From now until July 26, 2015: Mondays =”V-Daze” Wednesday, Jul 30 2014 

The first day of this work week was dread Monday, but out of kindness to my friends, I didn’t post another negative “I hate Monday” message lest anyone accuse me of having a bad attitude. My reward: That Monday was the Monday from Hell! I’d have to go back to January or February of this year to recall a Monday so raw and disconcerting. As a result, henceforward, I will never hold back on denouncing Monday for the evil that Monday is to those who rise for work on this darkening day of the week.

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

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

In fact, for the balance of this phase of my career in public education ending a year from now, I will no longer call Monday by its proper name: Those first-days shall be henceforth known as V-Daze, the “V” standing for vituperation, and the homophonic daze more aptly descriptive of the mental condition that workday Mondays evoke than regular days.

In the end, I resolve to pronounce no kind utterance toward the first day of the work week for the next year, save when those days fall on holidays or vacations. Enough said!

Birthday Oysters Year 3 Saturday, Jul 26 2014 

This blog well documents the tradition started 3 years ago: Fried oysters for birthday fare with the goal of indulging at a different restaurant each year until I run out of money, health, luck, or whatever else would come in the way of the tradition.

A half po boy here is worth a whole po boy at most places.

A half po boy here is worth a whole po boy at most places.

Birthday 2014 was observed at the New Orleans Seafood and Spirits Restaurant in my hometown of Covington. The half-po-boy is all I can handle–it’s covered with a mountain of oysters sufficient to cover a full-sized po’boy in most places these days. And, they really know how to fry oysters right. This is the third time I’ve been there, and each visit is perfection: crisp, never mushy, always hot, and seasoned to perfection.

Though our kids have lately left us for out of state, we gathered family around us today: Mama and my sister and brother-in-law made the day and the oysters all the more special. (Not to neglect Dr. Fontenot’s handy forceps a couple of days ago, which literally saved the enjoyment of this day with the extraction of that offensive tooth!)

Let’s see where 2015 lands us for oysters a year from now. I can’t wait!

Where is the tooth fairy when you need her? Thursday, Jul 24 2014 

An exposed nerve--Ouch!

An exposed nerve–Ouch!

Yesterday evening at supper, I busted a tooth with more violence than has ever gone on in this head of mine. It hurt!

And all day it hurt some more. I couldn’t find the tooth fairy’s number, so I called her next of kin, my dentist Dr. Fontenot. His staff worked me in for an emergency consultation late this afternoon. The verdict: Exposed nerve. Possible salvation of the tooth with some work-up, a root canal, and a cap. $$$$ flashed through my mind, plus the pain I was in.

“No thanks, Doc,” I boldly resolved. “Let’s do the down and dirty.”

On to the extraction, and these several hours later, no happier could I be. $$$$ still in hand, no more pain. If the tooth fairy isn’t available, I’ll settle for the forceps-wielding Dr. Fontenot.

Salute, Beverly Hillbillies: Ellie Mae Livz! Saturday, Jul 19 2014 

Ellie Mae rulz.  What a sweetheart!

Ellie Mae rulz. What a sweetheart!

When I was in 8th/9th grade, summers at home were boring. Except for the first 2 or 3 hours of the morning when me and my sister and brother would watch the syndicated re-runs of I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith, and The Beverly Hillbillies.

What a rich time it was, then, last night, to visit with Donna Douglas, the actress who played Ellie Mae on the Hillbillies. The 81 year old TV icon came to promote our lifelong learning group’s membership renewal effort, but she left us so much more than a PR splash. Her presentation was the story of her life from rural Louisiana to New York to Hollywood, a story punctuated by faith and values.

At the end of this day, I’m blessed and honored to have met Ms. Douglas. No celebrity I’ve ever known was more patient with adorers, more gracious, more humble, and more delightful than she. Her talk was inspirational–Many “amen”-able moments!

50 Mondays from now . . . Monday, Jul 14 2014 

When the magical “R” day began coming into view at 18 months out, I started marking off the 26th of each month as a countdown.

Celebration "Daze" are in view, 50 Mondays from now. (Not counting holidaze).

Celebration “Daze” are in view, 50 Mondays from now. (Not counting holidaze).

As today’s wretched Monday groans through the workday morning hours, I decided to take a break and count how many Mondays to mark off between now and that day of anticipation just over a year from now. The result: not counting holidays, the magic number of Mondays remaining until Monday becomes irrelevant is 50.

What a strong, even number! 50 too many, on one hand, but given the alternative that it could be 51 or more, that shimmering 50 glistens with the hope of a not-too-distant reality when the weekly despair of Monday is supplanted by the mind, body, and soul freedom of Fridays forever.

So the countdown marches forward: First months, now weeks. Next to come: days, and then hours!

“W-O-R-K” is a 4-Letter Word Tuesday, Jul 8 2014 

Who said “Vacation gives a morale boost?” That doesn’t work for me. This vacation ending today causes my morale to drag and droop at the thought of returning to work tomorrow. I have been blissfully carefree and happy for the past eight days. Thinking about tomorrow and returning to the office, my spirit groans.

Work, yes, a four-letter word, especially when associated with administration and dealing with crises and problems emanating from the shortcomings, errors, and incompetencies of subordinates and clients.

The Great Plains of America surrounds this scenic reservoir in central Kansas where we hiked and jogged last week.

The Great Plains of America surrounds this scenic reservoir in central Kansas where we hiked and jogged last week.

On the other hand, I agree with the premise I posted in this blog several years ago at the end of a memorable summer vacation: “Vacation is the natural state of man.”

That ideal is biblical, too, because work resulted from the curse of Adam’s and Eve’s foolishness. In the beginning, Eden was more perfect than the most glorious Gulf beach or Rocky Mountain height.

Facing the office tomorrow will be extra-hard because I know I’ve reached the retirement bar. So, may this post document the record at the beginning of the final 12 months of public work that begins in a few weeks: The only incentive to keep on for another 12 months is the retirement system’s DROP deferment plan. If not for DROP and the incentive of a healthy nest-egg as a service reward from the State, I’d bale out of this insanity tomorrow and go on perpetual vacation. The next 12 months cannot pass quickly enough!

Happy Birthday, USA, from the Great Plains of America Friday, Jul 4 2014 

Yesterday afternoon we rolled into Hays, Kansas to celebrate Independence Day on the Great Plains of America with our daughter’s in-laws and then to prepare for a reception Saturday for the bride and groom’s family and friends from Kansas who were unable to attend the wedding down south in May.

Some travelers complain about the scenery (or lack thereof) in the wide open rolling spaces of the American heartland, but not me. I see creation spreading away beyond the reach of imagination–it’s the poetry of Earth.

After we turned westbound on Interstate 70 out of Salina, we turned Pandora to a Cajun channel and listened to the Pine Grove Boys’ version of “La Branche de Murier” while we shot a video of the passing landscape. We “Cajunized” our travel experience so we could mingle sensory associations of home with the exotic panarama of the far-away plains, but when I look at the video now I see that this piece makes a fitting Independence Day tribute to different parts of the country on the Great Plains of America where, at the end of the day, we are AMERICA. Joyeux Jour d’Independence a tout le monde, en Kansas et en Louisiane et tout partout!