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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.

January 28, 2006

IT'S RAINING, I'M BORED, READ ON

Today was a landmark day for me.  I went to the front desk of the hotel and extended our stay for the last time!  I am now scheduled to check out of our room on February 25th.  I told the desk clerk that one way or another we were checking out on that day, even if only to move Linda into a smaller room!  One small step for man…

Things are not looking too good in the job arena.  It seems that Linda’s command, which was scheduled to go away in ’08, will now go away in ’06.  By going away, I mean that some of the positions were to be abolished this fiscal year, some in FY’07, some in FY’08, and the remaining would be absorbed into Navy Personnel Command (NPC).  The plan now is that all will be absorbed into NPC in June ’06, and the positions will be rewritten to fit the profiles of people that NPC wants to hire, so those who are occupying the positions now will be let go.  Not a “thank you” or a “you can stay until your position should have gone away because you’re so close to retirement”, just a “goodbye and good luck”.  So much for 20 years of faithful service.  And this on top of being displaced, some of the people losing their homes and are still recovering from that, only to lose their jobs as well.  Thank you, Uncle Sam!

It’s nice to hear that our daughter had such a good time at Alex’s ordination and reception after.  She got to reacquaint herself with many of the Ugandans, both seminarians and some that we had met last summer while visiting Tororo.  It’s especially nice since neither Linda or I was able to attend.  And it gave Alexander Makayi an opportunity to drop strong hints that it would be nice if we all could attend his ordination to the priesthood in 2008.  I hope our passports are still good!

Last evening we went to Houston’s Restaurant for dinner.  We went early to beat the Friday evening crowds and had a great time.  I decided to have a glass of Port with dinner noticing that the wine list offered two choices.  The waiter didn’t bat an eye when I ordered one of each since I was not familiar with either the Taylor Tawny Port or the Fonseca Vat 27.  I think I’m going to miss the dinners out.  Our waiter, Nickolus, must have thought I was quite ill-mannered, though, as I sipped the port throughout dinner, rather than waiting for dessert.  Oh, well.  What can I say?  I know what I like and I like sherry and port, and sherry was not an option. So there.

As we continue to suffer insufferably up here, I guess we’ll go to Red Lobster tonight and try to drown our pain in drawn butter!

You remain in our prayers, and hopefully we, in yours.  God bless!!

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BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ, TEACH WHAT YOU BELIEVE, AND PRACTICE WHAT YOU TEACH

A hearty “Congratulations!!” to our Ugandan friend and brother, Alexander Oketch, on the occasion of his ordination to the transitional diaconate! He will be ordained to the priesthood in July. Our prayers are with him on this special day!

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January 27, 2006

Potpourri From Blues Town

Life is Memphis remains interesting, to say the least. Apparently there is a gang operating near the University of Memphis which, by the way, is only a few miles from where we are staying. People are being robbed at (shot)gun point. This same area is where the New York rapist was apprehended a month or so ago.

The twins on American Idol that are under arrest for identity theft and bad check writing are from Memphis. They are getting a lot of PR. On one televised news conference they went on about how anyone who thinks they should be dropped from American Idol because of their criminal (my words) activities “don’t know what it’s like to be poor”, as if being poor justifies stealing someone else’s identity, ripping off businesses and writing bad checks. Hey, they were poor, so it’s ok. Bull Hockey!!

Ahhh Cupid! Love is alive in Memphis (or not). A local radio station is going to give away a divorce on St. Valentine’s Day. The deejays are inviting interested people to send in their reasons why they should win the divorce. It has to be an amicable, no mud-slinging, finger-pointing, child custody battling separation.

Speaking of UofM, their Tigers basketball team is ranked #3, with its sights on #1. They are part of Conference USA, the same conference that Tulane is in. Whatever happened to the glory days of Green Wave basketball? Roll Wave!! Sigh.

