Posted in Cajuns, Children, Easter tradition, Food, Friendship, Grandchildren, Grandmother

Pock-Pock (a Cajun Easter tradition) by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Cajun Pock-Pock Easter Tradition by Ginger Keller Gannaway

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Evan & Mama Gerry

     Chubby fingers clutch a pale pink and green boiled egg.  Concerned eyes flick back and forth from the egg to the bowed head of the chubby-fingered 4-year-old girl’s 8-year-old brother, a boy with destruction in his eyes.  The boy firmly holds a bright blue egg, and as he quickly raises his egg a few inches above his sister’s egg, the girl muffles a scared squeak as the brother aims and delivers a decisive blow to his target. POCK! “Ah-ha!” the destructor declares as he witnesses the broken crown of his sister’s special Easter egg (the one that took her a full 6 minutes to dye because she patiently dyed the pink half before carefully turning her egg over and holding it in the green dye for several long minutes).  The girl juts out a “boudin lip,” yet she dutifully hands her victor brother the cracked egg.  “My egg’s the champion!” brags the boy as he tosses the pink and green egg into an overflowing basket of slightly cracked Easter eggs. He struts around the grassy backyard holding the blue egg over his head.  Other kids in church clothes throw sideways glances his way, but his sister simply reaches for a Goldbrick egg in her Easter basket to ease the loss of her two-toned egg.  MaMa Joe tells her cocky grandson, “Way to go, cha! You beat your cousins!” but PaPa Joe sulks in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and the purple guinea egg which he refused to give up to his grandson a few minutes earlier.

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Momma Gerry & Emile

For now 8-year-old Claude Emile revels in his Pock-Pock Championship for an Easter in Ville Platte, Louisiana.

Such is the way in Cajun land on Easter morning.  Friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandmas and competitive grandpas compete with their multi-colored boiled eggs to win the title of Pock-Pock Champion on a bright spring day.

            Here are our family’s Pock-Pock Rules:

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Ryan & Andrew in Eunice
  1. Two folks each choose an unbroken Easter egg.
  2. One person holds his/her egg with the fat side up and faces the opponent.
  3. The opponent holds his/her egg with the small end towards the other egg.
  4. The egg-holder on top taps the other’s egg until one of the eggs cracks.  (Most folks prefer a soft, slow tapping motion that makes a “pock-pock” sound and that keeps the game going longer. * Emile’s quick, hard hammer-like hit irks me).
  5. After a few pocks, both folks will hear a deeper sort of cracking sound that signals the breaking of one egg. They pause at this point and examine their eggs’ ends; however, sometimes the crack is not visible and a few more pocks are needed to reveal the definitive cracks that label one of the egg-holders a loser.
  6. The holder of the uncracked egg is that round’s winner and he/she gets to keep the broken egg. (Unless you’ve pocked-pocked with Papa Joe and his favorite egg)

     

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Caseman &Big Papa

My momma learned from her dad (Papa Joe) that guinea  and duck eggs were harder than regular chicken eggs, but this was not always the case.  Cajuns can be very competitive (even when the prize is a grubby boiled egg), and some have resorted to cheating.  One Easter Emile made a plaster of Paris egg and painted it yellow.  He managed to trick the younger cousins and the older relatives with poor eyesight, but when cousin Kenneth discovered the trick, the final pock-pock sounds came from Kenneth whacking Emile’s “tete dure.”

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Shane& his Easter eggs
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Kelly Ann & Ginger

 

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Casey & Jana

I have always enjoyed this Cajun tradition, and even though Emile’s grandkids don’t particularly like or even want to keep boiled Easter eggs (They prefer the plastic eggs filled with jellybeans or chocolates), the kids still enjoy the pock-pock competition.  This Easter I look forward to  spitfire Amos (age 5) going up against his calm cousin Evan (age 24) and may the best egg win!

