IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

Summer Time Teachings

Monday, June 01, 2015


In the words of the great Alice Cooper, "School's out for summer."  For most of us that is now true. 


But, not for me.  I'll be getting those recent high school grads in just a couple of days.


A few of my colleagues and non-teacher friends moan when I say I am going back quickly after finishing up my yearly semester to begin summer semester.


But really, I don't mind.  I actually dig it.  In the summer, I usually only amass a dozen or less students, compared to the 25 I have to wrangle in the Fall.  In the Fall I teach all the Composition classes you knew and loved, a few literature classes, but mostly writingwritingwriting.


I teach more than English though.  I teach (and study) human nature.  And that nature, although the human does not, changes with every single semester.  Quite possibly, daily.  They would like to tell you that people's behaviors, outlooks, opinions can't possibly change that often or that quickly, but, oh, my friend, they do.


Think about it.  We are constantly globally connected.  We can't go a day without some mention of a political statement, or what some family has been hiding, or even to what extent Kanye smiled.  We are constantly connected to our smart phones, and that is not very smart.


When I was in college (and in grad school), I had a TV but it wasn't connected to anything but an old VCR.  In the mornings, I put on a CD (usually Tori Amos) and drank some coffee (usually French).  If I had down-time at night, I watched a favorite movie.  Smart phones did not exist.  If I needed to research something, I went to the library, the one with paper books, and shelves, and card catalogs, and librarians with an  extensive knowledge on the history of everything.


Smart phones are nice, but so is human interaction, which brings me back to teaching summer school.  Right now I have 6 students signed up to take my Introduction to Literature class.  I will spend 3 hours twice a week with 6 people.  Tell me we won't get to know each other in all the uncomfortable ways.  We're going to talk about words and why someone a hundred years ago needed to write them.  We are going to talk about words and why we need to choose them wisely. We are going to talk about trees and why a tree is never just a tree!  We are going to sit with our metaphors and look at the leaves and the sky.  We are going to listen to birds and probably traffic.  We are going to talk to each other.


If you happen to need Introduction to Literature, or maybe you just want to talk about trees that aren't trees, look me up. I'll be in Room 504.  I have a view of the river, the bridge, and the Farmer's Market.  I have 6  people talking to each other.



She Bit Me! Or, How to Eat like a Louisianian

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There are a few truths about Louisianians that settle around who we are as a people and a culture. The saddest part of our truth is that our wetlands are disappearing, and with that our way of life.  Our very boot-shaped map, is losing its steel toe.  Our celebrated truth is that we are mainly of French stock and with that a Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez attitude, oh, and mais yeah, we like to eat.


We have food with names like gumbo, which is from the French gombo, of Bantu origin; akin to Umbunduochinggombo, meaning okra.  We have etoufee, borrowed into English from French as "stuffed" or "stifled."  We use spices called file', which is dried sassafras; cayenne, which is a delightful little pepper; bay leaves from the Bay Laurel tree, which will not soften in the pot and don't you dare try to eat one.


We eat bottom dwellers like shrimp, crab, and crawfish.  Right after shapes, letters, colors, and knowing which bus to take home from Miss Evelyn's Chateau de L'Ecole, we learn how to peel and eat our own serving tray of these delicacies.


While planning my trip home to South Louisiana, I gave my brother a list of things I needed to do (walk around my college campus), see (the muddy banks), drink (Donner-Peltier Distillery), and eat (a Frostop Root Beer Butter Burger).  But, most of all, Blue Crabs.  He assured me I could eat til I fainted.


So, on this day of 101-degrees-in-the-shade-heat, my brother, a blue-eyed, red-headed, freckle-faced boy with a skittish hurricane personality and a knack for collusion, and I acquired a bushel of blue she-crabs and prepared them for under-the-carport crab boil.


Here's how you do:

1.  Obtain the bushel of crabs from down the bayou, preferably from a fisherman named T-Boy or Bubba.  Keep the crabs iced and in a Mardi Gras frenzy til cook time.

2.  Get a big ole' stainless steel pot.  Fill it with water and set to boil.

3.  Take the she-crabs out one at a time, still all rustle and bubble and pinching pincers.  Use long-handled tongs.  (I say this with great reverence as one of them sliced my thumb open.  You have to respect those little ladies, with pea-sized cerebron, that will pinch your fingers with Marine sharp-shooter precision).

4.  Get your uneasy ways gone.  You have to pop them in the boiling water while alive.


After boiling those girls up with potatoes, corn, mushrooms, sausage, okra, onions, lemons, garlic, we laid out newspaper on the kitchen table and set the roumelade, which is a combo of mayonnaise, ketchup and hot sauce, in the center.  It kind of depends on the etiquette of your family as to how the serving is handled.  Some of us just slide the crabs onto the table.  My family lives up the bayou; we are of the elite sort, so we all picked our first serving onto our plastic trays (Purple and Gold, Geaux Tigers!).


I ate more than I would like to tell.  It's how we eat.  We roll up our sleeves.  We wait for the juices to run down our cuffed sleeves and the folds of our best old shirt.  We pull ourselves a good 2 feet of paper towel and stuff it between our knees for easy access.  We keep at least one beverage of choice near our tray.  We eat.  We drink.  We tell stories.


It is no story that the wetlands of Southern Louisiana are disappearing at the rate of 1 football field every 15 minutes.  One more bad-ass Katrina and a whole way of life will be obliterated.  No matter how many Northerners try to tell us to prepare, we party.  We host Hurricane Parties, literally big festive bashes held behind taped glass windows and during the whipping winds of a hurricane.


As long as our land is here to give a place for the alligators to chomp and the cottonmouths to open their white maws, we dance our zydeco.  As long as there is food for someone to get into a boat at 4:00 am and dredge the muddy waters with ancient nets, full of salty bayou weeds, snails, small fish, and sometimes a boot or bone, for us.  We eat.


It's who we are.


Who's Howling

Saturday, January 26, 2013



...at the Full Wolf Moon tonight?


I love a Winters Full Moon more than any other, I think.  It could be that I was born in February in the snowy midwest, but when I really search my heart I know.

The moon is Yin energy:  quiet, cold, still, silver.  It is the opposite of its Yang counter-part, the Sun (which is roaring, hot, active, and golden.)  Winter herself is the energy of the Yin Goddess, so a Full Moon on a Winters Night is as Yin as it gets.  I want to be silenced by the peace of the cold, bright, beauty of her.  I want to dive into a silent retreat, immersed in introspection so that I can emerge in the Spring ready for personal growth and abundance.  

But within the very heart of Yin, is Yang. While she is shrouded in her quiet power her very heart burns with wild fire.  She looks out upon the attractive, fiery dance of Yang, but within his heart is Yin...dark & cold.  This eternal dance between the night and day, fire and ice, hot and cold preserves and sustains all of creation...of nature...what the yogis would call, Prakriti (and what we would refer to as "nature.")


How do we find that balance of these two energies within ourselves?  How do we acknowledge and accept both aspects instead of falling into the temptation to grasp to one way of being or the other?  We could just howl in agony over the pain this dilemma creates, or we could tune into the Wisdom of the Full Winters Moon, travel deeply within our own hearts, and through introspection explore the answers to these ancient questions.  

Wherever your path leads, may the light of the Full Wolf Moon shine brightly upon you tonight.  May you find the peace, wisdom, and compassion to unite both the Sun and the Moon within your heart.  May all beings be happy and free from Suffering.


Namaste,

IndigoGrrl


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