Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Friday, December 30, 2005

I should at least get points for coming up with something original

Two days ago I noticed a lump inside my right cheek (facial cheek, not my ass). It's not painful but it's the size of a small marble so I got pretty concerned. Yesterday I went to see my doctor and found out that I have a stone in my parotid salivary gland.

According to the link:

Salivary gland problems that cause clinical symptoms include:

Obstruction: Obstruction to the flow of saliva most commonly occurs in the parotid and submandibular glands, usually because stones have formed. Symptoms typically occur when eating. Saliva production starts to flow, but cannot exit the ductal system, leading to swelling of the involved gland and significant pain, sometimes with an infection. Unless stones totally obstruct saliva flow, the major glands will swell during eating and then gradually subside after eating, only to enlarge again at the next meal. Infection can develop in the pool of blocked saliva, leading to more severe pain and swelling in the glands. If untreated for a long time, the glands may become abscessed.

Special, isn't it?

Now I get to go see an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist next week to talk about removing this thing. The doc was totally shocked that I'm not having any pain. She said it would probably start soon. The removal of the danged thing sounds pretty painful to me. Happy freakin' 2006 to me!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Deadly Sins

Thanks to Pissed Off Pencil for this one.

Wrath:Very Low
Envy:Very Low

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

I guess we can see that sloth is my sin of choice. Ah well, I'm actually too lazy to care.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Out of the mouths of babes

I was hanging out with the kiddos on Friday and we were discussing who all would be there for Christmas on Sunday. Elyssa said that she wasn't so thrilled that her Parran (Keith) would be bringing "a friend" with him because Christmas is for family. (The short story is that this "friend" is actually Keith's new partner but it was his first time around the family)

So I said to Elyssa that, first of all, we would include Rex or any friend that didn't have another place to go for Christmas. (That made sense to her)

Tyler says, "Rex? Is that a dog?"

I laughed and said no, Rex was a really nice guy.

Ty mutters, "Or a poodle".

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Back to "Normal"

After a completely lazy day yesterday (we even ordered pizza in), this morning found E and I having to return to a normal routine. E began a temporary job today. He's working in a call center for an insurance company, fielding calls from Mississippi Katrina victims. It's only for a couple of months but he'll be able to look for something permanent while still bringing in more than unemployment pays. He was excited as he got ready this morning. I'm happy for him and proud of him but I'm sure the dogs are pouting at home and missing having Daddy home to respond to each of their whims.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

When it's all said and done

Christmas night is here - the end of a gorgeous day. We spent our morning watching Elyssa and Tyler open then enjoy all of their gifts. We played their new video games with them, ran the new remote control truck up and down the street, and played a game or two. All that was followed by a very non-traditional meal of fried catfish, baked potatoes, french fries, Chinese coleslaw, and corn casserole with crawfish. It was a starch feast and every one of us ate more than we should have. Isn't that what you're supposed to do on Christmas day?

This afternoon E and I rode downtown with Keith and Rex so that we could show Rex the Capitol and LSU. We walked around and took a few pictures. The afternoon was fantastic. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Christmas in Louisiana often brings near-perfect weather.

This evening has found E and I curled up in front of the television watching movies and other programming and enjoying the quiet with the dogs. Another Christmas day is part of our memories now, interwoven with memories of so many Christmases past. Today was spent celebrating Christmas the way I believe it should be - surrounded by those we love the most.

Here's hoping that each of you enjoyed your Christmas as much as we did.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

T'was The Night Before Christmas

We're all done. Not that we had that much to do to prepare for tomorrow but we're finished all the same. There are chocolate and vanilla almond dipped peanut butter cookies and pretzel sticks all packaged to bring to my sister's in the morning. E and I spent our afternoon dipping things and making a general mess in the kitchen but we had a great time. Elyssa and Tyler's gifts are wrapped and ready to go as well.

I am a terrible gift wrapper. I always have been. Look closely at a gift I've wrapped and you'll find crooked edges and ends that sometimes don't quite meet. I could never be one of those people who get hired on during the holiday season to wrap gifts at a department store. I'd be fired within the week. It's not that I don't try. I just suck at it. My dearest friend K wraps beautiful presents. Every year the underside of her tree is filled with gorgeous gifts embellished with curling ribbons and assorted bric-a-brac. Every edge is straight and every end meets beautifully. Stand one of my creations next to hers and you'll be able to pick it out with no problems. It's the one that looks like the gift equivalent of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. K did teach me how to properly fold the ends of the wrapping paper a few years ago and I have to tell you that one trick has done wonders for my gift wrapping.

