Les groceries c’ez Octave Fontenot Thursday, Sep 27 2007 

prairie-ronde-groceryic-0059.jpgImagine passing Octave Fontenot’s grocery store at the intersection of Hwys. 103 and 104 in rural St. Landry Parish, Prairie Ronde community, Louisiana, in 1964. I bet the place looked the same then as it does now, minus the rust on the Coca Cola signs.

Anybody want a Nehi grape soda? A vanilla or chocolate moon pie? A pound of Mello Joy coffee and a link of boudin and a bag of salty gratons (i. e., “cracklin’s)? This would have the place to purchase those commodities.

I’ve passed Octave Fontenot’s grocery off and on for about ten years now when I have business in that remote part of the Parish, and in all those years I’ve never sensed that the place is open for business any more. (A sign on the door says “Closed.”) Perhaps someone lives in the back of the store?

I’m always struck, nonetheless, how the place is preserved as a treasure of bygone days. Situated at this lonely Cajun country crossroads, the store poses a picturesque remembrance of the past.

I grew up in another part of rural Louisiana, where we had country stores like Barker’s and Allison’s and Galloway’s. I suppose Octave Fontenot’s reminds me of those wayside groceries from childhood. Those places saved Mom from a trip to town if she ran out of milk or washing powder or sugar during the week.

I took these pictures today.   Vive les memoires d’Octave Fontenot! 

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Cold, Red Bricks Tuesday, Sep 25 2007 

In 1995, our local First Baptist Church tore down the old sanctuary (where I was married!) to make space for a new Fellowship Hall. 

(By the way, why do Baptists call those buildings “Fellowship Hall?”  Another topic for future “Jargon of the Redeemed” explorations?  Haha.) 

Anyway, after watching the diesel machinery working away at the walls back then, I was inspired to write the following verse, which I believe has something to say!

Cold red bricks bought in hard times,
Laid fast for enduring sanctuary by sturdy believers
As tangible evidence that Jesus saves,
Arranged forty feet high in staggering mortar-bound layers
In 1933;

In 1994,
Torquing diesel engines shriek derision:
How rudely and crudely iron jaws laugh!
Headless, mouthless, naked teeth arc overhead,
Snatching and biting walls,
mocking men’s faith
in sturdy structures.
Cold red bricks
Shaken like overripe pears from nurturing boughs
Pelting splintered, disheveled ruins,
A ponderous staccato,
Like hailstones.

Now the lament was raised by one observing,
“Oh, the glory of this old house is laid to ruins!”
To which the builder proudly replied,
“Ah, but the glory of the new house will be grand!”

Oh, man! How lost!  How vain!
Glory is real,
But
Glory is not seen or heard or touched,
Glory is not bound by water and mortar,
Glory is not mocked by laughing iron jaws.
Glory resides in spirit,
Glory resides in truth,
Glory resides in the infinite cosmos,
Glory resides in the mercy seat of paradise,
Glory resides in the heart of faith.
Glory is intangible, invisible, eternal,
Unlike the ephemeral sand of
Cold red bricks.

That jittery time of the year . . . Saturday, Sep 22 2007 

Smooth sailing so far . . . Humberto was a big surprise but no big deal, and TD 10 never was . . . at least, never was “Jerry” like we all felt would happen several days ago (Have we grown paranoid since 2005?).

And so life goes on in September along the Gulf Coast as we take ’em one week, one threat, one cluster of disturbed weather on the horizon at a time, hoping for cold fronts and mid-October and whatever else it takes to dull the tropical edge that saws away at our nerves everytime some dark cloud looms beyond the surf rolling in on the Gulf shores.

The Accueather graphic I posted here (from this morning’s Accuweather update) portrays the next case of the jitters to carry us into next week. We’ll track that the next few days, for sure. And in addition, our favorite local weather guy from KATC-TV in Lafayette, LA, Rob Perillo, posted the following on his blog Friday afternoon:

Incidentally, the long range models keep significant fronts away from the area and active disturbances in the Caribbean and possibly the Gulf into the second week of October. So our tropical season is still several weeks away from ending.

Thanks for the heads-up, Rob. We’ll be watching–jittery-ly.

Poetical Sentiments from the Great Plains of America, and the Universality of Truth Tuesday, Sep 18 2007 

I’ve often warned friends and family that if they send me something that looks blogworthy, I’ll publish it.

A few days ago, my old (metaphorically, not literally) elementary school mate Rick, from Yuma, Colorado, ad12.gif sent me the following lines of free verse which I found captivating and insightful.

I asked Rick’s permission to blog the composition, so here goes, from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains of America, Rick writes the following:

“Back to School” the big ad read,
And sure enough,
Summer sets in all directions.
September advances
Commanding the horizon to announce its arrival.
Full of itself,
Of Promise,
Of Fall.

Another election coming!

As one who professes rhetoric and letters, I am anxious to point out the stellar points of Rick’s verse. What a full and rich figure: “Summer sets in all directions.” Only a school teacher who’s been “off” for June-July-August knows how to appreciate that figure of speech to its fullest.  And how about all that personification?  This is an English teacher’s dream piece for worthy examples to set before striving learners!

But the ironic twist at the end is really rich. Apparently, Rick is bombarded with political ads as much in the media  in the Great Plains as we are down South.

Does this observed phenomenon not establish and support the doctrine that truth (or at least human nature?)  is universal????

Thanks, Rick, for enriching my life and the experience of the readers of this blog.  We must do this again.