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Easter in Eunice, 1985
Posted in Children, Grandchildren, Holidays

Nannie and PaPa’s Guide To A Hoppy Easter

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Nannie and PaPa’s Guide to a Hoppy Easter:

Hippity Hoppity Easter’s on its way!  Every year we host our annual family Easter extravaganza.  Our children and grandchildren convene at our house for this eggstra special time and we pack in a full weekend of fun!  Here are a few of our must haves:

DSC_0401    Eggs, eggs, and more eggs:  Plastic eggs filled with candy, money, gift cards, stickers, toys, and chocolate!

Eggs, eggs, and still more eggs:  Dyed eggs and the contest to see who has the most creative; deviled eggs, egg salad, quiche and the most popular among the little ones….Cascarones!

Bunnies:  Blow-up Bunnies in the front yard, bunny plates, napkins, and cups; bunny coffee mugs, bunny candy jars, bunny chair covers, bunny magnets, bunny garland and a small ceramic bunny village!DSC_0377

Church:  We always go to Church as a family and cherish this time together.

Baskets:  Everyone has their own special basket….a tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket!!!

Outdoor activity:  We usually enjoy some type of outdoor activity whether it be a long walk, letting the kids play in the park or taking a family bike ride.  With our crew, it’s a must to get outside!

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Food:  We have our big family meal on Saturday night.  It varies with turkey or ham, scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, cake, veggies etc.  But, one of our must haves is Sister Schubert rolls!!!!  Sister Schubert’s dinner rolls, and then her cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and the ones with sausage.  If you’ve never tried them, you must!  Run to your nearest grocery store and check the frozen food section!  

The Hunt:  After Church, after brunch, after pictures and after a change of clothes…we have The Hunt.    The younger kids hunt just with themselves and we divide the yard, so each one gets the same amount.  But then, the “older” kids have their hunt.  No child is too young or too old to hunt!     For these kids, we fill the eggs with money.  We line them up oldest to youngest and hunt the backyard first.    After all eggs are found, we line up by the one with the fewest eggs found going first and the most found go last, then we head to the front yard.  We have our usual hiding places, but my husband and I like to shake it up by finding more creative spots each year.   Then we come inside and count!  It’s not really tooooo over the top, but it gives each child a little extra fun cash for whatever they want.

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After the festivities….everyone goes home!(that’s a must!)  While we are all together, it is fast and furious.  We hop, scamper, hide, munch and laugh!  But, after all the excitement, my husband and I prop our feet up, finish off the chocolate, enjoy the quiet and begin planning for next year!

Happy Easter Everyone!

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See Soulspeak2016.wordpress.com for “What Happens at Nannie and PaPa’s Stays at Nannie and Papa’s!!!!!”

Posted in Caring for others, Children, Friendship, I love you, Parents, Poems Matter

Poems to Ponder by Ginger Keller Gannaway

For April, National Poetry Month, I offer you a few Poems to Ponder:lake house

  1. “I Spy Babies” by Shane Gannaway (my son)

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    Shane Gannaway
  2. “Spring and Fall”  by Gerard Manly Hopkins (probably my favorite poem)
  3. “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes (strong advice read by Viola Davis & the poet!)
  4. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost (in memory of poet philosopher Ric Fox)nothing Gold can stay
  5. Hearts Under a Microscope by Gary Gannaway“Tis true. Science says it’s so.
    Each heart muscle cell
    Beats to its own rhythm.
    Under a microscope
    It looks like a tiny heart,
    And it sounds likeYour heart Your heartpoem love
    Your heart Your heart.Put another heart muscle cell
    Onto the same slide.
    And it will beat to its own
    Independent rhythm,
    And it sounds like

    Heart my Heart my
    Heart my Heart my.

    Once the cells touch,
    A miracle occurs.
    The two cells begin to beat as one,
    And they sound like

    Your heart My heart
    Your heart My heart
    Our heart Our heart
    Our heart Our heart.

    ‘Tis true. Science says it’s so.(Valentine’s Day, 2010)

    “Shoulders”  (cool class video)by Naomi Shihab Nye ( what the world needs now)

  6. Shoulders
    A man crosses the street in rain,
    stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
    because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

    No car must splash him.
    No car drive too near to his shadow.

    This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
    but he’s not marked.
    Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
    HANDLE WITH CARE.

