El Nino, La Nina Wednesday, Feb 28 2007 

If you don’t know what else to blog about,  you can always blog the weather.

One of our local Lafayette (LA) TV stations–KLFY– shared an interesting piece today about a transition from the EL Nino pattern that brought us the mean and messy winter to a hotter, drier La Nina pattern for the rest of the spring and summer. You can read the whole piece by clicking at the KLFY blog right here.

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What’s the meaning of it all? Well, according to the TV-10 weatherman, it could be “bad news” for the 2007 Atlantic Basin hurricane season!

Of course, they said last year would be bad, and it wasn’t. But it’s something to blog idly about in the early spring when one has nothing else to blog about.

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Le meilleur saucisse en Louisiane Monday, Feb 26 2007 

lejeunes.jpgLooking for inspiration to freshen the tired pages of the blog, and idly browsing the home town City of Eunice (Louisiana) tourism website, I came across this  photo of Lejeune’s Sausage Kitchen, a local business of regional renown noted for its traditional repertoire of smoked Cajun style sausage and meats, including tasso.   Since I got a kick out of blogging Lea’s Lunchroom a couple of weeks ago, it strikes me that a worthy purpose of this blog could be, occasionally, to spotlight notable local culinary establishments.  Such blogging is entirely appropriate for this part of Louisiana and the Deep South, since cooking and eating are among the things we do best.

Lejeune’s is authentically traditional and unquestionably Cajun.  They have their own smokehouse out back, and I’m sure they take orders from all over the country.  My wife and I have even presented boxes of Lejeune’s sausage to family from other parts of the state as Christmas gifts. 

I believe one of the distinguishing qualities of the sausage is its leanness–This stuff if meat!  If one must eat cholesterol-laden food, one may as well eat the stuff that makes the least grease.  I think Lejeune’s sausage fits that bill.  And best of all, “C’est si bon!”  I mean, this sausage tastes seriously GOOD.

Click on this “link (no pun intended) for a web review of Lejeune’s along with contact info.   Give them a call or come by next time you’re around Eunice–They’d be happy to hear from you, and tell my friend John Lejeune that you read about the business right here.   (They don’t ship, so you’ll have to come to Eunice.  Need a better reason to come over here?)

Maybe he’ll reward me with a few sausage links in exchange for the free advertising!

Why I’d Rather Watch a Softball Game Than Work Wednesday, Feb 21 2007 

on-deck.JPGAnn Pulling, Lady Bobcats outfielder On Deck at Eunice High School (Louisiana) in a scrimmage a few weeks ago vs. Holy Savior Menard High School from Alexandria, Louisiana.

Softball season is only a couple of weeks old, but it’s already assumed a dominant role in the family routine. Or may I should say a “dictatorial” role, because everything we consider doing these days begins with a check of the Lady Cats’ schedule. But I don’t really mind.

Even when it was 37 degrees last Friday night in Alexandria and we were still playing as my fingers turned shades of frost-bitten blue-green inside the double-layers of gloves that strove vainly to warm them.

Even when the cutting wind gusted to 30 miles an hour in the sunny, teeth-chattering cold Saturday afternoon in Alexandria.

Even when I have to take off early from work to leave for a game two or three times a week, even though I have urgent things to do and not enough time to get all those urgent things done.

Even when gasoline costs over $2 a gallon and we have travel to Baton Rouge and Ville Platte and Church Point and DeRidder and Lake Charles, again and again, week after week.

For you see, nothing is quite as urgent in these fleetings weeks as watching those games.

If I’ve lived long enough to learn anything, one thing for sure is that life is too short and work is too long.  

So here’s my strategy for dealing with the stress and the tension that results from having insufficient time to do all the work: I’ll see you at the softball field!

I’ll keep up with those urgent things the best I can using the time that I have, reminding myself all along that the office and all those urgent things and a thousand other more urgent matters looming on next month’s pages of my daily planner will  still be there in late April after the short, sweet season of ball playing is gone forever.

So here’s to the senior year, and here’s to our favorite number 4 and all of her teammates, as we travel the highways and bayous over the next couple of months to watch our favorite teen-aged girls play a silly game.

May we live long and prosper with God’s blessing in the dereliction of other duties!

Lea’s Lunchroom–Revisiting A Louisiana Traveler’s Tradition Thursday, Feb 15 2007 

I-49 changed the Central Louisiana landscape, as Interstates do. I’m glad, nonetheless, that Lea’s Lunchroom on Highway 71/Lecompte/Rapides Parish/Louisiana is hanging on with all of its tradition, plate lunches, and homemade pies. The place has stood as a Louisiana travelers’ landmark for two and a half generations.

leas.jpgI remember visiting Lea’s as a child–perhaps a teen-ager or younger. The “Colonel” Lea , the propietor, held forth daily at lunch time, circulating among the tables with his folksy, gregarious manner, making chit-chat with customers at every table and making sure everybody felt welcome. I’m almost sure I remember seeing him, at least once, dressed in a white linen suit–How Deep South can you get?  He was a rare, truly gifted host and conversationalist. The magnitude of his personality (and the plate lunches and homemade pies that he sold) made him into a Louisiana institution. Lesser men would have succeeded only in getting on the patrons’ nerves with such incessant and intrusive banter, but he got away with it because he was so good at it.  His gift of gab even landed him an appearance on Johnny Carson’s talk show during the 1960’s. In fact, a picture of Mr. Lea on the  Carson set visting with Carson is one of many notstalgic photos in a gallery of memorabilia hanging on the restaurant wall.

