Marley the Dog Loves His Leash! Monday, May 20 2019 

What’s Marley’s favorite toy?  The leash!  This act is the cutest trick any of our dogs has ever done.  Since we go for a workout almost every day, this routine has become a household ritual.

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Faisons un pique-nique! Thursday, May 16 2019 

60364169_10218911160631417_610536773721784320_nOur picnic outing yesterday at City Lake reminded me of a line from a corny dialogue we had to remember for French class in college: “Le temp fait beau. Faisons un piquenique!”

Such is the joy of retirement.  Freedom to do on a casual weekday morning: Burgers on the grill at 11:30, the park practically all to ourselves—- no noise, no competition for facilities, and certainly no need to hurry.  

Marley the Dog had a doggy blast.  On the way home he said he wants to go back for another pique-nique—–and really soon.

Patio Dwelling: The Evolution Saturday, May 11 2019 

IMG_0359The  picture to the right comes from cerca 2009, evoking memories of how our concept of patio dwelling has evolved.  I bought that  22 inch flat screen TV and an inexpensive RCA digital antenna with the idea of using the TV on the patio on summer Saturdays to watch sports and shows while grilling.  How radical!  I’d set up the TV on the patio dining table in the morning and put it back in the house after supper.  The little antenna picked up five or six local stations–not much to choose from (on some Saturdays the only viewing options  were soccer or golf–ugh!).  And the low-tech box of matches reminds me that we used a wood-burning cheminea for grilling.   Low tech or not, we were  excited to move the living room outdoors on balmy spring and summer days.

IMG_0361I took the next picture to the right this morning.  It shows that ten years later, we’re set up to live out doors day in and day out.  Weather permitting, in fact, we spend as much time outside as we do inside.  Observe now that the TV is permanently installed on the patio.  It’s still hooked up to a local digital antenna, but it’s also connected to wifi to stream programming from the Internet.  And it’s a smart TV with the apps and more modern features of the more contemporary technology.  Over the years, we’ve also enlarged the patio, added furniture, outdoor carpets, a Webre gas grill, fans, a security camera, and other aesthetic appointments that make patio dwelling pleasant and comfortable, from morning to dusk and season to season.

If we ever move from this house, we must find some way to move the patio with us!

Country Roads, Texas: Gas out! Monday, May 6 2019 

Two posts in a row from Texas: this one from a taco/wings joint in Arlington that we visited on our weekend Texas trip to watch Payton’s cheer squad competition.

IMG_0350What causes the most gas?  Beer, food, or the gasoline pump?

I can’t answer the question because I never visited Fanny’s.  I suspect any of the three have potential.

Regardless, Fanny’s sign is interesting if not entertaining.

“Signs”of folk art? Wednesday, May 1 2019 

58756917_10218773821358021_1698278116637540352_nI’ve posted pix of home made store door signs occasionally over the years.  The homespun rhetoric of  convenience store clerks and cashiers can provide  examples of folk art that are amusing and colorful, if not sometimes provocative.

This one from east Texas may be tops.  Wallets and purses, please!

Its caustic (and blunt) insinuation is that the customer is NOT always right!

Who would disagree?

Obituary: Sadie the Dog Monday, Apr 29 2019 

Sadie the dog departed this world earier this afternoon at the age of almost 14.  She was a faithful and good dog for all of her years.

She came to us as a rescue dog in summer 2005.  Her Uncle Zach was jogging by the municipal softball fields with his friend Dr. Todd Pullin when they heard the distressful cries of a puppy in a Port o Let.  They brought her home and, of course, Ann asked, “Can we keep her?”

sadieOf course, Ann.

We kept her for all of the next 14 years until tonight when she jumped the rainbow.

I’ll remember Sadie the most for the early years when she’d jog with me at LSUE.  I could release her from her leash and she’d follow me around the campus.  She hunted and chased  squirrels—-that was her passion.

We stopped the campus visits after she discovered the ferral cats that lived next to the Science Building and killed a couple of kittens.  I couldn’t take the terror-stricken cries of the  kittens!

Her later years were distinguished by a propensity to dig and destroy yard turf.  She seemed especially to relish hours and eves when we weren’t home to accomplish the damage.  Perhaps she exacted her revenge on our leaving by digging up the yard.

Anyway, we’re sad to bid Sadie farewell.  She was one of our beloved dogs, a member of the family.

We look forward to seeing her again one day, over the rainbow.

Humble rewards of the profession: An attitude of gratitude Thursday, Apr 25 2019 

I’m finishing year 39 as an educator this 2018-19 school year and enjoying teaching more than any time in all those years.  One of the rich experiences this year was teaching applethe St. Edmund honors class that I taught in their 9th and 10th grade years.  This spring I taught them again for their second semester college composition course.  They’re the only cohort I’ve taught three different classes and at two different levels, high school and college.