In the bargain basement, if you like Italian food, you can’t go wrong at Macaroni Grill. Especially the spaghetti and meatballs. Twice now I’ve ordered spaghetti and meat balls with meat sauce and Pinole nuts, and both times I had to take at least half home. Not only did I get four meals for the price of two, but it’s one of the cheapest meals on the menu to boot!!

It looks like our Deal’s Gap group has grown to 10 people, including significant others! Add us to the rest of the local gang and we should have close to 20 people. It looks to be an excellent adventure, sans Bill and Ted (although Bill is thinking about coming).

Schools in Memphis are easily as good as those in New Orleans. They’re turning out some real scholars… On the news this AM was a story about vandalism at a local school where a student apparently didn’t care for his teacher, as the word “BICTH” (sic) had been spray painted on the wall! You go, Einstein!!

And on a final note, how about the flight attendant from Germantown (a mile or two from our hotel) that tried to take a dummy grenade on an airplane? She must have been a natural blonde. Makes me feel safe riding the friendly skies.

Take care and God bless you all!!!

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January 23, 2006

LEAVING NOLA IS EASIER SAID

I thought I had left New Orleans and was living somewhere else.  Perhaps I was mistaken?  It appears that we have voter fraud and dead people voting here in Memphis.  I wonder if they are former Louisianans.

Driving back from New Orleans to Memphis yesterday was HORRIBLE!  It rained and stormed the entire way back.  We passed four or five accidents along the way, where cars had slid off the highway.  Many people had their emergency flashers on as we struggled along at 40 – 45 mph.

The birds and Maynard act as if things are back to normal now that we’re in the hotel.  It’s going to be a real adjustment for them when we finally return home for good.  I wonder how they’re going to react if Linda and I are split for a time.  Evil Greenbird has to go with her, that’s a given.  That bird hates me!!

Wedding plans continue to go well, I think.  Linda and I met the in-laws-to-be.  They were really nice people and it was a pleasure getting to know them for the little time we had.  They seem to genuinely like Kenny, but we can’t hold that against them, we like him, too!

H2 has a friend from work who is going through a difficult time.  It gives me pause to think about other times with other people and how it was easy to jump to conclusions, to be judgmental and to treat them, to say the least, without compassion or understanding.  It never hurts to remember that there are always two sides to any story involving two people.

The “Tale of Two Jakes” came to a painful end yesterday, with Denver’s Jake Plummer and Carolina’s Jake Delhomme being trounced by  Pittsburgh and Seattle respectively.  Sorry, H2, gotta go with Pitt on this one.

Speaking of H2, it looks like his commencement will by in May, but he will have to finish his final courses in June-July timeframe.  He’s been doing a great job, balancing work and school and keeping an excellent GPA.  I hope he is soon able to realize his ambition to be in Federal law enforcement.  I know he’ll be good at what ever he chooses.

Have you seen the new Chevy commercial with the winter Olympics fans?  It’s hysterical!  Very clever ads to generate interest in the Olympic Winter games.  We wish all our athletes the very best, and hope they can “bring home the gold”!

That’s about all I have for now.  I had to get something new up before DIL started picking on me.  (  Take care and God bless you all!!!

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January 19, 2006

Did Somebody Say, "CHOCOLATE"?!?!?


So much has been said about Mayor Nagin’s “chocolate city” comment that I hesitate to venture into those waters. I cannot, however, resist at least including this picture sent to me by H2. Do you think “hizhonor” knows how much I LUV chocolate???

It’s back again to New Orleans tomorrow. I just drove up here this past Monday so it’s been a very short week. The drive seems to get longer and longer every time we go. Oh, well, it’s only a few more (6-7) weeks before I can once again call New Orleans home.

This will be an interesting weekend, I think. Holy Name of Mary Church is “twinning” with a parish in Virginia, I think. That means that we will be getting support in our rebuilding efforts to get us through the hard times. This weekend Fr. John is going to Virginia, and the pastor of our “twin” parish is coming to HNM. Linda and I are the designated hosts in Fr. John’s absence. He’s going to get a taste of New Orleans Food and Spirits (NOFS to the initiated) cuisine.

