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Friday, August 30, 2013

One year post Isaac; Part 3 of 3; Hell is full of dirty water!

Front of house.
It's 5 a.m. on Thursday morning.  We get the boys up and leave our pastor's house quietly.  The twenty miles back to the house is filled with horrifying sights.  Water up to the Airline in places never before seen.  Before getting back to Laplace we witness rescues taking place in the town of Reserve.  Where does this end?  We have to try several streets to get back to ours.  It's 8 a.m. before we see our house with the sun rising over the top of it.  Shock!  I make a decision to send the boys to my Mother in Law's house to eat breakfast.  I'm not sure when they ate last.  In fact I'm not sure if anyone has eaten in the last 24 hours.  I get a flat boat and I ferry my bride to our dream home we built ten years earlier.  Remember that feeling last night?  Well that was nothing compared to my descent into a watery hell I call home.

Breeze Way
The water is past my waist on the driveway.  I pull the boat around to the back door and get Penny out. There are snails in the water as big as my hand.  I put my shoulder into the back door and open it to 14 inches of dirty water.  The white tile shines through the dirty water to reveal "balls" of worms. Thousands and thousands of worms clinging together in balls all over the house.  Is this what it's like to face an Egyptian plague?  We walk through the house trying desperately to save at least one more thing.  We stumble in the bedrooms.  Did you know that carpet floats?  Nothing is untouched by the waters.  Every object sitting on the kitchen counter has an orange ring around it.  To this day, I don't know why.  Dear Lord, how many things did we not think about picking up.  I realize that under our bed is electronic equipment and video tapes. Videos of my boy's first steps and words in this life.  All sitting under 14 inches of sewer water.  My wife is in the fourth bedroom. Her grandmother lived with us in that room.  Penny stumbles on the carpet and hits a tub of her Granny's things and it falls into the water.  The tears roll without stop now.  We are in the middle of hell, 14 inches deep in dirty water, rolling balls of earthworms, and no clue what to do.

Left over worm debris.
We make several trips during the day to retrieve things and let the boys see the house.  There is little we can do.  I just sit on the edge of the boat in total shock.  Day turns to night and we venture back to our pastor's house to get some sleep.  Friday morning comes, my house still has three inches of dirty water in it.  My parent's home has drained.  We stay busy that day ripping wet carpet out of their house.  We have to keep busy, if not the weight of it all will crush our fragile mental state.   Saturday morning comes and the water is barely out of my house.  That's all I need.  We work like animals to remove the carpet, padding and destroyed furniture. The pile in the front yard grows by the hour. Then a thirty pound weight rolls off a work bench on to my 12 year old's foot. Mind you, we are all barefoot in this slop.  Then my 16 year old catches his foot on the wrong side of the carpet tack strip.  Thick pasty blood rolls onto the sewer stained floors.  Is it not bad enough that my dream house, that I designed and built myself is destroyed?  Is it not bad enough that everything I've worked my whole life for is full of sewer water?  Let's add injured teenage boys to my list of nightmares!  This is truly a low point.

What can you do?  I have two teenage sons.  We can't give up or quit.  It would scar the boys for life.  We must rebuild and show them that all things are possible with hard work.  Despite the harshness and brutality of it all, there is hope just over the horizon.  The cavalry will show up on Labor Day.  It's not who you would expect and definitely not the federal government.  The question is can I keep it together until then?  I'm unsure of everything at the moment.  When Monday finally gets here, my faith in God, faith in humanity, and mental state will be recovered.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One year post Isaac. Part 2 of 3. It just won't stop coming!

View from the back yard.
We get up Wednesday morning.  The power has been out.  It's rained all night.  The two horse pastures that are next to my property are full of water already. We check the weather on our phones.  We are horrified to learn that Isaac is stalled in Barataria Bay. The rains will not let up and the winds will continue to pack Lake Pontchartrain.  Worse case scenario.  I get a call from my Dad.  His travel trailer is in a low spot so we have to move it.  We hook up his truck and the rear tires sink up to the axle.  We fight for three hours to get his truck out.  We use boards, blocks, and bricks.  Then make a train with my tractor and my brother in law's Jeep.  When it's finally out, I turn and fall into the hole the tires made.  I go underwater, then when I surface my family is screaming at me.  A small water moccasin his on my back.  After all that excitement, I look across my land and see something I've never seen before.  Water is everywhere.  This has never happened before.  Not in Katrina, or Gustav.  What is going on?

