Water break: Payton at the ball park Friday, Feb 27 2009 

Payton grows more and more impressive in her grown-up feats and achievements.  Tonight we went to watch her Daddy’s Crowley High baseball team play St. Louis in the Notre Dame Tournament at Miller Stadium, and she showed off quite a bit.  After the game, I took her to meet the coaches and players as they came off the field, and when she spotted Zach, she called out, “Da-da.”  She repeated it a couple of times, pointing in his direction.  That was pretty cute.  She also showed us how she can drink from a water bottle like a big girl (with a little help from her Mommy), which is the subject of the video.

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Pour moi, ce n’est pas le Mardi Gras, mais c’est le Mardi Maigre Wednesday, Feb 25 2009 

The title’s got you wondering, huh?mardi-gras-coullion

 It means, idiomatically “For me, it’s not Fat Tuesday, but Skinny Tuesday.”  Because, in contrast to the licentious abandon that many fellow Louisianians display in the pre-Lenten debaucherie, my Mardi Gras observance is sane, peaceful, and edifying.

While thousands of coulllions yesterday were marauding (in the guise of a parade) about the rural countryside around Eunice yesterday, scarfing beer and falling off horses and chasing crazed chickens in the traditional Cajun ritual of the season, I slept a little late, tarried a little longer over morning coffee, worked in a morning jog, and then cooked out in the back yard with the family.  The most rambunctious thing I did in the afternoon was mow my mother-in-law’s yard.

A great irony of Mardi Gras in Louisiana(that’s a little embarrassing, frankly) is that we observe an official state holiday for this event in lieu of the Memorial Day holiday that’s observed in almost every other state in the nation.   On Memorial Day, Louisianians go to work, like any other day.  On Mardi Gras, we stay home while the rest of the nation goes to work.

Does that make any sense?

Oh, well.  A day off is a day off, and since I have the freedom to celebrate Mardi Gras or Mardi Maigre, I will choose to keep mine maigre and enjoy myself all the while, in my own middle-aged, boring style!

When the fount stoppeth up . . . Disinspiration Sunday, Feb 22 2009 

I hesitated to post this piece again, because I’ve run it at least once in the last year or two.  It’s an example of “high style” aimed at “low elevation.”   Some pretty bad verse going on here, if I say so myself (and I’m thus entitled, since I am the author!).  I do hope my reader understands that the composition of this piece when it occurred in 1994 was very much a lark, something to make me laugh at my own lack of inspiration to write something serious.  I repeat the verse here because I’m back at one of those times when I haven’t composed anything meaningful, particularly in terms of verse, in some months.  What’s worse, the muse seems distantly inclined to me these days, so who knows when something will flow?   Meanwhile, here it is, a mouldie oldie, . . .

Disinspiration, or The Poet’s Lament2017359-dry-river-bed-0

By David L. Pulling

December 1994

What contradictory power has stemmed the effervescent flow

once bubbling from the fount of invention

in streaming effusion

from fecund well springs

in profound soul regions

to name experience

and dispel malaise

obscuring ritual reality,

but now sputters and hisses

putrid droplets of dribbling dregs

trickling down the fountainhead

in meandering traces

to splash like spit

in powdered sand

that once was bed

to the green rippling pool

whose surging logos tide,

glistening epistemic brine,

grasped brimming shores?

 

My words are turned to dust,

and my poems distill into transparent vapors.

 

“Take me out to . . . (or haul me out from?) the ball game Saturday, Feb 21 2009 

facilites_baseball1My parting chorus at 8:00 p.m. when I left Bengal Stadium this evening went more like “Haul me out from the ball game.”

Ten hours isn’t necessarily a considerable amount of time for many diversions.  A hunter or fisherman, for instance, would  blink at spending ten hours on an outing.

But for press box duty on a Saturday, stretching over three games including one that droned on for extra innings (between two visiting teams who stirred no interest at all in me) and the night cap that suffered an hour + rain delay,  ten hours turns into a looooooong day in cramped quarters.

It wasn’t all bad.  The home town Bengals won both of their games, and the press box crew is a lively and gregarious bunch to spend a Saturday holed up together, if one has to be “holed up” away from home with anyone.

And I admit, if I had to do it again next Saturday, why not?   I’ll be humming “Take me out to the ball game” by the time the next home game rolls around.

Right now, it’s off to a hot shower and a popcorn snack for late supper.

