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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.

November 30, 2005

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog!!

We're going back tomorrow!

The trip from New Orleans to Memphis on Sunday was quite nice. We drove up in a 2006 Ford 500 that belongs to my daughter and her husband, but that we intend to buy from them. It is pretty snazzy… leather seats, dual heating controls (passenger/driver) 6-CD in-dash changer, wood paneling trim, automatic rearview mirror. It’s a fairly fuel efficient six-cylinder so we made it from NOLA to Memphis on one tank of gas, stopping only once for a snack and to let Maynard to his thing(s). We made it in just under 6 hours, a record for us.

Monday was a pretty rough day. Being here rather than in NOLA means that a lot of the things I’m responsible for seeing through are dependent on actions of others located here who don’t have the same sense of urgency that we who are assigned to the project have. So while we have to worry about schedule slips and such, people we have to coordinate with don’t share our concerns.

Also, Linda has now moved to “EP-MART” (EPMAC has relocated to an abandoned K-Mart building that was rewired for computers when the Army Corps of Engineers was renovating their spaces and had leased the old K-Mart in the interim. The problem here is that EPMAC, like all other Navy commands is obliged to use the NAVY and Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) equipment and network. The new building is not connected to NMCI, and the work arounds to get the NMCI computers connected aren’t working smoothly. Anyway, Linda’s computer has been “on again, off again” so her level of job satisfaction has been leaving something to be desired.

Then, to top it off, we had to leave work early that afternoon. It seems that our friend Gerald, who has been sick for a week now, had gone to the doctor. He was diagnosed as having a severe bowel obstruction and was told to get to an emergency room for surgery. Needless to say, he was NOT very happy. So we went to the hospital to keep him company while he was in the ER. As of this morning (Wednesday) they had given him an enema which was successful in getting him going again, but they kept him for some additional tests to try and see what caused the obstruction. We’re hoping he’ll be released this morning, or at least some time today. He’s in better spirits, which is good. Please keep him in your prayers. You may remember that he had his car broken into only a couple of weeks ago.

To help ease the pain, we went again to Wang’s Chinese Restaurant Monday evening. Dinner was excellent, enhanced by plum wine (2 for me, 1 for Linda) and topped off with yet another surprise dessert of fried bananas! Armand, the young man who prepares these desserts for us always stops by our table to ask how we’re doing and when we’ll be going home. He’s very nice and apparently quite a good cook, as he prepares the special desserts himself. We’re definitely going to miss him and his desserts when we finally return home for good.

Tomorrow we head back to New Orleans (Y-e-s-s-s!!!) to attend the Covington Craft Fair on Friday. Then Saturday is Linda’s birthday, so hopefully we can do some sort of family thing to celebrate. She’s been so great through all this! She really deserves a happy birthday.

Ok. Enough said. I have to get back to work. Happy holidays to all. – Dean

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November 26, 2005

Down To The Wire

Well, the time to deliver my first homily is only a few hours away. I've been working on it off and on for 2 days. I hope it turns out ok. Sometimes I get a good feeling about it and sometimes not. So far I don't lean either way for this one.

We had Friday night out with our daughter and her children at Semolina's restaurant. Our good friends Mick and Bev joined us with their delightful grandson, Anthony. The Houston Herricks were there along with Number 2 Son. It was a pretty good time for all, I think. The food was good and the company better.

Yesterday afternoon Linda and I went for a ride through some of the devastated areas of New Orleans. It was kind of eerie to drive up and down streets with cars parked in the driveways as if people were home, yet all the houses were empty, many gutted, no sign of lights or life, and cars all covered with mud and floodwater residue. Even after three months have gone by, so little headway has been made. Where does a person begin? Who's going to be the first on the block to try to rebuild, only to end up living amidst a community of ghostly vestiges of the homes that used to be?

And where do you live in the interim? As more and more businesses open, the reality of the loss of citizenry is painfully obvious as store hours are limited, restaurant menues are limited, and fast food places are often drive-thru only.

