That holiday time of year . . . Good marriage, good football! Wednesday, Dec 30 2009 

A familiar pose before the TV.

I’m glad I have a wife who understands this time of year.

Matter of fact, Monday night when I rooted for the Bears to beat the Vikings to atone for the Saints

failure to take care of business on their own Sunday afternoon, she was right there in the living room with me,  cheering the Bears on.  (Geaux, Bears!  They won!).

And then from night to night this week of Bowls, she leaves the living room TV and the fire place all to me as she retreats to the  bedroom to watch her own shows.  (She’s not altogether lonely, since Ann-home-from-college spends most of the evening with her).

Nonetheless, thank God for a forbearing wife, friend, and fan.

Geaux, Tigers!  Geaux, Saints!

Holiday Dogs: Sadie’s and Marley’s Christmas Eve Sunday, Dec 27 2009 

Sadie and Marley enjoy the holidays as much as we.  Cozy living room fires, the family comings and goings, and abundant occasions for food and feast enliven the canine routines about as much as our own.

Marley (left) and Sadie (right) beg admittance to the family Christmas Eve party

So this pose from Christmas Eve is familiar.  On the occasion of this photo, we just arrived from the service at church to begin our family gathering.   The dogs plainly perceived the kitchen sounds of crinkling foil, the opening and closing of the refrigerator door, and the jangling of silverware and pot lids as Sarah uncovered dishes and spread the table.   Ever vigilant, especially when an opportunity to advance their well-being is at hand, our furry buddies clamored at the door with insistent body language demanding, “Let us in!”

Poor babies, their persistence backfired on this occasion.  We ignored their antics as long as we could, but their clamoring and jumping and scratching on the window became such a nuisance that we granted their admittance on our terms, not theirs: We dragged the poor babies by their collars to  kennel captivity in the darkened spare bedroom until the party ended.

They gave us no further trouble, and they did get to come out during the party cleanup in time to lick the cheese dip off a paper plate or two.  Bless their  puppy hearts and their innocent, trusting natures, they were happy enough with those spare morsels of kindness.

An infamous Christmas Eve in South Louisiana: Peace and good will, or not, . . . Thursday, Dec 24 2009 

The scene a couple of blocks from our kids' house this morning after the tornado came calling.

we’re a human race in need of grace!  This Christmas Eve scene  from my son’s neighborhood just north of Crowley, Louisiana, suggests Mother Nature isn’t concerned with our holiday traditions.  The scene truly is grim, and as a parent, to consider this destruction was wreaked just 3 blocks from where my kids and grandchild slept . . . what, indeed,  can I say?

Except thanks be to God and the mysterious work of grace.  The violence of the storm is utterly random–one block this way or that, sometimes from one side of the street to the next, can make such a vast difference.  One parent’s prayers answered, another’s not, or at least not answered in our way.

Our prayers were answered our way–Sarah admitted that when the TV station began issuing the warnings more quickly than we could process them, she fell in prayer and committed our children’s safety to His protection.  So  we declare “Thanks be to God”  who Dickens described in A Christmas Carol as “the Almighty Founder of Christmas.”  I’ve always liked that characterization.

I went with Zach this afternoon to set up my generator at their place to keep the refrigerator and freezer charged up–the estimate for power restoration is five to seven days, but considering the house is whole in comparison to so many unfortunate neighbors, that’s not a very bitter pill to swallow at all.  My generator needs a workout anyway.

Of course, we pray for our neighbors in the subdivision whose Christmas plans were devastated as much by the tornado as their homes.    I kind of felt guilty leaving the neighborhood earlier this afternoon to come home and begin my own preparations for a Christmas Eve that will go on normally for us.

Home for the Holidays: A Nice Day Tuesday, Dec 22 2009 

Mama  outdid herself today.

(But isn’t that what Mama’s do?)

The family tarries at the table after lunch: A good time was had by all.

A few months after her 84th birthday, she declined the opportunity for a Picadilly “Leave the cooking/dishwashing/housekeeping to us” event in favor of hosting one of her trademark family meals. Today’s menu was a soup ‘n sandwich smorgasboard featuring two species of soup, including Mama’s celebrated potato soup.

The gathering was hardly comprehensive as reunions go, but a couple of cousins we don’t see often enough were there, along with Aunt Marion and all of my little gang .

We made the journey a day trip, almost 12 hours and 300 miles from start to finish, all told.

A tiring day?  Yes.

A rewarding day?  Yes, too.

Thanks, Jesus, for an occasion to celebrate!

Grandparents’ Christmas: T’is the season of “Chere baby” Wednesday, Dec 16 2009 

Payton gazes through the plate glass window inside the Acadian Center at LSU Eunice, looking at the water fountain just beyond.

Payton Eliza”buff” spent the day with Honey (and to a lesser degree Papa, who had to work most of the day).  Payton’s Mommy had decked out our little darling in Christmas plaid.   She visited the office during the morning and entertained the staff.  Later she went shopping with Honey, where at every turn passers-by exclaimed, “Chere, baby.  She’s so cute!”

When it’s your kid folks compliment, it feels good.  But when it’s your grandkid, you bask in others’ adulation of the child–You feel like, “Hey, not only can I produce an offspring, I can produce an offpsring that can produce an offspring as cute as this!”

All this leads to a lingistic observation on the unique idiomatic “Chere” (pronounced “sha” with the same vowel sound as bat or cat).  The word’s literal translation from French is “dear,” but believe me, when a Cajun uses that word to describe some truly precious being, like a baby or a little puppy dog or some other endearing creature, no word or phrase of the English tongue captures the connotation.  You have to be Cajun or live around Cajuns for a good while to truly appreciate the depth and beauty of that cultural expression.

