Category Archives: New Orleans

I’m a Lion

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As I was growing up both of my parents were heavily involved with the Delta Lions Club in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. Every Friday night they worked Bingo, every Tuesday was either a meeting or Mom’s Po-Ke-No night (Bingo with playing cards ;). Let’s not forget the awesome Super Bowl/Federal holiday BBQs.

The social aspect wasn’t the only reason my parents were Lions. Whether it was through church, schools, my parents’ work (Army Nat’l Guard & various bank institutions) giving back to the community was a major part of our lives. I never realized it until I was an adult. I anticipated the time when I could finally join the LEO Club like my brothers and have all those great experiences. I joined as soon as I was 13 yrs old and loved every minute of it. Granted I lost touch with my fellow LEOs but the memories I have of our meetings, our activities, our state conventions & regional meetings with other clubs will stay with me forever.

I’ve always meant to join one of the local clubs, but when I was checking out their virtual presence, which is how we all remain connected these days, the Killeen Noon Lions Club had the most information available. I emailed and received a quick response from the outgoing President Lion Maureen. Being I was still in school I couldn’t attend a meeting until summer. Now you may wonder why I didn’t join an evening club, well I just contacted this club first and I relied on the warm fuzzies. I rely heavily on my warm fuzzies, they’ve never led me astray ūüôā

I was inducted Tuesday, August 13, 2013. I gotta tell ya I was a total bumbling mess. As Lion Richard talked about the start of Lions by Melvin Jones and the mission of Lions around the world I sniffled & could feel the tears run down my cheeks and my neck (I missed a few when I swiped). Then they gave me & another new Lion, well new to this club, speak a few minutes. I tried to hold it together with the first few words, but lost it once I mentioned Dad, sigh….

The commitment to helping others was strong in both my parents, no doubt, and through their service was instilled in all of us kids. I’m proud to continue carrying on the tradition my dad and mom set for me and my future and community volunteer through the Killeen Noon Lions’ Club.

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One Year From Now

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One Year From Now. by Outside Air

Kind of sums up certain things I’ve been thinking about this year & how I want things in my life to change the next year.

Some resolutions Kari mentions in her post I’m adopting:

1. Bring my camera, not just the phone with me whenever I go anywhere.

2. Discipline over my body thing, I’m still the girl who worked her ass off to be okay with how I am physically. I’m still the girl who tried the Medifast diet early last summer & gave up 3 weeks into it, sigh….. I’m going to try & figure out some sort of balance between my love of food & being better at getting more physically active in the New Year.

3. I love the idea of going on small adventures. Doesn’t have to cost anything, but I want to take advantage of the area I live in & explore it.

4. Making time for people. I’d like to think I got better at this during 2012. Especially after my dad passed I made it a point to call my mom at least once a week. I made contact with my childhood friend again when she finally joined facebook. I’m going to be better at keeping communication up with all my family, friends (close & acquaintances).

5. Read more, I have a kindle, I need to read the books I already have on it & make room for new ones that I’ve made note of & haven’t made time for.

6. Improve my blogs. I’ve always had my personal one, but this year I began my professional one. I need to make more time in creating substantial blog posts, not just fleeting, fly by the seat of my pants entries on either blog.

7. Ooooohhhhh, financial discipline: this is a biggie. I need to do it, it’s not an option, I just need to bite the bullet & do it. I’ve seen a couple apps, online & mobile that could help in this arena, I just need to do it.

Here are the ones I’m adding:

8. Organized home. I’m going to try the 52 Week Challenge. Fingers crossed, it focuses on just one small area of the house each week to organize.

9. Build My Personal Relationship, this is still new for me, which I like, still getting to know this person better & how we work together. So that’s all I’m going to put out there for now.

10. Invest more time in becoming a better teacher. I got lucky last year. This year I’m still finding my way with my class with what works for one half & what doesn’t work. I’m committed to devoting my time to making sure these children leave me knowing that I gave them everything in my power to give them to be successful.

Here’s to a wonderful New Year

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

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That was my dad’s campaign slogan when he ran for his Lions’ Club District back in the early ’90s. It was a direct chant from the 1993 movie Rudy.

In tribute, Michael reminded me that Daddy’s favorite song was “Danny Boy”

Last night I turned on IFC and watched Shadow of the Vampire. The story of how Nosferatu was made & how the conspiracy theory that Max Shreck was really a vampire would’ve made my dad chuckle at the idea. My dad loved those old horror movies: Bela Lugosi & Lon Chaney were talked about as if they were his old friends. He also adored old westerns & oldies but goodies on AMC. He & mom would fight over the TV channels all the time ūüôā

A couple of my siblings posted how dad taught them a love of reading & music. It’s true, left up to our mom, our love of music would’ve stopped at 50’s classics & country music. Dad always rolled out the classical, the scottish bagpipes, the soundtracks to the greatest films from the 40’s & 50’s, those old ballads & great songs of his childhood, cant’ forget the hyms, & gregorian chants cd’s he became fond of while I was in high school.

