Me and my sour-pix-puss Thursday, Feb 26 2015 

Want to cast me into a foul humor? Ruin the moment? Quicken my ire?

Just bring out a camera and say, “I want a picture.” This family sibling picture shows my patented sour-pix-puss frown that’s become legendary in family lore.

I'm not a gracious picture taker.

I’m not a gracious picture taker.

I posted this shot from the late 1950’s because I had never seen it until yesterday when my sister dug it up among an aging aunt’s photo collection and sent it to the family. In case there’s any doubt as to who I am, I’m the little fellow wearing the frown of disdain.

County Roads, Acadiana: The Worth More 5 & 10 Friday, Feb 20 2015 

A retail relic in downtown Rayne, still open for business.

A retail relic in downtown Rayne, still open for business.

Anyone who travels across South Louisiana without leaving Interstate 10 misses the rural and small town lore of this fascinating Cajun region. Take, for instance, the Worthmore 5 & 10 in downtown Rayne, Louisiana. We took the back roads out of Lafayette on the way home this afternoon and came across this rustic retail relic of yesteryear. Sarah remembered the place from perhaps her childhood; I had passed the site often but never gone in. As we approached the intersection, she exclaimed, “Oh, I love this store!”

What could I do but suggest we stop and go in?

So I pulled into a parking space and we approached the store. How can I characterize the place, beginning at the entrance where a cardboard CODOFIL placard from the 1970’s in the window proclaimed “Ici, on est fier de parler francais?” The aisles were narrow, the gondolas tall and laden with shelf upon shelf of the most glorious array of junk mingled with treasure that I’ve ever seen in a retail store. Yes, junk AND treasure.

The “5&10” label is certainly misleading. I believe $5 and $10 would be more accurate. We actually found some pricey items, like some sets of crystal and dishware, with price tags of $49.95, but it was really nice looking stuff.

Some of the merchandise was curious looking.

Some of the merchandise was curious looking.

But then there was aisle after aisle of tawdry merchandise, too, like hair nets with pix of 1970’s style coiffures on the label—-this stuff resembled merchandise a 5&10 of the 1960s/70s would have sold. Where in the world, I wondered, do they get such dated inventory?

And the inventory featured everything from training diapers to multiplication flash cards to roach motels to wash tubs to toy soldiers to lamp shades to carnival masks . . . and just about everything in between. It was an entertaining 20 minutes passed, and I even got some ideas for future gift shopping. Like those 1970’s style hair nets—-Sarah will look like a queen wearing one of those! But I DO need to remember to bring money, because the Worthmore 5&10 does not accept credit cards.

Some of the merchandise was cheesy!

Some of the merchandise was cheesy!

How does a sleeping dog lie? Monday, Feb 16 2015 

Dogs have perfected not just the science of rest, but the art of rest. Observe how completely relaxed, if not abjectly lazy, Sadie appears in this picture on the patio last fall.

What’s more amazing is how they shift from fully active to fully shut down. For example, we play with her and Marley right before dark in the winter months. They dash and dart about like fiends playing tug of war and chasing tennis balls. As soon as they come in, though, they slink off into the bedroom, crawl into their kennels, and conk out until the 10:00 news. Marley even snores! They awake long enough to go out and do their business before the masters go to bed and they then kennel up for another 7 or 8 hours of shut-eye till the next morning.

If I could relax like those creatures do, I think I’d live to be 120.

Maybe the key to their lifestyle is simplicity: They seem to exist for 3 purposes—-to eat, to make puppy poop and weesey-weese, and to sleep.

(Before neutering, there was a 4th purpose, of course, but they could care less about that now).

How does one NOT let a sleeping dog lie?  They were created to sleep!

How does one NOT let a sleeping dog lie? They were created to sleep!

Humble Rewards of the Profession: A Generational Memoir Thursday, Feb 12 2015 

I come from a line of English teachers beginning with Daddy, who raised 5 kids, 3 of whom (including me) followed suit in English teaching careers. Love for, or talent for, or a combination thereof for the profession of letters, must proceed from some genetic propensity.

One of my favorite later-years pix of Daddy----with Mama----on the Lakefront at Mandeville.

One of my favorite later-years pix of Daddy—-with Mama—-on the Lakefront at Mandeville.