Papa's and Honey's "chere baby" is the center of attention on the shopping rounds.

“The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes”: I Saw it today in Louisiana! Monday, Dec 14 2009 

The yell

Fog sets in for the day in South Louisiana. Not much to see across the prairie.

I’ve always admired T. S. Eliot’s brilliant personification in the line from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”  I never did get the whole poem, but that one figure of speech is awesome.

Good poetic metaphors can evoke striking sensory images and associations.  Today, for the first time in my life,  I saw Eliot’s “yellow fog.”  That’s a  significant personal marker, because I’ve lived on the oft fog-ridden Gulf Coast almost all of my life.

This photo I took today from the parking lot at LSU Eunice looks like an 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. scene we’re used to seeing this time of year.  But I shot this photo at  1:20 p.m.!

I won’t go so far as to say I’ve never seen such persistent fog so late in the day, but if I have, I don’t remember it.

Thursday night at the Winn Dixie: The Old Folks NOT at Home Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

Sarah in the check-out line. Isn't this romantic?

I despise the short days this time of year.  At 6:00 p.m., full darkness descends.   The raw cold weather, like today, just magnifies the dreariness and the interminable length of the evenings.   I am tormented by the memory of summer  when we stayed out until 8:00 or 9:00 almost every evening, jogging or bike riding or lawn working.  Winter’s alter ego doesn’t rest well with active us.

Ordinarily, I avoid shopping errands, except here lately these past few weeks as I’ve struggled to get used to the short days, I’ve found an after-dinner trip to Winn Dixie or WalMart is entertaining.  After all, what’s the alternative?  Plop like a couch potato and watch Vanna flip letters on Wheel of Fortune?  No, I can do better than that.  The trip to Winn Dixie keeps me moving, working off the after-dinner fullness, and also moves the clock a little later in the evening so the night doesn’t seem as long.

Hanging out with Sarah’s cool, too.  If we stayed home, we’d be in separate rooms watching different shows or doing different things.  In these empty nest era of our lives, the company of one another is more important than when we had the kids demanding all the attention.  (No offense, Zach and Ann.)

Maybe tomorrow night we’ll go to WalMart and check out the men’s underwear sale.  I do need to update my wardrobe in that regard.  (Whether you wanted to know that or not, now you do–That’s what you get for reading this blog.)

Geaux Sneaux, soft and gentle, way down yonder in Lou’siane Tuesday, Dec 8 2009 

THe view from the front porch Friday night, December 3, as graceful snow fell from the heavens!

I can’t believe I let last Friday night’s snow event get by without blogging it.  I mean, two years in a row we had measurable snowfall events in December, this year’s episode breaking last year’s episode for the earliest on record in these parts.   And before 2008, the last memory any of us have of measurable snow was about 20 years ago.  Makes a body scratch his head about  global warming: Is it, or ain’t it?

Anyway, I posted a Facebook status update Friday night with this picture, adding some corny line about the “gently falling snow.”  I know to folks from snowy regions, “gently falling snow” is a cliche, but the silence and grace of falling snow is such a remarkable sensory image that the description is irresistible, particularly for deep-fried, Deep South, Gulf Coast southerners.

The coverage didn’t last long since the temperature rose to the upper 40’s Saturday, but even Sunday morning on the lee sides of the rooftops and in open areas not exposed to the sun, Friday night’s  memory persisted with patches of white that didn’t completely disappear until Sunday.

How about a repeat along about December 24?  That would really be on for the record.

Geaux, sneaux!

Is there Monday Night Football in Heaven? Wednesday, Dec 2 2009 

If there is, I know who watched the Saints take down the Patriots in a true statement-making game: My late father-in-law, Tommy Morris, Sr., who passed away in ’05 after enduring almost 40 frustrating and futile years of Saints-fandom.

Papaw with his granddaughter Ann, his last Christmas '04 with no Saints post-season heroics to celebate

All the years I knew him, he was the quintessential, long-suffering Saints fan.  Sunday afternoon routines revolved around the Saints game, which inevitably and invariably involved watching the game amid fussing, fuming, grumbling and groaning: More often than not, the Saints just weren’t that good.  And even in  rare seasons when they made the Playoffs, they never succeeded at that level.

But from week to week, season to season, he was right back in front of the TV, ready to take  the next dose of bitterness: blowing an early lead by falling apart in the second half, losing in the fourth by a pick six or a fumble, or just getting blown out by a  superior team.  Seems like failure was the perennial destiny for PaPaw Morris’s Saints.

So he missed out, at least in his earthly sojourn, on this super-sensational season the Saints have enjoyed so far.  Sarah’s remarked any number of times this fall as we watch the Saints do to other teams what other teams used to do to the Saints, “I sure wish Daddy could have lived to see this!”  We repeated that wish Monday night as “the Brees and friends” blew New England out of the Super Dome.

Pierre Thomas gallops to six against the Pats Mon. night. (Photo from NOSaints website)

But if heaven is the kind of place I believe it is, I don’t find it’s inconsistent with scripture to suspect that Papaw Morris was looking on Monday, probably with a 50-yard line seat in a luxury sky box in heaven, smiling down on the Saints and on us.   It’ll  be nice  to join him one day up there in that sky box.  Meanwhile,  we’ll enjoy the simple earthly pleasure of our team’s success, imagining him cheering his black and gold right along with us.

Geaux, Saints!