Patio Dwelling: October Daze, at Last Wednesday, Oct 16 2019 

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Welcoming fall patio dwelling daze ahead!

This late summer/fall 2019 has been more brutal than any season in memory.  The 90+ temps, attended by 70+ dew points,  persisted at record-levels through September and far into October while the chilling breezes of autumn seemed trapped somewhere north of Mason-Dixon.

A strong front visited last week, and another one breezed through today.  The weatherman’s long range prediction shows a more hopeful outlook for autumn weather as we move farther into the season.

How long we’ve waited for such days!

 

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US 190: The Highway Home Friday, Oct 11 2019 

The highway home, in either direction!   Consider these curious coincidences of cartography:

US190Growing up in Covington, our house was on US 190, West 21st Ave., the business route right through the middle of town.

At the same time I was going to high school in the 1960s in Covington, a little Cajun girl was growing up in her family’s house on West Laurel Avenue, US190 in Eunice, about 150 miles to the west.  (We were living “across the street,” more or less—-her house was on the north side of 190, my house on the south.)

And so we were married just one block off US190 at the First Baptist Church of Eunice.  Our house is no longer directly on US 190, but we still live in Eunice: This fabled highway in our family lore remains the east/west route in and out of our lives.

But there’s more.  US190 continues to run like an asphalt thread through our lives, for our son’s Edward Jones office and his family life are now rooted in Huntsville, Texas, where the major east/west thoroughfare in and out of town is, of course, US 190!

So from my family home in Covington, 150 miles west to Eunice, and 200 miles farther west to Huntsville:  US 190 leads home, in either direction.

 

Country Roads, Acadiana: Spanish Moss Saturday, Oct 5 2019 

We attended a picturesque outdoor wedding last week on the shores of Lake Peigneur in Vermilion Parish.  The sun set along the lake as the wedding ceremony unfolded: a vintage South Louisiana scene!

IMG_0495Among the striking visual features of the setting, the Spanish Moss flowing from the sprawling Live Oak branches reminded me of the Louisiana Gulf Coast of my youth.  Spanish Moss was so common years ago.  Old-timey Cajuns would collect the moss as a commercial commodity and use it for household purposes, such as mattress stuffing.  As children, we would gather the moss and use the strands for play.   Spanish Moss was quite useful, for instance, as a funny fake beard for either a child’s Halloween costume or a life-like scarecrow to scare the birds away from the tomato patch.

Owing probably to air quality and pollution issues, Spanish Moss today is much rarer across South Louisiana than it was years ago.  Like so many traditions and artifacts of our childhood that are disappearing for environmental reasons, we’re reminded that we are stewards of the planet and that nature’s loss easily becomes a cultural loss.

Here’s to country roads, here’s to Acadiana, and here’s to Spanish Moss:  May we thrive!

Welcome to the club, Nick! Monday, Sep 30 2019 

Yep, both of your grandfathers were sagacious, discerning men.

They did it!

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Nick joined the club officially on September 28, 2019

Both your father and your father-in-law were reared by sagacious, discerning men.  Likewise, they did it!

And a survey of most of your uncles understood the same thing, for they did it!

I’m not blood-related to you, but by marriage I am, and I am proud to say that I did it.

So did my son, your brother-in-law.

For that matter, so did my son-in-law from Kansas—-he did it, too, and he’s not even from Louisiana!

What did all this sagacious company of discerning men do, myself inclued,  that’s so remarkable that I post it in this blog?

We all married a Cajun girl!

Welcome to the club!!

Farewell, Mrs. Lelia: A Legend of Faith Departed! Monday, Sep 23 2019 

5d84de61b9b65I recall the observation of an acquaintance studied in the discipline of folklore: When an elderly soul passes on, especially one whose life was rich, full, and storied, the impact is equivalent to a museum burning to the ground with the total loss and destruction of all of its precious, irreplaceable artifacts.  I felt that way the last few days after hearing the news of Mrs. Lelia Fontenot’s passing.  She was 103 years old, an esteemed matron in our church who had been a member since she was a little girl in the 1920s.  She had a recall of not just bygone days, but entire bygone eras in the history of the congregation.