This year, since I only had the two gifts to wrap, I actually used two different types of wrapping paper. Because wrapping is such a chore for me, I ususally grab one roll and wrap everything in it each year. But I learned long ago not to try to embellish as it only makes things worse - both for the gift and my temper. Tonight I was actually able to find two bows that weren't squashed to fit right in the center of each box.

So E and I won't be up late this year getting things together. We'll be able to get a good night's rest. Sometime during the night, Santa is going to stop by and leave a box of chews for the dogs. They'll probably sleep through the whole thing.

In the morning, we'll head out bright and early to watch my two favorite kids on the planet open their gifts. Afterwards, we'll eat our share of fried catfish and baked potatoes and follow that with sweets that none of us need to eat. We'll play games with the kids until the evening hours and enjoy being with the ones we love. My Dad won't be with us because he has to work. It'll be the first Christmas in many that he hasn't been there so it won't be the same.

May you and yours have a very happy and joyous Christmas, Hanakkah, Kwanza, or whatever holiday you celebrate.

Friday, December 23, 2005

In which she completely loses her mind

Last night found me with money burning a hole in my pocket. My parents had given me a check for my birthday and I'd been carrying it around trying to decide what I wanted to get with it. Yesterday I decided that I wanted a pair of shoes. Not just any shoes, but some Crocs.

Now, any other time of year this would not have been a problem. But three days before Christmas when you decide you want a pair of the most popular shoes on the market you can't expect to breeze in and out of any store. I'm still unsure, especially after my whining about Toys R Us yesterday, why I actually decided it was a good idea to go shopping last night.

I headed off to Shoe Station first. There I found a huge crowd and tons of Crocs in every color of the rainbow. Unfortunately, none of them were in my size.

After gassing up the vehicle, I headed off to Rack Room, no Crocs. Shoe Carnival - no Crocs. Payless - no Crocs.

So what did I do? I went to the MALL! On my way I called E and told him that he had permission to put me away when I finally returned home. I swear it was supposed to be a quick trip in. I was headed to a specific store (Acesori - I later learned) but it is a new store and I wasn't sure of the location. So I phoned my sister, who happened to be in the mall and who happened to be going to Aeropostale which happens to be next door to this new store I was looking for. She tells me that it's upstairs by Foley's so I park on that end of the mall. I walked around Foley's but there was no Aeropostale in sight. I kept walking and got half way through the mall to the center court - still no Aeropostale. Finally my sister calls me back and says Oops! Aeropostale is near Dillards which is the exact opposite end of the mall from Foleys.

So after trudging through the throngs of folks doing last minute shopping, I find Aeropostle, my sister and niece, and the new store Acesori. But best of all, I found the last pair of chocolate brown Crocs in a size 9. I have happy feet this morning.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Starting and finishing shopping in one fell swoop

Since E is unemployed this year money has become scarce around the Barefoot household, therefore Christmas shopping got postponed until the last minute. Yesterday I went into near panic mode, freaking out about what we could afford and for whom. Then I realized that the adults in our life would completely understand if we didn't get them gifts until after Christmas. But the two little ones wouldn't really get it.

So it was off to find video games for Elyssa and Tyler last evening. I went in search of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Scooby Doo, Night of 100 Frights but quickly found, both online and by calling local stores, that I wasn't the first one with this idea.

That's why 6 pm found me at Toys R Us. May I just say "UGH!!!" ? The parking lot was atrocious. I had to park out by the highway and hike to the store. Upon entering the place, the crowd mood was foul. There were kids screaming while being dragged away from toys by their parents. There were folks growling at the long lines. The cashiers looked like they hadn't had a day off in three months. As I stumbled through the bodies to get to the video game area, I was quickly reminded of why I like to get my shopping done before Thanksgiving.

My search was in vain as they were out of both games I wanted. But I did get this for Elyssa and this for Tyler. They'll love them. We'll be playing them together by Christmas afternoon, I'm sure.

