5em
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.

December 30, 2005

NEW ORLEANS - WOMB OR TOMB???

A friend forwarded to me a copy of a letter that addresses the rebuilding of New Orleans much more eloquently than I ever could. I post it with the author’s permission.

December 28, 2005
New Orleans - Womb or Tomb?


Dorinda C. Bordlee, Esq.
Bioethics Defense Fund

bdfund.org



A watery tomb or the warm waters of the womb? Welcome to the mystery of New Orleans.

How will this mystery be solved? Some say the old grand dame is dead or dying. Some say she is being reborn. Could it be that both events are happening at the same time?

Many arguments are being made about why New Orleans matters - attempts to justify the billions that it will take to rebuild our levees and our lives.

As a New Orleans native, I've made these arguments myself to well-meaning people that questioned me in my place of displacement. Like so many, I argue that we must rebuild because we are a port city . . . because of the oil and gas industry. But the truth is that the port could operate without an entire City around it, and so could the oil industry.

As a matter of fact, the country could relocate the film industry if Los Angeles was shaken off her foundations, and we could do without most major United States cities should calamity befall them.

So the arguments we make to the rest of the country based on the usefulness of New Orleans are missing an important ingredient.

Maybe we should rebuild New Orleans simply because we love her. She is home to hundreds of thousands of hard-working American citizens. She has a history and she has a future if her levees are properly rebuilt. We should be there for New Orleans because we are called to care for one another in the tough times. That's reason enough, isn't it?

But the utilitarian mindset - that someone is valued only to the extent that they are useful to someone else - is not limited to Katrina politics. It pervades the mindset of those who see human lives themselves as valuable only if they are useful - those who seek to use human embryos as spare parts for embryonic stem cell research, those who seek to use fetal parts from aborted babies, those who seek to euthanize the disabled because they are of no use to anyone.

And if we can apply the utilitarian mindset to human lives so easily, it's no wonder that we do the same to a beloved American city like New Orleans.

Though we natives often personify New Orleans, I realize that the geographic location is not a person, nor is a place entitled to be treated only as an ends not a means as we should treat all human beings. But New Orleans is properly personified because she is a community of people whose lives have been intertwined for generations. New Orleans is distinctive because her people live life to the full - we live to eat, instead of eating to live; we work hard and play hard; we cry with our neighbors' during losses, and we dance at jazz funerals. We live a culture of life.

Maybe New Orleans is better viewed as the womb itself - and her citizens are like vulnerable unborn children who need the protection of state of the art levees. We've taken a hit that has humbled us all. So when we ask for national help, we do not demand it from a sense of haughty pride. We are simply asking for help from those who we hope love us enough to help us protect ourselves and our families.

As an attorney who advocates for the sanctity of every human life, this author is inspired by Mother Teresa's reminder that our main purpose in this life is to learn how to love and be loved.

I think I knew how to love pretty well, but it took Katrina to teach so many of us to learn how to be loved by those who took us into their homes and their schools expecting nothing in return.

My family witnessed extraordinary selfless love in Phoenix, Arizona.
One gentlemen gave us the use of his car for two months, two schools took us in with waived tuition, families rallied to bring us meals at the home of my law partner who took us in where we lived with 10 people under one roof. The school families even sent us gas cards at a time when gas was over three dollars a gallon! That's love, and my family and I learned the great virtue of humility by finding ourselves suddenly on the receiving end. We were of no use to these generous people. They helped us simply out of love and concern.

We're back home now experiencing the surreal in-between of an expectant mother of a high-risk pregnancy. New Orleans experienced a watery tomb, but now she awaits rebirth in an expectant womb. Let's choose life for the new New Orleans. Just because we love her.

Dorinda C. Bordlee is Executive Director of the Bioethics Defense Fund, a public interest law firm that advocates for human rights from beginning to end. She can be contacted at dbordlee@BDFund.org.

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December 29, 2005

One Time, When I Was At Band Camp...

It’s Thursday, my first day back at work this week and already I’m sick of being here. Everyone (almost) is on holiday vacation and the place is pretty empty and quiet. I wish I were still in New Orleans with the rest of the family.

We arrived at our hotel at 8 PM last night, greeted by the sight of several buses in the parking lot. Another was in the back, and another arrived while we were unpacking our car. All were full of high school kids and chaperones, band geeks (self described by two young ladies riding up and down the elevators this morning) here for the Liberty Bowl. That ought to make the next couple of days pretty interesting. I guess we’ll be using the stairs a lot!

Although considerably cooler than in New Orleans, it wasn’t a chaps morning this morning. It was about 40 degrees, and actually pretty pleasant. There’s about a 15 degree difference between Memphis and New Orleans.

