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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.

June 30, 2006

Our Own Version of 4th of July BBQ

The wedding draws nearer. We had the rehearsal last night, followed by dinner catered by Corky's BBQ. The rehearsal went pretty well, although several of the key players were unable to attend. Still, it should be a very nice wedding.

Since Ellie is Hispanic, the ceremony will include two readings in Spanish, and two additional Hispanic traditions, the lasso (or lazo) and the arras. The lasso is the ceremonial tying together of the bride and groom to symbolize their unity. An alternative is using a double rosary, that is, a rosary with two loops to drape over the bride and groom. The arras is 13 coins (representing Jesus and the 12 apostles). The groom pours the coins into the bride's hands as a sign that he pledges to care for her and entrusts his fortune to her safekeeping. The bride accepts the coins, recognizing his pledge and pledging in turn to be frugal with all that he entrusts to her.

My brother and sister, Bill and Sara, arrived today for KenEllie's wedding. It's great to see them. We seized the opportunity, along with my niece, Kathleen, to go to The Shed in Mississippi for supper. The best BBQ ever!! Better, even, than Corky's! It was a great outing and we all had fun.

More to follow. 20 hours until the wedding!

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That's What I'M Talking About!!!

Best BBQ in Mississippi and Gulf Coast!!!

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June 27, 2006

If a tree falls in the forest and there is noone there to hear it, is it still my fault?

I thought I’d give you some of my impressions of New Orleans since I’ve been back for a week and a half.

There are definite signs of life here now. I work at “the Lakefront”, right on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, at the North end of Elysian Fields Avenue. To get here I have to go through some of the most devastated areas of the city (e.g., Lakeview).

When I first passed by here almost 9 months ago, shortly after Katrina, there were NO signs of life. All the shops, restaurants, gas stations, houses, etc., were deserted, dark, open. Cars covered with flood water debris sat empty and lifeless in driveways and on the streets in front of empty, lifeless homes. There were no street lights, no traffic lights.

Today, most street and traffic lights are back on. Although it’s still a search to find an open gas station, we now have a Subway, a Sav-a-Center (grocery), a Burger King, Café Roma (Italian restaurant) all within a mile of work.

Rubbish has been or is being cleared, many of the most heavily damaged buildings have been or are being leveled. There are many trailers parked in front of homes being rebuilt, as neighborhoods struggle to return.

Restaurants are still operating with limited menus in many cases, and reduced hours in most. Lines are long, and service is harried, but people seem to be used to it, and accept it as a way of life. There are exceptions, notably Byblos on Magazine St. Their menu is back to normal, and if you choose your time wisely, there is no waiting and the service is excellent.

As I drive back and forth to work, I can’t help noticing the areas where there isn’t much of an improvement over the past 9 months. At the marina along the West end of Lakeshore Drive, boats are still lying about like discarded toys. Lakeshore Drive is still in shambles due to erosion of the soil along the lakefront wall, and the street is buckling in places. One of the shelters is either falling apart or being torn down, it’s difficult to say.

On a positive note for me personally, New Orleans Food and Spirits (NOFS) on Old Hammond Hwy is back in business and is as good as ever. The ‘Teau should reopen late July or August.

And I think people I meet are beginning to seem more optimistic about the city coming back. What seems like an impossible task is slowly and surely taking place. Trailers are everywhere, and you can see work being done to bring homes back. Although there is the occasional “for sale” sign, they are not nearly as numerous as one might have expected. The impression is that people really do want to come back to their homes and neighborhoods.

I have some pictures. As soon as the wedding is over I will try to get them up for you all to see. Take care, and God bless.

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June 18, 2006

HIPPO BIRDY 2 EWES

Happy Birthday, to you!! Happy Birthday TO you!! Happy BIRTHday dear Deeee Jay!! Happy Birthday to you!!

BB lost her second tooth this past week. She’s got that tooth fairy a jumpin!

We (I) returned home for good on Friday. And, speaking of fairies, apparently the “Welcome Fairy” paid our house a visit. We got in at 5:30PM, unloaded the car, showered, and went to a Japanese hibachi restaurant for DJ’s birthday. Actually it was a birthday dinner for DJ by his coworkers, but they invited us, too, so we went. It was WONDERFUL!!

Last night WE got to do the birthday dinner thing with H2. Is he milking it to the end, or what? We went to Byblo’s, the Greek/Middle Eastern restaurant where we went for his graduation dinner. It was a great evening! Our group consisted of Linda and I, H2, Patti, Jerrod and the kids, KenEllie, Angelica and Kennedy. Eleven in all. It would have been perfect if H1 and DIL had been able to be there! ( Maybe next time!)

