Choose Life

H1, H2, & Big Boy Life on the (L)edge

Begun in the aftermath of Katrina, this blog was a way to keep family and friends updated as the family struggled to return to a semblance of normalcy. Now, more than four years later, the memories are still strong, the family is, to some extent, scattered. However, life did go on, and this is our story.

October 30, 2005

Sunday, October 30th

It's Sunday evening. Been a pretty busy weekend. Yesterday we slept in for a bit, then went to a nice little restaurant called the Blue Plate Cafe. A homey interior and great menu, with breakfast available from opening to closing. Breakfast came with delightfully hot and fluffy biscuits and "sawmill" gravy. It was so good, in fact, that we returned this morning, bringing our friend and co-worker Gerald with us. BTW, that's not me in front, nor is it my wheels, either. Sigh!

Yesterday evening we went to see "The Legend of Zorro". We enjoyed it very much. There was lots of action and humor, and of course Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Douglas) were easy on the eyes as well. Still looking forward to seeing "Prime".

This afternoon we went to the Pyramid in downtown Memphis. We went to see the traveling Guggenheim exhibit called The Art of the Motorcycle. It was very interesting and had a lot of interesting motorcycles on display. Today was the last day. From here it goes to Orlando, Florida. I recommend it highly for anyone interested in motorcycles and their history. It was amazing to see what technology was developed as far back as the early 1900's, and how fast motorcycles were able to go back then.

Took Gerald to the Church of the Holy Spirit for Mass at 5PM on Saturday. I think he enjoyed it. Their choir was in attendance, and, as usual they were outstanding. They really enhance the liturgical celebration.

The weather has warmed up again, and the weekend was absolutely beautiful, weatherwise. I hope it holds a few more days. We'd like to go to the zoo next weekend. With the temps in the upper 60's, low 70's, the animals should be peppy, not lethargic, so they'll be more interesting to see.

So, that's the plan so far for next weekend. Until then it's work, work, work. Trying to catch up for the time lost moving everyone and all our equipment from NOLA to Millington. Hopefully we can stay on track and get our system deployed so our return to NOLA (whenever that may be) isn't delayed.

Looking forward to going home for Thanksgiving.

Take care, and God bless!!


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October 28, 2005

Friday, October 28th

TGIF! I thought it would never get here! And not a moment too soon! Another exciting Friday in front of the tube, which isn't so bad because we like the three prime time shows: Ghost Whisperer, Threshold, and NUMB3RS. But, alas, repeat city! Damn those pesky World Series games, especially those that don't get played.

Only two more days until "The Art of the Motorcycle" leaves the Pyramid. It is based on a Guggenheim show. Traces the history of motorcycles and looks pretty interesting. It's going to Orlando next year. We may try to go tomorrow.

"Prime" opens today. Looks like it might be a cute movie (chick flick?). Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep. Streep is a great actress, and Thurman has her moments. It looks like it has possibilities. If anyone goes to see it, let us know what you think of it.

Went to Outback (No Rules, Just Right!!) for dinner with people from work. Is this turning into a Friday night out event? It can't make up for Friday night dinners with our daughter and her family. I really miss those.

My oldest son, the one in Houston, got a job interview today, and has a second one tomorrow. The job sounds fantastic. It would be working for HP, trying to break their new stuff, and putting repaired items through their paces to make sure they were repaired properly. He's really excited and hopes to get the job, so if you would like to offer up a prayer for him it would be appreciated.

We're really going to miss being home for Halloween this year. No one to go trick-or-treating with here in Memphis. I don't think kids are going door to door in our hotel.

The clocks go back an hour this weekend! It's about time. I can never seem to adjust to "springing forward" in April. I'm always looking forward to falling back and gaining that hour back. It reminds me of when I was on the Moose (USS Moosbrugger (DD980)) on the way from Charleston, SC to the Med. Every other day we crossed into a new time zone, so every other day one one watch section got an hour off their watch. Was it my watch section? Not a chance!! So, do you think the guys who got short watches on the way over would get the long watches on the way back? Oh, no. Not while I was onboard. I'm the guy who had the duty the night before we left the States, AND the night we returned. The story of my life!!

Time to call it a night. Take care and God bless!

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October 26, 2005

Wednesday, October 26th

Looks like some good TV coming... Xena, (Vampire) Warrior Princess. Lucy Lawless is starring in a made for TV movie about vampire bats. Here's a synopsis from IMDB: "A voracious-insect specialist (Lucy Lawless), now a college professor in search of a simpler life, who gets caught up in the investigation of a student who is found dead with his body completely depleted of blood and realizes that the killers are actually vampire bats that have mutated due to a tainted water supply."

If you ever want to feel truly small and insignificant in the generalscheme of things, try the Astronomy Picture of the Day. The awesomely beautiful pictures of galaxies located millions of light years away will boggle the mind that tries to grasp the size and scope of our universe. At least, it boggles mine. For those interested, the link is http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html.

Temperatures are in the mid-30s in the morning. B-r-r-r-r. I've been living in the South way too long for this. Fortunately we bought some insulated jackets just before the dip in the temps. I hope it's only temporary. It seems a bit early in the year for such cold weather. Thank heavens we didn't evacuate to upstate New York. I heard on the news that they had snow from this cold front.