Thinking back on our recent visit, images of blue roofs and boarded up business establishments come to mind. It’s amazing how many businesses on the West Bank are still closed and may not reopen, although damage was, in many cases, negligible. Apparently many of the West Bank businesses’ employees lived in flood ravaged areas and are now living elsewhere, leaving the business community without a good personnel base. Driving down Manhattan Blvd was a strange mixture of new construction and closed businesses.

On our way out of the city we stopped at a MacDonald’s for lunch. While waiting in line for over 30 minutes, I observed that many of the people in line were Hispanic and apparently didn’t speak English. This should present an interesting cultural phenomenon. It appears that many migrant workers have come to Louisiana to capitalize on all the construction that is going on, and many of these workers are Hispanic who speak little or no English. The local restaurants that have bilingual employees are probably few and far between, creating a sticky cultural gap. Perhaps some of these fast food restaurants that are offering higher salaries and bonuses to get workers should target bilingual people as potential employees, and give bonuses to them for having additional qualifications. Just a thought.

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said, of all things, “Hang up and drive!”. Now, why didn’t I think of that? I could’ve made a fortune manufacturing HUAD bumper stickers. Then I could have branched out into HUAD magnetic car ribbons, and then to HUAD rubber wrist bands! I was probably too busy talking on my cell phone to think of it. Oh, well. Another missed opportunity.

It seems that if I happen to be in New Orleans next Wednesday, January 4th, between 0730 and 1600 (that’s 7:30am and 4pm, or for all you ex-marines out there, the big hand is on… oh, never mind) I will be allowed back into our building to retrieve any personal items that may have been left behind before the storm. Gee, I wonder if anyone would mind if I took Tuesday off to drive back to NOLA, went to the work site to retrieve stuff on Wednesday, and then took Thursday off to drive back to Memphis. Sounds like a “ROAD TRIP!!!” to me.

I’m off to justify my existence to Uncle Sam. Take care and God bless. Happy New Year.

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December 27, 2005

Tasting New Orleans Once Again!

We finally got to experience New Orleans today. We went to New Orleans Food and Spirits for lunch, and waited for a table. Then we had crawfish and corn soup (deeee-li-shus!!), Linda had gumbo as well, my son-in-law and I had the "Big Easy Steak Burger" (definitely in the top 5 best hamburgers in the city, pre-Katina even) and Linda had a shrimp po-boy with way too much mayo. She needed a shovel to remove it, and ended up not eating the bread anyway.

After lunch we went to Best Buy, and drove around the parking lot for awhile looking for a place to park. Then we went inside and looked for stuff that was sold out. At least I was able to get some screen cleaner and a holder for my cell phone.

Tonight we're at our daughter's house. Son-in-law made the best guacamole ever, refried black beans, homemade salsa and ground meat filling for tacos, tostadas, and burritos. I am so stuffed!! His culinary skills are awesome!

H2 made it to Houston along with H1 and his wife. For the uninitiated, #1 son is H1, and #2 son is H2 (#2 son spends so much time with brother and his wife that we started joking about her having 2 husbands, hence h1 and h2). H2 reported heavy traffic with several accidents along the way, so it took them awhile to get there. I hope the trip to Memphis tomorrow is trouble free.

We're bringing our grandson with us tomorrow. I hope he enjoys the trip and will have a good time. I guess as long as he has his PSP with him (Play Station Personal) he will be entertained.

We return to Memphis with wonderful memories of a very happy holiday! Everyone, I think, had a good time. We have much to be thankful for, not the least of which is family. It is truly heartwarming to see all the kids getting along so well. And this year we have the added pleasure of sharing Christmas with # 3 son's fiancé .

It is surprising to see how much Algiers is still full of trash and debris, yet Magazine Street has been cleaned up and spruced up and stores and restaurants are open for business. It seems like the city is not as focused on helping it's citizens back on their feet as it is bringing back businesses.

As we look forward to the new year, we keep you all in our prayers. May you receive the blessings of God in abundance, and share His love with everyone you meet in the following year.

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December 26, 2005

Happy Feast of St. Stephen!! Tonight the diaconate community of the Archdiocese of New Orleans gathers at St. Stephen's Church for Mass. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone. This will be the first gathering since Katrina, so I'm hoping for a good turnout.

You know how sometimes you just need to pamper yourself? Well, I decided it was my time, so I took out the foot bath/massager that was given to us last Christmas. I've spent an entire year thinking about trying it out, and finally today I did. Note to self: When the instructions say "bath oil" it does NOT mean liquid soap!! My second attempt proved a little more successful and a little less sudsy! Very nice experience. I think I'll be bringing it up to Memphis.

The kids headed back to Houston today, and H2 went with them. He's going to spend a week visiting. I hope they have a safe trip and a pleasant visit. I know #2 son really misses #1 son and daughter-in-law since they've moved. Then it's up to Memphis for him to pick up his bedroom suite. Hopefully we'll also have a nice visit.

