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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.

July 31, 2006

Alright Already!! Geez!!

I’ve received complaints from probably the only two people who actually read my weblog that I haven’t posted in awhile, so let me apologize and try to rectify the situation.

It was a busy week, what with work, and getting ready to preach this weekend at my parish… first time for my new pastor, plus getting ready to officiate at a wedding Saturday evening. The homily, I’m told was ok. People seemed to like it, though that’s not necessarily the sign of a good homily. At least Fr. Joseph approved. The first go-round, at 5PM Mass on Saturday was a little shaky. Not only was I preaching for the first time in front of Fr. Joseph, but the archdeacon and his wife were present, as well. Those of you who know me well understand that I have issues with preaching in front of him.

The wedding was nice. Rehearsal on Thursday went well, and we followed up with dinner at Texas Roadkill on Westbank Expressway and Manhattan. It was super crowded, but the service was still pretty good. Besides, it was PJs night, so most of the wait staff were wearing pajamas. Interesting, to say the least. As I said the wedding was nice, but not without its moments. Once the wedding party had processed in, and the welcoming comments were made, it was time for the first reading. Unfortunately, the person who was to read thought the wedding started at 7:30PM and hadn’t arrived yet. Finally the bride’s father jumped up and came forward to do the reading. Still, we got the couple married and sent on their way! We wish them the best in their new life together.

My at work lunch bunch has found a new place for lunch. Sammy’s Market and Deli, on Live Oak Dr. in Metairie. Good food, good prices, and within a reasonable distance from work. As much as I like NOFS, I think the shrimp po-boys at Sammy’s might be just a little bit tastier.

Big J continues to maintain perfect attendance. Way to go!! You get a gold star!

H2 went to Houston for a 4-day weekend. He left the day before Linda arrived, so I had the whole house to myself for one day. I got a little taste of what H2 has been experiencing for the past 11 months. It’s a big, lonely place when no one else is there.

Sunday we had a great family-ish get together at “Eastern Restaurant”. P&J, Ian, BB, KenEllie, Linda and I. Its menu has two sections, one Chinese, one Japanese. The good thing about this restaurant is that they do both well. I had California rolls, fried dumplings, and a VERY spicy, but delicious, orange chicken. Outstanding!!

Later in the evening we picked up Fr. Deogratias Ekisa, a Ugandan priest who is studying in Rome, at the airport. He’s in the states for a couple of months to do mission appeals for his diocese back in Uganda. It is always a joy to see him! We took, him straight to P&J’s, where we enjoyed a supper of homemade chili and corn bread. Again, outstanding!!

Linda leaves this afternoon to return to Memphis. Please pray that she has a safe journey today and each time she travels. Update: She arrived safely!! I miss her already.

After 11 months it’s amazing to see how much of the city is still dead, lifeless, with little or no activity toward recovery. It’s also amazing to see how people are struggling to lead “normal” lives in those areas that were least affected by the storm. It’s a whole new “normal” though, as people from devastated areas combine with workers from other states to repopulate (read overpopulate! inhabitable areas. Lines remain long in stores and restaurants, and in many cases selections are still limited and hours of operation restricted.

While trying to remain positive, it is difficult to see New Orleans returning to the city it once was. So many people have either relocated to other cities and states, or have moved to the North Shore. So many areas show little signs of recovery after almost a year, it’s painfully obvious, at least to me, that the road to recovery will be long, long, LONG!! This isn’t going to be a couple of years. I believe we’re living in a city which is going to change demographically, and significantly. If it does return to its former “glory”, it will be slow in coming, as new people will have to move into the area, building the city up as they come. And it will take better education and big business to attract new citizens.

For me, Katrina gave New Orleans a golden opportunity for rebirth, and a chance to clean up its act, socially, politically, economically. So far, it hasn’t taken long for “business as usual” to come creeping back. And what about the rumored plan for recovery that our mayor spoke of during his reelection campaign? If there is a plan, apparently he is keeping it with him, and he ain’t here!! He seems to be any place BUT here.

Tomorrow is our annual Night Out Against Crime. Everyone gathers at a park in the neighborhood. Police and firefighters are there, along with elected officials. I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but doesn’t that leave a lot of homes unattended for several hours? And isn’t it advertised? And wouldn’t you think someone considering burglarizing a home would consider this an opportunity? Just wondering.

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July 24, 2006

CONGRATS!! Plus, Musings on Growing Old, and on Love.

H2 finished his last class on Thursday. He is officially finished with college (for now). Yesterday they posted his final grade. He finishes with a 3.5 GPA, which is, of course, EXCELLENT!!!! We are bustin’ our buttons with pride for him! Way to go, DJ! Now we pray that his job hunting will go well. He’s worked long and hard to achieve his goal of getting into Federal law enforcement. We hope he is successful!

