Nursing found an innovative solution to meet the clinical requirements of coursework. Wendy Bailes, Ph.D., RN, Director of the School of Nursing, said when she realized the nursing classes would be going online, she met with faculty to determine the best course of action, and to avoid any expense to the students. The answer was the purchase of interactive software, Shadow Health. Faculty quickly learned the program and adapted it to their specific courses by creating PowerPoints, voiceover instructions, and incorporating case studies. Classes and individual groups are meeting via Zoom. “Both faculty and students have embraced this new way of learning. It is not ideal; we miss not being in the hospitals and helping at this time. But, we are continuing to ensure that our students progress and graduate, as they meet competencies. For those students who lacked an ability to go online due to not having a device, we provided an iPad to get them through these next few weeks,” Bailes said. Assignments and case studies teach students critical thinking and essential concepts, said Daigle. “However, Shadow Health is the next best thing to real patient interaction. It is a simulated online program that students use to assess and interview patients. They speak or type their questions to the patient, and the patient responds based on what the student said. They even get experience dealing with patients who are less compliant.” The software instruction includes patient education and proper administration of medication. The student’s performance is graded, and feedback is provided. The student and the instructor can access the student’s work for their grades and see where the student is proficient. Students also complete weekly self-evaluations. “The feedback from students has been great. This is what one student had to say, ‘I personally love Shadow Health. Although the scenarios are online, the patient-nurse interactions are so realistic. Practicing the flow of conversation and assessment is helping me to become a more proficient nurse. I like having the ability to redo these assignments because I can see what needs improvement when I review,’” Daigle said. Assistant Professor Marcie Young, MSN, RN, teaches Nursing Management to students in their final semester. During this last step of their nursing school journey, the students are applying all they have learned. The management strategies range from prioritization to communication skills. “The Shadow Health module Nursing Leadership provides students with simulated scenarios utilizing delegation, conflict resolution, patient interviewing skills, critical thinking scenarios, and the ability to review and document in an electronic health record,” Young said. She also uses Swift River software. Movies, discussion board forums, and self-reflection journals have also been incorporated into the course. WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM | MAY 2020 141

Food (And Beer) For Thought Strength and Ingenuity Conquering the Coronavirus BY DELIA SIMPSON, CRAFT BRAND MANAGER, CHOICE BRANDS, INC.


O CORNER OF THE ECONOMY HAS BEEN LEFT untouched by the coronavirus recession, but the food service industry has suffered arguably the hardest hit of all. The food and beverage sector accounted for 60% of the jobs lost in March. In a state like Louisiana, where so much of our local economy centers around food-based tourism, that blow is particularly harsh. What has been striking, though, is to see how this industry, along with its beverage partners, has been able to pivot and show real American ingenuity in the face of such widespread hardship. Within days of the initial shelter in place order, many local restaurants had taken to their social media pages with updated menus and family package meals which were being offered to go, often with a curbside pickup option. Delivery services such as Waitr and Chef Taxi stepped up their game. Facebook pages were started to serve as a hub for information, where menus, hours of operation, and daily specials could be posted. Just search “curbside” on Facebook and several options specific to Northeast Louisiana can be found. Due to temporarily relaxed regulations from The Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, many places can even sell a six pack of beer to go with food orders. In the age of social distancing, this kind of one-stop shopping is key. Food and beverage go hand-in-hand, of course. The restaurant and bar industry’s woes are felt by beverage producers as well. Even so, many have been able to focus some efforts towards doing good for those who need it most. Diageo Beer Company, the parent company of Guinness and Smirnoff Ice, pledged to produce over eight million bottles of free hand sanitizer intended for frontline care workers during the fight against the coronavirus. In Diageo’s official press release, chief executive Ivan Menezes highlighted Diageo’s commitment to this effort. “Healthcare workers are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic and we are determined to do what we can to help protect them. This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitizer around the world.” The makers of Miller Lite donated $1 million to support bartenders out of work due to the pandemic. Their donation was made to the USBG (United States Bartenders Guild) National Charity Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance program. The organization set up a 142 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM

