The Flatness of the Prairie: A poetic expression Monday, Sep 29 2014 

Off and on over the years, I’ve posted photos and short pieces about the enchantment of the South Louisiana prairie flatness. I found some pre-writing notes for an unfinished poetic expression from a couple of years ago and decided to bring it to some closure as a finished piece, or at least start the process. This is the result, which may or may not end up being the final version.

How far can you see on the prairie?

How far can you see on the prairie?

The Flatness of the Prairie

At random points of travel along the way,
epiphanies of place dawn
across the South Louisiana prairie:
Flatness stuns.
Sight absorbs an expanse
of fields: flooded, fallow,
nurturing crops in season,
all spreading away to the end of sight
and the beginning of imagination,
disrupted here and there
by a treeline
that marks the course of some bayou or coulee
or
a farmstead with homes and buildings
or
batteries of creaking oil wells heaving mechanical booms
up and down, up and down
or
a herd of grazing cows at pasture
tended by flocks of snow-white egrets,
who amicably strut and peck the seedy grass
among their gentle pasture mates.
Praise be to the author of this prairie!
Flat but not featureless,
a land form rich and vast,
spawning poems of earth and place.

The After-lunch Administrative Meeting and the Hidden Agenda Wednesday, Sep 24 2014 

The main agenda on the left, the hidden agenda on the right, photographed and posted online during the meeting.

The main agenda on the left, the hidden agenda on the right, photographed and posted online during the meeting.

I have known boring meetings: ponderous, overdrawn, and dreary spells of tedious reports, chewing on dry bones of pointless deliberation, and sitting for hours on butt-numbing chairs in cramped conference rooms where the room’s inviting window to sunlit outdoors cruelly taunts the spirit with the view of freedom so visible yet so forbidden by that thin sheet of windowpane that separates the reality within from the allure without.

Fortunately, in this era, technology has come to the aid of endurance. Smartphones, tablets, and social media add the capacity for diversion as long as the use is subtle and discreet. Truth be known, I’ve posted some rich (and humorous or poignant or sarcastic or a combination of all 3) Face Book updates from such meetings in the last several years. For me, this multimedia outlet provides a hidden agenda, a means for rounding off the blunt edges of the meeting’s main agenda with a creative foray into imagination and fancy.

I admit to this hidden agenda with a clear conscience, by the way, lest one should question my work ethic or devotion to task-at-hand. In reality, the hidden agenda makes me more productive, because these momentary retreats from tedium sharpen and focus the mind for clearer concentration on matters at hand. Thus, may this mind never waste for want of invigorating respite.

Anniversary of Rita: We will remember! Wednesday, Sep 24 2014 

Today is the memorable anniversary of Hurricane Rita in 2005. Thank God nothing that dreadful has come this way since.

Inventio!

From my 2005 journal, Hurricane Rita came poking about around this date . . .

September 25, 2005

Rita’s aftermath, day 1, a chronology:

6:00 or so—I wake up and can’t see the clock or feel the ceiling fan—the lights are out!  Why, now that the storm is over?

8:30 or so—We drip coffee on the debris-strewn patio.  To that point, the highlight of the day.  Glen offers me to plug the refridge into hiis generator—assuming we’re in for the long haul, I take him up, gratefully.

9:30 or 20—The lights come on!

9:45—I go by the church with Autumn and Zach to see if anybody showed up for church—they didn’t.  We walk back home sightseeing the damage.  Lights are out mainly in the southwest quadrant of town, except for Hill St.

Noon—I start watching the Saints, running in and out during commercials to bring stowed patio stuff from the…

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Last “Daze” of Summer Monday, Sep 22 2014 

After days and weeks of Deep South sweat, sultry dew points, and summer’s reign of sweaty oppression, a wind from the north!

The dog days’ back is broken in lightening air as autumn breezes in to South Louisiana, right on cue for the end of summer and the start of fall. Not often do the calendar and the weather conditions coincide so perfectly, especially along the Gulf Coast where most years, summer loosens its stifling grip almost imperceptibly: We have little fall until late October/early November, right before the season turns to winter.