We had ice yesterday. Ice! ICE!!! On the roads, not in the freezer. Today it’s close to 70 degrees. Somebody bring me my Alka-Seltzer! Speedily!

One good thing about being in Memphis is keeping up with home town sports. Memphis has the Grizzlies, who play (and recently lost to) the Hornets. They also have UofM (University of Memphis) Tigers (blue and white school colors) who play Tulane in football and basketball. The Tennessee Titans, of course, play the Saints.

I would say I’m gonna miss the food here, but really, most of the places we eat are chains, and New Orleans once had them and probably will have them again. Take Corky’s for instance. The original Corky’s restaurant is only a mile or two down the road here in Memphis. Linda and I have eaten there numerous times. They’re pretty proud of being a Corky’s owned and run restaurant. The Corky’s in NOLA, on the other hand, is a franchise restaurant, which gives the owner a bit of leeway in what they serve. Not a huge difference in menus, but I have to tell you, I like the food and the service better in the NOLA Corky’s.

Until next time, take care and God bless you!

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January 14, 2006

Normal? NOT!

11AM, New Orleans, LA, 14 January, 2006. We are home. I am surrounded by the resulting chaos of life after Katrina, half a household of extra furniture, the birds in their cages with the carriers on the table, laundry in the dryer that we brought back with us from TN.

The weather is sunny, but cool for New Orleans, climbing to 48° so far. Our plans are to go over to Linda’s old office to retrieve her personal belongings, then go to my work area to retrieve mine. Some fun, huh? Who says never a dull moment in NOLA?

H2 has his furniture unpacked and placed in his bedroom. He needs a bigger room!

And maybe on Tuesday Kentwood will pick up H1’s water cooler that sits in our dining room. Who-hoo!! Don’t know when his cable converter will grow legs and return itself to Cox Cable, since that is apparently the only way it will be leaving our house.

Later in the day.

Went to lunch at a local restaurant in the Garden District. I was sitting where I could see the street. As we ate I noticed all the pedestrians walking by , checking the restaurant as well as one across the street to see how long the wait would be. Traffic was a little heavier than normal for a Saturday in that area, but I was thinking how it was almost a feeling of normalcy being there. Then I was abruptly brought back to reality when an Army HumVee drove by on patrol with a couple of soldiers in it. Camouflaged vehicles are not a normal sight in NOLA (unless you include Mardi Gras floats).

Tonight I had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner at another local restaurant. It wasn’t till we were on our way home that I realized that I had forgotten to ask for cole slaw! What was I thinking?

Dinner started out as Chinese take out, but the restaurant was closed at 7:30, then IHOP, also closed, then Chili’s but too crowded. Finally we went to MY favorite Italian restaurant and were promptly seated and had an almost full menu to choose from. Excellent food, with wonderful company.

Life is good, albeit greatly changed. And, what’s up with this? Now that I actually have a date to return to New Orleans, a Carvel is opening in Memphis, near our hotel! I am SO miffed! I’m talking Carvel, here. Only the best soft ice cream in the world. And not available in New Orleans. Life is good, it just ISN’T FAIR!

OK. Now I’m off to SNL. Take care, and God bless you all. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.

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January 12, 2006

The More Things Stay The Same, The More Things Change.

It looks like my sojourn here in Memphis will end near the end of February, instead of April as we had originally thought.  The “safe haven” orders that brought/kept us here will end on February 24th, so after that the costs to keep us here will be born by the command, rather than the Navy.  So to save money anyone with a livable home is being sent back to New Orleans as of February 25th.

Speaking of prayers (and if we weren’t, we should), my daughter is having a job interview on Friday, so encouraging thoughts and prayers are much appreciated!

