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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.

June 24, 2007

PRAYERS REQUESTED

I am asking for prayers for a young woman in Uganda who is having a C-section tomorrow. Her first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. She is, understandably, extremely nervous about the upcoming procedure, as they are not as routine as they are here in the U.S., and the health care is not as advanced, either. She is the elder sister (or maybe cousin?) of a young girl that Linda and I are sponsors for so that she may attend school.

H1/DIL1 are beginning to sport webbed feet and gills due to all the rain that's been falling in Houston. New Orleans is expected to have more rain over the next couple of days. Hopefully not in the quantities or duration that Houston has been experiencing!

Went to church with Linda and KenEllie at our home parish. Afterward we went up the street to a small local café, Aunt Leni's, for coffe and lunch. It was delicious! While we were there we had the pleasure of the company of one of my co-workers, Jim, who was in the neighborhood. He joined us for coffee and a nice chat. Nice to have you back from Memphis, Jim!!

I'll stop here, while wishing you all a "Happy Feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist"! God is GOOD!!

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June 22, 2007

I LIKE'S MY BOREDOM SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED*

*Don't look for a tie-in to anything that follows... there ain't any.

I know... it's been almost a week with no updates. Sorry. There ain't that much going on when you're pretty much housebound and at the mercy of others to go anywhere.

Last Saturday Linda and I took H2 to Drago's for dinner. The place was PACKED, but being only three of us we still got seated pretty quickly. Drago's is known for their charbroiled oysters, and boiled lobsters. Dinner was great, and H2 showed that he definitely has his feedbag on once again. Let's just say that he did, indeed, put away some chow on that occasion.

Sunday we decided to go to St. Stephen's church for Mass to see Fr. John again. He's my pastor from Holy Name of Mary who was transferred last spring. We got to the church just in time, right at 11:00. H2 came, along with DLG and kids. Guess what? St. Stephen's 11AM Mass starts at 10:30!!!

An early dinner was had at Chevy's, which was very nice, and kind of strange. For a year now we've had Sunday lunch at Chevy's, after which Linda would load up the car and head back to Memphis. Not this time. It's strange in a good way, youy know?

This hole in my leg is starting to tick me off! There are so many movies coming out that I would have liked to see with family, but couldn't. We thought about trying to go to see Evan Almighty tonight, but now Linda is down with some kind of bug, and is much too tired to go anywhere.

Oh,yeah. Wednesday afternoon I noticed that Maynard didn't look quite right. His eyes were funny, like puffy from just waking up. Later in the evening he started getting welts all over his body and panting heavily. Nurse Linda, correctly surmising some kind of allergic reaction, quickly gave him some benedril, although we have no clue what he might have eaten. Then a trip to the vet where they gave him a heavy dose of benedril and sent him home with more. Almost immediately the welts went down. Today he's pretty much back to his old lovable self.

Linda seems to be holding her own in the work Lunch Bunch. Big J was even nice enough one day to call and tell me what a nice lunch they were enjoying at New Orleans Food and Spirits... just one of my FAVORITE lunch places!! BAH!! I want to go too (whine, whine!).

July is going to be quite the month. KenEllie's anniversary, Linda and mine also, Ian is 14, the 5th movie and 7th book in the Harry Potter series come out, a new movie with Robin Williams called "License to Wed" is hitting the theaters and looks to be pretty funny. At some point I imagine I'll be returning to work, too. I guess you have to take a little rain with all that sunshine!

Please continue to pray for all those in need of healing and comfort. God IS good!!

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June 16, 2007

HAPPY B'DAY, 2 U... HAPPY B'DAY, 2 U... HAPPY B'DAY, H2... HAPPY B'DAY 2 U

Tomorrow is H2's birthday. We made pizza for him, Big Boy and his wife, and Major Dad, DLG and the kids last night to early celebrate. It was a good time, but they couldn't finish off the 8 pizzas in one sitting!!

Note to H1: Tomorrow is also Father's Day, and you know the only present I really like to get on Father's Day, so I'm expecting a picture of you sitting in a church in Houston!!!