I guess I'm coming to grips with my survivor's guilt. I was thinking about my friends and coworkers who lost their homes. Many have reported that they've received insurance checks, paid off mortgages, and moved on with their lives. Good for them! But people like us, who have homes that are liveable, are still paying our house notes, mostly ignored by the insurance companies, and have had to follow our jobs to other states, so we can't even live in the homes we're paying for!

As not normal as life in New Orleans is, I'd still rather be here, living in my own home, with my children and grandchildren nearby, than to be in Tennessee. I miss my family, and I miss my home parish, Holy Name of Mary. There's no beginning to return to any semblance of normalcy for us until we are back in our own homes once again.

Keep up the prayers, my friends. Life is changed, but still good. God has blessed us with the love of family and friends. May we continue to share that love as He intended, generously and without strings. God be with you as your journey through life continues! - Dean

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November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Day

The morning has dawned bright and cool. Temperatures are in the low 50's, but quite comfortable after the low 40's of Tennessee. The sun is shining and for once we didn't have to get up at o-dark-thirty to start cooking the traditional bird. At our daughter's suggestion we opted to purchase a turkey already cooked. It had better be pretty darned tasty, 'cause she informed us over the phone as we were driving in that it was costing us $220!! I almost turned the car around right there!

Kind of interesting morning, so far, depending on your perspective, I guess. Since I left my bathrobe in Memphis, I was wandering around the house in just my "tighty whities" (actually loosey blackies) letting Maynard out and fixing him his breakfast when out from the back bedroom comes my daughter-in-law! Oops! That's an image that will probably live in the horrific recesses of her brain forever. Sorry about that!

The birds wasted no time getting back into their routine of chirping and shrieking as soon as the sun came up. Sigh, no rest for the weary! The only thing that will shut Gumbo up is if someone is actually present in the living room with him. And, I can pretty much guarantee you that there's not much in the way of entertainment on the tube at 6:30AM, at least for a TV connoisseur such as myself.

On the bright side, the whole family will be gathered together today. It will be great to see all the kids again. It's been way too long since we've seen Ian and B'Bee. Now if I could just find something for breakfast... but the cupboards are bare. I wonder if the little coffee shop is open this morning. They serve breakfast if you can wait through the crowd of FEMA workers, insurance adjustors, and now probably contractor workers as well.

Pretty soon we'll start preparing the side items to go with that crown jewel of a turkey. Corn, sweet potatoes, baked white potatoes, candied yams, peas, yum! Crap, I'm making myself even hungrier and there's still nothing to eat in the house, unless I eat what we brought for the dinner.

OK. Time to go out on the prowl. My growling stomach is drowning out the TV (not that that's a bad thing!). Happy Turkey Day, y'all! - Dean

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November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Eve

We're BACK!! We drove in from Memphis to have Thanksgiving with the kids. It's a bittersweet experience. More bitter than sweet, I'm afraid. The kids did a wonderful job of cleaning up the house before we got here, and we're grateful for that.

Still, it's difficult to stave off the depression as I look around the properties. The destroyed garage is still there, the ruined freezer is still there. Pave stones from our hard fought for front patio are in disarray. Fences are leaning precariously. So much to be done, but we can't do it from Tennessee!

Thanksgiving has always been held at our home, although for the last several years Christmas has moved to our daughter's home. This year Thanksgiving, too, moves to her house. And, knowing that we will be leaving to go back to Memphis Sunday afternoon is a constant cloud over us. Some of my coworkers are driving in every weekend. I don't know how they do it.

On a brighter note, Maynard, Gumbo, Evil Greenbird (Precious) and Craig-er all look happy to be back in their homes. They've been remarkably adaptive to the cramped situation in the hotel, so it's nice to bring them home for some space on occasion.

Fr. John is putting me to work! Not only am I preaching at all Masses this weekend, but I'm also doing a graveside service on Friday. It's time I got back into the swing of things. Driving in today I was thinking about preaching this weekend and realized that it's been four months since my last homily! I hope I'm not too out of practice.