I guess I have a lot of the signs that I’m growing old. There is, of course, the usual forgetfulness, eyesight not as sharp as it was, and having to say, “Excuse me? What did you say?” way too often. But lately I’ve noticed that I pay more attention to the obituaries than I used to. It seems that I know more and more people who are leaving this life for a better one, many who are my own age or younger. It gives pause for thought.

I think sometimes, “Will I still be here tomorrow”? Who knows for sure? A coworker had his 40th birthday last week. After congratulating him, I asked jokingly, “So, how many do you have left”? It’s a question that I ask myself more and more frequently.

What would happen if we knew that tomorrow we were going to die? Would we be doing the same things in the same way? Would we treat people the same? Would we lament that we had not lived up to the life that we know God wanted for us? Would we drop to our knees and beg for forgiveness, hoping in desperate hope that it was not too late for repentence?

I guess my point is that none of us knows how many years, months, weeks, days, hours we have left on this earth.We have been gifted with life from a loving and giving God. We know our God, one almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, as Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. Three distinct persons, yet still only one God. A mystery.

This Trinitarian God of ours is Love beyond love. It’s the powerful love of God the Father for the Son, and the love of God the Son for the Father, that is expressed in God the Holy Spirit. It is that love in which we are baptized and are called to share with each other throughout our lives. It is that love which says that ALL people are our brothers and sisters, children of God, and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Not an easy task, in some cases, yet, our calling still.

I had the honor on July 1st to “preside” at the wedding of my son, Kenneth, to his beautiful bride, Gisselle. I put preside in quotes because all I did was witness the marriage. In actuality the Sacrament of Marriage is given be the bride and groom to each other, and witnessed by a representative of the Church.

Two weeks later Linda and I attended the wedding of our niece, Jennifer to her husband, Brian. The pastor gave a stirring homily on love and responsibility and what that love would entail to be enduring. (Please pray for the pastor and his family. He died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack this weekend. Pray also for his congregation, who are feeling a great loss, as well).

Next weekend I will again be a witness at a wedding, this time to the sister of a friend and former coworker of Linda’s. I’ve been working with them to prepare them for marriage, and I will deliver a homily during the wedding ceremony which, hopefully, will be more than just a necessary part of the ceremony to be tolerated, but nothing more.

Looking back on KenEllie’s wedding, and forward to the one next week, I keep thinking about what it is that I would really like for the newlyweds to take away from my homily. I think I’d really like them to try to understand love as I’ve come to understand it. I’d like them to see love as something more than the passion of youth, a brilliant flame that fades with time. I’d like them to see that that flame never really goes away; rather, it remains, constant and warm, protecting and comforting, understanding and forgiving. It is beautiful in all its forms.

The country singer, Clint Black, captured the essence of true marital love in his song, “Something That We Do”. I wish I had the talent to put it so well, but lacking that, I give you his words:

“I remember well the day we wed,
I can see that picture in my head.
I still believe the words we said
forever will ring true.

Love is certain, love is kind,
Love is yours and love is mine.
But it isn't something that we find,
It's something that we do.

It's holding tight, letting go.
It's flying high and laying low.
Let your strongest feelings show,
and your weakness, too.

It's a little and a lot to ask,
an endless and a welcome task.
Love isn't something that we have,
it's something that we do.

We help to make each other all that we can be,
though we can find our strength and inspiration independently.
The way we work together is what sets our love apart,
so closely that you can't tell where I end and where you start.

It gives me heart remembering how
we started with a simple vow.
There's so much to look back on now,
still it feels brand-new.

We're on a road that has no end,
and each day we begin again.
Love's not just something that we're in,
it's something that we do.

We help to make each other all that we can be,
though we can find our strength and inspiration independently.
The way we work together is what sets our love apart,
so closely that you can't tell where I end and where you start.

Love is wide, love is long.
Love is deep and love is strong.
Love is why I love this song,
and I hope you love it too.

I remember well the day we wed,
I can see that picture in my head.
Love isn't just those words we said,
it's something that we do.

There's no request too big or small.
We give ourselves, we give our all.
Love isn't someplace that we fall,
It's something that we do.”

Sometimes love takes a little work, but anything that is worth anything is worth even more when a little effort is involved to achieve it. My prayer for us all is that we may grow to love God and one another in a manner that reflects God’s love for us!!

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July 17, 2006

HEY!! CHOPPED LIVER YOU AIN'T!!

