9 July 2014 (Wed) – We went to the RV Supercenter to look for some gel coat to fix the crack in the RV skin. It needs to be repaired quickly before water gets into the camper. They had none. Then we drove to CVS to get some cash and to pick up some bandages for me.
I arrived at the doctor’s office a half hour early. Her calendar was full so they told me to just stop in and see if I could fit in between patients. That worked. The PA looked at the wound and said it looked smaller than it did on Monday. She put more silver nitrate on it and wished me luck. We are cleared to launch.
We left the doctor and drove to a marine sales store to see if they had any gel coat for the RV. They did not. Paul is getting frustrated with not being able to find this compound anywhere. We then headed home for an hour. Paul put some caulking on the crack for now. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow (of course, we plan to move).
Picked up fried chicken and sides at Brookshire’s then drove to the hospital. Sam, Frieda, Rick, Ricky, and Ingrid were there. We had a “picnic” where we sat around the room in chairs and on the floor sharing the food. It was very nice. Sam was a different person today. You could see he was extremely depressed and disheveled looking. He was looking for a bottle to turn into a urinal that will fit better than the urinal they give him to use. He finally drank all the chocolate milk and saved the bottle. Paul had to put a note on it so the hospital staff doesn’t accidentally throw away his personal toilet.
We bid everyone goodbye and left to go home and start prepping to move tomorrow. We are excited at the prospect of being on the road again. We have been parked at Sam’s for almost four months.
8 July 2014 (Tue) – We went to McDonald’s for breakfast and also picked up a sausage biscuit for Sam. Sam was out to physical therapy when we got to the hospital. Paul dropped me off and returned back home. I sat for almost two hours before Sam got back to the room. We had wonderful conversation throughout the day – he was lucid, attentive, and conversant. I enjoyed our time together. He was disappointed with his performance in physical therapy. It wasn’t as good as he expected it to be and is falling back into deep depression. The nurse told me to tell his wife he is talking about going into hospice. I assured her he has been saying things like this for four months.
Paul & Frieda came in at 2 p.m. and we stayed until 4 p.m. Paul and I left and went to the veterinarian to get some heartworm medicine for the cat and ask about something for fleas. The vet recommended Trifexis – a combo pill of heartworm and flea treatment for the dog. We bought a year’s worth of heartworm medicine for Bonnie three months ago. The vet agreed to take back the unused portion of the Heartgard and credit the refund against a year’s supply of Trifexis.
After the vet, we went to Ralph & Kacoo’s for dinner. The meal was delicious. We stopped by an RV supply center to see if they have any gel coat. Paul needs to make a repair to the fiber glass cap on the camper. They did not have any. He had also stopped at Home Depot and Lowe’s today but they didn’t have any gel coat either.
Frieda’s sisters, Ricky and Ingrid, arrived today as did her son, Rick. Ricky brought us four bags of cracklins. We will keep two and give two to Sam.
7 July 2014 (Mon) – Whew! What. A. Day. We pulled the camper out at 11 and drove down to the Flying J to dump the tanks. Unfortunately, there was construction going on and the surface of the roadway was scarified in preparation for new blacktop. There was all kinds of bumping and jarring during the drive. It reminded me of someone who told me that a hurricane and a tornado take place in your camper every time you move on down the road. I was not looking forward to opening any of the cupboards and drawers later.
When we got to the Flying J, one of the trailer tires was flat. You could put your finger over a hole and feel the air hissing out. A Firestone service center stood adjacent to the travel center. We drove over there and had them take the tire off and put the spare on. They did not have another tire to sell us and they couldn’t repair the damaged tire. Paul got a referral to Gateway Tire Service across town.
We returned the camper to Sam’s back yard. We had just enough time to set the camper back up and grab a bit to eat before taking off for the doctor. The surgeon looked at my seeping wound and said it just needs to heal from the inside out. His PA put some silver nitrate on the edges of the wound (burned like a son-of-a-gun!) and advised me on how to take care of it. She wants to see me once more on Wednesday to be sure the wound is getting smaller. If so, we will be clear to hit the road again.
Left the doctor and drove to Gateway Tire Service to see if they sold the type of tire we need. They didn’t have the tire but they were able to repair the damaged one. All for just $10. Cool!
We then drove over to the hospital to visit with Sam. He was very coherent and interested in visiting with us. His hearing aids were in and he is able to hear fairly well. He has not had any physical therapy for four days because he arrived on a holiday weekend. He wasn’t even allowed to get out of bed. This set him back some. The therapists came in to assess him this morning and found he has grown weaker and lost a lot of the strength he had built up last week. They will start him at the gym tomorrow. Frieda ran out to buy him some clothes to wear to therapy (don’t want that open-backed hospital gown). On a more positive note, the pneumonia – while not entirely gone – is better.
While we were there, we dialed up Joan and she, Peter, and Chrissy all Face Timed with Sam. Everyone seemed to enjoy the visit. Sam was quite taken with my iPhone. We showed him how to take a picture and a video. He was talking about buying one when we left for dinner. That’s so funny because their daughter, Laura, bought an iPhone for Frieda when they were here and Frieda wound up giving it back and getting herself a simple Trac phone. The iPhone was too complicated to use.
Stopped at Nicky’s Mexican Restaurant for 2-for-1 enchilada night. Margaritas and enchiladas. What a meal!
Bonnie and Sheba are still scratching. The flea shampoo didn’t help Bonnie and it doesn’t look like the flea treatments helped either one. Since Sheba is due for a blood test for heartworm so that we can refill her medication, we will bring both of them to the vet to see what he can do about the fleas. Bonnie is SO unhappy. She has never had fleas before and is very perturbed with the whole affair.
6 July 2014 (Sun) – Went to church this morning. We are quite impressed with this church. They do a lot of things that involve young people. Last month, they sent thirty plus kids to Belize for two weeks to build a church. There was a group of teens from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana called World Changers in church today. They are here in Louisiana for a week doing volunteer repair work for people in poor neighborhoods. They have many programs and activities for kids.
After church, we went to Southfield Grill for lunch. We bought extra food to take to the hospital (today is National Fried Chicken Day). When we got there, Laura was in the room with Sam. Frieda spent the night then went home to take a shower and get some errands done. Sam did very well last night and they were both able to get some sleep.
Laura brought Sam a kolachi (a boudin ball inside a sealed hamburger roll) when she arrived this morning so he wasn’t hungry enough to eat anything we brought. We had a delightful visit while Sam entertained us with stories of his life (he is a great story teller). Frieda came in later and was delighted with the fried chicken and vegetables we brought and we all munched away. We had a good visit today.
5 July 2014 (Sat) – Bonnie came in at 2:30 a.m. this morning to get us up. Paul took her out thinking she had to go to the bathroom but she didn’t do anything. Turns out she has fleas and is very agitated by them. She has never had fleas and does not like them at all. Paul ran out at 8:30 this morning to buy some flea shampoo and a flea bomb for the camper. Blah! We gave Bonnie a flea shampoo, dried her off, fumigated the RV, vacuumed the dog and the camper, and sprayed around the grass outside.
Went to Southfield Grill for lunch and picked up grilled pork chops for Sam. Visited him at the hospital and he gobbled up both the chops. He was awake, alert, lucid, and interacting with Laura, Frieda, and us. We played a game of Rook. Sam got lessons on the laptop from Laura. Then he needed to use the bathroom so he asked us to go run errands for two hours and then come back to watch Huckabee on Fox.
We ran home, fed the animals, walked the dog, let the cat run around the yard, threw some laundry in the washer, had cheese and crackers, and returned to the hospital at 7 p.m. We all watched Huckabee together then visited for an hour before leaving.
4 July 2014 (Fri – Independence Day) – Sam got moved to Promise Hospital late yesterday. He was greatly agitated and insisted Frieda stay with him. She hadn’t had more than 2 hours of sleep in the last 8 days so her kids sent her home and Rick stayed the night with Sam. They had to go out and find an electric blanket for Sam – he was complaining about being cold. Kim wound up going to her mother’s house and getting one (who sells electric blankets on July 4th in Louisiana?).
