I Saw the Father’s Hand Monday, Jul 30 2007 

 

1665_1.jpgSeveral years ago about this time of the summer, all alone and in my Dodge Ram pickup, I drove plumb across Louisiana and all of Texas into Eastern New Mexico to meet my family at the Glorieta Retreat Center near Santa Fe. That was an enchanting experience that I commemmorated with the following, one of the utterly favorite things I’ve written that brings me a lot of satisfaction, even today as I read and recall that trip and those magnificent scenes.

 

I Saw the Father’s Hand
By David L. Pulling

July 2003
(After driving plum across Texas and Eastern New Mexico)

I saw the Father’s hand today
In lands he created.
And just like he said when he formed the Universe,
“It is good.”
I saw His finger prints on
Rugged mesas and rocky buttes—
Strange and fearsome monuments rising from the badlands’ floor,
And coursed by sandy draws and barren creeks
Etched into canyon beds over eons of ages past,
Yet those ages only fleeting seconds in the
Incomprehensible
Unfathomable
Mysterious
Scope of God’s eternity;

And out on the plains, I saw His assurance of abundant provision–
Cotton fields and corn fields lush with the promise of harvest,
sprawling before the horizon;
Here and there among the passing miles,
a windmill spinning life-giving water,
a farmhouse rising like an island in the prairie sea,
a lonely tree striving to disrupt featureless fields of grain . . .
And, yes, Lord —
Your cattle grazing on a thousand hills!

From Stink Creek to Muleshoe, Texas,
From rolling green plains to rugged red mountains,
From fertile valleys to barren hillsides,
From Billy the Kid’s resting place to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,
From Fort Worth to Santa Fe,
And miles of creation betwixt and between,
I saw the Father’s hand.

And all along the way,
The rocks cried out,
The mountains and hills rose toward heaven,
And the plains spread away toward the ends of the Earth,
Proclaiming the glory of God.

And it is GOOD!

Affecting eternity? Humble rewards of the profession Thursday, Jul 26 2007 

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

–Henry Brooks Adams henry_adams.jpg

I don’t know much about Henry Brooks Adams, but I like what he said. Today provided a personal testimony to the truth of his statement!

I co-presented a professional development breakout session this afternoon at McNeese State University’s Literacy Conference. One of the participants introduced herself to me at the begininng of the session, asking if I was the same Mr. Pulling that taught at Eunice High School years ago. After analyzing the situation, we figured that it was really Eunice Junior High, and the year was around 1990 or 91–and yes, I was her eighth grade English teacher and I did, in fact, remember her. (more…)

Wild Root and Well Water Tuesday, Jul 24 2007 

 k025213.jpgA lingering sensory image from childhood growing up in the country during the late 50’s/early 60’s is the  fragrance of Wild Root hair dressing mingled with well-water, especially at Sunday night church.  Those dairy farmers would milk the cows before services, then bathe in the hard mineral well-water that left those rusty orange rings around the toilet and other plumbing fixtures, and finally slick their hair down with sweet-fragrant Wild Root hair dressing as they donned clean clothes before heading  over to the church house for Training Union and church.

I don’t know what resurrected that curiosity in me about Wild Root, but I was surprised that a key word search turned up links to buy the stuff online (that’s where the picture comes from).  I don’t think I’ll be ordering any Wild Root any time soon, but I was frankly surprised that the stuff is still around.  Here’s what the ad states at the order-online website:

Keeps hair in place, so it looks handsome and natural. Directions: Shake well before using. Active Ingredients: Deionized Water; Mineral Oil; Microcrystalline Waxed; Lanolin; Polyglyceryl-4-Oleate; Beeswax; Sodium Borate; Polysorbate 60; Fragrance; Formaldehyde; PEG-8; Propylene Glycol Cocoate. 

That’s pretty interesting.  What really sticks out among the ingredients?

Fermaldedehyde. 

