When my Dear Husband asked me to go with him to the annual Mississippi/Louisiana Associated Press Managing Editors awards luncheon this past week, I had no idea we’d be going to one of Jackson, Mississippi’s old-school-and-proud-of-it landmarks: The Capital Club. Established in 1947, it’s downtown near the governor’s mansion and the state capitol — commanding an impressive view from atop the Capital Towers building. I could just imagine all sorts of high-powered conferences going on while high-powered politicians and business folks conferred over their hand-carved roast beef. I loved all the upscale details, too — from the leather furniture in the library to the lemons and limes used in the flower arrangement. And you know I love a fancy bathroom. This one had those lovely big mirrors with chairs and makeup counters and glass decanters of hand lotion — why can’t Wal-Mart do something like this??? Dear Husband picked up a first-place award for headline writing (His paper, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, got a total of 26 awards — sweet!) and gave a talk to the group on why he’s optimistic about the future of newspapers — gaining extra points for mentioning both me and grandson Capt. Adorable. And rumors that we got thrown out of the dining room are greatly exaggerated. Truly! After we loaded up our plates at the lunch buffet (the gumbo, sweet corn muffins and fresh coconut cake were especially delicious) we thought we were supposed to sit in the main dining room with what looked to be a core group of Mississippi movers and shakers. Turns out we journalists had our own room — away from the movers and shakers. Probably a wise move. Learn more about the Capital Club at http://www.capitalclubms.com.
The best part about Cajun Country? The incredible friendliness and hospitality. A week or so ago, two other friends and I were lucky enough to get to go to Lake Charles, Louisiana, for a real Cajun wedding. Driving from our corner of northwest Alabama, we stopped in Jackson, Mississippi, to pick up another friend and we got our first taste of what Cajun generosity is all about. (And I know that Jackson isn’t really Cajun country but when you’re close enough to drive to New Orleans for lunch, that qualifies in my book!) Our Jackson friend, Jana, is always the one we turn to for decorating and entertaining advice since she excels at both of those — and she outdid herself this time. We’re ashamed to admit that even though she’s lived in Jackson now for almost three years, we’d never gone to visit her. So this was our first peek at her new house, and we all just fell in love with it as soon as we walked in the door. Everything was so warm, inviting and luxurious, with handmade Jana touches everywhere. She designed and made all the window treatments, as well as throw pillows and handpainted floor coverings. I wish just a little bit of her creativity would rub off on me.
And maybe it did, a little bit, because the next day Jana took us to a wonderful consignment shop in Jackson — bargain hunting is another Jana speciality — and I found one of those wonderful 1980s’ embellished skirt like you’d make and wear to a friend’s Casino Night party. Instead of thinking, “Wow, I could probably wear that,” I had a Jana-thought: “Wow, that would make an adorable pillow.” Of course, you need a Jana to make those thoughts come true, and she did. You know you’d pay $60-plus for this pillow in a decorating shop, but I got it for the $8 cost of the skirt and Jana’s sewing time, which she luckily didn’t charge me for. Aren’t friends wonderful?
And the Cajun hospitality at Jana’s house didn’t end with Jana. On our way back from the wedding we of course had to stop in Jackson to drop Jana off. We had driven through nail-bitingly scary heavy rain for hours and were suffering the after-effects of too much fun, but Jana’s husband, Don, met us at the door with restorative glasses of wine and a wonderful Cajun lunch of real authentic New Orleans mufulletas (the secret’s in the Central Grocery olive salad) chips and salsa and a fresh fruit salad that Don showed us how to liven up with chili powder — something I’d never tasted before but I really enjoyed. I know I’m embarrassing Jana and Don here by gushing all over them, but, really, when you have friends who go to so much trouble to make you feel special, then you just have to brag about them. I mean, folks pay good money to be treated like this, and Jana and Don did it just because they love us. Awwww…
So this wraps up my Cajun Week, with reports from my few days exploring Cajun Country. I had a blast and I hope you did, too. Can’t wait to go back. And check out my weekly TimesDaily column on the Cajun wedding, at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090918/ARTICLES/909185004