We head back to the house to change into dry clothes.  I keep going outside every few minutes.  I'm just in a daze.  Surely the water will stop coming soon.  But the water creeps up on the porch and I know it won't stop. It's time to start picking up things.  We get all the computers and such up on top of things and I instruct the boys to put all the guns in the attic.  We hear the thumping of large helicopters.  The subdivisions nearest the Lake are underwater and the National Guard is performing rescues.  Then my wife gets a text from one of her co-workers.  She lives in the nearest subdivision.  She waded down her street to safety with nothing but clothes on her back and a phone in her hand.  It's coming this way.   Night falls and I know the waters won't stop. We try to settle the boys but the wife is upset so I tell her, I'm not opposed to leaving.  I tell her to pack the valuables and the boys to stack furniture on top of each other. The house won't stay above water for another hour.  I wade to my parents house to tell them we are leaving.  By the time I get back the water is seeping in the corners of the house.  I tell the boys to grab their school clothes, a sleeping bag, and the dog and get in my truck.  The wife has already loaded the valuables but she's still fretting about every little thing in the house.  By the time I force her out the door we are ankle deep in our own house.

I ease the truck down our lane.  Going just fast enough to create a wake that keeps the engine out of the water.  It takes us half and hour to get to Airline Highway (the main highway).  We had to try three different streets to get there.  Once we get on Airline we come to the National Guard command center.  They are still rescuing people.  There is a line of coach buses on the four lane highway blocking everything for at least a mile.  At this point we think the entire town of Laplace is underwater.  I roll down the window and ask a state troop how do I get past.  He says, "drive on the shoulder with some respect or get in one of these buses bound for Houston".  I say my thanks and move on.  I ain't going to Houston.  We make our way about twenty miles down the road.  Our pastor and his family welcome us into their house.  It's late, the boys have been drugged with Benedryl, they bed down on sleeping bags while we tell our pastor and his wife about our long day.

Penny and I go lay in a bed shortly after midnight.  There will be no sleep tonight.  We lay there holding hands with tears in our eyes.  Our house is filling with water and there's not a thing we can do about it. I think to myself, "this is the worst feeling in the world".  Tomorrow will prove me very, very wrong.

Monday, August 26, 2013

One year Post Isaac. Part 1 of 3. Preparing for a small storm.

Hurricane Isaac
It's Monday the 27th of August.  Tropical Storm Isaac is wobbling across the Gulf of Mexico.  He's not that strong of a storm but models put it on a bee line to Louisiana and it has to cross some of the warmest parts of the Gulf.  It will strengthen before it gets here.  We've survived Katrina, and more recently Gustav but the slow moving, heavy rain forecast has everyone on edge.  It's time to start prepping for a hurricane. The kids are excused from school so we stay busy by securing the house and property.

It's a standard routine.  We've prepped for many storms in the past.  We take all the plants, chairs, and other things off the back porch and pack them into the garage.  All my wife's bird feeders have to come down and put away.  By noon the garage is overloaded and I have to go to school to secure the concession stand.  Everything is put indoors.  Doesn't matter if the garbage cans stink, they have to be put away.  What doesn't fit is tied down.  With that done I head back to the house.  Take a little time to check the updated models.  Still a Tropical Storm but they have it as "near stationary".  This is not good.  Memories of Hurricane Juan enter my mind.  It was 1985, and Hurricane Juan parked off the coast for five days.  Barely a Hurricane, Juan dumps more that thirty inches over Louisiana.  I remember seeing deer, rabbits, and other wild life standing in the middle of the Interstate because there was no other dry land.  This storm needs to move faster.  I'm wore out from all the work of the day. We devise a plan to move the vehicles in the morning and get some sleep.