Went to the hospital to visit with Sam. He seemed very animated and alert. Laura was trying to teach him to use the laptop computer and set him up with an email account. Frieda said the doctor told her Sam has a touch of pneumonia and has put him on super strong antibiotics. Scary!
Promise Hospital is, surprisingly, NOT part of the monster Willis-Knighton Healthcare System. It is new and clean and bright – very appealing. A nurse sits at a desk right outside of Sam’s room. The room is larger than the one he just left. Because this is more of a nursing facility, the staff should be more consistent and rotate less. That will make it easier to build a relationship with the staff.
Kim and Rick left for home this afternoon. Laura will be here through Monday. Frieda’s sisters, Ricky and Ingrid, are coming in on Tuesday. It is good Frieda will have more help. Sam is certainly a handful!
We went to the Saltgrass Steak House on the Louisiana Boardwalk for dinner. This was a great place. It was decorated in a very western style with lots of wood and western type stuff. The food was very good and the waitstaff competent. We signed up for Landry’s Select Club when we were in Disney in January. One of the benefits is that we got a $25 reward for signing up at the next visit – so, we got $25 off our bill. The membership also moved us up in the wait line from 40 minutes to 15 minutes. That, alone, made the membership worth it.
After dinner, we sat on the patio outside the restaurant facing the river and waited for the fireworks to begin in an hour and a half. Just as the fireworks started, Joan & Peter called us to FaceTime. We couldn’t hear a thing with the noise of the fireworks, the squeals of the crowd, and the music playing from a nearby band and overhead speakers. The show was about a half hour and was great!
3 July 2014 (Thu) – I spoke with Kim this morning. She bought some housecleaning materials, thinking she could do more help for the family by cleaning the house rather than sitting around the hospital. She planned to wash and iron clothes, and dust the cobwebs away. Frieda has had her hands full since Sam developed this disease a year ago, but especially this last week with Sam in the hospital. She will appreciate the help, I’m sure.
Paul and I went to the hospital at 11:30 a.m. Sam had a bad night. Laura showed Sam how to use a laptop computer and now he shops for items. He is obsessed with getting a headlamp so he can read at night (he rarely reads but he is afraid of the dark). He is obsessive compulsive about the things he becomes interested in. It is driving everyone crazy! He was supposed to be transferred to Promise Hospital yesterday or today. Everyone is waiting for that to happen – especially Sam. He is pushing everyone to check on when the move is going to happen. Again … . that OCD thing.
Frieda, Rick, and Laura went to lunch while we sat with Sam. The physical rehab folks came in and got Sam to walk from his bed to the door before having to sit down. He didn’t go as far today as yesterday, and was terribly winded. It took him a long time to stabilize his oxygen.
After the crew returned, we left and had lunch at El Potrillo Mexican Restaurant. We then stopped at Lowe’s to pick up some water filters, then at a Barnes & Noble to get some books for Sam to read. As we were driving back to the camper, we passed a sign announcing that Coldwater Creek was having a Going Out of Business sale and everything was 80% off. Well, that wasn’t true. Only SOME things were 80% off, others were 30 to 60% off. Coldwater Creek is my favorite store and I am so bummed that it is going out of business. I shopped around and bought one pair of capris (and they weren’t 80% off. Bummer!).
2 July 2014 (Wed) – We stayed home today so as to give Laura and Rick a chance to visit with their father. Additionally, the hospital room is so small; just two people make it crowded. Six of us would be ridiculous.
We took the opportunity to run several errands: picked up items for the camper at Home Depot and Southern RV Supercenter; shopped for dog and cat food at Pet Smart; bought groceries at Brookshire’s; had lunch at Ruby Tuesday. Paul said it’s time to leave – we are eating in the restaurant chains now.
Called Frieda’s cell phone several times today but she didn’t answer. I finally called the hospital and spoke with Rick (Frieda was supposed to be home resting). Rick said that Sam is doing wonderfully. All the nurses have been telling him that Sam is a different person than who they have been dealing with for the last week. Frieda later called and said that Sam should be moved to a rehab center tomorrow. I am so happy for him. I have to admit I was frightened for him.
We got to Skype with our son Travis, Sam, and Noah. Sam is expecting a baby sometime in February. It is always such fun to hear Noah talking in that little baby voice. He is such a little dolly.
1 July 2014 (Tue) – New month, new Sam. It’s like he got a boost of something and a miracle happened. He ate every meal with gusto and was more lucid than he has been since he arrived at the hospital. He even walked from the bed to the doorway with the physical therapist. He had a brief period of confusion for about an hour and a half, but the cloud lifted and he was himself again.
Frieda spoke with the lung doctor and was told that while Sam has a serious illness (pulmonary fibrosis), the doctor believes Sam still has a few good years left in him. Hospice is not on the horizon. Relieved, Frieda asked for Sam to be moved to Promise Hospital. It is closer to them and has an excellent rehab center. Her sewing ministry is involved with the hospital as well so she is familiar with the staff, patient treatment, and policies
Laura, Rick, and Kim (Rick’s wife) arrived tonight. I am sure Frieda will be happy to see them (she is spending the night at the hospital with Sam).
30 June 2014 (Mon) – Had to go back to the doctor today. One of the incisions from my surgery started bleeding. It’s probably because of all the activity of running to and from the hospital. The PA said I have a small infection in the incision and put me on antibiotics. I have to clean the wound and change the dressing twice a day.
It is frightening to watch Sam. He seems to be going downhill fast. He refuses to eat. Does not cooperate with the nursing staff or us. Yells at Frieda to take him home. Hallucinates about what the TV remote and bed controls can do. It’s a mess. The internist told Frieda that she needs to think about comfort care sooner than later for Sam. In Louisiana, that translates to hospice. She called their children (Rick and Laura) so they could arrange to come in.
28 -29 June 2014 (Sat & Sun) – It’s been a blur these last few days. We’ve all been taking turns staying with Sam in the hospital. He has three big problems – he can’t hear, he can’t breathe, and he is not allowed to move. For some reason, we have been unable to keep his oxygen at a good level. It keeps plummeting and then he starts acting out. Then we have to start fighting with him to stay in the bed and keep his canula in. Because Sam is a mouth breather and not getting the full effect of the oxygen through his nose, we have been putting the canula in his mouth. He also wants to get out of the bed to use the bathroom but he’s not allowed.
The staff at this hospital are not the best either. Frieda says it’s the weekend staff – the “A” team works the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift during the week. The “B” team takes nights and weekends. From what I can see, it’s a hit or miss affair here. You either get a great nurse or a real bad one; there’s no in-between.
The Willis-Knighton (WK) Hospital System here is Shreveport is huge! There are several buildings around the area and hospitals referred to as WK Pierremont, WK North, WK South, and WK Bossier. Doctors have offices right in the hospital buildings or right next to it. The policies in the hospitals are different from New York, too. There is no security desk. No one is questioned or given a pass when they come in. You can go to any room you want at any time of the day or night. There is also no limit on the number of visitors per room, nor are there are set visiting hours. It all seems very loosey-goosey.
27 June 2014 (Fri) – Went down to the house, let Shadow out and stirred up last night’s dinner (he didn’t eat anything), and checked to see that Smoky was OK outside (she’s not allowed in the house when they’re not home). Paul and I headed out to the hospital at 8:30 a.m. When we got there, we picked up a cup of coffee for Frieda in the cafeteria and went on up to Sam’s room.
Frieda was glad for the coffee. Sam seemed fine – clear and lucid and not really in any pain. We all visited for about an hour, then Paul took Frieda home. I picked up some breakfast at the cafeteria and spent the day watching over Sam. It was a flurry of medical personnel floating in and out of the room all day long. There was the respiratory department to do lung treatments; physical therapy to get him up and moving; nurses checking vitals; food service personnel delivering meals; staff emptying garbage and cleaning floors; doctors touching base; and a case manager to assess Sam’s need for rehab.