Life unwired: How tedious and tasteless the hours! (or, The saga of the lost phone) Tuesday, Feb 17 2009 

This morning I was running a little late, kind of rushed to get off because I had to pick up a colleague at campus and drive to an all-morning meeting about 25 miles away.  I put the finishing touch on the tie, wriggled into the suit jacket, and gathered my personal effects from the dresser: wallet, keys, ink pen, smartphone . . . Whoa!!

mobile-phone_sgh-i617_mediumWhere was the Blackjack?

Not in its usual place, not in the next-to-usual place, nowhere in sight.  I was frantic, but considering I was BEYOND out of time in view of the appointment up the road, I simply had to tear myself away, phoneless.

The stress was doubled, too, because not only was I going to have to get through the morning without the phone, but I had no idea where it was.  For all I knew, it was stolen, and I was really frustrated that I couldn’t suspend life to launch the full investigation that seemed so warranted.

Anyway, I struck out on my journey, exasperated as I drove off campus that I couldn’t make a call or two to people I knew who might have found the phone at the gym where I had been the evening before.

Of course, after getting on the way, consoling thoughts strove to quell the anxiety as I reasoned, “Hey, this can be positive.  We should all remember that life went on just fine without cell phones and email and the Internet.”  So I reasoned.

But the reasoning lasted short.  After I got to the meeting and the first speaker began, I instinctively felt in my side coat pocket for the phone as an alarm beeped off and on in my mind, “Time to check email.  Time to check email.”   That’s what I always do at a meeting when somebody starts to make a speech.  (If I’m not vigilant, I find myself checking email even during church!)  First check the work email, then check the home email.  If the speech if boring, I might even check Facebook.

But “Drats!” again.  No phone, no soulage.

I picked up a pen and a note pad on the table.  “Perhaps,” I reasoned this time, “I can write something creative as a diversion to keep my mind off the phone.”  I stared at the blank page, the pen poised motionless, my mind as blank as the page.  Nope, it just wouldn’t work.  I couldn’t get my mind off email, wondering what messages I was missing or who was trying to text me.

A while later,  I felt at the empty pocket again, as if hoping somehow the phone had mysteriously appeared where it so naturally seemed to  belong.   I was desperate to call  home to ask Sarah if she had found the phone, or call my secretary at the office to find out if she  had called the gym to see if someone turned it in there.  But of course, those longings were futile.

And that’s the kind of morning it was.  Four hours passed as eight.

I was relieved when I got back to campus to learn that my wife had recovered the phone after my secretary dialed the number and it rang from the obscure corner where it had been inadvertently hidden. Happy ending?  Kind of.

So what did I learn from this episode?

Nothing.  Not a darned thing.  If there was a moral about patience, or a lesson about what really matters (as opposed to what doesn’t matter) in life, I confess I missed it.  I know if I lose my phone tomorrow, I will feel just as angry and worry just as much as I did this morning . . . no, even more since the frayed nerve-endings are still raw from the recent trauma.

So thus the lament, “O man, how pitiful thou art!  What hast become of thee?  This vile technology!”

The family that runs together . . . Saturday, Feb 14 2009 

Our church sponosred the second annual Five Loaves/Three fishes 5K Fun Run this morning in Eunice, Louisiana.  My whole family ran foist-placethe race.  Here are the results:

Wife Sarah: First in her women’s age group

Son Zach: First overall (taking out the time of celebrity guest runner Josh McDougal, 2007 college Div. I national champ, pictured here receiving me at the awards ceremony, and who was also the guest speaker and the only runner to cross the finish line sooner than Zach.)

Daughter-in-law Autumn: First in her women’s age group

Daughter Ann: First in her women’s age group

Not a bad family accomplishment.  But oh, how did the old man do, you ask?

Husband/Papa David (i.e., me): First in his men’s age group.

payton-medalsThe pix show (1) me receiving my medal from Josh McDougal and (2) Zach and Payton showing off her mom’s and dad’s and aunt’s and Honey’s and Papa’s collected trophies and medals.

Don’t know how we can top this outcome next year unless we can get Payton qualified to run and win some kind of toddler’s race.  Poor little thing hasn’t quite started walking, but she’ll have had enough practice by next year to make a  showing.   Obviously, the kid has the right genes.

Marley and the snow men Friday, Feb 13 2009 

pic-0378Here’s an idle Friday night topic when there’s nothing else going on to post about.

The scene here, or a scene closely resembling this one, occurs every night in our home.  Marley the dog collapses from each day’s exertions on the master bed while his Mommy Bear (Sarah) reads/watches TV/relaxes until beddy-bye, at which time he retreats alone to his kennel for the night.