Yep, those old dairy farmers pickled their hair.   But it sure did smell good.

The Cone of Concern Wednesday, Jul 18 2007 

cone.gifThanks to Accuweather’s Hurricane Center, we have a prognostication about the upcoming hurricane season.  Since Accuweather missed last year so badly, I’m not sure how much store to set by their predictions, but I’ll post this anyway in the “for what it’s worth” department.

I sense the hypersensitivity we felt last year during hurricane season is starting to ease.   Last year, still numb from the stark memories of Katrina and Rita and excited by the predictions of another banner hurricane season, we sat on the edges of our seats.

But then nothing happened.

And now this year, another prediction of an above average season, and look where the “Cone of Concern” centers!  (My part of the world is right on the line of “”Greatest” and “Above.”).

But you know what? The last few years are a reminder to all of us: “The storm may, or it may not, but more than likely, it won’t.  But if it does, watch out!!”

We know what happens when it “does” as well as when it “does not.”   We pray this season  for “does not!”

Intoxication Monday, Jul 16 2007 

I am struck that sometimes, my poems from the past include elements of the beautiful and the ugly, all in the same piece. 

Intoxication
By David L. Pulling
November 1994

A starving flame
wavers, shivers, gasps,
while old men without teeth
dressed in khaki coveralls
bounce and rumble on riding mowers
going in circles around their yard
spouting tired sonnets
to mean old ladies with blue hair
who go to Sunday School meetings
and  roast preachers for lunch on Sunday
because they like religion.
But they don’t know truth.

The old men on their riding mowers are cold.
They lie in beds with mean old ladies.
The mean old ladies are cold.
They bark in shrill, angry voices like ferocious Chihuahuas.
Yip, Yip, Yip, Yip.
They never squander money,
they never squander food,
they never squander clothes,
because they were depressed in 1929.
They squander air,
bouncing and rumbling and barking.

The flame is cold
because there is no air.
The poet is cold
because the old men
are bouncing and rumbling
and the old women are barking
and they are squandering all the air.
And they are cold sober stones.

Then a mighty rushing wind
fills the old men’s carburetors
and they stop bouncing and rumbling.
The wind engorges yipping Chihuahua throats
and  they gag on fresh air.
The cold sober stones evaporate
in the presence of fragrant, intoxicating oxygen
borne on the breath of mighty rushing wind.

And the enervating oxygen
teaches the torch to burn bright.
Fulfilled flame breathes,
swells with lusty atmosphere.
Truth erupts like molten air
spewed from the poet’s trumpet
in warm airy vapors
distilled in white flames of truth.

Sierra Sunset–Recalling a Year or So Ago Saturday, Jul 14 2007 

sunset-1.jpg

One purpose for blogging is to commemorate and memorialize those memorable dates, events, moments, and places that add up to the sum of our life’s experiences. I’ve written stuff, often verse, to go along with a lot of the places and dates along my way, but I this photo is about the only tangible recollection from the National Writing Project Tech Matters institute that I still have from last summer.  The sun is setting behind the Sierra Madre Mountains in Northern California as our group drove back into town from a social event up in the mountains.

God sure did a nice job with this sunset, didn’t He?

Northern California, especially the homey, downtown-near-the-university setting of Chico, turned out to be one of the more unique places I’ve been privileged to travel in my work as a teacher and educational administrator. (And one of the hottest, as my memory recalls the downtown bank thermometer hitting 113 one of the afternoons I was there.) I will never get rich in this profession, but experiences like these add up to riches and rewards of another kind.

Bike Crash on Park Avenue, Small Town, Louisiana Tuesday, Jul 10 2007 

bike_crash.gifWe were riding bikes Sunday afternoon down the residential main street of our small town USA.  I watched a half block up the street as a fellow on a bike–appearing at first no different than all the other bikers out enjoying the summer afternoon–veered unsteadily off the boulevard and into a front yard where the collapsed with the bike  and “UMPH,” down he went.   It was a rude landing.

