Siblings Forever Tuesday, Jul 17 2018 

IMG_1578Since our two kids grew up and moved to distant parts, having them with their spouses together for this past weekend in Texas was a rare treat.  I particularly enjoyed witnessing this unique sibling moment as they chatted and walked together ahead of the rest of us in downtown Houston on our way  to a baseball game.   They had only been together for a few hours at this point in the visit.

For all the petty sibling picking and whining that these two perpetrated in their childhoods, they grew up well.  Their mom and I are proud!

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Country Roads, Acadiana: “Sloppa-lousas” Tuesday, Jul 10 2018 

US 190 is not a major east-west thoroughfare by any stretch—-its infrastructural importance is more used-ta-be since I-10 came along in the 60s/70s; today, the road serves more local  traffic than it does  regional or interstate travel.

I’ve traveled this highway across south Louisiana and into eastern Texas several times in recent years.  As an old-school thoroughfare, 190 rarely features high-speed by-passes around the centers of most small towns and cities.  Travelers must be alert to slow down to the posted limits as they transition from the open highway to the outskirts and ultimately to down town with what often seems to be an interminable series of traffic signals.

From Huntsville across eastern Texas through Livingston, Woodville, and Jasper, the highway crosses into Louisiana where it cuts through DeRidder, Kinder, Elton, Basile, Eunice and on to Opelousas and Baton Rouge beyond.  Once aross the River at Baton Rouge, 190 loses its regional relevance as the parallel I-12 corridor makes the highway insignificant as a throughfare until it ends just outside of Slidell.

Many of the wide spots, villages, small towns and cities along the route are notable for  their provinciality, local cop speed traps, lack of scenery, pot-holed streets, and irritating slow-downs; however, in my experience,  one town surpasses all the others in its recognition as the worst through-route in the region: Opelousas, Louisiana.

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One of the irritating traffic signals where congested traffic struggles to creep its way through the center of town.

The passage through Opelousas is loooooooong, over four miles from west to east (or vice versa).  Speed limits gradually descend from 50 to 40 to 30 to a syrupy 25, grinding through a block-to-block series of downtown traffic lights in traffic that’s usually moderate-to-heavy.  Traffic never flows through downtown Opelousas—-more accurately, it lurches from block to block, light to light.

And, the street surfaces are ridden with pot-holes and uneven surfaces.  The violent pitching of a bucking-bronco ride comes to mind as I imagine a comparable experience to driving on the ill-maintained streets.

And you’d better not go over the limit in those 25 or 30 mph zones: OPD is ever-vigilant to entrap  the careless!

Finally, the passage through Opelousas from beginning to end is visually  unappealing (understatement?).  From one end of town to the other, rusting warehouses,  derelict buildings, decadent homes, and blighted lots crowd the constricted rights-of-way of the narrow thoroughfare.  Even the stateliness of the Parish courthouse and a handful of well-restored Victorian homeplaces along the route cannot atone for the overwhelming homeliness of declining parts of town.

So, I jokingly (and lovingly, because it’s close to home) refer to Opelousas’s downtown passage as “Sloppa-lousas.”  It’s city limits-to-city limits passage provides a throw-back experience from a bygone era of motor travel.  And, as most travelers would observe at the end of the experience, the only thing good about the good old days of motor travel is that they’re gone.  Unfortunately, Highway 190 through Opelousas did not go with them, but rather stayed behind to decay along with its tedious route through the old-timey center of town.

Marley the Dog Wednesday, Jul 4 2018 

Ten years ago today, Marley the Dog moved into our back yard. His story composed those years ago is worth sharing on this, his tenth “rebirth” day.  The copy below was originally posted on July 6, 2008.

Inventio!

I first saw Marley the dog one late afternoon  last week following Ann as Ann did her daily jog in the neighorhood.   Ann commented later on this “cute little dog” that had followed her the whole time she ran.  I didn’t encourage the conversation any farther, because the last time Ann got attached to such a stray, the mutt became Sadie the Dog, who’s lived in our back yard now for three years.

To shorten the story, Marley (who was unnamed at this time) had been hanging out in the neighborhood for several days.  Various dog-loving neighbors were putting out food and water for him (Sarah and Ann did, also), and one of the neighbors even knocked on a few doors, advocating Marley’s cause for adoption to a good home.  No takers.  I resisted my own family’s petitions and appeals on Marley’s behalf, reasoning “We don’t need another dog.”

But…

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Payton’s and Marley’s Sleepover: Rotten Times Two Sunday, Jul 1 2018 

36357148_10216369683616080_4561260722960465920_nSave for lightning and thundersome nights, Marley the Dog is not privileged to sleep in (or on) human beds.  He has a cozy mat on the floor that he happily uses for bed time.

But when Payton comes, doggy behavior rules are suspended.  That little girl is Marley’s most persuasive champion and advocate: as Payton wills in Marley’s regard, so goes Marley!

And so go the household rules.

Permissive behavior management is one of the first principles of grandparenting, I believe.

