A blog by Lori Lyons

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye, good riddance, good luck

 

Go Away 2020!


Hey, 2020! Yeah, you. Go away. Get out of here. And don't come back no more no more.

Everyone in the world is counting down the hours to the end of 2020 on this New Year's Eve. We have the champagne ready. Although, most of us will be counting those final minutes in the comfort of our own living rooms. No parties. No fancy dinners. No ball drops. Well, that's not true. The balls will drop, they're just not going to let us go downtown to watch.

Covid.

That's the word for 2020. That's what we will remember -- a virus that started somewhere in China sometime in late 2019 and quickly spread throughout the world, infecting millions, killing millions, shutting down life as we know it -- schools, businesses, sporting events. We tried to stop the spread. Scientists told us to wear masks and wash our hands and stay home as much as we could. But too many didn't listen. Now, too many are dead, dying, mourning, suffering.

We did not escape unscathed. The Coach got it just before Thanksgiving. A few days of sniffles led to a full blown "I don't feel so good." I told him he needed to get tested. He did. He was positive. A few days later he started coughing. He didn't stop for more than a week. 

I never got it.

The Coach's ex wife's husband got it too. Woke up one morning and couldn't smell the coffee. She never got it.

Our boss got it too. He had a slight cough one day in August, but it was not even noticeable when I had a brief conversation with him in the hallway. The next day he was letting us know he had tested positive. Not long after he was in the hospital. He stayed for six weeks and, to hear his story, came pretty close to checking out for good. He was in ICU for 25 days. He didn't return to school until the week before Christmas, toting an oxygen tank. 

Not everyone was so lucky. Several of our teachers lost parents. Our students lost grandparents. Our community lost many. 

We also lost our ways of life. We learned to quarantine. No birthday parties, no backyard barbecues, no Mardi Gras parades, no Christmas bonfires. Baseball was canceled. A lot of college football was canceled. Beach trips were discouraged. Toilet paper disappeared. Restaurants and bars closed. Movie theaters were shuttered. Bourbon Street emptied. Basically, we just stayed home. A lot. 

 Some got to do nothing. The Coach sat downstairs in the living room watching Netflix and TicTok while I spent the spring upstairs in my Lyons Lair trying to teach English grammar and Multimedia via email, grateful for my extra large touchscreen monitor and advanced computer savvy.   

Then there were the SIX HURRICANES .... 

So now everyone is hoping 2021 will be better. It has to be, right? Well, we are readying our black eyed peas and cabbage just to be sure.

But I have to say, 2021 wasn't all bad. We got drive-through graduations, drive-by birthday parties, Popeye's home delivery and Zoom meetings.

And I got a new job! In January, my retired husband was helping out the Riverside baseball team when he learned there was an opening for an English and Multimedia teacher. I went to talk to the principal and got the job! It was rough, coming in at mid-year, but I loved the kids and I really loved the school and the community. Then I got to check an item off my bucket list by announcing a baseball game.... then another... then another.... I was officially The Voice of the Rebels.

We got to leave the house quite a bit during the summer. The Coach's summer American Legion baseball team, Gauthier Amedee, decided to play as long as it could. They used the field at our new school and I became the Voice of the Wombats. It was a good summer, too. The Wombats won the Louisiana State championship -- the second in three years!  -- but there was no regional or World Series to go on to.

In other great news, Stepson Daniel saw a dream come true when he became the head football coach at Hahnville High School. It's really a Hollywood'ish story. Local boy goes to local high school, becomes the starting quarterback, achieves glory, returns as assistant football coach, goes off to become head football coach elsewhere, applies to be head football coach at alma mater, doesn't get the job, then a few weeks later, applies for sudden opening at alma mater's archrival school and gets the job. It would have been a perfect ending had he defeated the alma mater but .... oh well. There's always next year.

In the fall I got to sleep with the boss! When our principal went out with Covid, they asked Coach to step in for a week or so to get the ball rolling. No one dreamed it would be four months. He was the "acting principal" for the whole semester, guiding us through Covid, a wonky air conditioning system, a lightning strike that took out our bells and PA system, unhappy teachers, unhappy parents, technology issues, social distancing, skirt lengths, football and volleyball, bus routes and SIX HURRICANES. Champ that he is, he did a great job (and I'm not biased at all.)

