Today marks our 30th wedding anniversary. It doesn’t feel that long ago. There are days when I feel as young as I look in this photo from that day; but not very often. Cindy has aged better than I have.
We won’t be having a big party to celebrate. What we will do is pretty much what we have been doing throughout the time since the pandemic came to the U.S. The news will be watched in the morning and then we’ll work around the house in the early afternoon. But then we will break out of that mold and exchange anniversary presents, followed by going to dinner at a favorite restaurant (newly reopened with 50% occupancy, etc.). We shall wear our masks until it is appropriate to remove them, thank you. From there it will be homeward bound, where a movie, probably, will be watched. And then. to bed. You may think it doesn’t sound very exciting. But it can be satisfying.
In the morning we will arise and start our next 30 years together. I cannot think of anyone with whom I would rather spend those days.
Happy Anniversary, Cindy! My love for you is as deep as ever.
This is my new mousepad. It is a Christmas gift. I have conflicting thoughts about dragging a mouse over Marilyn’s face. I’m sure that I’ll use it eventually, but not today.
Why was I given a Marilyn Monroe mousepad? It is a convoluted story, but one that I’m ready to relate.
It began more than fifteen years ago. Back then my camera of choice was a 35mm Nikon. I took many pictures, and as a result, I often received different types of picture frames as gifts. One year,Trina gave me a carousel type of frame that held ten or twelve 4X6 pictures. I decided to put black and white pictures of family and friends in the rotating frames because it was faux pewter and I thought B&W photos looked better. So I went through my photos and chose photos of the proper size. Unfortunately, I was shy two photos to fill all the frames.
At that point I had a mischievous thought. I went online and downloaded a B&W picture of Marilyn Monroe, and one of Bridgett Bardot. I printed them and used them to fill the frames. Then I took it to my office cubicle in Indianapolis and set it on my desk. People would stop by to chat, and would occasionally spin through the photos. Nobody said anything until it had been there for a few weeks. Then my boss, who was pretty sharp, asked me about those two pictures. I told her that they were pictures of past girlfriends. She smiled and gave me a “sure they are” look and let it drop.
A few months later I brought the pictures home to our new house, and installed it in our home office. I didn’t think much about it until our granddaughter Macey, who was very young, and one of her friends came across the pictures, and asked me about them. I told hem the same story that they were old girlfriends. They were outraged that I would display pictures of old girlfriends when I was married to Grandma Cindy.
Later that day they sneaked (or snuck, take your pick) into the office and tried to steal the photos so that they could destroy them and defend Grandma Cindy’s honor.
Shortly after that they were shopping in the mall with Cindy. It must have been around Christmas because they were looking a calendars. The girls came running up to Cindy and declared in a loud voice that my girlfriend must be famous because her picture was on a calendar. Cindy tells me that all of the people around them started laughing.
Ever since those days, Marilyn Monroe has been my former girlfriend, and people give me MM themed gifts. I wonder if the girls have figured out yet that Marilyn was 19 years older than me?
Macon is imploring me to let him out to play in the snow. He has already been out four times today. Guess who gets to dry him off each time he agrees to come back inside? Since he enjoys sitting on the top of the deck, I’m drying more than his back and head.
The first time I let him out this morning it was still dark and just beginning to snow. We now have around three inches with no sign of immediate let up. I hope the highways get well cleared before I have to drive to Indianapolis tomorrow. But let me get back to doggy-sitting.
Are dogs ticklish? I haven’t found any yet who appear to be. Macon doesn’t squirm or giggle when I try to tickle him. He enjoys the attention and seldom wants it to stop, but he is that way about all forms of attention. If you know of any ticklish dog, I would be interested in hearing about it.
Macon also likes to be in on everything that I do. As you can see in the picture above, he is lying directly between my feet. Actually he is on top of the toe of my left foot. He will sleep that way while I watch TV. No matter how many explosions or gun battles may go on in whatever I’m watching, he will sleep through it. But if I try to move, he is instantly awake and watching to see if get out of the chair. I hate to disturb his sleep, but I occasionally like to get up and move around.
