The Joys of Grand-parenting: One Rotten Deserves Another Saturday, Aug 1 2015 

At our house dogs aren’t allowed to lie on the furniture. But Marley is an opportunist who knows how to work the leverage of Payton visits. It’s canine intuition: a rotten dog recognizes a rotten kid at first sniff. Then they ally their resources of charm to become formidable co-conspirators.

Marley loves when Payton comes.  No rules!

Marley loves when Payton comes. No rules!

Patio Dwelling in the Dog Daze: Undeterred! Thursday, Jul 30 2015 

The local TV meteorologist announced yesterday that we’re on course to break the all-time record for hottest July in this part of Louisiana. I’ve lost count of the number of consecutive 95+ days since early in the month.

But are true patio dwellers deterred by ultra-heat index and humidity? Of course not. We made some physical improvements to the patio setting over the course of this summer, so we’re going to sweat right through the mug and yuk to get our dollars’ worth. The day before yesterday at the afternoon peak of the temp and humidity, for example, we grilled. And we haven’t missed a day of working out or riding bikes, almost always in the afternoon, after which we cool down under an oscillating fan that sweeps the patio to create some moving, refreshing air. (Well, admittedly, refreshing should be taken as relativey speaking.)

Even in the withering Deep South heat and humidity, our patio living area invites us out.

Even in the withering Deep South heat and humidity, our patio living area invites us out.

Yes, it’s grimy outside and we sweat profusely, but for such conditions, shorts and t-shirts were created. And there’s an upside to sweating: I think I read somewhere years ago that sweating helps eliminate bodily impurities. And the evening shower after we go in feels so much more refreshing than showers do in moderate seasons, because baths this time of the year really count for something.

So on we dwell in the great backyard outdoors, through dog daze and summer’s best shot at invoking misery. We’re tested, hardened, and confirmed patio dwellers.

Eat Oysters, Love Longer: Birthday Year 4 Monday, Jul 27 2015 

Sarah and I observed year four in the birthday oyster tradition yesterday at Acme in Baton Rouge. The original and legendary Acme is in the French Quarter, but the franchise outposts keep up the standard. Here’s the 4 year summary of venues:

2012 Fezzo’s Restaurant in Scott, La.
2013 D.C.’s in Eunice, La.
2014 New Orleans Food and Spirits, Covington, La.
2015 Acme Oyster House, Baton Rouge, La.

Where will we have oysters next year? We’ll see!

Acme oyster po boys are the real New Orleans deal.

Acme oyster po boys are the real New Orleans deal.

Vacation, The Natural State of Man: Pedalin’ the Trace Monday, Jul 27 2015 

I think I’ve stolen a post title that I already used, but so what? Our retirement/birthday weekend celebration trip to Covington to ride the Tammany Trace and revisit childhood scenes as a tourist was highly fulfilling. It was just a weekend trip, but it was characterized by an intense 48 hour period of doing whatever we felt like doing. I can keep that kind of intensity up for a long time!

This trip was really liberating, too, in that the following Monday, I would not return to that pressure-cooker job I just retired from Friday past. That sense of release set this vacation outing apart from all others as long as we’ve been married, because every other vacation ended with the regrettable, lamentable letdown at the end: gotta return to the grind on Monday! Ugh. Not so this weekend. The entire time, I kept figuratively pinching myself, almost gloating, “I don’t have to go to work at LSUE Monday. Or any day!”

We also felt a sense of athletic achievement as we rode from Covington to Mandeville and back, over 26 miles round trip. Serious cyclists would regard that outing as a light workout, but for us, it was more than triple the length of our normal recreational rides. The advancing years notwithstanding, we made the scenic trip and came back in pretty good shape, memories abounding with the resolve to do it again, except maybe more next time.

A deep piney woods moment just outside of Mandeville along the scenic Tammany Trace.  Sure beats work!

A deep piney woods moment just outside of Mandeville along the scenic Tammany Trace. Sure beats work!

Humble Rewards of the Profession: The Calling Tuesday, Jul 21 2015 

I’ve taught for 28 years. For 28 years I’ve attended in-service meetings and heard 28-plus back-to-school pep talks from assistant principals, principals, vice-chancellors and chancellors. Many fine speeches!

But this morning for the first time in a teacher in-service, I heard the best from the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Lafayette. In closing remarks at the end of the in-service, she reminded us—-with genuine pathos—- that our work is a calling. Not just a human calling, but a divine calling. A holy calling.

She went so far as to admonish us that if any teacher in the audience did not regard this teaching work as a calling should report to our principals to let them know that we wouldn’t be around for the start of the school year.

The passion in her admonition gave me chills!  The conditioned “Baptist” instinct in me prompted a couple of Amens during her moving remarks.

I’ve always regarded my work as a calling, my teaching skill as a gift. But I never had a supervisor or superior to acknowledge and confirm it with such a mixture of force and grace.

So on to the calling! May God work in school year 2015-16, and may my service provide a useful instrument

From time to time, our lives need to be touched by unsolicited moments of inspiration.

From time to time, our lives need to be touched by unsolicited moments of inspiration.

.