Just last week he was officially named the HEAD baseball coach and the principal returned, so now he can focus on his first love -- baseball.

The year 2020 also brought us new love -- our little Pepper Boy! He is another rescue, about 10 years old. He is blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other and, we are fairly certain, 90 percent deaf. But he is the sweetest boy ever and I am totally in love. 

And while you may not agree with my politics, I'll just say November turned out the way I hoped and prayed it would. 

See? Every cloud has some silver in it. Sometimes you have to look for it, though. If I keep my job and successfully teach my sixth graders how to capitalize proper nouns and my high schoolers how to spellcheck their presentations I will be happy. If my husband has a winning season, I will be happy. If he manages to turn my pool blue again, I will be very happy. 

If we all stay healthy and if these Covid vaccines work, we all will be very happy. May we all get through 2021 unscathed.

Happy --- BETTER -- New Year! 



Monday, March 30, 2020

Leigheaux





 

Leigheaux Lee "Bigfoot" Lyons Luquet, renegade standard poodle, master counter surfer, bread bandit and human walker, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on Sunday, March 29, 2020. He was about 12 years old, but no one knows for sure as his early life was a mystery. We just know he wandered out of a swamp near Denham Springs, Louisiana, one day, grumpy, suspicious of humans and in need of food and a grooming. He was promptly named "Bigfoot." After his photo appeared on the Creole Poodle Rescue site, he was snapped up by the Luquets of Norco and re-christened, Leigheaux the Cajun Poodle.


And if he had been a teenage boy, he would have been perpetually grounded. Leigheaux spent the rest of his days stealing food left within his reach, digging in the garbage, begging for food, following Mom into the kitchen and the upstairs closet, staring out of windows and plotting the murder of the mailman, the UPS man and every utility company person who dared to walk in his yard. He was successful in scaring every one of them away, every day. He didn't particularly care for squirrels, either, and watched them out the window until he felt they were within striking distance. Of course, by the time he bolted out the doggie door and rounded the corner of the house, the squirrel was long gone. He never gave up in this effort, however, not even on his last days.

As a poodle, Leigheaux was supposed to enjoy water; he did not. In fact, Leigheaux wanted nothing to do with the big, beautiful swimming pool in his backyard and only jumped in once -- when a particularly loud firecracker went off nearby on the Fourth of July.

In between, Leigheaux enjoyed pilfering whatever food item he could reach on the counters, tables and buffets and from unsuspecting houseguests. He particularly enjoyed whole loaves of bread, not caring that it had become a very rare commodity in recent days because of the Corona Virus quarantine. In his last months, he became more brazen in his thievery, smashing not one but two jars of Milkbone treats in one week. He also became convinced that Mom was going to give him whatever she was eating and that, every time she got up off the sofa, she was indeed going to get something for him to eat. He knew Dad wasn't.



But more than anything, Leigheaux loved his morning walks with Mom to the park and back. When Mom was working at home and taking care of Grandma, it was a daily occurrence with his late sister, Lollee Sue. Sometimes, he would follow Mom upstairs and into the closet to see if she was, indeed, putting her sneakers on. If she slept too late, he would pounce on the bottom stairs until she woke up. If she did come downstairs in the proper attire, Leigheaux would do his amazing happy dance at the bottom of the stairs.

But age began to catch up to Leigheaux. It got more and more difficult for him to walk on the hardwood floors. Sometimes he couldn't get up after laying down. He no longer could manage the stairs at all. What began as a cyst on his shoulder grew to a very large, very angry tumor that could not be removed and would not get better. And last week, Mom finally had to go to the park without him. He did manage to chase a squirrel on his last happy day, however, but could not catch it.



Leigheaux leaves a family who loved him very much and neighbors who did not; Lola, the little one, who is happy she no longer has to share the treats but is too short to steal off the counters; and lots of puddles around the house that he never managed to get caught leaving.