KenEllie are on the 2nd day of a 2-day retreat. I hope they come back refreshed and spiritually renewed. The retreat is part of the Alpha course they, along with Linda and I, are attending. We weren't able to attend the retreat, with so much going on this weekend.

My leg continues to improve. We went to the Wound Care Clinic at Oschner this past Thursday. They said the "hole" looks good and is starting to fill in. The rest of the leg, although still quite red, looks much better, as well. The prognosis is that the redness will never go away completely. Perhaps I should start claiming that I am part Native American? Or perhaps that I am a Cincinnati Red's (short for "Redlegs") fan, but only partly?

I found out yesterday that another person on the project I work for is now in the hospital with the same problem I had. And another had a similar infection, but not so severe, and in his elbow! Hmmmm... And after my wound care appointment, Linda and I went into the hospital area to visit the director of the New Orleans deacon program who was hospitalized for the same infection, but in his foot rather than his whole leg! What is going on in this town???

I want to wish all the fathers out there a Happy Father's Day!! May the peace and joy of Christ be with you today and every day, and may He bless you abundantly with health and happiness.

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June 10, 2007

AND FINALLY....

Amsterdam – We stopped for just a couple of days in Amsterdam. The ship had to navigate a long canal along which we saw windmills, tulips, the famous dykes. Amsterdam was a beautiful old city, but not particularly clean. The architecture was beautiful. I went with a friend, Charlie (but I called him “Chuck”) who had a passion for pipe organs. We went to several gorgeous churches to see huge old pipe organs, and we were even able to attend a concert.

It was here, in the famous red light district, where a few friends and I sat in a bar within sight of the Heineken brewery and drank Heinie on tap and watched as groups of tourists with children in tow wandered through the streets looking at the scantily dressed women in the windows of the buildings along the streets.

It was also here that our Chief Petty Officer’s mess was invited to the CPO mess of the Royal Dutch Navy for dinner. They served us the most delicious curried chicken dinner I have ever tasted, either before or after.

Oslo, Norway – Another picturesque city and country. We arrived during the summer solstice, a time when the few weeks of really good weather was being enjoyed by the locals. The buildings were very colorful because, it was explained to us, so much of the year was snowbound and dreary. It was interesting, to say the least, to pass by the University on our way into the city and see the female students sunbathing on campus wearing nothing, or next to nothing. I also went with friends to a Viking museum which had a Viking village that we could walk through and the real Kon Tiki raft.

On our way from Oslo, we journeyed into the Baltic sea where we saw several Soviet naval ships as well as being flown over by many Soviet aircraft.

Kiel, Germany – Kiel was an interesting city because it was brand new. It had been totally destroyed in WWII, so everything had been rebuilt. It was a beautiful, clean city. The entire city participated in a contest to see who took the best care of their lawns and gardens. The winner each year is reimbursed for the cost of maintaining their property.

Kiel was also near the end of our deployment, so I was THRILLED to stumble upon a real McDonald’s restaurant! One meal of a quarter pounder, fries, and a coke and I was ready to go home!! Not until we had tried some wiener schnitzel, of course!

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – more often than not we merely sailed past St. Thomas on our way to the sonar testing facility at “Tongue of the Ocean”, an area not far from the island. On one trip we did stop for a port visit. It was just like you see in all the TV adds for cruises. I had duty the day we were there, but this time I did Shore patrol, so at least I got to go ashore and drive around, look at the sights and eat some of the local foods.

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – I experienced on refresher training (RefTra) exercise while on the Moose. We spent a little over a week in Cuba trying to pass all the tests they throw at us, which we did. While there I got to sit in an open air theater to watch movies at night, and eat pizza and drink beer at the exchange. They also had a nice restaurant that served really good steaks, so naturally we hit that up a couple of times. Of course, while we were in Cuba we had to get as close to the heavily guarded fences separating the Navy base from communist Cuba.

