Farewell, Billy Graham Wednesday, Feb 21 2018 

Let the record of this blog reflect that on this day, Rev. Billy Graham went home.  An icon of my youth—-and faith—-departed for glory.

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An evangelist with the gift of prophecy and media savvy.

I admire Billy Graham for many reasons.  Like me, he was a democrat, but politics was not his bag.  Unlike the rabid politicism of the evangelical right that emerged later in my generation, Billy Graham soared above politics, including the politics of race, proclaiming the gospel’s simple message of truth and inclusion.

His character was above board, free from scandal.  The sordid misadventures of so many televangelists that emerged after Billy Graham did enormous damage to the Kingdom, but Billy Graham—-including his ministry team made up of men of character like Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea—-trod the straight and narrow.

The Protestant Billy Graham would laugh at any comparison between him and the office of the Catholic Pope, but I believe as an icon for Protestants, his leadership stature is on a par. For my generation, his voice was autoritative, compelling, and true.  He was truly a giant.

We’ve missed him from the public scene for at least a decade or so as his health  declined, so the main truth now is not that we miss him, for we have done that.   But this evening we  remember him.  We remember his as a legendary and a true prophet of God.

For my generation, he is the gold standard.

 

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Crawfish: The Fellowship Meal Monday, Feb 19 2018 

I know that other regions and other cultures have regional food traditions.  But, my personal biases notwithstanding, the Louisiana crawfish boil, as a time of fellowship, is rare.

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Life’s too short to rush eating crawfish!

The way we serve the crawfish is unique.  We cover the table with newsprint or some other absorbent paper (because crawfish are messy!) and dump a mound of the boiled crustaceans in the middle of the table.  Everyone sits (or sometimes stands) around the table in close proximity, often elbow-to-elbow, digging in to the communal pile to pick and shuck the miniature lobsters.

Because shucking the crawfish to get at the creatures’ tasty tails is time-consuming, and since it takes MANY, MANY crawfish tails to make supper, crawfish-eaters must, of necessity, be patient—-no one rushes the meal.  As a result, to make a meal eating crawfish takes considerably longer than it takes for eating grilled burgers!

So what goes on during this unrushed culinary ritual?  Fellowship!  The close proximity of the group and the laid-back process of shucking and peeling and eating results in a genial social atmosphere where conversation, laughter, and abundant good nature abound.

I’ve been to fish fries, bar-b-ques, and picnics all of my life—-all nice and lovely in their own right.  But none of those compare to the fellowship of the crawfish boil, which is truly and uniquely “Made in Louisiana!”

 

 

At Home with Haute Cuisine Monday, Feb 12 2018 

What was on the weekend supper menu last Saturday?

Oysters Bienville
Bang-bang Shrimp
Orzo pasta salad with kalamari olives and tomatoes
Veggie tots

oystersbienvilleOur week-to-week menus have become immensely more sophisticated than in  former days when Saturday supper was hardly ever more exotic than bar-b-que chicken quarters with potato salad.

We still like bar-b-que and potato salad, so my point is not to demean those standards of suburban patio fare.  The point is that six or seven years of watching cooking shows has enriched our culinary imaginations.  Of course, Chef Sarah merits the greater recognition for the fantastic dishes that she creates on the stove top or in the oven, because she’s the one to plan the menus and sling the pots. She’s definitely the queen of the kitchen.

As for me, I try to help out by requesting an occasional menu item when she runs out of ideas, but I mostly help by simply staying out of her way while she cooks.  I’m not even a competent sous-chef (I don’t take orders well?).

All I know is that Saturdays don’t come around often enough.

 

Happy Birthday, Boo Boo! Tuesday, Feb 6 2018 

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Happy birthday, Ann!  You’re blessed with your mom’s good looks!

Twenty-nine years ago today, Mardi Gras eve 1989, my only daughter entered this world at the former Moosa Hospital in Eunice.  I was in the delivery room when the little girl made her dubut that evening.

It was a memorable day for weather—- A rare south Louisiana ice storm was in progress—-the weather was a mess.  Sarah had gone to the doctor that morning thinking she’d come home after a consultation, but doc sent her straight to the hospital—-the baby girl was on the way!

And so our little girl arrived that night, née Ann Christian Pulling.

She’s the little girl who’s blessed our lives in a thousand ways, continuing to this very day.

Wanna know an example of how gifted she is?  She’s the young lady who convinced her late-middle-aged, set-in-his-ways father that not only is sushi edible, but it’s pretty darned good.

What other proof need I submit that she’s a special, gifted child!

 

Une ‘tite feue serait bonne! Saturday, Feb 3 2018 

Thinking of the many generational gains and losses I’ve noted in my lifetime, one of the losses that I find deeply, even hurtfully regrettable, is the loss of conversational Cajun French. When I moved to the Cajun prairie over 35 years ago, that quaint vernacular was spoken anywhere I went in town.  Today, those conversations are so sparse that, if I hear 27500723_10215103261156310_6108251136945222086_osomeone speaking French in a public place, it’s a head-turning, attention-getting rarity.

