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.

May 28, 2006

TGIW (Thank God It's Weekend!!)

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Possibly my last here in Memphis! Lot’s of stuff scheduled over the next two weekends that will bring us back to NOLA, then home for good on the third weekend.

It’s been really kind of nice having two non-traveling weekends in a row. That six-hour drive seems longer and longer each time we make it. Being able to sleep in if we want, hang out or go out, what ever, is a welcome relief from trying to cram in a week or a month’s worth of activity into a day and a half.

Yesterday we went to the Memphis Cotton Museum. It’s right down town on Union St. and Front St. and was very interesting. For one thing, it answered all the questions Linda has been asking for the last several months about how cotton is grown. The museum is located in what used to be the actual trading floor of the Cotton Exchange, and the exhibit is very nicely done, with audio and videos spread out throughout. If you get to Memphis, be sure to check it out.

And, as an added bonus, it’s only two blocks from (you guessed it!!) Texas de Brazil!!!!! No, we didn’t eat at Texas de Brazil yesterday. Actually we went to Peabody Place which is a multi-level mall that is connected to the Peabody Hotel. We had a nice lunch before going to the museum, at a little Irish Pub type of restaurant, sitting “outside” the restaurant, which was still inside the mall. Linda had a tasty chicken wrap and I had a delicious open faced ribeye sandwich.

After the museum we went back to Peabody Place and saw X-Men III at the cinema complex there. Good movie! Interesting to see one of our favorite TV actors, Kelsey Grammer, as one of the X-Men. So, this is what Dr. Frazier Crane has become?

Still, Memorial Day weekend should be more than just three days off from work. We should pause for at least a few minutes to give thanks for so many who have gone before us whose sacrifices are what allows us to live as we do today, in the greatest nation on earth.

Take care. God bless.

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May 25, 2006

A City Girl Can Survive...

I’ve got to say, Linda really, REALLY loves me. For years and years I’ve not been allowed to listen to country music in the house when she was home. Tuesday night she sat through THREE HOURS of the Academy of Country Music Awards!! Wow! Now THAT is true love and devotion.

Can you say “Victory Kingpin”? Just wondering. H1 can. Check your “myspace”, dude!

It’s been into the 90s for the last couple of days. Hot, hot, HOT! Whew! It’s like walking into a furnace when I leave work every day. I have to keep a sweater at work because the building stays so cold, which only makes it seem more hot outside.

It ain’t a good idea to play “chicken” with Memphis cops during a drug bust. During a raid on a suspected drug dealer a young man held a gun at police officers. When they told him to put it down he refused, so one of the deputies shot him in the stomach. Next time maybe try “Simon Says”?

For all you folks going to The Shed this weekend, “AAaaaarrrrrghhhhhh!!!””, I wish I was going with you. Anyway, be safe, have a great time, and take some pictures. Mom and I will see you next weekend.

Mayor Willie Herrington of Memphis just survived an unsuccessful recall attempt. Now he’s announced that he’s going to get into the ring with “Smokin” Joe Frazier! That’s right. Both are in their 60s. Willie was a Golden Gloves champ in his youth. It’s a fundraiser to benefit the mayor’s alma mater. Still… Golden Gloves or not, Smokin Joe was a PRO! Hizzonner may get a recall yet, when he recalls what it’s like to hit the canvas!!

Countdown to NOLA… Three weeks from tomorrow!! It’ll be good to be home, but not so good to be home, alone. I guess I’ll be getting a taste of what Linda went through while I was on deployments, but I don’t have a houseful of kids to tend to. I’ve got to give her credit for all those times she was mom AND dad to the kids. Looking at how they all turned out, she did a great job!

Only five weeks to go until Kenellie’s church wedding. It should be really beautiful, and interesting, as well, as the traditional Catholic ceremony is enhanced with some Hispanic wedding traditions. I’m think I’m looking forward to it almost as much as Ken and Ellie!!

Finally, is anyone coming to Memphis soon? I need an excuse to go to Texas de Brazil again! Mike? Hannah? Kenny? Ellie? Anybody?

Let me close be saying, “God is Great! God is Good! Let us thank him for our Brood!!!” We love you guys, lots and lots. Take care. See you all soon!

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May 21, 2006

H2, Where R U?

It's been a really great weekend. Patti, Jerrod and family came up late Friday night and spent the weekend here in Memphis. They stayed right here at Homewood Suites, so it was convenient. The first night BB stayed with us, the second Ian. Maynard was thrilled!!

I think we all had a good time, centered around food, as always. Saturday morning we started off with breakfast at the Blue Plate Cafe, always an excellent choice, as witnessed by the crowds gathered at the door. Later the girls went shopping at the mall, and the guys went site seeing around the countryside.

Dinner Saturday night was a scrumptious affair at Texas de Brazil (surprised?)! Everyone enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and the evening. I think Ian was the most impressed. BB is hard to impress, she just takes it all in.