It turned out that the hip had a clean break across the bone so they did not have to replace the hip. Instead, the surgeon put a screw (pin?) in the bone. Sam had no pain as long as he didn’t move. In the afternoon, he began to get antsy and wanted to get up. I had a hell of a job keeping him in the bed. After the physical therapist got him out of bed and sitting in the chair for a half hour, he began to grow agitated and confused. When Paul and Frieda got to the hospital at 4 p.m., Sam was fully involved in whatever was going on. He was shaking and hallucinating and talking nonsense. We think his oxygen hose was twisted and he wasn’t getting the full dose of oxygen he needs. It’s frightening what a lack of oxygen can do to a person. Frieda suspects Sam is having a reaction to all the medications he’s being given. He is no used to getting medicine.
We visited for two hours, then Paul and I left. Frieda will be spending the night with Sam.
26 June 2014 (Thu) – Woke early and went down to the house to check on the dogs. Called Frieda to find that the doctor will be putting a rod in Sam’s leg. Because of his lung condition, he can’t take anesthesia so they will give him a spinal block. He is not happy about being restrained and unable to get up. I told Frieda we’ll come get her when she’s ready to come home. She asked me to call the church and let them know what happened.
The day was full of telephone calls and text messages as we let everyone know what happened. Sam’s friends stopped by the house because someone had told them they had seen an ambulance at the house the night before. Word traveled fast.
We did grocery shopping at Brookshire’s. Went to drop the garbage off in the dumpster in back of the store but there were two police cars parked back there. Guess we will have to try to get the garbage to the dump (there is no garbage pickup here – residents bring their garbage to the local dump).
We went to the hospital around 1 p.m. Sam was still out from the operation. Frieda’s friend, Barbara (who had spent the whole day at the hospital with her), took her home so she could get a little sleep. (Barbara napped, Frieda was inundated with phone calls about Sam). We watched over Sam but he basically floated in and out of consciousness.
Barbara and Frieda returned to the hospital about 6 p.m. Frieda didn’t get to take a nap but felt she would be able to sleep on the couch just fine. We stayed for an hour or so longer then left. Picked up dinner at McDonald’s and returned to the RV.
25 June 2014 (Wed) – Sam made breakfast for us this morning. The guys have been going into town to the Gator Bait for breakfast. When they went there yesterday, there was a sign in the window saying they would be closing permanently the next day. The group has been meeting every morning for breakfast for years. Guess they’ll go back to McDonald’s. Sam’s breakfast included sausage gravy on biscuits and fried eggs. Frieda also cooked up a sausage but it was too spicy to eat.
After breakfast, Paul and I returned to the camper and began making preparations to move. Paul got on top of the RV and cleaned the roof, then washed the rest of the camper. I stored items away, cleaned out the fridge, and packed up the dog’s toys. Dark clouds rolled in and thunder boomed. Soon it was raining.
Frieda called and asked if we wanted to go to lunch at the Main Street Restaurant in Gillam, LA. This is a restaurant in farm/plantation country that all the workers go to. It was a 40 minute drive to get there (nothing is close around here) and there were over a dozen pick-up trucks parked in front. The place looked a little run down outside but was quite nice inside. There were pictures of race horses on the walls and several large TVs around the room. The tables were covered in bright red and white checked cloths and two walls were red brick. The service was OK and the food was very good. The daily special was only $7.99 and included a fried pork chop, mashed potatoes with gravy, fried okra, a biscuit, and a drink. After lunch, we drove down the old Dixie Highway. This road runs past a lot of farms/plantations growing corn, pecans, and other crops. Many had large patches of sunflowers growing in front. Frieda says the sunflower crops are not regulated like the other crops so they are planted as a supplemental income. They were pretty to see.
We got back and returned to getting the camper ready to move on. Paul washed the truck. The rain had stopped and we finished getting most everything ready. Sam cooked a pork loin on the smoker. It was quite good. We also finished off some of the left overs in the fridge. After dinner, we talked a while then returned to the RV.
Frieda called at 10 p.m. to say that Sam had fallen and couldn’t get up. Paul went over to help him. Sam didn’t know how he had fallen. His hand was pretty much cut up from the fall. Paul sat him in the chair and Frieda called 9-1-1. They took him to the hospital; Frieda rode along. She called us at midnight to say that Sam had broken his hip and they were keeping him at the hospital. What a mess.
24 June 2014 (Tue) – I went to the church with Frieda and Kate this morning to help the Lydia Sewing Ministry group. There were eight people missing, not to mention the three they just lost (two died, one moved). Kate stuffed pillows all day; I pinned clothing pieces together for Peggy. Paul picked me up at 1:30 p.m. and we dropped Bonnie off at Pet Smart for grooming at 2 p.m.
We stopped at Capital One Bank to cash in some coins but they did not have a coin machine. We exchanged some 20s for larger bills. We then went on to the surgeon’s office for my check-up. The Nurse Assistant removed the staples and said everything looked fine. She did not see any reason for our not hitting the road again. We made a quick stop at the wine store and then stopped in at the American Legion Post for a quick drink. Got the call to pick Bonnie up and returned to Pet Smart to get her and pick up some pet food.
We got home and brought some ribs over to cook on the BBQ. Ten minutes into the cooking, the propane tank ran out. Paul took the tank and ran down to the Dollar General store to get a new tank. He was back in 15 minutes, got the propane hooked up and cooking again, and finished the ribs.
After dinner, we played Rook. The guys won two hands and were quite pleased with themselves. I got a call from our son, Travis. He will be starting a new job that pays more money and has an opportunity for advancement. Things are going well for them right now. I am happy for him.
23 June 2014 (Mon) – Had physical therapy today. Doran measured the flexibility of my foot and had me walk for six minutes. He gave me some suggestions for exercise and stretching to keep my foot feeling good. All in all, I have improved greatly and look forward to continued improvement.
Ran some errands today. Went to CVS to pick up a thank you card for the doctor that identified the cause of my stomach problems. I think we landed here in Shreveport, Louisiana, for a specific reason – to help Sam through his darkest hours and to get treatment from Dr. Geist. I also picked up a heel cup to put in my shoe, as suggested by my physical therapist.
Stopped at Lowe’s and picked up a few items for the camper. Couldn’t find the hydraulic bar for the door on the basement, so Paul ran over to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and found it in there. He had an urge for a hot dog so we stopped at Sonic for lunch. The hot dogs were OK but not as good as they are in New York.
On the way home, we stopped at Brookshire’s and picked up a couple of things. Sam & Frieda’s granddaughter, Kate, arrived for an extended visit. We had Pizza Hut pies for dinner. Afterward, Sam wanted to go for a ride by the farms to look at the sunflowers. We drove for an hour with the sun setting in the west and only found one sunflower area. We saw a coyote standing on the side of the road by one farm. It was a mean looking critter.
22 June 2014 (Sun) – Frieda’s sister left this morning. We didn’t go to bible study but we did go to church. Afterward, we went to the Southfield Grill for brunch. When we returned, Paul and Sam retired to the shop to work on the Trabant. They are painting the tires and buffing engine parts.
Enjoyed dinner together and Rook afterward.
21 June 2014 (Sat) – I spent most of the day scanning receipts and documents into the digital files. It’s amazing how fast papers pile up. Paul worked with Sam in the shop. They are getting one of Sam’s cars – a Trabant – ready for an antique show. Sam seems to be enjoying himself again. I am beginning to think we were held here for a higher purpose. We arrived at a time when Sam was having big problems. Paul’s presence has helped his brother to cope with his illness and adjust his life style to fit his reduced capabilities.