Family Treasures Sunday, Sep 16 2007 

First, I’m old enough to be a grandparent. On top of that,with each successive birthday party of the parents’ and aunts’ and uncles’ generation, the painful contemplation sets in that the circle of the older generation grows smaller and smaller. If I’m going to be a grandparent, does that mean that I am old enough, too, to receive the torch of “patriarchhood” from the preceding generation and bear it forth for the next?

Egads, yikes! I don’t like birthday celebrations, even when they’re not my own, nearly as much as I did forty-five years ago. (Did I say “forty-five?” Ouch. And that allows for me being a ten year old kid at the time.)

Such sobering thoughts remind me (and us) that the surviving members of our parents’ generation really are the family treasures. That’s why Mama’s birthday party yesterday, with Daddy and Aunt Marion on either side and dear old Aunt Pearl (below, out of this picture) was significant.

birthday-party.jpgSo what’s all this to me? I suppose it’s that God really is our portion, and if He sees fit for me to live as long and as full as they, I’ll know that grace has covered me well, all the more than it has covered me already.

So I do manage to conclude with a cheerful thought! And added to that cheerful thought, a wish: Long live the preceding generation so that I’m not charged with bearing the torch of patriarchhood any sooner than I have to!aunt-pearl.jpg

Self-portrait? The marvels of technology! Friday, Sep 14 2007 

selfportrait.jpgI was coming into the Acadian Center (where my office is) after stepping outside to feel the air and I beheld my likeness mirrored in the tinted glass door with the sun-drenched green campus lawn and trees behind me.   “Neat view,” I thought, and then remembered the handy little Blackjack camera phone device that I carry around in my pocket so I can be on call all the time.  As a result,  here’s me taking a picture of myself, after which I emailed the same picture to myself, and now upload the picture to the Internet to demonstrate to the world what clever things one can do with the marvelous  gadgets of this digital age.

From hummingbirds to Humberto: No es problema! Wednesday, Sep 12 2007 

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How nice it is to have a “kinder, gentler” tropical system in the neighborhood! It’s been several years since we’ve seen one of these blustery bags of breezey showers (i.e. a tropical storm vis a vis Category 3 and 4 hurricanes). If the weather doesn’t get any worse than this, we’ll manage.

Downside of this tropical storm: Nobody will get a day off from work or school. But that’s OK.

Upside of this tropical storm: (at this time of year) the showers will subdue the love bugs, which are around their messy peak these days.

Where do Hummingbirds go during a hurricane? Saturday, Sep 8 2007 

I recall “living” on the patio distinctly four years ago after Hurricane Lili blew through our small South Louisiana town. We “lived” on the patio because living hummingbirds.jpginside was untenable without electricity in the brutual heat and humidity that Lili left in her wake.

There we sat, gazing at the upside-down-on-the-crushed-chain-link-fence metal storage building and the ankle-deep tree debris covering the lawn, hearing gas-engine generators droning throughout the neighborhood as folks strove to sustain a few of the most basic creature comforts, and drenching in the perspiration and the nastiness that settled around us like sea-fog.

But buzzing about and darting to and fro throughout those four or five miserable days on the patio, unimpressed by the wreckage or the humidity or our misery, the hummingbirds were having a blast. Sometimes, by their manner of dive-bombing from the tree branches across the alley, their giggly clucking, and their buzzing inches past our startled eyes as we sat on the patio in our wilted condition, I supposed they were  taunting us.hummingbird.jpg

And all of this made me wonder what those silly little birds did during the height of the storm. Where did they hide? How did they keep safe from the snatching, violent gusts of wind and rain? How did the same tree branches that were stripped of their leaves in the tempest preserve and protect these creatures? Were they as stressed out and terrified as we were during the peak of the storm as they clung to whatever branch or nest that sheltered them? How can they be so happy now while I’m so miserable? I sure did wonder.

I took these pictures of this season’s hummers on the patio just this morning. No hurricanes in sight, just a normal late-summer Saturday morning, so I can retreat to the air-conditioned comfort of the house whenever I’ve had enough of the heat and humidity. But seeing the little boogers this morning made me remember those days four years ago and wonder, “Where do Hummingbirds go during a hurricane?”

The answer to that question, I’m sure, amounts to one of those “His eye is on the Sparrow” explanations.

That fact should comfort us mere mortals and help us recall that the air-conditioning that fails us in the storm is our own man-made (and faulty) attempt at self-provision. The example of the merry little Hummingbird instructs us well.

MaMere et PaPere Thursday, Sep 6 2007 

I’m not old enough to be a grandparent, but my good friends Kent and Denise, mamerre-and-papeere.jpgunfortunately (or fortunately?) are that old. What a lovely picture of the old folks with Grandson Eli, born this day!

Of Malls and Men . . . Monday, Sep 3 2007 

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It’s that time of the year again. Sarah’s birthday is coming up in a couple of days, and since we were all free on Labor Day, we made this the whole-family birthday shopping event in honor of dear old Mom. Making the mall is one of those things she enjoys, but rarely with me (She tends to enjoy the experience more without me!).

But I figure going once a year for her birthday amounts to sort of a good will sacrifice of love and devotion, since I would not spend the day at the mall for any other reason than love and devotion. God truly is gracious, for he granted me grace to get through this day, a day in which a good time was had by all!pulling-girls.jpgThe Pulling girls (Ann, Autumn, Sarah) relax outside Logan’s Roadhouse after several hours on their feet at the Acadiana Mall. Girls are just naturally adapted for this kind of duty.

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