Category Archives: Travel

The First Thanksgiving

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It’s a little bit different today. All my siblings are here in town for the holiday. That hasn’t happened for a long time. Thanksgiving was always the short holiday we couldn’t really make it home for, so most everyone just stayed home or took short trips. Fitting since it’s not notabout what you can have but what you already have & should be thankful for.

Thanksgiving was my dad’s favorite holiday. Before I was born my family did Thanksgiving with my father’s side of the family. Things fell by the wayside and individual family units went their own separate ways. My dad always liked when we were all able to be together. If he had the choice he would’ve wanted us to be together on Thanksgiving rather than Christmas.

Time dictates everything so time only allowed us together most times at Christmas, but even then it was rare ALL 6 kids were able to be home for any holiday.

It was only recently that we all began showing up for holidays/family functions together. My brother John’s wedding, my parent’s 50th Anniversary, and most recent my father’s passing. In between we were able to get together in spurts for functions, niece’s shower & wedding.

Lemme clarify a bit, 3 of my brothers were in the military, so getting together always proved a bit challenging.

I just want to say that I’m thankful for my siblings & mother, and will always cherish our times together. Each and every day, minute & second I’m able to be around my family is precious & special. I look forward to these rare occasions more than anything else in life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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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.

Summer Reflection 2011

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Whew! That went by quick. I was anticipating summer like most of those in my profession, education. But unlike others who take nice long vacations or educational type journeys, I spent my lazy days of summer doing just that, being lazy. I did spend most of June in various workshops offered by my district, that’s just because I’m a nerd & I admit it.

I do look forward to seeing my family during the summer when I can stay longer than an extended weekend like during the school year. For 10 days I went home, well my last home before I moved to Texas anyways, I’ve had 4 homes so to speak. My poor mother was suffering with incredible back pain and I tried to help her pack a few things up since they are moving into a house my sister & bro-in-law are building.

I particularly enjoyed my time with my sister, niece & family friends. Not that I didn’t enjoy my mom, but packing isn’t one of my favorite past-times. My sister is starting a non-profit group to go after grants for educational & cultural programs for native american tribes. We spent a lot of time working together & getting some things started.

After I came home I started poking around & getting ready for the upcoming year. Needlesstosay I spent most of my summer “working.” I searched off and on everyday to find those little tricks and odds & ends that will make this year easier than last year. I put things away in the mental file to be accessed later as well as the paper files, lots of professional development files ūüôā

School has now started. I have a great group of kids. I work with a wonderful group of teachers. So far this year is looking like it’s going to be pretty good, in comparison to some of the former years. Now being more familiar with what I’m supposed to be doing, I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.

Here’s to a great year to come!

Architecture I Appreciate

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Parthenon

Not necessarily beautiful, but it was the first building where I had a physical reaction to. I was in Nashville, trying to show my independence by taking my very first trip alone without family or friends to guide me.

I had done my duties for which I had gone on the trip, interviewed a exec dir of a Native American advocacy group, hoofed my way through a job fair, in a previous life I thought I could actually get a job working in music/entertainment.

So I decided to play tourist & see the city. I went downtown & parked so far away from everything, lol. I walked around bought a Nickel Creek CD at the Ernest Tubbs Record Shop & even made my way to country music holy ground, the Ryman Auditorium, the original site of the Grand Ole Opry.

However, the building that really struck me was the full scale Parthenon replica. Situated next to Centennial Park. It was a gorgeous day, brisk for a mid-March day & sunny, just beautiful. You go in on the ground floor & traverse the museum like display of how & when the building came about. One can either take the stairs or an elevator. I took the elevator, duh!

Looking back maybe taking the stairs might’ve prepared me better for what I eventually saw. I got off the elevator & walked around the corner into a room where I felt literally 1 inch tall. The columns were massively lined up leading the way to a 40 ft. statue of Athena. I immediately got dizzy & felt as if I was going to pass out. I actually had to feel my way around the room until I got my bearings.

Then I was overtaken by the sheer feat of the details & care taken to replicate one of the most important buildings in ancient history. I stayed there for hours just absorbing it all in. Being that I minored in art history, I was in paradise, well at least as close as I could get on a college student’s budget.

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My Most Memorable Birthday

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It’s only because I was not at home & doing the usual thing. It was Spring Break, my sophomore year in college. Some friends of mine and I drove up to Breckenridge, CO to ski, well they skied, I shopped & drank hot chocolate. My friend Jen’s parents had a house there where they graciously let us all crash for about a week. On my actual birthday Jen’s mom Sue took me for coffee & pastry at a local cafe, and then my friends made me birthday cake that night, which I believe was hidden in the microwave at one point. I seem to recall an argument over what we were going to watch that night, the girls wanted Grease 2 & all it’s glorious cheesiness, the boys not so much.

