Transition: From L.A. to La. Tuesday, Oct 31 2006 

expectweblogo_a.jpgThanks to the the marvels of technology and modern aviation, I started this day by flying over Pacific Ocean beaches on take-off from LAX and ended this afternoon flying over the Mississippi River on the descent into Baton Rouge.

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A few hours and 80 or so miles later, home, sweet home!

More on the California experience in days to come. I especially have some reflections on one experience I had out in Hollywood along the lines of “a country boy can survive” (Who remembers the cheesey old C&W song by that title, from the golden age of Bubba, “Okies from Muskogee,” and good ol’ boys?)

I’d write the post now, but the hours and the time zones and the jet lag have exacted a toll on my bones. Perhaps tomorrow? Perhaps the intrigue and suspense will draw tonight’s readers back!

Hollywood: So What? Sunday, Oct 29 2006 

 chinesetheatre4small.jpgGrauman’s Chinese Theater, where I passed this afternoon along Hollywood Boulevard.

O.k., I’ve now seen
Hollywood.  And the verdict?
 

So what? 

Don’t get me wrong: my walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard was fascinating.  It really was a priceless experience for a small-town fellow from Louisiana.  But as interesting and novel as it was to see the spectacular, the bizarre, the celebrated, the exotic . . . well, it got pretty disgusting after a while, to tell the truth.   But then again, that’s small-town me. I confess I’m biased against popular culture and phoniness and weirdness.  And that’s what I found in Hollywood, along with a lot of noise and traffic. But still, I’m glad I saw these sights.  They were truly different!The conclusion as to whether my experience is impoverished or enriched thereby is open-ended. . . I’ll have to write more about these events in days to come to plumb those depths and draw some conclusions.

High School Homecoming: A Slice of Small Town Americana Wednesday, Oct 25 2006 

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This is one of my favorite Eunice High School (Eunice, Louisiana) Homecoming 06 pix because of the light effects.   It’s like the not-quite-set sun is competing with those stadium lights for the honors.  When I looked through those pix from last weekend, that line of all-American high school girls in the foreground against the dusky back-drop  struck me as a symbol of vanishing small-town Americana.  Could that photo be allegorical?  Hmmm . . . . No, let’s not go there.  I’ve been teaching English 1002 too long, I fear.

On the other hand, a broader panorama of that photo’s background would reveal a patch of soybean field beyond the visitor’s bleachers on the far side, and just beyond the soybean patch glistens our shiny new WalMart SuperCenter.  So we have high school stadium surrounded by fields surrounded by WalMart.  Is that a cultural commentary?  Hmmm . . . Maybe a subject for future blogservations.  Meanwhile, this one is enough for tonight, except to mention that my daughter Ann is the second from the right in the photo.

Eunice High School Homecoming: Family Portrait Saturday, Oct 21 2006 

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This is the Pulling family (minus older brother Zach) on Homecoming Eve 2006 at Bobcat Field.  EHS won the game 9-7.

Eunice High School Homecoming: The “All-Court” Softball Team Thursday, Oct 19 2006 

softball-players.JPGMore Eunice High School (Louisiana) 2006 Homecoming pix.  This is the big Homecoming weekend.  Above from left to right are Mattie, Courtney, and Ann–the three Court members who also play varsity softball.

They don’t look at all like this at softball practice! 

(Ann is mine, by the way.)

The Year of the Fleur de Lis: The New Orleans Saints and me! Tuesday, Oct 17 2006 

fleurdelisfans.jpg You notice the  fleur de lis  symbol on the layout pattern I chose for this blog?  That’s very deliberate–You see, I’m a Louisianian (the fleur de lis is one of our state icons),  . . .

AND ON TOP OF THAT, I’m a New Orleans Saints fan.  fleur-de-lis.png

I see the two–being a Louisian and being a Saints fan–go together.

And I’m not just a fair-weather fan–I’m almost foolishly loyal.  I’d have even admitted my fanship a year ago when the team only won three games.   Sure, I was aggravated and fed up and disgusted–feelings we fans have grown accustomed to over the years–but you could still count me “in” the fold.  I’ve always been one of those with “faith,” as long as Iknew there’s a “next season” right around the corner of the calendar.  And sure enough, no matter how disgusted November and December may have left me, I was always back stride the the time July rolled around, checking in the TV listings for the pre-season games to see who and what was new.  Another year, a refurbished team, refreshened hope,  but above all, renewed faith!

So now, I can’t imagine anyone enjoying the Saints success this season so far more than me.  (I’ve been a loyalist since the beginning, 1967, and I’ve endured the  thick [and mostly] thin of it all.)

Sure, I know, the season is a long one and a 4-1 start “doth not a championship (or even a successful season) confer.”  But how many people–outside of Louisiana–realize how badly New Orleans and this state needed exactly that kind of start?  (Check the 9/25/06 post at this blog to recall that Monday night bash that started this Saints-a-mania?).