In case anyone is reading my weblog, it has come to my attention that I may have unintentionally omitted H2 in my prior post regarding those who I’d like to have get together with family next time. Hey, SOMEbody has to take care of Maynard, Gumbo, Precious (aka Evil Greenbird) and Craiger!!

OK. It was an unfortunate oversight. With H1 and DIL1 along, it just seemed as if H2 were there as well. When we next get together, I hope the entire family, including H2, KenEllie, P&J and any new additions will be able to be there!! Especially if it’s another Deal’s Gap type of outing!!!!! O-o-h-h-h Y-e-a-h-h!!!

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July 16, 2006

Stop the Presses!! I Made a Mistake!!

It looks like I have to print a retraction. I don't love my kids. No, that's not it. I do love my kids. Actually the retraction is that I have been informed that K&G will remain KenEllie, because Ellie doesn't mind being Ellie. So. There. Retraction done.

We just got back from Harrisburg, PA. We attended the wedding of my niece, Jen. It was a wonderful time to get together with family that I haven't seen in quite some time. As an added bonus we were able to take H1 and DIL1 with us, as well as Ian, so they were able to meet some family members again, and others for the first time.

The wedding was beautiful, and Jen and Brian make a great couple. We wish them all the best in their new life together.

Saturday we all went to Hershey's Chocolate World (not to be confused with Chocolate City!!) and Hershey Park. It was a lot of fun, informative and the balmy Northern weather (94 degrees!! and it POURED for at leastl 1/2 hour that afternoon) was just peachy! It was really a great day, but we all earned a good night's rest after trekking up and down the hills of the park all day long. The landscape is definitely NOT flat like in NOLA!

We returned today, and it's good to be back home again. Linda is going to stay one more day before heading North, so tomorrow will be nice, too. Plus, since she is here, we're going to celebrate Ian's birthday tomorrow evening. Happy Birthday, Ian!!!

I have to close by saying that I've got a pretty darned nice family and am looking forward to getting together with them again, and hopefully P&J and KenEllie will be able to come next time.

Take care. God Bless!!

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July 12, 2006

Just So You Know

I love my kids. All of them. Even the ones that end in "IL". You know, SIL, DIL1, DIL2. Yep. All of them. Love 'em. Proud of them. Yep. I do (love 'em). Yep. I am (proud of 'em).

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MAYBE I SHOULD SEE THAT MOVIE, "CABLE GUY"?

OK, then. The weekend pretty much sucked!! During the week the job keeps me occupied, but on the weekend it’s tough not having Linda here. I think even the animals miss her. Neither Maynard or Gumbo made their usual morning whines, squawks, scratching, or whatever. The house was dead quiet. I must confess, I slept until 11AM on Saturday.

Sunday would probably have been very similar if I didn’t have to get up for Church. After Mass I did a baptism as a favor to Fr. Joseph. He was officially installed as pastor, so there was a reception in his honor after Mass. As it turned out, the baptism was for the grandchild of a former boss of Linda’s. What a small world. Too bad she missed it.

Sunday evening H2 and I went to the movies. We saw “The Fast and The Furious – Tokyo Drift.” It was very good, if you like that genre. Lots of fast cars, racing, testosterone, and a dash of fisticuffs for good measure.

Did I forget to mention that when I called in my cable problems I told the person who took my call that a Cox Cable rep had been up on the telephone pole outside just before we realized our cable was not working? Coincidence? I think NOT!!

So Tuesday I slept late due to a migraine, notified work I wouldn’t be in, then headed off to my doctor’s office to get some prescriptions renewed and generally check back in with her after a year. I got there at 11:30 to give me plenty of time to be home by 3:00 for the Cox repairman. There were two people ahead of me. At 1:45 I was taken to the exam room. At 2:45 I finally headed for home (quickly), arriving at my address at precisely 3:00.

At 4:55 I called Cox Cable. While maneuvering through their answering system, my cell phone rang. The caller ID displayed the number I was trying to call! Hmmmmmm. Anyway, it was Cox Cable calling to tell me that the repair guy was running behind schedule, but would still be coming. Swell! And I had a dinner date with Patti and BB!

At 6:50 a cable guy called and asked if I was still having problems with my cable. I about fell out of my chair laughing!! Still? STILL? Of freakin’ course I’m still having problems. He said he was on his way. He arrive at 7:00 with a partner and began checking my hookup starting with the pole. It looked ok, so he went to the junction box at the house. No signal. Back to the pole. Finally (actually only about 10 minutes) he figured out that somehow I was improperly connected at the pole. Gee, I WONDER HOW THAT HAPPENED, since I’ve had virtually no problems for six years. SIX YEARS!

