The Flatness of the Prairie: Friday Light Nights Saturday, Aug 29 2015 

Sun sets on the Cajun prairie beyond Friday night lights.

Sun sets on the Cajun prairie beyond Friday night lights.

I’ve appreciated the imagery of Friday night sunset beyond Bobcat Stadium for over twenty years. Since our kids are grown, we don’t go to high school games as often, so last night at the local Jamboree I witnessed the simple elegance of the sunset’s glory with renewed appreciation.

The glorious scene represents Americana from South Louisiana.  It’s an iconic, slow-motion movie unfolding in gradually-darkening scenes for thirty minutes or so, from dusk’s beginning until the final glimmer of orange/pink daylight succumbs to descending night.

An ever-elegant reminder: Praise to the Almighty who created the flatness of the prairie with its life-giving cycle of rising and setting sun!

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The Paper Chase: Humble rewards of the profession? Thursday, Aug 27 2015 

A bane of the profession of letters, or teaching composition for short, is reading and grading papers.

Reading and grading.  That’s the hard part.  If just reading were the task, or just grading the task, the work would be much simpler.  But we’re tasked with both.  First we read, then we-read, and then we grade if we’re lucky enough to settle on a grade after two once-throughs.  No student composition is lightly treated.  Doing it right takes time!

I’m enjoying reading high school compositions more than I enjoyed college student compositions, at least for now.  I’m intrigued with the developmental progressions from one high school grade to the next, and the students seem to be trying really hard to make good impressions on their teacher.

Yes, the paper chase, for all its exasperation and demands of time, is a reward of the profession.  Especially when  one of our student bards

Stacks to read, stacks to grade.  Time, oh time, why isn't there enough of you?

Stacks to read, stacks to grade. Time, oh time, why isn’t there enough of you?

blossoms.

2015 EHS Alumni Tournament: Do we ever grow old? Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

Of course not!  We just grow nostalgic, watching our mature  kids and their former high school peers play games.  There’s less pressure than we recall from high school days when hollering coaches reminded the kids that district championships were at stake.  These games are all about fun and friendship.

And we get to have our son and daughter-in-law around the house for an entire weekend.  His form in the batter’s box today looks the same as it did 15 years ago.

Our kids never grow old.  Only we do!  (But not just yet, of course)

Our kids never grow old. Only we do! (But not just yet, of course)

Youth are going to the dogs? Maybe not! Thursday, Aug 20 2015 

This first week of school proves, at least to me, that I’m not old yet. I enjoy being around young people, especially when they’re friendly, polite, and well-reared. Those traits are rarer these days in school settings!Eng;IV
Their conduct today with a guest speaker reinforced my good impression of them and also impressed our guest. The kids aren’t perfect in their motivations and zeal toward all of the tasks that we give them, but their hearts are in the right place. That’s worth a lot!

What a joy, surrounded by youth whom adults can enjoy hanging out with!

Patio Dwelling Sunset Style Friday, Aug 14 2015 

Day is dying in the west, and it's nice outside.

Day is dying in the west, and it’s nice outside.

As late afternoon faded into dusk, we lingered outside in the happy place until Father Sun fully set sometime after 8:00. This was the first evening since June that the outdoors were truly pleasant. We’ve had bearable evenings here and there since July, but bearing most of those took strong measures of resolve and gritty determination to ignore the sultry air, the still absence of wind motion, and the sticky sweat that causes your clammy tee-shirt to cling about the collar.

Tonight, a cluster of thunderstorms dying just to the east ushered in a persistent easterly that caused the flambeaux to flicker and flutter. We didn’t sweat at all! The late evening out set just the right tone for the beginning of a weekend of patio daze.

Never too old for new beginnings! Here’s to 36. Wednesday, Aug 12 2015 

This morning as my post-retirement adventure began, I calculated the number of “first days of school” I’ve observed in my career. Counting the 7 years at Louisiana College, today was my 36th school year first-day.

Gosh! That’s a lot of school year beginnings!

In the end, it was a good day. An excellent day, in fact. My St. Edmund students are polite and respectful, even if they’re a little talkative (but normally so). Overall, they’re pleasant and well-rounded. They respect authority and many of them really seem motivated to learn.

I think this can be a special school year. I’m glad that I’m too young to retire!

The classroom made ready last summer was inhabited today!

The classroom made ready last summer was inhabited today!