Speaking of New York, we can never go home without feeling intense pangs of homesickness. Some people don't realize just how beautiful the state really is. Still, whenever we think about the winters, it becomes a nice place to visit, but wouldn't want to live there. Maybe we should have a summer home in NY, and winter home in NOLA.

Memphis. Almost feels like we're still at home in New Orleans. The city is facing a huge budget deficit, the police are being arrested for criminal activity, it ranks at the top of the list in crime. No wonder we're almost comfortable here.

Stress is insidious. We don't necessarily see it, but its effects are starting to show. Short tempers, recurring illnesses, lack of focus are all symptoms that are beginning to show in our family. We need to somehow band together and support one another, even from a distance, and even when (or especially when) we think the others have lost it, or don't deserve our support. We have to remember that the bottom line is, we're family, and families stick together.

Prayer request for today is for our family. May God bless us with faith, hope, and especially love for one another through thick and thin.

You are all in our prayers here in Memphis. We wish the best God can give for you and your families.


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October 25, 2005

Tuesday, October 25th

Didn't go to work today. Something must be going around. Linda was laid up Sunday, and now me, with similar but not identical symptoms. Let's hope we aren't passing it back and forth between one another.

Fr. Deo is doing well, so keep up those prayers! He sent us a joke from Rome which I must share with you, since this blog was started because of Katrina. So, here goes:

You know you're from New Orleans and survived Hurricane Katrina when.......

1. Pre-K has nothing to do with the year before Kindergarten.
2. The flies are bigger than your Chihuahua.
3. Your bank, dry cleaner, and grocery store are closed but your bar is not. (thank you, Cooter Brown's)
4. You judge your elevation by the brown horizontal line in the city.
5. You have to show an ID to get into your neighborhood.
6. Your neighborhood has no children, so you actually start to miss the little boys across the street who used to throw rocks onto your roof.
7. You go to Sam's Club, but instead you buy masks, bleach, rubber gloves, and baking soda in bulk.
8. You know five remedies to get the smell out of your refrigerator.
9. You spend a lot of time talking with your friends about the five remedies to get the smell out of your refrigerator.
10. Ice becomes more precious than gold.
11. Your office goes from 40 employees to 5.
12.Living in a house with twelve other people is not a sign of how poor you are, but how rich you are with friends and family.
13. You know what a double-evacuee is. (Damn you, Rita!)
14. FEMA means "Failure to Effectively Manage Anything" and hearing the words "Red Cross" makes your blood boil.
15. You get sick of hearing people from Baton Rouge tell you how bad the traffic is now. You remind them that Baton Rouge traffic was terrible before there were 200,000 more people in town.
16. The strip clubs on Bourbon Street have power before your house does.....
17. The salvation army, a firefighter from Michigan, and cops from Wauconda show up at your house to make sure that you are OK.
18. There is a pirogue on your roof. (for you out of state guys, that's a Cajun canoe)
19. You return to your home and all of your belongings fit into two boxes.
20. Contraflow just doesn't seem so bad.
21. You have to purchase hip boots to walk in your neighborhood.
22. Lakeview becomes Lake.
23. The crosses on your wall and kitchen counter top remain despite the five feet of water in your house.
24. When someone asks "what is your favorite MRE?" you have an answer.
25. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.
26. You know what it truly means to miss New Orleans.

Hope you enjoyed. Take care and God bless you.


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October 22, 2005

Saturday, October 22nd

I think we're becoming regulars! Tonight we went out for Chinese food to Wang's Mandarin restaurant. We've been going about once a week for the last month. It is in the shopping mall (small) right behind our hotel, so it's really convenient. The same person waits on us each time,so there is some recognition there. He knows that we like a glass of plum wine, and that we like the fried dumplings as an appetizer. We do switch up on the entree to try and find new foods that we like. At the end of our meal tonight he brought us, unordered, a plate of fried bananas that he had prepared himself for us. It was delicious! He also said he would make us fried ice cream the next time we come in. I can hardly wait! I'm looking forward to taking family or friends to Wang's when next they come to Memphis.

Not long after our daughter had returned from Orlando, her cat was mauled by a neighborhood dog. She was leaving the house with the kids and found black kitty in the driveway, so it was tears and grieving all the way to school. Very sad, because the cat had never had any problems in the past, but a neighbor had guests staying with them that had a dog that ran around loose some of the time. Maybe I'll surprise our daughter and the kids by giving them a beautiful cockatoo named Gumbo for Christmas. Hmmmm?

New Orleans is trying to recover. It seems that all but five Mardi Gras krewes have plans to roll next Mardi Gras. That should give hotels an impetus to reopen and, if successful should be a shot in the arm for New Orleans financially. Still, it's going to require a lot of city workers (police, fire, sanitation) as well as public transportation, restaurants, etc. that will need to be up and running. This means lots of people in emergency, service, restaurant, hotel, and other areas of industry who lost their homes will need to return and find housing so they can return to work.
The city certainly has its work cut out.

The diaconate office in New Orleans, formerly at Walmsley Avenue has temporarily relocated to Christ the King Parish in Terrytown. That was our parish for two years. They are working to try to get the diaconate classes back on track. Sadly, the December ordination for the '05 class has been delayed until they can complete the courses that had been scheduled for this fall. I also heard that perhaps five of the members of that class lost their homes in the storm. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them. I can still remember the anticipation felt as ordination drew near, and to have it delayed for 6 months, or more, is difficult emotionally, not to mention all the plans that had been made, travel arrangements for family to attend. We pray that God gives them the grace of patience and resolve so that they may keep their spirits up and stay committed to the course.