So with her loss, our fellowship also loses irreplaceable memories, stories, and precious recollections of more than two generations of church lore.  Truly, the repository of memory that was hers, has burned to the ground!  And we are poorer for that.

But we are richer, too.  In fact, we are richer than poorer!  For while we regret losing a matron who could tell us things about our past that no one else could, we rejoice all the more that she’s gone to the reward that her faith promised her when she embraced the Savior.  As the pastor quoted the Psalmist in the memorial service this afternoon, we remember that this day, she has gone on “to dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”

No museum will last forever, no matter how precious and extensive its collections, galleries, and exhibits–not the Smithsonian, not the Louvre, not England’s Museum of London, not even the Vatican Museum.  For they are stone and mortar destined for dust, just as Mrs. Lelia’s mortal remains.

But the House of the Lord?  That’s an eternal real estate transaction, one which Mrs. Lelia completed when she invested a down payment of faith over 90 years ago in that same church where we celebrated her life today.

And not only did she make that investment for her own part, for the remaining two and a half generations of her life, her selfless love and stewardship of eternal matters bore a living, compelling witness to others.  Her life showed all who knew her—and even many tens of thousands or even millions who never met her  owing to her commitment to worldwide Christian missions— how to make that same eternal investment.   Her witness began with her family and extended to friends and neighbors, any who were so blessed to make her acquaintance.

I recall a quotation about the rewards of teaching: “A teacher never knows where his influence ends.” Likewise, never  does a godly woman, like Mrs. Lelia,  know where her influence ends on the lives and eternal destinies of innumerable souls whose lives she touched with her faith.

Truly, we will miss the rich stories and the memories she could relate to us.  Those stories and memories are gone forever.  But our memory of her will endure, and that memory will motivate and inspire us to live our faith with character and consistency, as she did.

And here’s the best thought: a little later on, in the glorious installment of eternity that follows life on Earth, we will enjoy fellowship with her again in that fabled land where “charming roses bloom forever.”  We will delight in hearing her memories and stories for the ages to come!

Football Lazy: Keeping the Sabbath Holy? Saturday, Sep 21 2019 

Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, right?  And God commanded man to “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy,” right?  Part of that traditional holiness is resting mind and body, right?

IMG_0488Of course, to all three questions!  And so during football season, this condition of football laziness—-watching game after game after game—- must be an appropriate (and biblical) response to the sanctity of the Sabbath!

I did go for a jog this morning and washed the car before games started–but neither required strenuous exertion.  Since then, I’ve watched football.  It’s mid-afternoon right now, but I’ll be watching games until almost bed time tonight.

Seems like the right way to keep the Sabbath holy . . .  Thank God for the freedom of retirement and Saturdays in late summer/fall when the patio summons to grab the remote, relax in the comfy rocker, and indulge in Sabbath holiness!

Country Roads, Louisiana: The Old-Time Hardware Store Monday, Sep 16 2019 

H.J.SmithGrowing up in Covington, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, I often visited H. J. Smith & Sons Hardware store on Gibson Street, less than a block off US 190 in the heart of downtown.  Daddy, who did a lot of carpentry work as a sideline occupation, was a regular customer and excellent buddy with the proprietor at the time, Mr. Red Smith (who was, I believe, the grandson of the store’s founder and namesake, H. J. Smith).  Mr. Red’s nickname for Daddy was “Rev” (because Daddy was a minister).

The store had an old timey feel even in the 1960s and 70s when I was growing up.  The rough pine flooring, the heavy oak counters, and the narrow aisles lined with tiers of shelves, barrels, and bins surely looked much the same then as the store looked at the

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Sarah explores the wares of the old time hardware store.

turn of the century.

Mr. Red is deceased, but when we visited Saturday, I was pleased that his two sons (appx. my age) are still running the store.  We remembered one another from childhood and had a few moments of friendly reminiscence.  It’s truly H. J. Smith and Sons (and grandsons and great-grandsons!).

The current generation has maintained the rustic atmosphere of the store while at the same time broadening the merchandise line to include rugged outdoor wear, decorative iron works, and “craftsy” souvenirs that are appropriate for the modern-day downtown tourist scene that Covington has become.  The Smith’s have also accumulated an extensive collection of antiques and artifacts that they display in a side room designated as “the museum.”

