The journey of a day Sunday, Nov 29 2009 

So much for the pre-holiday planning for how I would spend this Saturday after Thanksgiving.

I left in the morning not long after sunrise, bound for the folks’ place in Covington.  Usually one is happy to travel to parents’ home during the holidays, but today’s trip was born of unhappy circumstances.

Not long after I left, driving along Hwy 190 through Acadiana, I heard the report on the New Orleans radio:

“State police continue to investigate a fatal crash that occurred on the North Shore yesterday afternoon.”

Before the announcer finished details of the report, I reaffirmed in my thoughts the reason for this journey.  Hearing the news report of my own brother’s death broadcast to the airwaves was strange.

The announcer didn’t name him, but the details were unmistakable:  a 1997 Ford minivan, drifted across the center lane, alcohol suspected, etc.

So I did what I had to do, not what I wanted to do.  It was the long journey of a bad day.

Holiday spirit arrives on Hill Street Thursday, Nov 26 2009 

We ushered in the season with two Thanksgiving family celebrations, one last night with my sister and her gang at my niece’s house across town and tonight at son Zach’s with our little daughter-in-law, her folks from Houston, and of course

Coffee tastes better this season in a holiday mug.

little grandaugther Payton “Elizabuff.”   We acknowledged on both occasions how much gratitude we owe,  beginning with generous thanksgiving to our gracious God who somehow pours out all of this goodness on us and for us.
We also completed three traditional family routines yesterday evening and today.

1.  After Ann came home from Baton Rouge for the holiday, she and her mom switched out all the day-to-day cups and glasses and china for the holiday sets that we use every year from Thanksgiving through New Years.


2.  Since a cold front had blown some Arctic air far enough south to cool down the house, I made the first fire of the season in the fire place.

3.  After we got home this afternoon, Ann and Sarah finished decorating the tree.

I’ll finish the ritual preparations tomorrow by hanging the outside lights.  We’re ready for the season.  Bring it on, Santa!

Aromatic pecan hardwood blazes in the hearth


Me and the NWP (National Writing Project): A professional debt I owe Tuesday, Nov 24 2009 

The last half of last week, I attended the annual meeting of the National Writing Project for the 8th or 9th time in a row.  In one of our Saturday Rural Sites Leadership Team’s working sessions, we were asked to write a brief  reflection on our involvement in the national organization and its impact on our careers.  I dashed out the following.

My career has tracked right alongside my involvement in NWP, which began with the SI in 1991 as an eighth grade English teacher, only three years into the craft, going after an M.A. in English as a ticket to get ahead in my second career (post-oilfield economy bust which drove me to teaching at an advanced age: 35? Seemed advanced at the time!). My early years of involvment in WP was confined to my local AWP Site, where I gained experience and earned spare change giving presentations on the in-service circuit. My first exposure at the national level came when I accepted my Site’s Tech Liaison role. I recall attending that first meeting in Baltimore, and I haven’t missed a meeting since.

The M.A. in English did provide a ladder to move up in paths that never would have emerged without the degree, but equally important in every job change, promotion, or rise to administration that’s come in the years since was the bulleted list of activities and achievements on my resume under the heading “Involvement with National Writing Project.”

Writing Project was influential and enabling for my first professional publication, for my training and experience in teaching with technology and teaching online, and for professional association and recognition at the national level with the Rural Sites Network.

And now I know bright, talented, creative people from Coast to Coast who share the same love and passion that I have for students, for teaching, and learning. Yes, much of who I am owes much to who I have hung out with in NWP over the years–I am deeply indebted, grateful, and above all, blessed.

Philly Cheese Steak: Yum-Yum! Tuesday, Nov 24 2009 

While the bagels in Philadelphia failed to hit this Louisianian’s discerning culinary palette, the Philadelphia cheese steak did.  That was some good eatin’!

My only prior experience with Philly cheese steak was with our local Subway (cheap imitation of what I had in Philly!).  I really didn’t have confidence that Subway knows what’s up with a real Philly cheese steak, so I was  determined to find out for myself once I knew I’d have a few days to spend in the City of Brotherly Love.

And so last week, there in Philly I found myself.  I ordered my sandwich with fried sweet potatoes and a green salad.  (Turned out to be way more than I could eat, but I did anyway!).  The proper adjective to describe the meal:  Delicious!

The big question: If I had to choose between a Philly cheese steak and an oyster po’ boy, which wins?

The oyster po’ boy, I’m afraid.  As good as the cheese steak was, I’ll always keep coming back for oysters.   Acme Oyster House is in no danger of losing my patronage, but if I return to Philly, I just may try another one of those Philly cheese steaks.


Bagels: Yuk! Friday, Nov 20 2009 

Bagels on the breakfast buffet

No self -respecting southerner would eat bagels for breakfast.  Life is simply too short.

Why not bagels? Truly, they’re comparable in toughness to grass-fed beef.   The  mouthful  grows bigger as you chew.  And then when you’re ready to swallow,  you better have a big gulp handy to wash  down the saliva-moistened wad of dough, which takes on the consistency of sticky, wet cement.   On t0p of that, the taste is zero. If you don’t plaster the bagel with cream cheese or jelly or some other topping, you  might as well eat a chunk of cardboard.

I don’t see what Northeasterners find in the stuff to eat it like they do, so I sure was dismayed at a recent conference to discover that the Continental breakfast consisted of bagels, bagels, and more bagels, as far as the tables stretched.  Not a banana or a cinnamon role in sight, much less a plate of eggs and grits.

