Monday, October 6, 2014

Louisiana Ghost Stories: Le Lutin

When I was a child one of the stories told to me by my Creole / Cajun family members was the story of the Lutin. Pronounced loo-tah, short a as in apple, it is the French Canadian version of the Leprechan or elf. The females are Lutins, pronounce the "n" but not the "s" For some odd reason, it terrified me as a child. Perhaps it was because there was the constant pitter-patter of little feet in our home due to toddlers or rats or something supernatural. But one thing is for sure, it didn't take much to terrify a 3 year old. Here is the story:

Long ago, in France, there lived Le Lutin, a mischief maker who appeared everywhere -- along the rocky shorelines, in the dark forests, in villages and towns.

The lutin could change his shape and appearance, and when he wanted to, he would take human form, and then people called him "le bon garcon," the handsome man, though many say he was not handsome. When the lutin lived upon the coastline, he often turned into "le petit homme rouge," the little red man, and sometimes he had a long beard.

No matter what shape the lutin took, he loved horses. They were his cherished animals, and people always knew when the lutin was about, for his horses would appear with braided manes, and they would often become fat, for the lutin loved to feed his horses.

Now when the French people settled in Canada, they had not planned to bring along the lutin, but the lutin is a trickster, and so it was that before long, he appeared in Canada.

No one in Quebec had expected the lutin, for no one imagined he could travel across the ocean, but one morning, in early autumn, a farmer named Jacques who lived in Quebec walked out to his barn and discovered that every one of his horses had a braided mane, and a braided tail, too.

"This must be the work of the lutin," said Jacques, "but I shall stop him from playing his tricks," for no matter that the lutin meant no harm, he was an irritating fellow, and few farmers wanted their horses' tails to be tangled.

Jacques thought for a while, remembering tales of other farmers who faced the tricks of the lutin. He could think of nothing that might stop the trickster, and so he went to discuss the matter with his fellow farmers.

"What sort of traps work?" Jacques asked Pierre, Paul and Bernard. "Remember, the lutin changes shape with ease."

The four farmers pondered the problem. They all wanted to help Jacques, not because they were particularly generous, but because they knew that once a lutin comes to a village or a town, he will invade every barn, stable and farm in sight.

And so they came up with a solution. Together they returned to Jacques' barn, and there, just outside the door, they dug a deep pit. "When he leaves the barn, he'll have to come this way," said Bernard, for this had been his idea. "The rest of you will hide inside the barn and do as I've instructed you to do."

That very night Jacques, Paul and Pierre hid inside the barn. Jacques hid in the horses' stall, and Paul and Pierre hid just outside, in a row, so that the lutin would have to run in a straight line out the door. And there, outside the door, just beyond the pit, stood Bernard. He held a sack. This was just in case the lutin somehow managed not to fall in the hole.

They waited breathlessly, and sure enough, they suddenly heard movement, and then they saw him. The lutin, was disguised, of course, as a tiny, bearded man carrying a sack full of sweetened oats to feed to Jacques' horses.

The horses neighed happily at the sight and smell of the lutin, but just as the horses neighed, Jacques jumped out of his hiding place.

The lutin turned to flee, for lutins do not abide detection by human beings. He ran out of the stall, and as he did, Pierre and Paul leaped out of their hiding places.

The lutin streaked toward the barn door. The lutin can run as fast as the wind, and it is difficult to see him as he runs. The men saw only a flash of red -- the color of the lutin's coat -- and they stared in wonder as the door to the barn flew open.

And then they heard an enormous whoop as the lutin managed to flee right over the hole, but just as they had imagined, he landed in Bernard's huge sack. Bernard at once closed the sack.
"I've got him!" he cried, and the three men ran to join their friend outside.

"Don't open the sack until dawn," Jacques whispered as they stared at the bulging sack. "The lutin does not like sunlight."

"Are you sure of that?" asked Pierre, for no one knew precisely what was true when it came to the lutin. They all knew, though, that they had caught the fellow, and they were so proud of themselves, they did not feel at all tired.

"We'll stay awake all night, and in the morning we'll have a look at our prisoner," said Pierre. The others nodded their agreement.

They built a big bonfire, and there they sat that night, the sack held fast beside them. They sang, and toasted each other and their brilliant trick. "We're trickier than the lutin himself," said Paul, and the others agreed.

When dawn came, Bernard grinned happily. "I shall now open the sack," he announced, but as he released the rope around the neck of the sack, a blur rushed past them. "What was that?" they cried in amazement, but all they heard was a giggle that turned into roaring laughter, and they knew the little trickster had run away.

