Don’t turn out the lights . . . Saturday, May 31 2008 

Don’t turn out the lights, Coach.
Not yet.
Let us walk across this green field together,
One last time
Wearing purple and gold.

Side by side,
Arm in arm,
We are teammates.

So let’s walk slow—
Make it last as long as we can.
It’ll be time to leave soon enough.

And leaving now will surely last long enough,
As we move on
To green fields somewhere else,
To bright futures yet imagined.

But let the bright future wait until tomorrow.
Tonight, let us hold memories fast . . .

Of rubber bands and ginger root,
Of wearing our numbers one last time,
Of the field lights outshining the darkness,
Of the flag fluttering high in the center field breeze,
Of walking in cleats on this soft Bermuda carpet,
Of the mingled smell of leather, sweat, and dust,
Of playing this little boys’ game . . .
(And of course, how sweet,)
Of winning the national championship!

But most of all let us hold memories fast
Of one another.

We are 2008 LSUE Bengals.

National Champions.

Thanks for leaving on the lights, Coach,
This one last time.

National Champs: LSUE Bengals Saturday, May 31 2008 

The final score from Thursday night’s championship game in Tennessee tells all, except perhaps that a good time was had by all (by all Bengals fans, anyway) . . .

The care and feeding of umpires . . . Thursday, May 29 2008 

“I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink.”

I got this shot of daughter Ann, trainer for the LSUE Bengals baseball team, taking care of the umpires during a break in the Tuesday night NJCAA Division 2 World Series game.   As I returned to my seat, I remarked to a player parent nearby, “This is my kid ‘in action,’ so I have to take pictures, just like y’all do for the boys.” 

We laughed. Hopefully, these favors shown to the game officials may help get a close call or two to go our way.  It’s all about the team!

Mississippi Travels: The end seemeth not. Tuesday, May 27 2008 

We drove to Millington, Tennessee, yesterday, passing the full depth of the Magnolia State from south to north, from Mc Comb to Southaven along I -55.  That amounts to almost 300 miles of mostly rolling hills through sparsely populated places.  What makes the drive particularly trying is the fact that the tall woods along the right-of-way rarely break into open spaces to allow an unhindered panorama of countryside worth looking at. 

 In other words, there ain’t much scenery! 

You feel sometimes like you’re driving through a wavy tunnel lined with Pine Trees. Each passing mile resembles the previous, et ainsi de suite.  The cumulative effect: BORING!!

Eventually, through dogged driving with purpose and determination, we crossed the state line into Tennessee.  Whew!  It’s not like I mean to be disrespectful to the state of my nativity and a place which, truly, I like because it’s filled with wonderful, earthy people.  But there’s just so much a posterior can endure for five or six hours at a time.

Cucumbersome Saturday, May 24 2008 

The four cucumber bedding plants I set out in March are coming on strong.  We plucked the first one a week ago (it sure tasted good) and we’re already falling behind in our ability to consume them.  Since we’re planning to leave Monday for most likely the better part of next week, the vines’ timing on waxing prolific poses a problem.  I’m worried (1) that some of them will grow so long to the point that they’re inedible, and (2) there will be so many to pick when we get back that we will soon grow weary of eating cucumbers upon cucumbers.

But alas, oh, that all my problems were such!  I think I can deal nicely with this issue in comparison to some others I can name . . . like dealing with the price of gasoline, for instance?   Hmmmm, could some ingenious soul invent an engine that runs on mashed cucumbers?

Les miseres: Real pictures from a Myanmar eye-witness Wednesday, May 21 2008 

Our church secretary’s brother-in-law, Pat Melancon, is a Christian relief missionary in the Far-Eastern part of the world.  He shows up on the scene in third world countries when times are hard, like the great Tsunami several years ago.  Through our church’s relationship with Missionary  Melancon, we got a report on the situation along with some  pictures from Myanmar.  Here’s what Pat wrote about the challenge to get relief in to that troubled land:

Very, very, few caucasion people are allowed into the country and
> some are having their money seized at the airport, and if they refuse to
> give their money to the military they are sent back on the airplane that
> brought them. Burma television shows the generals handing out food to happy
> displaced people from every minority group in perfectly groomed camps. What
> they are doing is bringing in minority groups into an area, distributing
> food, asking them to stay to take pictures with the generals, then the food
> is taken back!

Fortunately, the missionaries found a “back door” into the country and were able to sneak in some aid, but the photos show how desperate the situation there really is.

And these are not all of the photos, by the way.  Some were much more grim than these, so much that I didn’t want to publish them.  As one of missionary Melancon’s colleagues concluded, “The Burmese generals have nothing on Pharoah” compared to biblical times.