I was awfully thankful that once I left the store I was assured that my shopping was done. I'm not doing it again next year. I'm getting it done early. In fact, I may very well start knitting Christmas gifts in January. Everyone be forewarned. [vbg]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Emotional Rollercoaster that is New Orleans Part 2

As promised in the post below, I’m going to tell you about the second half of our day in New Orleans on Sunday. The main purpose of the trip was to continue a tradition that I started about 10 years ago and it has become a very important holiday function for both E and I. Every year the Patio Planters, Garden Club of the French Quarter, sponsor an evening of Christmas caroling in Jackson Square. This year was the 59th annual event.

My friend Mary has been attending this event ever since she can remember. In the years since I’ve been joining her sometimes there are eight or ten of us and other times there are just two or three. Sunday night it was just Mary, E, and I. We met at Café du Monde to enjoy our beignets and café au lait while people watching. Seeing the French Quarter filled with holiday shoppers was uplifting after seeing so much of the rest of the city still in ruins.

We were early enough this year to be amongst some of the first at the gate so when they opened at 6 pm we were surprised to find that we could sit right up front. In previous years, we’ve always sat behind the stage, unable to see the goings on but happy to be there singing anyway. Being up front was a definite treat for us.

We set up our chairs along the taped barricade as if we were waiting for a Mardi Gras parade to come. We had an hour to visit and get to know the folks surrounding us. There was a chill in the air but nothing like the damp, extreme (for Louisiana) cold that we experienced last year. Fortunately, E had thought of everything – gloves, scarves, and even makeshift candle holders made of the top halves of water bottles. I’d brought a quilt to wrap up in and my camera to get some crowd shots.

Almost immediately, a man began setting up a television camera just to our right on the other side of the tape. We began talking with him and found out he is a CBS network cameraman from New York. He is missing being home for the holidays this year because of his New Orleans assignment. He told us of all the places they’d been earlier in the day taking “Christmas in New Orleans” footage for the evening news. We told him about New Orleans and how much fun caroling was. He asked Mary several questions about the surrounding buildings – the Cabildo and the Presbytere.

Just before caroling started, the reporter Trish Regan, along with our cameraman friend, came over and interviewed Mary about how it felt to be there this year and how it felt to be in New Orleans this year. Mary did a fantastic job and we both had tears in our eyes as she told her story.

Finally, the archbishop and other from the cathedral made their entrance and the caroling began. Several thousand voices sang of the joy of Christmas and comments were made as to how this year was different. There were cameras on us several times. We’re not sure where all they were from.

Traditionally, the final song is “Silent Night”. They plan for one hour of caroling and we always finish the songs on the sheet before 8 pm and wind up repeating one or two before the finale. This year the lead singer asked how many locals were there, how many out of towners were there, and how many relief workers were there. All three groups were well represented. He then asked us to sing a song that didn’t appear on the sheets – “God Bless America”. The crowd sang with candles raised above our heads and there wasn’t a dry eye in the area. We finished with “Silent Night” and went off in our own directions.

I hadn’t been feeling Christmas this year. My heart had been pretty numb what with E not working and the financial struggles that brings with it as well as the storms and other trials we had to deal with this year. E had grumbled about going at all that night but I’d made him come along. Mary admitted that she had been torn about going at all since she’d be meeting us alone. In the end, sitting in that square, singing Christmas carols with people who had lost so much more than we have this year brought a sense of hope – hope that we can celebrate our lives on Christmas then put 2005 behind us able to look toward 2006 with great anticipation. We left with tears in our eyes, warmer hearts, and the knowledge that this year was the most special of all. None of us would have missed it for the world.

If you want to see the highlights from Christmas in New Orleans and possibly Mary’s interview, watch the CBS Evening News tonight at 5:30 pm Central time. If they show her, look just to her left and I should be there, looking like crap but happy nonetheless.

The Emotional Rollercoaster that is New Orleans Part 1

My deepest apologies to just getting this posted. I went home early Monday afternoon with a nasty stomach virus that came upon me suddenly. I've spent the past two days in bed. E's had it as well. But today I'm back on track and will post the entire New Orleans stuff in two posts today.

As I indicated in Sunday’s post, E and I drove to New Orleans Sunday afternoon. It was my first trip back since the storm. It was a day filled with rollercoaster emotions and I want to tell you about them all. It’s going to be a long one so I’m going to split it into two posts for the sake of length.