Considering the Rhetoric of Thanksgiving . . . Tuesday, Jul 14 2015 

I teased the kids in the youth creative writing camp yesterday when I told them that one of the reasons I write is to show off.  It’s true!  The thank you emailI sent to my colleagues on the Academic Council this morning (see below) provides an example of bombastic rhetoric applied to an authentic rhetorical situation.   I believe the communique works because, in spite of the hyperbole and high-flown diction, the message conveys humor to an audience that knows my ethos (credibility, sincerity) without my having to convince them.  I would never send a message like this to people who don’t know me.  (Hmmmm…..Or would I?)

Policy Statement Review: an example of the onerous work of Academic Council!

Policy Statement Review: an example of the onerous work of Academic Council!

Friends and colleagues,

I want to thank you for your acknowledgement in Academic Council last Tuesday of the end of my 28 year career in public education.  Over the years and through the unsavory tedium of administrative chores like policy review, catalogue revisions, and other butt-numbing episodes of endless deliberation, this body’s bright wits, not-quite-irreverent-but-getting-close sense of humor, and collegial spirit has made Academic Council meetings bearable…. Or almost, anyway.

In all seriousness, of course, I’m proud to have shared this portion of my career’s trail with you.  I admire you individually and collectively for your intelligence, your commitment, and the good spirit that has ever endured in spite of the mean season of these recent years.

My last day at work is July 24, so this isn’t to say farewell just yet—for now, just thanks.  And  I look forward to continuing friendship and association with many of you as we continue to live and work for good causes.

May God  bless you and LSUE!

David L. Pulling, Director of Continuing Education for 9 More “Daze”

Louisiana State University Eunice

PO Box 1129    Eunice, LA  70535

Ph. (337) 550-1390  Fax (337) 550-1393

https://dpulling.wordpress.com

Of course, no course! Wednesday, Jul 8 2015 

A few weeks ago as I navigated through university’s my.lsue portal to assist a student advisee with his Fall 2015 schedule,  I was startled at the appearance of this mySchedule screen as the following message flashed upon the monitor:

My LSUE teaching "load" for next semester.

My LSUE teaching “load” for next semester.

At first, I believed something was wrong.  I’ve navigated through this frame in my.courses for over a decade.  Until this day, though, I had never seen this frame pronounce the bland proclamation, “There are no courses for the given session and year.”  Always in that space, from year to year to year to year, has been a list of courses that indicated my teaching assignment for the upcoming term.  I could click on the course links to open class rosters of students who were registered in each section.

Once I recovered from the momentary stunning, of course, I smiled inwardly.  The empty space is simply one more confirmation that this 28 year career in public education is coming to an end.  And since this phase of life’s work is ending on my terms, I gloriously have no need to verify the correctness of the session and year’s indication: This indication couldn’t be more correct!

Patio dwelling and the soul of man Sunday, Jul 5 2015 

Patio dwelling is a universal instinct of mankind.

Patio dwelling is a universal instinct.   Man was made for outdoors.

At home or away, the season for patio dwelling persists in the summer souls of men and women. It’s as universal as wanderlust. Last weekend we hung outdoors with Zach and Trisha on their patio in Texas.

No, Texas patios are not larger than Louisiana patios, legends and myths notwithstanding. All patios work  the same for chillin’ and grillin’.  North or south, east or west, near or far, patios are soul places for family, friends, and times remembered.

Whether a quiet Saturday morning coffee, a birthday celebration, a family reunion, or a friendly gathering for any occasion, days are  blessed in fresh, open spaces right outside the back door.

Family makes patio dwelling rock.

Family and food—-like boudin!—-make patio dwelling rock.

A patio's not a patio without a grill.

A patio’s not a patio without a grill.

The Flatness of the Prairie: Summer Sunset Monday, Jun 29 2015 

Over the years in this blog space, a topic I revisit from time to time is the allure of the flat topography that characterizes the coastal and inland prairies of South Louisiana.  This photo I borrowed from a friend’s Facebook post re-inspired my captivation with the romantic flatness of the prairie where flatness has nothing to do with featureless.

Prairie sunset

In other prairie views I’ve commented on over the years, the land features spreading away to the horizon provide the visual interest.  But our regional Gulf Coast summer sunset, offering stunning and contrasting hues of pink and yellow and orange, adds a vertical aspect to the prairie’s flatness.   Because the descending dusk reduces the land features  to unappealing silhouettes, the real interest rises upward from the horizon where the colorful evening shades bid the Cajun prairie earth bonsoir to another summer day.

A Summer Song: New Zion Saturday, Jun 27 2015 

I composed this piece from ideas drawn from a poetry workshop exercise that former Louisiana Poet Laureate Daryl Bourque gave at his Marais Bouleur family place near Church Point, La., in 2009. I visited Dr. Bourque’s place for an Acadiana Writing Project summer institute field trip. This turned out to be one of the favorite pieces in my portfolio. I read it at my Dad’s funeral on the hallowed grounds of that same church. I know I posted it before, but good stuff merits a re-post. .

If I am anyone owes much to where I’ve been

If I am anyone
Owes much to where I’ve been.
So be still a while.
Listen.
“Every head bowed, every eye closed.”
And hear the summer song 50 years ago,
After cow milkin’s done.

Sense the fragrance of sturdy folk–
Scrubbed with well water,
Groomed with Wild Root and talcum powder,
As they head over to the church house,
A neat frame building dressed in white asbestos slate.

The summer song from sturdy voices
Drifts across the pasture
From windows flung open wide
To hot July:
“Jesus saves, Jesus saves!”

If I am anyone
Owes much to where I’ve been.

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