I hope you and Lollee Sue are together again, my boy, chasing squirrels forever.






Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Quarantine Week 2: The Nest is Full Again

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Whaddaya mean you're coming home three months early??? 



Regular readers of this little blog (both of you) may recall that, last August, I wrote a very tearful (well, I cried) post about our baby girl leaving the nest and going off to college.

Although my heart was having a hard time letting her go, my brain recognized that it was her time to spread her wings and fly. Yes, I did cry. A lot. But then the Coach and I had a cute and funny photo shoot showing off our new empty nest.


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Don't worry, everyone said. She will be back. I knew she would, I just didn't expect it to happen so soon. Or that she would come back with so much STUFF!

The spread of the Corona Virus has forced colleges to shut down across the country. Classes now are being held online and students are no longer required (or even allowed) to live on campus. Lora didn't hesitate; she booked it home as soon as she could following the announcement. But she only brought a few things with her. Yesterday, we had to go back to move her our of her dorm room four hours away.

It was quite a difference from Move-In Day.

For one, it wasn't 1,000 degrees outside. It was a nice, cool morning with clouds.

Also, there weren't 1,000 people there doing the same thing as us and trying to find the best parking space.  In August, there were student volunteers directing traffic, welcoming new students and befuddled parents, pointing the way to go, telling us what to do. Yesterday, there were about five cars in the parking lot and no one there directing traffic. Inside, there was one young lady, who obviously had nowhere to go during her spring break, waiting to take the keys when we were done.

In August, I was sad but also thrilled to help my daughter set up her new living space. I tried not to be  one of those overbearing moms, offering my help and advice only when asked and allowing her to do her own thing.  Yesterday, I was only sad at the thought that she was losing such a large chunk of her freshman year of college. And she pretty much let me take charge of the packing and the cleaning.

In August, we spent hours unloading Coach's minivan and hauling everything into her room. Yesterday, it took us about 90 minutes to put it all back in. (And I am still the reigning Tetris champion of the universe!)




Now it's all piled up in the spare bedroom downstairs, awaiting her attention. Meanwhile, I'm wondering where in the heck we're going to put it all.

But, as I did in August, I'm letting her do her own thing. Gotta give 'em their space, right?







Friday, March 20, 2020

Quarantine



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Covid-19 -- The Corona Virus


March 20, 2020

It's officially Quarantine Day 7 ..... or 8 .... or 25.... Who the hell knows? Frankly, I'm not even sure what day it is. Friday, my husband says. OK.

All I know is, all hell has broken loose in our world and no one quite knows what to do about it. Life as we know it is forever changed.

No. This is not the plot of some movie or book -- although it has been. Frequently.

This is really happening.

There is a virus spreading throughout the world so the world is shutting down. People are being told to stay home except for absolute necessities. Travel is curtailed around the world. Businesses are shuttered. Restaurants are take-out only. Sports -- all of them -- have been stopped. Schools, including colleges,  have been closed with teachers (like me) trying to find new ways to teach online.

As an amateur genealogist, I've seen the effects of pandemics. Cholera, Small Pox, Yellow Fever. My grandparents lived through an Influenza epidemic in 1918. More than 54,000 people contracted Influenza in 1918; 3,489 died. My great grandmother was a Red Cross nurse at the time, working on the front lines. But I never thought I'd see anything like this in my lifetime. As of today, we have more than 500 cases in Louisiana with 14 deaths. My former physician is in quarantine.

Well, we all are, to be honest.

Over the past few months, we kept hearing about this strange new virus spreading through the population of China. Then it spread through Europe. Then there was a case here in the USA.

The Corona Virus. People laughed and made fun because it's named for a Mexican beer, for God's sake. There were jokes. Lots of jokes.

I really didn't pay that much attention to it. I was more focused on the New Orleans Mardi Gras. Although we don't do parades anymore, I had a week off from school and my baby girl was coming home from college for an extra long weekend and her boyfriend's birthday.

