Posts Tagged ‘report from louisiana’

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Some random thoughts today.

Shreveport Mayoral Race:  At my house we are preparing to head down South this week for the Fete Dieu du Teche and I could not be happier to get out of town for the week. Shreveport keeps on getting crazier every single day. The latest? Our ineffective, bumbling, inept mayor has been disqualified from running for another term because he put a false address on his paperwork. Louisiana law requires you to list your address as the same address where you file homestead exemption. Our fine mayor did not do this. He listed another address. His excuse for this error? The media lights and cameras when he filed his paperwork distracted him.

I kid you not.

He has appealed the ruling but it doesn’t look like the court will favor him.

He probably was going to lose anyway; people of both parties are sick to death of him and his self-serving photo ops and lack of meaningful governance.

School is Back!  Teachers and students start school today and I could not be happier to not be in that club! I’m looking at my teacher friends posting their classrooms, posting their wish lists, and now their excitement and anxiety about returning to school. I do not miss it in the least. I miss my friends, but they’re still my friends and so it’s all good. I don’t have to deal with the politics and the dog-and-pony shows and I’m thrilled. But good luck to them all and I do wish all of them a good year. Loved my kids, hated the BS.

And besides, if I was still teaching, I wouldn’t be headed to my beloved Cajun country this week where the oysters are fresh and the beer is cold and the Cajun music sings to my heart. Life is good.

Lisa Graas: Our friend Stacy McCain is asking for help for Lisa Graas, a longtime blogger buddy who is now fighting cancer. A devout Catholic, Lisa is now facing expensive chemo treatments and needs help. When Stacy posted his plea for Lisa, her name resonated with me because I remember his trip to Louisiana when he got stopped in the infamous Livonia speed trap and Lisa came and picked him up. On that day, I had Stacy’s Donkey Cons book in my bag; he was going to try to come through Shreveport on his way back home and I wanted to get him to sign my book. And then he gets pulled over in Livonia and that was the end of that. Anyway, hit the link and help if you can.

Next week I’ll be posting from Arnaudville, La and the Fete Dieu du Teche. Peace out!

By:  Pat Austin

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

SHREVEPORT – This will be my second fall NOT to return to the classroom as a teacher! I retired a year and a half ago and let me tell you, I have zero regrets. Ze.Ro.

I loved my students, I loved my school, I loved my classroom, I loved my principal.

I did NOT love scripted curriculums. I hated dumbed-down curriculums. I hated the politics of it on all levels. The pure, unbridled vitriol from the public whenever the school board asked them for a raise. It was ugly.

So many things about public education are wrong. And so many good teachers have left the classroom because of this.

The pay is abysmal. And I have heard it all before: “You knew the pay was low when you signed up for this job.” Or, “You do it for the children, not the money.” Even, “But you have three months off in the summer and all those holidays!” 

In response: Yes, I knew the pay was low but I thought it would at least be a living wage without having to get a side hustle. Yes, I love the children, but I have bills to pay. And No, I do NOT get three months off in the summer. I was paid for nine months of work which was divided by twelve months so that I got a check every month. I never got paid for not working.

Now that my friends are returning after their summer break (which included professional development and workshops, all on their own time), they are posting pictures on social media showing off their classrooms “ready to go!”. And I am so glad I don’t have to do that.

They are also sharing their Amazon Wish Lists. This is one of the things wrong with public education. I was the beneficiary of many a gift through Amazon; I published my own Wish Lists and man people are generous! And when I decided to create a classroom library, and published a book wish list, people came through in spades. It was AMAZING!

But why oh why does an American public school educator have to do this? Most of these wish lists include items like looseleaf paper, pencils, pens, spiral notebooks, chalk, dry erase markers, tissue, hand sanitizer. It just seems to me that parents and schools should supply these very basic materials. And while I realize there are parents in need, and times are tough, we have “Stuff the Bus” campaigns all over town. And churches collecting supplies. And businesses collecting supplies.

I true “Wish List” should not have to include the minimal basics to educate a child. A “wish list” should include things like pretty room décor, a new teacher desk chair, a fancy keyboard, that sort of thing. Non-necessary things. My classroom library was a luxury – a Wish. It was great to have and my students benefitted greatly from it, but it wasn’t a basic necessity like paper and pencil.

It is sad to me that teachers have to beg for these supplies. It makes me wonder where is all the public education money really going? Over-inflated salaries? Sports programs? It’s certainly not being spent on the cafeteria lunches!

