Upon the Windswept Erie Shore: A Memoir in Sonnet Wednesday, Mar 27 2013 

I can’t believe I never blogged this piece that I wrote in 1998 after a conference in Cleveland, Ohio.  It’s cool to post it now because my English 1002 students are visiting this blog, and they’re reading some sonnets in their course readings.  May they see that their teacher is also a practitioner of the craft!

Sonnet 3

Upon the Windswept Erie Shore

(For Sarah Ann, Upon my being homesick in Cleveland!)

By David L. Pulling

November 1998

Upon the windswept Erie shore I stand

The windswept Erie shore

The windswept Erie shore

And cast my gaze across the inland main.

Pond’rous billowing clouds roll o’er the land

As weary thoughts besiege my homesick brain.


How rude the bitter gale dispelleth cheer!

Her icy darts so penetrate my soul!

And I a stranger, a wayfarer here,

Am cast forlorn upon this foreign shoal.

O bright sun, why refusest thou to smile,

To melt away the chilling loneliness?

How long must I endure this winter vile?

When love’s glad union shall I repossess?

But soft!  I’ll close mine eyes and of thee dream–

O love, console me by the fairy stream!


No, it snot fun . . . but may be funny. Saturday, Mar 23 2013 

No, the title doesn’t result from a typo.  This post deals with snot, the slimy, sleazy stuff of nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, and, yay, even boogers.

snot funny

This dude is not me, but he looks like I felt Friday morning.

Well, not maybe boogers just yet.

Lately, I qualify as an authority on the subject of nasal cavity mucous, having been diagnosed  yesterday with right maxillary sinusitis, a condition born of itchy-scratchy eyes and throat burning from seasonal allergies that set in a little over a week ago (see the March 18 post for this blog).  In the process of voiding all the slime and mucous prompted by the pollen-laden spring atmosphere, some channel or passageway in the maxillary sinus clogged up.

Yes, something made the snot clot. Snot really does clot, and when it clots in the maxillary sinus, it hurts!

In short order, painful infection set in, so to the physician I repaired.  Assigned to a two week regimen of antibiotics  (with decongestant and ibuprofen ordered for symptomatic measure), I’ll ride out this malady as best I can.  And facing a dental appointment first thing Monday  morning to repair a broken filling for a tooth that’s rooted directly in the infected maxillary sinus, I hope to note some progress over the weekend in reducing swelling and discomfort in that region.

No, it snot fun, but writing about snot can be funny.

Sick “Daze”: Use ’em–You can’t take them with you! Monday, Mar 18 2013 

Sometimes, a day of rest is better for healing than the side-effect inducing medicine.

Sometimes, a day of rest is better for healing than the side-effect inducing medicine.

The spring pollen season started messing with my sinuses last Thursday.  By Friday, I was teary-eyed, scratchy-throated, and runny-nosed to the point of moderate to severe misery.  The symptoms persisted, with some ebb and flow of severity, over the weekend.  In spite of the discomfort and the general lack of pep, though, I succeeded in slogging through the days to keep up a more or less normal weekend routine.

Now to Monday morning.  I woke up early, tossing and turning with that achy lower back feeling common with viruses and colds. The debate began: Call in sick, or go to work?

In former days, like last year or any of the years before, the debate wouldn’t have lasted long.  I’d reason that I will feel as bad at home as I will at the office, so I may as well save my accumulated leave for a time when I may need it more.  For the past 26 years as an educator, I’ve worked sick dozens of more days than I’ve taken off.   I’ve been a model of dependability for showing up for work, in fact.

So what’s different now?

DROP!  (Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana Deferred Retirement Option Plan).  Yes, I am actually retired but exercising an option to continue working to reap some of the nicer fringe benefits (among the few fringe benefits, mind you!) of a career in public service.  So why not behave as a retired person?  The facts lay before me:

  • I have a legitimate illness that impairs my ability to do a normal day’s work.
  • I  worked all day Friday with these symptoms and the attendant discomfort (as well as volunteer service working for two baseball games Saturday, time given over to the institution that could have been invested in rest and healing).
  • I have almost 260 days of accumulated sick leave (that’s days, not hours), of which only a miniscule percentage are useful for post-retirement credit for either service or monetary compensation)
  • My calendar for today was unusually free of meetings and obligations.

