For Auld Lang Syne and Family Friday, Dec 30 2016 

Holidays are attended by the glad and the sad: glad that we gather with loved ones and friends; sad that the older we grow,we gather with fewer loved ones as age anusd failing health diminish the number of loved ones from year to year.

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As time goes on, our gatherings are smaller but still just as warm.

Today’s gathering with Mama provides an example.  Twenty years ago when so many other parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/brothers/sisters were alive, our holiday reunions were  noisy, boisterous affairs attended by dozens.  Compare such a party with today’s quiet gathering with Mama—-my own family not even complete because one child lives in Colorado: We had fun, we ate well, and we relished the hour, but we didn’t make enough family noise to disturb a rat’s nap like we would have many years ago.

I’m reminded that life is cyclical and seasonal.  The cycles and seasons that were fade into cycles and seasons that are . . . and we move on amid the blessing.

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An Appeal to Weather Forecasters: No More Cliches! Tuesday, Dec 27 2016 

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 I ALWAYS  keep an umbrella handy in the back seat.

 

To weather forecasters on the air, a plea to abandon a tired cliche heard ad nauseum whenever rainy weather is forecast:

PLEASE REFRAIN FROM REMINDING ME TO “KEEP THE UMBRELLA HANDY!”

I’ve heard that tired, unimaginative admonition all my life on weather casts.  So often, it goes like this morning, as I watched the network news for an hour or so. The local met came on the air every fifteen minutes, repeating the same forecast.  And each time she got to the rain possibility, as if she were following a script, the cliche came bubbling out: “Better keep that umbrella handy.”

Why can’t forecasters  find anything more interesting  to utter than what’s become an inane  cliche?

Gollee, after all!  I’ve got enough sense to know to carry an umbrella if rain is forecast.  Just tell me it’s going to rain, and I’ll figure out the rest.

OK?

Thanks.

Patio Dwelling at Christmas: Mild is Wild Wednesday, Dec 21 2016 

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It’s Christmas on the patio!

On this shortest day of the year as we enter the climatologically coldest season, we are at the mercy of winter’s short days and blustery chill, which tends to disrupt the comfort of outdoor patio dwelling that we so much enjoy in the more temperate seasons.  We’re driven indoors for most of the winter months.  One of the advantages of living on the Gulf Coast, though, are those occasional mild spells in December and January that provide a few days of warm-weather relief.

We had such a moderate spell last weekend when I snapped this photo, as we  moved outdoors to enjoy a rare December afternoon on the patio.  A day or two later,  the weather pattern changed, and several days of an Arctic blast  drove us inside.  But over most of the next several days leading to Christmas and beyond, the weatherman is forecasting a change in the pattern that will result in perfect patio-dwelling  conditions.  We’ll be grillin’ and not-so-much chillin’ over the holiday weekend.

How odd to recall that when I was younger, the mild spells this time of year drove me to dismay.  I wanted cold: the more frigid, the better!  But now older and more moderate in many ways, give me the mild, for mild is wild. Especially in winter.

Jesus Loves the Little Children Friday, Dec 16 2016 

The first two songs I ever learned as a kid were “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the

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What’s more Christmas than children singing the old, old story?

Little Children.” I hadn’t heard those songs in years till the elementary kids choir sang them this morning at the end of the school Christmas program.

I may have been the only adult in the audience who sang along!  I couldn’t resist those charming lyrics that were seared into my memory—-and my heart—- at New Zion Baptist Church almost 60 years ago.

A touching moment in this Christmas season: I’m grateful and blessed to work in a school where we celebrate the fullness of Christmas.

Save the tears, Vern–Just retire! Sunday, Dec 11 2016 

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Vern Lundquist (aka Lung-Quist for his bellicose, senile inanities at the sportscasters’ mike): May he go, and stay, to pasture!

Save your farewell tears, Vern, the worst sportscaster on the air.

We thought we were rid of you two weeks ago when you sobbed us farewell at the regular season Iron Bowl (Good riddance!).

Then last week we knew we were rid of you (Hooray!) when you signed off sentimentally at the SEC title game, even though we thought your swan song was the week before.

But lo and behold you had one more tear for us this Saturday at Army/Navy. As a cat has 9 lives, so you have 9 farewells?

I hope not–Three is too many!

Please, just go away.

Winter Wimps Along the Gulf Coast? Thursday, Dec 8 2016 

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Tonight’s forecast low is 32–the weather service issued a freeze warning.  In Colorado two weeks ago, the overnight lows were in the upper teens. The weatherman never said anything about a freeze warning.

A couple of week ago, we were in Greeley, Colorado.  The day before Thanksgiving, the morning low was around 19.  I recall we dropped by the supermarket fairly early that morning, maybe around 9 or 10.  The temp had warmed up to near freezing, the sun was doing its best to shine, and the wind was moderate.  We heard cheerful shoppers and grocery store employees admiring the weather.  Expressions of “It’s great out this morning!” or “This is a beautiful day!” were upon the lips of many.

Today in Louisiana, a front passed overnight.  The temperature hovered in the mid to upper forties all day.  The early morning misty rain gave way to partly-cloudy skies by early afternoon, but the 20+ mph gusty breeze was persistent.  A weather service issued a freeze warning for overnight lows near or slightly below 32. All day long, friends and colleagues marveled at the brisk weather as if winter were a ferocious beast.  Expressions of “Darn, it’s cold!” and “This is miserable!” were upon the lips of many.

Hmmmmm, had those Coloradans been here this afternoon, they’d have been admiring our day as  a mild winter’s day.  What a difference 1200 or so miles makes?

Yes, I confess, we’re winter weather wimps.  But I’ll lay odds that we would roll longer and farther than the Coloradans on a  Gulf Coast afternoon in July or August: the wimpy table must turn with the season.

Country Roads, Americana: The Poudre River Trail, Colorado Friday, Dec 2 2016 

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The river follows the course outlined by the trees beyond. 

A week ago today, our Colorado kids took us along the Cache a la Poudre River trail on the high plains of Colorado just west of Greeley and east of the mountain foothills.  Back home this time of year, the landscape is still green, so the pervasive brown color of dead grass and leafless trees was striking.  The frost-chilled air nipped at our fingers and toes, too—-our thin Gulf Coast blood was tested by the cold.

What did  wagon train settlers from the east think of this landscape in an earlier century of American history?  Many of those courageous souls who settled the West came through these parts; they likely drew water from this stream as they camped along its banks, as they gazed at the purple haze of imposing mountains looming on the western horizon.

This landscape echoes the wild American West of history.  These waters flow sacred.  We were honored to hike along this portion of its course.