Rota, Spain – When I first got orders to the Moose, it was already just wrapping up a Med Cruise. Still, the XO had me sent over to meet them in Rota. I got there two weeks before the ship arrived, so for two weeks I would muster, then have the rest of the day to myself. After wandering around the small town of Rota, I spent most of my time on base. My routine was to, after muster, go to the exchange and buy a paperback novel and a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry. For the rest of the day I would drink Harvey’s over ice, and read the book. After dinner at a base restaurant I’d take in whatever the evening movie was. The next day was generally a repeat of the one before… I definitely DO like my Harvey’s, ya know!!! Once the ship arrived, I reported aboard and rode it back to Charleston, SC. They had to fly another chief home so I would have a bunk, but no lockers. I had to live out of my seabag for the two weeks it took to get back home again. Go figure.

Additional Highlights – Sailing past the white cliffs of Dover (they really are white). Crossing the equator and going through the “shellback” initiation on the Big E. Watching flight ops on the carrier from the top of the “island” as we sailed across the Pacific Ocean. Manually turning our ECM antenna so that we could pass the Electronic Warfare test range as we approached Subic Bay. (Yep, that would be cheating!) Kayaking down the Avon river in Christchurch. Flying into Auckland, New Zealand on the way home from the Ice because Christchurch was fogged in. That was a particularly interesting event. The plane was coming in for a landing in Christchurch in the fog. Looking out the window I couldn’t see anything but fog until all of a sudden we broke through and I was staring at the fast, and close, approach of concrete runway. At the same time the plane accelerated and began a steep climb, after which we were notified of a change in plans, and off to Auckland we went. When we landed in Auckland in the middle of the night, the New Zealand Air Force personnel greeted us with hot breakfast. Eggs cooked in mutton fat! Oh… My… GOD!!! Eggs that smelled and tasted like old gym socks that hadn’t been washed in weeks!! I guess it’s the thought that counted. And last, but certainly NOT least, being chased, in a bar in Subic City, by a hostess brandishing a “butterfly” knife, because she thought I was fighting with her “boyfriend”, who was actually a shipmate of mine. We were horsing around like we did on the ship, which basically involved punching each other in the sternum when we thought the other didn’t expect it. Unfortunately, this girl saw me hit him, but didn’t see him hit me, so the next thing I know he was jumping in between me and this wild woman who was brandishing a very sharp looking knife and heading straight for me!! Ah, good times, good times!

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MAKE IT STOP!!! PLEASE!!!

In case you didn’t notice, my around the world journey in words is not in chronological order. The Quebec/Novia Scotia trip was the last journey I made with the “Moose”. Prior to that I heard the words, “The MOOSE is LOOSE!! Shift Colors!!” many, many times meaning that we were, once again, underway, and leaving Charleston (or anywhere else we might have been at the time). Being a test platform for a sophisticated sonar system, we spent a LOT of time underway!! Still, I did get to a few countries while onboard.

Grenada – Once again, I didn’t actually set foot on Grenada. Two days after leaving Charleston enroute to the Mediterranean, the Moose took a hard right turn and headed for the small island of Grenada. Depending on how old you are, you may or may not remember the invasion of Grenada and the rescue of many U.S. students there, among others. We provided gunfire support, and I have many pictures of the invasion.

Haifa, Israel – The trip to Haifa was awful. We left Grenada and steamed eastward. We had been underway from Charleston for a full 90 days before we put into port at Haifa. By this time we had pretty much run out of anything fresh and the food was getting pretty bad. Israel in the early 80s was much more peaceful than now, but still we saw a lot of mainly Israeli soldiers carrying automatic weapons.

While in Haifa I took a tour that went to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The high point of the trip (among many highs) was going to midnight Mass in a cave in the shepherds field outside Bethlehem. I saw the “Wailing Wall”, “THE Temple” (at least the remains of it, where Jesus and all observant Jews traveled each year), the Garden of Olives, two places that vie to be the “real” Golgotha, and shrines believed to be built where 1. Jesus was born, 2. where Jesus was buried, and 3. where the annunciation took place (the angel told Mary she would be with child by the power of the Most High).