Does your dog dream? Macon does. At least the evidence indicates that he does. It isn’t just that he moves his legs as if he were running. Yesterday, as he slept between my feet, he gave two soft “woof”s. He has also been known to howl in his sleep. I wish I knew what those dreams are about. Or maybe I don’t. The howling dreams sound scary. Or maybe he is just dreaming that he is a wolf. Ill probably never know.
Cindy and I slept in the next morning. As much as I like to travel, not starting the day in the car or even with the motel industry’s normal “complimentary continental breakfast” was a bit of a treat. I pulled out our laptop to connect to the free WiFi that was promised in a packet of materials in our condo. I couldn’t connect. The information we had been supplied suggested that we call the office for help. “Just dial 0” said the relevant page. That’s when I realized that there was no telephone in our unit.
Oh, well. I decided to take a trip to the office later. In the meantime, Cindy decided that it was time to go buy some groceries so that we wouldn’t eat all of our meals in restaurants. We got back in the car and headed out searching for a grocery store. Cindy also thought that rather than go into the store hungry, we should eat something to drive out any hunger pangs. That was wise.
We headed north. We were surprised that we had to leave the main highway in order to find a restaurant that wasn’t fast food. It took some searching, but we eventually found a small cafe that served breakfasts and lunches. It was packed. We each chose breakfast. Then we headed towards a supermarket that we had seen during our quest for a meal.
We shopped and started back to the condo. During our driving we had made note of signs for Fort Stevens State Park, where there was a military museum, and for a maritime museum up the road in Astoria, Oregon.
We unloaded our groceries and stored them away. Then we started to once more relax. I picked up the book I was currently reading, Steinbeck’s East of Eden, and was soon lost to the real world.
Cindy got a call from Lee. He said that there were elk just outside their condo unit. I looked out of our patio door window and saw the elk between us and the ocean. It was the highlight of my day, and he highlight of our entire week at the condo.
I took this picture from our deck around 7:30 this morning. It was quiet and peaceful, just me and the birds and a stalking cat. I scared the cat away. May it never return.
Yesterday evening, sometime between 5:30 and 6 a friend, part of Cindy’s expanded family, called Cindy to say that she thought she had broken her arm. She had gone to her daughter’s volleyball practice and since she had been a star volleyball player in high school, she was helping her daughter warm up. Well, she was not as agile and her footwork wasn’t quite as good as when she had been in high school. To make a longish story shorter, she fell backwards and injured her arm. She called Cindy to ask her to come and pick her up to take her to Urgent Care. Cindy was, at the time, cooking dinner for guests and asked me to pick our friend up. So I did.
I drove to the high school where I found our friend in her car in the parking lot. She asked me to drive her car since she had her toddler son in his car seat. I agreed and we set out to Urgent Care. When we got there we unloaded the toddler, assembled his stroller, put him in it and went inside. She was told that it would be at least 1 1/2 hours before she could see a doctor (let’s take the urgent out of Urgent Care) and they did not have the facilities to cast her arm if that was needed. So we went back to the parking lot where we put the toddler back in his car seat, disassembled the stroller, and loaded it into the car. We set off for the emergency room of one of our local hospitals. But first we stopped at our house and left the toddler with Cindy and our dinner guests.
When we arrived at the emergency room I noticed that they had a large sign on the wall that said “Emergency Room Welcome Center.” I think the Welcome Center part was supposed to take some of the sting out of the Emergency part. There didn’t appear to be many people waiting, so we were encouraged to think that the wait would not be too long.
Sitting beside us was a woman in a wheelchair accompanied by her husband and three adult daughters. Before long another four members of her family arrived. Our little part of the waiting area was getting crowded.
Did I say our wait wouldn’t be long? We sat there, chatting, for about an hour before our friend was taken into an examining room. I decide to stay in the waiting room. No sooner had our friend disappeared behind a door than one of the daughters marched to the desk and asked why our friend had been taken before her mother. The woman at the desk explained that while the mother may have checked in first, they took patients in order of severity of the injury. The daughter scowled and went back to her chair. One of her sisters asked what the counter person had said. The first sister said that she didn’t know. What?
About another hour passed and the woman in the wheelchair was still sitting and waiting. At that point another of the sisters marched to the desk and asked why her mother hadn’t been seen by a doctor yet, after all they had been waiting for two hours. The counter attendant looked at her computer screen and said, “No, you have been here one hour and forty-five minutes and we see people based on the severity of their…” never making eye contact with the daughter. The daughter said, “HOW CAN YOU…” And at that point her father said, “Come over here and sit down!” never looking up from his smart phone.
