Road Trip

Here’s the reason I want to take more road trips with my family, all in one small [series of photos](

Laudun Cosmetics

One of the things most overlooked in discussions about search and searching is the fact that adjacency, also known as happy accidents, plays such an important role in some forms of thinking, and living. Yes, being able to drill down into results is something I want to be able to do, but I cannot enumerate now how often my own intellectual development was forwarded by a book that I found that wasn’t the book for which I was looking but the one next to it, or one shelf up, or one bay over, or one aisle over, or … “what’s this corner of the library full of” over.

Sometimes the web delivers similar results, and this is one of them:


Now I know what I am getting for birthday presents for family this next year. [Laudun Cosmetics: Passion is what drives us](

Verna’s Wisdom

I have a trio of quotations from my grandmother, Verna Lauden. The first is from 1987. The next is undated. The third is from 1992, two years before her death on 1 April 1994.

On my first birthday in Syracuse, New York, in response to my wistful remark that I thought, at the ripe age of 23, I would feel grown up at some point, she noted:

“Oh, cher, I felt like I was fifteen until I was forty-five.”

“What happened then?” I asked.

“I just didn’t feel fifteen no more.”

At some point in response to my complaining that I had had a run of bad luck. “Oh, that’s Laudun luck. If it weren’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

And, just now, I came across a note from a journal I was keeping at the time dated 25 April 1992. I don’t know anything more what we were talking about than what the entry provides:

> In conversation Grandma Laudun noted about the future:
>> “It’s always coming. It never gets further, only closer.”

The Lauduns, Part 1

In my first few years here I recorded a number of conversations with my great aunt Ann Laudun Mayfield. Aunt Ann had an amazing memory and she seemed to have had in her youth a keen sense for her elders who had similar memories. Now and then I want to add to the general knowledge about the Laudun family — and other families that compose my own current one — and so I thought I would begin with a description of the first Laudun in the historical record, the mysterious M. De Vallette Laudun, whose journal is remarkable for being [one of nineteen travel journals][wiki] from the eighteenth century to have survived. The Historic New Orleans collections describes it as follows:

> *Journal d’un voyage fait a la Louisiane en 1720* is a rare account of a French scientific expedition to Louisiana, the French West Indies, and the Gulf of Mexico. M. de Vallette Laudun, com- mander of the Toulouse, which sailed from Toulon in March 1720 and reached Dauphin Island by early July, composed this series of 132 letters written to an unnamed French lady. Vallette Laudun led the first detailed survey made of Louisiana by the French government, three years after the founding of New Orleans and at the height of public enthusiasm for John Law’s Company of the Indies. In his letters, Vallette Laudun recently acquired by The Collection appeared in 1768 as a response to the Treaty of Paris (which gave Spain con- trol of Louisiana), a reminder to its readers of the possessions the French were conceding. (2009.0053) [*HNOC Quarterly*][hnoc]

The [full text of the original][text], in its native French, is available from Google Books.


Thinking about Traveling

With the recent trip to Indiana behind us, we find ourselves planning the next trip. We’re not entirely sure where we’re going, but go we will (at some point). With the heat pressing down here, we can’t help but think about cooler climes and the gear we might need:

* Like a decent backpack: The simplest would be the [REI Zip Travel Daypack][rei] which is 1200 cu in and is $30. The [Talos 22][t22] by Osprey has 22 liters (1800 cu in) of room and looks to sell on Amazon for about $90. (For the record, I like all the [Osprey packs][osp].)
* And maybe a better jacket: [like Eddie Bauer’s 365 system][365]

A comparison of the two Osprey bags I like:

Bag | Size | Price | Features |
:——– | :——: | ——- | —————————- |
Talon 22 | 22l | 99.00 | Full-fledged waist support |
Helix | 17l | 68.95 | Webbing waist support |


iApps for Kids

On our recent trip to Indiana and back, we carried with us two devices that were dedicated for our daughter’s use: a Leapster and an iPod video. The Leapster had a range of, hopefully educational, games for her to play and the iPod contained a dozen episodes of [_Fetch with Ruff Ruffman_][frr], one of the [PBS Kids][pbs] shows she likes to watch and that we think has substance.