Eggs and grits? Now that’s a breakfast of champions!

Au Blue Moon Saloon: It’s good to arrive early! Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

Here’s a stab at poetry in Cajun.  The mechanics may not be perfect, but it was fun dashing this piece out in 2005 at an establishment in Lafayette, Louisiana, dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana’s native French.  I got there early for a meeting–the verse happened as I waited for my colleagues.

Au Blue Moon Saloon

Composed in Lafayette, La

Fall 2005

J’ai arrive de bonheur,

Je m’assis sur le gallerie

“Qu’il fait beaucoup jolie

Cet après-midi


Au Blue Moon Saloon

a Lafayette.”

J’espere mes amis

Pour se rejoindre

Et jongler

Et discuter

Et bavarder

Et conduire le beezneese.

Mais ce qu’est le plus important

A ce moment?

C’est qu’il fait beaucoup beau!

Dans l’apres midi,

Dan le printemps,

En la Louisiane

Au Blue Moon Saloon.

“Ah, mais oui, cher, c’est bon d’arriver de bonne heure!”

Bobby Hebert, the Cajun Cannon: The Real Deal Monday, Nov 16 2009 

Son Zach and I went to the LSU game Saturday night.  Before game, we went by the WWL radio tent to see if the pre-game broadcast was still on, but it was over.  Commentator Bobby Hebert (former Saints great) was on alone under the tent with some other autograph seekers, so I determined to make my way in to meet my favorite ex-Saints quarterback and current Saints commentator.

Knowing Bobby is a Cajun from South Lafourche, I greeted him in French: “Comment les affaires?”


Bobby Hebert, the Fan Pleaser

He grinned big as the moon.  In the classic Hebert Lou’siana Cajun accent, he asked, “Where you from?”

“Eu-neece,” I answered.

“Oh, you’re Prairie Cajuns,” he replied.

To which I answered, “Absolument.”

I know from listening to Bobby over the years that, in spite of his Cajun heritage, he’s not particularly fluent in French (the irony: I’m not Cajun, but I can talk French!)  But anyway, he was loquacious and eager to converse.

Once Zach explained he (Zach) was a coach at Crowley High School, Bobby immediately remembered a 1971 LHSAA playoff

championship between Crowley High and Bobby’s South Lafourche when Bobby was in the sixth grade.   Bobby named the South Lafourche quarterback who ran a 9.6 100 yards–I can’t remember the name, but Bobby did–He told us what a fast
“white guy” this South Lafourche player was.

All to say that Bobby Hebert is OK by me.  I liked his character greatly as Saints QB back in the day, and he talked to Zach and me like a regular fan.  Vive Bobby Hebert!

Grace to the human race . . . Friday, Nov 13 2009 

I posted this piece before.  I found it tonight and I like it again.  Here goes, like it or not . . .

Be Not Righteous

By David Pulling

May 2008

imagesBe not

Righteous in

My own eyes–

Do unto

Others as I would have them . . .

For the Father has promised

Victory to the humble

(not the religious)


In whose hearts

Praise leaps up for grace


To the human race.

More joys of grandparenting: Payton Wednesdays Wednesday, Nov 11 2009 

honey and paypayjpg

Payton "reads" a book her Honey probably read to Payton's Daddy years ago

On Wednesdays, Honey fetches Payton from her Mommy and Daddy and brings her to Eunice to spend the day.  The routines are pleasant, beginning with scrambled eggs for breakfast  watching the Sprout network.  Breakfast ends with dragging out the tub of toys, followed by a shopping and errands run followed by lunch, at which time Papa returns home to join the fun.

Today, Honey found a collection of books she preserved from our own kids’ childhood and spent some time introducing Payton to the literary treasures of her Daddy’s youth.  Undoubtedly, the activity delighted grandmother as much as granddaughter.

Such a little doll!

Why I like Drew Brees Monday, Nov 9 2009 

As a New Orleans Saints fan since the beginning in 1967, I believe I’m qualified to comment on Saints quarterbacks over the years.  We’ve had some good ones (Bobby Hebert), some who could have been great had the supporting cast around them be4180C04F48324C7D93AC330A681BBFBEen equal to the task (Archie Manning), some disappointing ones (Aaron Brooks), and a herd of mediocre ones (beginning with Billy Kilmer and extending through the ages).

But Drew Brees is THE bomb.

Here’s an example of why I like Drew the most.  I just finished watching the Denver Broncos lose to the Steelers on Monday night football.  The Broncos quarterback, Kyle Orton (whose resemblance reminds me forever of the pass-pitching character Uncle Rico from the Napoleon Dynamite movie), has earned quite a reputation this year for “managing” his team’s conservative offense.  What that means, to me, is that as along as life is rosey, Orton’s low octane passing attack will keep the Broncos upright and afloat.

What happens to “Uncle Rico” as QB when adversity strikes, however?  The team falls behind, needs some quick strikes, but the quarterback is only styled to “manage” the game.

I’ll tell you what happens, based on what the Steelers did tonight: The quarterback-as-manager’s team goes down!  How dare Denver believe they’re going to succeed deep into the playoffs, much less the big dance, with a quarterback who can only “manage” the game as long as his team’s in the lead!

On the other hand, Drew Brees provides the answer for the Saints.  He not only manages the game, but he can dictate the game.  If his team falls behind a score or two, he’s the guy–not Kyle Orton or the like–who I want on my sideline.

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