Occasionally I think about my time in the Navy, and inevitably thoughts go to my first tour after “A” school when I was assigned to Operation Deep Freeze.  I recall events and people, especially one particular friend, JM.  As it happens, I was thinking about him two days ago and on a whim decided to “google” JM to see what turned up.  Well, I found some entries and was able to get an email address.  I sent an email asking if it was the same “JM” that was in ODF.  I got an almost immediate response in the affirmative!  And, as it turns out he will be in Millington next week!  I’m looking forward to some real reminiscing.  I can’t believe Linda will be in New Orleans all week.

Linda heard today that her command won’t be able to “change homeport” before the safe haven runs out, so she may have to go back to New Orleans on the 25th as well, until the home port change takes effect.  Once the home port moves she will come back to Memphis.  I can’t believe after all this time our future plans are still so much in limbo!

We head for NOLA once again tomorrow, after work.  Hopefully it will be a fun weekend with lots of family visiting.  Major Dad (son-in-law) has invited us over for dinner on Sunday.  I think he’s going to cook Mexican.  I can hardly wait!!  Hopefully MD and family will be able to join us on our trip to Deal’s Gap.

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January 10, 2006

Should I Stay Or Should I Go...

Well, H2 came and went. Arrived Saturday, went to Outback for a late supper, went out for mexican for brunch on Sunday, loaded his truck with his bedroom suite, and he left again at about 2PM. Short visit, but it was really great having him here, even for so short a time.

We're planning a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Deal's Gap, North Carolina in March, probably the 24th - 27th. Should be a really great trip, with several friends and family members going along. It's a trip I've wanted to make for a couple of years now, so I'm really looking forward to it.

It looks like my command is going to late me stay here in Memphis for another couple of months. That will keep Linda and I together for a little more time. In the meantime she's looking for another job in the New Orleans area that will bring her back home. Prayers are appreciated. So far there isn't much available.

We're definitely going home this weekend, then Linda will stay the week to attend a class in New Orleans while I return to Memphis. (Wait, isn't that backwards??) Then I'll come back the next weekend and stay through Monday because H2 brought up our mail, which contained a summons for me to serve on a grand jury. I wonder if they targeted people whose addresses were on the West Bank. I hope this doesn't mean I'm going to be called for jury duty every time I turn around!!

Please pray for the people of New Orleans. The rebuilding process portends to be not only long and drawn out, but painful as well. People will need to be patient with one another and abundant in their kindess to each other as well. A new year, a new beginning. Out of the ashes we hope the phoenix of a new, brighter, better New Orleans will appear.

God Bless

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January 7, 2006

Willy Nelson is Comin! (Has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog entry)

Another exciting weekend here in Blues Town.  #2 son is coming up today to pick up some bedroom furniture we bought for him at a Rhodes Furniture close-out.  It’ll be really good seeing him, even briefly.  (Eat your heart out, TS!)  He’s due in in about an hour.  I hope he’s hungry, ‘cause we plan on taking him to Outback for supper.

The weather is constantly changing here.  Warm, then cold, then warm…  Yesterday it was snowing (albeit flurries) when I got up to walk Maynard at 5:30.  Today started out with some frost on the ground, then temps climbed into the 50s.  Tomorrow is forecast for upper 60s.  I’m not complaining!!  Great riding weather, and there are lots of scenic roads around here.

We should be heading to New Orleans next weekend, as it is a long (3-day) weekend.  Then I promised Fr. John that I would come back for the following weekend to help out a visiting priest from Virginia, I think.  He is from a parish that is “twinning” with Holy Name of Mary, giving the parish assistance as it recovers from the storm.  Fr. John is going to VA to visit that parish, and the priest from VA is coming to NOLA to visit HNM.

Daughter-In-Law (DIL) is returning from an unscheduled trip to San Antonio for business.  I know that H1 (#1 Son, one of the “hummer twins”) will be happy to have her back home.  Whenever Linda goes away for whatever reason it leaves me home alone and lonely.  It’s always a relief when she returns.  I guess love does that to you.