Since my birthday usually fell on Spring Break, I spent many birthdays by myself or just with family. Now that I live, well sort of alone, my birthdays have gone back to being mostly just me. Gotta work on improving that in the future.

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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

Father’s Day Weekend

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I was gonna laze around my house this past weekend, but my mom called me on Thursday & asked if I was coming in, I decided sure, why not. It was going to be me & my brother John & his wife were coming in town as well. I checked the bank account & the trip was on.

The dogs & I packed up on Friday morning & headed out. Now I always tell myself I’m gonna stop at all the neat little places I usually see when we drive to Marksville. But did I stop this time when I had all the time in the world, nope. I drove straight through.

Mom had back surgery May 3rd, but luckily the day I arrived was the day her doctor gave her the okay to drive finally. Apparently she’s on the fast recovery track. Pretty amazing. When I pulled up to their apartment Mom was behind the wheel with the car already running & Dad waiting to get the dogs out of my car to doggie sit while we went to get Mom’s hair done.

Mom drove to Fawn’s & you could totally tell she was very excited to be¬†mobile in a vehicle again. I know it had to have been killing her not to drive herself. Let’s face it my dad isnt’ the best driver in the world. After the hairdresser we went back to the apartment & had dinner: Mom’s red beans & rice with fresh tomatoes, yummy!

John & Jeannie finally arrived with their little bundle of joy, Isabella, their toy yorkie. She’s a cutie¬†& loves to play, right up Howie’s alley. Howie usually tries to dominate & intmidate¬†his new playmates, but Isabella came in saw Howie, smacked him around a bit & they started playing like best buds. Personally I could watch dogs playing all day long, it’s too hysterical.

It got late & I went to the cabins & checked in, got a smoking cabin, ugh, but whatever I was only there at night. Me & dogs settled in for the night & rested up for the next day. I was soooooo¬†craving a breakfast, but maybe considering our breakfast escapades of late in Marksville, maybe it’s good I partook of McDonald’s.

So after Daddy got back from his treatment we headed up to Tioga, La. That’s where Rudy is staying now with his new girlfriend, Christy. Christy is a sweetheart & it was her granddaughter’s birthday party. It ws outside on her proch¬†of her house, a pretty nice set-up that sits a nice sized piece of land with animals included: cows, donkeys & monkeys. Yes, I said monkeys. Christy has 3 monkeys: Kenzie, Keaton & Cleo. Adorable, you can see 2 of them here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=56992&id=1071103772&l=828e447225 & in this
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They are too cute & fun to watch, kind of like watchin the dogs play. Watching them & how they interact with each other & then wth people, pretty fascinating. Christy went inside the cage with her grandaughter Addie & the boy monkey, Keaton, was all over her, hugging her & laying his head in her lap, it was the cutest thing, too precious.

Afterward we went back to Marksville & I went & had dinner with John & Jeannie. Then we went up to their suite & I took a nice little nap on the sofa. John woke me up & we went down & met Mom & Dad for the concert: Irma Thomas.

Now I remember Mom telling me stories of Irma Thomas & Aaron Neville coming into her bank where she used to work. How nice & sweet they both were. And how Irma Thomas used to bowl in the league on a different night than her league. I was really glad I went too, becasue for a second I was considering not going. She was incredible!

She sang some of her old songs & some done by others. Some of the highlights were when she informed the audience that recently 3 of her songs had been in a few movies; Breakaway in The Secret Life of Bees, which I had completely forgotten about; another in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button & Stuck In The Middle With You in Why Did I Get Married Too, which she gaced us all with at that moment.

Irma went on to tell us that she dresses for comfort & since she still bowls one hand doesn’t have nails. Of course any Louisiana entertainer worth their weight in salt nowadays¬†has to give their audience a pep talk that we’re a surviving state & will get over anything thrown at us; which got every going. Requests were welcomed, however Irma made sure to say she doesn’t mix her gospel with her R&B.

The first request was You Ain’t Hittin¬†on Nothin’. Then a couple who was celebrating their 44th anniversary got serenated with At Last. After a few more songs she sang some of her more famous tunes the first being a big hit for Otis Redding as Pain In My Heart, but for Irma it was Ruler of My Heart, which I gotta tell ya I prefer over Otis’ version. I’m still a sucker for Otis’ Try A Little Tenderness. Then my absolute fave of her songs Breakaway, the one in Secret Life of Bees & It’s Raining So Hard. I came home & looked up Irma online & found out Tracey Ullman did a cover of Breakaway, who knew?! Apparently, Wikipedia & YouTube do, lol.

Next morning I went & said hi to Dad & gave him his Father’s Day card, sat & visited with John & Jeannie. Then headed over to Mom’s. Mom gave me leftover red beans for Mike, since I teased him with a picture text on Friday. Gorgeous day made for a very nice drive on Sunday.

‘Til next time.

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.