Country Roads, Acadiana: Good Friday on the Intracoastal Sunday, Apr 21 2019 

We first visited our son’s in-laws’ family camp on the Intracoastal Waterway at Forked Island, waaaaaaaaay down south in South Louisiana, in 2014.  It’s become a traditional reunion with our expanded family that adopted us into their clan after the wedding.

The feast is traditionally Cajun: boiled crawfish, fried catfish, and a pot-luck buffet of country—-

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Marley the Dog joined the family for the first time this year.  He had a doggie-blast!

Cajun casseroles, veggie dishes, and, of course, sweets.

More than the food, though, we enjoy the family gathering.  After the gourmandise, the grown-ups circle their lawn chairs on the lawn along the canal in the burgeoning spring outdoors and wax gregarious, sharing entertaining assortments of chit-chat, tall-tales, farcical contes, and good-natured ribbing.  Laughter abounds.

The relaxed experience is totally de-stressing, affording several hours of utter retreat from any distraction or vexation that may have been going on at home before the day.  It’s not the Garden of Eden, but for just this day of the year, the camp at Forked Island comes about as close as earthly possible.

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On the left, our first visit in 2014; on the right, 2019.

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Country Roads, Louisiana: John Deere-Land + a Memoir Wednesday, Apr 17 2019 

One of my best friends is a farmer in Acadia Parish, Louisiana.  Over the years with his sons, he amassed this amazing collection of John Deere toy tractors and combines.

IMG_0324What a magical display!  When I was a toy-tractor-lovin’ lad of 10 or 12, I would have been mesmerized at the flourescent gleam of row upon row of every sort of John Deere implement that ever rolled across the fields of American farms.

The display also reminds me of my one failed attempt at John Deere tractor driving when I was a 19 year old college freshman.  My north Louisiana roommate, whose family farmhouse was situated on a gravel road  3/4 of a mile from the Louisiana/Arkansas state line, invited me to come home with him one weekend in the spring.  It was March, I believe.

When we drove up at his family home place, his dad, nicknamed Hop, met us in the driveway.  Though I was a rank stranger to Mr.Hop, he gave his son and me orders to disc the field adjacent to the house.  That I had never driven a tractor before mattered not: there was farm work to do!  We didn’t even bother to bring our suitcases in but went straight to the task.

After a quick lesson or two in tractor-driving, I had that JohnnyPopper 2030 marching to and fro across the field, the disc blades breaking and parting the heavy sod.  I was pretty impressed with myself.

But at the end of one row just as the operation was going so well, I made a mistake—-I turned too sharply, causing the back tire or the tractor to engage with the frame of the disc.  Luckily for me, the clash between the disc and the tire caused the tractor to stall out and die.  Had the tractor kept going, that disc would have climbed that rolling back tirelanded upside down on my head.

I finished the job after my roomy came to [literally] back me out of the ham, but I also realized my shortcomings as a tractor driver.  I’ve nevere driven since.  I found myself later to be better suited for other pursuits:  Much better for me to compose a sonnet about tractor driving than to drive a tractor.

Country Roads, Acadiana: Cajun Cosmology? Wednesday, Apr 10 2019 

Thanks to our son-in-law for this humorous photo-take on black holes in space.

I first heard of black holes  from my college algebra teacher, who was somewhat of a kook.  He was peculiarly fascinated by black holes in space.  He was such a weird-oh that we dismissed his black hole rants  as eccentric yo-yo.

But today on the network news, I heard the current news piece on a scientific photo of an authentic black hole, first one ever, according to the prestigious scientists who accomplished the feat.

But to hell with science!

I prefer Brandon’s crawfish chimney solution.  Vive l’ecrivisse cosmique!  (Long live the cosmic crawfish!)  Louisiana Cajuns had this figured out hundreds of years ago!FB_IMG_1554946154825

White Water Eunice: Richard’s Rapids Monday, Apr 8 2019 

IMG_0313If  an inch or two of rain falls in a few short hours, Richard’s Gully, the principle waterway (a glorified ditch?) coursing through our prairie Cajun town of Eunice, sounds mountainous if one allows the imagination to run a little wild.  The white water cascading over chunks of busted concrete produces the sound effects of  a coursing Colorado stream, bounding through a canyon!

The gully is neither a Colorado stream nor a crashing canyon river, but a little imagination works wonders for the soul lonesome for mountain streams.

Rainy Days and Thursdays Don’t Get Me Down Thursday, Apr 4 2019 

We woke in the pre-dawn this morning to booming thunder and crashing lightening.  A complex warm front had established a foothold along Interstate 10 across southwest Louisiana, promising a day-long event of training storms and even episodes of severe weather.

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Rain dampens the back yard, but the patio’s dry!

In all the years of my career, leaving home on days like this was stressful.  I worried about Sarah and me traveling, I worried about the dogs, I worried about the house.

But no more.  One of the principal joys of retirement I’ve discovered since January last year is the peace that I can stay at home on bad weather days.  These days actually prompt a blissful laziness, since the normal routines of working out and doing outdoor chores are disrupted by the weather’s inclimency.

