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How's Bayou? Nolavini, vidi, vici!

 

Madewood photographed by Clarence John Laughlin in the 1940s, before the Marshall's got their hands on it. This image, 24" x 36," once hung in the Carondelet Street entrance to Godchaux's. The first Leon Godchaux bought Madewood from the Pugh family in the 1880s.

Madewood photographed by Clarence John Laughlin in the 1940s, before the Marshalls got their hands on it. This image, 24 x 36 inches, once hung in the Carondelet Street entrance to Godchaux's. The first Leon Godchaux bought Madewood from the Pugh family in the 1880s.

Millie and I were couch potatoes before Dan Quayle misspelled the singular of the tuber.

We've been ahead of the curve for most of the sedentary pleasures computers have brought us, and Millie laps up social media. But I often struggle to master the swiftest, most innovative changes, including the snazzy new look and feel of NolaVie.com.

It's true that I rail against the Reddit scroll-along format of sites like nola.com; but I'd gotten comfortable with a similar format on this site. I could recite the names of contributors and the order in which they appeared each week as easily as Michael Jackson belting out his ABCs.

The new NolaVie is no abcedarium. It's more like wandering through a spate of hip lounges, occasionally stumbling, but always onto a range of emotions from flip to wrenching, insights both inspiring and despairing.

On the day How's Bayou? was to appear on the revamped site, I felt I'd wandered into a dimly-lit, smoke-filled and enticing bar -- probably somewhere downriver from New Orleans.

Where was it? The photo of Dr. G.H. Tichenor I'd submitted was nowhere in sight. Was this going to be a chance encounter in the darkness?

My right index finger moved hesitatingly to the banner at the top of the page, and the arrow advanced the content to the next story. I began to feel the thrill of the chase as image after image appeared in sequence.

Then, there was Madewood, but as if seen through a haze -- or a pair of green-infusing night-vision goggles, which made me wonder if I'd overlooked Bin Laden hiding in the Lee Bedroom.

It was time to buy this column a drink, so I clicked firmly on "Read More," and there I was: embracing my precious words as every writer does, noting their rhythm, their cadence, their je ne sais quoi.

All the drama was gone. Just the two of us, me and my column. I'd come to 2.0, I'd seen its mysteries, and I'd conquered them -- becoming along the way a happy and enthusiastic supporter of the new format.

But there lingered a hollow feeling that mastering this didn't mean that my dates with Facebook now would go smoothly. I access my personal account so infrequently that I have to use the reset password function almost every time I log on.

Since Millie added Madewood's Angie and me as administrators for the plantation house's Facebook page, Angie has done wonderful things that have increased likes, shares, and comments from a growing number of visitors.

Enthusiastic responses to a particularly lovely photo of Madewood almost converted me to a believer, until I noticed a brief posting from a woman in France: "We stayed at Madewood -- I think."

I must have been particularly charming at wine-and-cheese in the library that night; the house must have shimmered like the Parthenon on the Acropolis; the wine must have been exceptionally fine.

At least I think it must have been. Was I dreaming? Had she dreamed she was here?

Or was I so dull, the house just another big old mansion and the wine from a nondescript California winery? No more outstanding than the 12th European cathedral you've seen that day?

I wanted to run back to NolaVie, re-enter that smokey turf and find a new column.

And here it is.

How's Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.

How’s Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.