My Houston son is driving in tonight. He's not due in until after midnight. I need him to help me connect to the internet here at the house. He set up a secure wireless network and I'm not able to connect, so I'm mooching off a neighbor's unsecured wireless to post my blog tonight.

I guess I should back up and read my pre-Thanksgiving blog to remind myself how much I have to be thankful for, and stop these negative feelings that I'm having. Things could be so much worse than they are.

In 21 minutes it'll be Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy good health, happiness and the joy of family. Try not to eat too much (yeah, right). May God continue to bless you.

Dean

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November 19, 2005

Pre-Thanksgiving Weekend Reflection

It's the Saturday before Thanksgiving and so I'm thinking it is a good time to stop and review the past year and reflect on how God has been active in our lives and what it is we have to be thankful for.

I guess first and foremost I'm thankful for a loving and forgiving God that has showered me with countless blessings throughout my life. First among those blessings is my wonderful wife, who stands by me through thick and thin, and who was a pillar of love and strength to my children growing up while I spent so much time away. I'm thankful for my children, who have grown up to be bright, caring, responsible adults. I'm thankful for the spouses and special friends of my kids, for how they've accepted us as family and for their loving our children. I'm thankful for two (yes, only two) beautiful grandchildren. I'm especially thankful for the fact that my kids like one another and do things together and share time and talent with each other.

I'm thankful for my brother and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and their families (and Linda's too), who manage to love and support my family and me, inspite of me! I pray that God will bless them in abundance as He has always done me. I also thank God for parents who raised me and my brother and sisters with love.

I'm thankful for good health, continued employment, and for minimal damage to our property after Hurricane Katrina. I still grieve for those who lost loved ones and homes and possessions. My continued prayer for them is that they find peace and hope in God's love.

I'm greatful for the opportunity to serve God's children as a deacon in the Catholic church. I'm thankful for Fr. John Arnone who is, without a doubt, the best pastor and friend a person could ask for. It is a privilege and honor to be assigned to his parish as deacon. I thank God for His gift to me of the diaconate community in New Orleans, a wonderful group of folks, full of God's love and servants to His people.

I'm thankful for Archbishop James Odongo of Tororo, Uganda, a wise and holy man. I'm thankful for Fr. Deogratias Ekisa, Fr. Godfrey Okello, Fr. Daniel Ochom, Frs. Andrew and Athanasius and all the priests and religious that bring the Word to the people of Tororo.

I thank God for the welcoming warmth of the pastor and parishioners of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Memphis. It is a pleasure to be a part of their community, if only for a short (hopefully) time.

And, I thank God for Mickey and Beverly. I'm sure that they are God's reward to me for accepting his invitation to become a deacon in His Church. I am eternally grateful for their love, inspiration, and fellowship and friendship.

Looking back, I don't know how I've ever had time to be angry or upset or lonely when I can see how greatly blessed my life has been. I look forward to seeing New Orleans rise up out of the ashes and become once again a great city, a better city, with its roots firmly planted in the knowledge and care of a generous and loving God.

I end this litany of thanksgiving with a prayer that through the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we may all learn to live, and to love as He did, being faithful to His (and our) Father in heaven.

I remain yours faithfully in Christ, husband, father, uncle, brother, friend, lover, deacon,

Dean

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November 17, 2005

Brother, it's COLD outside!!

31°! It was 31° this morning! It's supposed to be 28° tomorrow morning! What's up with that? I thought I was in the South. The grass was CRUNCHY this morning when I walked the dog. He looked like a little ballerina dog as he tiptoed around, trying to get as little of his paws as possible on the ground.

I don't want to say that we're in the bible belt, but all three local channels are broadcasting the funeral of a Southern Baptist pastor who died recently. I mean, yeah, his church had 29,000 members, but still... This on the heels of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) holy convocation of some 50,000 people this past week!

One week until Thanksgiving! I can't wait. It's been way too long since we've seen everyone. I think the boys are getting used to us being gone, because we used to get phonecalls every couple of days, but lately that has stopped. I hope they don't get too comfortable, because we are planning to return eventually!