At one point during the trip, Yung was in the back of the car with Lily and they were playing the Leapster’s version of *I Spy* and Yung kept commenting on how hard it was to see the screen. Indeed, I have looked at the screen of the thing, and I don’t know if it began life brighter, but it is now a dim thing.

“Why not,” I wondered, “go with a better screen and with a device that is more flexible as she grows up?” The Leapster is going to fade in relevance at some point soon, and its maker will want us to buy the next device in the line-up, much as we moved from the Leap-Pad to the Leapster.

And did I mention the cartridges are expensive? Approximately $25 per cartridge for a limited set of new features/games.

Add in the better, bigger screen of an iPod Touch for watching videos, and suddenly it just seemed like the right thing to do.

A quick search of educational apps for kids turned up the following results:

* For $11.99, iPhone owners can download *Starmap*, a “pocket planetarium” that helps users easily find constellations, planets, or shooting-star zones.
* *Flash My Brain Flashcards* and *StudyCards*, both costing $9.99, allow users to create their own flash cards.
* *Lexicon* ($9.99) is an animated flash-card application designed to help users learn more than 70 languages. Users can quiz themselves and record and play back audio on their iPhone to hear how they’re progressing with the language.
* The *Atom in a Box* application is a tool to help users visualize atomic orbitals, showing what the hydrogen atom looks like in three animated dimensions for $9.99.
* There is also a [Maps of the World][mow] application that has 20 historical maps in it.
* [I See Ewe][ise], described as “an educational game for the iPhone and iPod Touch that helps your preschooler learn to recognize shapes, objects, colors and animals and to learn their first sight words through two simple yet engaging games” sounds a little too little for Lily, but might be useful for someone else.
* There are several math apps, most starting at age 7 (*PopMath*, *Basic Math*), but some at age 3 (*Cute Math*, *Dotty Shapes*) as well as one enigmatically titled miTables Lite.
* There is a *Memory Match Kids* game.
* Something called *Pre-School Adventure* that Dad-o-Matic loves.

The *New York Times* has their own [listing][nyt].

*Wired* recommends: *Wordex*, *The Secret Garden*, *Shape Builder*, and for adults *Shadows Never Sleep* and *Knots*.

The “Travel Savvy Mom” blog has [a few suggestions][tsm].

**Update**: To some degree, the listing from _AcadianaMoms_ got this ball rolling, and so I would be derelict in my note taking if I didn’t include a few apps that came from their page:

* *Shape Builder Lite* got Lily’s attention right away, and she burned through the sample shapes in no time.
* *Trace* is a lovely basic side level game, but it requires a bit more than Lily could process when I showed it to her. (The player can trace bridges and ramps to get your little guy where he needs to go.)
* Finally, there is *Eliss* which is described as a “puzzler set in space where supernovas and vortexes are the norm” — er, shouldn’t that be *supernovae* and/or *vortices* — “as the screen fills with newly formed colored planets you must work to keep different colors apart while combining like-colored circles.” Eh, sounds a bit complicated, but its space theme may appeal to the Bean.


Overnight in Jackson

On our way back down, we decided to stay again in Nashville, which meant that our best bet was to push past Memphis, our usual midpoint stopover, and head to Jackson, Mississippi. (Not Jackson, Tennessee, which is one hour east of Memphis.) We have had such good luck, and experience, with the Memphis Hilton that we decided to try the Jackson Hilton, whose location we already knew. The reservations person we called said rooms were available, they just weren’t available at the state rate. Mind, this was at 3:30 in the afternoon, so why they were holding onto rooms at that late of an hour is beyond me.

It all worked to our benefit. While we went ahead and scouted possible Hamptons, we decided to wait to see if there was something like a Courtyard by Marriott hotel near the shopping center where we had spied a Barnes and Noble — books, coffee, and a decent play area are all admirable qualities in a place. B&N scores a perfect 3. As luck would have it, there was a new Hyatt Place hotel, which had an indoor pool, a great room, and a great rate. What a delightful surprise.