This coming weekend we look forward to a visit from our daughter as she comes to Memphis to retrieve our grandson. We're going to try to pack about 2 weeks worth of shopping and dining into 2 days for her!! I know she's looking forward to a taste of a "normal" life.

Speaking of normal, it has once again been an interesting visit to NOLA. There are trailers everywhere, and signs of more to come. Where ever there seems to be a bit of space, plumbing is being laid to support a trailer community. Of course it's necessary if people are to return and start rebuilding their lives, but it sure is an eye opener to actually see it in progress. And there are still US Army and Nat'l Guard units encamped around the area as well.

Other reminders of the past several months remain. While visiting with our daughter we noticed a couple of boxes of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and Miller Brewing Co. bottled water. We probably should have had the MREs for Christmas dinner. Although I personally have not had any, I hear that they are actually pretty good, a far cry from the old "C-Rats" that I have eaten.

I guess we'll be catching up on the local news when we get back to Memphis. Although we've cancelled the newspaper 3 times since Katrina, it is delivered faithfully every day, so we're greated with a stack of them whenever we return home. I wish they had been that consistent in their delivery before the storm.

The telephone company isn't doing much better. After our phone line was cut to make way for electric company trucks, it has been disconnected ever since. This is since September 8th. Since then we've cancelled our landline service, but we're still getting our phone bills like clockwork.

Well, that's news from NOLA for now. Take care and God bless you. Happy New Year!!

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December 25, 2005

MIDNIGHT APPROACHES AND...

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!! I hope the rest of this holiday season is a blessed one as we progress through the twelve days of Christmas to January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany.

Our family Christmas was truly wonderful. All the kids went to Mass yesterday, most to 5PM and one to midnight. The church was decorated beautifully and the services were magnificent. What a glorious way to celebrate the coming of the Savior of the world!! Today we gathered together at our daughter and son-in-law's house for presents and dinner. Everyone was happy, healthy and well-fed. Our son-in-law is an amazing cook, and today was no exception! Our daughter-in-law was a wealth of entertaining information, helping to spice up the day's conversation. What a blast!

A special thank you to everyone for their thoughts and prayers throughout the past several months and through this Christmas season. We sincerely love you all and wish you all the best in the coming year. Take care and God bless you!! - Dean

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December 24, 2005

Jennifer Garner is HOT!!

I just want to say that Jennifer Garner is HOT!  Of course, I say that in the most deaconly way possible…  Anyway, the kids just gave me my belated birthday present from them: the first two seasons of Alias on DVD!  Woo-hoo!!  Who needs Kiefer Sutherland and “24” when you’ve got Jennifer Garner and “Alias”?

Today is Christmas Eve, 2005.  Not to get on a rant again, BUT…  it is NOT “Holiday Eve” people, so get with it!  We wish you all the joys of the Christmas season.  May your Christmas be a blessed one, with Our Lord in the center of the celebration.  When you sit down for dinner with family and friends this Christmas, remember to give thanks to God for all that He has given you…  life, health, family, friends… the things that really matter, not things that can be washed away in moments by the forces of nature.

All the kids are back together in New Orleans for Christmas.  Now if I can just corral them all into going to church.  That alone will bring joy to my heart.  

Gotta go try to find food for Linda and I.  Once again, Merry Christmas and, oh, while your at it, Happy New Year, too!

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December 23, 2005

Way Down Yonder in New Orleans..

We're back in New Orleans! Yeah!! The drive was pleasant once we actually got on the road. The day started off by being awoken by Maynard at 4:20am because he needed to go out. So I got up, took him for a walk while Linda fixed his breakfast. When I got back to bed I was unable to go back to sleep, so I just lay there aggravated for what seemed like hours until I did drift off, only to first have the power go out just long enough to shut down my CPAP and wake me up gasping for air, then within 5 minutes the fire alarms went off. Linda called the front desk, who assured us that there was a fire and we needed to get out, so we grabbed the birds and the dog and went out to the parking lot to join the other guests there.

Several people had pets, so we stood with them and chatted. Turns out one family from Virginia was on their way to Texas. The wife is from Endicott, NY!! Small world! After about 1/2 hour of standing in the cold, we decided to load up the kids and pets and go to breakfast. I was in flip flops with no socks, and the other Mom was in her pj's. We had a nice time visiting with Olvy, Fran, Carmen and Elena. Carmen plays hockey and Elena is a gymnast. Very nice people. I hope our paths cross again sometime.