Katrina claims have topped $23 Billion (yup, with a "B"). Wow! Wish they'd send some of that my way. Let's hope that we don't get hit with a disaster of such proportion any time in the near future.

Do you watch CSI:NY? I was watching it for a bit last night. The cops were interviewing possible witnesses to a homicide at 3AM. The actors got some of the attitude right, but no New York accents. They really ought to try harder. Part of the charm of NY is the accents of the people. Plus, a good New york accent is very similar to some areas of New Orleans. So, we can be homesick in NY or NO!

Watching the leaves change and going to work with crisp air and frost on the ground brings back memories of growing up in Upstate NY. Raking leaves into huge piles just so we could jump in them, crawl through them and throw handfuls of leaves at one another. What fun we had. Then came winter, and a beautiful white blanket of snow covering the world outside, and sledding, tobogganing, hay rides, popcorn and hot chocolate in front of a fire, snow angels and snowball fights. Good times that living in the South as my kids grew up meant they never got to experience those things. If we get any decent snow in Memphis this year, I hope they'll come up, especially the grandkids.

Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other memories that go with those listed above: bagging the leaves, shoveling snow, especially after it's been packed down so hard that you have to chip it with the shovel edge to get it up, the pain in ears and fingers and toes as they begin to thaw after going ice skating on the pond, or at the skating rink (which was a tennis court in the summer). And how about the dingy gray snow and slush after the exhaust from all the cars, trucks and buses has settled, and the salt on the roads has melted the snow. Not to mention getting cars stuck, or sliding off the road or into another car.

We wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. Take care and God bless! - Dean

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November 14, 2005

Monday, November 14th

Rain. Drizzly, damp rain. And tornado watches. 50% chance of rain today yielded wet streets for the drive in, but dry the rest of the day. Tomorrow is supposed to be 90% chance, with strong thunderstorms. Then the temperature plummets to possibly 31° by Wednesday morning! This could prove to be a very interesting winter.

We've been craving some spicy chicken and biscuits for awhile now, and today we scratched that itch. We found a Popeye's restaurant close to the base and went there for lunch. M-m-m-m, good!! A taste of home. Just what the doctor ordered.

We're having our Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow at work. The group from NOLA chipped in to buy some cajun food from a new local restaurant opened by displaced Boudreaux's. I hope their food lives up to their name. Another taste of home. 2nd dose. I like this doctor!

Linda is sitting on the couch counting quarters. Is that exciting, or what? We never got around to doing laundry this weekend, so tonight we have to do at least one load, hence the counting of quarters. Hey, we could start a band. We could call it Counting Quarters! Or, Two Bits. Or, 4 MakeA Dollar. Or... but, I digress. Are we bored? Counting change is almost entertainment.

The boys may remember how Maynard used to play "rake". Well, now he plays "leash", and he plays it pretty good. It's just like rake, and he leaps into the air and grabs the leash in his mouth and then it's an all out tug-of-war. Then it's back to the room where we both sit and pant. Are we bored?

Actually we're not all that bored. Tonight is Surface, Las Vegas (Nikki Cox, Woo-Woo!!!) and Medium (doo-DOO-doo-doo). And, Gerald is here using the desktop to check his email. And, Big and Rich is coming to a casino here on January 7th. In case you don't know, they're the "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" guys. We saw them at Steel Pony last year.

OK. Enough rambling for one night. Take care. God bless.

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November 13, 2005

Sunday, November 13th


Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've gotten up at 5AM, left the hotel at 6:15 and driven to a parking lot where you boarded a bus with 37 women, two children and you, and drove for 3 1/2 hours to the Tennessee state fairgrounds in Nashville to attend a merchant fair (kind of like a craft fair, but less crafty). The only other guy was the driver. Six hours later you reboard the bus and head back to Memphis, with a stop along the way for dinner at a Cracker Barrel restaurant, returning to the hotel at 10:30PM. Just to make the woman you love happy.