Today is sweet!

Marley the Dog wonders, "What fresh scent rides on the fresh'ning breeze?"

Marley the Dog wonders, “What fresh scent rides on the fresh’ning breeze?”

Healing for Dollars? Wednesday, Sep 17 2014 

What does the Roman church of Martin Luther’s day have to do with the televangelical church of today? The love of $$$$$!

The message: "Give, and you will be blessed.  Don't give, and you won't!"

The message: “Give, and you will be blessed. Don’t give, and you won’t!”

I heard it Tuesday while listening to Sonlife radio on a business trip. The televangelical media outreach of the Jimmy Swaggart organization was on the air doing a fundraiser. Here’s a simulated transcript of the proceedings I heard on air:

Commentator 1: “Here’s $100 from Gene in Indiana, with a request for prayer for recovery from a difficult knee replacement surgery.”
Commentator 2: “And here’s $50 from a donor who wishes to be anonymous, requesting prayer for a son’s troubled marriage.”
Commentator 1: “And look at this one: $500 from Marvette in Baton Rouge! She asks for prayer for her husband’s heart condition.”
Commentator 2: “That’s marvelous, _____. And I have here a donation of $75 from Louis in Houston, asking for prayer for his daughter’s salvation.
Commentator 1: Do we have any donations for $1000? Or $1500? Oh, yes, here’s one from George and Suzette in Battle Creek, Michigan. They ask that we lift up their son who’s unemployed and needs a job.”
Commentator 2: “Let’s pray for these faithful donors, _____. Dear Lord, thank you for raising up these good people who care about your work through the work of this ministry. Be real to them, meet their needs, respond to these requests for which they’ve come before us and You with great faith. Amen, and amen!”

I was shocked that these men so blantantly and shamelessly associated their donors’ material generosity with God’s interest in the donors’ needs. Shameless!

Different from Martin Luther’s criticism of the Roman church fathers of his day for the selling of penance and forgiveness? Not really. It shows the corrupt appropriation of God’s work by self-serving, ambitious men.

Little has changed in the nature of the human beast in 500 years, n’est-ce pas?

Whose Happy Birthday? Monday, Sep 15 2014 

When I turned 50 more years ago than I like to think about, I began to detest birthdays. Attaining the half-century mark was certainly preferable to the grim alternative, but truthfully, I was not deeply stirred by such consolation. The thought of having a birthday from year to year simply lost its luster.

We wish Mama a happy 89th today.  If it's not a happy birthday for her, it sure is for us.

We wish Mama a happy 89th today. If it’s not a happy birthday for her, it sure is for us.

So we came to Mama’s 89th birthday (today) as we gathered to celebrate it over the weekend. She may feel the same way-only-worse as I do about the mounting years, but as I reflect, perspective means everything: I don’t like my own birthday very much, but I sure am happy that Mama had a birthday we can celebrate with her; and I am confident she feels the same way today, personally loathing the yoke of advancing age and the ordinary physical affliction that attends it, but she must find some encouragement, knowing that her family and loved ones find her enduring life an occasion to celebrate.

So let’s me frame this perspective as an encouragement for (hopefully many) years to come: May birthdays in advancing years be “happy” celebrations, if not for me strictly, for my loved ones and friends who really are glad I’m still hanging around.

A Friday Thought for Monday Monday, Sep 8 2014 

Friday at Last

Composed July 2008

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

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

 

Ah, Friday at last.

Yesterday’s Monday fades

In the spreading wake

Of another week past

As the ship forges on toward tomorrow

And Monday’s next

With a weekend to savor between

Far too short.

And older I am.

Not wiser.

Late Summer Grillin’ and Chillin’ Monday, Sep 1 2014 

The more colorful the plate, the healthier?  We're eating well!

The more colorful the plate, the healthier? We’re eating well!

The art of patio dwelling: The late-summer plate of many colors. This was our Labor Day eve supper project.

We have left-overs, so the party–or at least the taste of it– will go on after the holiday. Life is too short for dull-colored (and dull-tasting) fare.