Please pray for our Archbishop and all the clergy and people of New Orleans.

May God bless you with abundant love, good health, and happiness.


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October 21, 2005

Friday, October 21st

Finally!! Friday!! And not a day too soon. Capped it off with a gathering at a restaurant called The Butcher Shop Steak House. It was nice going out with people from work for a social evening.

Last Wednesday was lasagne night at the Holy Spirit Wednesday Night Supper. Excellent caesar salad, garlic bread and lasagne. But the dessert was amazing. Vanilla ice cream with all kinds of toppings. I had a stawberry/blueberry mix, m&m's, and whipped cream topping. Yummy!

We sat at a table with two other couples and the son of one of the couples. I started out by asking if any of them were Memphis or Tennessee natives. So far noone we've met is native. We've met people from New York (Buffalo), New Jersey, California, and now Washington state. Still no natives. I guess FedEx is a huge employer here and draws in a lot of outsiders.

What kind of people is FEMA hiring? I got a call Wednesday afternoon from a FEMA agent who said he wanted to inspect one of our houses the next day. He asked if I could be there, so I told him, "No", and that I am located in Memphis, and he should contact my son to arrange for him to be let into the house. He called again at about 9:30PM to say it had gotten dark too soon for him to inspect the house, so he would need to get in in the morning after all, and could I meet him then. Like, HELL-O-O-O!! Didn't I just tell him 3 hours earlier that I was in MEMPHIS?!?!?! Geez!

Wilma... Wow! My prayers go out for those already impacted, and for those folks in Florida who are faced with the impending arrival. What an incredible, unbelievable hurricane season we're having, and still weeks to go.

Our daughter and the grandkids are back in New Orleans again. Seems that although she really had been fired from Children's, they want her back. That's a good thing, I guess. Prayers for her, please.

** Now it's Saturday and I never finished yesterday's log. I've been reading The DaVinci Code and decided to finish it last night, so I was up reading until 2AM! I enjoyed the book as a novel, but I thought the ending was predictable and a little lame. At least now I can say that I read the book if anyone asks. After reading it, I really don't see what all the hooplah was about. Being an Anne Rice fan, I'm used to reading fiction laced with reality, so it wasn't difficult to accept Brown's book on the same level. FICTION, laced with reality.

Linda and I took Maynard for a walk early this afternoon while the cleaning woman looked after our rooms. We met a guy walking his boxer, named Rogro, or something like that. He spoke to the dog in Spanish. Rogro is two years old, and is a good third again as big as Maynard. He's a brindle and nice looking. Although both strained at their leashes with their little stub tails wagging, we decided it was more prudent to walk them in different areas, as both are males.

One of the guys I work with lived in an apartment complex in Metarie. Naturally the only building in the complex that was damaged by Katrina was the one he is in, although his apartment was ok. Still, he had no power or utilities for weeks, so he's dealing with the food spoilage and foul smell. He went back today to pick up his stuff and bring it up here to TN. He'll be back tomorrow, so we're wishing him a safe trip.

Yesterday morning I attended an "all-hands" meeting of IT persons where we listened to the CIO of the Navy's Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPT&E) command that is being "stood up". It combines the IT assets of Navy Manpower and Personnel based in Millington (mostly) with those of Navy Training and Education based in Pensacola. During his talk he was speaking about possible personnel moves caused by the consolidation. When he said, "...if New Orleans is reconstituted" meaning if the Navy returns to New Orleans, my ears perked up! Later during Q&A someone asked him to comment on that statement. He said that although he has heard that NOLA will be reconstituted, he has as yet seen no fiscal activity that would indicate any movement in that direction, so he wouldn't say yes or no as to whether we will return. Let's hope it's a resounding "YES"!!

I guess I've bored everyone long enough, so keep us in your prayers. By the way, Fr. Deo was interviewed and it was decided by the unviersity that he didn't have to take a theology exam after all! Although we're certain he would have done fine, he is greatly relieved and can concentrate on his Italian, German and other studies.

Take care, and may God bless you.


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October 18, 2005

Tuesday, October 18th

It’s been a few days since my last posting, but not too much has happened here.  My friend Gerald arrived on Sunday to start working up here.  He’s staying at our hotel, so we can ride to work together.

Can you see the difference?  Our new laptop arrived today and that’s what I’m using to type the blog.  Unfortunately it hasn’t made me anymore productive or creative, I’m afraid.  Oh, well, it’s free, the blog that is, as in, it doesn't cost anything to read it.

Almost everyone who is due to come to Millington has arrived.  So many have lost everything and are struggling to come to grips with the situation.  The full impact of Katrina and Rita has yet to be felt.  The most devastated areas of New Orleans will try to rebuild, but people are already moving to other areas rather than go back to their destroyed property and lost belongings.  Many will try to sell their homes, but more people will be leaving than will be looking to move into those areas, at least in the beginning.  It appears to be a seller’s market in areas that weathered Katrina with little damage.  The same may not be true for those areas hardest hit.  Will the former residents find buyers?