Lights and lanterns.
Tuesday morning comes and they upgrade Isaac to a Hurricane.  The outer feeder bands are starting to pass over every so often.  There's not a lot left to do. I take my tractor out of barn and park it on the back porch. The boys help me put small 110 window unit in and set up generator. We gather flashlights and other things to prepare for when the electricity gets knocked out.  It's a long, slow day.  Endless updates are coming over the news channel.  They keep slowing down the storm.  The storm will make land fall over night. They always do.  We get comfortable for the night when the electricity starts to flicker on and off. We already ran the A/C hard so the house is cool and we get some rest. Surely everything will be fine.  We've lived through much worse.  Tomorrow we will get up and be busy keeping the ditches clear and dealing with debris, but this is just life in Louisiana.  The thinking is this storm will pass, threaten, then leave like all the others.  But Isaac has other plans.  By midnight He stalls again.  Being on the western shore of Lake Pontchartrain is about to but us in the bulls eye of this storm.  Isaac is about to teach us some hard lessons of storm surge that the meteorologists on TV can't explain. Wednesday will be a punishing day.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Prequel to next week's anniversary of the Isaac flood. A look at the peculiarity of Water

Picture courtesy of staticflickr
As many of you know, on that wretched night of August 28th, 2012 our home flooded.  The hurricane force winds of Isaac blew for nearly two days in a direction packing Gulf water through Lake Pontchartrain and spilling into Laplace.  We fought it all day, but water is hard to stop. Needless to say, a mere 12 inches of water in my home ruined a lifetime of work.

But water is a very peculiar thing.  From a scientific stand point, it breaks all the rules.  Water is the only molecule that exist in all three states of matter (gas, liquid, solid) naturally.  Water is the only thing that expands when it freezes.  Thus making it the only molecule that gets lighter as a solid.  That's how ice floats.  Pure water is odorless, tasteless, and close to colorless, minus a hint of blue. The strange science of water is endless.

Then there is our relationship with water.  We are made up of mostly water. (somewhere between 60 and 72  percent)  Humans can't go more than three days without water.  Good thing water is so plentiful, right?  Wrong.  Water covers over 70 percent of the Earth but only 2 percent of that is drinkable.  Isn't odd that we are so dependent on water for life but it also can kill us by drowning? We depend on water to evaporate, rise into clouds, and travel thousands of miles to fall and make our food grow.  We depend on water to float our goods to and from other communities. Humans claim to be able to harness the power of water because we've built a few dams in the world.  But let the hurricanes blow or the ocean floor tremor and you'll see just exactly how little control we have over the waters. We need water to cleanse our bodies of dirt, impurities, and microscopic bugs that can make us ill. Some of our favorite recreations are in bodies of water.  Three years ago my family was able to go white water rafting.  It was beyond thrilling!  Water is critical to every facet of life.

Glass of Water by wikimedia.
It's only fitting that we Humans have such a connection with water.  See, we were created different. Unlike the animals and other living things on this Earth, we have a conscious and a soul.  We seek out the Higher Power that created us.  The true power of water is that it's peculiarity points out the fact that we are not some cosmic accident.  God created this rule breaking water to exemplify the fact that there was a Intelligence in play when He set us on this watery ball.  Every one of those strange facts that I listed above falls into our favor.  If water only broke half the rules, we could not exist.

And yes, despite our flooded house, I see God in the simplest glass of water!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Two teenage boys plus football season equals no rest for the parents! Please pass the No Doze?

Friday Night by wikimedia.
It's that time of year again.  Football season is in the air.  Although I wish the air would cool a bit.  When you have two teenage boys it means a non-stop life for the next four months.  But really, it started months ago. My younger son is the football player.  He spent everyday of his summer at school with training and conditioning.  My older son is in the marching band.  This year he is band captain so that means his season started the second week of July.  We haven't played a single game yet, but there already has been training camp, band camp, leaders week, picture days, and more practices than I can count.  And don't get me started on the dirty clothes!

I am a huge baseball fan, but I do agree with Howie Long's Hall of Fame speech when he said, "Baseball may be America's past time but Football is its passion".  Nothing else engages the entire American family life like football. Friday night's in America represent a culmination of the entire community and school system. Obviously, the players themselves have worked, practiced and trained for months leading up to the game. The cheerleaders have been to camps, trained newbies and learned to toss little girls high in the air.  Unfortunately, there are no cheerleaders at baseball games.  The marching band has work for months learning their school's fight song, how to march, and a halftime show.  The little kids will play their own football games behind the stands, and the parents will buy raffle tickets and noise makers to support their local high school.  Savvy politicians will attend and shake as many hands as possible, and police officers will gladly sign up for crowd detail just to get a chance to watch some football.  The local newspaper reporter and photographer will surely be there to give their subscribers content that they definitely want.  You can't name any other American event that brings together the entire community.  No political rally, town forum, or fireworks display can bring out as many people at a Friday Night High School football game.