After breakfast we returned to the hotel, loaded up the car and hit the road. Our drive was nice and uneventful, but the folks heading North on I-55 had a heck of a time. It looked like a pickup pulling a mobile home had jacknifed on the highway. The trailer had turned around and was completely blocking both lanes of traffic as well as the shoulder. Cars were backed up in a dead stop, people were out standing in the neutral ground (median for those not from NOLA) and the highway had been shut down at the previous exit, about 5 or 6 miles further down the road, so traffic there was also backed up and stopped. Didn't look like anyone was hurt, thank God!

We just got a Christmas card from our daughter's friend from High School. Every year they send a card with pictures of their two adorable little boys. This year was no different, except there was an adorable little girl in the middle! That comes as a complete surprise. We had no idea she was even pregnant!! Congrats to them, and Merry Christmas, too!

Once we arrived in NOLA, we dropped off the pets and met Mick and Bev at a restaurant to catch up. They looked great, as always, and we had a really nice dinner and conversation. Can't wait to see them again on Monday, the feast of St. Stephen, patron saint of deacons. Every year the deacons from the Archdiocese of New Orleans gather for Mass and social at St. Stephen's Catholic Church on Napolean Avenue, and thankfully this year will be no different! Despite Katrina the deacons will gather once again to celebrate as a community. God is GOOD.

Life is still obviously not back to normal here on the West(Best)bank of New Orleans. One thing I've noticed is there seems to be a kind of "frontier" mentality where people act as if the laws are more suggestions than anything else, and common courtesy, which was in short supply among drivers before the storm anyway, seems to be missing as well. Hopefully this will change as more people return home.

Update on Kenny and Ellie... They have chosen July 1, 2006 for their wedding, to be held at Holy Name of Mary Church. And, I just might be the person who performs the nuptuals portion of the Mass. How COOL is that???

The Houston portion of our family should be coming in tomorrow. We're really looking forward to getting the whole family together again, and it's especially wonderful at Christmas. Pray for a safe trip for them.

A wish I have this season for everyone is that we can share the gift of love that God has given us. There is no better time than now to decide to mend fences, renew old friendships, make new friends, and care for those around us, especially those who can't care for themselves. Some suggestions... pick up the phone and make that call that should have been made eons ago! Let people in your life know how much you love them, before it's too late and all that is left are regrets. Invite a friend or neighbor to join you this year at your Christmas services. Call or visit a homeless shelter or soup kitchen and ask how best you can contribute to the welfare of their clients this Christmas season. As we celebrate God's gift of love through the birth of His Son, let's share that gift with everyone we can! God's blessings be on all of you!! - Dean

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December 20, 2005

More Memphis Motel Musings

OK, kiddos. Enough with the "56" jokes. I get it already. I'm older than dirt. Fine, deal with it!

We went to our Chinese restaurant last night. We were planning to surprise our waiter with a small token of our appreciation, some New Orleans style gifts. We enjoyed a nice dinner, with him as our waiter. He managed to bring me a second glass of plum wine without my asking, and later brought one for Linda, also. Then, just as we suspected, he brought a large fried ice cream dessert. That is when we gave him his gift. He was very surprised, but seemed pleased. When we told him that we planned to bring our daughter and family in for dinner when they came to visit, he mentioned that he is leaving on January 2nd to move to Atlanta. We wished him well and assured him that we would miss him.

Looking back on the evening, what's up with that anyway? How come HE gets to leave Memphis before we do? Bummer!

Tonight was Corky's night. I ordered their BBQ pork and spaghetti plate. And guess what?!? It came with cole slaw!!! Yep, just like when I was growing up home in upstate NY. Linda never understands how cole slaw and spaghetti go together, but our waitress, who happened to be from Chi-town, said that she grew up with spaghetti and slaw, too! I have been VALIDATED! YES!!! (much pumping of hands here.)

I don't know if we're in desperate need of a sanity check or what. Every day I look at our car, then I look around the apartment at the bags and boxes that need to go back to NOLA with us. Then I mentally add in the luggage, pet supplies, Christmas dinner stuff we're purchasing here, then I look at the car again. It keeps getting smaller and smaller! And if that weren't crazy enough, tonight we bought a complete bedroom set. A queen size sleigh style bed, with dresser, chest, night table and mirror. Now we have to pick it up, store it, and finally get it back to NOLA for one of our sons. Let's see now, where was that sanity checker???

I've gotta tell you. Maynard is really a good dog! I've gotten pretty complacent lately, and I tend to take him out for his constitutional walks without putting him on the leash. Today as we were walking across the parking lot toward the grass, I realized that he had taken a quick turn and was headed off in a different direction. Looking over I saw someone else also walking his dog, but on a leash. I shouted, "Maynard!! No! Stop! Sit!" and by golly if he didn't stop and sit!
He sat there until I caught up and put on his leash. Then he got to "say hello" to Coco, the all white bulldog and something mix. Yep, he's a good dog.