First I want to tell you about what New Orleans looks and feels like nearly four months after hurricane Katrina. As we drove in from the west crossing the Bonnet Carre Spillway on I-10, the first thing I noticed was the bright blue FEMA “roofs” on the houses in the distance. At first it gave the impression of a beachside community with brightly colored blue roofs but one quickly realizes that, although we were nearing the edge of Lake Pontchatrain, this was no happy little beachside community. One of the telltale signs is that all the trees are bent severely to the east. There is very little green vegetation on anything.

As we entered Kenner and then Metairie, I was surprised at how “healthy” both suburbs appear. We exited I-10 and drove the length of Veteran’s Blvd. through Metairie. E and I kept commenting on how well they seemed to have bounced back. Many stores are reopened and were filled with holiday shoppers enjoying the last day of the Louisiana free tax weekend. Restaurants were crowded and I even recognized several new eateries that had not been there before the storm.

Then we crossed the city limits and turned onto West End Blvd. It was like crossing into the Twilight Zone. New Orleans has always felt like a second home to me and I’ve traveled West End Blvd. many times. I’ve always loved the old stucco homes with clay tile roofs. Now they stand empty, many of them gutted, with water lines above my head. The streets are lined with pieces of trees – limbs and stumps – and household items. Crews were working in different areas, cutting trees and trying to restore electricity.

We turned right onto Robert E. Lee Blvd. and rode past the Sisters of Mount Carmel’s motherhouse, a building where I’ve spent lots of time. Two of my mom’s sisters are Mount Carmel nuns as well as one of my grandmother’s sisters and they have all lived there at one point or another. In fact, it remains the home of one of my aunts but she currently has to live with her sister in Lafayette while repairs are made. We could tell that they’ve gutted the bottom floor and are well into restoring the building to make it habitable once again.

As we drove along the lakefront neighborhoods, we saw families obviously living in camper trailers in their driveways while working on their residences. Some of them had Christmas decorations up on houses that were not fully habitable. It was a sign of hope and of resilience.

We came upon my friend Charles’ house and that’s when I broke down. I hadn’t cried for that city in a while but seeing Charles’ beloved home was all it took. The house is a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired dwelling with lots of wood, glass, and right angles. Charles bought it a few years ago and had been adding his own touches. He’d installed a gorgeous stone shower and had restored the pool out back. It was furnished with pieces very much keeping in the Wright style. The last time we were there was last spring on our way to the Greek Festival at the Hellenic Cultural Center just down the street. Seeing this house in ruins brought it all home to me. Charles and his mother (who lost her St. Bernard Parish home) are well and living in the Dallas area but I’m not sure if they will return to New Orleans.

When we left Charles’, I told E that no matter how terrible it looks, folks in that area will be ok. The Lakefront area is a rather wealthy one. People there had insurance. They may never be able to live in their home again but they will have the opportunity to rebuild or start fresh elsewhere. By then we were entering the Gentilly area, home of folks that weren’t all so fortunate.

We decided to head into New Orleans East to find out if our favorite Vietnamese restaurant Dong Phuong had fared. The buildings along Chef Menteur Highway heading east are devastated. We saw several uninhabitable apartment complexes. The Buddhist temple was hit very hard. But we were thrilled to see that Dong Phuong is still standing. They have not yet reopened but the building appears to be in good shape.

More emptiness and devastation as we headed back west on Chef Menteur. We saw more police officers than ordinary citizens as we drove back into Gentilly. By this time the light was starting to fade and we needed to get to where we were meeting my friend M.

We didn’t get into the lower 9th Ward or St. Bernard Parish this trip. I do plan on returning sometime during my long holiday weekend to explore those areas.

E and I discussed my need to see these areas. He processes these things much differently than I do. He would rather not see the damage firsthand; in fact he thinks I’m a bit morbid because I do. But I am a visual type. I need to see things, I always have. Sometimes I need to see things through the lens of my camera as well. It is therapeutic for me. I have no morbid intent. I may never share the photos I take. But I need to see that city right now. It has always been a huge part of my life and I have a deep love for it. I also have a deep sense of pain for what it is now.

