Payton Elizabuff’s Extended Sleepover Saturday, Jul 31 2010 

Payton Elizabuff agreeably prepares to bed down for sweet dreams at Honey's and Papa's

Payton arrived on schedule this evening as her folks dropped her off on their way to Florida for a child-less escape.  Parting with the little squirt was a lot tougher on the parents than it was on the kid.

Excited to be at Honey’s and Papa’s house and to sleep in Aunt Ann’s bed with the purple comforter, the grandchild’s first night away from home seemed like an exciting adventure.  She was happy as a lark and went down for sleep without the slightest whimper of protest.

Why are kids so well-behaved for grandparents?  We were warned of pre-bedtime crankiness, but nothing materialized.  The child was a perfect and adorable angel for Honey and Papa.  Kids’ limitlessly cheerful deportment with grandparents is a mystery of the universe!

We’ve laid plans for the three days ahead: a visit to church tomorrow to show her off to our friends, lunch at the Chinese buffet, cooling off from the dog days heat in the whale pool, and then a trip to Baton Rouge Monday to take Aunt Ann out to lunch.

Why weren’t our own kids so easy to manage?

Another of those mysteries of the universe.

Pottiness is next to holiness Thursday, Jul 29 2010 

Payton Elizabuff knows how to potty.

Granddaughter Payton is officially and finally potty trained.

Who else but a 2 year old would be so proud to display her pottiness for all the world to see?

I don’t think I could pull off a sitting-on-the-potty pic as smoothly as my little angel.  She’s cuteness; I’d be branded a pervert.  LOL.

Meanwhile, her Mommy and Daddy are excited to save so much $$$ on diapers.  Not to mention the stinky-winkies of dipey-doos.

Country Roads, Americana: The Road That Leads to Home! Monday, Jul 26 2010 

Getting off the hard-charging, stressed-out, lane-changing mania along Interstate 10 across southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana was a relief this afternoon as I drove the not-quite 400 miles back home from the Austin area.

Turn left, fellow: Home is nigh!

Life is simpler on two-lane, secondary state highways.  You might run up on a slow-poke from time to time, but how much better that problem than keeping up with five lanes of freeway traffic wondering if you should be in this lane or that lane while the traffic swirls around you, as if you could change lanes anyway, even if you knew the lane you belonged in.

So following the peaceful home-leading roads coursing the prairie from I-10  through fields planted with sweet potatoes and soybeans and milo, I arrived safe at last.

Country roads are best, especially when they lead home!

Country Roads, Americana: Texas Hill Country Saturday, Jul 24 2010 

A view from the Crossings Retreat Center outside of Austin, TX.

My National Writing Project role occasionally requires me to travel highways and biways, often outside city limits. These past few days, I’ve worked at a resource development retreat at The Crossings Conference Center just outside of Austin.

A colleague from mountainous Montana got a kick out of my description of driving up the steep, winding road to the retreat center as I compared the drive to soaring upwarad in a rocket. To a Rocky Mountain Montanan, these Texas hills are not serious mountains. But to a coastal Gulf Coast prairie dweller like me, they’re prodigious!

Mountains or not, the high ridges presiding over Lake Travis and the valley below do provide a lofty vantage point for observation and reflection–visual as well as cognitive.

What device did God instill in the human spirit that equates high places with visual observation as well as spiritual reflection? I can’t explain it, except maybe God knew we needed extraordinary motivation from time to time to dwell on important matters. So he designed hills and mountains.

And this weekend, I’m among those high places–Thanks, God, for your awesome creation. Looking down from these rugged hills, I’m drawn  inexorably to You.

The Certain Cone of Uncertainty Thursday, Jul 22 2010 



The certain season of uncertainty is underway

I blogged on this topic a few years ago when were we waiting for an imminently more serious storm, Gustav. Four or five days out, my house was smack in the middle of the 5 day cone. The Hurricane Center warns not to pay attention to the center of the cone, but that’s really not easy to do when the mid-line of the track goes over your rooftop. We kinda lucked out with Gustav, a blown to bits patio cover notwithstanding, since the worst of that bad boy passed just to our east.

Tropical Depression 3, perhaps soon to become Tropical Storm Bonnie, is no Gustav, but here I am again living in the middle of the cone. The forecast now is not for a strong storm and, indeed, the latest speculation is that the track might be shifted a little more to the right. Good news for me, bad news for the oil spill. Nonetheless, life’s a little on the edge anytime your address falls in the “conal zone.” Especially this week, since I’m in Austin, TX, working at a conference, not scheduled to return home until Monday.

So with due certainty, I shall continue to monitor the cone of uncertainty. Tis the season to b e certain of uncertainty along the merry Gulf of Mexico, and such is our lot.