Gaeta, Italy – This is perhaps the best place ever. It was here that several of the wives met the ship. I was able to take 2 weeks leave, and Linda and I, with several friends, toured Rome, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast. It was a marvelous time, full of wonderful memories… “vino locale”, pasta, pasta, and more pasta, crowded (beyond belief) train rides, 6 people sleeping in one bedroom because we had arrived at our hotel too early in the morning, attack of the killer gypsies, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City and the marvelous artwork there, hunting for the statue of Bacchus in Boboli Gardens in Florence only to find it accidentally after we had given up and were leaving the park. The picture in the tourist guide book made it look deceptively large when it actuality it was a small, relatively obscure piece of artwork off to the side near the exit. Trying to tour every single Catholic church in Rome, until Linda took away the camera. Throwing coins into Trevi fountain to ensure that we will return someday. All this before we had ever heard of the Krewe of Bacchus!! And, did I mention “vino locale”???

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June 9, 2007

I'M A TRAVELIN' MAN - PART DEAUX

Let’s see… where was I? Oh, yes. I was picking up the gauntlet thrown down by DLG.

The Philippine Islands – Or, as we always referred to them, “the PI”. I went to the PI twice, while stationed on the U.S.S. Enterprise (CVN-65) (“Beam me up, Scotty!!). What an amazingly beautiful place! Very similar to Hawaii, which makes sense, I guess, both being volcanic islands, both being tropical.

While the islands were, indeed, beautiful, Subic Bay was not, so much. It was my first real experience with squalor and absolute poverty. As one crossed over the short bridge between the navy base and Subic City, it was pretty obvious why the small body of water was called “Shit River”. The smell was horrible. Subic City, for most sailors was a long street lined on both sides with bars, bars, and more bars. But if you took a “jeepnie” (a taxi that was a “pimped out” old WWII jeep, no two the same) outside of the main area, there were some nice restaurants where you could enjoy some of the finest food anywhere, loompia (small eggrolls dipped in a delicious sauce), pansit (thin rice noodles), and adobo (a kind of stew-like mixture made with pork or beef). Another memory of the PI include “monkey meat” which I’m pretty sure was chicken cooked on a small hibachi grill on the street and sold on sticks.

Oddly enough, the PI is where I became a fan of Queen. We used to take our laundry from the ship and go on a winding road up a mountainside to the air station laundramat at Cubi Point. While the clothes were being washed, we would drink beer and listen to the juke box. Around this time (early 70s) there was a popular song that had a kind of polka beat to it that I wanted to hear. I didn’t know what the title was, so I scanned the titles on the juke box and came across one, Bohemian Rhapsody, that sounded like it might be it. We usually pumped in enough coins for a bunch of songs. Well, the song I wanted never seemed to come up, no matter how many times I selected Bohemian Rhapsody. Another song did seem to play frequently, and kind of grew on me. Imagine my surprise when I finally got smart and selected only one song, Bohemian Rhapsody, and lo and behold it was NOT the song I was expecting. Anyway, that led to seeking out more Queen songs and eventually becoming a big fan.

Hong Kong – We weren’t in Hong Kong very long, but long enough… The “Big E” was too large to get close to the city, so we had to take water taxis when we were on liberty. These were large, fairly luxurious power boats that sold sandwiches and beverages and were quite comfortable as they took us back and forth from the ship to the shore. A vivid memory I have of Hong Kong is the first time I stepped outside the harbor terminal onto the main street. The sidewalks were wide, and filled, from wall to curb, with people, yet I could see for blocks and blocks because the Asian people were short. Everywhere I turned was like a sea of black heads! Hong Kong is where I got my first two tattoos, the second of which is a story in itself.

Singapore – Technically, I didn’t get to set foot in Singapore. I had duty the two days we were there. So my memories of Singapore are pretty much looking at the cityscape from a distance, and also seeing mainland (Communist) China as we anchored out from the city.

That's it for part deaux! More to come.

