More Joys of Grandparenting: Papa’s Halloween Treat (as opposed to “trick”) Thursday, Oct 29 2009 

LSU Cheerleader

Payton Elizabuff Pulling: The spirit of LSU!

Although I missed the door-to-door trick or treat with Payton because I was on the road working until after-hours, I was on hand for Payton’s return from her door-to-door rounds in the neighborhood when she got back with her parents and her Honey.  Honey took this shot of  jubilant Payton, all decked out as an LSU cheerleader with a plastic pumpkin full of candy stowed somewhere off-camera.

I am moved to this conclusion: Parents think their kids are cute; But, Grandparents KNOW their kids are cute!!!

It’s a generational perspective: Our poor kids!   They won’t get it until they’ve reached their parents’ stage of life.

May they be so blessed to last as long!


More humble rewards of the profession: A peculiar coincidence prompts this latest chapter Tuesday, Oct 27 2009 

I have revisited this topic off and on in the blog over the last few years as former student testimonies show up from time to time to reassure me that this craft of teaching really does touch lives; as well, encouraging feedback whispers back from time to time, often years alter, to touch the teacher’s applelife.  To wit, my latest episode . . .

We were discussing the poem “I think I shall paint my nails red”  this morning in English 1002, preparing for an upcoming explication assignment.  I recalled a particularly adept explication a student had done on this poem two or three years ago, but  I couldn’t recall the student’s name.  Some of that student’s former school mates are in the present class, so I asked them to help me recall, and they reminded me her name was Abby.

Abby tested out of English 1001 with high ACT scores.  She took my class to get a double head start on college, and she frequently set the standard for quality work and writing.  I took a moment  after Abby’s friends helped me recall her name to praise the work Abby had done explicating the very poem we were discussing.  And the discussion moved on.

The best came after class.   Abby’s former schoolmates approached me.  Katie in particular was almost incredulous that I had recalled Abby on this day, because this very day, Katie was bearing a personal message to me from Abby, whose name I couldn’t recall a few moments earlier, but whom Katie had recently seen in their home town.  Katie’s message to me from Abby was to tell me that of all the professors Abby has had at UL-Lafayette (where Abby enrolled after high school graduation), I was the best!

Gosh. Should I be stunned?  Humbled?

(O.K.  I admit–I wasn’t humbled.  Just the opposite.  I like hearing my horn tooted as much as the next dude!)

How about the coincidence?  The very day I randomly recalled Abby,  her friend in my class has a personal message for me.  If I have to choose between Providence and coincidence, I’ll choose Providence!

So I end, “Thank you, Lord, for the humble rewards!   And bless Abby, my former student.”

Have paws, will dig: A “Marleydillo” in the Back Yard Monday, Oct 26 2009 


Marley and Sadie frolic in the ploughed up patch of the back yard where Marley digs.

Sarah and I sat on the patio this afternoon, lamenting the ugly patch of lawn adjacent to the patio where Marley the Dog has destroyed the yard, scratching and rooting for God-knows-what.  All we know is that our  stretch of healthy, green grass has been clawed and plowed and scraped bare right before the onset of winter, assuring a winter’s worth of mud to dirty the doggie pattes (paws) all the more as they track up the patio (and into the house!).

Sarah lamented the condition of the yard this afternoon: “Look at that!  It looks like we have armadillos in the back yard.”

I corrected her: “No, not armadillos.  But we do have a “Marleydillo.”

Why he digs is beyond us.  He’s almost two, so the propensity doesn’t owe to puppyhood.  And we’re pretty sure there’s no buried treasure.


Louisiana football: Not the meaning of life, but maybe the life of meaning? Friday, Oct 23 2009 

This evening, we cheered the home town Eunice high school Bobcats to a 49-6 halftime lead on Homecoming night and went home before the granddaughter got too grumpy.  We’re waiting to hear the final score of the rout on the Friday night sports show.

IXICPIPQKHYDFKF.20091011061620Tomorrow, I’m bound for Baton Rouge to tailgate and see how the Tigers manage Auburn, a significant game with national ranking repercussions.

Sunday, I may have to skip choir practice because the undefeated Saints are on at 3:15 against the Dolphins.

How important is football in Louisiana?  It’s not the meaning of life, but it sure does add meaning to life!

King David and the Point of View Shift: An English Teacher’s Consideration of Inerrancy Wednesday, Oct 21 2009 

DavidThe dogma-mongering bibliolatrers of recent years in the Southern Baptist Convention made inerrancy an acid test of orthodoxy (or at least their orthodoxy).  These over-wrought “doctrinaries” made a big issue out of the inspiration of Scripture and the insistence that everything in the “Word” was “without error.”