Ricky, Sam, Frieda, Paul, and I went to dinner at Ralph & Kacoo’s. This was a really neat place. You walked into a small storefront selling Cajun stuff – spices, foodstuff, toys, trinkets, etc. There was a bar on the left and the restaurant in the back. Zydeco music was playing overhead and made you want to tap your toes. The place was decorated with posters and stuffed game fish. The service and food was very good. It was an enjoyable evening.
20 June 2014 (Fri) – Went to physical therapy at 8 a.m. I was afraid if I cancelled one more appointment, they would void the script. The therapist said they understood the situation and wouldn’t do that. She measured the flexibility on my foot, did a little bit of stretching with rubber bands and made an appointment for next week. Because I couldn’t do the leg exercises or lay on my stomach so they could do the sonic treatment, she said she didn’t feel I really got the therapy I should have so she told the office to credit my co-payment. Next time I go in, it won’t cost me anything. What kind of medical facility does this? That’s two offices now that refunded money to me.
We stopped at the Southfield Grill for breakfast then walked next door to pick up wine. Paul stopped at Home Depot to pick up some material and we returned to the camper. The tanks were full so we packed up the camper and towed it to the Flying J to dump. When we got back, we left the camper closed up so Paul could do some work on the RV. He greased the wheels and examined a leak under the camper. While I was standing around waiting for his next request for a tool, I noticed a wasp fly into the outer grill cover for the furnace. Immediately, I had a flashback to articles I have read about wasps and bees building nests in furnaces and water heaters. When Paul finished under the camper, I told him about the wasp. He rapped on the side of the grill and a wasp flew out. No more followed, so he popped the cover and looked inside. There was no nest in there – whew!
Later, Paul came in and reported that he had been stung. He had looked behind the hot water cover and found a wasp’s nest in there. One of them stung him on the shoulder blade. He said there were three or four wasps sitting on top of the camper looking down at him. He put dryer sheets in all the outside areas. Let’s hope that keeps the little buggers out.
We had flank steak for dinner and watched some TV before calling it a night. Frieda’s sister, Ricky, stopped in for a visit on her way back from a conference in Indiana. She arrived about 11 p.m.
19 June 2014 (Thu) – Had a hairdresser appointment at 2 p.m. While there, the doctor’s office called and gave me a 3:45 p.m. appointment. We finished the hair appointment at 3:30 and returned home but Paul and Sam weren’t there. I was going to take the pick-up truck but Frieda offered to loan me her car. With the tender tummy, that would be an easier drive.
I arrived at Dr. Norwood’s office at 3:50 p.m. and after ten minutes I was ushered into an inner examination room. A nurse asked me a bunch of stupid questions (they are required to ask them because the office is listed as a center for excellence). She removed the bandaid over the one spot that was hurting and then left me laying on the table for 45 minutes. Finally, Dr. Norwood’s assistant, Dr. Burke, came in to take a look at things. He didn’t find any reason for the pain that I have been experiencing. He proceeded to remove all the waterproof bandaids covering the six incision sites. Why? I don’t get the staples out until Tuesday and now I can’t take a shower because he removed all the waterproof coverings. I am so annoyed with this office. The anesthesiologist gave me nothing to help clear my lungs after the surgery. The doctor cut me six times, not four, and one of the incisions is very long. He used staples instead of stitches to close everything up. He didn’t give me anything to support my stomach muscles while I heal. The nurse in the office was snotty and they all seem to have an attitude. And my stomach still hurts.
18 June 2014 (Wed) – Although I woke frequently throughout the night with pain, I got up this morning with a minimum of discomfort. On a bright note, my foot has not been bothering me. I guess that old joke applies: if your head hurts, slam your hand in a door and the headache will go away. lol. Guess I’ll wait to see if it gets bad before I call the surgeon for an appointment. I did cancel the physical therapy on my foot because I still can’t lie on my stomach or use stomach muscles to lift my legs.
The pain did start up again this afternoon. I’m tired of this stuff. I put off calling the doctor, thinking I am just taking a little longer to get better. I don’t think it’s a prudent act.
Went to Bossier City to pick up food for the animals at Pet Smart, then had lunch at Ta Molly’s. I really enjoy that Mexican foodstuff. After lunch, we went grocery shopping at Brookshire’s. When we got home, I settled into the lounge chair to rest my stomach.
Had dinner with Sam &Frieda tonight. I made potatoes. Frieda had cooked a rice and beans dish to take to a sick friend, but never brought it over. The friend, Jackie, had a stroke this morning and was at the hospital We were all pretty anxious to hear how she was doing. After dinner, we sat around and Sam questioned me about my childhood years, as well as my married years with Paul. He is feeling SO much better. The prednisone has really turned him around. He is using the treadmill fairly regularly and doesn’t panic when there is a problem with his oxygen. He even spends some time with the hose out of his nose while talking or eating. Sam is a different man than when we first arrived three months ago. The transformation is amazing.
17 June 2014 (Tue) – Paul worked around the garage with Sam and Steve today while Frieda and I went to the Lydia Sewing Ministry. I made an ambrosia salad to take and Frieda brought pinto beans and cookies. I have always enjoyed the pot luck suppers at the church. Now, I can enjoy them once a week at the ministry where the ladies each bring a dish (or two). I ironed, stuffed pillows, pinned bibs, matched towels to bib tops, attached tags to finished items, and helped pack bags and boxes. It was a busy day. I was fine for most of it with limited pain.
We grilled pork chops for dinner. Frieda made mac and cheese and we enjoyed the pinto beans left over from this afternoon’s repast. For dessert, we finished off the ambrosia salad. I had no problems with eating at all. It’s beginning to look like we have solved the stomach problem. Now, if we could only get rid of the surgery pains, I’d be a happy camper (literally).
We played Rook after dinner. The guys had a strong start but the girls still beat them soundly. My stomach really starting giving me a lot of pain towards the end of the night and I finished the game standing up. I will see if I can get in to see the doctor tomorrow.
16 June 2014 (Mon) – Paul went shopping with Sam today. I lay around the camper feeling like crap. The surgeon’s office called to see how I was feeling. I reported that I am having extreme pain in one spot on my stomach; all the other incisions are healing fine. The nurse said she would check with the doctor. She later called back and told me I was constipated and should buy a bottle of citrate. The LAST thing I want to do right now is have a bowel movement. She just didn’t listen to my complaint. Boob!
I cooked some chicken and rice for dinner. This was the first full meal I have had since surgery. It was a test to see if there was any problem with eating. Everything went down without difficulty. Very encouraging.
15 June 2014 (Sun – Father’s Day) – I was in too much pain to go to church today. Spent the day laying around the RV, trying to minimize movements that cause pain. It shouldn’t still hurt like this. Travis called to wish Paul a happy day.
14 June 2014 (Sat) – Spent the day laying around the camper, dozing on and off, making all kinds of noises whenever I had to move. I wasn’t very hungry today either. We had some cheese and crackers around dinner time. Later on, Paul made some soup for us. He is so attentive.
Travis had a birthday party for Noah today. They had a kiddie pool for the babies and a blow-up play thing for them to romp on. Baby had a great time and lots of family and friends attended. They skyped in with us before the party started so we could see Noah open our gifts. The foam bat and ball seemed to be a big hit. He is so adorable!
13 June 2014 (Fri) – What a miserable day! I was in so much pain all day long. I got a call from the hospital asking how I was doing. When I complained about the pain, the nurse told me to get the Percocet. Paul ran out to CVS to fill the prescription. It does take a bit of the edge off, but still doesn’t completely dispel the pain. I spent the day dozing on and off in the lounge chair. I tried to go to bed but it hurt to lay down so I wound up going back to the lounge chair. Paul picked up some soup for dinner but I wasn’t very hungry.
Sam &Frieda’s daughter-in-law, Kim, and two children (Kate & Rhett) stopped in for a visit on their way to Waco, Texas. Kim was on the way to visit with her parents.