So the following thank you note I received from one of those students last week really touched me.  These are the humble rewards that we can’t use to pay the bills or buy groceries, but they’re the intangible assurances that our work and our calling in the craft of teaching has effect.  She wrote the following:

“Mr. P, I know we are finished with your English class, but I just wanted to thank you for the time and effort you have put into preparing and teaching us. I have truly never had a teacher that has cared about his/her students so much, and I wanted you to let you know how much I appreciate that. You have always been so kind and have inspired me to exceed what I am capable of writing. Again, I just wanted to thank you for caring about us and for all of the countless hours you have put into our class just to benefit our future. I have absolutely enjoyed our past couple of years in your class! I wish you and your wife the best. Y’all are so special!! We love you Mr. P!”

What a blessing!  What a motivation!  Next year will make 40 years—-I’ll take the summer off, but when the bells sounds for AY2019-20 in August, I’ll be ready.

Splitting Infinitives Thursday, Apr 25 2019 

57909002_10218751379916999_2055694617721962496_nHaving taught grammar and composition for well over thirty years, I’ve seen my share of split infinitives.  I believe they were a much bigger deal years ago than today, but even as such, as an error in usage, split infinitives are fairly rare.  That’s why the caption on this major media TV news crawl sort of stunned me.

A violation of the 11th Grammarian commandment: Thou shalt not split thine infinitives. NYT should know better than this (the caption).

But even still, who butchers English mechanics more than our idiotic president in his bloviating, ill-edited tweets? What ever happened to grammatical civility? The same as political civility?

Country Roads, Acadiana: Good Friday on the Intracoastal Sunday, Apr 21 2019 

We first visited our son’s in-laws’ family camp on the Intracoastal Waterway at Forked Island, waaaaaaaaay down south in South Louisiana, in 2014.  It’s become a traditional reunion with our expanded family that adopted us into their clan after the wedding.

The feast is traditionally Cajun: boiled crawfish, fried catfish, and a pot-luck buffet of country—-

IMG_4387

Marley the Dog joined the family for the first time this year.  He had a doggie-blast!

Cajun casseroles, veggie dishes, and, of course, sweets.

More than the food, though, we enjoy the family gathering.  After the gourmandise, the grown-ups circle their lawn chairs on the lawn along the canal in the burgeoning spring outdoors and wax gregarious, sharing entertaining assortments of chit-chat, tall-tales, farcical contes, and good-natured ribbing.  Laughter abounds.

The relaxed experience is totally de-stressing, affording several hours of utter retreat from any distraction or vexation that may have been going on at home before the day.  It’s not the Garden of Eden, but for just this day of the year, the camp at Forked Island comes about as close as earthly possible.

IMG_4396

On the left, our first visit in 2014; on the right, 2019.

Country Roads, Louisiana: John Deere-Land + a Memoir Wednesday, Apr 17 2019 

One of my best friends is a farmer in Acadia Parish, Louisiana.  Over the years with his sons, he amassed this amazing collection of John Deere toy tractors and combines.

IMG_0324What a magical display!  When I was a toy-tractor-lovin’ lad of 10 or 12, I would have been mesmerized at the flourescent gleam of row upon row of every sort of John Deere implement that ever rolled across the fields of American farms.

The display also reminds me of my one failed attempt at John Deere tractor driving when I was a 19 year old college freshman.  My north Louisiana roommate, whose family farmhouse was situated on a gravel road  3/4 of a mile from the Louisiana/Arkansas state line, invited me to come home with him one weekend in the spring.  It was March, I believe.

When we drove up at his family home place, his dad, nicknamed Hop, met us in the driveway.  Though I was a rank stranger to Mr.Hop, he gave his son and me orders to disc the field adjacent to the house.  That I had never driven a tractor before mattered not: there was farm work to do!  We didn’t even bother to bring our suitcases in but went straight to the task.

After a quick lesson or two in tractor-driving, I had that JohnnyPopper 2030 marching to and fro across the field, the disc blades breaking and parting the heavy sod.  I was pretty impressed with myself.

But at the end of one row just as the operation was going so well, I made a mistake—-I turned too sharply, causing the back tire or the tractor to engage with the frame of the disc.  Luckily for me, the clash between the disc and the tire caused the tractor to stall out and die.  Had the tractor kept going, that disc would have climbed that rolling back tirelanded upside down on my head.

I finished the job after my roomy came to [literally] back me out of the ham, but I also realized my shortcomings as a tractor driver.  I’ve nevere driven since.  I found myself later to be better suited for other pursuits:  Much better for me to compose a sonnet about tractor driving than to drive a tractor.

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