O.K., let’s carry their point beyond it’s logical extension (which is kind of what they did, but in the opposite direction of what I’m about to do).  Let’s look grammatically at the 23rd Psalm, one of the most famous passages in the Old Testament.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil, for you are with me .  Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Aha, King David!!  If you had turned this essay in for English 1001, I would have marked verse 4 a usage error: “point of view shift.”  The passage starts out in third person, but suddenly and without purpose in verse four, the intrusive second person you shows up.  Surely, King David, you knew better?  What a silly grammatical error!

So much for inerrancy?

Or, “Who needs inerrancy?”  It’s a pretty good Psalm, POV shift or not.

New York State Football Champs: New Orleans Saints! Monday, Oct 19 2009 

The Giants defense couldn't figure out the Saints.  Pic borrowed from

The Giants defense couldn't figure out the Saints. Pic borrowed from

I heard this title, “New York State football champs,” on WWL radio over the weekend after the Saints pulled off the trifecta: Three consecutive NFL wins in as many games against New York opponents:

Saints 27, Buffalo 7

Saints 24, NY Jets 14

Saints 48, NY Giants 27

What are the odds of the schedule maker lining up consecutive games against all 3 of New York’s teams?  And what were the odds of the Saints running the table, considering both the Jets and Giants were undefeated when the Saints “entertained” them?

Well, we don’t know what the odds were, but we do know what the results were: The Big Easy has taken a couple of big bites out of the Big Apple!

Geaux, Saints!

Dogs and Possums: Nature’s Course Friday, Oct 16 2009 

By the end of the evening, Sadie and Marley rested from their exertions.

Friday evening, I let Sadie and Marley (the dogs) out as usual around mid-evening to do their business.  Within minutes, a grand raucous erupted, with shrill barking and snarls from the corner of the back yard where we stack the fire wood–, the

“wood yard.”

By the time I could

get the spot light and check out the gnashing of teeth,

the job was fait accompli.   All I found was a truly dead possum (as opposed to a possum “playing possum.” )  I will spare the gory details of the possum’s woeful condition, but obviously, Sadie and Marley had done their guardian-dog duty.

Poor puppies, they just do what comes natural.  I guess it’s good.

But I sure felt bad for the poor little possum.

By the end of the evening, Sadie and Marley rested from their exertions.

Payton “Elizabuff” Sunday Tuesday, Oct 13 2009 

More of the rewards of grandparenting.

Payton nd HoneySunday at the end of church service, granddaughter Payton begs to go on stage to meet her Honey (grandmother Sarah) while the praise team leads the congregation in the worship finale.  So the little squirt scampers up the steps of the rostrum and there she is, clutched in Honey’s arms, while everyone in church sings “Victory in Jesus.”

After church, we hit the Chinese buffet, where Payton found delight in the chocolate pudding.

Chinese chocolate pudding?  I wonder.


Anyway, what in the world did we do before camera phones to capture these  moments?

Place-Based Education in the Global Age: A “thumbs-up” review Saturday, Oct 10 2009 

Not all of my readers care about the details of my professional life as an educator, but since “what I write” is “what I am,” here goes.  I composed this piece for publication to a very small audience of my NWP peers.   Since I liked the subject matter (the review as well as the book), why not post it here? 

Short Review of Place-Based Education in the Global Age (Eds. David A. Gruenewald and Gregory A. Smith. New York: Lawrence PBEErlbaum Assoc., 2008.

My experience reading this book taught me a lesson about first impressions: to wit, don’t judge a book by the editors’ preface. (All right, I’ve gone to college and grad school—I was supposed to know that, O.K?) When I first picked the book up during the summer to tackle my assignment, I peeked in through that frilly editorial picture window between the table of contents and the “Introduction.” I came sadly away with a distorted impression that ideas in this book are extreme, “out there,” appealing to some faction of esoteric revolutionaries and activists bent on radical change. I was disappointed, because as a mild-mannered radical myself, I couldn’t match anything in the editors’ prefatory jargon about place-based education with my own understanding of place-based education.

Shame on me. That initial reaction kept me from returning to the book for a time. Fortunately, though prompted mainly by the deadline for this review, I picked up the book several weeks later and read on.

Aha! Why didn’t I start with the introduction? The introductory essay “Making Room for the Local” defined and illustrated place-based education better for me than any discussion or explanation I had previously read or heard. The theoretical loftiness and high-toned jargon of the Preface descended to the earth in the introduction as Gruenewald and Smith illustrated and grounded their writing with specific examples and the citation of compelling studies. Now I was pumped! The editors’ passion was evident, too, arguing that too much of what goes on in schools and universities is disconnected from the community surrounding the school as the standardized, ever-more-globalized system pushes “each student to meet prescribed content area standards through decontextualized classroom instruction” (xiv). This is stuff we need to hear.

The core of the book consists of fourteen essays by different contributors, arranged into three sections:
I. Models for Place-Based Learning: success stories in PBE told by teachers and administrators who have piloted unique programs and initiatives. (The stories in this section “show” rather than “tell” what PBE-in-action looks like.)
II. Reclaiming Broader Meanings of Education: a collection of what I call apologetic essays that argue the case for PBE.
III. Global Visions of the Local in Higher Education: articles primarily from the university perspective, treating PBE issues related to post-secondary reform and social action.

