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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.

March 30, 2006

Calling All Prayer Warriors!!!

First, business. We need some prayers, people!! H2's friend Brett has just learned that one of his new twins has leukemia. She was born around Thanksgiving time. Please join me in praying for God's healing touch on the baby, on the parents and on their family.

I guess I'd have to give the Dragon Run a 9.5 on a scale of 10. Boost the temperature about 20° and it would be a perfect "10"!! Hmmm... Now if I can just find some training to go to that's being offered in Knoxville... Oh, Y-e-a-h!

OK. Dragon, one more time. Up.....left...right...left...right...(still up)left...back...left...down...back...right...left..., etc., etc., etc.. Remember?!?!?! Sure, you do!

Lots to look forward to. Maybe an annual Herrick family reunion? Hmmmm? Could it be? First we have to get my brother to start reading this weblog. Maybe he'll join us next time. And the sisters, too!

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March 28, 2006

Fall into the GAP!

Deal’s Gap is just a magnificent memory.  If only it could have lasted a few more days, we had such a great time!

The NOLA group was well represented, with Rat Bastard, Sh1tStir (formerly Hell Boy), Joey, Joe, Chris and Magna Bob arriving Thursday night.  Linda and I arrived with Tom, Gary and Brian from Memphis on Friday afternoon.  H1, DIL, H2, Major Dad, Big Boy and Kevin arrived from New Orleans late Friday evening and Owen arrived from Boston VERY late Friday night.

We left Memphis Thurday morning.  Tom had drawn a straight line between Memphis and Deal’s Gap, then we followed his GPS along some beautiful state roads and highways.  We stopped in McMinnville, TN for the night, then on to the GAP on Friday, arriving around 4:30 PM to wet roads and chilly weather.

The mountains were gorgeous!!  Breathtaking scenery of rivers, valleys, trees, a dam, and winding, twisting, turning road!  Awesome!!  

Deal’s Gap resort is nestled into the mountainside just barely across the N. Carolina border on U.S. Highway 129.  I think we had 9 or 10 of their 14 available cabins.  Very quaint and rustic.   They also have a gift shop, two pump gas station and a restaurant that served breakfast (fantastic French toast) through supper (delicious BBQ sandwiches).

The proprietors were really accommodating, even leaving the restaurant open after hours for us to sit in the dining area and watch TV.  We would turn off the lights and lock the doors when we turned in for the night.  How many places are that trusting now-a-days?

Saturday and Sunday we were treated to some DELICIOUS meals cooked by Major Dad.  Steaks and pork chops one night, burgers and sausage and hot dogs the next.  It doesn’t matter where he is, he can COOK!!!

We owe KenEllie a HUGE “ThankYou” for watching the pets for us, which made it possible for Linda to make the trip.  Next time they have to join us, along with Patti, Ian, BB and Seamus Chipotle for a truly complete family affair.

Returning to Memphis we came from Knoxville on I-40 through some of the prettiest countryside I’ve ever seen.  I’ve been saying all along how pretty and nice the area around Memphis is, but East Tennessee just might have the upper hand in scenic beauty.  Going through the foothills as we left the Smokies was beautiful.

There will DEFINITELY be another gathering at the GAP!!  For sure, when hopefully the temperatures will be a bit higher than 20s and 30s!

We are glad to be back, and happy to be blogging once again.  Take care and God bless you!

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March 23, 2006

Houston, We Have Lift Off

It’s ZERO hour!!  Time to “Hit the road, Jack”!  We’re off to Deal’s Gap in North Carolina!!  We can hardly wait to meet up with everyone else.  Some are arriving today, the rest tomorrow.  It’s cold, but sunny and I hope it stays that way.

Many, MANY thanks to KenEllie for watching the pets for us.

Please, keep us in your prayers.

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March 20, 2006

IN MY MIND I'M GOING TO CAROLINA

It's Monday night, we returned from three days in NOLA to rain and chill. We leave for the GAP in three days! Three days, man. Three days. We just love ya. We just love ya. (Obscure Woodstock quote.)