So the decision was easy.  I fed the dogs, poured an extra cup of coffee, watched the second hour of the good morning news, and enjoyed this morning as if it were another Saturday morning.

As the morning went along, I found my symptoms gradually improved.  Buzzed by the caffeine boost, after an hour or two I got to some correspondence with a couple of online classes and then caught up with email from the office.

After such a productive mid-morning outburst, a while ago, as noon approached, I began reasoning:  “Maybe I should go in for the afternoon?”

But then I thought better of that idea.  Nope–If I’m gonna do this sick daze thing, at this point in my career, I’m gonna do it right.

Happy days are here again: Welcome, DST! Monday, Mar 11 2013 

The season for patio dwelling has arrived.

The season for patio dwelling has arrived.

This afternoon after work, I jogged.  I ate supper.  I ran an errand to tank up the vehicles for trips tomorrow.  I washed and dried Sarah’s car.  I played with the dogs.  I put out the trash.  I sprayed herbicide on some winter grass growing in the wrong places around the patio.  I swept out the garage.  I piddled around, looking for other chores to do and played some more with the dogs.

And still the sun shone.  Weakly by now, 7:30 or so, but I marveled at all the works my hands had wrought in a productive three hour burst.

DST is just one more reason spring is the top season in these parts.  Trees and lawns  green, shedding the drab of winter; audacious  blossoms on shrubs and trees burst into cascading floral displays; and  mild days last longer so we can celebrate as patio and back yard dwellers.

It’s gonna be a great spring–I felt it this evening!




In Search for les objets d’art: Simplicity and Functionality in Packaging Wednesday, Mar 6 2013 

I recall very few products from childhood till now that have not undergone substantial changes in packaging and presentation.   For example, a gallon of paint always came in round metal cans; now, the containers are plastic and rectangular.  Potato chips came in paper bags; now the bags are plastic.  Milk  came in glass bottles; now plastic.  Carbonated beverages came in tin cans that we opened with a can opener, now aluminum with pull tabs.  Yes, the marvels of technology abound for the contemporary consumer.  But, oh, so much plastic??

Simplicity and functionality in packaging: Salt of the earth!

Simplicity and functionality in packaging: Salt of the earth!  Simplicity and functionality that stand the test of time.

Thus, it’s refreshing to see a product whose packaging over the years remains unchanged:

To wit, the humble container of salt!  As 50 plus years ago, still cylindrical in shape, still cardboard, still the same size, still with a pop-up pouring spout.

Vraiment, un object d’art et simplicite’!

A Cheap (and Decent) Thrill in New Orleans: The Canal Street Ferry Ride Monday, Mar 4 2013 

Mother and Daughter absorb the brilliants lights approaching the Canal Street landing after crossing to the Algiers side.

Mother and Daughter absorb the brilliant lights approaching the Canal Street landing after crossing to the Algiers side.

Looking back on my childhood and occasional visits to downtown New Orleans, I never recall eating out in French Quarter Restaurants or riding horse drawn carriages touring the Vieux Carre’ or going into ritzy antique parlors on Royal Street. All that cost so much.

But I do remember riding the Canal Street Ferry, and I think that’s because the ferry ride was free.  Daddy and Mama, ever children of the Great Depression, determined to take us places to see and do, but only such places where seeing and doing  cost little or, preferably, nothing.

Bless their hearts, the ferry ride is still free, and over the past 30 years, it’s become a family tradition for my own clan.  On our occasional New Orleans date weekends or other excursions, we typically wait for the sun to set and then we head for the ferry landing at the foot of Canal Street.  There’s no view more romantic or enchanting than the City from the perspective of the River at night.

After the aller et retour ferry ride, we typically retreat to the hotel for the evening, for most of what transpires on the streets of the City after 8:30 or 9:00 or so doesn’t really interest small-town folks like us.  The ferry ride is our bonsoir thrill!

And it’s free.