It looks like Linda’s sister in NY, and her husband, will be coming for K&E’s wedding.  I haven’t seen them in like, forever, so it’ll be really great to see them again.

It looks like people are trying to take advantage of the situation at home to make as much money as possible.  I hate to see unbridled greed win out and potentially destroy our neighborhood.  Linda was reading online about somebody who is trying to buy some properties only two blocks from our house.  One of the properties is a large two story building that he wants to turn into apartments.  According to the article, it is large enough for eight apartments according to city codes, but he’s asking for a variance to allow him to build 15 apartments.  What is he thinking?  And add to that that there is no parking around this building for all these potential tenants and we’ve really got a mess on our hands.  I hope the residents of Algiers Point put up a fight on this one!!

Maybe it IS time to consider moving out of New Orleans.  The news today showed scenes of “Funny Forty Fellows” in New Orleans parading yesterday and commented that although it will be slow, New Orleans WILL rebuild.  But what kind of city are we creating if we throw common sense to the winds and allow a few individuals who have the means to buy up properties to take advantage of the situation to gouge the people who are trying to rebuild for all they can take?  What kind of neighborhoods will be created as people are crammed into every available nook and cranny?  And what will happen to all these dwellings once other areas are rebuilt and people begin to move back into their own homes?

On that note, I have to go offer up prayers for my fellow citizens of New Orleans.  Please remember  us all in your prayers, as I will remember you in mine.  God bless.

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January 4, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Still Smell

Ahhhh. The spirit of BB lives on. You may recall from an earlier post that BB had gotten sick in our hotel room. Well, even though we had cleaned the carpet immediately, and soaked it with Fabreeze, there remains a faint residual odor, a reminder if you will, of a past visit, grandkids, good times, and projectile vomiting.

BB is a trip. She now knows how to sing “The Name Game”. What a talent!

As FEMA continues to set up trailer villages in the New Orleans area, concerns are growing because of the sheer numbers of trailers. Life on the West Bank and North Shore is already difficult for those who are living there in their own homes. The lack of an adequate workforce results in fewer commercial ventures being open, and those that are open have shortened hours, reduced menus (restaurants) or inventory (stores), long lines and delays. Now add to this a large percentage population increase and the already overtaxed infrastructure will be even further strained. There is no simple solution. Obviously people whose homes were damaged need somewhere to live if they are to rebuild. Hopefully many of the trailer city dwellers will contribute to the area’s workforce and help to ease the strain on the infrastructures that currently exist. More services, or enhanced services are needed to offset the population explosion.

Since we first came to New Orleans in 1984 (how Orwellian is that??) we’ve watched all the Paw Paw’s Camper City and Paw Paw’s Car City commercials. For years and years we’ve watched as Dub Herring’s kids and grandkids kicked the tires and said “That’s a good camper (car), Paw Paw!!” Sadly, another icon bites the dust… The Creole Tomato (If You Ain't From Here You Won't Get It).
One of those educational channels (Discovery, History, etc.) was doing a special on the history of alcoholic beverages. Amazing what you can learn. Did you know that charred barrels are used only once for the aging of bourbon whiskey, and that once they’ve been used they’re sent to Scotland and are used to age Scotch whiskey? I never knew that! What I want to know is how bourbon can taste so good, and scotch tastes so NASTY!!

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January 2, 2006

Alone Again, Naturally

Our daughter is back in New Orleans with the kids.  We had a lonely dinner tonight without them.  Not to mention what a strain it was picking up those little packets of sweetener and pouring them into our iced tea.  Where is BB when you need her?

We had our 4th false fire alarm in as many weeks.  Something causes the alarm to trip, we end up out in the parking lot for the better part of an hour with Maynard stressing big time!  The alarm is really LOUD and there are also flashing lights and the combination just drives him up the wall.  Just as we were heading out to dinner the alarm went off.  It only took 4-5 fire trucks and 40 minutes to reset so we could return to our room.