For parent's it a labor of love.  Work all day, then come stand at the gate to sell raffle tickets, then cheer own the team, then go home and wash dirty uniforms.  It's sounds horrible I know, but the total community experience for our kids is an education in itself.  Yes, by mid September I'll be headed to the local pharmacy for some form of No Doze, and start drinking those horrible tasting energy drinks but it's all worth it.  The lessons of competition, the lessons of music, and the lessons of community are all worth the effort.  With all the negatives in our country today, Friday Night Football stands out as one of the best attributes of today's Americana!  So, Geaux Rebels, and I hope you enjoy this wonderful football season!

My Friday Night Boys!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Still Waters lead to a Stagnant Life!

Stagnant pond with algae bloom.
Being surrounded by marsh and swamp I know all about stagnant water.  So it baffles me when people are nostalgic about the silly expression, "still waters run deep".  First, still waters don't run anywhere.  Secondly, most of the time still water is shallow.  The biggest issue is still or stagnant waters are a breeding ground for bacteria, algae, and mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes carry diseases such as Malaria and West Nile virus.  Also, stagnant water loses it's oxygenation ability.  Without oxygen in the water marine animals die.  This is why at your local park the man made lake has a sprinkler or some other aeration device.  The bottom line is water is a life giving source but if left stagnant it can become diseased and deadly.

Same concepts apply to our lives.  If we become complacent or trapped in one location we often develop serious problems.  Sitting still is one of the most obvious issues of our society.  Without sufficient movement we become overweight and develop serious health problems.  The list of diseases from obesity are far to many for me to list.  Just keep in mind that all those diseases stem from stagnation.  We also have problems when we don't venture outside of our homes.  Staying inside the four walls of your home means that sun light will never contact your skin.  This means no natural Vitamin D, which helps prevent many diseases.  Also, without being exposed to the natural pollen in your neighborhood, you are more likely to develop allergies and other breathing issues.  If your only source of information everyday is the TV, then you are only using a select part of your brain and the rest is wasting away.  If you want a healthy brain it is best to expose yourself to many different sources of information.  Such as reading, talking, listening to speeches, internet searches, and good old fashion trips to the library.  Then there's the concept of exposing yourself to different people. Yes, yes I know, there are weirdos out there but you do need to have some sort of live social input in your life.  It can't all be FB and Tweets!  Getting to know other people gives you a perspective into your own life. You need something to compare your lifestyle against.  This is also good for your language ability.  If you only talk to ten people in this world then you are likely to develop bad language habits that are acceptable to those people.  The classic example is when little Johnny shows up on the first day of kindergarten and still talks baby lingo because that's all he needed to learn at his house.  Without other sources of input your vocabulary is very limited.

Meet new people.
So the question is are you stagnant?  Do you get out of the house?  Do you make new friends?  The best thing for your life and health is to be in constant movement.  Let your waters flow over land and stream.  Pour yourself out into everyone you meet and your life will flow for generations to come.  Life is about flowing not staying inside four walls.  You have some unique insight or talent in this life.  What good is that talent if it sits stagnant in your living room?  Even if you can avoid the diseases that come with stagnation, what would be said about you when they bury you?  Here lies a man that kept his abilities and talents to himself his whole life? Grow, flow, pour, and experience this life to it's fullest and you won't have to worry about all the problems stagnation can bring to your life.

Have a flowing Day!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Entitlements? What are we really owed?

Image by flickr
It seems we've become a nation obsessed with our entitlements. Whether it's the government programs that we insist we deserve. Or the status that a last name should give you or a set of letters before or after our name. Then there are those who believe that second chances are a right we can depend on indefinitely. We as Americans have some delusion that we are owed something for our connections alone.  But the question is what are we really owed? How much can your family's money buy? Does your sir name (last) really command respect for you? Do the initials next to your name (Dr. Rev. Esq.) mean that people submit to your ideals? Can any of these things capture the loyalty of the hearts of those around you? How do you create a loyalty that would cause someone else to seek you out in times of trouble? What quality could you possible have that demands love, respect, and authority in some one's life?