The view of our Hyatt Place hotel room upon entering.

After an hour or so in the pool, we cleaned up, had some pizza at a nearby local restaurant, grabbed a few groceries at a Fresh Market, and eyed the Apple Store. *Alas, there was no time.*

Laudun Name


1 Celtic place name “fort of Lugus”

This is the basis of the present-day place names in Continental Europe, via the Latin form Lugudunum / Lugdunum:

(1) Lyons (south-eastern France)
(2) Laon
(3) Loudon
(4) Laudun
(5) Montlezun
(6) Montlauzun
(7) Leiden

In Wales there is an example with the elements reversed – Dinas Dinlleu ‘hillfort of Dinlleu’ (locally pronounced Dinas Dinlla).

Dinlleu = Celtic dun- (= fort) + Lug- (= Lugus, name of a God)

The Simple Life

There is an oft-quoted statistic, usually drawn from the National Association of Home Builders* that makes the argument for the current price of homes — double what they once were — being a function of the current size of homes:

> The average American home grew from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,349 square feet in 2004. That’s almost a 2.5 fold increase. That’s a lot of space, and space filled with less people, it turns out:

> Yet the American household shrank by 18% between 1970 and 2003, from 3.14 people to 2.57, on average.

The latter statistic is more interesting to me. Even if family sizes have not shrunk, it’s clear that a good percentage of us are, quite literally, further apart. I don’t think either one of these statistics would have meant that much to me, except in my work as a folklorist I interview a lot of older people. And I tend to interview them in their homes. Most of them live in the same house in which they raised families, and I would be that on average those houses are no more than 1200 square feet and the smallest family I have ever come across is four. Now, sure, memory tends to leave out the unpleasant and focus on the pleasant, so the closeness of families that folks tend to recall is probably a function of the winnowing of time.

Still, I bring those stories and the sense of the spaces in which they took place back with me, to my own home. (And this is why I am glad to be blogging, because I don’t otherwise get a chance to write about these things, but here it is, something which is both personal and intellectual.) We bought our house in 2001, and at 1600 square feet, it was perfect for two professionals. There was room for each of us to have a study and for one of those studies to serve also as a guest bedroom. All the room in the world, and no need for too much of a yard, since both of us are indifferent gardeners, at best.

And then Lily came in 2004, and we began to talk about buying a bigger house, especially one with a bigger yard. And then came first Katrina and then Rita, the 2005 hurricanes. The price of houses in Lafayette immediately jumped 25% and in some cases, I would argue, they have leveled out at about 40% above what they were before the storms — which are not yet three years ago at the time of this writing. That’s great! Someone is saying. Think of the money you could make.

Alas, the money only applies if we are leaving this market, and we are not in a position to do so. So, there’s no real gain. We are “stuck” in a current house, it looks like, for the time being. But we’re beginning to realize that that is not such a bad thing. Yes, we are all tumbled together all the time. Lily’s toys constantly spill out of her bedroom and into the living room. I would call it the common room, but the study and kitchen are also common rooms — all three of us have desks in the study and there are only two tables, apart from those desks, at which people can work. One is in the living room and the other is in the kitchen.

Such a small house means we only have two trash cans to empty: one in the kitchen and one in our bathroom. If you’re anywhere else in the house and need to throw something away, you aren’t that far from one of those two.

Such a small house also means that someone else is always just a shout away. If you’re like me and forget to grab a washcloth before stepping into the shower, then all you have to do is shout for someone to bring you one. If you’re bored in your bedroom, as Lily sometimes is, all you have to do is call out: “Mom-may / Dad – day! Come play with me!” and you can at least depend upon the fact that your parents have to have heard you. (Whether they come or not depends on how many times you shout it out and they give up shouting back at you.)

Such a small house means that cleaning it is neither a chore nor something you hire someone else to do — though, at this moment, I must confess that we do not clean as often as we should and we in no way clean on a daily basis as many of the women I have interviewed insisted they did or do. Sure, we’d like a bigger yard still. It would be nice to have not only the shaded yard and house we have but also some sunny spots of lawn where Lily could really run and stretch her legs, I could plant vegtables, and Yung could plant flowers. It would also be nice, especially for Yung, if we had a bit more space in which to work. We both enjoy working at home, and I know that Yung prizes her own space. She is not as prone to spread as I am, and I know I crowd her. Perhaps all these things will come in time.

