Remembering “Katrina” Tuesday, Aug 30 2011 

An ugly image then as well as now. We will never forget.

Katrina struck on August 29, 2005.  On August 30 six years later, I recalled what was going on by visiting the journal I kept that year. 

Tonight on the weather news, our local meteorologist told us the new “K” storm goes by a different name, since the historic and memorable name “Katrina” is retired.  No future hurricane will bear that awful name.  Here is the entry from six years ago today:.

The day after Katrina. “Katrina.” What will that name mean to future generations on the Gulf Coast?   Sort of like Betsy and Camille, name of  Katrina will be the “Grand Dame”  of Gulf Coast hurricanes.  Seeing the water rising in New Orleans disturbs me greatly.  It’s kept me distracted all day at work to the point that I can’t focus.  “This is my Father’s world; I rest me in the thought.”  What else can I say?  Except “I rest me in the thought “ is kind of tough

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Country Roads Acadiana: The Worthmore 5 & 10 Thursday, Aug 25 2011 

Open for business in downtown Rayne, LA

In the downtown square in Rayne, Louisiana, a small town in the heart of rural Acadia Parish, at the juncture of Main Street and the railroad tracks,  this respectable business stands as a proud relic of yesterday: the Worthmore 5 & 10.  I suppose stores like the contemporary Dollar Tree and Dollar General represent the contemporary genre spun by the original five and dimes, so it’s really intriguing to find one of the prototypes still standing and open for business.

I didn’t have time to go in–I wonder how much of the merchandise is truly “5 and 10.”  Nickels and dimes by themselves don’t buy very much any more.  Looking through the display windows from the street, though, the wares looked like the conventional stock of lower-scale department stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General.

The building is a little run-down, the paint a little splotchy, and the sign a little rusty, but she’s open for business.  So Country Roads, Acadiana salutes the Worthmore 5 & 10, a small town throwback to former years.

The Sun Sets on Summer ’11: “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date” Sunday, Aug 21 2011 

The sun sets on the Cajun Prairie as the sun sets on Summer 2011

Summer is another season of work in the Continuing Education Office at LSU Eunice, but it’s a mellow season, a season of moderate days without much needing to be done on-the-road or after-hours.  And then the days are long enough so that after punching out at the office, we get to tack on another “day at play” of yard working, working out, bike riding, walking the dogs, or whatever else fits our fancy until the sun sets sometime after 8:00.  Long, tiring days, but tiring on our terms–That makes all the difference.

The first day of class of the fall semester pretty much signals the end of the mellow summer season, though, and that end occurs tomorrow with the new semester beginning.  So tonight I feel blue.  The next couple of weeks will feature extra-long days NOT on our own terms, hundreds of miles of administrative travel away from the office, and not nearly as much after-hours time to do what I like to do.  And let’s not forget the climatological shortening of the days as summer oozes into fall.  Yes, the innocent summer “daze” have passed.

So here’s to auld lang syne, Summer 2011: What will I remember about this season past?

  • Celebrating Ann’s graduation in the French Quarter started the party in May.
  • Moving Ann into her single “grownup” apartment in Baton Rouge.
  • Friday afternoon trips to the new Rouse’s Market in Lafayette.
  • Long runs and bike rides along Eunice’s Park Avenue.
  • Payton Elizabeth playing in the whale pool in the back yard.
  • Cooking out on the patio.
  • Driving those shiny new Toyotas: a Tundra for Pop and a Highlander for Mom.
  • Preparing Sunday School lessons from the fascinating Prophet Jeremiah’s magnum opus.
  • Hot, hot, hot, dry, dry, dry: But no hurricanes thanks to hot and dry high pressure!

If I brainstormed a while longer, I’d lengthen the list.  But for now, suffice it to say summer 2011 was a highlight reel of empty-nest middle-agedness.  I wish I could do it again, and I can, but I guess I’ll have to put in another 9 months at the grindstone.  So let the next nine months begin tomorrow.   Mid-May 2012 can’t come soon enough!

Shakespeare knew how I feel when he wrote,  “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

The Pedagogue’s Lament: A Back-to-School Post Thursday, Aug 18 2011 

“The Pedagogue’s Lament”

December 1994

 

Oh, Socrates!  Can you teach the torch to burn bright?

I gasp for sustenance in pestilent air.

Hour to hour the prison bell sounds as regular as Granny-on-ex-lax.

Disaffection files out,

Disaffection files in–

the ebb and flow of meaninglessness.

 

Glossy acrylic

Before me stretch imposing rows of glossy acrylic crisply arrayed in linear rank,

molded in the accommodating shape of human posteriors

(one size fits all);

I am stripped of sovereignty, yoked with stratified, codified, deified curricular guide

passed down from high bureaucratic places, putting objects to learn in proper places

(one behavioral objective fits all).

Save me, ere I perish,

choking on this foul blight!

 

The Jargon of the Redeemed: “Providentially Hindered” Sunday, Aug 14 2011 

It’s been years since I posted a “jargon of the redeemed” piece, so why not tackle this peculiar expression?  I recall it uttered in Sunday morning prayer as a youngster at the Lee Hill Mission when Brother Neelus was called upon to lead.  Inevitably and invariably, at some point in his prayer, he prayed something like this:

“And Lord, bless those who are not here this morning because they are providentially hindered.”

As a youngster, I was fascinated by the diction:  five syllables in providentially comprised such an impressive sounding word, and on top of that, modifying such a vivid verb as hindered!  But what does it mean?

Well, the root of providentially is providence, a classic synonym for God.  Hindered, the past tense of hinder, suggests the connotation of bothereddisturbed. or interfered with.