When I worked in education, I was at the mercy of the university or school administration to declare a rainy day closure.  Those days were altogether too rare.  But now, I call my own rain days!  My standards for shutting down are much less stringent.

So what to do but pour an extra cup of coffee, watch the extended  coverage of the rain event with the local TV mets, and in general laze out?

So let the rain fall!

 

Plain English: Don’t break “potty” lines! Friday, Mar 29 2019 

Plain English.  American, or British?  The accent makes a big difference!

In American, we say “Don’t break party lines.”

In England, they say “Don’t break party lines,” but the phonetics for party sounds out as potty.

I heard the phrase in a news piece last week on the BBC world

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The alternative to waiting one’s turn is to break the potty line?  Scandalous: Only in Parliament!

news as they discussed the Brexit fiasco.  I had to laugh at the British pronunciation!  What a high powered political conversation!  We must be polite!  We must wait our turn to make potty!  Breaking potty lines is rude and childish!

The Status of “Place”: What’s in a Name? Friday, Mar 22 2019 

“Maple Place Town Homes.”

Wow, Maple Place!  Sounds kinda ritzy, high class, like a swanky neighborhood on the south side of Lafayette or the Broadmoor district in Baton Rouge.

IMG_0308 (1)But Maple Place is named for its address on Maple Avenue, the east-west through-street on the south side of our humble small town.  And there’s nothing high class, much less elegant, along the entirety of Maple Avenue’s 2 or 3 mile stretch across town!

The apartments are brand new, just being leased, and it’s admittedly a handsome little apartment complex right across the avenue from the public walking trail.  Since the Maple Place driveway is right on the corner of the entrance to our sub-division, we will hopefully enjoy a bump in property values in our neighborhood.  Surely, living just two blocks from a  real estate asset with the fashionable name “Maple Place” must produce for our property a boost in status!

Welcome, Vernal Equinox! Wednesday, Mar 20 2019 

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The fire pit makes patio dwelling tolerable on chilly mid-March evenings.

There are four equinoxes every year: summer, autumnal, winter, and vernal.  My favorite is vernal, because spring is the queen of the seasons (in my view, of course).

The weather was seasonably below normal last week—-as in two nights in a row of upper twenties.  But the day weather has warmed gorgeously this week with temps ranging into the nigh-perfect low 70s.  Overnight lows in the 40s are still a little too chilly for my comfort, but the fire pit makes the late-evening chill bearable.  We are definitely on the verge of the season of patio dwelling.

The long range forecast shows consistent moderation in the overnight lows, so we’re getting where we want to be.

Bring on spring!

Dog Stuck: Kids move on, dogs not so much! Tuesday, Mar 19 2019 

IMG_4152In summer 2005, Zach brought home a baby puppy he found in a Port-o-let at one of the city recreational parks.  Ann begged, “Can we keep her?”

The answer: “Of course.”

She became Sadie the Dog, and lives here to this day.

In summer 2008, a pitiful boy dog followed Ann for about 6 miles on her jog and wound up at our house. . . Which soon became his house after he moved in on the holiday morning of July 4 that year.

He became Marley the Dog, and lives here to this day.

Over the ensuing years, Zach and Ann both wandered off to other pursuits, first to college and then on to marriage and careers out-of-state.

Where are the dogs they rescued?  Didn’t they take them with them?

Of course not.  They still live at our house, growing into canine senior citizens along with their growing-into-senior-citizens parents!

We’re gloriously stuck.

And in a measure blessed.  Chere little doggies!

Squirrels of the Academy Thursday, Mar 14 2019 

If mammalian intelligence is measured by the representation of critters that inhabit institutes of higher learning, squirrels must rank among the elites of the erudite.  Every campus with which I’ve developed familiarity over the years seems overrun by populations of tame, tail-twitching squirrels who skitter among the trees and fearlessly approach humans along campus sidewalks.

My undergrad. alma mater, Louisiana College was overrun by sleek, well-nourished Fox Squirrels, known for their lazy, laid-back demeanor.  My current campus, LSU Eunice, is populated mainly by Cat Squirrels, much more nervous and frisky than their Fox Squirrel cousins, but nonetheless entirely comfortable in the presence of humans.

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Northern Colorado University Squirrels consort with graduate students.

And this phenomenon is evidently nation-wide.  My daughter here at University of Northern Colorado poses with a couple of cute little buddies who are known on that campus to comfortably accost pedestrians to beg for edible treats.

Perhaps the presence of squirrels supports the argument of some who believe that people who live and work on college campuses are squirrely?  I’m sure there are some (among the anti-intellectual) who support that view.  I’ll not buy into that suggestion by any stretch, as I’m not willing to self-confess to squirreliness.

Ultimately, squirrels grow populous on college campuses because such public spaces tend to be spacious, well-kept havens where the docile creatures can thrive without having to struggle to survive as do their not-so-fortunate cousins in the wild.

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