The emptiness of most areas is hard to bear. During the daylight, one finds it eerie to be driving along streets once constantly filled with traffic as the only vehicle in sight. The loss of vegetation is hugely apparent. Most red lights are not working so they are four-way stops now. But night time is the worst. As we left Keith’s Sunday, we were able to see what he meant about the world appearing to end just a few blocks away. Electricity still stops at St. Claude Ave. Driving out of the city, we were suddenly aware of a huge “black hole” that had once been filled with city lights. Few stores or restaurants stay open past 6 pm. Keith calls it creepy. It is sad that a city once so very full of life round the clock has been reduced to the appearance of a slow-moving small town. I don’t know if I could live there – visiting was hard enough.

But with all the sadness came moments of pure joy Sunday. You’ll have to wait until the next post but I promise to tell you about the hope that is still very much alive in that city.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A day to remember

Sorry, y'all. I'm trying to get this post in before the midnight hour strikes. I have to be at work at 8 am so don't expect this to be much.

I'll have tons of thoughts, observations, and photos tomorrow.

E and I spent the afternoon and evening in New Orleans. It was my first drive into the city since the week before Katrina hit. It was an emotional rollercoaster, one that I cannot put into words at this late hour. But I promise to have it all for you tomorrow.

Until then, sleep well.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hosehead Extraordinaire

First off, My apologies to the Holidailies folks. I was a bit under the weather yesterday and did not get an entry together.

My CPAP machine arrived yesterday afternoon. The nurse delivered it in its lovely carrying case with instructions that if I am to travel by air, that case must become my carry-on luggage as I should never, ever check the equipment when flying.

She sat in my office and showed me how to turn it on and off, how to adjust the mask, and how to wear the mask at night. I have a neat mask that doesn't cover any of my face but rather fits in my nostrils. In fact, I rather look like a SCUBA diver when I sleep now.

Last night, I was exhausted and not feeling very well so I was glad to get to bed. As I strapped the thing on, Sophie had a fit trying to smell it and not liking it on my face at all. Once I got her calmed down, I turned the machine on and tried to drift off. It took a while but once I finally relaxed, I was able to sleep. I did wake up at one point coughing but I've had this cough for several weeks now so I just took some more cough medicine.

E said it was like sleeping with someone he'd never slept with before because I didn't snore at all. He said it was way too quiet.

I wound up taking it off at around 4 am but woke back up at 7:30 and put it back on. I got some good sleep and do feel more rested today. BTW, the nurse told me yesterday that during my sleep test I'd had 56 episodes of not breathing from any between 10 seconds and 23 seconds during the first hour of the test. I only achieved REM sleep once and it was for only a couple of minutes. No wonder I have no energy anymore! I can't wait until I have that first "perfect" night of sleep. I've not had a good night's sleep in so long, I'm not sure I remember how it feels.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I have been tagged by the fantabulous Angry Black Bitch. My answers won't be nearly as interesting as hers but here goes...

Four jobs you have had in your life: Lifeguard (while in high school), Cashier at a grocery store (during high school and college), a Deputy Sheriff (for 17 years), and a Technical Support Specialist for a software development company.

Four movies you could watch over and over: O' Brother, Where Art Thou?; The Lord of the Rings trilogy; Enchanted April; and Napolean Dynamite.

Four places you've lived: Jennings, Lafayette, Thibodaux, and Baton Rouge - all in Louisiana.

Four TV shows you love to watch: ER, CSI (the original), The Amazing Race, and Jeopardy!

Four places you've been on vacation: New York City, northern Utah, the Great Smokey Mountains, and Williamsburg, Virginia.

Four websites you visit daily: DixiePeach, Angry Black Bitch, Gumbo Ya-Ya, and Dooce.

Four of your favorite foods: Anything dark chocolate, chicken and sausage gumbo, my grandmother's bread pudding, and my mother's meatloaf.

Four places you'd rather be right now: The mountains (any mountains), in a swimming pool, New York, living in Europe.

Four bloggers you are tagging: Hmmm…DixiePeach, Stephanie, Miz, and RomaniHeart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas gatherings with friends

This evening the group that we play NTN trivia with weekly had our Christmas get together. We're a fun bunch of geeks and misfits.

When E and I first moved into Baton Rouge proper, the only folks we knew here were my sister and BIL. We functioned for quite a while without really knowing anyone else in the city but realizee that we'd like to meet some folks to hang out with. We ate out several times and played trivia alone at Buffalo Wild Wings. Judging by the local high scores, we figured out that there must be a local team that participated in the Tuesday night Showdown tournaments.