Sunday morning we had a late breakfast at Brother Juniper's, next to U of M. It, too, was great. Then, too soon, the weekend was over and L and I are alone, once again.

Throughout the weekend we tried to reach H2, but no success. If you read this, H2, please give us a call.

This afternoon we went to see the American Haunting. Interesting movie. Not really scary, more of a gothic horror, I guess. No blood and guts. Kind of a creepy twist at the end, especially if you're a parent. Don't know that I'd recommend it to everyone.

Linda is definitely staying in Memphis. She signed her paperwork agreeing to accept her job here. I am definitely returning to New Orleans in June. We haven't had a serious long term relationship in a while. And, we haven't figured out where she's going to live for the next 6 months, either! Prayers would definitely be appreciated!

Last week was a total wash for both of us. I came down with a stomach virus in the wee hours Monday morning, and Linda followed suit Wednesday morning. I finally made it back to work on Friday. We hope none of the family members get it. It was NOT pleasant!!

Seeing the kids piecemeal like we're doing is nice, but it would be really great to get everyone together again, one big happy family, with all our warts and wrinkles! We may be a bit weird, but we really love one another, and that's the key, isn't it?

Now that the elections are finally over, let's see if New Orleans can get moving again. And let's see if Mitch Landrieu and Ray Nagin can work together for the common good of the city. Please pray for the citizens and the city of New Orleans as the recovery and rebuilding continues.

May God continue to heap blessing upon blessing on you all!!

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May 16, 2006


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May 11, 2006


I can't believe it's been an entire week, seven whole days, since I've posted any updates! I think I'm going through a severe case of writer's (I wish!!) block.

Let's see. It's Thursday. Tomorrow we head back to New Orleans to bid farewell to Fr. John. We are sad, and not looking forward to seeing him leave for his new parish assignment. While home, Patti and the kids will be in Orlando. Our grandson is attending the sports banquet at the school he attended briefly, post-Katrina. He represented them so well as their soccer goalie that they insisted he come back for the banquet. Way to go, Ian!!!

And let's not forget little BB. Only her second year of dance lessons and they're already paying off. At the May festival last weekend a woman was overheard (by one proud papa) commenting that little BB was the best performer in her class! Way to go, BB!!

We are thanking God in a big way, today! It is Patti's birthday (Happy Birthday!!!), and she got the test results from her amnio and the baby is ok, and is going to be a GIRL. BB gets a little sister, and Ian gets ANOTHER little sister. We are SO thankful that everything is alright!

Linda has come to a crossroads in her career. As I've mentioned before, her job moved permanently to Millington, TN after the storm. The command she works for, EPMAC, is merging with NPC, and tomorrow is the disestablishment ceremony, although it isn't official until September. In the meantime, she has until next Friday to either agree to stay or leave. If she leaves, she will be forced to take early (read almost NO $$) retirement because she falls within the minimum retirement age for the federal retirement system. So, even though she doesn't want to retire, and while others who opt to leave are given severance pay and a letter that gives them priority for job openings in New Orleans, it appears that she's out. No $$, no letter, no cigarette.

My job, on the other hand, is making plans for the move back to New Orleans. We are expecting to pack up our things and load up our PCs on June 15th, drive them to New Orleans and unload them on the 16th, and report to work in the refurbished buildings on June 19th. I can't wait to see how that turns out. The best laid plans, and all that...

The weather here has been horrible the last few days. Rain, rain, rain. Today was nice, but cool. And very windy, too. Still, the sunshine was a nice change. As pretty as Memphis is, the gloom of clouds and rain takes the pretty right out of it.

It's time, I guess, to get back to the constant struggle of trying to adapt to life as it is now. Being away, living in Memphis and not New Orleans, lets you keep holding out for when life returns to "normal". It keeps you disconnected from the reality that New Orleans has a whole new "normal" now, and it ain't even a little bit like it was before the storm. We need to get back and begin the process of adapting, and healing, and rebuilding.

And, I still can't believe I went to TWO Zephyr's games and they lost. Heck, they practically didn't even show up!!!

Ah, well. C'est la vie. Take care, and God bless. Oh, and congrats again to Big J and his perfect attendance. And Kudos to his lovely wife, too, who I'm sure plays a huge part in his success!
I can't believe my lunch bunch went to NOFS without me... sniff... sniff.

Anyway, later y'all!!

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May 4, 2006

Man, This Coffee is like MUD... No, But You're Close!

H2 brought home four more A’s!! We’re really proud of him. And now he’s in the home stretch. One more set of classes and he’s done! (These are to make up for the lost Fall semester following Katrina).

Beware of the coffee at Starbuck’s (Or PJ’s, or whoever)! The morning news today had a spot about a new brand of coffee in the Philippines. It’s made by feeding coffee beans to cats (civets, actually), then re-harvesting the beans from the cat poop. Yuk! And to top it off, it sells for $52 for a pound! Can you say “Crappuccino”?