It’s now 7AM and it’s Father’s Day. The house is quiet except the birds are starting to wake up and get a little noisy, as they do every morning. Everyone is asleep except for me, because Maynard wanted to go out at 6:15, so I got up to let him out and fix his breakfast.

Linda goes back to Memphis today. The weekend seemed really short this time. Most of it was spent either unpacking or trying to straighten up the house. Right now there’s a waterbed (unassembled) in the living room waiting to be picked up for a church yard sale. It's almost an heirloom, it's been in the family so long. First P andJ had it, then M and H. But Katrina put her stamp on it so now it goes to a worthy cause. We're setting it free, and if it doesn't come back, then it was never really ours to begin with? (Mental image here of standing in the doorway watching the bed as it runs out across the rolling fields into the sun. And I haven't even had any coffee yet today!)

It's hard to believe that KenEllie's wedding is less than two weeks away! Where has the time gone? It seems like it was only yesterday we were all wondering who this Ellie person was that Kenny had met, and now she's family, firmly entrenched in our hearts, and subject to all the love and affection we can lavish on her!! (BTW, rumor has it that Ellie and the "Welcome Fairy" bear a striking resemblence to one another!!)

After I've had a few days to kind of settle in, I'll try to fill you all in on my impressions of the city as it is now. First impressions are that it is still incredibly dirty and has a "run down" look and feel. We'll see. Starting Monday I return to work at the old location, and the drive will take me through some of the worst hit areas of the city, so I'll see what' s going on first hand, every day. Stay tuned!!

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all you daddy-o's out there!!!

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June 13, 2006

Movin' On Down The Line

The reality of it all hits home as we prepare to move Linda’s things to the house where she will be staying. We’ll move some of her things tonight and the rest on Thursday.

Tomorrow I’ll be stuck at work as the movers load up all our computers and work related books, papers and such and depart for New Orleans. In order to get the most out of our team the move won’t begin until 5PM, so it’s going to be a long day, for sure!

Friday morning it’s up and out, bright and early, I hope! The drive back and forth at night has been awful because of the bugs. Linda took the car to a detailing shop today and had it washed and got the bugs off. Hopefully a daytime drive will have less bugs.

I thought it would be nice to “say good-bye” to some of our favorite restaurants before I left, so where did we go for dinner last night? Taco Bell! And where did we go tonight? To the main lobby of the hotel for meatloaf and rice! Two nights to go, I guess Mickie D’s and Backyard Burger had better be standing by!!

H2 is starting the long interview process for possible employment with the DEA! We (and he) are really excited. We hope he gets the job. He’s worked really hard for this, so pray for him often over the next several months!

H1 has been sick, so we wish him a speedy and full recovery. He, too, is in our prayers and we look forward to seeing both he and DIL in the next couple of weeks.

Big J, Young Wade and Lori, I hear that the ‘Teau is reopening in July!! Whoo Hoo!! Yeah!! I can hardly wait to “do lunch” again. Café au laits all around!

Gotta go pack up the car. Take care. If you are reading this, we love YOU!! God bless and keep you in His tender, loving care.

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June 12, 2006

That Would Be...

Affirmative on theTooth Fairy!!

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Weekend Update, with Triple D.

It seems that a chocolate covered candy apple was the culprit in the recent loss of a baby tooth by BB (her first). This reporter is still waiting on word from Nurse Durken that Newton J. Snookers, aka The Tooth Fairy, did, in fact, pay a nocturnal visit to our little princess.

In other news, haven’t heard a word from the Houston Herricks in several days. Must have been quite an anniversary weekend! We miss you guys!!! Hey! Pick up the phone! Give us a call!! Can you hear me now? We’re raising the bar… Smack!! Ouch! Caught in a commercial loop there for a minute. I’m better now.

Pray for sunshine this Friday as we head home to NOLA.

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June 11, 2006

Believe What You Read, Teach What You Believe, and Practice What You Teach!*

*from the Bishop’s presentation of the Book of the Gospels to the newly ordained deacons.

Ian spent the week with us in Memphis. He got straight A’s on his report card and a “blue book” which signifies honors. He’s quite an astounding young man! But still, he’s a typical almost teenager. He gets involved in TV or video games and it’s like hollering at the wall to try and get his attention. Yet, if you are having an “adult” conversation, he somehow manages to stay tuned in, and puts you on the spot later with questions about something said on some previous occasion that was really not meant for young ears. And to make matters worse, he doesn’t accept a quick put-off answer, either. Instead he digs and digs, with one question after another until he’s satisfied that you really answered him. Talk about being in the “hot seat”!!