He passed away on January 6, 2012. As much as my dad loved historical dates & their significance, I’m sure he loves knowing the fact he left this world on the Epiphany. It seems only fitting I write this remembrance piece the weekend of Mardi Gras. A time when our family & friends used to come over to our house & celebrate & revel in the festivities. My dad loved the holidays, even more so as time went on & we all moved away to make our lives elsewhere, they became more important to him.

He converted to Catholicism to marry my mom in the church. He grew up Lutheran. I can see his curiosity for religion in my brothers Michael & John. Those two have studied like fiends about different religions & the inner workings of the Bible. I too dabbled a bit in searching for the perfect religious path. I find that Catholicism feels most like home, but I appreciate & and mix & match if you will things that make sense to me from other practices.

As any dad should mine left an indelible mark on each of his six children. He influenced us for better or worse & we grew up with a really great dad in the end. So felt by the outpouring of condolences & support we received from family & friends in Marksville & Lousisiana & everywhere else my dad wandered this world. I was humbled by the line of people paying their respects at Schoen’s that Wednesday morning in New Orleans, where my dad lived most his life. People from his high school, the National Guard, Lions Club, etc said the most wonderful things about him.

My best friend, Shannon, wasn’t able to come back to NOLA for the funeral, she had just come in for the Christmas Break, so her mother came for the both of them. Ms. Shelly told Shannon the night my father passed, which she didn’t know at the time, she woke up around 3 in the morning & felt the need to say a prayer for my dad & the family. She didn’t find out til later that that was right after he had passed away.

I was told once that when I was younger I led souls to the other side while dreamt. I know, just go with me here ūüôā A week after my dad passed one of my nieces said she dreamt of dad in a lake/pond up to his chest. He was just standing there smiling & waving to her. Kind of telling her that things were alright & everything was going to be okay. That day we spent the afternoon/day at one of my brother’s friends house watching the NO Saints lose to the 49er’s. Despite the outcome of the game it was one of the best times we’ve all had, just being there not thinking about my dad being gone but that he would’ve been right there fussing at the tv with the rest of us.

I’ll continue to remember my dad as time goes on & things I come across bring up a memory, I hope that never stops & I’ll never forget the legacy he left behind. He felt humbled & lucky to have married his best friend & have 6 wonderful children, if I do say so myself ūüôā I only wish to be able to be blessed with all the good things as he was.

Beli’s NOLA Bachelorette Weekend

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I survived! I know¬†it sounds crazy that I’m ecstatic that I survived a weekend with my niece & her girlfriends, but I gotta tell ya, they wore me out. I’ve only just now recovered to the point where I can recount our story.

Jordan & I drove into to Marksville¬†to pick up Mom on Thursday evening. We left Friday morning, of course in the grand tradition of the good ‘ole¬†Wambsgans¬†Dist. Co., we were packing home grown¬†figs, wedding presents, old clothes for a cousin to borrow & can’t leave Marksville¬†without cracklins! The figs & clothes were some of Mom’s cousins since their fig tree just hasn’t been the same since Katrina & the clothes for a trip up north. The wedding presents, well duh, we were going to a wedding shower & the cracklins¬†for my brothers John & David who’d put in their orders days before. However, my nephew saw Jordan & I’s updates on facebook¬†& tried to get his order in unsuccessfully as we had already left Marksville. I told him to mooch off his dad’s bag.

Friday night we get in town & head over to Brenda & Emily’s office to “help/watch” them finish up with the decorations for the shower the next day. After gossiping & what not we head back to Brenda’s & get ready for dinner & such. Brenda & I get Greg to drive us down to the Quarter to meet everyone at Ralph & Kacoo’s. By this time, my schedule was all kinds of off & I had a headache & I was trying my best not to ruin it for the girls. Belicia¬†asked me to sit with her & her girlfriends, which I gotta tell ya, made me feel super, she included me with “the girls,” even in my old age, lol.

Silly me I thought all the bachelorette fun would take place on Saturday, but apparently I was wrong. Those girls had every intention of going out that night, which after the weekend was over, I was so glad I decided to go that night. We all headed out after getting gussied up. To start the night off right, the girls walked across from our hotel to the fire station that housed many of the stars of the NOFD Calendar. They were more than happy to take pictures with all the pretty ladies in our group. Mr. June even got in our full group shot.