12 June 2014 (Thur) –Up at 6:30 a.m. and arrived at the hospital a little after 7:30 a.m. There was a long conversation between my health insurance company and the hospital. Because of the delay, I didn’t get checked in through registration until after 8 p.m. We were then brought to a private room where I got undressed and went through the medical check (temp, BP, respiration, etc.). A nurse came in and tried to get an IV going in my left hand. Even though she stuck me with lidocaine first, the stick still hurt. To add insult to injury, it didn’t work anyway. Then she lined up the inner part of left arm. That hurt, too. What the heck is with these people?
After they got their information and made sure I was prepped for surgery, we just sat. Paul and I watched TV and checked the clock regularly while time dragged by. I was brought into surgery at noon and was back in recovery about 1 p.m. I told the anesthesiologist that I get sick from the stuff so he gave me a patch to put behind my ear for motion sickness. WTH??? Everyone else puts something in the IV to mitigate the nausea but this guy didn’t. Sure enough, I got sick and suffered light-headedness and dizziness for two days afterward.
The doctor gave Paul a prescription for Percocet but I still had pain killers from the gall bladder surgery so we didn’t fill it. I was in extreme pain, particularly on my right side. I looked at the surgical sites and see that he punctured my abdomen six times. Ouch!!!
Sam & Frieda’s daughter, Laura, and her husband, Glenn, flew into Dallas and drove to Shreveport. Laura’s best friend’s mother passed away and they came here for the funeral. I hope everyone had a good visit. I has in two much pain to visit with anybody.
11 June 2014 (Wed) – I had an 8 a.m. appointment for physical therapy today. But when I got there, they did not have the appointment in the book. After some back and forth conversation, Carla (the therapist) agreed to fit me in. After some stretching, she massaged my foot then had a tech do a sonogram. She thinks I have a bone spur in addition to the plantar fasciitis. She suggested a foot pad where I can cut out a piece that would go over the tender spot in my heel. Paul and I stopped at Walgreens but couldn’t find the right heel pad.
We had breakfast at Southfield Grill. The food is always good. Our daughter-in-law, Samantha, called to see if we had received the pictures from the wedding. Yes, we got the two discs yesterday and started looking through the hundreds of pictures on them. There are some great shots.
We then stopped at the Tractor Supply Co. to pick up some horse treats and dog food. There are two horses in the pasture in the back of Sam & Frieda’s property. They are terribly ignored – they only get to graze on the grass with no supplementation at all (hay or alfalfa). Their water bucket has algae moss growing on the inside. It’s awful. They are not being socialized at all. Makes you wonder why the people even have the horses.
We got back to the house at 11 a.m., gathered up Sam and Frieda, and headed out for the Dorcheat Historical Museum in Minden, LA. Stopped at Home Depot on the way to pick up some outdoor lights and a switch. When we got to Minden, we looked for a place to eat. There was a sign advertising Hamburger Happiness. Frieda said she has seen these signs all over the place. Being the curious folks we are, we hunted the place down and had lunch there. It was a small, kind of seedy place with ripped up seats. The entire menu board was hand written and consisted of all different kinds of hamburgers. We got the special of the day which consisted of a hamburger, fries, and a drink.
When we arrived at the museum, it was 1:40 p.m. The museum was closed for lunch from 1 to 2. We hung out on the sidewalk in front of the museum until a woman pulled up and opened the place. The museum was all about the town of Minden. They suffered some terrible things in 1933. So much so that they labeled it the Year of Disasters. There was a fire, a tornado, a flood, and bank failures. Whew!
After the museum, we walked across the street to an antique store. It was pretty large and had a mix of antiques and old junk. Frieda found a large stuffed panda bear for her granddaughter. We got back to the house about 4 p.m. Dinner was all the left-overs from our two refrigerators. Pretty yummy.
I got a call from the insurance company while we rode to Minden. The billing agent told me that I would have to pay $300 when I arrived at the hospital tomorrow. I told her I only have a $60 copay for outpatient hospital services with Blue Cross Blue Shield. She said she would check with the insurance company and call me back. I don’t understand the confusion. I had an operation on May 6th and there was no problem. Why now?
During dinner, Sam’s lawn service arrived and began mowing the grass. There were two ride-on mowers going as well as a weed whacker. The service is provided by a man and his two grown children – his name is Chopper (appropriate, huh?). The excitement began when the son ran over an old gas line. Chopper (who works full time with the local gas company) noticed the smell of gas. Then began the search for where the smell was coming from. The break was located and Chopper called the gas company to come turn the gas off (Sam & Frieda get their gas from a competitor company). Turned out the gas line used to go to a lantern in the yard that was removed several years ago. The line was capped off at the point where it fed into the lantern, and the rest of the line was left buried in the ground. Over time, the line worked its way to the surface where it met the blades of the lawn mower today. Chopper crimped the line shut and will be back tomorrow to take the line out and cap it at the main line into the house. Enough excitement for one night!
10 June 2014 (Tue) – I had pre-op testing at the hospital at 9 a.m. I had to stop by the doctor’s office first, pick up a form to fill out, and make a payment of $250 on the physician’s bill. Depending on what the insurance company pays, I will be billed the remainder of his fee. I then walked over to the day surgery unit and had an EKG and bloodwork done. The technician had angel hands. I didn’t feel the stick at all. First time ever a blood draw didn’t hurt.
We went to Another Broken Egg for breakfast. They have such interesting things on their menu. We sat outside on the veranda. There was bird nest overhead, built on top of a speaker. We watched the little birds fly back and forth, rebuilding the nest. Last week, there were babies in the nest. Guess they flew away and the happy little couple is starting all over again.
We made a quick stop at CVS and I picked up a heel pad to see if it will help with the pain in my heel. It didn’t. Then we went to the post office to mail off a package to our pastor back in New York. We got home around 3:30 p.m. Paul grilled hamburgers on the barbie and Frieda cooked veggies to accompany the meal. After dinner, we watched TV then turned in.
9 June 2014 (Mon) – I had physical therapy at 9 a.m. I have been wearing the foot splint at night and that is helping. When I get up in the morning, my foot does not hurt. Then it slowly wakes up and begins to ache in the heel. I got a very thorough and comprehensive treatment today – exercises, massage, and sonogram.
After therapy, Paul and I went to breakfast at the Waffle House. The waitress was quite taken with my New York accent. She thought it was “cute.”
Sam & Frieda had to take their van into the dealership because of a recall notice about the passenger air bag. It was supposed to take an hour and a half but they waited over three hours. Very aggravating!
There was a fierce thunderstorm today. It really poured and thundered for better than a half hour. There is a string of severe thunderstorms coming up from the Texas coast moving northeast. The storms are coming up Texas into Oklahoma and Arkansas, sometimes cutting into the upper northwest corner of Louisiana (where we are).
I got to Skype with Travis, Samantha, and Noah today. That baby is so adorable! He has such a little guy voice and repeats everything like a parrot. He delights in saying whatever his parents ask him to say. He had a train and when I made train noises (chugga-chugga, toot-toot) he seemed very amused by that. He then pulled out a monster truck and giggled when I made zoom-zoom noises. Too cute!
We grilled some steaks and had asparagus with red beans and rice for dinner. Afterward, we played a game of Rook. The girls soundly beat the guys.
8 June 2014 (Sun) – Frieda and I went to Sunday School at 8:45 a.m. The class was quite empty. Several of the ladies are on a 10-day bus tour to Hershey, PA. It was an interesting lesson and one that hit home. The lady leading the bible study spoke about how God is love. We talked about how you could also love one another and she used some examples. I enjoyed the class and the chance to mull over my own situation.
We met Sam and Paul in the sanctuary for the 10:30 a.m. service. They had a baby dedication and two people came up after the service to bear witness to God. They will be baptized next. The church has a new youth minister and his wife. There will be having a covered dish supper followed by a pounding tonight. A pounding is when people bring household items and gifts for the new couple.
After church, we went to breakfast at IHOP. Then we drove around town for a while. Sam took us by where they used to live in a trailer park. It has run down since then with many of the trailers looking like they are 40 years old.