The Homewood Suites has been extremely good to us. While we’ve been staying there they’ve been remodeling the suites and replacing the furniture. They offered us one of the old recliner chairs, and ended up giving us two. Now they are also giving two recliners and possibly one pull-out loveseat to one of my coworkers who lost their home totally during the storm. We really appreciate their generosity! If you’re ever traveling and want a nice suite type accommodation with kitchen, I recommend Homewood Suites by Hilton.

It’s hard to believe that KenEllie’s nuptial Mass is now less than three weeks away! The time is really flying by. For anyone who is coming, you should know that it was 83 degrees at 8AM this morning! It looks to be a long, HOT summer.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans had a diaconate ordination Mass for 18 new permanent deacons. Over their 5 ½ years of training, Linda and I have become close to several of them, and I even had the honor of “mentoring” two of them. We wish them well as they begin their new faith journey in dedicated service to God through service to His people. This class is unique in that they experienced the impact, and for some, the total loss caused by Katrina, yet they remained firm in their commitment, and stayed the course throughout the months that followed, never waivering in their faith in God and His Divine Love and Mercy! Linda and I pray that they receive God’s blessings in abundance as they minister in faith and love to those around them.

After the ordination the Class of 05/06 ( their ordination was originally scheduled for Dec ’05) had a phenomenal reception at Loew’s Hotel, where one of the ordinands is the manager. It was huge, and the food was outstanding!

Later that evening we had a nice social dinner with Patti and the kids at my favorite Italian restaurant. Although we tried to get H2 and KenEllie to go, it just wasn’t happenin’. Oh well. BB was on her best behavior and we had a really nice dinner and chat.

Today we went to St. Cletus Church to attend Mass and hear one of the newly ordained deacons preach his first homily. He did an excellent job, kept it short and to the point, and followed the homiletics outline very well. Once again, a reception followed, this time at his home parish as the parishioners welcomed and congratulated him in his new role as a deacon.

It was good to see Jim and Maureen Thibaud again. We met them when we traveled together to Uganda back in 2001. They attend St. Cletus Church and greeted us as we were walking in. They are great people who we don’t see nearly enough.

So, it’s begun. Tropical Storm Alberto is churning up the Gulf of Mexico. Thankfully it doesn’t appear to be a threat to the Louisiana/Mississippi Gulf coast. And hopefully the people who do end up in its path are spared any severe weather.

This coming Friday begins my journey back to NOLA. On Sunday, however, Linda returns (alone) to Memphis. Well, as alone as you can be with a cockatiel and Senegal parrot. Please pray for her safety and a quick reunion for us in the very near future.

It’s time to pack up and hit the road. Take care, and may God bless you.

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June 4, 2006

It's 1 AM... Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?

It’s been quite a weekend! We drove to NOLA on Thursday, after work, so we arrived at around midnight. I’m still trying to catch up on the sleep we missed that night!

Friday morning started out with the Holy Name of Mary School awards Mass at 8:30 AM. Linda went and watched Ian get awards and honors and a straight A report card. Way to go, IAN!!!! We’re really proud of you!!

Friday evening was BB’s dance recital. She was really cute, and the evening was really entertaining. The recital had 37 dances of varying ages and abilities, but all were truly enjoyable to watch. BB was in two dance routines. After a long night, she was really tired, but wanted to keep on dancing. She got a bit upset when we told her she had to go home.

Saturday we met with a couple that is getting married the end of July for wedding preparation. They are a very nice couple and we wish them all the best.

Afterward we went to a Vietnamese restaurant with KenEllie for lunch. I tried something called a tapioca drink. It was chocolate and coffee and pretty tasty, but the tapioca was an unexpected experience. It was weird because the tapioca wasn’t small and kind of smooth, like tapioca pudding. It was lumps, about the size of a piece of Kix cereal, and it was chewy. Very strange to suck up a couple of those through a large straw!

Saturday evening we went to a Bride and Groom shower for KenEllie. It was a small, staid affair as you will see from the photos. Each guest was given an assigned time out of a 24 hour day, and their gift was supposed to be time appropriate. It was really an interesting concept and thought provoking, as well, for some of those times!!












We got to see our friends Keith and Chris at the shower which was especially nice. We have been extremely close over the years, but lately haven’t been able to get together much at all, so it was an ideal time to catch up on what’s going on. Hopefully we can make this the start of many more get togethers in the future!

And speaking of friends, Mick and Bev stopped by briefly to drop off their gift, but they were watching grandson, Anthony, so couldn’t stay. We’ll be having lunch with them, and with the Patti and Jerrod, today, before we head back to Memphis.

Time for a cup of “joe” and to get ready for church. We pray to Our Lady of Prompt Succor for safety during this hurricane season. We pray that you are all blessed with good health and happiness.

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