One night we realized that we were sitting next to a few of the team and were doing pretty well playing against them. We finally introduced ourselves and bantered back and forth a while. By the time we left, they'd invited us to join them.

That was two years ago. Those guys have become friends that we see nearly every week. We laugh together and argue about correct answers and we kick some serious trivia ass. We're usually the highest ranking group in Louisiana.

Tonight we gathered where there were no NTN trivia boxes to keep us occupied. Instead we filled up on food and sweets and just enjoyed each other's company. We count ourselves fortunate to know such a good group of people that we share that common bond with.

If you play NTN trivia, watch the Top 20 board every now and again for Buffalo Wild Wings in Baton Rouge because we hit it a good bit. Just a bunch of geeks and misfits but, man, we have a good time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Reality TV - I swore I would never get hooked

I must admit that I despise most "reality" television. I never got into Survivor. I hate all those Batchelor and Batchelorette shows, as I find them completely inane. I have to admit that I watched the first season of The Apprentice but lost interest in season two. I must be one of the very few folks left watching The Apprentice - Martha Stewart but it's not a great show.

But I've got to admit to y'all that I am totally hooked on The Amazing Race. I haven't missed an episode since the third season, although I've found that this season's family edition left a lot to be desired. I understand that they felt the need to stay in North America because of the logistics of hauling teams of four around the world, especially since there were little kids on a couple of the teams. So this has been the most disappointing season to date. But I just saw the promo for the new season beginning in February and we're back to teams of two traveling the world. Yay!

It was hard for me to pick a favorite team this season, as so many of them were likable. I mostly cheered the team of sisters on until they lost last week. Tonight I didn't care if the Linzes or the Bransens won just as long as those nasty Weavers didn't. Every season there is at least one snarky team and the Weavers didn't disappoint in that respect. They always cried "unfair" and "they're picking on us" when in reality they were trashing the other teams behind their backs. I guess it makes for good tv but I was glad that they didn't win. I love that the winners of that race are always a team that worked hard and didn't stoop to the level of the worst teams to get to the finish line.

So tonight I'm sending congratulations to the Linz family - three brothers and their younger sister - who worked their butts off and went home with the $1 million prize. Kudos, guys!

Monday, December 12, 2005

I Can See Clearly Now...

Thanks to the diabetes diagnosis, my doctor sent me to an opthemologist to get a retnal exam. While there, he gave me a new prescription for corrective lenses complete with bifocals. (That's what I get for laughing at E when he had to get them before me - and he's 8 months younger that me)

I've worn glasses since my late 20's. I got brave about seven or eight years ago and tried contacts. My optometrist at the time tried to put me in toric contacts but I couldn't see worth squat out of them. So he put me in gas perms (hard lenses). I wore them for a year but they aggravated my eyes daily. I had to pop them out and rewet them a couple of times a day. I was almost glad when one of them warped and I went back to glasses.

This time I got brave. I told the doc that I wanted to try soft contacts again. He ordered a trial pair for me and I picked them up this afternoon. While I know that I'll never see as well out of contacts as I would out of glasses, I must say that I love these lenses already. It takes a bit getting used to having my distance lens in my right eye and my reading lens in my left but I'm adjusting quicker than I expected.

So it's bye-bye glasses. My head feels lighter already.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Forgotten Highway

This afternoon, E and I set out for an adventure. It was the perfect Louisiana winter day for a drive. The sky was nearly cloudless and the temperature hovered in the upper 40's. I threw my camera in the car and we headed north.

Louisiana Highway 1 runs from Grand Isle in the south diagonally northward to Shreveport. In its heyday in the 40's, 50's, and 60's, LA 1 was THE north/south highway in the state. It was dotted with quaint little towns filled with Mom and Pop grocery stores, cafes, and filling stations. Both cotton and sugar cane were moved along that highway in their respective seasons. But Interstate 49 was begun in the 70's and when completed in the 80's, gave folks a much faster route from Lafayette northward. On the southern end, US 90 was 4-laned from Lafayette to New Orleans. Businesses on LA 1 began to dry up as folks stopped traveling through its little towns.

Today, LA 1 is named as one of Louisiana's scenic byways. E and I have explored it south from Baton Rouge to Grand Isle in several occasions but we'd never been north of New Roads. Today we struck out and traveled northward to the town of Marksville, which is near the center of the state. Our journey included the towns of Innis, Morganza, Simmesport, and Mansura.

