As senioritis turns to freshmanitis . . .? Thursday, Apr 28 2016 


Popping open the college schedule is more entertaining than today’s English IV lesson

For most of the past 20 years, I’ve viewed end-of-school year processes from the college campus.  These days, teaching in a high school for the first time in almost that same number of years, I feel like I’m looking at that same process through the other end of the telescope.  Instead of teaching college freshmen who were high school seniors just months ago, I’m teaching high school seniors who will be college freshmen in a few short months.  For most of the past nine months, the seniors have languished in deep-seated throes of senioritis, that debilitating condition of the high school seniors’ spirit that prompts irresistible fits of laziness and disinspiration.

In these last days of their senior year, though, for as much as they’re weary and mentally depleted for their school work, they’re coming alive to the new reality of their future: college!  I sense their senioritis is turning into freshmanitis as they nervously contemplate what lies around the next bend in the rivers of their lives.

This growing condition has been coming on In the last few weeks after several groups of my English IV class have gone to LSUE for orientation and early registration.  A popular topic of distraction has become their college schedules.  They log in to my.lsue and compare one another’s schedules, asking one another and me about this teacher or that teacher at LSUE, looking to see who among their peers has some of the same classes, giving advice to one another about what teachers to schedule, where to park, who to ask on campus about this or that, and on and on.  The day before yesterday, after several had been to LSUE the day before, those conversations hijacked the lesson plan in English IV.  Their conversations about going to college were earnest, their attention focused, their tone edgy and nervous.  Forgetting my original plan to teach an expository writing lesson felt like the right thing to do, so I abandoned them to the interest that had become so consuming.

We had fun in a highly teachable moment—-the subject wasn’t English IV, but maybe it was something bigger: RealLife 101?

Prince is Dead: Prince Who? Friday, Apr 22 2016 

A rock ‘n roll icon died today in his late 50’s.  He went by the name of “Prince.”

So, what?  A lot of people died today.  Little people. Obscure people.  Ordinary people.  Why aren’t their names memorialized in the evening news?  Why aren’t their stories made into network documentaries?   What did Prince have going for him that the little people didn’t?

Is it that he was a substance abuser?   Or profane? Did he die prematurely because of a profligate lifestyle?

Was he an advocate for ideals that are wholesome and just?

Of course not.  He was a drug-head weird-oh.  Talented beyond measure, sure.  But a talented-beyond-measure weird-oh.

Prediction: The circumstances of his death aren’t known publicly yet, but once they are, we’ll learn that he died from some kind of abuse.

And our culture exalts this lifestyle?

My soul sickens every time one of these creepy pop icons dies.  Not because they die, but because of the adoring popular reaction.   These people are weird!  What does our culture revere in  brokenness?

Seed/Weed/Feed: The Merry-go-Round of Herbicidal Madness Saturday, Apr 16 2016 

In years gone by, spring weeds never bothered me.   I just mowed more often this time of year. In mature middle-age, though, I’ve grown less and less tolerant of those assorted late winter/early spring trashy weeds and grasses that flourish and thrive as the spring lengthens into longer, warmer days.


A common symptom of spring fever is weed and feed madness: Not terminal, but certainly maddening.

Right now, the war and assault on trashy weeds and grass rages in full fury.  I have 3 or four species of herbicides to kill every manner of these offensive plants as soon as they sprout.  I patrol the yard daily with varied sprayers and poisons to strategically kill the weeds without harming the good stuff.

If I’d be a little more patient, the warmer weather will eventually take the problem away, because the trashy plants will succumb to summer’s heat as the desirable lawn takes over and dominates.  But I’ve decided the war-on-weeds is fun.  In this sub-tropical greenhouse climate, the competition between the teeming weeds and my determined opposition makes good sport.  Plus, the daily chores give me something to do in the afternoon, keeping me off the streets and out of trouble.  And it’s a biblical charge, for I labor to subdue the earth—- at least the 130’X 65′ part of it that I own.

A Lune for Springrise Saturday Saturday, Apr 9 2016 

Photo on 4-9-16 at 8.28 AM.jpgA lune is a 13-syllable, 3-line poem adaptable to any subject.  Some poets called the form “American haiku.”  I like the form because it’s terse, concise: No syllables to waste!  Here’s this morning’s meditation from the patio: 

Wisteria vines
frame sun’s rise:
Holy Saturday!

