A Contemplation for Monday Morn, New Year’s Eve Monday, Dec 31 2012 

My kinda Monday: more time to sip coffee, less time consumed by endless lists of inbox-clogging email; more crackling fire in the hearth, less chiming phone lit like a Christmas tree declaring voice mail and missed call alerts; more doggy heads to pat, less

Monday morning as Monday morning should be!

Monday morning as Monday morning should be!

stressful contention with unreasonable, disgruntled people; more freedom to muse patiently over the draft of a carefree blog post, less deadline-ridden slavery to composition of onerous accreditation compliance narratives;  in short, more time to do nothing, less crush to get more done.

Yes, as life should be on this fleeting, earthly side of eternity.

Humble Rewards of Teaching: Doctor Charges Most, but Teacher Knows Best Monday, Dec 24 2012 

Last July, I attended my second annual wellness appointment with the cardiac interventionist my family doctor referred me to the photo[4]year before.  The consultation lasted maybe 20 minutes with the interventionist’s physician’s assistant., not the cardiac interventionist, and the most sophisticated test the staff conducted was to take my blood pressure.  The price tag, covered by insurance, mercifully, was about $400.

For my $400, I only asked one question: I had been suffering for some months with a chronic heel aggravation: inflammation, swelling, all irritated by the running routine I try to maintain for cardiac wellness.  I took off my shoe and sock, I pointed to the swelling and pain, and asked about the condition.  The physician’s assistant looked disinterestedly but never as much as reached out to touch or examine the foot.  He made a few general comments about maybe taking an anti-inflammatory but more or less dismissed my ailment, never suggesting what I should do or could do to alleviate the pain to continue my workout routine.  I felt sort of betrayed,  even ripped off, considering the cost.

Anyway, no relief.  In the months since, the heel more or less worsened.  In the morning early, I could barely walk, and my former jogging routine fell on the hard times of chronic pain.  I was on the verge lately of giving up.

But last week, I visited a Calcasieu Parish high school where one of the coaches teaches an athletic training class that my college offers for dual high school and college credit.  I was so impressed with Coach D’s athletic injury lesson that after class, as we visited casually, I mentioned my heel.  I described the pain and showed him where it hurts when I press on the heel.  Coach D listened sympathetically and theorized, after my description and showing from where the pain emanated, that the pain results from bursitis.  He prescribed a stretching exercise and two to three twenty-minute ice therapy treatments per day.

I’ve followed that regimen since, and the immediate  results have been astounding.  The chronic pain is lessened dramatically, I can walk normally in the morning when I get out of bed, and I find myself able to jog without feeling crippled.  100 %, no, but getting there.

At the end of the day, “Teacher knows best!” (And charges least–Coach D didn’t send me a bill).

 

 

Peace on Earth: Hope of the Season Monday, Dec 17 2012 

DownloadedFileAfter the sickening tragedy last week at the Connecticut elementary school, “peace on earth” seems distant and unfathomable.   Maybe for that reason, we cling to  prayer and longing with that much more tenacity because faith and the hope of the season, all that we have to oppose the hatred and evil in our midst, drives us to believe harder.  And that’s why every Christmas, I repost this piece that I composed 9 years ago after visiting Alexandria, Louisiana in early December for a conference.  Walking out to the downtown levee after dark to see the Red River that night, I saw on the far shore an illuminated display with lights spelling out the hopeful message “Peace on Earth.”  But that message shimmered eerily, upside down in reflection on the  Red River’s dark, rippling current: a captivating, disturbing image . 

Peace on Earth?

By David Pulling

November 2003

(Composed along the levee at Alexandria)

“Oh, hush the noise, ye men of strife / And hear the angels sing!

–Edmund H. Sears

 

“Peace on Earth”

shimmering

upside down

 in lights’ reflection

on the dark, moon-dappled River.

Lord, we long to hear

 angels sing.

Save us

from

noise

and

men of  strife.

Rather

set peace aright

set our hearts aright

and

tune our ears

to hear

 angels sing.

Best Stop Meat Market: “Best” for the Season Thursday, Dec 13 2012 

Best

I follow Sarah into Best Stop, visions of boudin dancing in my head.

It’s been a while since I reviewed a food place, so here’s a good one for the season when folks will be shopping for their Christmas viandes and specialty foods, especially edibles of the Cajun persuasion.

