Warning to Wildlife: Bad things happen when you cross highways! Tuesday, Apr 15 2014 

This bloke was  spared the instanteous fate of road kill: He was taken live as a future entree on the dinner table.

This bloke was spared the instanteous fate of road kill: He was taken live as a future entree on the dinner table.

Cross the highway at your own peril, Louisiana wildlife!

A deer flashed across Hwy. 14 right in front of me yesterday afternoon in broad daylight between Abbeville and Kaplan. It was a narrow miss, but He got away with it. Wish I had a picture, but it happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to react by taking my foot off the accelerator or braking. My first impulse was that it was a huge dog bounding out of the ditch and across the roadway, but when I saw the creature athletically and majestically launch himself across a deep and wide ditch on the other side, I knew the truth: This was no dog!

Now the unlucky turtle shown here wasn’t as fleet afoot crossing the South La. Highway not many miles from where my deer got away. Poor turtle was bagged by my neighbor Mike, who took the time to pull over and nab the fellow as he ambled across the highway. Mike’s intention is to serve him up for supper in a turtle sauce piquante. I asked the turtle to smile for the pic, but his response was snapping and hissing–evidently, he was in a bad humor.

What manner of man bloggeth? Tuesday, Apr 8 2014 

Man, thou art vain!

Man, thou art vain!

A sadist?

A masochist?

An exhibitionist?

Yea, verily, he who combineth three in one, for surely he is sadist, as he is wont to inflict ill-written verse on the eyes and ears of innocent readers; and surely he is masochist, so much that he tortureth his mind night and day to invent topics and essays, even to the point of distraction; and forsooth, exhibitionist moreover, for why would he inflict words and poems on such an audience save to appease his vanity?

Yea, that manner of man bloggeth.

Surely, not I!

A Lament for Monday Morn in Spring Monday, Mar 31 2014 

Woe to Wisteria when fetters of obligation bind me to this desk!

Woe to Wisteria when fetters of obligation bind me to this desk!

sitting in this morning’s bitter cup
turns to dregs of lukewarm Monday woe
as rising sun beams sweetly
on blossoms and bumblebees of spring,
out there where I am not.
Woe is me!

Humble Rewards of the Profession: Why I am proud to be an educator Friday, Mar 28 2014 

Principal Gabe Sonnier, Movin' on up!  (Photo from BR Morning Advocate)

Principal Gabe Sonnier, Movin’ on up! (Photo from BR Morning Advocate)

Why am I an educator? I have an illustration.

In my 35 year career in teaching and learning, the most moving success that my work touched is Gabe Sonnier. Mr. Sonnier became the principal of a St. Landry Parish elementary school last November. What makes that story rich is that for over 20 years, he was the custodian at that same school.

He started his college degree as a 39 year old adult at LSU Eunice where I work, attending night classes. He swept and mopped school floors by day and attended classes in his spare time. It took him 6 years to finish the B.S. in elementary Ed. He jokes that he went from emptying student paper from trash cans to grading student papers.

He started teaching at his school right away, but he also continued into graduate school and earned his M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision. And then he became principal!

To me, Gabe’s story represents the mission of teaching and learning. CBS did a piece on him last month. More of his heart warming story is online.


Beware those “Vaut pas Rien”: Worthless Mutts Tuesday, Mar 18 2014 

My wife devoted a considerable portion of her afternoon yesterday to chauffeuring Sadie and Marley to the vet for their bi-annual ritual of preventatives, check-ups, and vaccinations. Of course, the royal mutts must be chauffeured in turn, one at a time, because a single driver trying to manage the two at once creates an unreasonably dangerous driving hazard. So the time and effort required for the operation is two-fold.Sadie and Marley

In addition to the bite out of Mommy’s time, they also took a $110 bite out of Mommy’s and Papa’s bank account. I suppose I should be happy that the cost was not more, but considering that we rescued both of those dogs as young strays running the cruel streets of town, gave them a loving home, and spoiled them unmercifully for the last six to eight years hence, they should be paying us. Or at least we should qualify for a grant from the SPCA.

But instead, we’re stuck with that pair of vaut pas riens (good for nothings) whose principle industry accomplishes little more than pollute the back yard with puppy poops (that I have to pick up), create barren trails in the lawn where their comings and goings kill the grass, shed frizzy tufts of hair that have to be vacuumed regularly inside the house, and then expect two meals a day, in addition to their daily requirement of after-lunch People Crackers and dog bone biscuit treats.

If I had any sense, I’d take them to the vet and pay $35 one time to have them peacefully put to sleep. But I guess I don’t have any sense. It seems those worthless mutts have the manipulative means of robbing us of both our practical sense as well as our dollars and cents.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned, for the truth about dogs is biblical. In Philipians 3:2, St. Paul, who must have been a dog owner and knew the truth, said it straight up: “Beware the dogs…” I must have missed my memory verse the Sunday we covered that one, and now it’s too late, for as the Psalmist also wrote, “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me.”

Sadie and Marley: a pack of villains harbored in my back yard.

Daylight Savings Time Saves More Than Daylight Thursday, Mar 13 2014 

“Spring, do your thing!”

Longer days and moderating temps work wonders for the soul tormented by too much winter.

Longer days and moderating temps work wonders for the soul tormented by too much winter.

Revealing expressions of spring on happy faces this afternoon at the Circle Park! At last, after this wildest and most relentless of Gulf Coast winters in memory, Daylight Savings Time arrived last weekend. So did moderate weather, ushered in under sunswept blue skies.

Even as the change of time saves daylight, at least at the end of days, so do bright, balmy evenings save morale at the end of this wooliest of winters.

