Archive: » 2020 » September

Furled Flag A Metaphor For Our Times

An American flag hangs from our front porch. The flag is three-by-five feet. It is attached to a pole that juts diagonally from a porch post. The flag often gets wrapped around the pole when a breeze kicks up, often winding itself four or five times around the pole. When that happens, I hold on to the post with one hand, lean out and unwrap the flag — whose corner I’m barely able to reach — so that it hangs properly once again. I have repeated this action hundreds of times in the eight-and-a-half years we have lived in this house. During the last several months — with a pandemic killing...

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Mystery Vines and a Banana Spider

For the past two summers, a weekend ritual — in addition to mowing, trimming and cleaning up the yard — has been to don a pair of gloves and pull up a 30-gallon trash can’s worth of a pungent mystery vine that threatens to strangle the mature azalea bushes that grace much of our yard. The mystery vine appeared after the May 2019 straight-line windstorm, which left four trees on our house and several more down in the backyard. When the debris was chain-sawed, chipped and hauled off, much of the back and side yard was now in full sun. That’s when the mystery vine cropped up, winding its way up the azaleas,...

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Teaching Class Online A Different Animal

I have been teaching a photography class online for nearly a month now, meeting via Microsoft Teams with my students every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. As always, my LeTourneau University students are intelligent and engaged. But there are definitely challenges to this type of teaching. Two words often bandied about in education quarters this pandemic season are synchronous and asynchronous. The former means “at the same time.” The latter means the opposite. There has been quite a debate in public education about which method to use for teaching online. I am teaching synchronously, meaning...

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Molly Ivins Knew How to Raise Hell

On Aug. 30, about 100 folks raised a glass on Zoom to toast the memory of Molly Ivins, the acerbic and hilarious columnist who died of cancer in 2007. It was Molly’s birthday, and the event was a fundraiser for the Texas Observer, the venerable, gritty progressive magazine that she once co-edited when in her 20s. I have subscribed to the Observer for more than 40 years and have written a few stories for it — the most recent four years ago, the first back in 1982. That first piece, adapted from a creative writing class I took under Bill Stotts in graduate school at UT-Austin, was the first piece...

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