Next comes the Covington Craft Fair. I guess I'll be going to that one, too, if it's still on. It's an annual craft show at the fair grounds in Covington, LA on the North shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It's held the first weekend in December every year, so we kind of go for Linda's birthday. I know she wants to go this year, and our daughter is looking forward to going also.

Our friend Gerald was supposed to go home to NOLA for the wedding of the daughter of a friend. Well around 3AM he loaded up his car with all his belongings, including his computer and dirty laundry and went back to his room to rest for a few minutes. He fell asleep and when he got up he discovered that his car, along with two others had been broken into and everything had been taken, including the laundry! He didn't make it back to NOLA this weekend.

Spoke with Fr. John today. He wanted to know when I'll be back, for good. I had to disappoint him and say we still don't know, although March is the target still. I did promise to do the preaching Thanksgiving weekend before returning back to Memphis. One more reason to want to get back home is the Holy Name of Mary family. Linda and I would like to be there to help them rebuild.

Weather the last couple of days has been really nice again. Lows in upper 50s and the highs in mid to upper 70s. Sunny. The next couple of days predict 40 - 50% chance of rain. Still it's nice weather is anyone is inclined to visit. Hint.. Hint.. Hint. I mean, it's not like we don't have enough rooms for anyone and everyone. We're living in a HOTEL for heaven's sake.

We went to a place called Cozymel's for dinner today. It's a Mexican chain restaurant. Large portions, pretty good menu, but bottom line... the margaritas were Excellente!! If we'd been in NOLA we would most certainly have gotten two more in a go-cup! Here, we had to satisfy ourselves with the one with dinner. Heavy sigh.

That's one thing you may not realize has become such a part of life. The go-cup. Wandering from place to place with whatever beverage of choice in hand. That's definitely not normal here. We had ordered a bottle of wine with dinner at an Olive Garden one day. When we couldn't finish it, we had to ask the waiter what to do with it. He said we could take it with us as long as the restaurant re-corked it and put it into a closed box which they had for such "emergencies". So that's what we did. Not exactly the Big Easy.

As I sign off tonight, I wish you all the best. Take care and God bless!

Dean

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November 10, 2005

Thursday, November 10th

Three days off! And in the nick of time, if you ask me!! And I plan to put these three days to good use, let me tell you. Tomorrow I'm gonna sleep as late as Maynard will let me. Then maybe breakfast at Blue Plate Cafe. Probably do some laundry and maybe watch another few episodes of '24' season one. Speaking of, it seems that the person who loaned season one to Linda went out and bought seasons two and three as well, and is just waiting to loan them, too. I can feel my behind getting bigger and bigger by the minute... episode.

Saturday we're going to the Christmas Village in Nashville. It's a fund raising event organized by Pi Beta Phi sorority alumnae to benefit some of their philanthropies. Should be a nice day. We bought tickets through the Navy MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) to ride to Nashville in a bus (we have to be at Millington Naval Station at the ungodly hour of 7AM. &AM on a SATURDAY MORNING!! Arghhhhhh!!) Anyway, three and a half hours to Nashville, shop til one of us drops (me, most likely) then ride back with a dutch treat dinner stop on the way back. I can't help thinking of Roy Scheider's line in jaws, "You're gonna need a bigger boat!", cause we're gonna need a bigger room.

I got a call from Number 1 Son. He was out at lunch and saw a Houston MC cop on a Valkyrie. Way cool!! I tried to find a picture but the closest I could come is Dallas. So here it is:
Is that not COOL??? What an awesome looking bike!

Cold front has come through again, and the leaves just keep on turning! The colors are getting brighter and more beautiful each day. Autumn is a great time of year. The air smells so good, crisp and clean in the mornings and heavy with the smell of the leaves piling up on the side of the road in the afternoons. Beautiful! Breathtaking, even!

Gotta talk more to the kids. I need an update as to how life in New Orleans is progressing. Co-workers here are starting to get letters about bulldozing their homes, so I guess the cleanup continues. At my workplace in NOLA, it seems that we have contract disputes and health safety issues that have hampered the cleanup of our buildings. Our leaders still talk about returning in March (a phased return), but that date sure seems "iffy" to me considering how far they've gotten so far. I still think June or later is more likely.

