Monday, October 31, 2005
On the way to our confirmed reservations in Alexandria, I noticed a number of vacancy signs in Kinder, LA - a boomtown that has sprung up around the Coushatta Indian Casino half an hour Northeast of Lake Charles. On the way back, I was able to get the folks a couple of nights in the Kinder Inn, an establishment that had just recovered from minor storm damage.
The tennis court had been the bane of my existence for three decades. My father used to force me to play tennis with him, which I hated at the time and which contributes to my distaste for the game to this day. I had a colleague in High School who derided me as being "rich" for having a tennis court - thus demonstrating the strange values system I endured during my youth and also demonstrating a lack of knowledge about the comparatively small cost of laying a recreational concrete slab. As the house declined in the late '80s, my father inexplicably used the court for storing bricks, sand and gravel. Weeds and fire ant nests began to grow through the cracks and by the early '90s it had been largely recovered by nature. In 2003 when I hauled a number of the bricks off to build a pathway behind the house, I unwittingly exposed myself to poison ivy, resulting in a very unpleasant rash on my arms for the next two weeks. There's not much you can do about poison ivy except allow the affected skin to peel off. Zanfel seemed to help some, although I developed a secondary allergic reaction to that cleaner after using it for a few days.
With all this in mind, I had revenge in mind as I hoped to clear off the court on Monday. However, the task was much too large to do by hand as just hauling off the sand and gravel would have taken a day to do with a wheelbarrow. I did clear off some of the weeds and old wood, but upon encountering a young copperhead preparing for winter, I reluctantly retreated from my effort. My next door neighbor brought his tractor and box blade over to demonstrate what could be done if we paid him, but another neighbor ultimately volunteered to do the cleanup along with a much needed cleanup of the rest of the yard in gratitude for all that my father had done for him in the years before.
My defeat led me to realize that part of my distaste for Lake Charles was the presence of so much flora and fauna that was trying to hurt me, all exacerbated by the oppressive heat and humidity that blankets the area for most of the year. All stuff we don't have in the more temperate urban areas I have come to love: Poison ivy, oak and sumac, Poisonous Snakes, Fire ants, Mosquitoes, Wasps, Biting flies.
The retreat from the tennis court did give me time to start cleaning out the cabinets in the garage that had been used for storing paint, automotive fluids and other toxins. As with the rest of the house, there was stuff in there that had been forgotten since the '60s...including my father's diplomas!? Although I could have taken the low road and bagged the stuff up for FEMA to haul off, I started a collection on the driveway in hopes of finding some more ecologically sensitive destination in the future. I never found such a place and our contractor ultimately had to volunteer to deal with it at some point in the reconstruction.