Anyway, to make a long story short, he asked me to try my TV and voila! It worked. Before he left I tried the cable and it worked, too! Relief!!

Fr. Joseph keeps asking when I want to preach, so I told him I would preach the last weekend each month, beginning in July, so I have the 5PM Mass on the 29th, and the 8AM and 11AM Masses on Sunday, the 30th. No problem, right? Later Linda reminded me that I’m doing a wedding at a church across the river at 7PM on the 29th. Ouch! That’s gonna be cutting it close.

K&G got back from Orlando on Sunday. Although I haven’t really had much opportunity to talk with them, Kenny did say that they had a really good time. I’m glad they made it back safe and sound.

H2 has his feelers (resume) out for several federal law enforcement agencies, so if anyone knows someone who knows someone… you know, put in a good word? Prayers are welcome also.

Linda comes home tomorrow and then Thursday we’re off to PA for Jen’s wedding. Please pray for me, Linda, H1, DIL1 and Ian as we travel. We’re flying. I hate flying. PLEASE pray. Thanks, in advance. We love you all and miss you, even if you who are reading this is a friend we haven’t met yet. You are still in our prayers and we hope that God will bless you all, as he has abundantly blessed Linda and I.

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July 7, 2006

NOT ENOUGH SHEEP, I NEED A SERTA

It’s 10 minutes to 1AM and I’m still up. I think some of the stuff going on at work right now has me pretty wound up. Hopefully the weekend will be a nice change, relaxing and refreshing.

Linda returned to Memphis on July 4th. No sooner had she left than I realized that both internet and cable were out of order. A quick call to COX yielded no outages in our area, and no technician available for a WEEK!!! OUCH! Fortunately there is an unrestricted wireless network that I was able to tap into until I can get mine going again. I know that they're going to try and say whatever is wrong is not their fault, so it’ll cost me more $$. At least now I'm watching all those episodes of "Alias" that Kenneth and Gisselle (I didn't realize that she doesn't like to be called Ellie) gave me.

July 5th was our 37th wedding anniversary. I celebrated by putting into the freezer my frozen dinner that I’d taken for lunch, and going instead to Subway for a Subway Club. I ate it back at my desk, but I did call Linda several times to wish her a Happy Anniversary. Golly, life after Katrina is such a joy!

K&G are in Orlando enjoying the parks and restaurants and, hopefully, the weather, ‘cause it’s rained every day this week so far, with no end in sight.

The wedding went off without a hitch. The bride was absolutely gorgeous in her gown. The bridesmaids and maid of honor were one of the loveliest group of young women I’ve seen at any of the weddings I’ve had the pleasure of performing. And the groomsmen weren’t too shabby either, especially H1, H2 and SIL.

The wedding reception was very, VERY nice. The food prepared by the Royal Sonesta was excellent, especially the oysters Rockefeller and the pasta bar. Speaking of bar, the bourbon wasn’t too bad, either. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, but Linda and I didn’t get around to everyone as much as we would have liked. I really want to thank everyone who attended and made it such a special night for K&G.

Gisselle’s cousin flew in from California for the wedding. She sang the Ave Maria during the wedding. What a beautiful voice! And what a whirling dervish she was on the dance floor. So much energy and talent! Her energy was rivaled only, I think, by H2’s friend, Joel, who was like the Energizer rabbit. He kept going, and going, and going, and… you get the picture.

H1, H2, SIL, DIL and Angelica went out partying after the reception. While H2 was in around 2AM, the rest didn’t get back until 4:30 or 5AM. Whew! Oh, to be young again. Or, maybe not. I’ve grown fond of a good night’s sleep with no hang-over in the morning. Still Angelica was up and out the door with us by 10AM to go to Café DuMonde for some café au lait and beignets, and some shopping at the French Market.

Linda was home for a full 12 days for the wedding, which was really nice. She came home on June 22nd and left on July 4th. It made life seem almost normal again, until she began packing to leave. I think it’s going to be a long 5 ½ months.

Now it’s 10 minutes AFTER 1AM, so I guess I should wrap this up and try to get some sleep. I’d like to ask for special prayers that God will bless the marriage of Kenneth and Gisselle in a special way. I wish for them the joy and happiness that I’ve enjoyed for the past 37 years. Please pray also for my friend and fellow deacon, Rodney. He is very ill and needs the peace that only God’s mercy and love can bring. May God continue to bless you all.

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July 2, 2006

After All's Said and Done...

It’s finally over!! No more pressure, no more anticipation. We wish you all could have been there. Just to give you a quick glimpse, I’ve uploaded pics of the rehearsal and the reception. The actual wedding photos will come from the photographer later.

Enjoy!

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