It looks like we'll be able to get together with Mick and Bev over the Thanksgiving weekend. Yeah!!!! That'll be great! Also, another deacon couple friends of ours is coming to Tunica (near Memphis) to celebrate a birthday and have asked to get together with us, so we are looking forward to that in December.

And finally, the pastor of Holy Spirit church here called and invited Linda and I to a clergy social on December 9th. It's really thoughtful of him to think of us and we're anxiously waiting for that. It will be really nice to meet with the priests and 4 deacon couples of the parish in a social setting.

It's time to wrap up, so happy Veteran's Day. We wish you joy and happiness and the graces that only God can provide in your lives. Take care and God bless you! - Dean

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November 8, 2005

Autumn In Memphis

Boy, it was beautiful going to work today. I had not felt well when I woke up, so I took some headache medicine and stayed in bed an extra hour. When I finally drove in, the sun was shining, the temp was around 70. There's a road that connects the back gate and front gate of the Naval station. Part of the road is through a wooded area and today it was like a yellow, orange and red snowfall as leaves drifted down around me from the trees on either side of the road. It was awesome! I don't realize how much I miss the seasons until I get to experience them again.

Filled up with gas again today. $2.11/gallon. Once again I feel like I got a bargain! I think maybe I should go out and buy a real gas guzzler so as to take advantage of this good fortune.

Number 2 son made it home from Houston. We're always relieved when the kids arrive safe and sound from traveling. Hopefully we'll be the next to make a trip to get together with everyone.

Rumor has it that heads are rolling because the Times-Picayune got hold of a story that the NSIPS program, originally in production at SPAWAR Systems Center New Orleans is planning on remaining in Millington. Apparently there is some congessional interest over this. I wonder how they'd like to know that it appears that the CO of EPMAC, where Linda works, wants to stay here as well, rather than return to New Orleans for the two years they had left before BRAC takes effect!! That's leaving a lot of people in a bind because the CO is showing no empathy whatsoever for those who have lives to rebuild in NOLA. The civilian employees are also being penalized by being forced to take their "use or lose" leave. This means that those displaced must take vacation, like it or not, and while they are in a leave (vacation) status they lose the per diem they are given for being displaced. Excess use or lose can be carried over into the next year if the command disapproves the leave request, which would seem to be the compassionate and caring thing to do.

It's sad to hear how people are just walking away from their homes, leaving them boarded up with their destroyed possessions piled up inside. I can't imagine what it would feel like to have to make such a decision. My heart goes out to all who are faced with such a devastating choice.

Went to Back Yard Burgers again tonight so that we could grab a quick take out and get back in time for NCIS. Linda got the Hawaiin chicken sandwich. After eating she declared that BYB is her new favorite restaurant, so it must have been good!

Wishing everyone God's blessings. - Dean

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November 7, 2005

TWIN CITIES UPDATE

Have you ever been down on Bourbon St. and noticed the Hustler Club, one of Larry Flynt's enterprises? Well, it seems that he wants to open a Hustler's version of Hooters here in Memphis, down on Beale St.. His own description as stated on national television is a restaurant with "a little less hooter and a little more beaver". Man, if it weren't for LOW class, that guy wouldn't have any!!

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E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T!


Just got back from Back Yard Burgers and, as the title says, it was excellent! The burgers looked and tasted as if they had just come off the grill. And to top it all off, they had COBBLER for dessert!! And, not just ANY cobbler, but, BLACKBERRY COBBLER!!! YEAH!!! Ok, so they only had one left and I let my lover-ly bride have it, but the apple was great, too. And ice cream. And now I'm happy. For awhile. Maybe.

Did I tell you that being in Memphis is s-o-o-o much like being in New Orleans, it's almost scary? I mean, we've got Bourbon St., they've got Beale St.. We've got jazz, they've got blues. They've got the King (Elvis), we've got queens coming out of the woodwork. We're millions of dollars in debt, they're millions of dollars in debt. We've got the Hornets, they've got the Grizzlies. The list goes on and on.