She grumbled but meekly returned to her chair. Then she started talking to her sisters, loud enough for all of the people in the waiting area to hear, “How can they tell if one injury is worse than another?” One of her sisters who was dressed in pink opined that her sister was just upset due to pregnancy hormones.
Then the pink sister started talking about her upcoming wedding. I tried to tune her out. It was difficult since she was standing directly in front of me. By the way, I had offered her my seat, but she had turned down my offer. At one point I heard her telling her family that she got nervous when she thought about sex and started twirling her hair. At that point I looked at her and thought she looked as if she had been around the block at least a few times, but that’s just between you and me.
Finally they called the mother’s name and told her she could take two people back with her. Pink sister took control of the wheelchair but her father stood up, put away his smart phone, and told pink sister to sit down. He was taking his wife back by himself. And he did. At that point, five of the seven remaining family members left to eat dinner.
I waited around another half hour and finally approached the counter attendant and said that my friend had gone back around an hour ago and… At that point the attendant looked at her computer screen and said, “No, it has only been forty-five minutes…” I broke in said that I just wanted an update on her condition. The woman never regained eye contact with me but said that I could go back and see my friend.
So I did. I got there in time to see her wheeled away for X-rays. When she returned she had a cloth on her forehead because she had passed out from pain when they were moving her arm around for the X-rays. We were sure that there was at least one break.
After a while a nurse came in and confirmed our speculation. It was a broken radius near her elbow. They gave her some pain meds, waited a bit and then started splinting her arm. After that they put her arm in a sling and sent us on our way. That was around 10:15 p.m.
I have to say that for an Emergency Room, nobody who worked there seemed to treat anything as an emergency. There was no hustle, no bustle, no sense of urgency. Maybe they need to rename that part of the hospital.
Today’s post combines our last three days on the road for a couple of reasons. The first shallow reason is that I took no pictures on Friday. The second and third reason is that very little of interest happened on Saturday and Sunday.
Day 5, 4/14/2017
Our original plan was to leave for home on this day but (no surprise to me) Cindy decided to put off our departure for a day. We would spend one more day with Barbara, Michael and his family. Rather, we would spend about half a day because Cindy and Barbara both sleep later than I do.
I went out that morning searching unsuccessfully for something scenic to photograph. I must have driven in the wrong direction or I was being too picky in my choices. So I stopped and filled the car with gas so that we could make a quicker getaway on Sunday. Then I went back to the apartment to read some more of my reading challenge book.
We drove to Michael’s home in the afternoon. He was preparing a farewell dinner. We were having fresh from the boat fried shrimp, French fries, and home-made coleslaw. It was great!
After dining we played one game of Oh Hell. Since it was only one game I only had to give away a portion of my cash. Then it was back to Barbara’s apartment to get some sleep before leaving the following morning.
Day 6, 4/15/17
We left early-ish on Saturday morning. We planned on driving to Memphis, Tennessee; which was around 460 miles. With breaks for lunch, gas, and bathroom breaks we expected to be on the road about eight or nine hours.
I drove until we were about two hours from Memphis, and Cindy took over. I settled into the passenger seat, and despite the lovely scenery, I dozed off. About 80 miles down the road Cindy told me that she couldn’t keep her eyes open and wanted to stop fr the night. So we did.
Day 7, 4/16/17
We were on the road early Sunday morning because we still had at least nine hours of driving ahead of us. I had been driving for around an hour when Cindy realized that she had left her earrings in the motel room. So while she called the motel and asked them to secure the earrings, I turned around started back to where we had stayed.
We arrived at the motel, where they had taken Cindy’s earrings to the office. She quickly collected them and then it was back on the road.
We got home between 8 and 9 p.m. We decided to leave unpacking the car until the next morning. It was time to collapse, so we did.
Things to remember before we go back to Louisiana. 1. Plan ahead for what we want to do. For instance, if we had gone a week earlier we could have gone to the Dave Robicheaux’s Hometown Literary Festival in New Iberia, or if we go back in November we can attend the Abbeville Giant Omlette Celebration. 2. Manage time better so that we can do all that we want to do. 3. Take more pictures. That’s my list. I don’t know what Cindy has on her list.