To anyone who visits Covington as a tourist, I recommend a visit to H. J. Smith and Son’s.  It has the feel and atmosphere of the past, and I’m pretty sure that browsers who visit will find the array of wares delightful and intriguing, whether they’re into hardware or not.

 

 

Birthdays and Oysters: “Eat, drink, and be merry!” Tuesday, Sep 10 2019 

This post is a little late—-we posed for the photo at Shucks Restaurant in Abbeville for Sarah’s birthday last Thursday, but I finally found time to post it today.  I thought this outing provides a good memory and highlights the best things going on in our lives–family.  As our parents pass on and age, as we age and deal with the inevitability of the attendant declines of our advancing years, we must relish hours like these!   IMG_0481

In the process, I confess I’m slipping on my resolution to eat fried oysters only on my birthday, too.  I started that a few years ago as a measure of appeasing my conscience for a once-a-year indulgence in an unhealthy meal.  But I find now that I’m using other people’s birthdays as a rationale for celebrating with fried oysters, as I did on this day.  Later this week, furthermore, I’ll slip again on the dietary resolve and partake of fried oysters for Mama’s birthday in Covington!

Does “Eat, drink, and be merry” apply?  Or is that just a convenient rationalization?

Or, better yet, now that I’m on daily medication to manage cholesterol levels, does it even matter if I eat fried oysters?   For sure, life is too short to be glum.

Modern-Day Marketing: The Not-so-Coy Mistress in the Window Tuesday, Sep 3 2019 

Andrew Marvell wrote a poem in merry old England called “To a Coy Mistress.”  The poem was a little adventurous by 17th or 18th century standards, since the poet wrote with brazen intent: he was out to seduce his beloved.  She must have been a challenge to woo!

How about the saucy mistress in this larger-than life blow-up photo on display in a department store window in Acadiana Mall?  IMG_0479What poem would her lover write?  Would he call it “To a Coy Mistress?”  She certainly doesn’t seems to look very coy, if coy means “flirtatiously shy or modest.”  She may appear flirtatious, even larger-than-life (in more ways than one!), but hardly is this pose “shy or modest!”

I acknowledge men and women have modeled underwear as far back as the Sears-Roebuck Catalogs, and I even confess that I used to ogle at the pix of those catalogue models when I  was a curious lad of  8 or 10 years old, fascinated at the appearance of  color pictures of  real-life women wearing nothing but dainties—-brassieres, nighties,  panties!

But even then, the photos of those Sears-Roebucks models show a difference in taste from that generation to today’s generation.  The pictures in the catalogue weren’t seductive or suggestive like this super plus-sized lady in the mall window, who is obviously unabashed by the largesse of her figure.  In fact, the largesse of her figure suggests a largesse of brazenness.  The 1960s catalog ad photos weren’t brazen!  The models wore pleasing smiles on their face, but they appeared more wholesome than sexy.

And they weren’t plastered on store front windows on 8 X 10 foot posters, either.

 

 

 

Walking in a Wallie Wonderland Tuesday, Aug 27 2019 

Today’s workout: 46 minutes, 2.71 miles.

Where: The long aisles of  our local Walmart.

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The workout place: Walmart Acres?

I have heard of mall walkers and Walmart walkers for years.  But I never believed in all my life that a Walmart workout could be fulfilling for me.  As a shopping venue, I detest Walmart!

But lately, Sarah convinced me to try out the walking workout as an escape from the brutal summer heat.  Last week, I tried it.  The walk was excellent!  And it was good today, especially considering the heat index outside was around 105.

And another plus, unlike jogging the city streets, there’s no vehicle traffic to worry about in the store.  We have to dodge an occasional shopping cart and an unsupervised toddler from time to time, but the environment overall is safe and clean.

I do have some regrets: I can’t jog in the store, and I can’t bring Marley the Dog.  So for those reasons, I’ll continue to run the city streets as often as I can.  But it’s comforting to know that, on inclement weather days, there is a place!

 

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