“Virtual Tip Jar” to fund grants for out of work bartenders and their families. Applications and donations can be made at usbgfoundation. org/beap. In a story that took the internet by storm, Coors Light answered a 93 year-old Pittsburgh-area woman’s plea for more beer. Olive Veronesi’s supply was dwindling when she decided to put up a sign in her window. “I was on my last 12 cans. I have a beer every night. You know what, beer has vitamins in it. It’s good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it,” Olive told reporters. The picture of Olive holding her sign and a can of Coors Light went viral, garnering more than 5 million views. Coors Light sprung into action and delivered Olive 150 cans of her precious Coors Light. She is sure not to run out anytime soon. D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. has pledged $100,000 to provide relief to Americans during this public health crisis. “As America’s Oldest Brewery, for nearly 200 years, we have survived a number of highs and lows throughout our nation’s history. We have learned that the best way to get through tough times is to stick together and support one another,” said Wendy Yuengling, Chief Administrative Officer and 6th generation family member, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. “We are proud to work alongside nonprofit partners who are able to support heroes on the front lines and our communities in need, including the Gary Sinise Foundation and HARP. Together, we will overcome this challenge and come out stronger and more united than ever.” Local brewery, Flying Tiger, was quick to act as well. Although the tap room is closed to the public during the shelter in place order, beer can still be purchased to go and even picked up via curbside service. The brewery is generously donating $1 from each purchase back to the taproom staff. In addition, they are selling the Bulls in the Streets bandanas, which would have been used at their annual fundraiser, for $10 each and donating the entire proceeds to the St. Francis Foundation to provide much needed personal protective equipment for local healthcare workers. For more information on how to get yours, visit Be sure to like Choice Brands on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with new product releases and message us for information on where to find your favorite brands. Find us at,, and


Simply Lou Me, Mama and My Hair

article by LOU DAV E N P ORT


have written about this subject before. My dear mama seemed to enjoy torturing me by wanting to fix my hair to look like a little southern belle and that just went against my rebellious little soul. I know she wanted a perfect little princess, but she got me. Bless her sweet heart, because princess, I was NOT! Unless princesses liked to dig in the dirt, play cars, go barefoot, and run around in cotton panties from J.C. Penny. That was my “perfect” outfit, and my “perfect hair” was a super casual look, that I let fly all over the place in wild abandon. That was me, the “little princess.” Our negotiated hairdo was a pony tail. At least it kept my wild hair out of my face so I could build better roads for my cars! Pin curling was not nearly enough torture for my mama. Back when I was a wee one, there were TONETTES... home permanents for young girls. The older girls had TONI’S. I’m sure they had the same stinky ingredients and those same plastic stick rod rollers and rolling papers. Yes, ROLLING PAPERS. Rolling papers, I wrote that right! That’s what they were called! ROLLING PAPERS! Those “Tonette’s” should have been banned in all 50 states and several foreign countries. I am sure they had at least 5 or 6 highly toxic ingredients in that box of terror. It had bottles that were mixed together to

make the “perm solution.” That should have been enough but oh no, they had a bottle of “neutralizer!” Neutralizer to stop the cooking, oh, I mean curling action of the permanent solution Mama had a twinkle in her eye when she’d sit me in one of the kitchen chairs and proceed with cooking my hair until it was a fine mess of frizz. First, you had to endure the rolling part... strands wrapped in those ROLLING PAPERS and then, twisted around the stick of the rollers, which took awhile. ( I was never one to be able to sit still for very long UNLESS it was something I wanted to do, like playing in the dirt in my cotton panties). Then, she mixed the perm solution. Oh, it smelled so God awful bad. I’m guessing it was at least 80% ammonia. It sat there on your “rolled and wrapped hair” for a long while, that seemed like hours to me. You lose track of time having to smell that SOLUTION. The “neutralizer” came next as she held your head under the kitchen faucet. You had to hold your nose and squeeze your eyes shut. We didn’t have one of those “shampoo sprayer things” at my house. Mama would just push your head under the running water as far as possible to get all that mess off. I was squirming and writhing around the whole time. Oh the inhumanity! But, the torture was not over when you got that stinking crap off your hair. Then, you got UNROLLED and UNWRAPPED! She saved the rollers, and threw away the papers. The rollers were kept in a TONI permanent box in the bathroom cabinet. Your hair was left hanging, wet, in weird “worm like” spirals. She’d comb through that and I think, roll it in the pin curls again. It had to dry and we didn’t have a hair dryer back then. She’d put the “panty hair net” on me and I think I got to go out to dig in the dirt. I think. My memories are vague here because of all the toxic fumes I’d just inhaled. Finally, it would be time for the big reveal! Mama would gleefully pull out all