    His ear fills up with breathing.
    He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
    deep inside him.

    We’re not going to be able
    to live in this world
    if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
    with one another.

    The road will only be wide.
    The rain will never stop falling.

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Posted in Children, Friendship, Travel

Top 10 Vacations by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Top 10 Favorite Vacations

I love, love,love to travel with family and friends.   Here go my favorites using the “Six Word Memoir” approach.

  1. Pensacola Beach:  Waves of sun and seafood smilesBEACH2

2. Big Bend: Desolate hikes intrigue 4 adventurous boys.

3.Yosemite: Heavenly balance connects green with gray.yosemite1

4. Gubbio, Italy: Pasta, gelato, wine paint our walks.GUBBIO

5.New York City: Stage lights amid millions of stories.nyc

6. Granada, Spain: Palace of mystery joins summer souls.SPAIN

7. New Orleans: Jazzy bursts of decadently spicy timesnola

8. Hawaii: Sun-shaded eyes sip umbrella-clad cocktails.

9.Haciendas Las Trancas, Mexico: Free-time, fiesta, food fireworks for friends!mexico.jpg

10. Neal’s Cabins on Frio River: Kids share frigid splashes of drama!neals

Laignappe:  Keller Camp at Indian Village: Diggin’ sand bar Good Times, Cha!

THE CAMP

What are your favorite vacation spots??

 

Posted in Caring for others, Children, Friendship, Introspection, Parents

Soul Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina) by Ginger Keller Gannaway

“Soul” Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina)

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Gina and I in Panama City, 1960

 

     We were walking along a Pensacola beach around 8 a.m., after coffee and before the rest of the folks got up. We aimed to walk to the distant pier and talked nonstop the whole way.  Like evenly-matched tennis players, we served and volleyed kid woes back and forth. “He sneaks out the house so often, we have to hide our car keys now.”  “Her grades have dropped ‘cause she skips all the time.” “His room reeks of pot.”  “I hear ya’!” 

     Somehow letting go of our tales of angst gives us a kind of inner release.  We offer the worry and fear up to the sun, the waves, the breeze, and we become free to laugh out loud. Gina and I totally “get” each other, and for two hours we feel better.  On the walk back to our beach-front rental, we even rush into the surf for a quick swim and more laughter as we jump and dive into the waves. Like a couple of kids!

     Gina is my first cousin and my “soul” sister.  Even though she lived an hour away from my hometown, we saw each other often growing-up.  We shared every Keller family reunion or big holiday party at Grandma’s house for sure.  Also, we had full weeks at a time during the summer when we visited each other’s homes or went to our Indian Village camp with Grandma and Stella.

     During the 1980’s we got married and raised our kids in different states.  We didn’t spend long visits together, yet later we grabbed summer getaways when we both became public school teachers. In 1998 and 2010 we even took trips to NYC to visit my sister Gayle and sightsee and reconnect.  Gina and I snap back together easily, no matter how long we have been apart.  We share our Cajun culture, our Keller connection, and our childhood memories, and our family tragedies. Gina is  a close cousin, a trusted friend, a wise woman, a spiritual guide, and my soul sister.  She has a wit like a whip, yet it’s made of purple yarn or silly string. Her sarcasm is swift, yet stingless.  And we share a deep, honest love of movies that began in 1968 when we were both enchanted by Funny Girl.  Walking from Grandma’s to the Saturday matinees at the Liberty and then returning to sneak cigarettes while Grandma napped were big teenage moments for me.  We also worked in the theater’s concession stand and played tennis, went swimming, and obsessed over cute boys to fill the lazy summer days with good times.

     Throughout the sad, sad times and the glory days, humor has helped hold us together.  Two years ago we shared a weekend in Galveston at her sister Dana’s beach house, and while attempting to take a selfie, Gina and I laughed so hard tears ran down our cheeks as we fought to keep the other bodily liquid from running down our legs!