After that we headed on down to Pat O’Brien’s. Unfortunately they are like the ID Gestapo, we couldn’t charm, flirt our way to get Jordan in. They were not having it at all, they even had bouncers checking IDs inside, crazy. I didn’t get my hurricane that night, but it was for a good cause. We then made our way to Cat’s Meow where our resident chanteuses¬†signed up for karaoke: Emily & Blair. Ninja signed up too, but by the time we had to wait for Em & Blair to sing, omg, it was practically over 2 hours. After many guys bought the girls drinks throughout our stint at Cat’s we made our way over to Tropical Isle for some hand grenades, which most of us didn’t ge to finish because even after our leisurely walk down Bourbon St with the girls trying to get beads, etc. the bouncers at The Beach made us chug/dump our drinks before we could go in.

Seeing as it was getting pretty late, for me anyways, and it had been¬† ages since I’d gone out like that drinking & dancing, I was ready to call it a night. Emily called her boyfriend Chris to come walk her back to the hotel. While we waited for Chris to arrive we watched some of the girls tame the wild animal at the front of the bar, the girls affectionately referred to him as “Willy.” Yep, it was a whale ūüôā

Got back to the hotel safe & sound. Almost passed out without changing, ick! Nasty Bourbon St”ness” on my clothes, not to mention the sweat accumulated on my clothes from the NOLA¬†humidity, nice right, I know ya’ll¬†are all jealous. Woke up in time to shower & walk to CC’s for a coffee & a yummy coffee cake(can’t remember the name of it though, hmmm). Brenda & the fam picked me up in front of the hotel so I could help them decorate the room at the Chartres Cafe where the shower was being held.

Okay the room was nice & snug before we got there, but once we got there & Brenda, Emily & Margarita worked their magic on that room, it was transformed¬†into Mardi Gras¬†Heaven for Beli’s¬†shower. It was beautiful, even the ad/pr lady¬†was so impressed with decorations they wanted to take pictures to send to their ad people for their brochures, etc. The food was delicious, the cake, from Haydel’s, was awesome. Everyone had a great time too, got to see & visit with relatives & friends we hadn’t seen in a long time, which is always good for the soul I gotta tell ya. Considering the recent family stuff goings on, it was nice to get that.

Saturday afternoon & night was kind of slow motion. Went & helped Brenda load/unload after the shower. Drove back to the hotel to play a game with the girls that Belicia¬†created, it was really creative & cute. Then we all just sat around & caught up with Chris & her friends & Johnny & Jeannie came by to hang out too. By this time all the girls were getting lucky dogs fro¬†dinner & heading out to one of NOLA’s¬†infamous Ghost Tours of the Quarter. Then after that they hit Borubon¬†again for some fun & more good times. We adults & a few kiddos ate at the restaurant next door, which was not good at all, yuck, Viola, don’t recommend it at all.

I passed on going out that night. But maybe I should’ve, that would’ve been less time spent in that musty, humid, damp¬†room. The sheets felt wet sometimes, they weren’t, but they felt like it. I truly believe that contributed to the sicknesses I came down with that hit me once I got back home. I had a tickly¬†throat which turned into probably strep, I know this cuz I’ve had three incidences of this in the past 3 years, the last 2 being within the last 3 months. Well the day I worshipped at the porcelain throne was the day I decided I had to make an appearance¬†at the Scott & White Clinic. Got another round of anitbiotics¬†& a steroid shot, sigh…I can win for losing here with the sickness. Today at the grocery store I picked up extra Vitamin C to supplement my regular vitamins. I gotta nip this in the bud before school starts so I’m not inclined to go the sickness rollar coaster again.

Speaking of school, that’ll be my next topic, be on the lookout ūüôā

Under Normal Circumstances

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I would give you the blow by blow of what happened this weekend for my grandmother’s wake and funeral. But I decided not to go that route necessarily. I may interject things that happened but I want to remember the funny things my grandmother said or did.

My sister & my uncle were with her when she passed laying there in the bed at the nursing home. Brenda said she was holding her hand & praying for her peace and end to her suffering. She kept telling her that she loved her, so her last moments were with people who truly loved and appreciated her. I believe since Mom was unable to be there with her, it was fitting that my sister was there in her place.