Like the old saying, "anything worth having is worth fighting for", everything you get in this life must be earned. If not by you then by someone else. Likewise, you will never command love, respect, and authority without working or sacrificing for it. Without working, fighting, or more importantly sacrificing for something, whatever you are given will have little or no value. Unless you are willing to lay down all other issues and truly sacrifice for something then no one will respect your stance on that subject. Unless you are unwavering and unwilling to except excuses no one will every believe you are true to yourself. I do NOT put my parents on a pedestal, nor do they want to be, but this is an excellent example. Even though my Son's are in their high school years and my parents are giving them much space to freely find themselves. From infancy through their elementary years my parents have laid down a foundation in my Sons. For the better part of 10 or so years my parents would without exception make arrangements for my boys to sleep at their house on Saturday nights. In addition to all the other grand-parental duties. My Sons have no doubt of my parents intentions. Nor do they have to be told why their grandparents do such. God forbid, but if anything would every happen to Penny and I, there is no doubting on what foundation they would stand to weather such a storm. They would without hesitation seek out my parents. Not because they have the same last names or some title like "grandparent". My parents would be entitled to my Sons' love, respect, and loyalty because of their sacrifice. That sacrifice has bought them something money can't touch. It has bought them my boys' hearts.

Salute courtesy of flickr
To be "entitled" to something means you've "earned" it. Once you've earned something there can be nothing that changes that fact. No rumor, argument, point of view, or falsehood can change what one has truly earned. So if you spend a majority of your time trying to justify what you "should" have then maybe you haven't earned it. If you have to argue daily to those around you, your intentions then maybe you haven't taken a solid stance. If you have to try on a regular basis to explain to others that you are of a certain status then, maybe you don't deserve that status. If you constantly have to remind others of your education, title, or bloodline, then maybe you have not taken the steps to earn their hearts. Actions clearly speak louder than words. So are you known for your actions or arguments? Are you known for your sacrifices or your sob story? Are you know for your unmovable stance or your excuses?

You want to be entitled to someone's love, respect, and loyalty? Lay your life down for them without fail and their heart will always be yours!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hold on to Sixteen as long as you can!

My wife in the hospital with our second son.
Today is my older Son's last day as a sixteen year old.  Tomorrow will make his seventeenth birthday and he will officially be an adult according to the state of Louisiana.  Needless to say, I'm a little sentimental because it feels more like a bullet train ride than an entire childhood that has passed. I still remember the night he was born.  My wife was in labor for more than twenty hours.  The doctors finally decided to cut him out at about quarter past midnight.  Because of the medicine and the long labor they gave the wife some more medicine to sleep and at three o'clock in the morning handed me my Son for the first time and left the room.  I was all alone with this strange little baby that I knew nothing about.  I had no connection with him at that point.  After all, it was not me who carried him for nine months.  Three days later I was shaking like a leaf when I drove him home for the first time.  Seems like a few weeks ago.

He had a severe case of colic.  For six months no one slept for more than twenty minutes at a time.  I thought that six months was a sentence to an eternity in hell.  Looking back now, it was just a blip on the timeline.  The other seasons came and went with increasing speed.  The cost of diapers and formula is very high but before you know it that season was over.  Then came walking, running, talking, toys, video games, and something new for Dad to learn everyday when I got home from work.  How many nights I laid in his bed and played Mario for him because he couldn't get to the next level?  He sure doesn't need much help from me these days. Then came a little brother that changed his whole world in one day.  Then came school, learning, PTOs, Tee Ball, music, and Scouts.  When he made eight my life changed and instead of working I was the one staying home with him.  How many firsts did I get to experience with him?  I'm not sure, but it was a privilege to be on every single one.  Lately, there has been many crowning moments for him.  He is now an Eagle Scout, Captain of his High School Band, and employee at the local grocery store.  And the future is very bright, with his outstanding academic scores he is sure to get into the college of his choosing.

So basically that's it, an entire childhood in one paragraph and it seems that it went by as fast has reading that paragraph.  No matter what season you and you child are in, I suggest you cherish it.  Crying babies may not see like a good time but it will pass soon and very soon.  Trying to keep up with a toddler that climbs and touches everything may seem never ending but it will be memories you miss.  Doing homework for four hours every night may seem like a prison sentence but it will be time very well served. You can't stop time, nor should you try, but take a few moments to cherish all the things that happen in your brief time to raise a child. Don't wait till the seasons are over to pour your life into your kids, start now.  If you put forth your best effort in all these season then the sadness of your child entering into adulthood will be replaced with the joy of a fine young man or woman that you are proud to call yours. I think my boy is off to a great start, even if it was at mach two.  He's a fine young adult man.


Happy Birthday my Boy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Breaking Bread. More than just a meal.