But even more amazing to me is the number of fellow citizens–before as well as after the 2005 hurricanes–who don’t value the NFL Saints as a player in state economics.   Many have gone so far as to express bitterness and rancor in their denunciation of the team and in their derision of governmental leaders who support keeping the team around.   These people actually think the state would be better off economically without the franchise.  (Hmmmmm . . . . would somebody produce some evidence–if it exists– to support that conclusion?)

So here’s where I have to draw the line. 

Sure, it’s one thing to have a political opinion–we’re all entitled to convictions–but when I perceive that someone’s negative voice threatens the well-being of the state, and ergo my well-being as a citizen of the state, I can’t but take the matter personally.  

Suffice it to say that I want the Saints to stay for a loooooooooong time.  Not just because I’m a Saints fan, but because I’m a Louisiana fan. 

These two things just naturally go together . . . They’re meant to be!

An Unintentional Devotional Moment: “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” Thursday, Oct 12 2006 

I’m fortunate to live close enough to work to commute by bicycle when the weather permits, which is most of the time in South Louisiana. So today I’m riding home for lunch, passing in front of St. Thomas More Church just as the bell tower strikes out the start of the noon-time medley: Jesus loves me, this I know . . .

Wow, the sound of those chimes practically arrested me. Right before, my numb brain had been stewing in the morass of some project I should have left at office a few moments earlier–But in the instant that second or third chime struck, it’s like my thoughts were unchained, loosened to breathe in this melody. That was the simplest yet most awesome sensation.

I can’t remember my exact thoughts, but the reaction was something to the effect, “Awesome!!!! Sooooooo gorgeus!” It was the most inspiring thing I’ve heard recently, so much that I slowed down to absorb as much as I could, of course singing (to myself) the lyrics that were surely the first lyrics I ever learned.

During that time I had what I now realize was an unintentional devotional moment–the spontaneous kind that are much more provocative and intensely poignant than intentional devotionals, because intentional devotionals are programmed into routines. (What’s the root word in routine? Rut?)

So thanks, Heavenly Father,

for the tune

for the words

for the memories

for the bike ride
for unintentional devotional moments

for keeping it “Oh, so simple!”

anna-b-warner_ab2.jpgAnna B. Warner, who penned the first familiar stanza of “Jesus Loves Me” in 1860.

Peace Out! (A Bedtime Meditation) Tuesday, Oct 10 2006 

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Peace Out!

(Psalms 4:8)
By David L. Pulling
January 2005

Lie down,
Sleep,
Peace out,
Lord–
For peace I crave!
For I can’t
Peace myself
Together
Safely
Unless
You . . .

Peace!

Eunice High School Homecoming, Part I: Ann Pulling on Parade Saturday, Oct 7 2006 

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As editor-in-chief and arbitrary, unilateral censor of this blog, one of my perogatives is to represent family members in this medium whenever a worthy occasion presents itself.    And so my Eunice High School (Louisiana) senior daughter, Ann,  appears here riding in the St. Edmund High School Homecoming Parade Friday afternoon.  Since Eunice High Homecoming does not occur for a couple more weeks, we’ll have another parade and several other photo ops, so for that reason I entitle this post “Part I.”

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Thursday, Oct 5 2006 

pbeach.jpgWhen I was a young admissions counselor back in the 7O’s, I loved the New Orleans college fair season. I’d spend the better part of 3 or 4 weeks each fall in and around the city so familiar from childhood, because I grew up on the North Shore and had so many family ties to the area. But coming to the city on my own as a young adult was special, no matter how familiar the sights and sounds. When I’d leave westbound on I-IO in those days, I recall the old jazz lyrics, “Do you know what it means / to Miss New Orleans.”

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Gosh, that song made me feel sentimental. I found New Orleans utterly Old-worldly enchanting, and I still do. Maybe it’s because my first memories of Santa Claus were at Maison Blanche on Canal Street. Grandma lived in a shotgun duplex on Mandeville Street, and Papaw’s house was right across the parish line in Arabi in St. Bernard. Pontchartrain Beach was a regular summer-time outing in childhood, and the Rex Mardi Gras Parade on Canal Street (in those days) was a family affair. Shucks, I thought, as a kid, that the Three Stooges were from New Orleans because they talked just like my aunts and uncles! Even now, thirty years later, the Quarter is a favorite date place for Sarah and me when we get away once or twice a year.

no-skylinhe.JPGBut “to miss New Orleans” post-Katrina? Ouch! The lyrics sting, because now we’re not just talking about a jazz melody or sentimental childhood remembrance. We’re talking about vanishing wetlands, global warming, compromised levees, Category 5 hurricanes. This is scary, folks!

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