While it’s always amazing to spend time with my brothers & their families, my most precious moment of that weekend, one I’ll always remember, was when my sister & I went up to the hospital so that my mother wasn’t alone during the wake in Marksville. On our way we hadn’t eaten so we picked up some Rally’s which always reminds me of those Saturdays with Mom. I told Brenda that Mom loves their banana milkshakes, so we got her one, she loved it. We sat there & talked. Brenda told Mom about the morning Maw Maw passed, she hadn’t given her the details until then. We reported back to Mom who had shown up at the wake before we had left, filled her in on all the catching up we did with our brothers & their families. We talked about our reality shows we watched and just in general had 2 hours of special mother/daughters bonding time.

Maw Maw ‘Phine Moments:

I remember as a little girl I didn’t like ham. So the days Mom made me ham sandwiches I didn’t eat it. Maw Maw & Paw Paw knew Dad would get mad if he found out I hadn’t eaten my lunch. Paw Paw would eat my sandwich, Maw Maw would make me PB&J crackers. Then when dinnertime came I wasn’t all that hungry, so I got in trouble anyways for not wanting to eat dinner.

When Maw Maw’s sisters or brothers would come visit, or shoot anybody would come visit she would always put on a pot of coffee. Once the adults got a coffee she would take a little, I wanna say demitasse cup/small coffee mug, a souvenir from the ’84 New Orleans’ World’s Fair, and make me my very own cup of coffee. I’d sit at the coffee table and listen while they talked about their kids and try to interpret when they started talkin’ Cajun French. Ya, I never could pick up on that.

Friday nights when Paw Paw would play with his band, The Cajun Two, at the Downtown Hilton, Maw Maw & I would watch The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas & Falcon Crest on CBS. Then sometimes we would wind down with a little Mother Angelica on EWTN. Lots of times we would say the rosary too.

The summers after Paw Paw passed I spent those summers watchin’ lots of cable tv: consisting of mainly Nickelodeon and TBS. My summer diet was made up of tuna, fish sticks & for dessert ice milk floats.

As I got older Mom got more involved with Sacred Heart Church’s Parish Council & Choir. We had to attend a lot of church functions & I had to be the perfectly behaved child. The one activity I despised was church bingo. Not that I hated spending time with my grandmother, but my job was sitting with her & playing bingo. I kind of wish I was bit more enthused by it, but hey I was well behaved child who’s only rebellion was to “hate” going to church bingo.

As Maw Maw got older more & more I resented how she treated Mom. She’d say the meanest things to her, about her sometimes. It was my uncle & the youngest boys who seemed to pull favor with my grandmother. I wonder if that had anything to do with her losing an infant son between the births of my uncle & mother. However she never gave more to one child/grandchild than the others. In the end I know my grandmother loved and appreciated Mom a lot more than she let on or said.

She didn’t recognize us when we’d go see her in the nursing home. I was mistaken for Mom many times or another relative here & there. Even with me standing there, Maw Maw would ask Mom who was taking care of the babies, me & Johnny. The last time I saw her alive was Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010. She was holding Brenda & Emily’s hands. She reached out to Emily & was touching her cheek, trying to recognize her. She was unable to talk clearly. After Emily left I sat down next to Maw Maw & held her hand. When Mike & I got up to leave we told her we’d be back & that we loved her. She said, slightly distinguishable, “I love you too.”

Do You Know What It Means To Miss Maw Maw ‘Phine

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Josephine Descant Barbry, May 26, 1920 – May 6, 2010

Do you know what it means to miss Maw Maw ‘Phine

I miss her both night and day

I know that it’s right…this feeling’s getting stronger

The longer she’s away

Miss them small talking times…those Cajun rhymes

Where the angels liked to play

And I’d like to see that tough ole creole lady…hurryin’ into spring

The moonlight on the backyard…a fiddlin’ tune that fills the air

I dream of azealas in bloom and soon I’m wishin’ that you were there

Do you know what it means to miss Maw Maw ‘Phine

And that’s where I left my heart

And there’s something more, I miss the one I care for

More than I miss New Orleans

Childhood Weekends

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I’m feeling rather nostalgic lately, not sure why, but hey, why fight it?!

Yesterday, a Saturday, I was reminiscing about my Saturdays as a child. Most times I’d wake up & go with my Mom to Mrs. Sandra’s to get her hair done. My Mom was of that school that you get your hair washed & styled once a week. Even as a kid I knew this was kind of gross, yes, she only washed her hair once a week people, crazy I know.

Sometimes we’d stop & get breakfast at Angelo’s bakery in Old Metairie, mmm, mmm, mmm doughnuts. My usual would either be a twist or a cream filled, basically a vanilla pudding filled doughnut, no glaze, sprinkled with powdered sugar. (My heart broke when they closed/moved locations).