That picture was so incongruous that I could hardly digest what I witnessed.   I had never seen a grown-up just fall off a bike for no apparent reason!  Fascinated, and drawing closer since we were cycling in the same direction, I watched him struggle to his feet, unsteady and wobbling, an open gash on the side of his forehead (he had obviously fallen a few times before!), picking the bike up–or trying to, since he stumbled and fell with it several times as he strained to resume his course.

By this time, I figured something was seriously wrong with this dude.   He was a middle-aged fellow–about my age, perhaps a little younger but showing lots of mileage in the lines on his face–wearing long khakis or jeans (on a hot summer afternoon when everybody else on bikes wore shorts) and a baseball cap.  His eyes were DEFINITELY not right–glassy, glazey, glarey.  By the time we rode up beside him, he had tried vainly five or six times to remount, each time falling down miserably with the bike on top of him.

I knew he was in trouble, so I addressed him–“Do you need some help?  Do you want me to call somebody?”

He insisted with surprising clarity, “I don’t need any help” (although he obviously did!).  When I suggested that he wasn’t able to ride, he insisted, “I’ll get on this bike.”

On the seventh or eighth try, ride he did, although his progress was wobbly and uncertain.  Two or three cars coming up behind him almost struck him as he reeled uncertainly from one side of the street to the other.  I used my cell phone by this time to call the cops, b/c this was not a pleasant scenario unfolding before my eyes!

About a block and a half down the street, as his body tilted backward in the  seat and the bike veered sharply toward the edge of the street, he struck the curb and went overboard again.  He landed rudely, sprawling flat on his posterior in a flower bed (better to land in a bed of flowers than a bed of rocks?), but the scene that resides in my memory is more like a cartoon.

Shame on me, but it was really uncanny, after just calling the police to alert them about this dangerous situation, to see this guy land on his posterior like he did — I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Oh, well–We rode on, since he had rejected our offers to help earlier and hoping the police were on their way.  We saw him again about 10 minutes later, continuing his perilous, meandering course on a side street, and just a moment later we saw the police cruiser wandering in and out of the  streets, apparently looking for the guy.  Whether they found him or not, I don’t know.

All this to say that it sure is funny to see a man drunk or high-on-drugs fall of a bike.  I know the situation itself was not funny, but the pictures that keep replaying in my mind are kind of like a cartoon–a surreal cartoon, one so realistic and at the same time incredulous–but it really happened–right here on Park Avenue in Eunice, Small Town America, Louisiana!

A draft from the past . . . Sunday, Jul 8 2007 

I checked a journal I kept a few years ago and found these incomplete lines of verse. Are these line shades of Fanny Crosby’s “lost in His love” from “Blessed Assurance,” or “Jesus, lover of my soul / Let me to thy bosom fly?” Or the mixture of the two, with a measure of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” tossed in the mix? I can’t remember!

Anyway, these lines are something I’ll have to revisit and re-polish. There may be some poetic potential in such sketchy lines from yesteryear!

jesus-healing-the-sick-by-gustave-dore-1832-1883.jpgLover
Of my
Soul,
Take me to your hiding place where

I will
Never

Have to live
In fear of
Self (yes, I scare me!). Instead,

Lose me in You so that I am lost to me–
Only let me find You when I search! And then,
Very soon, let
Everlasting arms bear me o’er.

85th Birthday Present Sunday, Jul 1 2007 

85th-birthday.jpgWe celebrated Daddy’s July 3 85th birthday a few days early this weekend.  I really like this shot, taken as we were waiting for the ice cream and cake for desert.    This is one of those  photos destined to become a family classic.

Sarah asked me this afternoon to start thinking about what I want for my birthday (later this month).  Looking at this picture, I think I know the answer–I already have my birthday present!

No one could give me anything better than this.

Although an iPhone would be nice?

( HaHa–Just kidding, Sarah! )