Picture courtesy of flickr
In America we associate the phrase, "breaking bread" with Christian or religious services.  This is a mistake that hurts our society very dearly.  The truth is the practice of eating together predates Christianity by many thousands of years.  In pagan times, people would actually eat a meal with their enemies.  This was a sign of mutual respect and often led to more peaceful resolutions.  Something happens when you sit at a table with someone else and share a meal that is a basic need to all parties at the table.  The Jews then used the eating of unleavened bread to remember when God freed them from Egypt.  Again, this is people sitting at a table to share in the need for basic foods and remember a shared history that was vital to their lineage.  Then Jesus marked the eve of his crucifixion with the sharing of bread and a meal.  They shared more than a meal, they shared a memorable moment that would change their lives and eventually catapult their beliefs around the world.

Unfortunately, we Americans don't get the more significant meaning of sitting down and sharing a meal.  We literally eat on the run.  And when we do sit down to eat, we act like we are in a race.  Because we don't sit down and eat with others we are missing out on so many benefits of breaking bread with others.  Sharing a meal is also sharing life.  Food is a basic necessity and so is love and companionship. When eating at a table you are sharing your life in many ways.  Taking the time to speak and listen creates bonds that are much needed for our feeling of self worth.  It also gives your food time to digest and prevents over eating.  There aren't many people to talk to in the fast food drive through line and swallowing that burger on the Interstate is not doing any favors for your stomach.  Europeans seem to have a better grasp on the concept of eating together.  Did you know that most European cars have no cup holders?  They don't eat on the run and they take at least an hour to eat a meal.  Scientific studies show that Europeans don't have the obesity problem we do.  So scientist study the food they eat to try to see the difference.  When they should be looking at the way they eat instead.  In America, food is all about speed.  We want to get our food, shovel it down, and get on with life.  When in all reality life is sitting at the table with you waiting to be shared.

Dinner courtesy of flickr
When was the last time you sat at your own kitchen table with your entire family?  When was the last time you had a sit down lunch with an old friend?  What's stopping you from inviting that new family in the neighborhood to eat at your table?  Most people say, "If you want friends, you need to be friendly.".  I say if you want to build lasting relationships sit at a table with someone and eat a meal.  Take your time.  Don't be in a rush.  Put your fork down and ask questions of your kids, friends, or guests.  Share your life with people along with your life giving food.  Make "breaking bread" a habit and great relationships will follow.  The secret to life is to have a heart as full of joy as your belly is full of food.  I hope you have a great meal and even greater company at your table today.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cajun Traditions. Washing away with the Coastline.

Map by Wikimedia
Traditions are something that most people take great pride in. Traditions are also something that authors love to write about.  But the truth is traditions often fall victim to progress.  Such is the case of the many traditions of Cajuns in Louisiana. As most know, our ancestral roots can be traced back to the eviction of the area now known as Nova Scotia. But the assaults have never really stopped!

My Grandparents spoke fluent "Cajun french" but, never taught it to my parents or my generation. They would only speak it in front of their peers, usually inside while sharing coffee. The oddest thing was that every so often they would all stop as one and look around the room, then resume their dialect. One day as a teen I decided to ask my Grandmother (whom I worshipped) why. Why not teach us and why do you all look around the room? Her answer was somewhat hard to believe. In the 1920's the all knowing government decided it was unintelligent to speak two languages and more specifically to speak "Cajun french". The solution to these little Cajun brats speaking their native tongue was to use the school system to eliminate such behavior. My Grandparents who only spoke "Cajun french" at home would be paddled for doing such at school. Which explains both behaviors of not teaching their children and looking around the room when speaking. Thanks to "intellectuals" the native tongue of my people is now a thing of folklore!

Then came the ingenious idea of flood control! It seems that living along side nature and it's bountiful harvest was not how a man should live. We must upstage nature. We must decide where rivers flow. We must drain swamps. And all this has gotten us a few more steps away from our Cajun heritage. Our way of life is dictated by floodgates. Or in the case of my home, lack of floodgates.  Our bountiful marshes erode everyday with no silt to cross the mighty levees. Our homes sink on the land that was pumped dry. The barrier islands waste away in the tide.  It seems the more billions of dollars we spend the more hundreds of acres we lose to the Gulf. All this thanks to great engineering minds.
Satellite by Fotopedia