What’s the most valuable thing I understand so far from Place-Based Education in the Global Age? As a rural educator, I understand better now that place in PBE is not exclusively the province of rural folks. The articles in Section I of the book, for instance, show how PBE looks in a variety of settings, including rural, suburban, and urban. And that’s O.K., because now I understand that despite our different community contexts, we share a common passion for a common need to thrive in our respective communities in the face of relentless standardization and globalization.

So I beg the editors’ forgiveness for a hasty judgment based on a few pages of preface. The editorial introductions and many of the articles in the book do venture deep into theory, so the read may not suit faint-of-attention-span or slight-of-depth readers. But for the teacher who wants to understand PBE better, who wants to articulate a stronger apologetic for PBE in the professional discussion, or who wants ideas for turning PBE into classroom practice, this book sings. I really believe Gruenewald and Smith’s work would make a fascinating [Writing Project] Site-based reading group or advanced institute project, because PBE is such an attractive (and controversial) concept up and down the highways that connect us.

A Katrina Memoir: 2005 past, but ne’er forgotten! Wednesday, Oct 7 2009 

228px-Katrina-noaaGOES12This post might interest family and friends more than the general public, but that’s O.K.–I offer no apologies to others who might have logged in expecting to find something else.  This business four years ago is too grim to forget too soon, so blog it, I should.  This narrative comes from the 2005 journal about this time of year during the Katrina/Rita aftermath: an account of a trip to Metairie to help Aunt Marion move back into her house after living away from home in storm exile for more than a month.  This is what I wrote on that date:

The news of the day was traffic and complications.  When we rolled up to the Miss. R. bridge eastbound a little before 8 a.m. the traffic started.  After we got through the knot at I-10/110 it actually moved pretty good.  In the country b/t BR and NO we actually went the speed limit unimpeded.  But right at Hwy. 51 exit at LaPlace, the partking lot started.  We dove off and went into town to catch Airline, which went pretty good until just before we got to the airport, where again, slow-moving parking lot.  When we made it to WIlliams Blvd, I hooked a left and went up to Veterans where the traffic resembled a Saturday on the weekend before Christmas–It was a thick, but at least it moved.  B/c the traffic delays had added 30 or so minutes to our trip, the Lowe’s staff already had the refrigerator loaded on Daddy’s truck.  Aunt Marian tried to suggest to Daddy that Zach or I drive his truck with the refrigerator–I whispered to her that I didn’t think he’d go for it–we could tell she was nervous–predicatably he firmly insisted, “Nobody knows my truck like me.”

But that part of the trip was a success.  The fridge was safely delivered and unloaded–Zach did a good job, bless his young heart, of kind of taking over and supervising the procedure, lending the muscle as well as the brain.  Getting the huge box into the house was another ordeal.  First, we didn’t have the tools we needed to undo the packing runner bolted to the underside, so Zach and Aunt Marian had to run to the hardware store to get a cheap socket set.  To make a long story short, what should have taken 30-45 minutes ended up taking a couple of hours.  We couldn’t hook up the ice maker b/c the old fitting on the copper tubing was bad, but at least she can go to the grocery store and stock up on perishables, put some ice trays to make ice until the plumber comes to finish the job, etc.  Her FEMA guy came by while we were there, too, so she had a productive day.

We went back through Covington b/c Mama had cooked–and I mean cooked!–baby back ribs, boiled corn on the cob, baked sweet potatoes.  We didn’t eat until 2, so we were pretty starving, which made the food even better.   Traffic going into Covington on TYler was more than sticky, so we headed back west on 190 to Robert, where we got in I-12.  More traffic–like a weekday during Thanksgving week–I can’t figure out where/why all this traffic is going on.  AT least the traffic moved well until we got into Baton ROuge.  We came up on the creeping slow-down right before the Acadian Thruway, so we ducked off and drove through the old parts of town to pick up 110 on the other side, leaving town on 190 across the old bridge.  We were lucky we could get off when we did, I believe.  No telling how long we’d have been on I-10.

We got home a couple of hours later than we had planned, but it was a fulfilling and interesting day.  Evidence of the storm was abundant, but we really didn’t see a lot of spectacular damage.  I’m sure much of that has already been cleaned up.  The household throw-out piles a few houses down the street from Aunt Marian’s where homes had flooded were sad.  I did notice gasoline lines at a station in Metairie, but everywhere else along the way, the supply seemed OK.

So that’s the report from the Cajun Prairie, across the Atchafalaya Basin to the Capitol City, through the River Parishes and across the Bonne  Carre almost to New Orleans, across the Lake and the FLorida Parishes to retrace the morning’s  eastbound journey on the westbound side.  That was quite a bit of Louisiana to see in a day, and while I can’t say all is well along the way, one observation is certain: Louisiana is on the move!

Next Page »