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June 7, 2007

YES, I'M A TRAVELIN' MAN

So. I've been called out by my daughter. She wants to know where I've been, outside the U.S. That could take some time. Let's see...

Canada - I've been to Canada on several occasions. We took the family to see Niagara Falls one year. Being the laid back, "take life as it comes" type of people we are, we didn't bother to make motel reservations for the weekend. Turns out it was Canada Day or some such thing, and we couldn't get a motel for miles and miles. We ended up spending the night in a rest area on the New York State thruway! The good thing was it had a Burger King, so at least we had breakfast before going to the falls. Then, while on the Canadian side of the falls, we went into the gift shop there, which was about the size of a Walmart. It was huge. We lost Kenny! He just kind of wandered in one direction while we wandered in another. Fortunately we found him again without much trouble.

I also went to Quebec and Novia Scotia while stationed onboard the U.S.S. Moosbrugger (DD-980), affectionately known as "The Moose". We got to tour the Moosehead brewery in Novia Scotia, which was really interesting. In Quebec the St. Lawrence river rose and fell by about 20 - 30 feet as the tide came and went. While on duty we had to be continually on the alert to adjust the gangway as the ship rose and fell with the tide.

Mexico - Linda, DLG, H1 and I went to Tijuana when they were small. It was pretty neat. We walked from the border into the town. The route was lined with little shops selling all kinds of souvenirs, trinkets, food, clothing, etc. We had our first taste of "chile rellenos" during this visit. On the way back to the U.S., I was carrying H1 on my shoulders. As we passed under a large sign, I ducked, but not enough, and "BAM!!!!" I ran H1 right into the sign!

Guam, Pago Pago, New Zealand, Antarctica - Early in my Navy career I was assigned to Operation Deep Freeze, which sends sailors to Antarctica to accompany and support the USARPs (personnel of the U.S. Antarctic Research Project). We flew from the U.S. (Davisville/Quonset Point, Rhode Island) to Christchurch, New Zealand on Air Force planes that were similar to regular airliners, without the service. The flights stopped over in Hawaii, then went on to Christchurch. Due to the weather in Antarctica, flights to and from were usually backed up, so I ended up spending two to three weeks in Christchurch. The time was spent sightseeing (it's a beautiful city, with museums, parks, lovely countryside), trying out different restaurants, and eating meat pies and drinking tea for breakfast at the airport terminal. Once we left for "the Ice", we flew on specially ski-equipped C-130's of VXE-6.


I made three trips to Antarctica, I was mainly stationed at McMurdo Station, with some side trips. I went to Byrd Station (totally underground (undersnow??) on one trip, and the South Pole Station on another. That was really cool (no pun intended... or was it??). I have fond memories of the Ice. Landing on the ice runways. When leaving Byrd Station, we had an airplane engine in the plane with us. It weighed the plane down so much that on takeoff we ran out of runway and just kept on going until we got enough speed up to lift off!! Raking volcanic rocks (busy work for idle hands, I'm sure) was always fun. Can't forget urinating into funnels that ran through hoses into "U" barrels (so named because of the large, yellow "U" painted on them) outside the buildings. If noone was paying attention, the U barrels overflowed and the yellow ice had to be chipped away so the barrels could be replaced and disposed of. Fun stuff!! While at South Pole Station I got to visit the geographic South Pole, the magnetic South Pole, AND the visitor's South Pole which had a barber pole with a silver globe on top surrounded by flags of all the nations that had projects in Antarctica. Made a great place for pictures. I remember a New Zealander named John Brown who would repair our typewriters. He drank tea, but always refused to use our tea bags. He had a little metal container that held the tea leaves for brewing. He always said he didn't like the idea of drinking tea brewed from leaves wrapped in toilet paper!!