We learned that Jesus is king in Lettsworth and apparently lives at Prayer Lake. We crossed the Morganza Spillway, floodplain for the Mississippi River, as well as the Atchafalaya River coming into Simmesport. In Morganza, we got to see the entire Christmas parade as it meandered up the road parallel to LA 1. There were red-tailed hawks circling in the air and blackbirds in huge colonies on the sides of the highway. We could see white pelicans dotting the trees near little lakes along the spillway. And we saw the remnants of stores and cafes closed long ago because people quit coming.

We ended our official journey with dinner at the Paragon Casino in Marksville. As we left we were treated to a spectacular sunset, with a rose-colored sky and finger-like clouds running across. E and I agreed that neither of us had been this relaxed in a long time.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Godspeed, Richard Pryor

I can't tell you how many times I've seen Richard Pryor Live On The Sunset Strip. When it came out, I was dating a guy who owned every comedy album Richard Pryor had ever recorded. C was a huge fan and turned me on to Pryor's comedic genius. I was in my late teens and so much of our time was spent riding around town and listening to Richard Pryor. We saw Sunset Strip on the day that it opened at the theater in Lafayette. C and I could quote almost every line from it and from most of the tapes as well.

Richard Pryor could tell a story like no one else could. I still laugh and laugh when I hear his routines about things like the woman with little tiny baby feet, the deer hunter, his grandmother making him go get his own switch, his dad making him get home before 11:30. When Richard Pryor took the stage his comedy was raw and his language was foul but you were guaranteed to laugh. He was smart, angry, lewd, and perceptive of life all around him. I gained a lot about race and racism from his comedy.

This morning Richard Pryor died of a heart attack at the age of 65. He'd been suffering from multiple sclerosis for a number of years now. He'd beaten alcholism and drug addiction. He will be deeply missed.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Girlfriend time

I write quickly tonight as my two best friends K and D are here for a slumber party. We hung out in Lafayette earlier and had dinner at one of our favorite Mediterranean restaurants. Then we headed this way with a Sprite bottle filled with pre-mixed chocolate martinis. Once we get into our pj's, we'll probably have the chocolatinis and birthday cake, since this is a belated birthday get-together.

So sorry for the quick note but I've gotta run before we're too sleepy to drink and eat.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sewing? No, thanks.

I don't sew. Notice I didn't say I can't sew but rather I don't sew or I won't sew. In fact, I'd rather take a beating than sit behind a sewing machine. I put off little repairs for ridiculous amounts of time because I'm sewing machine phobic.

My Mom is much like I am - she doesn't sew either. But she's always had a sewing machine for repairs and such. I managed to live until just a couple of months ago without one. This project is what finally pushed me into getting one. While out buying materials, I bought myself a little sewing basket in which to keep pins, needles, thread, and such. When I got started last night, I opened up the box to get it set up and found that it came with a few supplies, including a pin cushion in the form of a tomato.

It made me think back to my mom's sewing chair that opens up to hold all her notions. In that chair is a tomato pin cushion slightly larger than the one I now own. I always thought the tomato as a pin cushion was odd as sticking a real tomato with pins would be quite messy. But last night as I stuck pins into my little tomato, I was transported back to days watching my mom make repairs in our clothes and while I stuck pins in and pulled them out of that cushion, using the little berry hanging down to sharpen them. Having one of my own was somehow comforting.

Last night found me finally succombing to the necessity of sitting at the machine. Sneauball and Nate, being two male dogs, haven't quite learned 100% not to mark their territory (and believe me, it's driving us nuts!). E steam cleaned the carpets yesterday and they're looking all pretty. We are determined that the boys will not ruin all the carpets in the house (even though we plan to eventually pull them out) so I had to make belly bands last night. I wound up making eight and it took me only two hours to get the all together. I was proud.

So the boys are running around the house dressed like this now:

Sophie is being pretty superior at the moment. It's as if she's teasing the boys by saying, "You have to wear diapers and I don't. Na na na na naaaaaaa na." I think they're plotting to get her back.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Finding Blessings in the Ordinary

This morning reminded me that I need to begin a gratitude journal once again. It truly makes a difference in my life when I force myself to pay attention to the little blessings. With E out of work and the burden of the finances squarely on my shoulders, I often go through the day with my eyebrows knit and my muscles in tight knots waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm not proud of my inherrent pessimism. It's a trait I have always wanted to completely change. But optimism comes easiest for my when things are going smoothly. Throw a kink in the chain and I go into "glass half empty" mode every single time. My therapist has so much fun with this.