What manner of art? Sunday, May 18 2008 

I left my commencement program on the chair I was sitting in during the proceedings Saturday morning. LSUE Public Relations Director Van Reed took this shot of the program, noting the random doodling and “checking off” the agenda items as the program crept along its plodding ceremonial course. You might have to study the picture closely to see the details.)

I wonder if this doodling qualifies as some form of art. And if so, what form?

Is it art nouveau? (I just did it, so it’s new).

Pop art? (My kids call me “Pop?”).

Absurdist art? (It looks pretty absurd).

Primitive art? (The doodling is pretty unsophisticated).

Visual art? (You can see it, can’t you?)

Fine art? (I did a fine job, didn’t I?)

Auditory art?  (It made a scritchy sound when I made the marks with the pen.)

Bengal Watch Saturday, May 17 2008 

I remember how this baseball season began for us as a family: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” So now, the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 23 baseball playoffs are reaching the peak at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Mississippi. Our beloved Bengals won their first two games, making it look easy, in fact, on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. We’re the only undefeated team left standing in the double-elimination tournament with one game this evening to get through to play for the championship on Sunday afternoon.  It’s lookin’ good!

At stake is a trip to the NJCAA World Series in Millington, Tennessee, week-after-next. If the #2 nationally-ranked Bengals stay on course, this branch of the Pulling clan will head up that a’way to USA Stadium for the  big tournament.

So we’ll gather around the live radio feed again this evening on LSUE-TV, like we did last night, to learn the outcome. We’re fans.

Go, Bengals!

School’s (almost) out: Light at the end of the tunnel? Tuesday, May 13 2008 

A colleague with the National Writing Project, in a network listserve posting, wished all the teachers well during these last days of the school year, as the year “winds down.”

Gosh, a flood of reminiscence rushed over me. Before moving to administration at the two-year college where I serve today, I put in ten years in the salt mines of public secondary education. A lot of the tribulations I endured in those years were rough, believe me. But no matter how vexatious and stressful that job could be between August and May, every year along about the Easter break, a euhporic sensation set in as the end of the school year loomed on the not-so-distant horizon: literally, the proverbial light shone “at the end of the tunnel.”

Thus, the year “wound down.” After turning in the classroom keys and the updated cumulative folders for the home room and putting the final report cards in the school mail outbox, I drove off to two and a half blissful months of freedom from stress, freedom from alarm clocks, freedom from any kind of a grind at all. Sure, I worked at little side jobs to make some extra money (the pay never was enough), but I controlled the pace. At least for the summer seasons, life was sweet!

And, strangely enough, by the end of summer, anticipation of the new school year with new classes and new students and new routines made going back to school exciting. It usually took the first two or three weeks of the school year for the new to wear off and the stressful, tedious grind to set in. But at least the beginning was exciting.

Alas, I compare those recollections to now and wonder if I have missed something. I trudge from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., twelve months a year. Semesters come and go, school years begin and end, but no project, no initiative, no assignment ever comes to fruition without two or three new ones springing up before the last one ends. We scurry through the clamor of each workday in a shrill state of tension as if racing, but never to the end of a term or a project, but only to the end of the day at 4:30 to walk away for the respite of a few quiet hours at home.  The next day, we repeat the process.  And again, and again, . . ad infinitum.

I wonder: Did I give up something almost eleven years ago when I left the public school? Like perhaps, did I give up the three best reasons to be a teacher? (1) June, (2) July, and (3) August?

LOL, or COL?

Really, I can’t seriously punish myself for making the career change, because like I noted earlier, the former job never paid enough (not that the present one does, either, but it’s an improvement). And, I do console myself in that the working conditions and the rewards are notably better at post-secondary, while I hear at the same time from friends still in the K-12 trenches that the conditions there, including the morale and attitudes of the staff as well as the students, are as wearying as ever. 

But still, I long to “wind down.” I miss winding down, I suppose because that’s what my mind and body crave as a natural envie in the midst of trials.

Let me see . . . retirement is nine years and three months from now . . . hmmmm . . . . . . . When will the light appear at the end of the tunnel?

Payton’s First Mother’s Day Sunday, May 11 2008 

This entry is a mini-photo essay showing highlights from Payton’s first Mother’s Day (and her mom’s first Mother’s Day) with baby dedication at church. A good time was had by all. Note how the mom’s came to church color-coordinated–the black and white motif–not by design, peculiarly enough.  The pix at the bottom show Pastor Tim in action during the dedication ceremony with the young Pulling family, and then a pose with the honorees after the service.

The young family before the congregation for the dedicatory prayer

Zach and Autumn, Payton, and Pastor Tim after the dedication service

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