When we went to return home, Sam got very agitated and didn’t want to go back yet. He wanted to continue driving around. Paul and I wanted to skype with our son and his family and Frieda wanted to get changed. Sam was overruled and we returned home. We couldn’t connect with Travis – we each had something going on and couldn’t seem to coordinate our schedules. We said we would try to touch base tomorrow.
Frieda cooked a meatloaf and field peas; I made mashed potatoes and carrots. Dinner was good and we followed it up with a movie. We found a DVD in Kroger’s that we have been wanting to see – Steel Magnolias. Sam and Frieda told us that the movie was filmed in one of the towns near Shreveport. The actresses and actors took up local residence for many months. Julia Roberts acted like a real prima donna. Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah were very nice and down to earth. The movie was very much a chick flick – the guys did not like it.
7 June 2014 (Sat) – Sam & Frieda ran errands most of the day. We went over and did some laundry in the afternoon. Later, we had dinner and played Rook afterward.
6 June 2014 (Fri) – It was a busy, run-around day today. First was physical therapy at 9:30 a.m. That was followed by a late breakfast/early lunch at Southfield Grill. My stomach gave me problems, so I had to take most of the meal home. Thrifty Liquor was right next door, so we walked over and picked up some wine. Paul stopped in Bed, Bath & Beyond while I was in therapy and found a roasting rack. Yaaayyyy! We stopped in PetSmart to pick up some pet food and got Sheba a couple of toys. She needs stimulation. She’s a young cat that needs to run and chase things. She climbs the door every morning, meowing to go out.
I saw Dr. Geist, the gastroenterologist, at 12:30 p.m. He said there was nothing he could do so he refunded the office fee. What doctor does that???? Next, we went food shopping at Kroger. I like that store much better than Brookshire’s. It’s just not as close to go to. The surgeon’s office changed my pre-op appointment and surgery date. I will get testing on Tuesday morning and have the stomach surgery on Thursday. I sure hope this clears everything up. I’m tired of all the nonsense.
We got back and went over to visit with Sam & Frieda. They were looking at the operating hours of a local museum, thinking we would go there tomorrow. Unfortunately, all museums in this area seem to only be open Tuesday or Wednesday through Friday. None are open on the weekend. How dumb is that? That should be their busiest day of the week.
Paul and I went to dinner and a movie at the Boardwalk. We saw Maleficent with Angelina Jolie (she was the PERFECT actress for this part). After, we went to Joe’s Crab Shack for dinner. We both had crab buckets. It was too much work and way too messy. The noise level in the place was loud (don’t know if it was my age or poor acoustics that made it that way). I thought the waitress was working hard but seemed to keep making extra trips for things. For instance, Paul asked for wet naps and she went off to fetch them. She came back with something else we asked for but no wet naps. When Paul reminded her we wanted them, she said her hands were full and she would come back with them. Well, what is that cute little apron around your waist for? The air in the pockets makes you more buoyant? She lost my respect with a silly lie like that.
5 June 2014 (Thu) – There is a very large tract of wooded land fenced in along the highway going toward Shreveport. The story goes that the guy who owned the property took a trip to Africa and became enamored with the animals that roam the Serengeti. So he got some gnus, elands, zebras – that type of range animal – and brought them back to his preserve. Sometime later, the man died in a plane crash (he was a private pilot). Everyone wondered what would happen to the animals and no one saw them for a long time. Then the rumor mill said the son decided to take over the property and its animals. Now, when you drive past the area, you can sometimes catch sight of one or more of the animals grazing along the fence line or at the pond. We have managed to spot something that looks like it had a zebra parent. It is light colored with brown and tan stripes on its legs and hind quarters. There are other animals, but none that really look very exotic.
We went to CVS and picked up two birthday cards, then went to the post office to mail off several packages. Our grandson’s 2nd birthday is coming up this month, as is our niece’s 11th birthday next month. There was also a special find we came across that we sent to our pastor, and the “Slap Ya Mama” spices for Paul’s sister as an “apartment warming” gift (she had to move from the house she rented to a basement apartment).
Sam & Frieda said they wanted to go to New Orleans to see their grandson race this weekend, and they want us to go with them. I have two doctor’s appointments scheduled for tomorrow. By the time I spoke with Frieda, the offices were closed. I promised to see what I could do about rescheduling them. I called one office and left a message on the machine. I also called the kennel down the road to: (1) tell Penny that we might be dropping our animals off tomorrow; and, (2) ensure they had room for our animals. Penny said she had a full house and could only take one dog and our cat. When I said that Sam and Frieda would need to leave their animals, too, Penny said she would look at doubling up a couple of her dogs. She would let us know tomorrow but don’t drop anybody off before noon (Sam likes to drop the dogs off very early in the morning).
I called Frieda to let her know what Penny said. She told me they decided not to go to New Orleans after all. The weather is too hot during the day. Instead, they are planning to go on June 28 when their grandson will be competing in the evening when the temperatures are cooler.
4 June 2014 (Wed) – Went to physical therapy today. My back was really acting up so my movements were limited. The therapist, Carla, did the scraping thing again but only on my heel. The instep doesn’t hurt any more (that’s good).
We then drove to Posados Mexican Café for lunch. My stomach really acted up and I didn’t more than three or four bites of food in before I had to throw up. I am really anxious to have that surgery. In fact, the surgeon’s office called this morning and set next Wednesday for the surgery. She said she would call me back about pre-op testing.
On the drive back home, we passed Creamer Furniture. This is a large store that has intrigued us for over two months now. We finally stopped in to take a look. Frieda told us that her granddaughter bought some stuff in there when she moved into a new apartment. Apparently the prices are pretty good. It might have a Salvation Army store back home. It was full of all kinds of houseware items including wall art, clothing, shoes, videos – many used and new things. We wandered around the huge warehouse for about a half hour. I wound up buying some music CDs.
My back was really hurting tonight so we begged off dinner with Sam & Frieda and stayed in tonight.
3 June 2014 (Tue) – Steve came over today to help out around the place. Paul and he replaced the weather stripping on the back door and removed some old phone lines from outside the house.
Frieda asked me to help at her sewing group today. A group of ladies from the First Baptist Church of Blanchard form the Lydia Sewing Ministry. They meet every Tuesday and sew clothing items for local nursing homes, hospitals, hospice, and the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital. The group has taken a severe loss this month. Two members died, one moved, and one had a stroke and went into the hospital. Additionally, there was an AARP driver’s education course given today that several of the ladies attended. So I was glad to help. My job was to stuff filling into pillow shells. I stuffed about three dozen pillows. Meanwhile, the ladies sat at sewing machines and created all manner of clothing – bibs for adult patients, dresses, pants, capris, and book bags. There were also two ironing boards set up in the corners of the room and had at least one in use at all times.
The ladies bring in food each week in a kind of pot luck luncheon. There were lots of salads and desserts to nibble on that were quite good. The whole operation made me think about the ladies back home at my church. They have a craft group that meets once a week to make items for the annual Christmas Fair.
We finished up around 4 p.m. It was a long day. Frieda cooked up ham steaks and peas for dinner; I made mashed sweet potatoes. After dinner, we watched Bill O’Reilly on FOX News then played a game of Rook.
2 June 2014 (Mon) – Went to physical therapy this morning at 10:30 a.m. They took me 20 minutes late then let me go early. I think I got a half hour, not an hour, of therapy. They had me do exercises (I had already done them this morning). The therapist, Carla (filling in for Doran), put some lotion on my foot and calf then “scraped” the surface of the skin. It was designed to break up the nodules in the foot but looked more like it belonged in a pastry chef’s kitchen than a physical therapist’s office.
When we got out, we went around the back of the hospital to McAllister’s Deli. Deli’s here don’t mean the same thing as deli’s in New York. They don’t open until 10:30 a.m. and they offered salads, soups, chili, and sandwiches. The food was very good but it was a high price. A salad for me, a sandwich with soup for Paul, and two drinks, cost $23 and change.