Daddy retired from teaching I’m not sure when—-the late 1980’s?—- so all of his students are more-than-mature adults. For that reason, a few days ago I took extra gratification from a random former student of his from that distant time who shared her memories of junior high English when he was her teacher. She wrote the following to me:

“I really loved [your] Dad. I had him as my teacher in [junior high.] He was friend to us as well as a teacher. [You] don’t have teacher’s that really care about the student’s like he did. They [are] far [and] few between.”

Wow! That was a touching compliment, one special to me professionally as well as personally, because I would love to imagine that my former students, 30 or 40 years from now, will look up my children and offer such gracious remarks about my influence on their lives.

Daddy’s not here to receive this humble reward, but I will accept it on his behalf and post the memoir in this venue to give it audience. The sentiment is too rich to keep within. Thus, here reading, may others remember his life as an example of the life-touching work that teachers do.

Marles (Marley) the Dog, Professor of the Manipulative Arts Monday, Feb 9 2015 

Where does the notion come from that wearing glasses makes a person look bookish? Or a dog?

Professor Marley, practitioner par excellence of the manipulative arts.

Professor Marley, practitioner par excellence of the manipulative arts.

We decided this weekend to see what happens when that notion is applied to our Marley. We agreed that the spectacles make Marley look bookish, too. So bookish, in fact, that “Marley” is too informal a name for one with such august bearing. That would be like calling a Rhodes Scholar whose name was Dr. Roosevelt Dr. “Rosey.” So for the sake of this post, Marley becomes Marles.

Now to what discipline would a canine scholar aspire? Given Marles’s inclination and accomplished propensity to beg, con, and self-promote, his discipline is surely the manipulative arts. I want to say it’s an honorary degree, because he never did anything to earn it, but then, what’s honorable about manipulating gullible humans? Nor can I declare him to have a pedigree, because he’s a worthless mixture who-knows-how-many mutts.

Since he came to us as a sick and imperiled stray running and begging from the mean streets of town, I suppose it’s fairest to conclude that as a survivor, he earned his scholastic merit from the school of hard knocks. That reality-hardened institute arguably provides learning that is superior to curricula in the most refined academies of higher learning, in spite of all their certificates of accreditation.

Yes, Marles knows: He knows how to get on the sofa when it’s against the rules; he knows how to coax a morsel of roast when table-food is forbidden; he knows how to dig a hole in the back yard when no one is looking to avoid punishment; he knows how gain admission to the dry coziness of the house when he has muddy paws; and he knows how to fetch a pat on the head when the humans around him ignore him. In short, he’s an adept and expert manipulator. And we’d have him no other way, for that’s who he is and what he does.

The Mournful, Lamentable Tale of Fontanella Rominski Wednesday, Feb 4 2015 

    An ill-conceived fictive concoction drafted in a fit of boredom this day.

Fontanella: A grim sweeper!

Fontanella: A grim sweeper!

Fontanella Rominski sweeps cobblestone in the winter of 1797 on the Ferrighianarian Way south of Setteltoon on the shores of the Garopian Sea. A mean wench, this Fontanella. Wields that broom with violent fury against drooping old men and toddling children and puppy dogs who cross her sweeping path on the Ferrighianarian Way as she plies the bristles back and forth, back and forth, broom strokes for public works to clean the Ferrighianarian Way for a few pennies a day
to buy her daily fare: two slices of bread, an eighth cup of sugar, a shriveled prune, a dollop of lard. Supper fit for meanness, fit for a broom-wielding assaultress of the harmless and helpless: droopy old men and toddlers and puppy dogs.

What made her thus a wench?

Read on to learn the wretched, wicked tale.

T ’was Simonesorio Polderustus who violated her! The scoundrel jilted her in May of 1747, left her standing at St. Aliban’s altar before the priest and God and everyone except her once-betrothed Simonisorio Polderustus who chose that day a’ fishing instead of a’wedding.

Condemned thus a spinster and a poverty-bound sweeper of public walks, she lives out her days, each day as the day before, plying her broom back and forth, back and forth, bristling strokes of bitterness, vengefully lashing out at droopy old men whom she all suspects as jilters of May brides, at toddling children who torture the dreams of a family she once longed for, and at loving puppies whose existence she rues because the pups might have played with the children she never had, had she had those children.

Alas, Fontanella Rominski, forlorn and forgotten: God pity her soul, for the miscreant Simonisorio Polderustus snatched the heart right out of her bosom.