Tuesday night a coworker and I went to Autozone Park here in Memphis to watch the local AAA baseball team, the Redbirds, take on the New Orleans Zephyrs. Thank goodness we’re experienced Saints fans, because in the bottom of the 9th the Z’s blew a 6-2 lead to lose 7-6.

And if that weren’t bad enough, we played hooky Wednesday and went to an afternoon game to witness a Redbirds 17, Zephyrs 4 slaughter!! At least the ball park franks were good. And, the Redbirds have a dance team called the Redhots. So, it wasn’t a total loss.

It looks like the buildings out at the Lakefront are going to open a little later than anticipated so for now, at least, I will be staying in Memphis until June 15th. The return date is still something of a moving target, but at least it seems to be slowing down.

This weekend is the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis as well as Jazz Fest Weekend (#2) in New Orleans. Just so you know.

It looks like the government is helping New Orleans and the Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts by encouraging its citizens to relocate elsewhere. Displaced Katrina victims are being given priority opportunity to purchase HUD homes around the country at 10% below market value.

MP3 players are DA BOMB!! Just so you know. I’m listening to my favorite oldies right now (well, maybe not right NOW, because NOW for YOU might be in the middle of the night, or something).

Going back to NOLA tomorrow. Fifth weekend in a row. Not only is it getting really OLD, but it’s also getting really EXPENSIVE!! I may need to take out a loan to pay for gas back and forth. But, hey, that’s ok, as long as those oil companies keep posting those double and triple profit increases and blaming high prices on the cost of oil.

One of my favorite bumper stickers: “Visualize whirled peas.”

We continue to pray for your health and well-being. God is good. Always. Believe. Live. Love.

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May 2, 2006


I just want to thank God for my family – Linda, Patti and Jerrod, Ian and BB, Mike and Hannah, Dean, Kenny and Ellie. I have been blessed far beyond what I could ever deserve. I love you all!

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May 1, 2006

We'll Remember Always, Graduation Day

What a great weekend!! Re-united with my sweetie Friday evening, then H2’s commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon. Loyola University of New Orleans had two commencements, one at 9AM and one at 4:30PM. Thankfully, ours was the latter.

Despite dire predictions to the contrary, the day turned out ok, weather-wise. It was overcast and a bit breezy for the commencement, but that made for a very comfortable climate to be in for several hours.

The guest speaker for the afternoon graduation was James Carville, a Louisiana native (from Carville, LA) well known for engineering political campaign successes, including that of President Clinton in 1992. Although I don’t necessarily agree with his politics, his speech to the graduates was quite good. Not the usual “You’ve got the world ahead of you, go out and succeed!!” type of speech. Rather, he spoke of the class of ’06 as being one that will be remembered for having weathered the storm that was Katrina, being dispersed to over 500 universities/colleges across the country, yet choosing to return to finish what they had started right there, in New Orleans, at Loyola.

He also spoke of the storm and its aftermath as the kind of reality check that most college students will never experience, at least not before they graduate and go out into the “real world”. The Loyola Class of ’06 is a class that was forced to grow up, to mature, and to come to grips with the reality of life that is challenge, setback, defeat, determination and success.

After the ceremony our group (17 strong) went downtown to a wonderful dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant called “Byblos”. It was delicious, the company was excellent, and everyone had a great time.

The evening was capped off by the family going to a local establishment (oh, alright, we went to a local bar) for some spirits and live music. The two local bands were talented and the music was good. While there I noticed a fellow wearing a Tee shirt that read “Binghamton is Terrific”. I just HAD to ask him where he got the shirt. Rather than give a total (possibly drunk) stranger an opportunity to invade his world, he tried to put me off (I think) with, “My girlfriend got it for me.” Not to be put off, I asked where she had gotten it. He pointed to her so I asked her where she had gotten the shirt. She told me she got it in Binghamton, a “small town in New York”. When I mentioned that I had graduated from Central High School, they both admitted to being graduates of Binghamton High School, themselves, and that the fellow’s dad was also a BCHS graduate. To alleviate the confusion here, when I went to high school, there were two, Binghamton Central and Binghamton North High Schools. Later they were consolidated into Binghamton High School, on the campus of what had been Binghamton Central H.S. Anyway, my whole point after all this is, gee, small world, huh?

Sunday was First Communion for the Holy Name of Mary second graders. They were SO cute! All dressed up and, at least for the moment, full of Jesus in their lives. I had to take a moment to pray that He would remain a significant and central part of their lives as they grow into teens and young adults.

After Mass, Linda and I went to dinner with our good friends Mick and Bev. It was truly wonderful to see them again after several weeks of not being able to connect. A quick stop at Starbucks for coffee rounded out our visit with M&B.

Finally, at 6PM we were loading up and getting ready to hit the road. Midnight saw us arriving at our “home away from home” in Memphis. Thankfully the weather was perfect for driving, with dry roads and clear conditions.

I will save any comments re: the eye-opening experience I received with my introduction to “myspace.com”. Stay tuned… You know who you are… I still love you.

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