On Target: Ruts of Retirement Friday, Jun 29 2018 

IMG_1554In younger years, rut, the root from which we derive routine, carried a pejorative meaning.  To be in a rut suggested boredom, a lack of adventure, or a reluctance to grow and develop.

Now older, I find ruts and other predictable patterns of lifestyle comforting.  I’m not bored, any sense of adventure has been long-since fulfilled, and I’ve just about grown and developed as much as I want, much less need.

So any weekday Tuesday or Wednesday around half past 10:00 a.m., we’re making shopping rounds for meds and household supplies at Target in Lafayette.  By 11:00, we’re at Rouse’s Market making the grocery rounds.  We vary that routine as needed to stop off at Bed,Bath and Beyond or Old Navy or perhaps World Market as we commute from Target to Rouses—-those occasional variations provide as much unpredictability as we need in this phase of life.

 

 

 

 

Summerdusk Tuesday, Jun 26 2018 

Composed on the patio, June 2018IMG_1551

Hot, swampy days fade about half past eight:
Days stretched, baked by vernal equinox,
Night’s deepening descent retarded
This sultry time of year.

Must wait late,
So too late,
For steamy darkfall
On Junetime evenings . . .

Cooled hardly by shrill mosquitoes flapping tiny wings,
Enloudened by the scritching cicada chorus,
Salted by summer’s sweaty fragrance.

Longest daze
Swelter, ooze into lusty night
At dusk . . .
This vernal time of year.

Siri-ously? Saturday, Jun 23 2018 

IMG_1545
Chataignier, of course, is the name of a quaint Cajun village in these parts.  The French word is also the common noun for chestnut.
In French, it’s pronounced shot-an-yay.  In English, it usually sounds like shuh-tann-ya.
How in the world did Siri hear the sh__ word?
Perhaps that’s why the computer technology behind Siri is called artificial intelligence.  In this case, anyway, it’s good for a laugh.

Back-Yard Potty Tales Sunday, Jun 17 2018 

This is the most hilarious product package label I’ve seen in a long time. 

35543377_10216266362313112_5941035322035929088_nThe French “sac a crottes de chien” on the package is translated like this: “Dog turd bag.”

We came across this item while looking for doggie treats in the pet food section at Dollar Tree.  I regularly get a kick out of reading product labels in the store because their labeling is almost always bilingual, French and English.  I often bolster  my French vocabulary in the store, in fact, as I read the shelf labels to learn  names of products and commodities that my French 1101/1102 textbooks didn’t cover when I studied French in college over 45 years ago.

But back to the subject: these doggy bags’ bilingual label is unusual in that, ordinarily, the product labels in Dollar Tree are translated in directly equivalent wording.  But “doggy waste bags” translates nowhere close to “sacs a crotte de chien.”

This topic is much more fun in Cajun country where I live because most of my Cajun friends, even those who can’t speak French, learned what the French word crotte means and how it’s used from their parents or grandparents.  It’s an innocent potty word we and our kids have fun with—- in fact, we have always made great family sport of making jokes about our dogs’ crottes lying in the back yard.   Like the English word turd, crotte is not a vulgar word, per se; of course, we acknowledge as well that it is a word  for which we’d exercise discretion before using in polite or unfamiliar company.

All I can suppose from this product label is that the turd word is  not quite as pejorative in French as it is in English.  Even if the French are not so sensitive about its use, though, when I visit France on our vacation later this summer, I will certainly avoid bringing up crottes as a discussion topic.  Mes maniérés sont trop Américain, je pense, pour demander d’un francais, “Ou peut-je acheter des sac a crottes de chien?”

True Confession of a News Junkey Thursday, Jun 14 2018 

One of retirement’s glorious liberations is the freedom to follow news, as much or as little, as I want.

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The President’s press secretary is quite the news boob: As much as I dislike her persona—-because she shamelessly defends the persona of our sleazy president —-I confess I enjoy watching her rhetorically-artless slithering and sliding around truth. 

For me, I choose “as much,” for I’ve become a confirmed news junkey.  Rarely does my first-thing-in-the-morning coffee session end without eventually turning the TV channel to CNN.  Through the marvels of DirecTV and wifi, I can even carry the news shows around in my pocket so I can stay connected while I’m doing yard work, shaving or taking a bath, or even jogging.  For me, it’s a case of news-as-entertainment.

Some might argue that it’s TV news addiction—-But I don’t believe my daily watching is  that serious).  But I do confess that starting a morning without a dose of CNN News Day is kind of like starting the morning without that essential third cup of coffee.

 

 

 

 

Country Roads, Acadiana: The Six O’Clock News Friday, Jun 8 2018 

IMG_1532You can tell that you live outside the beaten path of urban Americana by the headlines on your local TV station’s evening news.

One of tonight’s headlines on our local news from Lafayette, Louisiana, for example, was the announcement of a ground-breaking for a new sewer treatment lift station in the Cajun small-town of Rayne.

Would such an announcement  in metropoli like Houston or Chicago or Los Angeles qualify as evening “news?”

Of course, not.

That’s what makes us special.

Lâchez-les, country roads Acadiana!

 

 

 

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