We had a pretty good weekend, all in all. We drove in Thursday night so that I could go to two doctor appointments Friday morning. The appointments went well, after which we went out and bought two refrigerators for our rental property and a freezer for our home. Friday night we went to an early dinner with Patti and Ian, and Mickey and Beverly at Lil G's Cajun restaurant. The food and company were fantastic.

Saturday I finished working on my homily, then preached at 5PM Mass. After that we went to dinner at Semolina's with Patti and Jerrod, Mickey and Beverly, and our friend Alexander, a Ugandan seminary student. The food and company were fantastic.

We followed dinner with a movie, going to see "Failure to Launch". It was pretty good, with some very funny moments. The three shots of Terry Bradshaw's naked bottom were three times too much, however! Be warned if you go to see it.

Sunday I preached again at 8AM and 11AM Masses. We packed for our trip back, then went to lunch with Patti, Ian and BB at Chevy's. Did I mention that the food and company were fantastic?

Since we will be gone for 6 days on our Deal's Gap trip we left the pets in New Orleans. Kenellie have graciously agreed to watch them while everyone is out of town. I don't know who to pray for more, Kenellie or the pets!

Stay tuned, and pray for us while we travel! Take care and God bless!!

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March 17, 2006

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Ahhhhhh! A little piece of heaven, right here on earth. Linda came with me to my two doctor appointments this morning, then we went out for lunch before continuing errands. We went to New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company where I had an absolutely DELICIOUS shrimp po-boy. I've been having a craving for a few weeks now. The last time I had one was pre-Katrina. (Funny how everything seems to be falling into "before Katrina" or "after Katrina").

The weather is gorgeous! Sunny, mid-70s, just a beautiful St. Patrick's Day. Perfect weather for the two parades that are scheduled, as well as for the huge, and I mean HUGE, blockparty held annually at Parasol's. Hopefully tomorrow will be as nice for the Irish/Italian parade and St. Joseph's day festivities.

I am, in spite of the upbeat tone of this entry, very unhappy with a particulare turn of events here. It seems that the Vincentian community of priests who currently run St. Stephen's and St. Joseph's on Tulane Ave. are leaving St. Stephen's. Our archbishop has picked a diocesan priest to take over, and wouldn't you know, it's Fr. John, my pastor. We really love Fr. John and are very much upset to be losing him as pastor. He will announce his transfer to the parishioners at all the masses this weekend. I hope he waits until after my homily.

I saw an interview on the news this morning. One of the local news channels was interviewing the head of the St. Bernard school district about the great job they have done in getting their schools consolidated and repaired and up and running again. When asked how they did it so much more quickly than everyone else she replied, "Well, we weren't getting anything from the federal gov't, and we weren't getting anything from FEMA, so we just got together and decided that we have to do it ourselves, and we did." What a concept! Self-reliance. Wow. How long before she gets officially reprimanded for going out and doing all this without federal aid remains to be seen.

Seven days to Deal's Gap! HUGE family outing! We haven't done anything like this since... well, since we all left NOLA as Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast. Nothing like a natural disaster to bring a family closer together while at the same time splitting it up geographically.

Please continue to pray for Carlos and Miguel, and also for Fr. John and the parishioners of Holy Name of Mary Church. Take care and God bless!

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March 16, 2006

Homeward Bound (I Wish I Was)

Going back to NOLA today. I have two doctor appointments tomorrow morning and this is a weekend for me to preach the homily at all the masses. Had to move it up a week because of the trip to Deal's Gap (wow, only a week to go!!!).

I forgot to mention, please add Ellie's other brother, Miguel, to your prayers. He, too, is being shipped out, in June. Both brothers will be gone, so please pray for the safe return of both.

H2 walks across the stage at Loyola on April 29th. Linda and I are thrilled. He's worked really hard for this. Now if he can just get a job with a federal law enforcement agency. That's been his goal, all along.

Well, 6Am, gotta go to work. Take care. Love you all. God bless.

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March 13, 2006

"V" is for Go See It!

I went with a coworker tonight to a prescreening of "V for Vendetta". I enjoyed it VERY much and am looking forward to going again, this time with Linda.

That's it. That's all I wanted to say. V for Vendetta. Go. See it.