So many more memories. Getting peanut butter and jelly from home. Linda had sent two of each, but the box had been run over by one of our trucks. Miraculously, one each of the pb & j escaped unscathed. We sat up at midnight with fresh baked bread from the kitchen and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Soooooo goood!!!! How about cases of steaks left outside our huts? We would chip out a couple of steaks at a time and fry them up in a skillet on a little two burner stove. Delicious! One year I worked at the transmitter site up on the hill. We had our own building, bunkhouse and kitchen. One of the guys used to cook up a HUGE pot of chili, and we'd reheat and eat for a week. The pot just sat on the stove until empty. No germs. Nice!

During one trip DLG got very sick and was put into the hospital. I was given emergency leave to fly home. During that trip we stopped briefly in Pago Pago, then Guam. Pago Pago was just what you would expect, grass huts, heat and humidity. Lush greenery everywhere. The only thing I got to see in Guam was the inside of the base air terminal.

DLG didn't know what she was asking for, did she??? More to come!

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June 4, 2007

HOLE-Y SMOKES

It looks like my leg is getting better. If you compare the hole in my leg from the picture taken
May 22 with the one from today you can see a huge difference in the skin, although it's a bit harder to gauge the hole itself. I think it looks better.

My coworkers sent home a really nice get well card and a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. That's a great gift, because TV is reallly getting old, and reading is much more appealing. Now I'll just have to find a way to get to B&N.

More prayers, please, for H2. He's experiencing pain in his leg and feet for about 3 weeks now. His nephrologist suggested he go back to the neurosurgeon. His IDD says it's a side effect of something he's taking and has him now taking B-vitamins. He's been on the vitamins for 5 days now, but still the pain remains.

Since NC is off, Linda and I are looking really hard for a weekend that we can go to Houston to visit H1/DIL1.

Well, as Porky would say, "Th-th-th-that's all, folks!!" Take care, and God bless you!

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June 2, 2007

DOCTOR, DOCTOR, GIVE ME THE NEWS

I'm finding it very difficult to find anything to blog about lately. Could it be because... oh, I don't know... I HAVE NO LIFE??!!??

My days consist of reclining in a recliner (duh!) with three pillows under my injured leg which, by the way, has a dressing in the open wound, then is wrapped in gauze from ankle to mid-calf, then wrapped again with an ace bandage from foot to mid-calf. The ace bandage is to keep the swelling down when I get up for a call of nature, or to get a drink, or something to eat, etc..

In the evening Linda changes my dressings (she's my Florence Nightingale). Then at bedtime I get to lay flat on my back with my bad leg propped up on four pillows. All night. No turning on my left side, or my right side. Just flat on my back. It gets OLD, people!!

At first I watched the Today show, sometimes Regis and Kelly, and Ellen DeGeneres, but after a bit even TV gets really old. I'm trying to read some, now, to break up the day.

A few days ago I began logging in to the webmail version of my work email. I had only 360+ emails unread. So I've begun wading through them to try and not fall too far behind at work. Unfortunately, when I tried to answer some of the emails I got the old "Your mailbox is too full" message and can't send any emails from my work account. Crrraaaaappppp!!! I HATE NMCI!!

Wednesday and Thursday were spent going to doctor appointments. Wednesday I went to my primary care physician (PCP) for the first time since going into the hospital. Boy was SHE surprised to see me! As we (Linda and I) related what had transpired in the past month the doctor took down 3 pages of notes for my chart. That must be some kind of record for a follow-up visit. She wants me to go for hyperbaric (sp.?) treatments to try and speed up the healing process.

Thursday we went to the IDD at Oschner hospital. Good guy. I like him much better than H2's IDD. He looked at the open wound, said it looked very good, told me to stop taking antibiotics and to not go for hyperbaric (sp.?) treatments. Cool, dueling doctors!

Next week we go, again, to see the PCP, and also go to Oschner's surgery clinic for the surgeons to check their handiwork. Yay! (Just kidding. NOT yay!)

About the only good news out of all this is that I lost 30 lbs in the hospital, and having this illness has strengthened my resolve to continue to try to lose weight. Hopefully I can stay with it and be more successful than in the past. This doesn't bode well for my lunch bunch at work.

I'm done. I've run out of thoughts. Take care and God bless you!

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