We did have a small group of students and teachers who traveled to Italy over the Mardi Gras break. At first, they were told to stay home on Monday. Then until Wednesday. Then until March 16. I sent work home to my one student, who was planning to do a project on his visit to Italy.

The following weekend was my birthday! The Coach took me up to our daughter's college town for dinner and several drinks in our hotel bar. The virus was still spreading.

In between all of that, the Coach was getting started with his new baseball team at our school. I even got to cross an item off my bucket list by announcing two of the home games. I tried to be a cross between Millie in "Bull Durham" and Renel Books-Moon, who used to announce for the San Francisco Giants. And my playlist was awesome.

It was back to school last Monday, but it was a short week. Our school had its annual Arts Festival on Thursday evening so there would be no school the following day. The Coach had a game scheduled that afternoon, so we planned to go the festival after that.

It was March 12. A normal school day.

Then all hell broke loose.

The baseball team's opponent, a public school just a few miles down the street, called to say their superintendent had ordered them to cancel. All extra curricular activities were canceled. Our team still had practice.

At the Arts Festival that evening, I got to see several of my students. Many of them came up to hug me. Our principal was dressed in a Maui (from Moana) costume. But people talked about little else. It was a game of dominoes as things began to shut down -- schools, colleges, businesses, communities. One plant worker told us he had heard that the local plants would be shutting its workers inside for weeks at a time.

Things were getting scarier.

On Friday, the Coach still had a game scheduled. But the team was on the bus headed our way when their Superintendent ordered them to turn around. Cancel everything, he said.

Our team still managed to sneak in a double header on March 14 at Loranger. It would be the last for quite some time.

Everything shut down after that. All schools. All games. All practices. The NBA. The NHL. MLB. All of it. No gatherings of more than 50 people. That later changed to 10. Lora's college (and all of the others) canceled in-person classes. She came home. Church services. Government meetings. Proms. Graduations. Class trips.

Poof.

Most government officials urged people to stay home. "Social distancing" they call it. Stay at least 6 feet apart and, most importantly, WASH YOUR HANDS.

So what did we do? We ran to Walmart and bought every bottle of water and every roll of toilet paper we could find. (Not us.... in fact, I'm starting to get a little worried about our toilet paper situation.) And some youngsters ran to the beach. (Not us, but only because I don't have a beach house -- YET!)

No, but we did start fixing up the back yard and the pool. We hired a youngster with a machete to come cut down the frost-bitten banana trees and clear it all out. I put up some new lights on the trees. Made lemonade out of our lemons.

No one knows what will happen next. Today some cities, including New Orleans, ordered people to just stay the hell home. NOLA has become a serious hub for the virus with more than its share of infections. Officials are trying to stop the spread and people just aren't listening. Today they got LSU coach Ed Orgeron out to try and stop the madness.

But people aren't listening. They're acting like my 6th graders just before the bell rings.

I'm also trying to figure out how to do this online learning thing. I spent all of today writing assignments for my 6th and 7th grade English students, including trying to figure out how they're going to turn things in. How am I going to grade it all?

Meanwhile, my husband is downstairs with the sniffles and a sore throat -- universally the first sign of the virus.

These are scary times indeed.

But I have urged my students to write about their experiences and so shall I. I told them that someday their kids and grandkids will be doing Social Studies projects on this event. Writing isn't just an outlet for our emotions, this also is an historic event. I wish my Grannie had written about the Influenza of 1918, what it was like, how it came to be, how she felt, how she survived.

And what comes next.














Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Once upon a blog


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Once upon a time there was a blog.

It was a nice little blog called "The Lyons Din," a play on words for a woman named Lyons who wanted to make a little noise. It began as an outlet, a place where the woman could write the words that were frothing inside of her -- especially after some men in ties (and one well-dressed woman) told her she was no longer an employed writer for the former metropolitan daily newspaper.

But she was still a writer.

And writers gotta write. Right? Right.

So she figured out how to do it on the internet, where people could read it if they wanted to.

Sadly, she never figured out how to make any money doing it, so, it was for fun.

She wrote about her life, her daughter, her coach husband, occasionally her grown up stepkids, her mother-in-law and her mama.