In a sharp curve between Scott and the Ossun Community on northbound Louisiana 93, rural Lafayette Parish, slow down … not because of the curve, but to pull into the driveway of Best Stop.  Between Eunice and Lafayette, the sojourner will not find a finer Cajun specialty meat market.

Boudin, tasso, Turducken,  panse bourre’, gratons, grimilles de gratons, smoked sausage, stuffed just about anything you want, rib eyes and pork steaks, every specie of roast, on and on–the tourist can rest assured that this stuff is Prairie Cajun authentic, despite its humble outward appearance.

Once inside, an industrious staff shuffles up and down the aisles, behind the counters laden with juicy heaps and stacks and packages of every sort of meat imaginable, while noisy lines of patrons wait their turns to ask for customized cuts and orders.  And if you address the proprietor in Cajun French, he’ll answer you in same.  I thanked him “Merci bien” the last time we passed there, to which he promptly responded, as his eyes grew bright with pleasure to hear his language, “Mais, reviens”  (Come back).

So revenir no doubt I will to the Cajun Best Stop Meat Market and Grocery.

Humble rewards of the teaching profession: An intensely human enterprise… Friday, Dec 7 2012 

The end of any semester ends with a sigh of relief.   I know I have several weeks to breath air that’s seems a little lighter and cleaner than the stress-laden atmosphere of the final exam period.  To aid and abet the sensation of cleaner, lighter air, occasionally I’ll get some feedback from students that convinces me that some of them really did “get it.”  (Only another teacher can understand why we would ever wonder about such things!).

Teaching is an intensely human enterprise!

Teaching is an intensely human enterprise!

I got a couple of bouquets tossed my way this week in email from grateful students.  Since nobody’s going to pay me any more for doing a good job teaching, I’ll at least ingratiate myself by posting their remarks publicly here.

From a student in section 05:

I just want to thank you for everything you did. If i [sic] had anyother teacher i [sic] proubly [sic] wouldn’t have passed. You are one of the best teachers i [sic]ever had. You puched [sic] us to try for better and it worked.

The need for sic’s notwithstanding, this student really did grow in confidence and achievement as a writer, and I’ll accept some of the credit he ascribes.  The mechanical glitches notable result from our reluctant acquiescence to the “text generation” and their propensity for digital composition which strives more for speed than accuracy.  And I’m reasonably confident he meant I pushed them rather than puked them.  The bottom line is that I truly appreciate his affirmation of my pedagogy.

Here’s a bouquet from one of the online sections:

Just wanted to let you know that I was so excited with my finals grades for this class. Thank you for helping direct me and all of our classmates to do the best that we could in this class. I learned more than I imagined I could in an English class. It was a pleasure to take your class. Thank you again for your dedication and hard work that you do for LSUE and your students. Teachers like you really make a positive difference in students lives. Thank you again and have a very Merry Christmas!!

This writer is a little more polished.  What I particularly appreciate in her comment is that she affirms the specific qualities and traits that I strive to achieve as a teacher.  This job really is a calling!

T’is the season, not so merry–Final Exams! Tuesday, Dec 4 2012 

photo-18

Chillin’ between exams: High stakes holiday stress.

Students lounge in the lobby of the building outside the office day in and day out during the semester.  Ordinarily, the lobby hustles and bustles with chatter and good-natured banter.

But during final exams, a palpable but silent tension hangs in the air.  Instead of fiddling with smartphones and swapping tales of weekend party exploits, students flip nervously through flash cards,  pore assiduously over pages of notes etched on pages of spiral notebooks and binders, or dropsy-doopsy off into do-do land  from the hangover of last night’s cram session.  Lines of high stakes stress  are etched in the expressions of students just a week ago exuding the brash audacity of youth.  Yes, during final exam time in the hallways of the Community Education Classroom Building, death row is a less somber place!

Happy am I that I did my finals “daze” years ago, and now I’m on the less stressful giving rather than receiving end of the misery that’s doled out in this season, although mine is not all a lark.   After all, I am obliged to read and evaluate multiple sets of research papers and final exam essays, not all of which, mildly understated, are stellar works of rhetorical accomplishment.  Papers to grade notwithstanding, though, I wouldn’t trade places with these exam-struck.

Outside Looking In, or Vice Versa? Monday, Dec 3 2012 

IMG_0149Sadie and Marley really don’t know their station in life.  Whereas dogs should expect to inhabit the  outdoors, their fancy is the great indoors.

If inside is good enough for master, it’s good enough for dogs!