Cindy had told Michael and Jenna that I liked visiting graveyards and taking pictures. She is correct; I do like visiting and taking pictures of graveyards. So on the fourth day of our trip Michael took us north to Lafayette, Louisiana to view the graveyard at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Before we left Abbeville however, we stopped at a gas station for breakfast. That’s right, a gas station. The eatery was actually in the same building as the station. The food was very good.
The pictures above are just a few that I took while we were at the cathedral. Michael told us that among the among the graves was one of a Confederate War veteran who was famous. Actually there were a number of Confederate veteran graves. Evidently they weren’t all famous.
I noticed that there were a lot of Landry and Broussard family members in the graveyard. At first I assumed that they were large contributors to the church, and perhaps they are, but a little research showed me that those names are very common in Louisiana. So much for my powers of deduction.
It was an enjoyable trip to a beautiful cathedral. I wouldn’t mind going back sometime to see more of the buildings.
That evening we took our hosts out to eat at a local restaurant.We chose a Mexican restaurant, and the food was wonderful, though Jenna’s meal failed to arrive with the others. Beyond the food, Cindy found the margaritas to be to her taste.
We returned to Michael and Jenna’s house where I was coerced into playing a couple of games of Oh Hell. It is a game of luck and a little skill. Cindy and the others love it. I see it as a way to give some of my money to other people. I guess it depends on your perspective.
Along with the cards, Cindy chose to consume some wine. It was good that I was driving.We repaired to Barbara’s apartment where she and Cindy quickly fell asleep and I got in some reading. It had been a pretty good day.
Clockwise from the left there is a shot in the French Quarter of New Orleans, a picture of Cindy, and the front of Preservation Hall.
On the third day of our trip, Wednesday, we went to New Orleans. It wasn’t completely a smooth trip there. We had to turn around and go back to Abbeville. No, we didn’t forget Barbara. It was for a different reason.
When we got to the city we parked in a lot in the French Quarter and set out on foot. Jenna and Cindy traded off pushing Barbara in a wheelchair. That wasn’t an easy task in the crowded streets. Shame on me for not offering to push her.
There were two objectives we wanted to meet during this visit, one for me and one for Cindy. I wanted to see Preservation Hall, where the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs. We saw it from the outside, but couldn’t go in because there was a private event going on inside. Maybe on our next trip we will get inside.
Cindy wanted to go on a Voodoo/graveyard tour, Unfortunately, if we had stayed in the city for the tour we wouldn’t have able been to leave New Orleans until around 11 p.m. or midnight. Then we would have had about a two-hour drive ahead of us. We didn’t want that. Oh, and pushing Barbara through graveyards didn’t really appeal to us. Perhaps on our next trip we will spend a day or two and nights in New Orleans.
What we did do was some window shopping. In one case I went beyond the window and bought a nifty T-shirt to memorialize the trip. We also had a delicious lunch at the Napoleon House. And finally we were ably to watch a scene for N.C.I.S. New Orleans being prepared for shooting. We saw Scott Bakula, Lucas Black, and Vanessa Ferlito. Ms. Ferlito scowled as much out of character she does when in character. Cindy only drooled a bit when she saw Mr. Bakula.
Ah. Memories. I took this short sequence of photos during our first stop while on our second day on the road. I hoped that it wasn’t a foreshadowing of the rest of the trip.
I had originally planned on titling this series of posts A short trip to New Orleans and return but that seemed in retrospect to be misleading…like the first sign in the above album page. You see, based on things Cindy had told me about her previous trips to Louisiana when she visited friends, she had left the impression that they lived in a suburb of New Orleans. They didn’t. In fact they live in Abbeville which according to Google Maps is about a 150 mile drive from New Orleans.
My first clue about the location came when I woke from a nap while Cindy was driving. I had driven all morning and traded off with Cindy after lunch. I woke up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when we were approaching the bridge that crossed over the Mississippi River heading west. I know enough rudimentary geography to realize that we were heading in the wrong direction if we were going to New Orleans. I pulled out my smart phone and Googled Baton Rouge to Abbeville and found that we were driving in the right direction but still had about 80 miles to travel. That is when I realized that we wouldn’t be spending a lot of time in New Orleans.