She wrote about what life was like living with a baseball coach, then what it was like living with a man who was no longer a baseball coach, then was again.

She wrote about her daughter's growing pains (both literal and figurative), her birthdays, her adoption and her war with scoliosis and her leaving the nest to go off to college.

She wrote about being a full-time caretaker to two little old ladies.

She wrote about losing her job, looking for jobs, finding jobs, and leaving those jobs.

And, occasionally, people read what she wrote. Sometimes they laughed. Sometimes they cried. Sometimes they shared what she wrote, especially when she wrote about Mardi Gras and the Warrior Dash.

But mostly, people accidentally stumbled upon what she wrote when they Googled "big tits" and "mardi gras" and "warrior dash." A lot of people in Russia somehow read those posts.

But now, it has been a while since the woman named Lyons has made much noise. She's busy, you know. She has an empty nest. She has a new job, teaching new students at a new school how to write with proper punctuation and capitalization. Her husband has a new job coaching baseball at the same school. She has dogs. And a green pool. And not too much else.

There isn't much to write about. There isn't much inclination either. What once was a fountain of words frothing inside of her is now just a little bubbling that doesn't strain much to get out. She's tired.

And Russia has stopped reading.

And blogs have turned into vlogs and podcasts. No one has time to read funny little anecdotes anymore.

But, writer's gotta write. Right? So don't delete the bookmarks just yet, please. You just never know when the writer's gonna write.


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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Retired tired




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In the spring of 2014, my husband decided not to do the job he loves anymore.

He had spent 25 years coaching high school baseball at five different schools, the last 15 at Destrehan High School.

At the time, I had been laid off from my full time job as a sports writer for the big city daily newspaper and was spending nearly all my time as a caretaker for his elderly mom. If you're a regular reader of this little blog, you know what a full time job that was. He felt a little guilty about putting the lion's share of the work on me but, truthfully, he just wasn't enjoying himself very much. Too many coaches in his dugout, too many runners on the bases of his mind, you know.

But shortly after the Coach made his decision and his announcement, his mom passed away. Well, he couldn't very well go back and say, "Um. Never mind," could he? So he retired. Not from his "other job" of teaching, mind you, just the baseball part.

But for the past five years, everyone I bump into has asked me, "How's Marty enjoying his retirement?"

I patiently explained that he was, in fact, still working for a living, still teaching special education students, just not coaching.

Then he went and got himself a summer job coaching a very good American Legion team and that started a whole new bunch of conversations.

"I see Marty came out of retirement!"

Well, sorta.

Then, over the summer, he finally did retire. For real. As a teacher. He got the jacket and the certificate (but not the money yet) and everything.

So now I'm getting a whole new bunch of conversations beginning with "How's Marty enjoying his retirement?"

To which I reply: "We are going to be divorced any minute."

Seriously.

You see, for the past decade, while you and I were watching all those funny videos on Facebook and You Tube, my husband was teaching students and/or coaching baseball. Up at 5 a.m. (every damn day) and at school for 6:30 a.m. and not home sometimes until 8 or 9 p.m., he didn't have time to check his Twitter or his Instagram and see what was going on in the world.

But boy, he does now.

See, God didn't bless my husband with woodworking skills or car fixing skills or, really, any kind of fixin' skills. He likes his grass green and his pool blue and that's about it. He doesn't have a shop or a garage, just a room with a bunch of his awards.

He does sleep in a little more -- usually until 7 a.m. -- and then he goes downstairs to sit in his cozy chair next to his cozy fire (once he gets the poodle out of it), and he spends the next several hours catching up on all the fun stuff he has missed over the last decade.

Remember the whale that was caught in the fishing nets and the nice guy in the boat used his pocketknife to cut him loose? The goofy kids who turned the airport escalators into a bunch of sporting events? The evolution of dance?

He's just seeing them. And he wants to show me, too.

Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of saying, "I've seen it."

So, while he sits in his chair in the early morning hours, I stay upstairs. I have a nice, warm comfortable bed and a friendly little poodle to keep me company. I also have a little work-at-home office up here, where I can watch the newest viral videos and whatever else I want.

