115 Blue Mondays from now … Monday, Apr 29 2013 

Boast not, Blue Monday: Your days (and your daze!) are numbered.

Boast not, Blue Monday: Your days (and your daze!) are numbered.

Another blue Monday.

Is there a cheerful thought for the onset of a workweek?

Yes, there is a cheerful thought: If I can get through 115 more Blue Mondays between now and anticipated retirement Monday late in July 2015, blue Mondays’ are numbered.

In fact, considering that I should have some annual leave  to expend, the countdown could be more like 112 or 113: Mondays 114 and 115 might be practice for the un-blue Mondays that ensue after July 26, 2015.

Alas, if t’were fewer t’would be happier, but we have to take ’em as they come, one by one.

And certainly not discouraging, if the last 115 Mondays in my life seem not long ago, 115 Mondays hence should likewise seem not so far away.

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Of ruts and routines and advancing years Tuesday, Apr 23 2013 

rutted path

Who says the rutted path of life’s routine must be drab and unappealing?

No, I’m not yet a senior citizen by most definitions of that term.  I still get up and go to work every day, I lead a vigorous and varied lifestyle at work and away, and I’m nowhere close to “over the hill” or ready for pasture.  But the sense of adventure and curiosity about parts of life I once longed to taste but didn’t have surely declined.  In fact, many activities that I used to regard as boring and repetitive I now regard as comfortable and familiar.  Likewise, activities I used to regard as exciting and adventurous I now regard as a waste of time.

Yes, I’ve grown comfortable in the well-worn lifestyle ruts of post-middle age .  In fact, thinking about the meaning of rut in the present sense, I conclude that surely, the root of routine must be the same root for the word rut.  I’m not sure, though.

In a former, more animated season of life, I’d run to consult the dictionary to confirm what I suspected about the etymology of those two words; but in this rutted, pre-retirement season, that curiosity is greatly diminished.  What’s the difference, anyway, whether the words derive from the same Latin source?  A rut’s a routine, and a routine’s a rut.  Whatever their linguistic derivation, e’er will I cherish their sameness.

 

The Last Fire of the Season Saturday, Apr 20 2013 

The hearth glows with the last pieces of the season's firewood stash.

The hearth glows with the last pieces of the season’s firewood stash.

I Facebooked this picture this morning, proclaiming that I’m fairly sure I never started a fire any later than this post-mid-April date in all the 30+ years I’ve lived in this fireplace-equipped home.   The fire felt good this morning when the in-house temperature fell to mid-60’s by the time we got up.

But what’s today’s date? Is this the spring that will not come, or the winter that will not let go?

For sure this is the last fire of the season, come what may, because this morning I burned all the wood that remained. 

Future fires may require that we burn the house: I’m not ready to pursue such an extreme measure.

Lady Cats Advance: It’s Playoff Time Thursday, Apr 18 2013 

On the anniversary of the best high school softball game I ever saw when daughter Ann played in high school, we prepare to watch out son’s Crowley Ladies team go for the State tournament tomorrow. May this re-post be an omen of good luck for the Ladies!

Inventio!

We hung on Monday night in Bossier City.   What a relief that the senior season didn’t end on the road 180 miles from home!  We were proud when the hometown news printed its write-up of the game, daughter Ann was featured in the photo.  The bottom part of the article got cut off in scanning, but Ann’s listed in the line score as only one of three Lady Cats to get a base hit in a really tough pitchers’ duel.  We play the next big one Friday night at home.

ann-outfield.jpg

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Country Roads, Acadiana: Iconic Cajun Crossroads Thursday, Apr 11 2013 

With the Balfa Brothers blaring vintage 1960’s Cajun music through the AUX system, as I eased up to this stop at the end of Castille Highway before me and my pick-up turned left to go into Branch, Louisiana, following Cajun backroads on the way home from a root canal appointment in Lafayette (of all reasons to be on the road), I realized the scene before me at this stop sign was iconic.  I took a picture to save the moment.

Turn left to go to Branch, right to Higginbotham: Homey placenames of the Cajun prairie

Turn left to go to Branch, right to Higginbotham: Homey place names of the Cajun prairie

Icon 1: The prairie, flat and spreading far away.

Icon 2: The boot-shaped secondary highway markers: the higher the highway number in this State, the more likely that it’s a road to nowhere important.  Such is the case for these shoulderless, asphalt ribbons with 4-digit numbers that wind and bump to obscure destinations such as Branch and Higginbotham and Mire.

