Short Timin’ Thursday, Mar 26 2015 

Today marks the 4-months-remaining checkoff from retirement, or at least phase 1 of retirement since I truly don’t intend to stop work. Anyway, I got some satisfaction in an Academic Council meeting this afternoon as we laid an agenda item on the back-burner to be revived and rolled out for advisor training at the Fall Semester Faculty Workshop in August.

I won’t be there for the training!!!!

I move on, the University moves on, and life moves on. I find some strange fulfillment in this process.

The revised academic permissions form we approved today will not affect me: I'll be gone!

The revised academic permissions form we approved today will not affect me: I’ll be gone!

What comes around goes . . . or rolls . . . around Thursday, Mar 19 2015 

Ten years ago, a college student would rather be caught dead than riding an old-school cruiser bicycle. My own kids, of that undergraduate generation, called these bikes “MaMaw” riders.

These pastel-colored girlie cruisers are the present rage on campus.

These pastel-colored girlie cruisers are the present rage on campus.

But this two-wheeled ride is the vogue on the campus where I work this year. The students view these throw-back bikes as cool.

What’s the next come-back fad? Full-length racoon-skin coats? Freshman beanies? Panty raids?

We’ll see in the next year or two . . . since, as the ancient teacher of Ecclesiastes surmised in Near Eastern antiquity, “What is [truly] new under the sun?” We (or our parents or grandparents) have seen it all before.  The current generation of students is not as chic and original as they fancy themselves.

Of course, neither was my campus generation  40 or so years ago.

Daddy and the Banana Boat Legacy Thursday, Mar 12 2015 

I buy bananas by the quick-sale tote bag. Yes, partly because I’m cheap and the price is reduced, but also because I prefer eating a brown speckled banana that’s a shade past ripe—-ideally, midway between perfectly ripe and slightly overripe. Sarah took this photo of the batch I brought home from Rouses earlier in the week and posted it on Facebook to poke fun at my on-the-cheap bananas bargain.

Cheap 'nanners from the quick-sale rack:  The stuff of family lore.

Cheap ‘nanners from the quick-sale rack: The stuff of family lore.

After reading some of the ensuing comments and jibes that began to appear in the Facebook thread, I remembered stories Daddy told of his childhood in the Mississippi River suburbs of New Orleans. In those days, banana boats from South America—-ships, actually—-docked along the shore. The ship’s crew discarded overripe or damaged bananas by tossing them overboard into the River. Daddy and his resourceful buddies, conditioned by the economic hardship of the Great Depression and no doubt savoring bananas as an exotic treat, dove into the water and salvaged the fruit as reclaimed bounty. I think he told us they sold bananas for a few pennies or a nickel each, but I’m also pretty sure he and his buddies liberally tasted their wares, too. Fresh fruit of any kind in working class households of that underprivileged era amounted to a luxury that my spoiled generation can hardly appreciate.

All that makes me wonder: As Daddy was a professed cheapskate and an accomplished ‘nanner scavenger, could my fetish for reduced-price bananas from the grocery’s discard rack stem from DNA?

I don’t know the answer to that question for sure, but even if the propensity isn’t genetic, it’s certainly bound in heritage and adds another entertaining yarn to the collected family lore. May posting it as a memoir here preserve it for posterity.

Harbingers of spring: DST and pine blossoms Tuesday, Mar 10 2015 

Pollen is part of the price of spring.

Pollen is part of the price of spring.

I can make it now . . . to spring.

My last post lamented the dogged and relentless grip of the 2015 winter season. What a difference a few days makes! And warmer days just in time for the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. I celebrated the first weekday of DST yesterday evening by transplanting a shrub after supper. Yes, yard work after supper! For the past five months, “after supper” meant varied degrees of too dark/too cold to do anything outside.

Actually, I would have done more in the yard yesterday but for the nasty drizzle that set in, but at least we relaxed outside on the patio until well after 7:00, enjoying the daylight and the comfortable outdoor temperature.