School Rules, 1992 Style Tuesday, Mar 11 2014 

The LHS Mighty Lion never misses announcements.

The LHS Mighty Lion never misses announcements.

Looking through some hand-written creative scribbles from yesteryear, I looked on the front side of the shcool announcement rag whose back side I was using to scratch out a piece-that-never-made-it-public draft of a draft. The mimeographed announcement sheet wasn’t dated at the top, but I could tell from the dates among the announcements that it came from August 1992. One announcement about a copy of a speech captivated me as a potential example of “found” poetry–Here’s what it said concerning one of the important dates related to AY1992-93 freshman elections deadlines:

Tuesday, September 8: DEADLINE FOR TURNING IN A COPY OF SPEECH. There will be a time limit on each speech. This will be discussed later. A copy of your speech must be turned in to Mrs. ___ or Mr. ___ by 2:25 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8. If you are absent from school on Tuesday, September 8, and you have not turned in your speech, you must make arrangements with someone to get it to Mrs. ___ or Mr. ___ by 2:25 p.m., Tuesday, September 8. THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS DEADLINE! The speech may not be changed after it is turned in. If you do NOT turn in your speech by the deadline, you ARE still eligible to run, you WILL be allowed to sit on the stage, but you WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO GIVE YOUR SPEECH. Keep a copy your speech for yourself.

1992 was before the text message era when we declared the etiquette that using all caps amounts to screaming. Old school or not, this announcement is a scream!

The winter of our discontent: Hell’s chilling season! Sunday, Mar 9 2014 

Count ‘em–5 winter weather advisories this season. Normally, we get one winter advisory every 5 years!

Not sure what’s up with the broader populace, but trust me: We the locals are fed up.

How about some “springing”

Icey ice: Nobody knows what to do with it!

Icey ice: Nobody knows what to do with it!

for a change?

Counting down the 26th: 17 to go Wednesday, Feb 26 2014 

After today, 17 to go.

After today, 17 to go.

My career’s red letter day stands as July 26th, 2015. If the plan unfolds as conceived, that’s R day: Retirement.

(At least from the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana; not sure what I may find to get into for a second career if the right offer and opportunity comes along).

I’ve been wanting to start a countdown, like a construction paper chain we made in grade school to count down days-till-Christmas, cutting a link each day and watching the chain grow shorter. But the number of days are too numerous for a day-by-day check-off. However, the number of months was starting to look appealing after the new year started, so I resolved on the 26th of January to begin marking off the 26th’s of each month as a celebration day. In January, eighteen 26th’s stood between me and R day; today, the magic number falls a notch to seventeen.

Onward to March 26th (and beyond!)

Daddy Tales: Life on the Mississippi, Part I Tuesday, Feb 18 2014 

The River likely near the point where Daddy and his cronies swam: This view looks from the Algiers side across to the Arabi shore where the Domino sugar refinery is a prominent Arabi landmark.

The River likely near the point where Daddy and his cronies swam: This view looks from the Algiers side across to the Arabi shore where the Domino sugar refinery is a prominent Arabi landmark.

I found myself lately relating some of my Daddy’s childhood memoirs to friends and family. As I consider the purpose and usefulness of this site as a respository of family lore, I decided to transcribe the oral versions of some of these tales while some of us still remember them. I as well as future generations would lose the richness of these ancestral accounts of feats and adventures unless we otherwise capture them by writing them down.

Today’s post visits the banks of the Mississippi River just downriver from New Orleans in the blue-collar suburb of Arabi, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. That’s Daddy’s home town, the place where he worked and played and got into mischief (by his own accounts) as a child. And the Arabi Riverfront provides a fascinating and adventurous setting for many of those accounts.

To me, one of the most fascinating activities he and his boyhood buddies engaged in was swimming in the River. And not just swimming along the levee’s edge, but crossing the River in its entirety, from the Arabi shore to climb on a barge on the opposite shore, dive in, and make the return trip to the Arabi side. Of course, they didn’t swim non-stop. He and his mates were accompanied by one or more who rowed a wooden skiff alongside the swimmers, so the trip was more than likely a combination of swimming and paddling. Still, I can’t imagine what an adventure that aller et retour across the immense breadth of Old Man River must have provided, including close-up encounters with massive ships and barge tows plying the current in this high-traffic stretch of River just downriver from the busy Port of New Orleans. I also remember Daddy explaining how they would have to account for the current of the River in their strategy to reach the destination on the opposite shore: You couldn’t row straight across because of the drift, in other words, so they had to estimate the correct angle of attack so they would land on target on the other side.

Daddy always confessed that he engaged in that activity without the blessing of his mother, who sternly forbade swimming in the River. This was a diversion that he had to pursue on the sneak, so to speak. He never specified whether he got caught or not, but by Daddy’s accounts of his childhood in general, I can imagine my grandfather administered a disciplinary action or two as a result of Daddy’s River shenanigans.

I’m pretty sure too that Daddy was a braver boy than I, because when I would stand on the levee as a child and hear him recount those stories of swimming across the River, I would have been too much of a chicken to as much as dip my toe in the intimidating water’s edge. But Daddy, he was one of that generation. I guess they don’t make ‘em any more like that World War II gang. Maybe their adventurous-bordering-on-foolhardy character was among the traits that enabled the nation to triumph over Germany and Japan.

I labeled this “Life on the Mississippi” post as Part I because I have some other River tales worth recording. I’ll save those for another post, which could be Parts II and maybe III of this River thread. Return often, reader, if you find this piece endearing, humorous,entertaining, nostalgic, or otherwise ispirational. :)

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