     Now she and I even have similar living situations. My 89-year-old dad lives with me, and Gina lives with her 87-year-old mom (my dad’s sister). So Gina and I chat and commiserate and explain and laugh over phone calls.  We still “get” each other, and as we face family challenges, we share sorrows and successes and above all we laugh.  Gina is a devoted daughter, a mighty mother, and a strong Grandma GiGi.  Time with Gina is always honest and often hysterical. It can be gut-wrenching and still stay golden.  We connect easily, strongly, and soulfully.

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Gina, Gayle, me, Andrew, Yvette in Pensecola (2009)
Posted in Caring for others, Children, I love you, Letting Go, Parenting, Parents

Hold on. Let go.A Parent’s Balancing Act by Ginger Keller Gannaway

 Hold On. Let balancing-act-momGo: A Parent’s Balancing Act
Remember. I must remember this. It’s 7:30 a.m. and I’m dropping my three-year-old Evan off at LaLa’s Home Daycare. Since I’m running late for work, I ask Evan to “be a big boy” and walk in by himself. We hug and kiss in the car. “O.K., Momma.” He walks to LaLa’s door, stops, waves, and throws me kisses. Evan will be o.k.holding-on-momLetting go of our kids, whether we’re dropping them off at daycare or telling them to call a tow truck when they’re stranded on a highway on their way to work, is a precarious balancing act. At first, we hold our infants so, so close. Those first few years our babies cry and reach for and only want their mommas. And, for the most part, mothers love being wanted. But soon parenting becomes a balancing act. Kids start to naturally pull away from the pampering and pestering, and just as naturally parents struggle with giving up control of these beings we “brought into this world.” From letting go of a tiny hand as my child takes his very first steps to letting go from an extra-tight hug when I leave that same son at his college dorm, I feel both excited and worried for my kid. As my mind pushes my three sons into independence, my heart aches to clutch them close and pat their heads.
Now Evan is 23, and I often pull up that sweet memory at LaLa’s. It’s a cold, gray day. Evan’s dressed in blue: blue sweat suit, blue jean jacket, steel blue knit cap pulled down over his ears. He takes his thumb out of his mouth, hops down from his carseat, and heads towards LaLa’s door. He’s all smiles, walking backwards, and throwing me kisses all the way down the driveway. Freeze-frame on that face. The smile that lights a universe. Those pudgy hands sending kisses my way. Those sweet cheeks and honest eyes that go down at the corners. I’ll hold tight to that sight, that face, that flood of love forever.
Next, I contrast that beautiful balance of holding close and letting go with last Wednesday when I attempted to help Shane, my 29-year-old, with his car. Shane’s car had stranded him on Hwy. 360 at 5:22 p.m. The thermostat was running extra hot while the engine was refusing to go faster than 45 mph. Now I know nothing about cars and I fear Shane knows less. I drove out to help him, and after he and I fumbled our way through adding a ton of coolant in what we hoped was the right receptor, he gingerly drove the wounded vehicle to his place while I nervously followed behind. Early Thursday morning Shane drove the still hot-running car to our longtime mechanic, and I met him there to give him a ride to work. Shane looked broken when he got into my CRV. Our mechanic had kicked Shane’s down-for-the-count ego to the curb for not towing his car to the garage the day before. There was talk of blowing a gasket or throwing a rod. Shane’s not-yet-paid-for car might be headed to the salvage yard.
“My life already sucks and now THIS!” he said.
“What, besides the car crap, sucks?”
“Well, there’s the fact that I got laid-off two weeks ago.”
“TWO WEEKS AGO!? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“ ‘Cause I knew you’d go berserk and stress me out even more.”
“Well…uh..maybe I could help. I could send you job leads or…”
“No! No! That’s not what- .”
“But I just wanna hel- .”
The rest of the conversation included unfair accusations, teary confessions, and probably some alternative facts. I inwardly told the mothering monster inside my head to, “Back off, bitch!” and the last five minutes of our car ride were a heavy, heavy silence. That day’s morning sunshine mocked our mother/son sadness. Later that day I texted Shane an apology mixed with a pithy proclamation of my love for him.
Why, oh, why doesn’t parenting get easier as we get older and wiser? Why can’t I, an English teacher, communicate with Shane, my English/ Communications graduate son?
I pull my boys in. I try to control. I say I want only to protect and serve my sons. I also want to watch my sons grow and prosper and succeed in life – in their own lives, that is. “Ay, there’s the rub.” Letting go of a kid (even in his 20’s or 30’s or 40’s…) can be like that part of the roller coaster ride when the coaster is at its highest peak, and I look at the straight-down track before the ride goes down, down, down with seemingly out-of-control speed. I LOVE that moment! I’m racing down a rickety track and my stomach jumps into my throat and I scream like a lunatic: a thrilling yet frightening sound! And for about 33 seconds I’m screaming and laughing all at once, and I don’t take a normal breath until the coaster slows and confidently ends where it began. So, seeing my kid scale a mountain or jump off a cliff (both literal and figurative ones) makes me shut my eyes and go, “Please God, please God, please God!” Then I later feel a wild and wonderful wave of relief when I open my eyes and behold my son’s full-body smile. mom-at-lunch-with-boys
Now when I recall my thumb-sucking Evan at age 3, the memory may morph into a bespectacled, bearded Evan at age 23 or blend into a poet/comic Shane, age 29 or a daredevil Casey, age 26. And the older Evan tells me not to “take it personal” when he or his brothers don’t answer my too-frequent texts or have time for dinner on Tuesday, a visit with Papa on Wednesday, a Netflix movie on Thursday, or a play date with our dog Millie on Friday night. My sons, like me, have their own lives. They’re ok. I’m ok. “Let be.”