I am thine! Friday, Aug 7 2015 

The back-to-school faculty/staff retreat at St. Edmund this morning was refreshing. Fr. Abadie’s articulate and stirring presentation of The Soul of the Apostolate was as studied as it was inspirational. Blessing and devotion abounded in his devotional.

The highight of the morning was the 30 minute dismissal to meditate. I retreated to the shaded grounds of the church across the street from our meeting hall and found special favor in the spot over which this statue of the Master presides. IMG_0094

Fanny Crosby’s inspired lyrics came to mind:

“I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice.
And it told thy love to me.
Yet I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to thee.”

It was a confirming moment of devotion, an affirmation of God’s call.

There’s Kingdom work (teaching!) to be done!

Summer’s Lease Hath Too Short a Date, Year 5 Thursday, Aug 6 2015 

The Rockies rocked!

The Rockies rocked!

In keeping with the annual August tradition started five years ago at the advent of “back to school,” here’s summer 2015 in review. A blessed summer it was! Our summer officially began with the Colorado trip in May. The best part was seeing our daughter and son-in-law, but close behind for me was re-visiting and remembering some of the scenes and place-names from childhood forays into the mountains and the National Park when my family lived on the Great Plains. Praise God, the Creator of the Rocky Mountains!

We made a second-year-in-a-row Sunday afternoon bike-ride to UL-Lafayette in June. That outing may become an annual affair!

We had a Texas-style July 4th weekend in Conroe with Zach, Trisha, and Payton.  Fireworks over Lake Conroe, grilling on the patio, playing with the granddaughter . . . We stayed an extra day, we were having so much fun.

God answered our prayers for the post-retirement future by leading us to St. Edmund. Looking back on past prayers and the way it all came about, we’re convinced we’ve been set in a place where we can make an eternal difference.

God led us to St. Ed's.  Unmistakably.

God led us to St. Ed’s. Unmistakably.

I retired! Celebrating the end of 28 years of a career in public education was a highlight of the summer.

Riding the Tammany Trace on my birthday weekend was cool.

Riding the Tammany Trace on my birthday weekend was cool.

We rode The Trace from Covington to Abita Springs to Mandeville and back–almost 27 miles in the heat of July! We must be getting better, not older!

R-Day: Checked out, movin’ on! Tuesday, Aug 4 2015 

Today is a monumental day. Not just because it’s my oldest child’s birthday—-in that respect, August 4 has been a monumental day since 1982. But this August 4 is unique for a significant first: For the first time in almost 28 years, I am not a public educator in the State system. I am officially RETIRED!

Looking over the content of posts in this forum for the past year or so, this day may have been obscured in the countdown check-offs on the 26th of each month, because the original plan was for retirement to coincide with my birthday occurring on the same date as the end of my Teacher’s Retirement DROP period. My DROP period did end on that date, but because of a technicality in my summer school teaching appointment and the Retirement System rules, I couldn’t retire until summer school ended on the academic calendar. So last spring I revised my retirement date from July 26 to August 4. I have been on leave since July 24, so my work truly ended on that date. Believe me, I have “looked” very retired since my last day at work on that next-to-last Friday in July.

But today is the real deal, the official date stamped on the record. Although the transition from active State employee to retired has been going on seamlessly for 10 days, August 4, 2015, is the last milepost on the journey to the next phase.

All checked out!

All checked out!

And that next phase kinda looks like a career circle as I go from retirement to rehirement. Before I joined forces with public education in 1987, I worked for seven years in private church-related education. In a few days, I’ll resume my career as an educator by returning to private church-related education. From private to public and back to private looks like a circle, sure enough. Borrowing a thought from the preacher of Ecclesiastes, “Is there truly anything new under the sun?” in the circuitous lanes of existence?

Ah, the answer to that question is a good subject for a post some day soon. But for today, I’ll end here and simply bask in the satisfaction and fulfillment of this time and place that the past 28 years has led me to.

The Joys of Grand-parenting: One Rotten Deserves Another Saturday, Aug 1 2015 

At our house dogs aren’t allowed to lie on the furniture. But Marley is an opportunist who knows how to work the leverage of Payton visits. It’s canine intuition: a rotten dog recognizes a rotten kid at first sniff. Then they ally their resources of charm to become formidable co-conspirators.

Marley loves when Payton comes.  No rules!

Marley loves when Payton comes. No rules!