Mayor Nagin wants to infuse the city with quick cash by setting up a string of casinos in the city.  Where is the cash going to come from?  The citizens of New Orleans?  Tourists?  Where will the tourists stay?  Who will staff the hotels and where will they live?  Who is going to work in the casinos and where will they live?  

Hey, not only is Elvis’ home, Graceland, here, but so is the boyhood home of Alex Haley.  Wow!!  Who would have thought “Rock Around the Clock” started right here.  Alex Haley and the Comets!  What?  That’s not right?  “Roots”?  O-o-o-h, THAT Alex Haley.  Not Bill Haley.  I’ll bet it’s still a good place to visit.

Still praying for Fr. Deo’s success in his studies.  Also for the two young men and the young woman who we are sponsoring in Uganda.  They’re getting ready to start their exams, and we hope that they apply themselves and do well, as that is the only sure way to get ahead there.

Hurricane Wilma…  Cat II!  21st named storm of the season.  Let’s also pray that Wilma is not intent on visiting the Big Easy.  Projections have it turning North and crossing the Southern tip of Florida.  Wishing no one bad luck, I hope the track is fairly accurate so minimal damage to any area will occur.

While walking Maynard this weekend, two geese flew by, honking and flapping their wings.  Quite a sight!

I heard a joke this weekend, too.  Seems that a young Jewish mother and her toddler aged son were sitting on the beach when a huge wave came and washed over them.  When it receded, the child was gone.

The mother was, of course, overcome with grief.  She tore at her hair, and wailed, looked to heaven and pleaded with God, “Oh, please Lord.  That is my only son.  You know that my husband is recently deceased and my boy is all I have.  I love him and cannot live without him.  Please Lord, have pity on your unworthy servant and return my son to me.”

Sure enough, another huge wave washed over her, and when it receded, the boy was once again sitting beside her.  The woman looked at her son for a long time.  Then she looked up to heaven and said, “He was wearing a cap!”

Take care and God Bless!!


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October 14, 2005

More Random Observations

I have to say, Memphis, TN is a beautiful place.  I enjoy my 20 mile ride to work every day.  
It starts out with a short drive (about a third of the way) on interstate highways, then another third on commercial and suburban street (4 and 6 lane) and finally the last third is all rural, woods and cotton fields.  It’s a really pretty drive.

One of the many down sides to being stuck in Memphis is that Linda is using the time here in our two-room suite to spoil Maynard rotten!!  Almost every night he finds his way into her lap, or goes to sleep next to her on the pull-out couch.  Our (fairly) new couch back in New Orleans is doomed!

Someone asked me via email if the photo on the blog is really me.  In case anyone else is wondering, no it isn’t.  It’s British actor Robby Coltrane in his role as Hagrid from the Harry Potter movies.  People have been known to make comparisons between him and me when I get a little shaggy and let my beard grow too long.

Which reminds me, while in Uganda this past July, we overheard a bunch of young boys in the back of a pickup truck talking about “Father Christmas” and pointing to me.  I asked our Ugandan driver, Fr. Augustine, who Father Christmas was in Uganda.  He said he came at Christmas time and gave out candy and sweets to the children.  As it happened, we bring a lot of candy with us on our trip to give to the kids, so while driving next to the truck I took handfuls of candy and threw them to the boys.  They must have thought Father Christmas was in Kampala on summer vacation!

Speaking of New Orleans (ok, I wasn’t speaking of New Orleans, but I WAS thinking about it), I wonder how the hurricane is going to impact the political makeup and climate in Southeast Louisiana.  A very large part of the predominantly black and Democratic population has been driven out of the state, at least temporarily.  With a mayoral election coming up in the not too distant future, the question becomes how will these people be able to vote?  Or, will they?  How can you distinguish between an evacuee who intends to return to NOLA, as opposed to an evacuee who opts to remain where he or she has settled, found employment and become a part of a new community?  What will happen to Louisiana representation in Congress?  It’s based on population, and tens of thousands of people are no longer in Southeast Louisiana, or anywhere in Louisiana for that matter.  The hurricane continues to stretch out its tentacles into all areas of our lives long after it’s gone.

My daughter and her kids should be driving back to New Orleans tomorrow.  Please pray for her trip to be safe and uneventful.  Hopefully we will all be reunited in New Orleans soon.

We ask that God’s blessings be on each and every one of you.  Take care and know that we love you.


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Friday, October 14th

It's 6:20AM Friday morning and I should be getting ready for work. It's been a long week for being so short (Monday holiday, sick tuesday). Have you ever noticed that since holidays have been switched to Mondays (mostly) that work weeks don't seem shorter? Something about that Friday holiday! With Monday holidays, Tuesday becomes Monday, but by the time you get to Friday it feels like a whole week.

I AM DA MAN!!! - Yesterday afternoon we were given a new desk in our suite to replace the table that was in there. Once it was installed I found the internet connection didn't work any more. Boy was I ever grumpy. I tried releasing and resetting my IP address, I tried unplugging the modem and letting it reset. I was really frustrated and admittedly getting a bit short tempered. I tried calling the front desk, but they informed me that maintenance was gone for the day (like maintenance was actually going to fix it?). Finally, in desperation I got down on the floor one more time and started looking at every connection from beginning to end. I finally figured out that the furniture installers had switched the telephone lines into the modem (DSL). Once I connected them correctly, well, you are reading the results... back up on the internet. YEAH!!!