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Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity WhatEVER

Kenny and Ellie were married on Saturday, March 11th at 4PM in the courtyard by the fountain of the Royal Sonesta Hotel.  It was a very nice ceremony with family members of both the bride and groom in attendance.  Ellie’s brother, Carlos, was there and gave away the bride.

After the wedding, the entire group gathered at Pat O’Brien’s for a drink, then went on to The Gumbo Shop for a nice creole/Cajun dinner.  Since there were 14 in the group, we ended up divided into tables of six, four and four, with the second table of four across the dining room from the other two.  Linda, H2, Major Dad and I sat at that table.  All through dinner we talked to the new Mr. and Mrs. Herrick by cellphone.  It was actually pretty funny!

Later H2, Major Dad and I, along with friends Dan and Kennedy, met up with the wedding party at Razoo’s, a loud, boisterous, raucus nightclub in the Quarter.  I managed to hang for only about an hour before returning home.  From the looks of things everyone else is in for a long, long night of partying!

Later today will be a busy day.  Before we leave to go back to NOLA we have to buy two refrigerators and sign leases with two sets of tenants for the two apartments we have available.  It will be nice to finally have them rented.  They’ve been empty since the storm.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Maynard.  Rather than get excited when we get home, he kind of mopes around the house.  I think he likes Tennessee better than Louisiana!  The birds don’t seem to care one way or the other.

Well, I never got around to posting the above, so I guess I’ll just continue.  It’s Monday and we’re back in Memphis.  The temperature this morning going to work was 75°.  Tomorrow the temperature is forecast to be 39°.  Only 36° difference!

Right now the rain is coming down sideways.  I guess the cold front is passing through with a vengeance!  Should make for an interesting day, although chances of rain for the rest of the week hover around 20%.

Please keep KenEllie in your prayers as they begin their lives’ journey together.

Oh, I almost forgot…  Please pray especially for my nephew Bryan’s wife, my niece Rachel, and my daughter, all of whom are pregnant…  God’s blessings be with you all.

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March 10, 2006

Dodged The Bullet?

According to the news there was severe storm damage, some from tornadoes, all around our area, but either I slept through it, or all the Memphis area proper received was a good bit of rain. The wind never seemed to get to strong and it rained steadily, but never a deluge type of downpour. I'm not complaining!

Let's hope today dawn's bright and sunny and stays that way until we get to NOLA tonight. OK, so it won't be bright and sunny at midnight, but dry would be good. :-)

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March 9, 2006

When The Rain Comes...


I’m sitting in the bedroom of our hotel, not at work where I should be. I woke up with a pretty severe headache so I stayed home. What better way to ease a headache than to sit looking out the window watching the buds turn into leaves on the big Bradford pear tree outside? It’s covered with beautiful white flowers and the green of the leaves is starting to show, where just a day or two ago there was nothing. These trees are EVERYWHERE. At first we thought they might be dogwoods, but after researching decided they were Bradfords. They have 5 petal white flowers instead of the 4 petal that are common to the dogwoods. It’s really quite pretty seeing all the trees in full bloom.

There are supposed to be severe thunderstorms today, with possible hail (up to 2”) and tornadoes. I have to say they do get some violent weather here, at times. It’s overcast and the wind is gusty, but not terribly so. I hope the front moves to the northeast and passes us by. Tomorrow should be nice, they say, so maybe we can drive back to NOLA in decent weather for a change.

Saturday is a planning meeting for Deal’s Gap. It looks like between the NOLA Herrick clan, the rest of the NOLA group, and the Memphis contingent we have rented ALL the cabins (14) at Deal’s Gap Resort Motel. Wow!! Just two weeks left until the breathtaking scenery of the Smokies! We can hardly wait.

Linda is home playing hooky to keep me company. She’s watching The Vue, which apparently is a popular women’s program. I stopped for a minute to see what was going on. There are 6 women, 3 on either side of a big sign that says “Vagina Mistakes” and one of the women is talking about “shaving away from your ‘private parts’”. Private parts? What is up with that? She’s sitting next to a sign with 3 foot high letters that says “VAGINA” and she says, “Private Parts”? That was pretty much all I could handle of The Vue!!