He never did return to that stable, or so the tale goes, but many loggers in Quebec tell tales of their horses' braided manes and the ways of the trickster lutin.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gold Bond Rough and Bumpy Skin Review

What is Gold Bond Rough and Bumpy Skin Cream? shows the following product information:
Effective for combating rough and bumpy skin on arms and legs as well as extremely rough, dry skin on elbows, knees and heels. Gentle yet effective combination of AHA, BHA and PHA exfoliates. 8 intensive moisturizers condition and soften.

Proven results: 90% experienced smoother, softer skin in just 1 week. 72% experienced reduction in bumps/the appearance of KP in 4 weeks. 89% experienced consistently less bumpy and significantly softer skin in 4 weeks.

  • Dermatologist tested
  • Fragrance free
  • Non-greasy and non-irritating

Made in Canada

Apply as often as needed, or as directed by a physician. Use sunscreen or other sun protection to prevent sun sensitivity while using this product. Discontinue use if there is any irritation or burning.
© 2014 Chattem, Inc.

What is KP?

Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a very common and completely harmless skin condition. In the population as a whole, keratosis pilaris may affect as many as one person in three. Its name gives some idea of what it is. 'Keratosis' means that there is too much keratin – which makes up the tough horny outer layer of the skin: 'pilaris' comes from the Latin word for hair (pilus). In keratosis pilaris, many small (1 to 2 mm. across) horny plugs can be seen blocking the hair follicles on the upper and outer parts of the arms and thighs.
What causes keratosis pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is an inherited skin condition, running strongly in many families, sometimes with a generally dry skin (ichthyosis). The way it is inherited varies from family to family, but often fits into an 'autosomal dominant' pattern – which means that there will be a 1 in 2 chance that each child of an affected parent will inherit the condition. Keratosis pilaris appears when extra keratin accumulates in the hair follicles. This is usually in childhood, and most obvious during adolescence, often it clears in adulthood. It tends to be better in the summer than in the winter. Keratosis pilaris is harmless, and is not infectious.

Product Review

I found the product to be too expensive initially. It was at Walgreens for $11.99. But my daughter has KP on her calves and it has begun to develop on the underside of her forearms. There is no discoloration, only a rough bumpiness. I have KP on the underside of my forearms and my triceps. I am dark skinned and the marks are even darker. Doctors have no solutions for us. I have found that exfoliating gloves and a lavender infused natural soap keeps the KP from progressing. But it is very slow in its effectiveness. I saw a commercial for this product and decided to try it out.

I immediately noticed softer smoother skin, but only in the smooth skin areas around the KP. I felt like Neil Goldman from Family Guy when Meg tells him, "I never noticed how smooth the skin between your acne is."

The second thing I noticed was the uncomfortable tackiness of the product. My skin stuck to my pajamas and made me uncomfortable all night. During the day, when I rested my forearms on my desk calendar, I found dead skin residue on the paper. It was gross and I was not pleased. But then I remembered that the product, although smooth to the touch, is an exfoliating cream. So I decided to only apply the cream at night. I also noticed that it does not wash away easily. When showering, you will really need to scrub the cream away.

In one week, I noticed a difference in the way my skin felt but not the way it looked. I began using it twice a day and wearing long sleeves to deal with the tackiness. By week 4, after sporadic use, the KP on my arms was 90% less visible and physically detectable than before. The product delivered on its guarantee. I recommend using exfoliating gloves or loofahs in the bath and a moisturizing body wash in combination with the product as it causes layers of dead skin to shed in a rapid amount of time. Keep the area covered to protect it from the sun and to speed up the process.

The product was definitely not overpriced as originally believed. I would purchase it again.

Mabon Incense Recipe

Mabon is defined as:

The holiday of the autumnal equinox, Harvest Home, Mabon, the Feast of the Ingathering, Meán Fómhair or Alban Elfed, is a Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three Pagan harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas / Lughnasadh and followed by Samhain.

I like to mark the occasion by burning incense. Here is my recipe for Mabon incense that is burned on charcoal.

2 parts sandalwood Powder
2 parts White Oak Bark (You may substitute Oak Leaves)
1 part rosemary
1 part cinnamon chips
1 part Apple Chips
1 part Frankincense

All ingredients must be dried and well ground. You may use a coffee or spice grinder but you should not use the appliance for food once you do. A pestle and mortar are advised. Just spoon the desired amount onto your lit charcoal and let smolder. Keep the remainder in an air tight container.