In 2010, we faced a dire future.  An explosion and fire on an offshore drilling rig threatened the entire Gulf Coast.  For some six weeks the nation was glued to the TV while oil gushed out of the sea floor.  The bounty of seafood we love, eat, and take pride in was in harm's way.  Fortunately, we've survived that doomsday. Mother Nature always finds a way.  And that's the key.  Let nature take it's course.  We've lived along side of nature and lived well for over three hundred years. Cajuns will live on.  The same uniqueness that caused my grandparents to be punished is now held is high regard. No where else in this nation can you have a social gathering over some boiled bugs caught in a ditch.  Our marshes and coast lines may disappear.  God knows those idiots in D.C. haven't got a clue how to save the land or the culture.  But we will persevere.  We've been evicted before, we can build anew and bring more wrinkles to our storied past.  Come what may, we will find a way to coexist with whatever nature has and we will hand down as many traditions as we can to our kids.  So forget all the catching slogan's, Cajun life is out in the swamps and lowlands and it truly is the good life.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back to School Shopping; A Dad's Nightmare!

Image by Elev8.
It's August!  It's hot!  And it's time to go back to school shopping!  Double dislike.  Being a stay at home Dad has many advantages.  I love being at every football game, band performance, track meet, and camp out.  Making connections with my two boys on a daily basis is very rewarding.  Then there is the mass hysteria called, back to school shopping.  Can someone please dig up Dante' Alighieri's bones and breath life into them so he can add one more level of hell to his Divine Comedy?  Don't get me wrong, I am all in for education.  I want my boys to be well equipped for the year ahead, but there must be a better way.

My boys are going into the 8th and 12th grades.  Yes May is going to be an all out graduation blowout at the Bordelon residence.  So it's mostly high school supplies on the list.  Their lists include items such as binders, three subject notebooks, index cards, and graphing calculators.  You know the kind of calculators that can do math without numbers, but get high score at the register.  There's also some what I would refer to as the kindergarten leftovers, such as color pencils, eight pack markers, and paste.  I guess you're never to old to eat some paste.  My problem is in the going to the store and fighting hand to hand combat to retrieve all these things.  I don't mind being the shopper for the family.  I've learned what days are safe to slip into the local Walmart and what days to stay far, far away from that Hell.  For reasons beyond me every store has to have a special section just for back to school shopping and it has to have big, bright, flashing signs to advertise it's existence.  I think it's a waste of money to make all these signs when the three ring circus battle can be seen from the interstate.  Surely, everyone loves to be in a death match with the mother of three screaming kids over the 99 cent pack of markers!  And who doesn't enjoy the sweet sounds of a seven year old screaming, "But I want the Transformers back pack Mommy!"  *insert sniffling*  Everyone should have the heart warming satisfaction of watching twelve year old girls rip apart the last One Direction notebook.  It truly is something to experience.

Picture courtesy of the Daily Beast
This year my two job working wife was able to help me with this nifty little chore.  Actually, we used half of our date night and slipped into the Target store.  We thought, this store is much more high scale and should have a much more organized back to school section.  We were wrong!  I've seen natural disasters look better than these three aisles.  My wife handled it with style and grace, while I did everything I could to rush the operation as much as I could.  On the ride home, from date night, I couldn't help but think, "there has to be a more civilized way to go about preparing our Sons for education".  In the end our kids have all the school supplies they need.  Not to mention the school uniforms, shoes, cleats, gym clothes, band shirts, saxophone reeds, updated eye prescriptions, mouth pieces, socks, underwear, and a few other must have items.  All will be forgotten with the first day of school.  Our focus will turn to remembering and cherishing every moment of their Senior and 8th grade years.  As much as I love being a stay at home Dad, I guess there will never come a day where shopping is a job perk.

Hope everyone has a happy and successful school year!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Milestones Ahead! Please don't hit the Brakes.

Photo by flickr
As parents their are so many milestones we reach in raising our kids.  Obviously, the first big memorable moment is when you take your child home from the hospital.  The euphoria of bringing your little bundle of joy home is quickly replaced by crying, dirty diapers, and sleepless nights.  It's easy to look back at the first day home as the only great day of being a parent.  In due time life gets into a more comfortable rhythm and soon you are on top of the next big day. The day your child takes his first steps.  Your so excited that you don't realize that you now have to pick everything up to keep the new little track star from grabbing everything in the house. Then comes kindergarten followed by the first day of high school and all of a sudden it's graduation day.  It really goes by that fast, but is it over at that point?

