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 


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.



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.


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!

The IFs and WHENs of Post-Retirement “Work” Thursday, Jan 11 2018 

New semester, new (or old?) office.

Office door

The “Here teacheth” door sign I’ve posted at the entrance of every classroom or office since I created placard in 1997: Looks good on the door to C105-L at LSUE. 


But I’m retired?  What about the post a few days ago about not answering the bell for any more spring semesters?

Well, let’s qualify that: No more full time spring (or any other) semesters.  Under the terms of this part-time occupation, I can wake up when I want and drink coffee as long as I want; I can come to campus to work if I want and/or when I want, or do my piddling work at home.  I still wake up when I want; I come to this office if I want or when I want.  And if the boss gets on my nerves, I can always quit when I want (not likely to happen, of course–but the option is there!).

Yes, teaching part-time is not work—-it’s fun.  Yes, that’s the new “F” word–Fun.  And as long as part-time college teaching is fun, I’ll keep at it, considering myself at the same time a full-time retiree.

When it’s no longer fun, I’ll be movin’ on!

A Red Letter Day Monday, Jan 8 2018 

IMG_1297This Monday (Funday) morning is the first day in a 38 year career in education that I did not rise to answer the bell for the start of a spring semester at the end of the holidays.

And instead of watching the 7:00 news as I would ordinarily do while getting dressed and prepped before leaving to work on a school day, I stayed in PJs and watched the ESPN highlights of the Saints playoff win yesterday against Carolina.

I’ve got some things to do this morning that will keep me off the idle streets and out of trouble, but it’s really nice being free from the constraints of time and place.

Yes, this is a red letter day: RETIRED. 




Ice is [not] nice? Wednesday, Jan 3 2018 

In the past plus/minus sixty hours, temps have risen above freezing for no more than four hours.  Any standing water before the freeze is turned to ice with two more pipe-bursting nights of hard freeze to go.  Here’s an “Ode to Ice” for such a season.


Bird bath, or bird ice skating rink?

Ice is nice
in soft daze of summer,
floating languidly
amid yellow lemon slices
in chilled
pitchers of enervating tea
or refreshing water.
But not so much
in rude winter,
frozen in rigid, frigid
blobs and clumps
that fill bird baths, puddles, and ponds
with petrified meanness.

O, summer, where is thy balm?

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!









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.


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.







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