A good friend of ours, Fr. Deo from Uganada, is in Rome at university. He is in need of encouraging prayer, so please put him on your prayer list and ask God to give him perseverence and hope. I know he will do well and look forward to seeing him again when he has completed his studies.

Got a call from Mikey last night. He's doing well in Houston. Should have cable hookup soon and will be back on line in no time. We really miss the kids.

We can hardly wait for Thanksgiving to get together again. Separation is really adding a new dimension to the holidays for us. The anticipation of being together as family, and the time limitation placed on the reunion makes each moment together that much more precious. Time... the great unknown in our lives. How much do we have? How much have we wasted thinking we have plenty? What would we do differently if we knew exactly how much (or how little) time we had left on this earth?

Maybe we could try to be more appreciative of what is most important, family, friends, people we meet in the course of our daily lives. Life is a gift from a loving God that we should share with one another abundantly, not skimpingly. With that thought, I'm off to share what I have with my coworkers.

Take care and God bless you!!!


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October 11, 2005

Tuesday, October 11th

We made it back to Memphis. The ride was pleasant, uneventful and long. Well, only six and a half hours, but it sure dragged. It gave us plenty of time to think about the weekend and the future. Somehow we have to get control of the situation in NOLA, even though we're in Memphis. Of course, we'll be competing for all the services we will need. Blue roofs are everywhere already. Judging from the wood and drywall piled in the streets, contractors will be a hot commodity, too.

It looks like a lot of places have opened with reduced staff. Many places are using drive-up only. Job opportunities are beginning to appear. One fast food burger place had a help wanted sign advertising salaries up to $9/hour. Perhaps I should be considering a career change?

We left wondering just when the next visit would be. Thanksgiving, perhaps? That would be the first time everyone would be together again, including our daughter and the kids. I really miss the grandkids! I hear our grandson has been a soccer star at his new school. I hope he can keep it up back in New Orleans. It's especially tough on them, they've had to leave friends, make new ones, now go home where probably not all their friends will be, and then will have to make new friends again. Plus, switching schools is always stressful; you start learning whatever the school is teaching, which may not be the same as the next school.

Thanksgiving is also our youngest son's girlfriend's birthday, so maybe we can do something to celebrate and possibly meet her parents at the same time. Who knows? She is really sweet and we like her a lot!

Oh, I forgot to mention that Friday evening we were talking with our neighbor from across the street when a car drove by and we heard "BAM!!". Linda thought he might have hit one of our cats and bounced it against our car. Actually, he hit our car. Apparently his mirror caught our mirror and spun it forward, knocking the mirror itself out of the housing. He just continued on down the street like nothing had happened. Linda and I jumped into our car and gave chase. We caught up with him at the ferry landing as he was heading into one of the local watering holes. He had already had plenty of "water" and really didn't need any more. Claimed he never realized he had hit anything. Just one more thing to add to the aggravation of it all!

Today didn't begin too well, either. About 3AM I experienced what I can only describe as the New Orleans version of "Montezuma's Revenge". I ended up staying home while Linda went in to work. It's starting to pass ;-)= so I decided to have a go at this journaling thing again.

It sounds like the new class of deacons won't be ordained in December as originally planned. They're going to finish up their studies in the spring, and then will be ordained. That's tough. It's a long road, and this makes it even longer. But, they've all had the experience of Katrina and Rita to bring to their ministries when they receive the laying on of hands. We should all be able to bring more patience, more tolerance, more empathy to bear in our ministry. If we can keep our faith in God and our Lord, Jesus, and continue to share that faith with one another it will be an important part of a healing process that will take weeks, months, even years.

I think I've said before that we will most likely be here in Memphis at least three months, and perhaps six, possibly (hopefully not) longer. When we first arrived, almost everyone we met viewed us (a collective us, everyone they encountered from Louisiana) as evacuees, victims, even refugees from the storm. The priest at Holy Spirit, during one of his homilies, mentioned their "Wednesday Night Suppers" and how Katrina victims were invited to attend for free, and would continue to be for as long as they were in the area. We're into our fifth week now. As wonderful and warm and generous as the people here have been, and continue to be, I can't help but wonder if or when our welcome will wear out.

Please continue to pray for us. I'm also asking for prayers for our benefactors and their families, and especially for the victims of the earthquake in India and Pakistan. Until next time, may God continue to bless you.


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October 10, 2005

Monday, October 10th - Random Thoughts

We're getting ready to head back to Memphis. Just started gathering some clothes better suited to a cooler climate than New Orleans. Mike and Hannah are gone. Patti's coming back next weekend. Being home was not like being home at all. Even though we were in our home, sleeping in our own bed, it wasn't like coming home. Maybe it's knowing that we'll be leaving again for weeks at a time. Maybe it's having refrigerators and freezers that are useless, so there's no perishable food in the house. Maybe it's having some of M & H's things stored here. Maybe it's a combination of all that and more!

In a way I'm glad to be leaving. There is so much to be done, and it can't be done on a weekend. Everyone here needs work done on their homes, or roofs repaired (the insurance people said we need a new roof, that there are holes in ours). It's hard to know where to begin, or who to call. We have to get our metal garage sawed into moveable pieces and taken down. Fences at both houses need replacing. Water damage from the holes in the roof have to be fixed. The brick front that we fought so long and hard for with the HDLC and city Permits people needs to be fixed where the uprooted tree tore it up.