Posted in Children, Parenting

10 Reasons Why Mothers Are Superheros

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10 Reasons Why Mothers Are Superheroes

1.  Having children or working with children automatically catapults you into Green Lantern status!  You are gifted with a ‘power ring’ that grants the wearer incredible and incomprehensible powers.“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight!  Let those who worship evil’s might…Beware my power Green Lantern’s Light!”  You might be a mom on the outside, but you are channeling Hal Jordan on the inside!

2.  Pulling a splinter out of a moving target finger covered in blood or a fish hook out of an ear lobe, demands laser focus, nerves of steel and the agility of Spiderman.

3.  Explaining the birds and the bees, where babies come from or answering questions about “down there” requires an expert vocabulary and a quick mind.  One must discern how much the child really ‘needs’ to know or can even comprehend before you go too far with an explanation.  Holy sex talk Batman!          

4.   Carrying a solid, 30-pound toddler through Carlsbad Cavern because they fell asleep just as you arrived, asks for herculean capabilities and the biceps of Thor!

5.   Trying to get a two-year-old, six-year-old or thirteen year old to eat vegetables begs for the ingenuity of Captain America!  After all….he’s handsome, healthy and in excellent shape.

6.   Working all day, driving three kids to three different after school lessons, cooking dinner, baths, homework, preparation of breakfasts, lunches, signed permission slips, emergency stop for poster board and having a sense of humor demands none less than Wonder Woman!

7.   Losing, then stepping on Barbie shoes; dropping a whole box of lego mini pieces; retrieving a credit card that slipped perilously down between the car seats….are all jobs for Ant-Man!  We will need a sharp eye and tiny hands to handle these mini pieces and places.

8.   Thinking of what your hands touch in one day…aqua-wise boggles the mind.  Washing dishes, washing clothes, pee, drinks of water, spilled water, too much water, pee, pets’ water, baths, pee, watering the lawn etc. Then, of course, there are the trips to Seaworld, water parks, swimming pools ad nauseum.   Aquaman is the king of all things aqua. He can breathe underwater, swim at tremendous speeds, and telepathically communicate with sea life.

9.  Asking your child to do chores, clean their room, call if they’re going to be late or even look up from their phone evokes anger in we mothers.   Sometimes it doesn’t take much to turn from Donna Reed to the Incredible Hulk!  Don’t they see us slowing turning green?

10. Sometimes loving a child so deeply and intently hurts like being run over by a mack truck.  We feel the pain yet we withstand it with superhuman powers.  Like Superman, our love is more powerful than a locomotive and we believe in truth, justice, and the American way.  The mom of steel just keeps on loving!

 

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