Icon 3: Beyond the striped warning signs and the two-headed arrow screaming “right or left,” behold a good reason for the warning: He who misses the stop or the turn ends up in a flooded crawfish pond just the other side of a relatively shallow ditch!

I pass this cross-road coming and going, year in and year out, without thought.  Today, it just sort of struck me–one of those epiphanies of place.  Maybe it was the Balfa Brothers lyrics I had just heard, extolling memory of “le jolie temp passe'” that prompted this morning’s epiphany.

Louisiana Legislature in session: Beware! Monday, Apr 8 2013 

Union, Justice, Confidence: Really?

Union, Justice, Confidence: Really?

Yes, today opens the 2013 session of the Louisiana State legislature.  For sure, wanton and nefarious schemes of politicians are afoot.The State seal boasts on its logo the motto “Union, Justice, Confidence.”  How nice to proclaim ideals, I suppose; but sadly, the proclamation of ideals doesn’t alter reality when the standards embodied in the ideals are missing in practice.

Union?  With the lame duck Governor’s popularity sagging to embarrassing lows, the sharks and the power-grabbers in the legislature smell the blood in the water: many self-serving axes will be ground in the coming months to fight battles of political “king on the mountain.”

Justice?  Given the tea party-esque, populistic flavor of this fire-eating conservative legislature and the policies it pursues, the proverbial rich are likely to keep getting richer while the proverbial poor will continue toward their hopeless impoverishment.

Confidence?  Rather, gloom and pessimism abound from border to border as this administration and the legislatures that have attended it failed, year after year, to raise the strong,credible leaders Louisiana needed to protect and deliver public education, health, and government services from ravaging cuts and nigh-obliteration.

What a dubious record the Jindal era is destined to leave in its murky wake!

Where is statesmanship when we need it most?

The Politics of Populism: Louisiana does it best! (or worst?) Wednesday, Apr 3 2013 

The Governor: He's sure not winning the popularity contest.

The Governor: He’s sure not winning the popularity contest.

Whom would an objective political onlooker likely guess to be the most reviled, detested political figure at the State or national level in the Bayou State?   Louisiana, the hotbed of populist antics and politics nonpareil, stands tall among the red of the reddist states, so certainly, that most-reviled figure must be the Democratic President Barack Obama, right?

Nope.  It’s not the President.  It’s the fast-talking, Tea Party-esque Republican governor Bobby Jindal, according to a public opinion poll released yesterday.  The Governor’s popularity is free-falling from a respectable 61% in spring 2012 to just 38% in the poll reported yesterday.  President Obama’s rating, considering the “State we’re in,” is 43%.  In this red State with its stifling conservativatism, the President is probably pretty happy with such a number.

The President is more popular in Louisiana than the Governor!

The President is more popular in Louisiana than the Governor!

But what does this oxymoronic statistical phenomenon suggest about Louisiana?  Or about human nature? Or about politics and populism?  Let me venture a few observations, without sounding harsh and judgmental, and moreso, political.

  1. Strong chance Jindal was gritting his teeth when he reacted to the poll with a statement yesterday that “he doesn’t watch polls,” because one of the top reasons his popularity has fallen is that he’s gone in absentia since his re-election.  He spends much more time galavanting about the country flirting with national Republican dudes and darlings, conspicuously craving the acclaim and approbation of power.  This man looks like he wants to run for President, no matter how often and how effusively he denies the charge.  Actions do speak more loudly than words.
  2. The Louisiana electorate is somewhat disingenuous in denouncing Jindal in light of that same electorate’s espousal of Jindalistic extreme doctrines when those doctrines are proclaimed by other politicians.  For example, Louisianians should know by now that we can’t  budgetcut our way to prosperity, given the abject, catastrophic failure of the Governor’s economic policies.  But who does our State electorate rant for in national elections?  Politicians who profess the same doctrines as Bobby Jindal!
  3. How does a State celebrated historically for Huey Long democratic, big-government populism mutate, in less than two generations, into a State that supports Bobby Jindal republican, small government populism?  Hmmm, change somewhat disingenuous in the preceding paragraph into downright disingenous . . . or maybe we’re just suckers for populism, no matter its stripes?

I hope the pendulum swings back soon in the direction of moderation, now that the electorate has suffered through a series of consecutive fiscal year budgetary disasters.  In the process, we have witnessed more than trimming fat: we have observed, to the contrary, the evisceration of public education, health, and government services.

The opposite of a populist is a statesman.  Enough of populism, please.  We crave a reign of statesmanship.