Dinner with Mick and Bev last night was a life saver. Stress and depression are affecting both Linda and I off and on. We seem to be on alternating schedules, which is good, I guess, so that when one of us is down in the dumps the other can support. Just being with Mick and Bev is always uplifting. I wish all my family could meet them. I know you would love them as much as we do, if you did.

Back to packing. I'll try to finish this tonight... or not, as the case may be. Who knows? Anyway, until the next update, from Memphis, take care and God bless you all!!!


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October 9, 2005

Sunday, October 9th

It's been three days. Three days, man... We just love ya, we just love ya. (That's a not so oblique reference to Woodstock, for you oldies out there!) We are back in Algiers. It's been an interesting, almost surreal experience at times.

We got into town later than expected on Friday (around 7:30). We were able to come in all the way on I-10 and cross the Crescent City Connection. It was already dark, but we met up with Kenny and Ellie and headed over to Kenner to try to get something to eat. We tried three places, two of which had about 50 people on their waiting lists, and one (Olive Garden) had alreadly stopped putting people on the list. We finally found Cafe Roma was open with almost no wait, so we stayed there and had pizza and cokes. It was ok, but they were obviously rushing the food out because the pizzas could have been cooked a bit longer. On the way to the restaurant(s) we noticed that I-10 eastbound was being diverted at Bonnabel Ave, which is the last exit BEFORE New Orleans, so we had to take Huey P. Long bridge to get home.

Saturday we met with the insurance adjustors and tried to clean up around the two addresses. Mowed the lawn and discovered that our looters had made off with all our gas cans!! Every day we find a couple more things that had been taken. To make matters worse, one of the suspected looters was on his porch working on refinishing a table (to make it unrecognizable to the real owner?!?!?) when his roomate came to the door holding a purple maglite flashlight which just happens to be the exact color of the maglite stolen from our laundry room! Hmmm... coinkydink? I doubt it. Later we found a bag of potatoes that had rotted in a cabinet and stunk to high heaven! Ruined the shelf completely.

Saturday evening we all got together and went (earlier) to the Olive Garden in Kenner. We tried to cut through Esplanade Mall, but it is cordoned off, probably to prevent looting, so we were turned around and had to take an alternate route to get there. We got on the waiting list, and after just over an hour were seated. The limited menu still had a lot of variety, and the Asti Spumante was just what the doctor ordered! Tearful goodbyes to Mike and Hannah, then everyone went home, again via Huey P.

Today we slept until the birds woke us, got up and had coffee and started puttering around the house again. So much to do, so little time. About 10 AM we headed to the coffee shop to have breakfast, but didn't actually get there until after 11. We ran into the kids making final preparations to leave, so we stopped to talk to them for awhile. Anyway, once we got to the coffee shop (we're talking 2 blocks, here) it was too late for breakfast, and they weren't really set up for lunch yet. Linda communicated her displeasure in no uncertain terms. If, as they say in Uganda, "A hungry man is an angry man", then a hungry woman is off the charts! Needless to say, we were served lunch.

We were looking around the front apartment of our rental and noticed an envelope stuck behind the washer/dryer combo. After fishing it out, it turned out to contain some sort of voodoo hex doll, complete with pins! On the envelope was written something like, "What goes around comes around" and "You won't ruin anything of mine any more". Maybe a former renter was putting a curse on rodents or roaches? Scary stuff.

Wandering around the neighborhood all you see is piles of trash bags, or piles of tree limbs, or piles of wood from damaged buildings. Our neighbors Guy and Susan said the trash has been picked up three times already!! In five weeks, that is.
Another of our neighbors, Steve, is letting friends stay in his house while his wife and kids are in Pennsylvania, where they are enrolled in school. The school enrollments seem to be hovering at about 60% for those that have reopened. Not all teachers have returned, though, so substitutes are being used, and they are not always accredited, so the quality of education for the short term remains suspect.

Overall the weekend has been eye opening. Speaking with one of the teachers from Holy Name of Mary School, she mentioned that although some stores are open, you can buy things, but they are generally out of what you really want. When she learns that her kids are heading to Baton Rouge, she gives them a shopping list of what to bring home. If you need anything after 6PM you can't get it in Orleans Parish because of the curfew that is still in effect.

It's kind of eerie the way people are trying to cope during the day, then at night they seem to all head to Kenner to try to have a semblance of a normal life by dining out and just enjoying one another's company. Sometimes you can't even tell that the city and surrounding area is in the midst of a disaster, but then you run across a military roadblock, or see some soldiers patrolling down your street. Shakes you back to the harsh reality that is New Orleans, and will continue to be, at least for the next few months.

As always, please continue to pray for us and for all those affected by Katrina and Rita. We need your prayers and appreciate them. Take care, and may God bless you!


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October 6, 2005

Thursday, October 6th

Our program manager got word today that his dad died. Please pray for him and his family, and for his dad. It’s sad to see how many people are experiencing deaths of family members since the hurricane. I wonder how much is a direct result of all the stress that people are under with the loss of homes, the displacement of families and the uncertainty of what the future holds.

