• ,

How's Bayou? Still lovin' NOLA

The Saucy Housedogs of Pisgah: they're getting some increased attention this summer.  (Photo by Keith Marshall)

The Saucy Housedogs of Pisgah: they're getting some increased attention this summer. (Photo by Keith Marshall)

Let me say up front: I AM NOT LEAVING NEW ORLEANS!

This column will not be about how my heart is being ripped out as I depart; how I don't know how I'll ever find a bar as great as X, Y, or Z; or how I'll miss stoop-side banter.

The truth is, I never left you. I'm just taking a break from How's Bayou? this summer to languish on the bayou, preferably with Julep in hand. To tackle several writing projects long left on shelves, and to get centered for the future. To charge the batteries for new and better columns down the road.

What I will miss those months is the behind-the-scenes banter with NolaVie principals Renee Peck and Sharon Litwin, with whom I worked at The Times-Picayune a decade or more ago.

In January 2011, Renee seduced me over a cup of coffee to write for a new website.

"It'll be fun," she assured me, adding as an enticement, "You're such a great writer."

On February 11, 2011, I filed my first How's Bayou? column -- "How a historic Southern plantation house found an unlikely family" -- from the ship terminal in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before boarding the Queen Mary 2 for the first leg of its World Cruise, during which I would e-mail stories back to Renee. Cunard was desperate to sell that 22-day segment and offered it at the ridiculously-low individual price of $65 per day. We couldn't resist.

I've written mostly about the joys and tribulations of owning Madewood, leavened with interesting construction projects I've attempted during these three years, a round-the-world trip on frequent flyer points, Queen Latifah, Elvis, an opera based on the life of Louisiana primitive painter Clementine Hunter, Easter Island and my favorite McDonald's incarnations around the world.

I've chronicled reasons for not inviting a professional organizer into your house and created desperation recipes from what's left in the fridge. My lemongrass and lychee Mint Julep, the "Let Saigons be Saigons," you may recall, was attractive -- if not that popular with our guests.

Our beloved canines, Clio and Pandora -- about whom I could write, and talk, forever -- remain front and center. I'll always picture them as "The Saucy Housedogs of Pisgah," as delineated in How's Bayou? last summer.

160 columns later, my writing skills have improved in the forge of weekly deadlines.

So I hope I don't get lazy, become a literary layabout.

Miss Clio will be by my side to lick my face if I get down, to remind me that I still have lots to write about, even if it's just more tales of a boy and his dog.

Editor's note: NolaVie principals Sharon and Renee stand by their affirmation of the author's writing prowess. We also will be hounding him (sorry, Clio and Pandora) come summer's end to get him back in front of the keyboard. Meanwhile, email Keith at coreart@aol.com.

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.