Dealing with the milestones in our kid's lives is no different than the milestones in any life. It's great to celebrate your child's first steps but you also have to press on to the next challenge or your kid will never learn to speak.  Just like it's great to celebrate getting that job you always wanted, but if you don't get busy with the job you won't have it long.  In my home the 2013-2014 school year is going to be one for marking major milestones.  In May the wife and I will watch as one Son graduates 8th grade and the other Son graduates from High School.  We will find many ways to celebrate and make memories of the occasion and make a big fuss over the boys.  Then after the festivities it will be time to tell the boys, "great job, now get on with the next challenge in your life."  One will face High School and the other College, but if we only live in the moments of May 2014 neither one will succeed in their next challenge.  And that is where the danger lays.  If graduating from school is the greatest accomplishment in one's life then there will be little or no emphasis put on the next challenge ahead.  If you let a child make a single accomplishment as the end of his challenges in life then he has met the end of his ability to make himself better.

Photo by Google
If you've anointed some day as the greatest day of you life then you've lost all reasons to strive for something better. You basically stop in mid-life.  All the work you put into your resume to get that dream job shouldn't end because you accomplished one goal.  If you work non-stop to catch a young lady's attention then ignore her after she says, "I do", you won't stay married for long. Everything in this life requires work to keep up and maintain.  That goes for relationships, raising kids, jobs, and lifestyle. If you rest on your laurels opportunities will pass you by at lightning speed.  It's great to celebrate big milestones.  It builds confidence and self esteem.  But please don't let a milestone become a stopping point in your life. If you live in the past then the future doesn't hold anything for you.  Always strive to make the next day the greatest day of your life.  With that attitude the future will always be bright.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tossed about on the Winds.

Picture courtesy of Geograph.
In today's world, everyone has a position or opinion on every subject imaginable.  Whether you're conservative or liberal, eco-friendly or not, pro guns, or woman's rights, we seem to define ourselves by these so called stances.  The problem is people change their positions on things more than they bathe.  "Well, I was for big oil but now that political parties in power have changed, I'm all for the environment", please tell me you've never heard someone say that.  And yes, people are allowed to learn from their mistakes but not every five minutes.  I just happen to think that your philosophies in life shouldn't be tossed around like a tumbleweed in the wind.

While I could write an endless rant about politicians on this subject, I think I'll stick to one of my favorite topics, Parenting.  I can't tell you how many of my buddies were so excited and pumped up for the birth of their child.  They would come home from the hospital with a completely different look on life.  They would make promises to be a Super Dad.  They were going to be the Tee Ball coach, the Scout leader, Dance recital fanatic, and Cheerleader Dad of the decade.  Then before little Johnny or Susie makes their fourth birthday, Dad has found something more interesting.  Whether it's sports, leisure, or neglect, little Johnny is no longer the most important thing in their life.  How can you be so passionate about something and just drift off to another thing?  How do you explain to your kid that his "newness" has worn off?  Bet that conversation does wonders for little Susie's self esteem.  Sorry sweetie, maybe the wind will change direction and pouring my life into you will come back in style.  Moms on the other hand take a little longer to fizzle out.  In fact the problem is sometimes Mom doesn't ever fizzle out.  When little Johnny was born the promise was to raise and nurture him until he's ready to be his own man. Some Moms don't stick to the plan.  When it comes time to push little Johnny out of the nest, the winds of Motherhood blow and Johnny is babied until he's thirty.  These Moms create what a friend of mine calls a "adult-child hybrid".  Like the commercial when thirty year old little Johnny comes home and Mom has a "smothered burrito" waiting for him. Why would little Johnny ever want to get married and move out with that kind of treatment at home?

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.
Sticking to your beliefs applies to more than just parenting.  If you believe that donating your time to feed the homeless is a worthy cause, don't let some bitter conspiracy theorist turn you against that.  If you believe in standing up for battered women is a just thing to do, then don't let the fact that one woman abused the system steer you away from your work. If you believe in God, would you stop because people are protesting outside your church?  I personally donate a ridiculous amount of time to Scouting, and we are in the middle of a wind driven firestorm.  But my belief is that boys need men to teach them skills in this life and no political incited controversy is going to stop me from doing what I'm dedicated to doing. Never let someone else's words, actions, or ugliness dictate what you believe in.  In the end it's not how hard the winds blew, it's how well you stayed the course.