As more and more people go home to assess the damage, the utter devastation that people have experienced becomes more and more evident. One guy I work with talked of taking a flatboat to his home in the Lakeview area of New Orleans and climbing on his roof to get into his house! Another coworker went home after the waters had receeded in Chalmette (St. Bernard) to find that almost all of her family photos and movies were lost. Kids are struggling to adjust to new school environments and fitting in with their classmates, and dealing with the emotional separation from their old school and friends.

It’s Thursday evening. We’re heading back to New Orleans tomorrow for a meeting with the insurance adjustor on Saturday. Hopefully it’ll be a nice trip. A cold front passed through Memphis earlier today so it’s breezy and quite cool right now. Should be a nice, BRISK morning to start our journey. Linda and I just finished eating Taco Bell takeout. I’m not so sure that was a smart move…. Taco Bell the night before we spend 7 hours together in a confined space?

We found our workstations!! They were all shipped to Millington, including those that should have gone to Ft. Worth and Pensacola. So now we wait while NMCI people sort through and isolate all of our equipment, then deliver it to our building. We need about 60 PCs out of 750. I can hardly wait to see how long that will take.

Last night was “Wednesday Night Supper” at Holy Spirit Church. Beef brisket! Dee-licious! So far we have not been disappointed with the dinners they serve. Sarah, the lady who honchos the dinners, is doing an incredible job. The parish continues to impress us. Did we mention that they have two handbell choirs? An adult choir and a youth choir. After hearing the singing, Linda and I are eagerly waiting to hear the handbell choirs perform.

The new suite is not without a few glitches. The a/c in the bedroom apparently froze up so it stopped cooling and began dripping onto the carpet. Today the toilet started gurgling, then soap bubbles appeared in the bowl. The maintenance person said he’d never seen anything like it and really didn’t know what to do about it. I hope it’s a short-lived problem.

My friend, Young Wade, just bought a new Ford F-150 Super Crew 4x4. I’m s-o-o-o green with envy!! I don’t need the 4x4, but a Super Crew would be a great ride. Our ’97 Grand Marquis is showing it’s age, but we’ve had such good luck with them, we’ll probably get another when we finally get rid of this one. Besides, I don’t think I can handle 10 miles per gallon these days. And, we seem to always need a large storage area, so the huge trunk in the Grand Marquis is a big plus.

Guess I’d better wrap this up, CSI is on. We wish you all a wonderful weekend, and may God bless you.


Lagniappe - A picture of the storm surge.

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October 4, 2005

Tuesday, October 4th

We have moved!! We are now in a suite. Hey! Wanna play a game? If you add 106 to our original room number you’ll get our new room number. Still at the La Quinta. Good thing there’s a Corky’s nearby, cause there isn’t a Denny’s next door. We had Corky’s take-out for dinner. It’s nice to be able to run to Corky’s, go through the drive-thru and come home in 15 minutes! We still have to try Ruth’s Chris and Brennan’s here. Neither Linda or I have worked up the nerve to try the fresh sushi at the BP gas station around the corner.

Maynard is enjoying the new digs. Right now he’s in Linda’s lap on the pull-out sofa in the living room. I’m sitting at the computer (duh!!) and The Great Race is on. I’m not a fan of TGR, so I’ll probably go into the bedroom when I finish this and watch something else. Might be a good time for some solitude and reflection, as well.

The kids have started moving their stuff to Houston. They’re going to make a couple of trips to get it all over there. Then, hopefully, Saturday we’ll all have one last big get together when we go to New Orleans.

Just spoke with our friend and tenant, Dan, who tells us that although Algiers is open, it’s still not a people friendly place. Too few stores and gas stations and not all utilities are up yet. The boys haven’t complained, they just drive to where the services they need are available.

The weather is still holding here in Memphis. Comfortable mornings and hot afternoons. No rain in days. It’s really pretty here, but did I mention they’re living on a major fault line? And you just know that nothing is built to withstand a major earthquake. Just our luck, run from “hurricane alley” and end up “living on the fault line”.

Most of the people I work with have arrived in the last day or two. It’s nice to have people around, but frustrating that not everything works yet. Some phones are still out, all our NMCI workstations are somewhere else, including mine, so everything that I was working on is, for the time being, lost.

That’s about it for today. Keep praying! We love ya!!


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October 2, 2005

Sunday, October 2nd

Called home to New Orleans today. The kids left for Houston. Another page has turned in our book of life, a new chapter begins. We’re going home next weekend to meet with the insurance adjustor, so I hope we get to see everyone together one more time. It’s really hard to think even if we were to return home, the family wouldn’t be whole any more.

I spoke to Fr. John a few days ago and he said they’re saying Mass in the school cafeteria on weekends, and in the chapel during the week. Apparently the church suffered a lot of damage that wasn’t immediately apparent. He said that Holy Name of Mary School is reopening tomorrow. My daughter has decided to return to New Orleans in two weeks and put the grand kids back in school there. I hope Children’s Hospital will reconsider and give her her old job back.

Fr. John is going to Rome tomorrow for the ordination of a friend. We wish him a safe trip and look forward to his return.

The archdiocese is having to lay off 900 employees. So many parishes have suffered damage and have lost parishioners and are no longer getting any contributions from parishioners who are no longer there. If anyone who reads this is interested in helping out, any cash donations to the Archdiocese of New Orleans would be greatly appreciated.

