Refrain from usage: Cell phones, or bad grammar? Wednesday, Apr 29 2009 

I was waiting for service at the Subway at the Livonia Travel Center in Livonia, Louisiana, and noted the  sign.


“Gosh,” thought I, “the usage of my cell phone.”

So  I kind of held my breath as I photoed the sign, a little worried one of the employees would reprimand me.  The sign really wasn’t specific as to whether I could or couldn’t use my phone’s camera function.  But at the same time, I’m standing there waiting several minutes for service . . . and I’m a customer . . . so what’s the big deal?

I can’t use my cell phone, but I have to wait for service????

Then I wondered, “Why not simply write ‘Please don’t use your cell phone while placing an order”?

I guess “refrain from usage” was just too irresistible for the sign’s author.

But not for me!  I got the pic.

2 c & do in Baton Rouge? Ol’ Man River! Tuesday, Apr 28 2009 

miss-r-brnorthviewMy regional professional association is meeting today and tomorrow in Baton Rouge.  The venue is close enough to home for me to commute, which also means that the host site, downtown Baton Rouge, is a familiar place.  So I was really challenged when a colleague from out-of-state posed the question, “In Baton Rouge, what’s really a ‘must see’?”

I thought about that long and hard.  At first, I couldn’t think of anything.  Maybe Po’ Folks fruit and vegetable stand in Port Allen?  Tiger Stadium?  the Mall of Louisiana?

But then I realized that just across the street from where we met courses the mightiest stream in America, the Mississippi River.

“Ah, the River,” I declared.  And the more I thought about that choice, the more I’m convinced that was the right answer.   Mark Twain would have probably given the same.

After that exchange, I resolved to cross the street to the levee, first chance I got, to see what I had recommended.  As many times as I’ve seen that prodigious stream, I’m never disapointed.  Today, in late spring, the tide is obviously swollen.  That just makes her that much more.miss-r-brsouthview1

What goes around goes around: Circles of our lives? Saturday, Apr 25 2009 

I went with Payton and her mom to the Crowley vs. Rayne district tie-breaker game this morning.  The game had to be played at a neutral site since it was a tie-breaker, so the coaches conveniently made arrangements to play at Eunice High’s field, just down the road from my house . . . and the familiar field where my own son-now-Crowley-coach played in his high school years.

Payton’s mom brought the red wagon that Honey and Papa got for Payton’s first birthday  a few weeks ago, and a good thing she did.  Toward the end of the game, Payton was in that inconsolable time-for-a-nap state, but the obvious problem was that home was 20 miles away and the game wasn’t quite over.

Papa and the red wagon to the rescue: Autumn and I buckled up my little girl and away Payton and Papa went, down the right field line, past the right field fence and center field fence and left field fence to the left field line all the way to the third base dugout; then we turned around and repeated the course.  Payton was happy as could be the whole way, and the game ended right about the time we got back.  I concluded we had done the job well.dscf1221

We hung around a few minutes after the game to see Zach before we left.  From the first-base coaching box, he had watched me and Payton on our tour, and he told me that seeing me pulling little Payton around the circumference of EHS Bobcat Field reminded him of his own high school days when he recalled me jogging around that same circumference when I combined my personal workout with watching him and his teammates practice.

I  had forgotten how I jogged around Bobcat Field in those days, but my heart warmed considerably that he remembered.  And his noting the visual imagery of Papa toting little Payton around the same perimeter was even warmer.

LSUE Convocation: Honors to Ann! Thursday, Apr 23 2009 

The count down to “empty nest” is marked on the calendar by a checklist of end-of-year events on my calendar beginning with the one this evening,convocparentsthe annual Honors Convocation to recognize academic achievement.  We missed this event last year because Ann, though eligible for honors, was working with the baseball team at an out-of-town game (yeah, like she knows what really matters!).  But this year the team was off, so we got to watch our little girl (pardon the expression) process into the assembly with the brightest and the best and have her name called (by her own father at the podium!) to come forward for recognition for her g.p.a. exploits.

We took a family picture after and also got her to pose with two of her favorite and best biology teachers farther down, Dr. Robicheaux (in regalia) and Mr. Williams (dressed casual) along with her old high school softball buddy Gretchen, who was also honored in the ceremonies and who will be Ann’s apartment mate at LSU in a few short months.

Did I say “a few short months?”  That’s wrong–It’s more like a few short weeks, since she’ll move  the first week of June . . . and it’s already the third week of April?   Hmmmm, these days are passing faster than they should.

I have a few other dates to mark the calendar on this countdown, but only two: the Regional baseball tournament that we host here followed by commencement to receive the associate degree.   If the Bengals win the regional tourament and go to the World Series in Oklahoma the last week of May, I have no idea how we’ll handle all that excitement the week before moving  to the big city.  So they’re happy/sad days, and the worst thing is they pass altogether too fast.convocteach

Alas and woe unto me, such is middle-age.