All eyes on the skies . . . Daughter Ann’s on the Way! Monday, Jul 19 2010 

Continental Flight 98

Status: In Flight – Estimated to Arrive 26 Minutes Early
DEPARTS
ARRIVES
City: Hong Kong (HKG)
Gate: 21
Check-in Terminal: Rm 6T247 Passenger Terminal
Scheduled Time: 10:25 a.m.
Scheduled Date: Tue., Jul. 20, 2010
Actual Time: 10:21 a.m.
Actual Date: Tue., Jul. 20, 2010
City: New York/Newark, NJ (EWR – Liberty)
Gate: B68
Terminal: Terminal B
Scheduled Time: 1:55 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Tue., Jul. 20, 2010
Estimated Time: 1:29 p.m.
Estimated Date: Tue., Jul. 20, 2010

At Olive Garden: Eggplant Parmesiana Forever Saturday, Jul 17 2010 

Nobody leaves hungry from Olive Garden!

Sarah and I spent the afternoon knocking around Lafayette, looking for shoes on sale and Saints polo shirts.  We found shoes but no shirts.

About mid-afternoon, having missed lunch and figuring we’d miss supper too, we agreed on Olive Garden for a combined lunch and supper:  2 meals for the price of one.

We both ordered the egg plant parmigiana.  When I looked at the calorie count for this dish at Olive Garden’s website, I’m glad our order counted for two meals.  We both ate all, including the tantalizing salad, with no leftovers for take-home boxes.  And we were past full.

Even by discriminating Cajun standards, this Italian dish which includes spaghetti on the side, is tasty.

Vive le scie-bleme parmagiana!

Comparative Bathrooms: What incommodious commodes! Wednesday, Jul 14 2010 

An old-fashioned American outhouse similar to Ernest's and Annie's

As a youngster, I remember going to Mrs. Annie’s and Mr. Ernest’s outhouse on the dairy farm to use the restroom.   The “restroom” was a wooden shack out back housing a wooden bench with a hole cut out in the accommodating shape and size of a human posterior.  The place smelled pretty rotten, reeking of hard-core feces and other excrement, but the Sears and Roebuck Catalog was right there on the bench to help you ignore the odor while you tended to business.  And as a youngster, the sound effects of “bombs away” splashing into the  bottom of  the deep hole  was fascinating.  After you finished studying the catalog’s listing of mail-order lawn mowers or underwear or garden hoses, you ripped out that page for the “handy-wipe” and “Presto!”  Done with the job.  No need to flush: you’d just drop the wipe down the hole, pull up your britches, and return to business.

Compare Mr. Ernest and Ms.Annie’s Early American arrangement to this modern commode Ann found in China.  This is one of the first pix that came back to us after she settled in over there in late May/early June.

A Chinese Commode, or a Chinese hole in theground hooked up to plumbing?

I honestly think I’d prefer the outhouse.  At least the bench was high enough to sit (rather than squat).  With this Oriental contraption, my imagination “feels” something wet and cold pressing against my bottom.  Ugh!

The experts claim that the Chinese economy is taking over our own in this global age. Hopefully, that takeover will not involve bathroom fixtures.  I’d return to Ernest and Annie’s outhouse, I believe, before squatting over this ceramic-lined hole in the floor.

LSU Girls in China: A Photo Essay (for the lazy writer) Monday, Jul 12 2010 

The Oriental adventure of a lifetime for these LSU coeds. Daughter Ann is far left.

This is an interesting pose: What Far Eastern meditations are on these American minds?

The Americans sing along with their Chinese buddies. Learning English never was so fun!

Soccer, anyone? (Ann's on the far right here.)

Uh, how bad do you need to use the bathroom?

An American lineup: Do these American coeds in China look like criminal types?

I feel like updating the blog this evening, but I don’t have any fresh ideas for writing.  So here are some pix Ann and her friends  sent to us from China over the past couple of months.  These LSU girls’ lives will never be the same after this Oriental adventure.

Payton Elizabuff and Papa’s Happy Saturday Saturday, Jul 10 2010 

I was a little leary of being left alone with Payton Elizabuff for a couple of hours Saturday morning while Honey sang for a wedding, but I figured the risk was worthy.  So the little squirt came about 8:40 this morning.  Honey left for the wedding at 9:00, so it was Payton and Papa for two hours.

Payton Elizabuff, Papa's little girl!

She was so good that I didn’t miss a lick in what I wanted to do for the morning.  She helped me unload the washing machine and hang the clothes on the line, for which I rewarded her with a round of “finging” (swinging) on the clothesline swing.

After swinging, I got out the pressure washer and did some back yard fence cleaning while she played amicably with her Dora the Explorerer car on the patio with Marley the Dog as her chief playmate.

After the fence cleaning, we hung out on the front porch with some cheese cracker snacks (witnessing Marley’s momentary escape b/c Papa forgot to latch the back yard gate after the pressure washing).  Then when we got too hot and sweaty, we entered the house and Papa played some merry Cajun tunes on his accordeon while Payton danced energetically, so much at one point that she lost her balance and crashed her cheekbone into the coffee table–a momentary inconvenience from which she bounced back in moments.

The fact that she’s potty trained just this week past certainly helped–Papa promised months before Payton’s arrival that he was retired from changing diapers–and the big girl’s performance on the potty this morning was a big plus in Papa’s “enablement” to keep the little squirt flirt.

In the end, what a happy Saturday!

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