I picked a couple of teachers from my old school and sent a few things from their wish lists. I want to help where I can and I know how hard their job is.

And I’m really really glad it’s not MY job anymore!

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – August is upon us and for those in south Louisiana, specifically in Cajun country, that means it is time for the Fête-Dieu du Teche which celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also commemorates the arrival of the Acadians in south Louisiana.

On August 15, for the past eight years, Catholics have gathered along Bayou Teche from Leonville (Pop. 2,127) to St. Martiville (Pop. 5,844) to participate in the 38-mile journey down the bayou in a Eucharist procession by boat. The day begins in Leonville with Mass celebrated in French at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church.

Then everyone loads into their boats; the Eucharist is fixed on a altar in the lead boat, under a canopy. Everyone follows by boat down the bayou to Arnaudville (Pop. 1,614) where everyone disembarks. First communicants dressed in white scatter rose petals from baskets and the Eucharist follows, to an altar on the bank at St. Francis Regis Catholic Church. Participants kneel, pray the Rosary and Benediction, and then are back on the boats to the next stop.

By the end of the day, they reach St. Martinville where they process through town to the church, St. Martin de Tours for benediction. Confession is available at each stop.

It is a sight to behold. I’m not Catholic; we are Episcopalians, and my husband likes to say we are “Catholic-lite.” But, we love attending the Fête-Dieu du Teche because face it, what’s not to love about entire communities engaged in prayer?

Last year, as everyone was getting back into their boats at Arnaudville, Steve and I walked over to the bridge so we could see the procession as they passed under us on the way to the next town. Smiling nuns with habits flying behind them waved up at us; the incense perfumed the air and then behind the laity came the families who followed along. All in all it is easy over a hundred boats.

As more people around the world learn about this event, it grows each year. This will be year eight. We already have our lodging reserved and will be there once again to witness the event. I love how this event brings families and communities together; I love how tied to their very Cajun culture this is, too. The journey to St. Martinville commemorates the journey their Acadian ancestors made in fleeing religious persecution all those years ago.

It is a glorious thing to see and I’d encourage anyone to see it if you have the chance. Joseph Pronechen wrote in some detail about the event here and the Facebook page is here. And there is a cool video here. I wrote about it last year on this blog which you can see here.

Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I am no economist and so would have poor skills in predicting where this incredible inflation will end, but man, it has got to end somewhere.

When I retired from teaching a year and a half ago, my pension was comfortable. Now? It doesn’t go nearly as far as it did then. That’s why when my church needed a part-time receptionist in the office, I took it on. I figured the extra money would ease the pain. And then, when they asked me to add another day and work four days a week, I agreed to that, too.  Picking up that extra four or five days a month looked good. Now I’m thinking I need to ramp up my paid writing sideline a bit and earn even more.

We just returned from a trip to Iowa where my husband’s family lives. From Louisiana, we usually spend about $200 to $250 in gas there and back each year. This year it was literally double, costing us right at $100 every time we filled up. On top of that, rising food prices are causing pain at the grocery store, too. Across the nation, more and more people are looking for supplemental income. According to the Washington Post, “the percentage of employed people working multiple jobs in the United States has steadily increased since March 2020 from 4 percent in April 2020 to 4.8 percent in June 2022…”.  That percentage seems somewhat low to me.

In Iowa, where we just spent a week, we were in the south-central region. I know there are very liberal pockets in Iowa, but there are plenty of conservatives, too, and we met a lot of them. I saw one lady in the grocery store wearing a t-shirt that said, “Buck Joe Fiden.” Uh, okay. I saw a lot of Trump flags, and I saw zero Biden signs although I know there are Biden supporters there.

The chatter I heard at baseball games, in the stores, and in the shops were all full of angst at the state of the economy. My husband’s family is a farming family with a generational farm. The cost of fuel to run tractors and trucks is just crippling and many farmers will not make it because of this. It is devastating in the Midwest.

Like I said, I’m not sure where all this will end up, or who will be left standing when it’s over, if it is ever over, but I, for one, am working double time to get debts paid off and sock something back before everything implodes. I have one friend, an older lady who has seen some things in her day, who is selling off assets and putting up cash. She is downsizing, selling off jewelry with no sentimental meaning, putting up cold cash whenever she can. “I’m scared,” she told me. “I’ve never seen it like this, and I’m scared.” She is not usually this reactive.

She’s not wrong.