We arrived in Abbeville and drove to Barbara’s apartment where we would be staying. After we unpacked the car we drove over to Michael, Jenna and Hudson’s house. Michael had been cooking all day, preparing for our arrival. He was barbecuing ribs, chicken wings, and sausage. In addition there was home-made potato salad and a tossed salad. If there was more, I forgot about it in a cloud of subsequent satiation. It was quite the welcoming dinner.
We ate a lot, and talked a lot. And when we were done, we climbed back into the car and drove back to Barbara’s where we collapsed in exhaustion. Thus ended day 2.
Cindy decided that we had to take a week out of our lives so that we could drive to Louisiana to visit some of her friends. They are special friends. One, Barb, is the sister of Cindy’s best friend, Marilyn, who recently died. The others are Barb’s son Michael and his family. On any other occasion I would love to go to Louisiana, but let’s face it, this trip was going to involve a lot of crying.
I didn’t want this to be a totally lachrymose occasion, so I planned on taking at least one photo each day that had no wet tissues or hankies in sight. I also wanted to document anything that caught my fancy or curiosity.
Day 1 4/10/2017
There were few opportunities to take pictures on the drive down. We were booking it. Do people still say booking it? I took this when we stopped to eat dinner in Southaven, Mississippi. We covered a little over 500 miles on the road that day.
Two things of interest happened on the drive. The first was when we pulled in to the Trail of Tears Rest Stop in Illinois. I knew that the Trail of Tears refers to the forced move of American Indians from their land so that it could be taken by immigrants and children of immigrants. But I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that the Trail of Tears might also refer to parents taking very young children on their first long car trip.
There were the usual amenities at the rest stop, plus a couple of picnic tables. We had packed the fixings for sandwiches and took this opportunity to have some lunch. Cindy and I alternated using the facilities and insuring that nobody stole our sandwiches. When I was returning from the clean restrooms I noticed a pickup truck in the parking area, and beside it was a girl lying face down on the asphalt. I guessed that she was alright since there were two adults walking around her and the truck. After a bit she popped up onto her feet and walked around smiling. Very curious.
Later during the trip, while Cindy was driving through a part of Arkansas, she determined that we were getting very low on gasoline. It was so low that she decided that she needed to get off of the Interstate at the next exit to fill up the tank. Unfortunately when we got off the Interstate there were no gas stations at the intersection. So we turned east and headed for the nearest town a few miles away. We arrived at the hamlet and found that there were no gas stations there, so we turned around and headed back towards a town west of the intersection.
Before we got to that town Cindy spied a young man walking, so she pulled over to ask him where the nearest gas station was located. He thought for a moment and told us to turn onto a dirt road. He said that we should follow it until it came to a T intersection and to turn right. In a couple of miles we would find a gas station in a town that he named. So off we went down the dirt road. In the meantime I Googled the town he had named. Google told me that we should turn left rather than right when we got to the T intersection. Against her better judgement, Cindy followed Google Maps rather than the young man.
Around ten or twelve miles later we arrived at the location Google Maps had led us to only to find an empty field. In fact, at the arrival Google Maps provided a photograph of the empty field.
By this time Cindy was split between panic at having a gas tank that was almost empty, and anger at me for convincing her to believe in technology. The sensor in her gas tank indicated that she only had enough gas for a few more miles. We started searching frantically for another nearby town with hopes of finding gasoline. We came to another small village with no gas station. We saw a gentleman using a weed whip in his front yard and pulled up to ask him the location of the nearest gas station.
He asked us where we had come from. I told him and emphasized that we just wanted the nearest station. He gave us directions for which we thanked him, and set out on our renewed quest. A couple of miles down the road, the electronic gas tank sensor decided that we were out of gas, but we kept purring along. We went on for another ten miles or so before we got to the gas station where we filled the tank and returned to the Interstate highway.
Cindy praised God for keeping the car running. At first I thought that maybe it was similar to the fishes and loaves, but upon reflection realized that it was more akin to the Hanukkah Miracle concerning the oil that fueled the Temple’s menorah. I, on the other hand, decided that the sensor was faulty and that we couldn’t trust it to be accurate. You can decide for yourself.