Observe how he places the head on the pillow in the manner of a little person, the puppy pattes tucked peacefully under his chin.  He could have chosen one of the unadorned pillow-cases on the bed, but we suspect he favors this one because it’s part of a flannel sheets and pillow case set we use this time of year.  The colorful representations on the pillow depict a snowman and his family decked out for ice skating.

Maybe Marley got into the “snow” thing last December when we had our early-winter snow surprise, and he’s wishing it would snow again so he could play.  Who knows what goes on in a puppy dog’s dreams.

Treatise on the responsibilty of parents for teaching their children Monday, Feb 9 2009 

Last week, I posted on this blog a YouTube link to Payton and me playing  “Throw the Spoon” game.  That acitivty afforded everyone in the audience a rich diversion that afternoon, including the child’s parents, as evidenced by the laughter and good will that abounded among all present (including the child’s parents, who incidentally, by their gregarious conduct, bestowed wholehearted approbation on the proceedings.)

payton-innocentThus, I was considerably disconsolate this past weekend to learn that little Payton was reported as throwing food from her high chair in the same manner as she had cast the spoon at my house the previous Wednesday, that intelligence accompanied by subtle insinuations that I, Papa, may have been responsible for encouraging  the misbehavior, since I was the child’s mentor for Throw the Spoon game.

I quickly and roundly defended myself, of course.

First, I never introduced food (or any other object) to the spoon game we played last week.  Little Payton, as innocent as she is endearing, must have figured that behavior out on her own, or even more probable, she learned it from her parents, who are now transferring the blame to protect their own standing in the household.

Secondly, I was nowhere near the child when she exhibited this food-throwing  behavior, so to insinuate that her conduct owes to my influence bounds on the territory of preposterous.  I am innocent!

Frightfully, I am beginning to suspect in these circumstances a pattern of grandparental accusation and displaced blame that’s all too familiar as I compare notes with other grandparents.   How much easier, it seems, for our children to frame us with the responsibiilty for their youngsters’ improprieties and misbehaviors.  Why, we do nothing more than love, dote, and fawn upon the precious innocents!  How can we be rightfully accused of exerting ill influence on the child’s character or behavior?

Yay, the suggestion that I should bear any fault  for Payton’s misconduct (as if the poor little creature could misbehave in the first place!) is woefully misplaced and unreasonably assigned.  Quite the contrary, parents should accept full responsibility for training their children and be grateful (rather than critical) of grandparents, especially when parents would assign blame to the grandparents to cover the parents’ own disciplinary shortcomings.

As if precious little Payton needs discipline in the first place?

Nay, I submit, t’is not discipline the child lacks, but instruction! 

So mom and dad, get busy!  Ye have much to do.

King James on the nastiness of smoking: What a way with words! Saturday, Feb 7 2009 

I’m reading Arthur Quinn’s 1994 book,  A New World: An Epic of Colonial America  from the Founding of Jamestown to the Fall of Quebec.  In chapter 1, describing the role of tobacco in early Virginia Colonial times, Quinn notes King James’ opposition to the tobacco phenomenon that swept over England in that 200px-91704505_4b03ab00d3era. 

Here’s what King Jimmy wrote in a treatise entitled “Counter Blaste To Tobacco”:  “[Smoking is] a custom loathesome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”

The “black stinking fume thereof” are my favorite words in the quote.  Awesome diction, what a well-turned phrase!  

I dig King J’s title, too: Counter Blaste.  Yes, those old-timers had a way with words!   And, hey, this was the first government warning against the dangers of smoking!

By the way,  what to do with the proper adjective Stygian?  I confess, I had to look it up.  It’s synonym is, not surprisingly, hellish.

What a pity King James was unsuccessful in selling his judgment on the vile commodity to his own subjects and ensuing generations.

Papa teaches Payton a wonderful game Wednesday, Feb 4 2009 

One of the joys of grandparenting is teaching the grandchild  creative and playful activities, such as this game Payton and I invented this evening, “Throw the Spoon” game.  Rather than explain how to play this remarkable entertainment, I here present Payton, who will skillfully show and illustrate, rather than simply tell, the object of the game and how it’s played.  As you will readily observe once you  witness Payton’s demonstration, the game is simple: it has no rules, playing requires no equipment or paraphernalia other than a simple spoon, it’s simple enough for even a ten-month old to play, the whole family can participate as spectators, and EVERYONE WINS!

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