Patio Dwelling Season 2016: Arrived Sunday, Apr 3 2016 

patio april 16

We’ve hung out on the patio frequently since March began, but the weather hasn’t cooperated consistently enough to formally declare the season open to full-time patio dwelling.  We’ve been in and out, depending on the conditions.  But now that Easter is behind, spring is sprung, and the long-range weather forecast appears favorably moderate, I make the “open patio dwelling season” declaration today.   If you knock and no one answers, come around to the back yard and here’s where you’ll find us most evenings and weekends from now till the dog daze of summer and mosquitoes drive us back into the AC.

A Three Cup Morning in the great back yard outdoors! Thursday, Mar 31 2016 

Fragrant rain-washed morning air, effusive spray of lavender Wisteria, and a rocking chair on the patio: today was a 3 cup morning.  Vive spring break!

David Pulling's photo.

We’re enjoying the spring improvements and additions to our outdoor living spaces as those spaces evolve from year to year.

This year: we add red and brown color patio decor motifs to blend with the natural green and Wisteria lavender.  This photo shows the in-between patio and happy place space—-We’re not sure what to call it.  Maybe the In-between Place?


For Sale: Everything But the Squeal Monday, Mar 28 2016 

I’ve heard old Cajuns joke about their ancestors’ frugal determination to waste nothing.  For the boucherie de cochon, they chuckled at how MaMere and PaPere cooked or preserved every part of the hog “but the squeal.”


What a delicacy!

That lesson isn’t lost till this day.  I wonder how many meat markets in the USA sell pig tails, for example?  And not just pig tails, but smoked pig tails?  And note the price per pound–These are precious pig tails!

The site of this sale is the brand-spanking new Eunice Superette retail outlet in Eunice, Cajun Capitol of the world, Louisiana.  And I guarantee this: If the Superette staff of Cajun butchers figures out some way to package the squeal, it’ll be  on sale in the meat case next to those smoked pig tails.

The Curriculum of the Cross: The Real Common Core Wednesday, Mar 23 2016 

I worked in public education for 28 years, always having to be careful about discussions of faith, even though my classes were always open forums where students were free to exercise their Constitutionally-granted freedom of speech.  For example, I’ll never forget Rev. Tony in an online English 1002 class at LSUE many years ago—


The Stations of the Cross: Today’s Curriculum at School

-Tony was a rural Baptist pastor working on a degree, and all he knew to write about and interact in the course forums  was his preaching and ministry.  As the teacher and representative of the impersonal State, I didn’t have the freedom to make statements showing preference to his religious views, but my students did.   Tony’s classmates began addressing him as “Brother Tony,” so I declared him the pastor of the class.  We had a fun semester, growing as writers and spiritual pilgrims, but I was often nervous that some freedom-from-religion zealot would tattle-tale on the class’s openly Christian dialogues.  Fortunately, no issue ever was raised.

But now, what a difference retirement makes!  I’m working in  a private school where the profession of faith is the core of the curriculum.  And the core is the Cross!  So today I witnessed for the first time “The Stations of the Cross” in a moving, dramatic enactment of the Savior’s Passion  At school!  Curricular!

Awesome, indeed!

I thank God for establishing me in a private educational workplace where the Cross provides the  “common core.”

Top of the Food Chain in a Back Yard Darwinian Jungle? Friday, Mar 18 2016 

Sadie and Marley the dogs are unrivaled hunters, defenders, and bloodthirsty savage beasts.  At least in their back yard, where they rule with iron-pawed dominiIMG_6054.JPGon over every manner of lizard, garter snake, tree frog, or bird that invades their turf.  They even killed a possum once, many years ago.

Observe their coordinated stealth in this photograph as they  stalk a lizard with crafty determination.  The lizard is barely visible, high above the top of the patio column.

Later in the day, Sarah discovered a bloodied lizard carcass lying lifeless in the grass nearby—-Mission accomplished, and lizards beware!  These vigilant canine monsters preside over all  wildlife at the top of the back yard food chain.

The Bridal Wreath of Spring: Instrument of Discipline Sunday, Mar 13 2016 

Last spring we planted a Bridal Wreath shrub in hopes of blossoms for the next spring.

Next spring is here, and the Bridal Wreath has bloomed.

Why a Bridal Wreath?  I have a sentimental attachment to this shrub going back to early childhood.  In the front yard at the New Zion parsonage where my first memories  hatched, a flourishing Bridal Wreath grew.  Yes, it was a blooming shrub in spring, but I also recall it’s long, wispy branches made ideal switches: fitting instruments of discipline for disobedient or recalcitrant children. Mama knew that use better than I!bridalwreath

Not that I was ever recalcitrant . . .

But yes, I fear, I do recall the switch of Bridal Wreath discipline applied to my  childhood  posterior: Not brutally or abusedly, but deservedly, for I was a normal, wanton child.

So with all that childhood water washed under the bridge, here’s to the blossoms of spring!

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