Lagniappe: An extra issue of my (upcoming) Substack newsletter

Image: Creativebug

I learned one of my favorite wordslagniappe–when I lived in New Orleans in the early 1980s. It’s a French-Louisiana-Cajun noun that means “a little something extra,” a bonus, a gift. I first heard it over a very large platter of very large, just-shelled oysters, a bountiful lagniappe for residents and visitors to the most exotic city in America, where everything around me seemed different and new, and at the same time, very old and utterly charming.

And so I fell in love with the word, a “nice, limber, expressive word,” Mark Twain once said, “worth traveling to New Orleans to get.” And because I had a word for the thing itself, I began seeing just how astonishingly full of lagniappe our world is, not just in NOLA but everywhere. How abundantly, how generously the earth serves itself up to us, if we’re not too busy or too bothered or too complacent to notice.

And so, as I considered what we might do together over at Place & Thyme, I thought we might enjoying sharing some lagniappe every month. Probably not fresh oysters (sorry), but something else—a favorite snatch of poetry, a favorite craft, garden photos, recipes and cookery stuff, bits of our writing, maybe even a “fitter Twitter,” as one Substacker calls it. We won’t know exactly how this works until we start playing with Substack’s “Chat” forum, available to subscribers online or in your Substack phone app. We’ll have to figure it out. But I’m eager to try, and eager to learn, and eager to see where this takes us. So I’m scheduling a date for this: the fifth Monday of the month (if there is one). Or if there isn’t, toward the end of the last week of the month.

In the meantime,  here’s a bit of lagniappe, a photo of my current cross stitch WIP, started in Feb 2022. I know it looks nearly finished, just that little patch in the far lower right to fill in. But if you look closely, you can see that there’s plenty of sky yet to complete–left until last because white gets dirty fast. Plus, I’ve done my usual sloppy job and need to go back and fill in a lot of empty holes. Which won’t be nearly as much fun as working on those quilts in the foreground, of course. I didn’t like the way the chart interpreted Charles Wysocki’s painting, so I improvised on the quilts. Here’s how he painted that third quilt (smaller photo). That bit just didn’t translate well to cross stitch, so I took the matter into my own hands, so to speak. Love the way it turned out!


A bit of housekeeping. Last week, I uploaded my mail lists to Substack: everybody who is subscribed to the blogs here on WordPress or through Constant Contact. If you are on one of these lists, you’ve been auto-subscribed to Place & Thyme and should have received a “welcome” email. If you’re just visiting here or are not sure whether or not you’re subscribed, you can take care of that here. All subscribers (free/paid) will receive the first post, All About Thyme (the regular herbal monthly newsletter), on Monday, Aug. 7. It will also be cross-posted here, as will the usual LifeScapes post.

Your turn. Do  you have suggestions for topics you’d like to explore or things you’d like to see us try out over at Substack? Ideas welcome! And thank you for being part of our Place & Thyme community. This has been in the works for a while. I’m so excited to see that it’s finally about to happen!

25 comments on “Lagniappe: An extra issue of my (upcoming) Substack newsletter

  1. Jeanne, glad you’re along for the ride! Lots to learn here, and yes, an exciting adventure. I’ve been working in long form for so many years–I hope that making space/time for other formats will show me some new things about the writing practice.

  2. You are certainly a one-of-a-kind, Ms. Albert. I love the way you engage your readers in both your books and your blogs. Substack will serve you well. Bet it feels like an exciting new adventure to you, one we can all learn from. Thanks for being you!

  3. I love all the charles wysocki paintungs. What is the name of the one you cross stitched? I could not find it.

  4. 👍 Susan forgive me for posting again. But I hope you caught Maddow last night. If so, I also hope you are inspired to have ‘the boys’ in her new book visit Darling on their way to The Kingfish! It will be hard to wait until October to see what she has up her sleeve with this new book. Would love an interview with her!!!! As well as one of you by her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🤗

  5. Dogs do that–and rescue dogs need lots of time/attention. Learning the “rules” of a new household can be a challenge. Our adopted stray, Val, never did fully adapt, but other rescue dogs have been wonderful housemates. Good luck to your daughter with Macy’s story!

  6. My cross stitch project (a summer collage) got sort of sidetracked because we got a new dog (a 2 year old Maltipoo who was a stray) and she definitely is filling up my time! And I am proud that my daughter had to write a children’s book for her graduate school class. She wrote about adopting her puppy, Macy. It is told from Macy’s point of view and highlights the rescue group she came from. My daughter’s book can actually be purchased! As for me, I have a multi generational trilogy that is just for me, I guess since it has never left my head. Maybe . . .. . ..

  7. Oh dear, I see I have made a hash of posting my last several comments under all of the wrong topics. UGH! Very un-Lagniappe of moi. Will make a point of staying on topic in the future, or as best as a Sandy S can do. 😁

  8. Will look forward to some of your memories of NO, as well as other times on Substack.
    With an Irish grandmother and a very French grandfather who met in Texas, the answer to ‘a little bit Cajun?’ can wait for Substack, too. 😃

  9. Lovely memories. Is there such a thing a little bit Cajun? And yes, my time in NO does influence the Dahlias. The 30s South was such an interesting stewpot of cultures.