I’m happy I got to learn the language in those days from the old-timers who’ve mostly gone on to their eternal rewards.  Fortunately the memory of their language helps me to hold on to that generation, for almost every day, I stumble across some detail or phenomenon in life’s mundane comings-and-goings that makes me recall a word or phrase.  These words, phrases, and expressions  immortalize that generation in my memory in  folksy, home-spun ways.

For example, yesterday on the patio, I lit the fire pit to help us warm against the chilly damp of the late-winter afternoon.  Watching the yellow flames flicker and dance around the fire ring made me recall a  phrase Sarah’s MaMère used to pronounce with humor whenever the winter mercury dipped to chilly degrees: “Une ‘tite feue serait bonne”: (A little fire would be nice.)

Yes, it was nice to have a fire yesterday afternoon on the patio.  Yet nicer still was the recall of a quaint linguistic association with this bygone generation.

The loss of the folk languge is great and lamentable.

 

 

Remembrance: Daddy Worked, Daddy Played Monday, Jan 29 2018 

On this date in January 2011, my family was preoccupied with planning Daddy’s final church service.  He died on January 27 that year at a ripe old age, his passing a merciful deliverance from the debilitating Alzheimers that diminished the quality of his final IMG_1320years. If my memory serves me accurately, we celebrated his life and passing in a funeral at New Zion Baptist Church on January 30 that year, so this is a timely season of remembrance.

Last weekend, my niece Facebook-posted this photo of Daddy showing her and her sister many years ago—-I’m guessing the 1970s.  The details in the photo are soooooo Daddy, who was truly the king of work and play: the khaki work clothes, the open door to the storage shed where he stored his carpenter’s tools along with mountains of junk (that he regarded as treasure, of course), his little granddaughters whom he spoiled relentlessly, the fishing poles that remind me how much he enjoyed playing with his kids and grandkids.

The sum of this picture for me is this: For as hard as Daddy worked and for as many long hours that he worked, when he set the work aside to take his kids fishing or crabbing or swimming or camping, no one played harder than he, not even the kids.  As I reflect, I recall that I’ve had to admit over the years that I was no match for Daddy at work—-he could work circles around me, even in his later years; but likewise, I realize too that I, even as a kid, was no match for Daddy at play.  No child (or grandchild) had more fun than he.

What a gift of daddyhood!

 

 

 

 

The Flatness of the Prairie: The Brown of Winter Thursday, Jan 25 2018 

What a Gulf Coast winter!  Two snow events.  Two monster Arctic outbreaks.  The plumbers’ business flourishes from two sessions of pipe-bursting cold.

For all the unplIMG_1317easantry of the cold, though, the earthy brown tones the frostbit Cajun prairie assumes in this chilling winter of records strike a peculiar romance:

Earth poetry. . .
As lifeless brown spreads away to the ends of view.

For now, the harsh dearth of winter rules the Cajun prairie flatness.  Barren tree branches  and freeze-scorched, deadened grass signify life’s cycle of death.

South Louisiana rarely shows such a brown expanse of earthy landscape!

But no alarm.

The green of spring will blossom in due season.  Not soon enough for our impatient fancy, perhaps, but sure enough.

 

 

Winter Office Hours Tuesday, Jan 23 2018 

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The winter office.  The view outside the French door windows shows the patio office that’s preferred during the temperate seasons.

Living Room Recliner Work Station or LSUE Campus Office C105-L

Mon-Thurs, intermittent between approximately 8:30-11:00 a.m.

Fridays, intermittent between approximately 8:30-9:30

Weekends: No way.

Note: Office hours subject to suspension during LSUE holidays and on any other day without prior notice.

Office station will revert to the patio as soon as temperate weather permits.

 

Snowdaze Wednesday, Jan 17 2018 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how about two pictures?  I would only add that the snow storm January 16 is the most memorable Louisiana snow event for me for a couple of reasons: (1) the snow coverage was complete and (2) the overnight low was 15, so there is a stunning, blinding sunlit “morning after” that we hardly ever witness because snowpack in these parts often melts the same day it falls.

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An Epicurean Epitaph: Tomorrow we freeze Monday, Jan 15 2018 

We got a break today from the deep freeze that’s characterized most of the new year.  The temp reached 60!  Such balm has been rare so far this winter season. To celebrate, I moved the TV to the patio around mid-day and grilled some steaks for supper.

Tomorrow we go back to the severe season of deep freeze: winter weather advisory, wintry mix/snow, wind chill advisory, hard freeze warnings.  Ugh.

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Eat, drink, and be merry this balmy day before the blast: for tomorrow we freeze

So in our final moments on the patio before the evening chill drove us inside, I composed this Epicurean epitaph: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we freeze.”

Curses on the frigid winter of 2018!

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