We drove across the street to Target, looking for a roasting rack. They didn’t have any. We then stopped in at Sports Academy where I got new sunglasses. We also picked up a case of water and a new stair stepper with resistance bands attached.
Frieda mentioned a hardware store down Benton Road so we drove over to Tubbs Hardware Store (still looking for a roasting rack). This was quite the place! The first thing you saw outside when you drove up was a wild boar trap. The inside of the place seemed to have something of everything for the redneck and more! We picked up gifts for family and an Americana sticker for the truck. We really enjoyed cruising around the store.
Frieda also said there was a kitchen store at the Boardwalk in Shreveport so we drove over there. Took advantage of being in the area and walked through the Bass Pro Shops (that’s a fun place to wander around). Found the Kitchen Store but they had no roasting racks. This is becoming a tough thing to find. Wish I hadn’t sold mine at the yard sale. Lol.
We walked over to the Margaritaville Casino to take a look inside. Went to the bar and had a margarita. We will probably be back for dinner – either to Margaritaville or one of the other restaurants on the boardwalk. Stopped at the Thrifty Liquor Store to pick up some wine, then the Dollar Store for milk on the way back home.
Brought pork chops to the house to barbecue, and Frieda served up potato salad, baked beans, and mac & cheese. After dinner, there was the usual dish of ice cream. We watched Bill O’Reilly on FOX News and were appalled to see that the POW who was traded for five Taliban leaders (since when has America started trading with terrorists?) was a deserter. Now, it seems that any terror organization in the world will be encouraged to kidnap Americans because we give in to demands. This country has grown so weak!
1 June 2014 (Sun) – I went to Sunday School with Frieda this morning. The group was kind of subdued and there wasn’t much chatting before bible study started. After class, we met the guys for church service. The AC was on and the place was freezing cold. There was a baptism at the beginning of the service. These things always seem so weird. The minister stands behind a window high up in the front of the sanctuary. The person to be baptized enters wearing a white robe and steps into the tub. The pastor seats the candidate, conducts the ceremony, then dunks the person backwards in the water. Then the person goes up the stairs out of site to the right, and the minister goes up the stairs out of site to the left. I guess he changes out of his wet pants and robe (he was also standing in the tub of water), then shows up to give the sermon.
After church, we went to the Southfield Grill for breakfast/lunch. Then we took a ride over to the Drug Emporium. What a great place. It was huge! There were all kinds of organic and health food items to choose from. We spent a good hour poking around the place.
We returned to the church where we picked up Frieda’s car. The guys drove off to the book store and I took a nap. After dinner, we played Rook. Sam appears to be doing much better, yet he sometimes starts complaining at night. I am confused as to what’s happening with him.
31 May 2014 (Sat) – Paul & Sam went back to that estate sale to look at the house. Sam & Frieda looked at it 40 years ago when they were shopping for a house. After doing some banking online, I went over to see if I could help Frieda with a project. She was busy ironing clothes so we sat and talked till the guys got back. Sam & Frieda had some errands to run so Paul & I spent the rest of the afternoon potsing around the camper. After dinner, we went back to the house and watched Huckabee.
30 May 2014 (Fri) – Woke to a rainy day. It really poured and threatened to put out Paul’s fire. He went out to put a flat board over the top of the last of the logs to try and keep the rain out. The fire has been burning for a week. The rain let up, the sun came out, and the fire resumed. There is about one log left to burn now.
Sam’s friend, Steve, told him he saw a treadmill for $50 at an estate sale yesterday. Sam asked us to go get it for him, so we took Sam’s truck and drove over to Bethany, TX. It was quite an estate sale. The house was jam packed with so much stuff; it was hard to maneuver around everything. They must have done craft shows or flea markets – there were lots of multiples of things, indicating that they were selling stuff.
Ricky said good-bye around 3:30 p.m. and headed back to Branch, LA. Paul’s sister, Joan, called to say hi and we talked for about 20 minutes. Sam and Frieda were exhausted after their day of shopping with Ricky, so they passed on dinner. Sam and Paul sat outside for half an hour visiting while I cooked dinner for us. Then it was a quiet night watching TV.
29 May 2014 (Thu) – Went to a physical therapy session on my foot. The therapist spent an hour examining my foot and leg. Gave me some exercises to do and advice on how to carry on. Made three appointments for next week.
Left the therapist and went to the Southfield Grill for breakfast. The food was quite good and the cost very reasonable. After breakfast, we were driving past Greg Tilley’s Mobile Home dealership and decided to stop in. A couple of the models were appealing and we gathered some information about the homes before leaving. Maybe, some day …
Made a quick stop in Brookshire’s to pick up a few more groceries and returned home.
Frieda’s sister, Erica (“Ricky”), stopped in for a visit. We all went to the Chinese buffet for dinner.
28 May 2014 (Wed) – We packed up and took the camper down to the Flying J to dump the tanks. It began to rain pretty hard as we were going down the road, so we went into Denny’s to have lunch.
Brought the camper back to the house, stopped in to say hi to Sam & Frieda, then went off on more errands. Went food shopping at Brookshire’s and picked up wine at Thrifty Liquors.
We cooked smoked sausage on the BBQ. I cooked up the Louisiana red beans and rice we bought. Think we like the Viggo brand better.
Watched the last night of the History Channel’s special on WWII, then returned to the camper.
27 May 2014 (Tue) – Have been having problems with my weblog. Contacted Tumblr on Friday but couldn’t get any answer. I thought, perhaps, that the office was closed over the holiday weekend. Then I got an email offering to sell me a tech support plan for $10 a month. How outrageous! It was finally worked out and it seems my blog is back online. We’ll see.
Went to the doctor today to consult on my stomach issues. There seems to be a problem with my health insurance and this doctor not being in the network. The billing clerk said she would call my insurance company tomorrow to get more information. I also promised to follow up with them as well.
Left the doctor and stopped at Wendy’s for lunch. It looks like Wendy’s has changed its look. The place is built with a very square look and colored black and red. Inside, the seating area is bright and decorated with a glass partition top painted with grass.
Afterwards, we stopped at Wray Ford and Paul picked up paint for the truck. We have managed to get some dings and scrapes on the truck over our travels and this touch-up paint should help to fill those in.
We had dinner with Sam & Frieda, then watched the History Channel’s special on WWII.
26 May 2014 (Mon – Memorial Day) – Travis called us last night to tell us that an 18-year old man was killed yesterday when he fell down the bluffs at the beach by the cabin. Turns out that our neighbor (who is always allowing the kids to drink and party while she absents herself) had let her kids drink with friends. After the boy was killed, she and her father packed up all the beer and left. This smells like a big law suit in the making.
Laura and Tommy left early this morning. Sam got in the car around 8 this morning and drove off. Turned out he went down to the Gator Bite for morning coffee with the guys, but they were closed.
We went to the house at 11 a.m. and all drove off to Sue’s Kountry Kitchen for lunch. Afterward, we went to the Tractor Supply Company. What an interesting place! It was a kind of country store with a little bit of everything. We wandered around for about an hour and still didn’t get to see everything. We will have to go back.
We got back to the house and went to the camper to put away our purchases. Returned to the house around 6:30 p.m. Frieda had her hands full trying to get phone calls and emails returned so I made dinner. Paul grilled steaks on the barby and I cooked up mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. Everything was very good. Followed it up with coffee and ice cream.
After dinner, we watched the History channel’s special on WWI and WWII major players. It showed Churchill, Mussolini, Roosevelt, McArthur, Patton, Stalin, and Hitler during WWI and how their attitudes were formed to influence WWII. Looking forward to watching tomorrow’s show.