For now, I write in praise of being cramped, crowded. At some point, Lily is going to want more privacy than she gets now, but I hope that isn’t for a long time yet to come. For now, I think she likes the short dash mommy or daddy make to come to her when she has a bad dream. Her room is only ten feet from ours, her bed probably only something like twenty-five feet from ours. It’s not crowding; it’s always being hugged.

— \* There is [reason to suspect][rs] that the NABH statistics don’t include a lot of important data: apartments and the rise in manufactured-housing stocks being two things in particular.


Anne Laudun Mayfield (21 June 1910 – 31 January 2004)

On her eighty-ninth birthday, Anne Laudun Mayfield asked God not to have to see another birthday. For the past three years, she was, she told me, a little put out. When everyone gathered for her ninety-third birthday this past June, we asked her what she thought of being ninety-three. “It’s just ridiculous,” she said. “It’s just ridiculous.” Funny when she was mad, or pretending to be mad, Aunt Anne was an independent soul who, in an almost contradictory fashion, seemed put here on this earth to remind us of the importance of being together.

Her life began along the road that stretches from Home Place to Weeks Island where she grew up in a family that eventually numbered ten children that had two fathers and three mothers. Perhaps it was there that she learned that all that mattered was love and being together, for she would reveal that, technically, many of her brothers and sisters were half or step-siblings. In her heart and in her stories, however, they were no steps, no halves.

There on Weeks Island, in the literal and figurative big house of her telling, she was reading one day on the porch when the mill boss came striding his way across the yard to see her mother. Seeing her reading, he stopped and asked her what she was reading. “A book,” she said. “Don’t you like to read magazines or go see movies?” he asked. “No,” she replied. “They’re all so silly.” He continued on his way into the house, but the next day word came that he wanted to pay for Aunt Anne to continue her schooling, and with that she took her first step out of the country and began the journey that would lead her eventually to Atlanta, where she worked for what was then American Motors, and where she would meet the love of her life William Mayfield.

Her time with Bill was all too brief, but in her estimation it was all she could have hoped for, and when he died, she brought him home here to Jeanerette, to be with her, and so that she could join him today.

From that moment over forty years ago until now, she became the great aunt that most of us knew her as. Her and Cecile became, well, Anne and Cile. They were a pair, intertwined in our minds, always together. If Anne ever regretted not having children of her own, she never spoke it. Instead, she seemed to rejoice in the love and attention that all of you had so much of that you blurred the line between mother or grandmother and aunt and great aunt.

I would be remiss in speaking here today—and I know Anne would want me to say it—if I didn’t publicly thank all of you for everything you did for her. Eddie, you and your children have my thanks and the thanks of everyone here for everything you did. She was not always the easiest of charges, and I know you sometimes felt taken for granted. I got to sweep in and be the special guest of the day now and then, but what you cannot have known was that how she spent time with me was telling me stories about you. All of you were her lights. She couldn’t read, and towards the end, she couldn’t even see to watch television, but she could listen and she could tell stories.

One time when I was visiting her, and I had finished reading her something, and I asked her to tell me a story, she told me that she didn’t have any new true stories to tell me but that she had some stories she told herself but that she made up. One involved a man who got lost in the woods, and one involved a doctor falling in love with a young woman. Things weren’t, she said, looking too good right now, but I shouldn’t worry, she assured me, things were going to turn out all right: the hunter would find his way out of the woods and the couple would fall in love and marry.

Things were going to turn out all right. And things have turned out all right. Anne Laudun Mayfield took what she had, time and love and stories, and she made a family out of them. Out of us. She’s telling stories to others now, and I think I can with some sense of certainty that in those stories things are going to turn out all right. Thank you, Aunt Anne, thank you for keeping us together, for telling us stories, for loving us. May God bless you and hold you close.