Please remember to keep Ellie’s brother in your prayers, as well as Kenny and Ellie themselves. They are taking a huge life step this weekend, as those of us who are married realize. They will need the love and support of all of us, and the grace that knowing and loving God will bring, to sustain them on their journey.

Peace and love, happiness and health are our wishes to you all! God bless.

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March 8, 2006

Yes, I'm A Ramblin' Man

The weather guessers are forecasting severe T-storms with possible hail and tornadoes tomorrow (Thursday). Let’s hope the weather passes on schedule so that we can drive back to NOLA on Friday with some decent driving conditions. It’s really getting old having to drive through torrential rains every time we go home.

Tried the fireplace last night. It’s gas, with a timer. I set the timer for 10 minutes just to get a feel, and Linda and I snuggled on the couch in semi-darkness watching TV. The fire was nice and relaxing, but the tick-tick-ticking of the timer was a bit off-putting. Next time I guess I should turn up the volume on the TV. Hope the ka-thumping neighbors above don’t mind.

Plans for the trip to Deal’s Gap are moving right along. The best suggestion so far, I think, is to have two groups, Memphis and NOLA, that meet up in Chattanooga, TN and then proceed to Deal’s Gap. I sure hope the weather holds up.

Speaking of weather (again), it has been pretty warm and mild here lately. The Bradford pears are all in bloom here right now and I’m amazed at how many there are. Color is quickly returning to Greater Memphis. Buds are popping up all over, grass is turning green. Call me a pessimist, but shouldn’t it be about time for another cold snap?

On to Page 2 –

Prayers needed. Ellie’s brother, Carlos, is being sent to Iraq for his 4th tour. He leaves sometime near the end of March. Please add him to your prayers. We are asking for a speedy and SAFE return home!

Also, because of Carlos’ impending departure, Kenellie have decided to go before a Justice of the Peace this Saturday so that Carlos will be present for their wedding. July 1st, then, will be a convalidation by the Church. For the uninitiated, the JP will perform the wedding, and they will be married civilly. After the convalidation ceremony (no different from a regular church wedding other than the fact that they are already married civilly) they will be married sacramentally.

What is it about the concept of lunch that people don’t get any more? For about as long as I can remember people have been going to lunch between 11am and 1PM (not for the whole 2 hours, of course). So why are the people I work for so adamant about scheduling meetings for either 11am or 12pm? Especially on a Thursday when the base dining facility serves the BEST ham and roast beef buffet ever? Especially on a Thursday when if you don’t get there early you may not get a seat?!?!?! If the command is REALLY concerned with employee morale they would drastically reduce the number of regularly scheduled meetings (especially those that meet two or three times a week) so that “important” meetings like an “all hands”, for instance, can be scheduled at a time that is more convenient to all concerned.

Off the subject (ok, so there is no subject), I still really like the FEDEX caveman commercial. OK. Now we have a subject… commercials. Have you seen the one with Bobby Knight where he kicks around a chair? It’s a funny commercial, but has a limited audience, wouldn’t you think? I had to explain to Linda a)who the guy was kicking the chair, and b)what was the significance of kicking the chair. Kind of like having to explain a joke.

My nephew, Tim, who (I think) is studying Dallas Theological Seminary has, according to his weblog, discovered Texas de Brazil. His comments support my own findings. Awesome experience for a meat lover. Vegans might not be so enamored, but hey, if you’re a vegan, who takes you seriously anyway? (Just kidding!!)

Let me close by once again asking specifically for prayers for Carlos. We will raise Carlos and all of you in our own special intentions to God our Father. May you always feel God’s Holy Presence, and allow it to touch you and heal you and guide you and comfort you. - Dean

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March 5, 2006

Happy Birthday (Again) BB

Happy Birthday, BB!!

I can’t believe that it’s BB’s birthday (#5) party (her birthday was actually February 26th, but Mardi Gras got in the way) and we’re not there for the festivities. All those Kodak moments lost. (Heavy sigh!) She’s going to Build-A-Bear with several of her friends. I’ll bet she’s having a great time!

Last night I cooked dinner for Linda for the first time in 6 months. It’s nice to have a kitchen, of sorts, again. We bought a small George Foreman grill. The larger one we have at home would take up most of the counter here. I grilled ribeyes on the GF, and boiled up some broccoli. It was really good to sit at “home” and have a nice quiet meal together. Tonight is grilled pork chops.