As part of my resolution to approach this new life year differently, I have been trying to find blessings in life's ordinary things.

This morning, I flew out of the bed at 7:07 am - not good for a girl who has a thirty minute commute and work begins at 8 am. I showered as quickly as I could and slapped on the minimal amount of makeup allowable by law but didn't get out the door until 7:40. I was halfway to the office, scowling because I just knew I'd be late yet again, when I realized that traffic was unusually light - no backup on Sherwood Forest Blvd., no daily congestion at I10 and College Drive - just smooth sailing from home to work. The scowl left my face and I had a big ol' smile when I arrived at work at 8:01.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Big 4-4

This morning dawned the beginning of a new life year for me and I sat and pondered what it might bring. Then I realized that I have the opportunity to guide the way this coming year turns out simply by the way I approach things. When I look through eyes of fear, I am afraid but when I look through eyes of strength, I can conquer many things. When I approach life with a scowl, I am met with anger and chaos yet when I approach life with a smile, I am met with possibilities and opportunities.

I have declared this new life year the year of health. This year I will strive to make my physical body healthier, my emotional body stronger, and my spiritual body more enlightened. I will try to remember that how I meet the day helps determine what sort of day it will be. And I'll have this post to fall back on if I should forget.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

All Hail the New Lambie

This is Lambie. When Sophie was just a wee pup, Lambie was her first stuffed toy and quickly became her favorite toy. She knows Lambie by name. If we say, "Go get Lambie", she's not coming back with anything but Lambie.

Sophie carried Lambie around everywhere. If we traveled, Lambie was the first toy that got packed. At bedtime we could be assured that, at some point during the night, one of us would have the sensation of having just hatched a Lambie after she was found shoved up near our butt while Sophie lay sleeping peacefully next to her.

The problem is that Sophie loves Lambie so much that within a few months she winds up looking like this:

Since Sophie is nearly six years old, you can imagine that we've been through a few Lambies.

The original Lambie came from PetsMart. After a few weeks we began noticing that some of her body parts were missing. First her cute little stubby tail gets chewed off, followed by each of her ears, and finally all four extremities vanish. It is in this state that we refer to her as Post Mortem Lambie.

The first time we were presented with a Post Mortem Lambie, we ran out to PetsMart and got a new one. But when Lambie #2 gave her life and we trotted off to PetsMart to get another, they were completely out. Since we have a second PetsMart all the way across the city, we headed straight there. No Lambies. This caused somewhat of a panic. Sophie moped around the house like she'd lost her best friend and we felt like guilty parents.

Fortunately, I was still doing lots of traveling for work and wound up in Jackson, Mississippi, in a hotel right across Interstate 55 from PETSMART! On a lunch break, I ran over there and found they had four Lambies in stock so I bought them all. Thus began the string of new Lambies that we've had in this house. I like to keep two or three on hand so that when Lambie gets to that post mortem state, we can quickly replace her.

This time, E decided that Lambie was gross and it was time for her to go away. He made this great discovery while we were lying in bed one night and his arm happened to touch a slobbery Lambie in the condition you see her above. Since Sophie is a short dog and she wasn't paying attention, he grabbed Lambie and stuck her on the headboard of our bed next to the post. There poor Lambie sat for quite a few weeks, lonely and obviously forgotten by both us and Sophie.

Two days ago, Sophie came trotting out of our bedroom with Post Mortem Lambie in her mouth, a triumphant expression on her face. She'd caught a whiff of her favorite friend and used that powerful nose of hers to locate the lonely creature. That's when E and I remembered Lambie and her condition and decided that she needs to go in the trash. The only problem is that we had to wait for Sophie to momentarily forget Lambie before we could snatch her.

Last night at bedtime, I brought out the new Lambie, fresh and white sporting all of her appendages. Sophie did a big ol' happy dance and they've been best pals ever since. As I fell asleep, I felt the familiar sensation of a new Lambie covered in puppy spit being shoved up against my arm. Ah! Life is good.