Then kind of like Steel Magnolias, we’d sit in the back room of Mrs. Sandra’s house, that had been converted into her shop & gossip/chit chat with all the little old ladies & my future swimming teacher Ms. Mary. After we’d put in our time at Mrs. Sandra’s we would head on over to our cousin’s Laniel & Mary right around the corner & gossip/chit chat all over again.

After 6th grade, we’d stop & get Mom’s nails done, which began my fascination with all things acrylic. If I was lucky we’d go shopping at the Carrollton strip Mall behind Piccadilly. Maybe we’d get lunch at McDonald’s too, that’d make the weekend for me, sigh….

As long as I can remember my parents’ friends from the National Guard and Lions Club would come over late Saturday night for coffee & doughnuts & to play cards, mainly Rummy Royal.

Sundays: Of course as a kid I loathed going to church. I was so mad at my Mom for not letting me bring toys to church like other kids got to. As much childhood torture church put me through, ole Sacred Heart on Canal Street in Mid-City, I miss it dearly, another Katrina casualty.

After church we’d come home, clean house & Mom would make a late lunch or early dinner. A lot of times my brother David & his wife & kiddos would come over Sunday afternoons & visit. My sister & her husband & daughter would come over as well. I miss those times of just being together with each other.

It’s times like this when I get all misty eyed that I wish I was living closer to home so I could have some semblance of the past back, but I know I chose this path & am making a new life for myself here in Texas. Granted it’s sort of lonely in some aspects, too full on others, but I’m grateful for what I had/have with my family, things I’m appreciative of the fact I was loved so dearly growing up & even now as an adult that I can live in another state & still be able to have a life where I know I’m not ever completely alone.

Revisiting the Past

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Just want to clarify I updated this post when I got back from Louisiana, but the internet gods didn’t save the draft, so here I go again.

Drove into Marksville last night in Michael’s truck. I was very excited about this weekend; getting to see the family, eat some of Mom’s cooking, seeing my childhood best friend after 13 years. We met in Pre-K 28 years ago.

How horrible is this, I woke up on a freakin’ Saturday at 6:30 AM, WTH! Sat around the hotel room for about 2 hours, got dressed & couldn’t contain myself, I wanted breakfast. I texted my brothers who slept later than me, ugh! We then trucked on over to my parent’s place where my Mom, god love her, was making shrimp stew. We then fell into our rolls of asking/begging Mom to let us help her in some way & her refusing saying “Nah I got it!”

Then the bestie from elementary school showed up. I gotta say it was great seeing her & catching up. I literally hadn’t seen her since my first Mardi Gras back in college when we took some out-of-towners down to the Quarter. Anyway Gee, as I used to call her, is now in nursing school in New Orleans at LSU, she & I finally have something more in common than St. John Lutheran.

After lunch and visiting a bit with the family we headed back to the hotel & spa where luck would have 2 massage appointments done right before dinner, we signed up! Gawd I lurve massages ūüėÄ We hung out & talked some more then met the family downstairs for dinner at the buffet. Check out the pictures here.

Gee & Me

The Ice Bar proved to be the nail in the coffin of the evening. We had a few drinks & sat around & watched a little bit of March Madness. We all went back up to our rooms, Gee stayed down by the bar with Johnny who made sure she made it back to the room safely. As she fell asleep she kept saying how great it was seeing all of us again and how much she loved being around us since she could tell we all really loved each other.

While the circumstances were a tad bit skewed, what she said gave me the warm fuzzies. It made me realize that no matter how much sometimes we have our differences or even when some big things blow up, we all still love each other, no matter what. Honestly, I can say that the only time there has ever been any significant issues it’s because someone outside our immediate family has instigated it or was involved in it.

Easter Sunday we got up & went to go see Maw Maw. She looked a lot better than me & Michael expected. Maw Maw took care of all of us growing up. We lived next door to her & Paw Paw in a double shotgun house in Mid-City, New Orleans, LA. She was sitting in a chair holding hands with Brenda & Emily. She kept reaching out to Emily & touching her face, I gotta tell ya, it made me tear up a bit. I sat down when Emily left & held Maw Maw’s hand. It was so good seeing her. Granted she’s not her former self, but it’s still Maw Maw.

As much as we try to move away from our past, I find that it rejuvenates & refreshes me. It’s like I have to get a family infusion in every now & then. Since we found that shortcut in Marlin through Lufkin, it’s been making it a heck of a lot easier to visit back home. I’m looking forward to our next trip home.

Though our next trip home, if it’s not my annual summer trip, it’s most likely going to be for Maw Maw’s farewell. She’s not doing very well & we’re all playing the waiting game honestly, but that’s a story for another post.

Til next time.