Once I'm done with my "work," I go downstairs to hang out with him for a few hours. Then, when 9 p.m. rolls around and he's ready to call it a night, he goes upstairs and I take over the living room.

Hey. It works.

He does get a little antsy at times, though. He misses the camaraderie of his fellow teachers and some of his students. So, when he's bored he goes out and Uber drives for a couple of hours, giving tips and advice to tourists and locals alike.

As for me, I'm still only partly employed as a freelancer for the newspaper I used to work for and the one that bought it. I also work as a substitute teacher at the local high school, which means I'm the one getting up at 5 a.m. and getting to school at 6:30. And the first thing everyone asks me is, "How is Marty enjoying his retirement?"




Friday, August 9, 2019

Letting her go







When Lora Leigh was about 2 years old, we took her to the local church fair for some fun and games.

When we got to the area folks had set up their lawn chairs to listen to the bands play, I put my little girl down so she could dance to the music.

Well, my little girl turned into a pink Tasmanian Devil.

She took off and never looked back.

My curly haired girl went to the middle of the circle of chairs and danced her little tushy off, turning herself in dizzying circles. She never once turned around to see where her dad and I were -- or if we even were still there.

We never let her out of our sight, mind you, and we moved ourselves to keep up with her. The few times I did try to catch her little arm to pull her back to my safety, she shrugged me off and kept going around in circles. "No, Ma," she seemed to be saying. "I don't need you. Let me go."

And, although she won't say them, those are the words my heart will hear next week when I drop her off at college five hours away.

"Let me go."

I know I have to. It's her time to leave the nest and fly on her own. She's smart, practical, mature, ready.  But that doesn't make it any easier on my heart. I waited so long to get her.

We've both spent the last few months preparing for this moment. She by leaving the house as often as possible or hiding in her room. Me by reminding myself that this is what it's going to be like without her.

One day I had a brief conversation with her through her bedroom door. At the end I palmed the wood with love and said, "I'm sure going to miss talking to this door."

And I'm going to miss the little trail of personal items she leaves from the front door to the door of her room -- keys, shoes, purse, headphones, whatever she just bought at the store.

And the products all over the counter in the bathroom because 1) she is a product junkie and 2) everything MUST be within reach and not hidden away in some cabinet.

And the five different shampoos and conditioners in the shower.

And the wet towels on my bedroom chair.

And her dishes in the sink.

And the sound of her beautiful voice singing in the shower.

And her asking "Mom, will you straighten my hair?"

But I also miss the little girl who wore nothing but pink, who lived in a pink room and drank pink milk out of her bottle. Cold.

I miss the pink ball of energy and excitement who explored the world with such enthusiasm. I used to love to take her to the mall. She never was a "I want that" kind of kid, but she would shout to the world "Look at the pink shoes!" And everybody did.

I miss the little girl who had her dad trained to go get a damn balloon first thing when we walked in the doors at Walmart. Then we could shop in peace.

I miss the little girl who made us laugh so often, with quips like, "Mom, I have a memory like a hippopotamus."

I miss the little girl who went to baseball games from the time she was two weeks old but couldn't tell you the first thing about the game until last summer when she discovered that boys played it.

I miss her curls.

I miss the silly songs.

The many, many costumes.

I miss watching The Wizard of Oz over and over and over and over.

And Pocahontas

The little girl who wanted to be a mermaid.

I miss the bedtime stories.

I miss the cuddles in the morning.

I can only wonder what things she will miss about me and her dad and home. Me straightening her hair, for sure. And Sunday roast.

Someone with much better math skills than I and much more time on their hands figured out that, from the time we have a child to the time they leave for college, we only have 940 Saturdays to spend with our children.

All I did was blink and I have one left.

Then I will pack up my car and hers with a whole bunch of stuff she needs and a whole bunch more that she doesn't and take her someplace else to live. Without me.

I will try to just watch as she unpacks it all and decorates her room. I will take her to Walmart for one more run for last minute things.

Then I will let her go.

And try not look back.