Linda and I are really looking forward to next weekend. I'll be serving at the Saturday 5PM Christmas Vigil Mass, and also at the Midnight Mass, which is always beautiful. I'm hoping that all my children will join us at one or the other of services.

It will be great to be back at Holy Name of Mary parish, at least for a couple of days. I do miss everyone there. If you ever get to New Orleans, come on down to HNM for church. We'll be glad to have you.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!! - Dean

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December 19, 2005

It's Christmas... CHRISTmas... CHRISTMAS!!!

Christmas is only a few days away.  That’s right, CHRISTmas!!  And so I wish you all a very Merry CHRISTMAS!!  Not “happy holidays”, but CHRISTMAS!!!  I resist the attempt by a morally corrupt, secular (sick-ular?) society of politically correct, holiday usurping, self-centered, my-way-or-the-highway, left-wing, pantywaisted denizens of this world who want to take a Christian celebration and turn it into a non-sectarian, almighty $$-driven (look at the crowds in the stores day in and day out for weeks) excuse for a day off from work.  Given more time I’d tell you what I REALLY think!

As they say, “Jesus IS the reason for the season.”  Like it or not, there wouldn’t be “happy holidays” were it not for Christ.  

A hand down, please, as I step off my soapbox.  At least for the time being.

Tonight we went to Tunica, in Mississippi, to the Gold Strike casino.  We met our good friends and fellow deacon Richard and his lovely wife, June.  They are from my diaconate formation class, the Class of ’99.  This weekend was June’s birthday, so Richard brought her up from Slidell for a few days R&R.  Taking advantage of their proximity, they invited us to meet them for dinner and a show at the casino.  As luck would have it, we weren’t able to get tickets to the show, but we went anyway to have dinner.  It was fabulous, in the grand tradition of casino restaurants.  We all had the prime rib special, and even had desserts (mine was “double dutch chocolate” cake.  M-m-m-m-m!!!).  It was SO good to see them again, and we talked and talked for so long that they ended up missing the show.  While I feel badly that they didn’t make the show, Linda and I truly enjoyed our time with them.  Thank you, Rich and June!!

Richard mentioned something his pastor had said during his sermon this weekend.  He said that while you see the signs, as I mentioned above, that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, actually we, you and I, are the reason for the season, and Jesus is God’s gift to us.  I like that thought.  We should be grateful for the gift, and we should try to keep in mind that all the gift giving that we do for family and friends is nothing when compared to that greatest gift that we have received from a loving Father in heaven.

Holy Name of Mary had their annual Christmas program tonight.  It’s the first one we’ve ever missed in 20 years of having family members participate.  I wish we could have been there.  It was our granddaughter’s first as a participant (she’s in Pre-K), and we hear that she enjoyed the whole experience immensely.

The news just announced that it’s 25 degrees in Memphis.  I get the chills just thinking about it.  Today’s high was only 37!  Still it was a sunny and beautiful winter day.  I hope the sunshine continues through the weekend, but the forecast isn’t cooperating.  Rain, though, no snow predicted.

As I watch the dog sleep and the birds complain about the lights still being on, I realize that it’s time to call it a day.  Merry Christmas and may God bless you with life, love and laughter this Christmas season.  Our love and prayers to all of you! - Dean

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December 17, 2005

He asked her, and she said....


For those who don't know, Kenny and Ellie are ENGAGED!!! And we are thrilled!!!

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Happy Birthday to ME!!!

Fifty-six years old yesterday (fitty-six if you’s from the lower Nine’t Ward). It’s been a pretty good ride so far. I’ve seen and done a lot more than some, less than others. All in all though, it’s been a good life, I think. This was going to be a bit of a trip down Memory Lane, but once I got started I decided there just wasn’t enough room on this blog for everything I remember, even if I limited it to just the good things.

Instead, I think I’ll make a list of things I wish my kids could remember.

I wish my kids remembered sledding down the mountainside in winter, and having horse chestnut fights on that same mountainside in the summer.
I wish my kids remembered ice skating on ponds and flooded tennis courts, and flopping down into snow banks with your friends.
I wish my kids remembered hay rides, and toboggans, and hot chocolate and popcorn in front of the fire.
I wish my kids remembered watching their grandfather marching down Main Street with the other legionnaires in the Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and 4th of July parades.
I wish my kids remembered playing hide and seek in the fields of corn, and the sickly sweet smell of silage as they helped feed the cows in winter.
I wish my kids remembered walking into Grandma’s house and being hit by the wonderful smells of dinner cooking on the wood burning stove.
I wish my kids remembered Memorial Day weekend, when all the parks and pools opened, and going to the lake and jumping into the water because it was too cold to ease into.

Hmmm… Maybe this is a trip down Memory Lane after all!