With friends like Linda works with, who needs enemies? Last Friday I described our recent addiction to this season's TV fare. So what does L bring home from work? Episode 1 of the TV show '24'. Six dvd's, 20 hours. And if you watch it, you're hooked! So now, along with all the TV that I'm already watching I now have 4 more dvd's of '24' to watch. Yep, four. We watched the first two yesterday. Did you ever get aggravated when you watch a show all season and the cliff hanger at the end leaves you wanting more...NOW?!?!? Well, try a cliff hanger every episode!

Guess what? B'Bee got a new hair cut. It's short and I hear that it's cute. Haven't seen it yet, though. Something else to look forward to at Thanksgiving. As if turkey and G'Pa Smith's sausage dressing isn't enough? Now I think I'm gonna bust if we don't get home soon!

Middle son went to Houston for the weekend. I'm sure they had a good time. I just spoke to him. He was stuck in traffic around Baton Rouge for two hours. I guess those displaced by Katrina are still there in big numbers. And I hear things are no better in New Orleans. The Wal-Mart parking lot on the West bank is filled, completely filled.

NOLA's loss, our gain, at least for now. A new restaurant has opened. Boudreaux's Cajun Restaurant. Apparently they evacuated and have decided to stay in Memphis. I'm looking forward to checking them out soon. A little taste of home would be really nice about now.

OK. Surface is on, sea monsters big and small, so I've got to go. Hard to focus between the PC and the TV. Until next time, take care and God bless! - Dean

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November 5, 2005

What's Up With That?


Yesterday I filled up at the base gas station. Gas was $2.19/gal for regular. Tonight as Linda and I were out driving around it struck me. I actually felt like I was getting a DEAL for paying ONLY $2.19! Gas prices have become outrageous in the past year. While claims of Katrina and Rita interfering with the refineries may have some merit, I have to wonder if that is really true when one considers the profits posted by the oil companies during the first quarter of last year. Talk about greed on a global scale!

294% profit?!? 165%? 125%? And poor Conoco-Phillips at only 44%. With profits like that I have to wonder why the prices at the pump have to fluctuate so often and so dramatically unless there is some profit margin control that is really running prices.

OK. It's Sunday afternoon and I'm pretty bored I think. I'm watching Cat Woman on HBO. It's as bad as all the reviews said it was. I wonder if we're getting too much reality these days so we're turning to fantasy for escape. Batman, Spiderman, Cat Woman, DOOM, Aeon Flux. Movies taken from cartoons, comics and video games. I guess too much reality isn't what I mean, but rather reality is that the world has too much war, disaster, pain and suffering and television brings it directly into our living rooms, into our lives. So we escape in whatever way we can, at least for a few hours at a time.

We're starting to make plans for our trip home for Thanksgiving. We're really getting excited about seeing everyone again. I can't wait for it to be home for good once again! As nice as the parish is here at Holy Spirit, we really miss Holy Name of Mary and Fr. John. It'll be great going to Mass there again, too.

Maintaining some semblance of normalcy, Linda went to a craft fair at the church yesterday and got a couple of nice Christmas items. Next Saturday is another fair called Christmas Village, in Nashville which I think we plan to attend. And we will be coming in for the Covington Craft Fair in December if it is still on. When the going gets tough, the tough go SHOPPING!

Take care, and God bless!

Dean

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November 4, 2005

Friday, November 4th

We went out for dinner tonight with the group from work. They're turning into a surrogate for our Friday nights out with our daughter and the kids. We went to Corky's for BBQ. Not the one by our hotel, but another one in Germantown. Dinner was very good and the company was nice. Still, I miss those dinners with family.

Our grandson gets an "atta boy"! He saved our cats from being catnapped. Thanks, little Bubba! We love those cats and would really have missed them. Keep up the good work!