Papa’s defense against outlandish allegations about diapers Monday, Apr 20 2009 

We kept Payton last Friday evening while Payton’s mom and dad went on an evening out.  In the course of the evening, Honey took Payton to the bath tub.  Payton tired of the bath sooner than Honey, so Honey summoned Papa to take Payton from the tub and dress her in her clean diaper and outfit.  And so, Papa did.

Now mind you, it’s been a fair number of years since Papa put on a baby diaper.    The technology has altered considerably, so much so that my family roared in laughter at the sight of Payton, pictured here.   Can anyone honestly tell what’s wrong with this picture?  (I still can’t!!)dscf12771

The accusation, and this according to Payton’s Honey and Payton’s Mom, is that ignorant Papa put the diaper on backwards.  They cite all this evidence about the tabs being this way or that, but all Papa knows is that the diaper went on and it stayed on after he stuck the velcro tabs, and that no pee-pee or poo-poo got past the diaper’s elastic boundary.

So who stirred this uproar over poor Payton’s diaper being backwards?  Is it really backwards?  Who defines backwards, anyway?  And does the backwards diaper not work as well as the frontwards diaper?  Who can prove it?

Aha, yes!  No one can prove the allegations against Papa.  He is vindicated!  And Payton was just as happy and as dry as can be.

Why must I defend myself against these outlandish allegations?   Life is too short!  When Payton is old and married with kids of her own, will she rail against her Papa for putting on her diaper  backwards when she was a year old?

“Nay,” I submit.  And shame on Honey and Payton’s Mom for their disreputable conduct toward me in this regard.  May merciful God be my judge, but not the grandmother and the mother, whose laughter echoes cruelly in my ears even as I type!!!

Masters of the master bedroom Friday, Apr 17 2009 

lazy-muttsWe call it the master bedroom, and the spot these brutes occupy in the master’s bed is the master’s spot.

Who rules the roost around here, anyway?

Ask Marley and Sadie, and they’ll tell you who’s in charge.

But don’t disturb them now, of course.  Wait until they wake up.

Humble rewards of the profession: You know you’re getting older when . . . Tuesday, Apr 14 2009 

As a teacher, one indication that you’re . . . well, not necessarily getting older, but let’s say, you know that you’ve been around a while . . .is that your former students grow up to become teachers.

Earlier this evening, for example, I made my observation and evaluation of instruction rounds to a Human Anatomy evening course.  The students were mostly pre-professional allied health majors.  The teacher, Jeff, is a physical therapist by day who just has teaching in his blood (his mom and his dad taught long enough to retire from the profession), so he teaches this night class for my program every spring semester.

I first met Jeff in somewhere around 1988, plus or minus a year, when he was a blond-headed, blue-eyed student in my eighth grade English class at the local junior high.  I’ll never forget those penetrating blue eyes as he would listen to everything I explained with riveted attention.  And then, when he applied himself to the task, he was sooooooooo thorough and exacting.  I can truthfully say that in my now 22+ years of teaching everything from pre-pubescent eighth graders to gray-headed grandparents in college classes, no student I ever taught was a more conscientious listener than Jeff.  He was just this really awesome kid, and his grades reflected it in those days.

Anyway, here we are about twenty years later, and he’s teaching college students, many of them adults older than he, and he’s doing a marmenard-1velously fine job.  I admired his teaching style, which shows keen and detailed knowledge of the subject matter, tempered with an engaging sense of humor (he gets that teaching gift from his dad, who’s a real pro, teaching at both the high school and college levels).

Aside from the indication that I’m not getting any younger, at least I get some gratification when I see a former charge doing a fine job of teaching.  I don’t offer that observation because I think I had much, if any, influence on Jeff’s pedagogical or personal style.  In fact, he may be more memorable as a student to me than I am to him as a teacher.  But there’s that teacher-student connection that never goes away.  That much I’ve learned, having contact with former students over the years, so I reserve the right to feel justifiably proud of that blue-eyed, blonde-headed kid tonight as he held forth impressively before his students.

The Old, Old Story . . . an Easter Post from the Past Sunday, Apr 12 2009 

I wrote the following in ’97 as a setting for the Easter music at church.   This was Part 1 of four parts.  Check out the blank verse . . .

My theme in glory . . . An old, old story–
The story of man’s redemption, passed on
As the rich inheritance of God’s love
From age to age, the everlasting truth,
Steadfast and uneroded by time’s vain
Assault on the bastions of eternity.
This old, old story rises even still
In misty, magical scenes of childhood
As fresh remembrance of warm summer nights
In a white church house beside a pasture
Where a gray-haired preacher–no great
Just an earnest country prophet he was–
Called glory down from heaven’s lofty peaks,
Exhorting lost pilgrims, including me,
To stand amazed in the presence of light
doane_wh-1That floods the darkness of souls’ hopeless night.