Got calls with birthday wishes from all the kids. Of notable mention are the singing of Happy Birthday left on my voicemail, daughter-in-law’s, “Happy Birthday, Dad. So, how old are you now? 72?” and not to be outdone, H2’s, “So, you’re what? 56? I guess you’ll be dead soon then, huh? Don't forget to pay off the mortgage, ok?” Let’s see now, where WAS that Christmas list again????

Sometimes it’s a bitch being loved, you know?

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a GOOD NIGHT!!!! - Dean

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December 14, 2005

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man... Oh, never mind. Actually it's drizzling and chilly out but not cold. A very fine mist of a drizzle, like it wants to snow, but it can't because it just isn't yet cold enough. This would be a great evening to cuddle in front of a nice fire, with a glass of wine, and a good book or movie. Did I mention how comfortable Maynard has gotten? I got up this AM at 4:15 for a nature call and found him crashed on the couch. He didn't even move as I crossed from the bedroom into the bathroom. This evening as we returned from supper we were greated by a dog without a collar on. Lo and behold, it was laying in the middle of the bed. Can you say, "Spoiled?" Sure... sure... I KNEW you could! There are almost no Louisiana license plates left in the hotel parking lot. I noticed that most have gone since the first of the month. I guess with the threat of the FEMA money running out people have begun to move on. It would be nice if we could, as well. Linda still has no idea what is happening with her job. Last month her command participated in a survey conducted by Senator Vitter's office. The results split the command at almost 50/50 as to who wanted to go back to New Orleans and who wanted to remain in Millington. Yesterday he (Vitter) was supposedly speaking with someone from the Chief of Naval Operations office about whether EPMAC (Linda's command) would return or not. So far no word. Today (Tuesday) I finally broke down and wrote a letter to Senator Vitter asking him to at least try to get some sort of communication established where Linda works. The big guns where I work have been very good about keeping us informed of any developments and situations that might impact our return. Since September they've tried to project our return and kept us informed in the process. Not so with Linda. Very frustrating, indeed.

It's now Thursday and I still haven't posted this blog entry. I didn't think anyone would notice until I received this comment to my last post: "You know, I could have sworn that this was an active blog. Hmmm, must have been thinking of somewhere else. hehe". That comment comes from my daughter-in-law, who NEVER (yeah, right!!) let's a day go by without posting on her own blog, Taunt Society (Warning!!: NOT for the faint of heart! Read at your own risk.).

So, anyway, I'm going to take her lead and try and finish this up (at work) and get this posted.

Tomorrow is the 56th anniversary of the day I took my first breath of air on my own. Perhaps I will have more to report then.

Christmas is close, and our thoughts and prayers are with you all… family, friends, fellow evacuees still displaced. May the joys of Christmas bring peace and contentment to the hearts and minds of all of us this season. God bless!! - Dean

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December 11, 2005

Weekend Ramblings

We had a lovely evening Friday. Fr. Kirk, the pastor of Church of the Holy Spirit had invited Linda and I to join him, Fr. Matthew, deacons Ned, Richard, Bill, Werner and their wives Barbara, Barbara, Chris, and Provie, respectively, for an evening of prayer, dinner, and socializing. It was nice to be included in their annual clergy gathering. The event was held at the home of Richard and Barbara. We sat around and chatted and drank some wine while waiting for everyone to arrive. Then we prayed together the evening prayers of the Church. A scrumptious dinner followed, consisting of baked salmon, grilled steaks, potatoes (both irish and sweet), a carrot souffle, a salad of greens, fruits and nuts, cake for dessert and more wine. Everything was absolutely delicious! Even the salmon (for those who don't know, I am NOT particularly fond of fish)!

To show our gratitude, Linda had prepared some small New Orleans style gifts for each couple and the pastors. The colorful bags (two purple, two green, two gold... go figure!) were filled with cajun hot peanuts, pralines, a fleur de lis keychain, and topped off with Mardi Gras beads. Everyone seemed delighted, and the women immediately put on the beads.

Saturday was another good day. After sleeping in a little late, we went to Applebee's restaurant for a salad lunch, then on to the mall. It took forever to find a parking spot, but we did. Then into the mall we went. We shopped until I dropped (Linda could have gone on and on and on). When we finally finished, it was time for dinner, so off to Outback which, by the way, is right next door to the Applebee's where we ate lunch. We had to reminisce a bit about the kids, since we've shared so many family get togethers at the Outback restaurant in New Orleans.

Gerald rode his Kawasaki home to NOLA yesterday. Today he returns and tomorrow will drive back with all his "stuff". The Navy command that we work for has rented eight trailers to put onsite at our Lakefront location for about 75 people to work from, starting tomorrow (Monday). We are going to miss Gerald. He and I worked next to each other in Millington. He was great company and joined Linda and me frequently when we went out to eat.

