Thursday, March 26, 2009

Louisiana Budget BS...

Am I hearing this right?  If Louisiana wants to fund healthcare and education, we have to pay higher gas prices?  Excuse me? 

I ask this question because, every time I read something about the state's budget crises, one of the "reasons" postulated for it is the lower oil prices.  So my understanding (sorry, not an economist here) is that, in order to have the money to fund these two areas, oil prices need to stay high.

Am I not understanding this correctly?  It seems too simplistic.  What I do know is that these two areas are not protected, so they are always the first two categories that are slashed.  That, of course, puts us last or next-to-last in the US in those categories--consistently--crisis or no. 

I think what bothers me the most is Louisiana, as a state, doesn't seem to value education--period.  And, I guess, it doesn't value health, either.  So we have uneducated, unhealthy people living here.  Which doesn't recommend it, does it?

I think my mother captures some of the mentality, as far as education is concerned.  She told me once, "The more educated a person is, the less that person believes in God," as though education and faith were mutually exclusive, something I don't believe at all. 

We need to get over that in order to progress.  If we don't have an educated workforce, the most we can hope to attract, business-wise, are companies that rely on unskilled labor.  And while we may be attracting more non-agriculture jobs, do those jobs make use of college-educated residents?  Not entirely. Do we want that?  Do we want our college-educated, white-collar force to desert the state to find jobs that pay it for its intelligence and education?

This whole situation just chaps me.  State legislators who spent us into this crisis, whoever they are, should lose their jobs.  Any state legislator who voted him/herself a pay raise in the last two years should have to give that money back, especially when many workers haven't received raises in at least that many years.  And any state legislator who filled budgets with pet pork projects should be barbequed over the spit of public opinion. 

We have to start paying attention to what these people are doing.  We have to raise our voices and tell them to pay attention and do what's right for Louisiana and the people who live here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break...

is not much of one, so far.

My brother and his wife came in Saturday night, and, Sunday, we got out in the yard and cleaned up.  We cut up limbs that had fallen down, and I have so much stuff for the burn pile, plus two big piles to burn in the front yard.  Mike and Linda cleaned out the front azalea bed; we cleared out the space in front of the garage; didn't do much in the back yard except cut up a huge limb that fell late last year.  I managed to get a climbing rose bush planted at the corner of the front porch. The yard looks so much better.  I'm hoping that we can all get together in April to plant the butterfly garden I want.

My mother and two of my sisters showed up on Sunday.  Mom cooked cabbage; Jeri brought red beans and rice; Mary brought me a bookcase and some chotchkas from my sister Lydia, all in keeping with the bee theme, except for a beautiful star ornament to hang in the back yard.  I feel lucky to have my family members.  Really, I love them all, but I know who I can depend on.


I've been grading papers...gee, that sounds so familiar!  Why should spring break really be a break?  I have midterm grades averaged for three classes.  I have two sets (well, really three) of papers to grade and two sets of drafts to read.  I'm hoping to get the papers graded and grades posted by Wednesday so I can spend some time gardening.


The repair shop didn't get in the parts for my car, so I have no idea if they'll be able to repair my car this week.  I'm kind of ticked about that...I don't have three consecutive days for car repairs when I'm working; these guys aren't opened on Saturday, but I'm not taking my car to the Mazda place in Bossier.  The last time I had to have my car repaired, the Mazda dealership kept my car for ten days--they didn't bother to tell me that one of their mechanics quit.  Every time I called, they told me "We'll have it ready tomorrow."

I probably should go to the store tomorrow, just in case.  I hope I can get the car fixed and inspected before I have to go back to school.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Springing Forward...

Written on March 7, 2009

I hate daylight savings time.  Let me just get that out of the way.

I do like more daylight in the evenings, but I hate the whole changing the clocks twice a year, especially in my car.  If cars didn't have digital clocks, maybe I'd feel differently about it, but when the time changes, I have to get out the manual and figure out how to set the clock.  I don't like having the wrong time staring at me while I'm driving, so I become obsessive about fixing it.  I'm wishing the car clock had a stem, like a wristwatch does, so I could do this more easily.

The other thing I don't like about DST is that my cats aren't on it.  They'll keep waking me up on their own internal schedule.  Doesn't matter if the clock reads 5:30am; if they want me up, they're going to find a way to get me up.

I'll bet we don't really know what time it is anymore because we've sprung forward and fallen back so much.  Einstein is right; time is relative.  Too bad I can't live on my internal clock; I'd be in perpetual nap time.


I finally finished the assignments hanging over my head (Saturday) and went outside to clear the herb garden.  I love my herb garden.  Fresh herbs make foods more flavorful, and I like not having to pay for them since they are so expensive (even the dried herbs are expensive these days).  Now to get the vegetable garden dug up and planted, which I will do next weekend. 

Teaching summer school online is the only way to go!  With only one class, I can spend more time on my gardens.  Inevitably, of course, I have to work on my fall classes, but not having to drive into the "big" city saves me so much time.


Now to get the front garden cleared out and plant some flowers.  Today is also bread-baking day.  I'm out of bread, and I hate paying the ridiculous prices for that airy stuff that passes for it.  I have a great recipe for French bread that makes four loaves.  It freezes well and goes with anything I cook.

I might be done with schoolwork for the day, but it seems that I've made myself quite a to-do list here.  Better get started!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Waxing Poetic

I have been trying to come up with ideas for a new blog--not that I ever truly have problems--but I couldn't decide what I wanted to tackle next.  It occurred to me, though, that I should write about writing poetry, since my Facebook cohorts and I have been swapping poems we like and poems we've written.

I've been writing poetry since I was in high school, which was a loooooong time ago (in a galaxy far, far away...not really!).  That doesn't mean that I'm a great poet; it just means I've been trying to be a better poet for almost 40 years.  I've published my work in a few small literary journals, been a member of a number of writing groups, edit poetry journals, won a fellowship ($2500--I bought a new dryer, among other things), and met so many wonderful writers that I can't remember them all. 

All that means squat.

A writer can't sit back and say, "Well, I've done that, so I don't need to do anything else."  It's not about what I wrote yesterday, it's about what I've written today.  The admonishment, "Never a day without a line" is one I take seriously.  So, even if all I write is a blog, I try to write something.  Some days, I only write comments on students' essays and assignments, but I try to put some thought into those, too.

These days, I don't feel poetic.  I think the constant grind of life distracts me.  Occasionally, the muse will gift me a line, and I snatch it and mine it for all it's worth.  I never take those gifts for granted.  But I don't sit around waiting for them, either.

Most writers will say that good writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  Good writing takes work.  That's the hard part--a writer has to work at writing.  And, of course, I believe what I teach my students, that the most important part of writing is revising.  I have a friend, an excellent poet named Brenda Hillman, who revises most of her poems at least 50 times.  It shows.  Her work is luminous, something that I envy and aspire to.  As long as I keep such good poets around me, as long as I read their works and study their techniques, I'll improve. 

So, here's the poem I posted on my Facebook page:


Curvy, that's how
I would describe
and him
and them, together.
Perhaps nervy,
him thinking
she's the type
who'll put up
with anything.
She dips and narrows
as the sands
of her time fall through
this impasse,
this impossible maneuver.

And, remember, it's my original work, so it's copywrited.  I have the handwritten original to prove it.