So, if one is providentially hindered, he must be bothered or held up or disturbed by God?  How does that play out at church?

Brother so-and-so missed services today.  When accosted by Sister so-and-so, he explains, “God impressed me so strongly with the allure and beauty of nature that I just had to go fishing to experience creation.  I was truly hindered by providence”–ergo, providentially hindered.

The following week, sister so-and-so missed the service.  When accosted by Brother so-and-so, she replied, “God convicted me of neglecting my children during the week, so we went on a family outing at the mall.   It broke my heart not to attend church, but I had to honor God’s conviction”–ergo, providentially hindered.

Hmmmmm . . . why would God put hindrances in peoples’ way of doing the right thing?

If you ask me, providentially hindered is just another excuse.  And what is an excuse?  “The frailest of human inventions.”

The point: How dare we blame God for our frailty!

Be Not Righteous: It all depends on grace! Thursday, Aug 11 2011 

Be Not Righteous

By David Pulling

May 2008

Be 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)

Those

In whose hearts

Praise leaps up for grace

Free

To the human race.

iPhoneless: Is there life after death? Monday, Aug 8 2011 

Life's too short without smart phones?

Last night after an all-day road trip to Bogalusa, panic set in: My iPhone low-battery alert icon sounded, so I plugged her in to recharge–Nothing.

The customary battery-charging icon didn’t pop up on the screen as the “low battery” indicator continued to glow.  I tried swapping the charger cords with no effect.  Even plugged into the iMac produced no reaction–iTunes didn’t recognize the dying device.

This morning, the scant life left in the iPhone faded into a darkened screen.  The IT department at work declared the phone hopelessly dead.

Now I’m waiting on the replacement, at least a couple of days hence.  I’m wondering how tomorrow will go, with me on the road in Alexandria all day without phone or text.

Is “phoneless” a blessing or a curse?  I shall find out soon!

Meanwhile, dear friends, text me not, nor call me.  Hopefully, life resumes on the after-morrow when the replacement phone arrives.

Eyewitness: Crime Scene Drama at the Y! Thursday, Aug 4 2011 

Returning home from a business trip to Alexandria yesterday afternoon, I noticed some excitement going on at the Citizens Bank in Pine Prairie– a couple of Evangeline

EPSO on scene after a bank robbery: I passed this scene around the time this picture was taken. Photo from KATCTV website.

Parish Sheriff’s units were parked in the lot alongside a local TV news vehicle.   “Whoa!” thought I, but then I chuckled to myself as I considered that for once, it’s safe to drive faster than 45 through town since the Pine Prairie local yokel cop, whose customary occupation is running a radar speed trap on the highway, would be preoccupied with whatever was going on in that bank.  Amused, I drove on.

I stopped about 6 miles down the road at the Y Not Stop truck stop to fuel up the university fleet vehicle I was driving.  As I pulled up to the pump and got out, I noticed a pickup at the next island.  I young woman smiled politely in a friendly manner as we briefly made eye contact, and I went about my business.  Immediately, though, I noticed I had parked on the wrong side of the pump to get to the car’s gas cap, so somewhat irked, I decided to go into the station and use the restroom before I moved the car around to another pump to complete the fill-up.

Inside the station, another guy walked into the restroom before me, so I had to wait.  In the lobby at the same time I passed a young man with a little girl by the hand.  I overheard briefly his question to the little girl, seemingly his daughter: “You can’t wait till we get home?”

“Chere baby,” thought I.  He put her into the ladies’ room and told her he’d wait right outside the door until she came out.  A moment or two later, I got to get into the men’s room and was shortly on the way back to the pumps to move the car to the other side.  Just as I was getting into the car, a sheriff’s unit pulled into the driveway and stopped perpendicular to the front of the pickup where the young woman sat.  At the same time, a second sheriff’s squad car maneuvered into the lot and parked perpendicular to the rear of the pickup.   Whoa!  Obviously, some kind of intrigue was brewing.

I was in a hurry to move then, so I drove around to a pump on the far side of the lot and began fueling.  I overheard one of the sheriff’s deputies calling out, “M’am” as I saw the young woman in the pickup walking toward the store.  They motioned her to come back and stay.  I couldn’t see everything that was going on because several cars were between me and all this unfolding drama, but the plot thickened when the young man with the little girl in the store came out with the little girl walking alongside.  He had an Icee drink in each hand, presumably one for him and one for his wife.  The sheriff’s deputies met him and began a conversation.  I could see little and hear less, but after a minute or two, an unmarked SUV with blue lights flickering in the grill came racing in from the north.  The lawman in that vehicle swirled into the station lot and joined the two sheriff’s deputies.  Shortly, the business-like questioning and conversation that had seemed to be going on escalated.  Again, I could not see clearly and heard less, but an obvious scuffle erupted and the lawmen ended up taking down the young man.  When they got him up, he was handcuffed and was getting tucked into the back seat of one of the squad cars.

I’ve been following the news to find out exactly what  I witnessed, and the connection to the bank robbery in Pine Prairie seems pretty firm.  KLFY-TV is running a piece this morning that sheds more light.  I’ll be following this story with interest in the days to come.

Moral of the story?  Hmmmm . . . you just never know what people you casually rub shoulders with in the public are going through.  Here was a normal-looking family, getting gas and Icee’s and taking a potty break at the filling station, but my, what disturbing secrets lurked beneath the surface!  Since the husband and wife were both arrested, I also wonder what happened to the little girl who witnessed the scene.  That’s the most disturbing part of the drama, which overall was very unsettling.  I’d rather not be so close to criminal investigations.