Actually I, too, am on the list of people returning to NOLA to work. I've asked to be allowed to stay through the first of the year in order to keep some obligations we have already made outside of work. I may ask to remain longer, as the team of contractors I work with are not returning any time soon, and Linda's command has made no commitment to return, either. If I do come home in January, I guess Maynard will come with me while the birds remain with Linda in Memphis. What to do, what to do!?!? It would be nice to be back in my own house, but lonely without Linda. It will be like when I was in the Navy and gone to sea, but in reverse.

We are hoping that our daughter and son-in-law will come up for a short visit New Year's weekend. Our daughter is excited about the possibility of "going to any restaurant I want and choosing from a menu that isn't a photocopy of a list of limited items, and not having to wait in line an hour and a half to get a table". She's also looking to go to a real shopping mall for a change! It will be a whirlwind weekend!

We're looking forward to seeing family again at Christmas. It's only been a week, and it seems like we haven't seen them in ages.

We're bad. After that wonderful Friday evening, we went to a different church today. We went to St. Francis of Assisi. What a beautiful church! Bright and airy, and they have KNEELERS!! Yeah!!!

Gerald is back! He's sitting on our sofa even as I type. He says he froze his @$$ off riding to NOLA yesterday. He's driving his car back tomorrow. Things will be different without him here.

OK. I've bored you enough for one weekend. Take care. God bless you. Happy Advent.

Dean

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December 8, 2005

Bedknobs and Bumper Stickers

Were you ever out driving and a bumper sticker catches your eye that really grabs you?  I saw one today that did just that.  Perhaps you’ve seen those bumper stickers that say “Visualize world peace”?  Then that gave way to “Visualize whirled peas”.  Today as we were coming home we saw one that tickled both Linda and I.  It said, “Forget world peace, visualize using your turn signal”.  Now THAT’s a concept!!

While blogging I’m watching CSI:Crime Scene Investigation.  Does that qualify as multi-tasking?

On a more somber note, today there was a murder in New Orleans, on our street, across from our house.  For several years there has been a gay couple living there.  They’ve long been suspected of robberies and drug use.  Apparently one of them was stabbed in a lung last night and the other is being charged with 1st degree murder.  It would be so easy to lose sight of who they were and focus on what they were, extracting some measure of satisfaction from the way they have ended up.  I find myself thinking more about them as human beings, however flawed, children of God.  No matter what they may have done in the past, no matter how much of a pain in the butt they were to us as neighbors, no one deserves to die so violently.  And the one who stands accused is well known to have suffered all forms of abuse at the hands of another when he was younger.

I’m not making excuses, I’m just trying to understand something that is impossible for me to understand, because I can’t imagine ever doing drugs or trying to hurt another human being.

Our hearts go out to the parents of the accused.  Through thick and thin they have stood  by him and tried to help him.  We’ve known his parents for many years.  They were, at one time, landlords for “little grandma”.  Nice people, hard working, kind, and generous.  As hard as it is to imagine committing a crime such as this, it is equally hard to imagine the pain the parents are now experiencing.

Please join me in prayer for the repose of the soul of the deceased, and for the parents and their son.  Please also pray for the family of the deceased man.  A season of Joy has become for all those involved a season of Sadness.  May God be with them.

- Dean

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When You Wish Upon A Star


Christmas wish lists are beginning to surface in our household. Since the kids kept picking at me I succumbed and ginned up a short list of STUFF that I wouldn’t mind possessing, but if I didn’t get any of those things, I would still be happy, because I have the things most important to me already. I have a loving wife, children and grandchildren that I’m very proud of, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, cousins (including the in-laws!!) each of whom holds a special place in my life and in my heart. I have dear, dear friends who brighten up my world when we’re together, and leave me with memories to cherish when we’re apart.

With that being said, I’d like to share with you my Christmas wishes:

I wish that Jesus Christ were more the center of my life and my being than He is today.

I wish that I could be more attuned to others’ needs. With that, I wish that I were more inclined to be a “good neighbor” to those less fortunate than me. (And less fortunate doesn’t necessarily mean having less money!)

I wish that more people could see that what we are, what we have, who we know, is all a gift from God, and that being faithful to Him and living our lives with love for one another is small recompense for those gifts.

I wish that Christmas were not so commercialized.

I wish that one day would go by without any deaths by violence…Then one week… one month… one year…

I wish that my entire extended family knows how very much I love them and cherish them in my life.

I wish that each and every one of you gets everything you wish for.

Most of all, I wish each and every one of you true happiness. I wish you the complete and utter joy of knowing and reveling in the love that God and Jesus Christ have to offer.

May God bless you with a Christmas season that is full of joy and laughter and the pleasure of unconditional giving, with no thought of getting anything in return. The warm glow that you feel inside is God’s way of saying, “You done good!”