those bobby pins, brush it out and start to “ooh and ahh” at what she had created. She’d march me into the bathroom so I could see in the bathroom mirror. O.M.G.! I would look like I had stuck my finger in an electrical outlet., just like Chevy Chase in the classic “Christmas Vacation” poster. And she had the nerve to tell me how PRETTY I LOOKED! I remember going into a full meltdown at that point; I would wail and sob! And those perms lasted forever. To get rid of all that fuzz and frizz, your hair had to be cut! Cut! I got the scissors once and cut a big chunk of my own hair out trying to rid myself of that frazzled looking hair. Not smart on my part but, mama did have to cut my hair fairly short to “even it up.” Now, I wasn’t the only child in my family of cousins who had to endure the torture. Sometimes Loretta got those Tonette’s right along with me. Mama and Aunt Mayvonne lined us up, like an assembly line, and permed us both! Judi didn’t even need a perm, she had great naturally curly hair. She was lucky! She escaped, “Perms for One; Perms for All!” We spent years of our lives looking like “old ladies.” I had one more perm when I was in my late 20’s. The “in style” was a head full of curls, like “Gloria” on “All in the Family.” When I came home from the beauty shop, my husband, Larry, told me I looked like Harpo Marx. I did, really, I did. Right now during this quarantine, I’m way past getting my hair cut. It doesn’t really have a color, probably because of all those Toneette Home Perms. So, needless to say, I’m pretty drab and my hair is getting long. Hats have come in mighty handy and forget about makeup. I do try to get dressed every day and brush my hair, just to put a hat on. But, this all shall pass and I hope it’s soon. I never want to wear another pony tail as long as I live.


BAYOU BU Z Z WO RT H Y FLYOVER SALUTE > Congressman Ralph Abraham and the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team flew over Northeast Louisiana to salute first responders and healthcare workers on April 15th. Residents were invited to step outside around 1 p.m. and witness the salute that flew over Monroe and West Monroe. The flyover consisted of four planes and they trailed smoke across the sky for onlookers. (Photo from Northeast Louisiana Veterans Home)



The St. Francis Foundation helped show some love for the employees, staff and patients of St. Francis Medical Center by displaying banners off the hospital’s parking garage in downtown Monroe. There were notes for nurses, verses from local churches, words of encouragement… BayouLife Magazine even created a banner! Laura Daniels with the Foundation also collected notes and cards from local residents to display throughout the hospital to encourage doctors, nurses, staff and patients. This is just another example of how our entire community is in this together and supporting each other!

The week of April 20th-24th local sheriff departments distributed free face masks to Northeast Louisiana communities. They were a part of the 2-million washable masks donated by the Hanes Corporation. 50,000 masks went out to Ouachita Parish; over 5,500 were handed out in the first hour in Richland Parish; nearly 9,000 were given out to Franklin Parish; and over 4,200 to Lincoln Parish. Sheriff Departments state that they hope to do it again in the near future.

ONE MASK AT A TIME > Fabulous Fabrics of Monroe has been working hard to help save lives one mask at a time. Holly and her staff have taken it upon themselves to help relieve the mask shortage problem and start producing their own fun and cute masks themselves. Their masks help protect while also being stylish. Way to go Fabulous Fabrics!

< LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHER SUPPORTS LOCAL BUSINESSES For the past month, many families have been at home together and local photographer Jaclyn Hall took advantage of the opportunity to take family photos, all while supporting local businesses. Jaclyn teamed up with another local business, Moxey to create a local version of The Front Porch Project in Monroe and West Monroe. Jaclyn traveled to families’ homes and took their picture on their front porch, from a safe distance of course. Rather than paying for Jaclyn’s services, families made a purchase a local business to help support the local economy. From home stores to sporting good stores to restaurants and boutiques, families across Northeast Louisiana purchased gift cards and items from locally owned businesses. 146 MAY 2020 | WWW.BAYOULIFEMAG.COM




b y G u y M i l l e r, V i c e C h a i r E m e r i t u s , C h e n n a u l t Av i a t i o n a n d M i l i t a r y M u s e u m


he current stay-at-home situation in our Nation got me thinking about the only time I experienced anything remotely similar. It was my first active duty assignment to a Navy ship, the USS Brewton, DE-1086, in Pearl Harbor. All Academy and Scholarship Midshipmen, both Navy and Marine, spend their first summer aboard a ship. Ten of us were to live and work with the Brewton’s enlisted crew to learn about shipboard operations. We spent our first few weeks moored to the pier in Pearl. We had work to do and expectations to meet but we were pretty much left alone. The Commissioned Officers rarely came into the enlisted areas. As officers we outranked the enlisted so they mostly ignored us. When I was not on duty I could go to the Officers’ Club or Pool, or into Waikiki or anywhere else on Oahu. Eventually, however, we went to sea. Don’t get me wrong. I was excited to go to sea. I expected it to be interesting and fun and it was. But going to sea also meant I would be confined to limited space and activity options for the first time in my life. My “home” was theoretically a couple of decks 438 feet or less by a maximum of not quite 47 feet plus three more decks half to a tenth of that. In truth my available space was much less. Most of the “space” was occupied by machinery, stores, ammunition, equipment, piping and living spaces for Officers or Chiefs which were off limits to me. Our berthing compartment was maybe 20 feet by 12 feet but it was made for 15 men to share. The closest thing we had to privacy were plastic curtains that did not quite fill the openings in front of the toilets and showers in the crew “head“ (bathroom). The open sea was a bit choppy but I had no issues with sea sickness. Unfortunately another Midshipman did get sick in our compartment the first day and that almost set me off as well. I had to get topsides into the open air as quickly as possible. Thankfully there were no other instances of


“cookie tossing” in our little space for the rest of our time at sea. Our first night I learned why no enlisted crew wanted to be in the compartment to which we were assigned. Our compartment was the furthest forward of any “manned” space. A little further forward at the base of the ship’s bow was the sonar. Holy Cow was that thing loud! It was almost impossible to sleep. After some time however it was like living next to a railroad track. The noise was still there but you got used to it. We had gunnery practice on our second day out. I had no assigned place to be and thought it would be fun to watch the 5” gun shoot. I went up to deck above the bridge. Bad idea. The sound and concussion of the gun was beyond belief. The ship was on General Quarters lock down so I could not go back inside and had to endure the entire gunnery practice in the open air. Seeing the shells hit the target island was interesting but I desperately could have used ear protectors. We anchored off of Maui one evening. The skipper said there would be no liberty however. Despite that, the Navy has rules and one of those rules is anytime a ship anchors or moors somewhere other than a Navy Base, a Shore Patrol (“police”) detachment must be deployed. Since I was more than ready to get off the ship for a while I volunteered to be the Shore Patrol Officer. The two sailors assigned to the duty and I were issues SP armbands and nightsticks. As the officer, I was also issued

a pistol belt with a .45 Colt. We took a ship’s launch over to the pier. Although there was a town within walking distance there was nothing at the pier other than one building and a magnificent banyan tree. We were alone with nothing to do but I was on Maui and the views of the island and the ship standing off shore were worth the price of admission. Another Midshipman thought my volunteering for Shore Patrol was a great idea so he signed up to take over from me for the second watch period. As it turned out, the skipper had changed his mind and decided some liberty would be granted so by the time my relief showed up I had the rest of the evening free to explore whatever was in walking distance. With one exception, the remainder of my shipboard “confinement” was conceptually not too different than our current stay-at-home for COVID. We had duties and did chores around the ship. We studied. We ate meals. We slept. If I did not have watch duty, there was a movie each night on the mess deck and there were books, magazines and games in the recreation area. The exception was being closely “confined” with about 270 other men instead of just a spouse and maybe some children or another similar civilian situation. I hope you and your family and friends weather this stressful time as well as can be. Let’s hope and pray this ends soon and we can go back to some level of normality. Best wishes.