Tomorrow it’s back to work.  Uugghh!  Why can’t work be more fun?  Then I guess it wouldn’t be called “work”.  Go figure.

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January 1, 2006

Missing Pieces

Update!  Some things that I meant to include in the last post, but forgot in my haste to get it put up.

Fr. Deo called while the girls were out.  He’s back in Rome after a short trip to Germany to visit his cousin Noeline and her husband.  He’s on break from his studies and is enjoying the time.  He also wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Hippo Birdy (belated) to Mags.  Wish we could have spent it with you, but it was fun singing “Happy Birthday to You” while at dinner last night.  This is a good time to wish Uncle Bill a Happy Birthday, too!  We’re looking forward to seeing you in July!!!

Everyone leaves tomorrow.  So sad to think about it.  How will I drink coffee or tea?  My granddaughter has been putting the sweetner and creamer in my coffee and/or tea.  Soon I’ll have to start doing it for myself again.

OK.  Now I’m off to the movie listing!  TTFN!

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Plop, Plop. Fizz, Fizz.

It’s a great start to a New Year!!  Excerpts: As I was coming back in from walking Maynard, “Would you mind taking him out for a few more minutes?  She (granddaughter) just vomited all over the floor right behind the door” and (from said granddaughter) “Here Maynard, lick my barf, lick my barf!!  Look, he’s doing it!”  Yeah, it’s gonna be a wizbang of a New Year, I can tell!

Now she’s dancing around the room, playing fetch with Maynard and watching Grandma hold “Evil Greenbird”.

Our daughter arrived late Friday night from New Orleans.  Yesterday we got up and went out for breakfast at Brother Juniper’s.  Since there was a 15 – 20 minute wait, which was more than likely ½ hour to 40 minutes, we went instead to Blue Plate Café, where we enjoyed a pleasant breakfast after waiting for only 10 minutes to be seated.

After breakfast we went SHOPPING!!!  Mother and daughter were in their element.  Memphis has a huge two-story mall where we spent about 3 hours.  The three girls went in one direction, and my grandson and I went the other.  

Oh, we also went to the Navy base and showed everyone where Linda and I work.  We stopped at the exchange and commissary then drove back to Memphis, taking a leisurely route on country roads back to the mall.  It was cool, sunny and very pretty.

After shopping we came home and got ready for dinner.  Dinner was at Wang’s.  When our grandson told his mom we were going to Wang’s for dinner she was less than enthused.  She’s not a big fan of chicken wings, and thought he was saying “wings” with a Southern accent.

Wang’s was excellent.  Our waiter (who departs for Atlanta on Tuesday) surprised us with not one, but two extra glasses of plum wine with dinner!!  It’s a good thing the restaurant is just around the corner from the hotel.  The food was, as usual, wonderful and everyone was stuffed to the max.  Then he brought us fried ice cream and two orders of fried bananas.  All in all a really nice dinner experience.

The drawback to the plum wine was that we were all too tired to stay up to usher in the New Year.  I have to assume that my other children took care of that for us.  We managed to hang in until 10:30, but that was it.  I was awake at 12:04 when #3 son called to wish us a Happy New Year.  Does that count?  I didn’t think so.

Today we went to Brother Juniper’s for breakfast and were seated with no waiting.  Everything was delicious and we all had a good time.  Then it was back to the hotel via a circuitous route to see a bit more of the city.  Then the ladies went out to… SHOP!  Who would have guessed?  Grandson and I stayed in the room where I took a well deserved nap while he entertained himself on his PSP.

So, how’s that for a New Year’s weekend?  No booze (except for the plum wine with dinner (), no fireworks, but, as Linda observed, “the weekend’s not over yet.”  We’re planning on a nice Mexican dinner (marguerita’s here we come!!) and perhaps a movie.  I guess I need to go check the movie listings.

I hope everyone’s New Year observation was happy, healthy and uneventful and my wish for everyone is that the New Year bring you all that you desire, more than you deserve, and love in infinite quantity!!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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