  10. Love the way you are making Charles Wysocki’s quilt show painting your own. The subtle warm tones help me step right into the scene. It’s lagniappe for sure!
    I can hardly wait for August 7th to roll around. And truly looking forward to all of the possibilities. But perhaps especially to the end of each month for Lagniappe posts!

    Though I have lived my whole life in the Pacific NW, my father’s family of nine brothers and sisters and all of their offspring mostly live between Baton Rouge and NOLA. There are so many stories to tell but perhaps among my favorites is a car ride with Uncle Stanley. Sitting in the back seat of a big car with this man of maybe 100 pounds soaking wet behind the wheel, with his right arm draped over the front seat, looking at us as the car was twisting along the curves of The Old River Road along the Mississippi – was certainly memorable! With his dear wife Nat gently saying …ah…Stanley … Stanley … to bring his attention back to the road. Along the way we would stop at this or that place to look at lush gardens or some long forgotten mansion behind an big iron gate or for a crayfish dinner or fresh pecan pie alamode. Stanley would show us the local phonebook with the listings of many relatives – (just a little bit Cajun) whom we were yet to meet.
    My father and siblings were all born around the time of the last pandemic and the great depression, though none of them talked of either, that I recall. They knew they were poor, but so was most everybody else. Perhaps this is part of why I have enjoyed reading the Darling Dahlia series so much. My Uncle Stoney will be 98 this November and is the last of ‘the kids’. He has always been a good letter writer, for which I am very grateful. I believe it is part of what has kept him so clear minded. I feel very lucky to have been part of this family.

  11. You’re well past the beginning, Sue–that’s a very clear idea and a good base of women whose writing/experiences fit your concept. Drop me an email on the contact page; I have a couple of suggestions.

  12. Thanks! Those grew out of writing classes I’ve taught over the years. They usually help writers dig for detail–so important, even in short pieces.

  13. I’m both, Patricia. I start a book with what Steven King calls a “rich matrix” of story. A strong idea that I want to develop, plus some general idea for the character plots that are ancillary to the central mystery and a sense of what the ending might look like. I think of it as sort-of-plotting. Then I let the characters take over for a while and lead the book where they want to go. If I know too much about where they’re all going, it begins to feel stale and formulaic. (It’s pretty hard to avoid being formulaic in genre fiction, especially if you’re using a template.) But this is just me. Everybody’s process is different.

  14. One more thing: I purchased your Starting Points book and the prompts are excellent! I have tried a variety of different prompts but yours fit exactly the kind of storytelling I want to gather. I will promote that book as a resource when I develop my call for writers.

  15. At the very beginning and oh-so-optimistic stage! I am focused on solo women in the outdoors: hiking, backpacking and camping. I belong to several FB groups that are filled with amazing stories/posts of women out in nature on their own, overcoming many things including fear of solo activities, celebrating, and in some cases, experiencing life-changing moments. Their posts are funny, sad, and inspiring and I would like their voices to be heard. My tentative themes are solo/solitude, benefits of time in nature, and the importance of access to public lands and have a long list of chapter subthemes. I will check out the link you provided. Thanks so much, Susan!

  16. I use a dehydrator, Pam. It’s pretty humid here and there’s a LOT of dust in the air (sometimes smoke, too). The dehydrator is quicker, cleaner, less (potential) mold. Also depends on what you’re drying–the dehydrator is better for thicker plant material: chives, for instance.

  17. I’m a mystery writer (at this point, hopeful) and would love to learn more about your process. Are you a pantser or plotter? I thought I was a plotter until I realize I don’t actually outline! On my current WIP, I’m trying to rough out the plot using ‘Save the Cat’ beats.

  18. I think this is a great way of sharing, nurturing and exploring the different interests and artistic talents of this small community. I also love the word lagniappe and was introduced to it upon my visit to New Orleans and have never forgotten the generous custom of the charming town. I, for one, love hearing about recipes, horticulture and the like. Thank you for creating a lovely space to share the beautiful things we love to do and those things we hope to learn from each other.

  19. I am excited to be a new subscriber at your Substack space! I would love to read a post about how you organize research, themes, and drafts for non-fiction writing. Do you use software like Scrivener? Is your writing process linear (chapter by chapter) or do you write a section and then place it where you want it? How do you organize your book proposals for nonfiction ideas? What kinds of information are publishers looking for in a proposal? I am planning to write and edit an anthology of nature/self essays so I purchased your collection about living in the SW. Any tips on gathering and editing a variety of women’s voices for publication would be welcomed. There’s little that I have found about editing anthologies. Thank you~

  20. How do you dry your herbs? What method do your prefer … hanging, dehydrating ?

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