Happy Freezing New Year Sunday, Dec 31 2017 

IMG_1293In over 60 years of living on the Gulf Coast, I’ve never seen six consecutive days of overnight hard freezes.

Maybe two nights?  Three at the most?  But six?  Unheard!

The frigid week ahead, with lows nightly from the lower teens to mid-twenties each night is unprecedented in my memory.

What plants will die? What will survive?  Will the pipes survive unbroken?  We sail uncharted winter waters!

Nonetheless, in the midst of the freeze, here’s to happy pipes, pets protected from the cold, and the start of 2018!

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Retirement: A Process Friday, Dec 29 2017 

I had a conversation about retirement with my brother-in-law Wednesday that makes a lot of sense.  He observed that retirement is not a single act in time but rather a process.  He  cited his own experience over the past several years of a retired pastor as an example.  I can relate to that.

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Marley the Dog is excited about this next phase of his Papa’s retirement because now he gets to hang out inside with me on winter weekeday mornings.  In the past, he had to go outside when I left for work.

My first “retirement” from LSUE lasted

a little over two weeks when I signed on to teach English at St. Edmund.  That full-time job, compared to the previous 13 years as stress-racked Director of Continuing Education at LSUE, had the feel of a part-time job because of the easy hours and vacation-filled nine-month school year.  Teaching high school was easy for the first two years.

Something happened last summer, though, because year three at St. Ed’s never felt right.  The leisurely summer 2017 pace ruined me for what became the day to day grind of high school teaching—-rising and reporting from day to day had become an onerous and oppressive duty.  Blame it on the summer—-the laid-back “daze” of June and July had primed  my spirit for this next phase of retirement, which begins this week.

But this phase is still just the next phase, because I will continue teaching part-time for LSUE—-two or three online classes a semester, which feels like a lark in comparison to the past two and a half years.  (Odd: the high school job was a lark in the beginning, too.  I suspect that’s the pattern of each phase in this process.)  At some point, I’m sure this season of retirement will end as part-time teaching may become onerous and oppressive,  but I predict it will last two or three years at least.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep a watchful eye on the full-retirement pasture grass that continues to grow and green on the other side of the fence.  That grass will  be lush and ready when the time comes . . . but that time is not just yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family: Blessings Exponential Sunday, Dec 24 2017 

25592006_10215348973016162_4021194470010613773_nSince our kids grew up and moved out-of-state,  days of family togetherness are rare.  That’s the bitter.

What’s  sweet?  The family is enlarged, because our kids bring home spouses that fit in so perfectly.

And sometimes they make grandchildren.

And not only do spouses and grandchildren sereve as multiplication factors, but the spouses introduce their families into the extended blessing.

Blessings exponential!

Don’t tell me that family wasn’t one of God’s best ideas.

The Last Monday! Monday, Dec 18 2017 

Today is sgnificant: This is the last Monday I will ever have to rise and go to a place of work.

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Blue Monday? Nevermore!  Henceforward, Funday!i

I bypassed that freedom two and a half years ago when I retired from LSUE, as the first two years of teaching at St. Edmund were certainly the right thing to do for that season of post-retirement.  I enjoyed the work and never resented  Mondays until this school year.

But after summer 2017, something changed, something like an inner retirement alarm went off in my head, telling me, “You’re done!”

Since the start of the year, then, I knew the time was up.  I grimly resolved early on to finish the deal by hanging on until May, but by mid-October, the writing was clear:  Get out!

So today was the first day of the last week.  The last Monday of an active career.

A week hence, and every week thereafter, should be called “Funday..”

 

 

Sadie’s and Marley’s Christmas Tree Wednesday, Dec 13 2017 

24909771_10214620869776827_8438756774092905479_nIt’s long been recognized that dogs are privileged characters at this household.  This year they even get their own Christmas tree on the patio.  Whether they’ll get a gift from Santa or a sack full of boogers depends, of course, on how well they behave.

Sadie’s been digging and tearing up the back yard turf, so her gift prospects are in question.  Sack of boogers alert!

Marley is contending for a gift, but he needs to be consistent for the next week and a half.  Whether he has the discipline to maintain good deportment remains the question.  We’ll see.

A Snowy Meditation Friday, Dec 8 2017 

It’s snowing today all along the Gulf Coast.  The climatological norm for snowfall in these parts is once every seven years, and I believe that’s true: I could probably number the  snowfall events of my lifetime (excluding three years growing up in Colorado) on the fingers of my two hands.

As I reflected this morning on the cottony snow flakes drifing to the ground, I realized I love  two things about snow:
1. I love that we rarely have snow down south.   Snow is cold, it’s nasty when it melts, and we’re house-bound.
2. But, I love when it does snow because it’s so rare: soft, quiet, mellow—-and it hardly ever lasts longer than half a day or so and it’s gone.24862340_10214590762744170_2277411247685661860_n

Here’s a reflection I posted this morning on Facebook:
Rain falls harsh and loud;
snow falls soft and quiet.

For Christmas season
Soft is best.
Quiet is best.
Snow is best.

But that we could preserve this for Christmas Day.!