Mr. Lea is passed away for many years now, but the tradition remains, even though Interstate 49 has done its part in diverting the volume of traffic that used to flow by Lea’s kitchen. I had recent occasion twice this past week, when business took me to Alexandria by “the old way,” to revist and rediscover this personal landmark. map.gif

The first time I visited this week, I had the plate lunch but neglected to pick up a homemade pie to bring home. When I told my family I had been to Lea’s and the recollection of the homemade pies inevitably came up, I realized I had committed a sin of omission by not bringing one home. So when I had a chance to visit the restaurant again a few days later (today, in fact), I atoned for my earlier sin by returning with a coconut cream meringue pie. I was most happily received upon my return home bearing this treasure.

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I’m pleased that I rediscovered Lea’s this week. I hadn’t been there in quite a few years. Dining there and sharing the experience with colleagues who also remembered the tradition took me back a generation in time most pleasurably. And, the plate lunches and the homemade pies, as good as forty years ago, are worth the price of admission. For sure, I will return!

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Alas, poor Kierkegaard: The Christian Existentialist’s Lament Sunday, Feb 11 2007 

kierkegaard.jpg  Soren Kierkegaard                 Dr. Walker Percypercy-walker.jpg

I know it’s time to freshen up the blog.  Uninspired, weary of staring at the blank screen, and wasting a half an hour in the process of wringing my hands and expasperating, “Oh what to wite, oh what to write!” I took the easy way out and raided the portfolio for a poetical relic from 1994, not long after I had taken a summer graduate course reading and studying Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialism and its influence on the contemporary Louisiana writer, Dr. Walker Percy, whose groceries I bagged at the A&P back in the late 1960’s in Covington, Louisiana, where Dr. Percy lived and wrote and where I attended high school. 

A Childhood Scene:
The “Ernest” Meaning of Life
By David L. Pulling

Ernest goes that a’way,
yonder in the field
carvin’ furrows,
puttin’ in a crop o’ watermelons,
wearin’ denim coveralls
hangin’ open at the hips
with nary a shirt ner a stitch o’ underwear,
ploddin’ along behind that horse and plow
bustin’ up clods
with his bare feet.

I wonder what kinds o’ conclusions
a feller draws about the meanin’ of existence
ploddin’ back and forth all day long
sweatin’ and burnin’
in the sun and the dust and the sweat
wrestlin’ a contrary plow
and a’ studyin’ the ass end of a horse
takin’ the grand tour of a watermelon patch.

Now o’course, Ernest never read Kierkegaard,
so he don’t know nothin’ ‘bout repetition and rotation
(although that looks like what he’s a’doin’),
ner leaps o’faith an’ ethical planes of existence.
But he does know how to plough a furrow
straight and deep,
an’ he knows how to milk a cow by squeezin’ the teats,
an’ he knows how to tell a ripe watermelon from one that ain’t
by thumpin’ on the rind with his thumb.

I read Kierkegaard,
and I can’t do none of that.
Maybe I art to get me a horse
and study it’s ass end fer a spell
instead o’readin’ Kierkegaard.

Eunice High Lady Cats’ Centerfielder Turns 18 Tuesday, Feb 6 2007 

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Daughter Ann, the girl in the center behind the poster, celebrated her 18th birthday on the sidelines between scrimmage games this evening.   That’s me, the middle-aged-looking dude and only guy in the pic, holding the funfetti birthday cake, which I did not  bake.   Mom, manning the camera, was also the baker for the occasion.   The cake was enjoyed by all.  Best of all, fortified by the cakes’ nutrients,  the Lady Cats rallied to come from behind in their second scrimmage game to beat the girls’ team from Mamou High School.  Had to be the cake!

It Is Well With My Soul! Thursday, Feb 1 2007 

I had a good time posting a wiki entry to a class blogsite one of my Writing Project friends created for Catholic High School in New Iberia, Louisiana.  I was especially happy to contribute to these students’ blog because the blogsite was the result of a professional development workshop that I just directed with a group of local teachers learning to use blogs, wikis, and podcasts for teaching and learning.  So this blogsite represents, in part, the fruit of our labor.  But above and beyond, I was blessed by the process of thinking through the following post that I left at the blogsite’s wiki in response to the prompt “Music That Moves Me.”   Here’s the wiki prompt, followed by my response, at their class blog’s  SeedWiki

The prompt: “Please write about a song(s) that has had a significant impact on you in your life and tell us why.  Please sign your post with your first name and last initial only for the sake of privacy.  Thanks!”

I’m an older dude (over 50, which means “old enough to know, but young enough to go!”), and my nomination for “music that moves me” probably reflects my generation as well as this middle-aged station in life that I’ve reached, because my favorite, most meaningful piece of music in the whole world is the late 19th century Christian hymn It Is Well With My Soul.”  The lyrics were composed by Horatio Spafford, an American businessman, who lost his family to a tragic shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean.  (Follow the link to the song title to learn the compelling story behind the lyrics and to hear the tune at the same time.) 

spafford_hg.jpg (Horatio Spafford)

 I find this hymn piece moving for a variety of reasons: (1) I’ve heard the familiar music as long as I can remember, so I associate it with childhood memories of precious people and places; (2) the hymn’s theme of eternal hope in the face of earth’s direst circumstance  excites and sustains me, especially in the face of the stress and uncertainty borne of this malaise that so easily besets me (and all of our human race!); and (3) knowing the soul-stirring true story behind Mr. Spafford’s lyrics gives this poetic expression wings  to soar above and beyond the meanness of poetic platitude.

If I would have responded to this prompt 40 years ago, I would have probably nominated something much more secular and far less siginificant, at least in the eternal scope and hope of things.  But that’s where I am today, and I appreciate the opportunity to join in!