This morning during a break from the office, I noticed the pine trees are beginning to bud. That’s a reinforcing omen that the grip of winter is loosening. In a few weeks, those blossoms will ripen and release sheets of yellow-green pollen that will generously coat outdoor surfaces and the linings of our nasal and sinus passages. An episode of hayfever and a sneeze or two notwithstanding, the gay advent of spring will be well worth the fleeting pollen season’s discomfort and irritation.

Elusive spring: When enough (of winter) is enough Thursday, Mar 5 2015 

The high yesterday was 80 muggy degrees; at noon today, the temperature had crashed to 32, accompanied by a wintry mix driven by near-gale force winds. I don’t recall such a dramatic overnight exchanges of air masses in all my days.

May 6th?  In the Deep, Gulf South?  Really?

March 5th? In the Deep, Gulf South? Really?

The sun came out brightly this afternoon, and while the cheerful rays and the blue sky do serve to dispel the gloom of this morning, the temperature is still in the 30’s with an icy wind chill.

I know, I know . . . our Gulf Coast winter weather is a kitty cat compared to the roaring lion of winter raging farther north. But down South, we’re not cut out those extremes, the same way many northerners aren’t cut out for our subtropical summer extremes.

Still, by this time of the late winter when the climate norm tells me the temperature should be in the mid-to-upper sixties for afternoon highs, especially after the 80’ish balm of the last two days, this immoderate return of ill chill is detestable.

Oh, well. I can’t raise the temperature a degree, nor less the wind by my will. All I can do is write about it, and so I have done here.

Hie thee hence away, brute winter; may the moderating bloom of spring supplant the withering chill of thy frosty breath.

Sadie and Marley: Guardians of Household Morality? Tuesday, Mar 3 2015 

The case for their virtue rests solidly on a biblical injunction from the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy:

“Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore , or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

I have no idea what the “hire of a whore” has in common with “the price of a dog,” but it’s irrelevant in the case of Sadie and Marley because they have no price. And no, not because they’re not for sale, but because they’re worthless. I’d sooner have to pay somebody to take them off my hand than somebody would offer to give me as much as a nickel a piece for them.

Worthless dogs keep their owners free from committing sinful abomination!

Worthless dogs keep their owners free from committing sinful abomination!

So, biblically speaking, their worthlessness works in the household’s favor, because if I can’t sell them for a price, then I will never have proceeds of a sale to bring into the house of the Lord. Simply, if I can’t sell them, then I’m in no danger of plopping a few dollars of doggie sale proceeds into the church collection plate.

No price of a dog = no abomination unto God.

What a blessing is the worthlessness of our dogs!

Me and my sour-pix-puss Thursday, Feb 26 2015 

Want to cast me into a foul humor? Ruin the moment? Quicken my ire?

Just bring out a camera and say, “I want a picture.” This family sibling picture shows my patented sour-pix-puss frown that’s become legendary in family lore.

I'm not a gracious picture taker.

I’m not a gracious picture taker.

I posted this shot from the late 1950’s because I had never seen it until yesterday when my sister dug it up among an aging aunt’s photo collection and sent it to the family. In case there’s any doubt as to who I am, I’m the little fellow wearing the frown of disdain.

County Roads, Acadiana: The Worth More 5 & 10 Friday, Feb 20 2015 

A retail relic in downtown Rayne, still open for business.

A retail relic in downtown Rayne, still open for business.

Anyone who travels across South Louisiana without leaving Interstate 10 misses the rural and small town lore of this fascinating Cajun region. Take, for instance, the Worthmore 5 & 10 in downtown Rayne, Louisiana. We took the back roads out of Lafayette on the way home this afternoon and came across this rustic retail relic of yesteryear. Sarah remembered the place from perhaps her childhood; I had passed the site often but never gone in. As we approached the intersection, she exclaimed, “Oh, I love this store!”