Today was “Life Chain” Sunday to promote the sanctity of life. The diocese of Memphis formed a “life chain” along Poplar Ave. It stretched for miles. Everyone along the route held up signs that said “Abortion Kills Children” and “Abortion Hurts Women”. Many young men and women and even teens participated. It was truly heartwarming to see such an expression of people who appreciate the sanctity of life.

I don’t know how much longer I can stand living in one room with the pets. It’s a hassle getting the room cleaned because the cleaning staff won’t come in unless we take our boxer outside, and during the week we’re at work and unable to do it. So we’ve had to pick up the pieces of bird seed that fall on the carpet by hand, or borrow the hotel vacuum cleaner and vacuum ourselves and every night we go to the main desk and get fresh towels, washcloths, etc. I’ve started looking at perhaps a furnished apartment as an option, or even considering taking the wonderful couple from Holy Spirit up on their offer to let us stay with them. We’re getting desperate!!

Through all the turmoil and flux in our lives, it is difficult to find the time to stop and spend time in prayer with God. This journal helps some, as many of the thoughts I put down are intended for Him, to let Him know how I feel. I pray every day for the strength and patience to see this through. There is no other option, but it is overwhelming at times.

At the risk of being redundant, I want to once again say “Thank you” to everyone who has been with us through all this. Thanks for the prayers, the good wishes, the phone calls, the letters, the monetary contributions, the offers of help that we may not have taken you up on (yet!! (). I can’t begin to tell you how much your support and love has meant in sustaining us through everything. You are God’s gift to us, and I thank Him for you every day, often while journaling on the blog.

I pray that all your prayers and hopes are realized in the goodness of God’s infinite love. Take care, and know that we love you.


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October 1, 2005

October 1st - Update

I went and Googled “COGIC conference Memphis” and found out that it isn’t until Nov 7th – 15th. My bad!! No wonder I haven’t seen much about it. Seems that the Church of God in Christ headquarters is right here, in Memphis. Swell. I have enough trouble dealing with Charismatic Catholics, now I’ll be surrounded by Pentecostal Christians. :-)

Went to a Perkins restaurant for brunch and ordered what I would have ordered at IHOP. Guess I’m just a creature of habit. Maybe, maybe not, because we went to a different Perkins for supper and I had pot roast, which is something I rarely order. It was pretty good but the service was slow!! Finished it off with some French silk pie, and a virtual cup of decaf coffee. (I ordered it, but didn’t get it).

After talking about all the wonderful weather, it rained here today. Just a light rain, with a little bit of thunder and I think I saw lightning only once. At least it’ll keep the grass and trees green a bit longer.

Still trying to decide what to do for long-term accommodations. We’re looking into a suite here at the La Quinta, but won’t know for awhile if any are available. In the meantime we also have reservations for a suite at Amerisuites, which is right next to the La Quinta. There’s also a Residence Inn very near that we’re going to check out. We like the area we’re in. It’s close to the restaurants we like, has lots of malls and strip malls close by and is convenient to the interstate highway system. Plus, and a BIG plus, we really are enjoying Holy Spirit Church.

This weekend Holy Spirit Church had their Haiti Run fundraiser to support the medical mission the parish sponsors. Starting at 3PM on Friday and going until 3PM on Saturday the run lasts for 24 hours. People sign up for what time they want to run, and teams run around the clock. They also had a wonderful spaghetti supper Friday night, which Linda and I attended. There was a silent auction, mainly of items that had been brought back from previous missions to Haiti. Very nice wood carvings and metal work.

Well, gotta go make some coffee. We’re watching a little TV while waiting for the season opener of Saturday Night Live. Until next time, God bless!!


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Saturday, October 1st

A new month in limbo! 5 weeks of hotel/motel living! This is really getting old fast. I have to admit some envy of our New Orleans friends who returned home yesterday to stay. Now that we have electricity to our homes it makes it that much more difficult to know we're stuck here in Memphis because of our jobs. I guess it wouldn't be quite so bad if at least we enjoyed what we're doing here, but unfortunately that's not the case. Everything is disorganized, decisions are made based on everything but the reality of the situation.

We used to go to the Grand Casino in Gulfport about once a month, on a Saturday, to enjoy their buffet (TWO flowing chocolate fountains!), but we won't be doing that again anytime soon, as these pictures will attest http://community.webshots.com/album/464938589ZoqqNs. It was a nice way to have some family fun and drive along the Gulf Coast and enjoy the weather and scenery. I miss it. I miss the kids.

Don't get me wrong, Memphis and the surrounding countryside is really beautiful. We drive past forest and rolling cotton fields every day on the way to work. The cotton has just ripened and we've been watching the cotton picking machines at work. They look kind of like a street sweeper. The weather has been incredible this past 3 weeks, with almost no rain. Hot, yes in deed, but lately it's been mid 40's - 50's in the morning and 80's in the afternoon. Don't know how cold the winter will be, but it looks like we're going to find out.

The COGIC conference begins today. Haven't seen much activity regarding it yet, but it's supposed to be a really big deal here every year.

Getting ready to go get breakfast and do some errands that we put off during the week because of work. Guess this will have to do. For now I wish you all the best, and may the Lord continue to bless you and keep you close to Him, and may our Mother Mary, Queen of the Universe continue to smile on us and bring us ever closer to her Son.


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