(The photo shows W. Howard Doane, writer of the music to “Tell Me the Old, Old Story”)

Good Friday Meditation: Whose Sorrowful Passion? Friday, Apr 10 2009 

I started off Good Friday with a leisurely extra cup of coffee and lingered longer than usual before the morning TV news before loping off for an 8:30 a.m. run through the park.  It’s good to have time off.

But amidst  the leisure, and true on every Good Friday in memory, I can’t help but reflect on the weighty significance of this annual commemoration of the Passion.   Even as I jogged this morning, the refrain of a familiar part of the Catholic mass kept reverberating in my thoughts: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

That refrain is cast as a prayer.  I understand the weight of the petition, because the Passion certainly evokes profound feelings of unworthiness in the believer, understanding as the Christian does that Christ’s atonement is an intensely personal matter that the believer could never achieve without the interposition of the Cross.

So then, as I further considered the words “For the sake of his sorrowful Passion have mercy on us . . . ,” I wondered, “Whoa!  Why pray for mercy when the mercy has already been done?  We should instead cry out in gratitude, “For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, praise and thanksgiving offer we, the beneficiaries of grace.”

I think what holds us to the former rendition of the refrain, though, is the propensity to feel guilt.  In the Christian world view, the believer knows that the Savior did what He did because man is unfit and unworthy to deliver himself.  So even though we have the spiritual birthright to claim this grace that the Cross affords, and as such are liberated from guilt over our shortcomings, our morbid natures are more attuned to linger over guilt rather than to run free toward grace (Hmmmm . . . , what does that propensity suggest about our natural condition?).   So though Christ enabled our deliverance, we remain sadly inclined to sing, “Have mercy on us.”

When I start wondering about  great philosophical questions about the faith whose answers lie beyond the bibliolatrers’ scriptural prooftext remedies, my instinct tells me to look up C. S. Lewis, my favorite apologeticist (photo below), who never quotes scripture but always makes sense.  I did a keyword search and, sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed.  On a C. S. Lewis “Quote of the Day” webpage, I found the following Lewis gem:

200px-cslewis3“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.”

Lewis always makes me feel enlightened.  In this case, he suggests a difference between affliction and sin.  Lewis’s words even provide a deeper understanding now of what  Isaiah meant when he described  the Suffering Servant as one “acquainted with sickness (i.e., affliction).”

So on this Good Friday, if I cry out “For the sake of your sorrowful passion, have mercy on me,” I wrestle with my own guilt-borne affliction, even though I know that such guilt is needless through the power of grace.   The creature impulse, though, is hard to die.  That’s the part of  the believer’s heart that’s overwhelming  when we recall the brutality of the Cross, and by design, the part that believers share in Christ’s passion.

Those are disturbing, not comforting thoughts, for Good Friday.  And we can only “thank” ourselves for Good Friday, Day 1 of the Crucifixion narrative.

But happily, we can look beyond Day 1 toward Easter Sunday: Ah, yes: THOSE are comforting thoughts and more.

We thank God for Day 3!

Payton’s Happy Birthday Bash Tuesday, Apr 7 2009 

I hadn’t blogged granddaughter number one’s first birthday yet.  Shame on me!

I corresponded with a professional colleague today about grandkids and how having them changes one’s view of life and what really matters.   I’m encouraged (or consoled?) that other grandparents feel as giddy  as I when the subject comes up, and gosh, how easy and naturally the topic finds its way into almost any conversation!  We’re fixated on these grand-creatures.

Our process  started on April 3 last year when we “hung out” at the hospital all day long, a family gang, waiting for the arrival of the little squirt who put us off until around 10:30 p.m. or so.  Talk about a looooooooooong day!  But as an adult, I don’t remember a day like that before where I felt really different about the meaning of life after the day was over.  It was like, “Ah, so this is the big picture–What else in the world matters?  Why didn’t I get this before?”  It was a fascinating time, and not just because of Payton–it was for all of US, the bound and bonded group of related ones, inlaws and out,  that we are. I remember how special it was that evening after little Payton finally came that Tim (Pastor Tim) was on hand to round us all up and lead us in prayerful thanksgiving.   That really put everything in the right perspective.

Her birthday was last Friday, but we celebrated Sunday afternoon with a party at her house.  Honey and I got Payton a  red wagon.  The video here shows her maiden voyage.  She chattered and babbled the whole while, obviously approving of her newest means of conveyance.  I also shot the “eating the first birthday cake” and uploaded that to Facebook.  It was a fun afternoon, an occasion to remember the blessing that came a year ago.

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