What could I do but suggest we stop and go in?

So I pulled into a parking space and we approached the store. How can I characterize the place, beginning at the entrance where a cardboard CODOFIL placard from the 1970’s in the window proclaimed “Ici, on est fier de parler francais?” The aisles were narrow, the gondolas tall and laden with shelf upon shelf of the most glorious array of junk mingled with treasure that I’ve ever seen in a retail store. Yes, junk AND treasure.

The “5&10″ label is certainly misleading. I believe $5 and $10 would be more accurate. We actually found some pricey items, like some sets of crystal and dishware, with price tags of $49.95, but it was really nice looking stuff.

Some of the merchandise was curious looking.

Some of the merchandise was curious looking.

But then there was aisle after aisle of tawdry merchandise, too, like hair nets with pix of 1970’s style coiffures on the label—-this stuff resembled merchandise a 5&10 of the 1960s/70s would have sold. Where in the world, I wondered, do they get such dated inventory?

And the inventory featured everything from training diapers to multiplication flash cards to roach motels to wash tubs to toy soldiers to lamp shades to carnival masks . . . and just about everything in between. It was an entertaining 20 minutes passed, and I even got some ideas for future gift shopping. Like those 1970’s style hair nets—-Sarah will look like a queen wearing one of those! But I DO need to remember to bring money, because the Worthmore 5&10 does not accept credit cards.

Some of the merchandise was cheesy!

Some of the merchandise was cheesy!

How does a sleeping dog lie? Monday, Feb 16 2015 

Dogs have perfected not just the science of rest, but the art of rest. Observe how completely relaxed, if not abjectly lazy, Sadie appears in this picture on the patio last fall.

What’s more amazing is how they shift from fully active to fully shut down. For example, we play with her and Marley right before dark in the winter months. They dash and dart about like fiends playing tug of war and chasing tennis balls. As soon as they come in, though, they slink off into the bedroom, crawl into their kennels, and conk out until the 10:00 news. Marley even snores! They awake long enough to go out and do their business before the masters go to bed and they then kennel up for another 7 or 8 hours of shut-eye till the next morning.

If I could relax like those creatures do, I think I’d live to be 120.

Maybe the key to their lifestyle is simplicity: They seem to exist for 3 purposes—-to eat, to make puppy poop and weesey-weese, and to sleep.

(Before neutering, there was a 4th purpose, of course, but they could care less about that now).

How does one NOT let a sleeping dog lie?  They were created to sleep!

How does one NOT let a sleeping dog lie? They were created to sleep!

Humble Rewards of the Profession: A Generational Memoir Thursday, Feb 12 2015 

I come from a line of English teachers beginning with Daddy, who raised 5 kids, 3 of whom (including me) followed suit in English teaching careers. Love for, or talent for, or a combination thereof for the profession of letters, must proceed from some genetic propensity.

One of my favorite later-years pix of Daddy----with Mama----on the Lakefront at Mandeville.

One of my favorite later-years pix of Daddy—-with Mama—-on the Lakefront at Mandeville.

Daddy retired from teaching I’m not sure when—-the late 1980’s?—- so all of his students are more-than-mature adults. For that reason, a few days ago I took extra gratification from a random former student of his from that distant time who shared her memories of junior high English when he was her teacher. She wrote the following to me:

“I really loved [your] Dad. I had him as my teacher in [junior high.] He was friend to us as well as a teacher. [You] don’t have teacher’s that really care about the student’s like he did. They [are] far [and] few between.”

Wow! That was a touching compliment, one special to me professionally as well as personally, because I would love to imagine that my former students, 30 or 40 years from now, will look up my children and offer such gracious remarks about my influence on their lives.

Daddy’s not here to receive this humble reward, but I will accept it on his behalf and post the memoir in this venue to give it audience. The sentiment is too rich to keep within. Thus, here reading, may others remember his life as an example of the life-touching work that teachers do.

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