The apartment we’re in is small, but nice. I look at it as practice for when the kids relegate us to a home for the elderly. (H1 says that that will be H2’s job). Not TOO soon, I hope.

I took Friday off to get settled in to the new apartment, so Monday should be one heck of a day of catching up with what’s gone wrong since Thursday. That seems to be the way things are every day now. Our schedule is so tight that if someone hiccups it’ll push out our end date by a day.

I’m slowly working my way through the past musings of The Hot Librarian, a weblog recommended by DIL. I’m up to March of 2005. Very interesting (adults only) reading. She writes a crisp, witty, satirical, ribald blog that is both entertaining AND somewhat unnerving for those of us who have children her age. I can only pray that half (or more) of what she writes is fiction!! If you want to risk it, try an entry or two, then go back to the beginning and read them all.

H1, listen up!! Go to the Texas de Brazil website and join their eClub. It’s free, and you get a 25% off your first visit coupon. You’ve really got to try this place. It’s awesome!!

OK. Time to start dinner. Talk later. Love you all. God bless. Oh, by the way, Big J (no, not Jerrod) has perfect attendance!!! Gold Star for Big J!!!

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March 3, 2006

There's No Place Like Home(wood)

So here we are at the Homewood Suites, our sweet home for the next 3 + months.  It’s not too bad.  We have a first floor suite.  It has a king-size bed in the bedroom with desk and night stand, TV and chest of drawers and closet.  The living room/ dinette has TV, couch, chair, coffee table, dinette table with 3 chairs and an end table next to the couch.  There is a bathroom area consists of a makeup area with counter and sink, mirror, some drawers, and a commode/bath room separated by a door.  There is a kitchenette with a refrigerator/freezer (pretty big, too), microwave, sink, dishwasher, two element stove and lots of shelf space.  Overall it’s pretty nice.  Oh, almost forgot the fireplace (gas) in the living room.

We hated to leave the home we had tried moving into, but a series of events made both Linda and I feel uncomfortable enough that we felt a move would be more appropriate.  T&C, our hosts, were totally open, welcoming and just wonderful in every way!  If it turns out that either of us returns to New Orleans sooner than expected, I think the other will go back to stay with T&C again.  At least we left that door open.

H2 has ordered his class ring!!  I guess that makes it official, he’s gonna graduate this year.  He’s pretty much decided to go ahead and get his Master’s while he’s in the study mode.  Linda and I are truly proud of all he’s accomplished while working full time, going to school full time, and trying to have a life, as well.

Next weekend we’ll be back in New Orleans for some wedding things with KenEllie.  Then the weekend after I promised Fr. John (our pastor) that I would preach at all the masses to give him a break, so that’s two weekends in a row that we return.  Actually I had told him that I’d come back once a month to help out.  I may have to rethink that offer, as the trip back and forth seems to get longer and longer the more often we make it.  It’s amazing how long 6 hours can be when you’ve driven it several weekends in a row.

Then (drum roll, please!!) it’s time for DEAL’S GAP, NORTH CAROLINA and the infamous Tail of the Dragon!!  The Smokies should be cool, crisp and beautiful this time of year and we’re looking forward to a great family outing.

And, by the way, we attended the Holy Spirit Wednesday Night Supper this past week which was held on Tuesday because of Wednesday being Ash Wednesday.  Every year they do a Mardi Gras theme.  This year they had an old time band and served both chicken and seafood gumbo.  DEE-licious!  I’m usually a little hesitant to eat “New Orleans” food anywhere else, but I gave it a try and was really surprised and glad that I did.  Then they followed it up with a really wonderful bread pudding.  It was great!  Standing room only crowd.

Please pray especially hard for Ellie’s dad.  He began having problems breathing earlier this week.  I get the impression (only my gut feeling, nothing concrete) that the doctors aren’t really sure what’s causing it.  We heard it might be a virus, but they have him on antibiotics, which I had always heard didn’t do much for viruses.  Anyway, prayers are asked for for him.  Thanks, and may God continue to bless you all abundantly!

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