Last Wednesday we took our friend Gerald to dinner at Holy Spirit church. It was, as usual, really good. We had country fried steak, I think. I always get it confused with chicken fried steak. I think chicken fried has batter, but country fried doesn't. We also had country fried potatoes, mixed veggies, dinner rolls, and lime and orange sherbet for dessert.

Now on to an evening of Ghost Whisperer (light, but interesting. Doesn't anyone around her think its odd that she's always talking to herself?), Threshold, and Numbers. I've always been a TV junkie for certain shows on what ever nights I wasn't involved with diaconate or school, but here I've found programs I enjoy every night! Can you say "Couch Potato"? Sure, I knew you could! Maybe tomorrow Linda and I will walk to the mall behind us for lunch or dinner again.

Actually, since we have an exercise room here at the hotel, I think I may try watching at least one show each evening while walking on the treadmill. Maybe walk through commercials to begin, then walk through the show between commercials, then walk through the whole show, including commercials. I may as well put my obsession with mindless drivel to good use!

Before signing off, let me wish everyone the best that life has to offer, good friends, family, love, faith, and hope in life eternal. God bless you!

Dean

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November 1, 2005

All Saints Day, 2005

Happy Feast of All Saints! I hope All Hallow's Eve was a pleasant experience for you all, especially those with ToT (Trick or Treat) aged kids. I'm looking forward to hearing how it went in Algiers. Ariel, the mermaid princess bride must have been cute! Can hardly wait for pictures of that.

Our Halloween was quiet and nice. Linda had talked to her sister in NY for hours Sunday night, and one of the things they talked about was how we should get out of the room and go walking to get the old endorfins going. So, taking her advice to heart, we decided to go mall walking. We walked from our hotel to the chinese restaurant in the little mall behind us. We had a very nice dinner, with our now customary glasses of plum wine, but didn't get our usual waiter. Still, when dinner was over he came to our table with a fried ice cream dessert, as promised at our last dinner there. It was DELICIOUS!!

The following link is to a pretty good article about life in Algiers today. Makes us really wish we were back home with the kids. Looks like we may be sitting on some prime real estate! Hopefully Algiers will gain a little more recognition that it's had in the past. We've been kind of the red-headed step-cousin of East Bank New Orleans. Perhaps that will change, and for the better if you ask me. Anyway, here's the link:
http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-4/113083051713840.xml

Our Houston son started work today! Yeah!! As mentioned before his job is to take stuff Hewlett-Packard makes and break it. They gave him something to work on while he was learning his way around. It took him 2 minutes to break it! I think he's going to enjoy this job.

Our middle son, who works at the Navy Exchange in New Orleans, in loss prevention (security), caught a shoplifter today. Good work!

For all you computer saavy folks out there, the Navy has consolidated its IT under the Navy and Marine Corps Internet (NMCI). This has some benefits, like, I can log onto any NMCI workstation anywhere and get my email, and work on stuff I've saved on network drives, etc. But, it also has some drawbacks. Apparently there was a security problem that has caused the powers that be to decree that all stateside NMCI users will change their login passwords. The change must be witnessed by a "trusted agent" at each command. As it turns out, I am the trusted agent for our command's persons in Millington. All the people are divided alphabetically by first name into one-hour increments. Then, each increment is given a password which, when entered at the appropriate time, forces a password reset. So, my days are being spent going from desk to desk providing the passwords and witnessing password resets. What fun!! Especially when the person is not there, or the password doesn't work, or the new password they choose isn't accepted by the NMCI workstation. I've definitely had some hair pulling moments the last two days, with at least two more to go. Gotta love NMCI.

Did I mention what a pretty dog Maynard is? He really is a good looking boxer. Good choice DeeJ! Now if we could just keep him off the bed when we're at work...

Any reviews yet for "Prime"? Any other movies? Let us know if you've seen anything lately that you'd recommend to others, or would not, for that matter. We could turn this into a movie critic blog and gain national attention with our sharp criticisms and biting satirical reviews. Or not.

Take care everyone. Life is short, the length of it is a mystery, so live and love to the fullest extent possible! God bless you all with continued good health and happiness.

Dean

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