Merry Christmas! - Dean

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December 6, 2005

Tuesday, December 6th

Colder, colder, colder still! Forecast for Wednesday night into Thursday is freezing rain or even, (dare I say it?), SNOW!!! We’re talking about some real possibilities here, folks. Snowballs, snow angels, snowmen (snowpersons for all you PC folks). Too bad the grandkids won’t be here to enjoy.

However, it looks like Grandson is going to return with us from NOLA at Christmas and stay until New Year’s, so there’s still a shot at him getting to frolic in some real snow. We’re going to try to get tickets to the Liberty Bowl and go watch some football together!

As I sit here typing this I’m munching on cracklins. What a delicious Southern treat! Fried pigskins. You know THAT’s got to be healthy. Uh-huh!

Just so you know, our friend Gerald spent two nights in the hospital, but as it turned out, everything came out ok (groan!!). I mean, when he speaks I can’t tell him he’s full of cr_p anymore (ouch!!). It’s good to have the old Gerald back.
The days until Christmas are flying by! Get your Christmas shopping done early so that you’ll have some time to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday. Think about the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, Son of God, who’s suffering, death and resurrection has won for us the hope of eternal salvation! May you all enjoy the Peace of Christmas! - Dean

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December 4, 2005

Baby, It's Cold Outside!!

We're living in the SOUTH!! Hey, Mother Nature, the SOUTH!@!@! We left NOLA at 4PM to 80 degree temps. We arrived in Memphis at 9:45PM to 32 degrees! What is UP with that? When we finally had stopped to grab a bite to eat we had to quickly get our coats from the trunk. Jeez!

You know, I have a theory about what really happened to New Orleans. We were all prepared for the devastation of a Cat 5 hurricane, so on Monday when Katrina had passed with minimal damage we all heaved a collective sigh of relief. Now that's a lot of people exhaling hot air at the same time. Hot air rises, so all this expelled hot air rose quickly, dragging cold air down into the area. The more condensed cold air created a vacuum which pulled against the levees, weakening them to the point that they failed. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!

The TV just gave the weather forecast. Low tonight 27, high tomorrow 43. The low tomorrow will be 26, high on Tuesday 43 again. All our kin up North are probably laughing their collective butts off at us, and would be down here with shorts and tee shirts in a heart beat. I guess Linda and I have lived too long in the (deep) South and our blood has thinned.

Next weekend is son Numero Uno's birthday. We want to wish him a Happy birthday and wish we could be in NOLA to celebrate with him and all the rest of the kids.

Time to hit the sack under piles of blankets! Y'all take care and God bless. - Dean

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December 3, 2005

HIPPO BIRDY 2 U

Happy birthday to you. Happy BIRTHday TO You. Happy BIRTHDAY DEAR Linda... HAPPY BIRTHday TO YOU!!

Yep, it's that time of year again. Linda is once again two years my senior (at least for 13 days).

The ride on Thursday was great! We made it to New Orleans in less than 6 hours again. Listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on the way. Got in fairly early and had an outstanding supper of homemade tacos and tostadas at our daughter's house. Her husband is an incredible cook, and he enjoys doing it. His guacamole dip is, as they say, "to die for"!!

Friday we went to the Covington Craft Fair, in Covington, LA., on the North Shore. It was good to see that almost all the vendors were there, and the crowds were excellent, in spite of Katrina. We went with our daughter and her husband, and our good friends Mickey and Beverly and had a really nice time. We started the morning off with hot chocolate and funnel cakes for breakfast. Funnel cakes with cinnamon and chocolate syrup are killer!! After wandering up and down the aisles and in and out of tents we stopped for lunch. Polish sausage on a bun with onions, and fresh fried potatoe chips. Delicious. Finally, around 2PM we wrapped up our day by buying our annual fudge and kettle corn. Then a trip home across the Causeway and the day was done. Almost.

Hearing that China Doll restaurant had reopened, we met again, this time Mick and Bev, and our daughter and grandkids for Chinese. The limited menu still had enough options for everyone to find something they liked. We shared all the dishes among us and had a great time. The dinner was followed by our traditional "after dinner coffee" with Mick and Bev at a newly opened coffee shop on Manhattan Blvd called Tapioca and Coffee (something like that) where we burned a table or two between us.

Saturday dawned warm and bright. Mickey D's provided breakfast, we showed one of our apartments to a potential renter who decided against it (too bad, she was HOT!!) and struggled with the remains of our metal garage trying to finish dismantling it to have it hauled away. Hopefully number 2 son will be able to get it finished next weekend.

We leave again for Memphis tomorrow afternoon. A cold week is predicted. Poor Maynard. He really hates that crispy, crunchy frosted grass in the mornings.

As we begin the second week of Advent, may you continue to look forward to the coming of our Lord with love, faith, and hope. God bless. - Dean

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