25 May 2014 (Sun) – I went to the house at 8:45 a.m. to meet Frieda for Sunday school, but she was still in her pajamas. Sam had a bad night and Frieda needed time to go over some things with her daughter, Laura. We all (except Laura’s son, Tommy) went to church at 10:30 a.m. Sam, Paul, and I went in the van; Frieda and Laura went in Frieda’s car. Frieda asked us to take Sam out for breakfast after church so she and Laura could continue getting things done.
We drove back to the house to pick up Tommy. When he came out and saw that Sam was driving, he stopped. Paul recognized the boy’s dilemma. His mother told him not to drive with his grandpa. Reluctantly, Paul told Sam that he is a bad driver and Tommy is not allowed to ride in the car when he is driving. Paul then went on to add that he would not ride with Sam anymore either. It was a heartbreaking scene. Sam begged everyone not to do that to him – driving is the one thing he can still do and it relaxes him. He insisted that Paul drive with him and point out what he does wrong. We drove around the area while Paul pointed out all the things Sam does that are unsafe. We got back home and Paul repeated that we would not ride with him anymore. This is such a bad time for Sam – he is feeling better from taking the prednisone and is able to breathe much better, yet we are telling him he is not safe to drive with. My heart breaks fro him.
Sam gave in and let Paul drive, so Sam, Paul, Tommy, and I went to IHOP for breakfast. Afterward, we went to WalMart to shop. I rode an electric cart and Sam had his cart. It was quite the parade. We had expected Sam to try to change Paul’s mind about the driving, but he never said a word about it. He was very subdued.
At 7 p.m., Paul and I went to Trejo’s Mexican Restaurant for dinner. We walked into a medium sized restaurant, decorated very colorfully, but not a soul in it. It was kind of weird. They advertised .99 cent margaritas all day from Monday thru Wednesday (how good can a .99 cent margarita be?). We both ordered the margaritas and our meal. They were not that good (who thought they would be) but the food was OK. Half way through our meal, a group of people came in – three women, a man, three boys, three girls, and an infant. At least, we weren’t alone in that big space any more.
24 May 2014 (Sat) – I did some housekeeping chores today. It was difficult to clump around the camper with the cast on. There was a dead tree in the front yard. The electric company cut it down for Sam without charge, and neatly piled the wood up (this is a service they do for everyone). Paul has been piling the wood on a cart and using the tractor, hauling it to the burn pile in the back yard for two days (It was a big tree).
We went over to the house about 2 p.m. to see what everyone was doing. Frieda was just preparing breakfast for everyone. We talked a little while then went back to the RV. Sam & Paul left for WalMart later to buy a new cell phone for Frieda – she dropped her purse yesterday and broke her phone. The new medicine is making Sam edgy – Frieda says he just can’t sit still. Turns out, the guys never went to WalMart. They just drove around for an hour. Ric and his son, Rhett, left.
At 5 p.m., Paul returned and we dressed for dinner and left at 5:30 for Sam’s Town Casino. We had dinner at Smokey Joe’s, then attended a concert by Aaron Neville (a smooth jazz performer). The room where the concert was held was a big ballroom with rows of chairs from front to back. The floor was one level, so I could not see from way in the back where we were seated. There were two large screens in front on either side of the stage that showed the performers closed up. The camera kept showing pictures of the back of the drummer or Aaron Neville singing. He was very stiff when he first came out. We thought he was stoned or drunk. As the show went on, he became a little more animated but never really seemed to be all there. There was a tall, thin, black woman down the row from us that stood during the whole performance, gyrating and waving her arms. She was quite the entertainment.
Nobody was in the mood to gamble, so we were back home by 10:30 p.m.
23 May 2014 (Fri) – Paul left at 6:45 a.m. to pick up Sam & Frieda’s daughter, Laura, at the airport. They got back about 8:30 a.m.
We left for the funeral home at 9:00 a.m. to attend the memorial service for Virginia. We stopped quickly at the orchard where they were having the lunch so Frieda could drop off some food. When we got to the funeral parlor, the coffin was still open and we went up to say our good-byes. At 10 p.m., the funeral director came up, tucked the satin in around the edges, and closed the lid. The pastor had everyone stand, and then the family filed in and sat in the first row. A man from the First Baptist Church where we go sang two songs and the pastor gave a moving testimony to Virginia’s life. When the service was concluded, we all got in our cars and formed a line behind the hearse. There were three police cars that accompanied the funeral procession. They took turns leapfrogging to the next intersection and blocking the traffic so we could all get through the light. People along the way pulled over and gave the right of way to us. Anyone driving in the area stopped to let us go by.
The cemetery was very large. We wound along the interior roads until we got to the plot that was open and waiting for the casket. The family sat in the front and the empty seats were offered to anyone else who wanted to sit. Afterward, we were going to attend the lunch but Frieda was worried about Sam. He had a bad night and stayed home with his daughter, Laura. We got back and everything was fine. Paul and I returned to the camper to give the family time to visit with each other.
At 6:30 p.m. we went to the house and Frieda said Ric and Laura went to pick something up for supper. They got brought Kentucky Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, green beans, biscuits, and gravy. There was lemon cake for dessert.
Laura’s son, Tommy, rolled in about 9 p.m. He lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It was a full house last night.
22 May 2014 (Thu) – Clumped around with my cast today. Tried to walk the dog but it was too irritating. Just hung around the camper, sulking most of the day.
Sam had a bad night; he did not sleep well. He was feeling so bad that he insisted that Frieda call the doctor and get him some medication. She called, explained the situation, and the doctor prescribed something for Sam. Sam and Paul drove to the drug store to pick up his medication as well as Frieda’s eye drops.
Met Frieda at the house at 4:30 p.m. to go to Virginia’s wake. Sam was not doing well and I wound up asking Paul to come to the house and sit with Sam while Frieda and I were gone. I worry that Sam might have had a stroke. It was like he was stuck in a deep sleep and couldn’t rouse himself.
Frieda and I met her friend, Joanne, and she drove us to the funeral home. Virginia was laid out in her coffin, looking very pretty and polished. Her son dressed her in a lovely purple dress with a matching purple ring and purple nail polish. The spray of flowers on the casket was gorgeous. The florist did a superb job.
We got home a little after 7 p.m. Sam was sleeping in his chair and Paul was watching TV. He said Sam woke to eat, then went back to sleep. Frieda and I heated up some food. While eating, Sam woke up and started calling for Frieda. It turned out he had not taken the medication he had been in such a hurry to get from the doctor earlier this morning. I chided him to take the meds but he refused. He later decided he wanted to go to bed (I think it was only 8:30 p.m.). When Frieda got him in his pajamas, he asked her to send me in with his pills. He then told me he was only taking the pills because I wanted him to. Funny. Sam got tucked into bed and I left.
Their son, Ric, and his son, Rhett, arrived from New Orleans at 10:30 p.m. Their daughter, Laura, is flying in from Florida tomorrow.
21 May 2014 (Wed) – Left at 7 a.m. for a doctor’s appointment in Bossier. This one was with a foot specialist. I have been limping badly for several weeks after a slip down the steps. Turns out that I have plantar fasciitis and hammer toe. They put me in a soft cast for four weeks. I also have to go to physical therapy three times a week, do exercises three times a day, and sleep with a splint. Paul’s new mantra is “We’ll never get out of Shreveport!”
After the doctor, we went to Another Broken Egg for breakfast. The menu is amazing at this place. We’ll have to make it a favorite stop. Next, we went to PetCo to pick up some pet food. Then it was a stop at the liquor store for some wine, and CVS for splints and medicine. We then went to the rehabilitation center at Willis-Knighton Medical Center and I got an appointment with a therapist for next Thursday (I am on the waiting list if someone cancels earlier). Finally, we got back home at noon.
The psychiatric hospital brought a patient over today for Sam to interview. Apparently, there are no other doctors in the area who can do certifications. Since Sam couldn’t go out, they brought the patient here. His written report had to be at the hospital by 4 p.m. but there was a transportation problem. Family of Frieda’s friend, Virginia (who died on Saturday), are in town. Frieda took a sister-in-law to the hair dresser and had to pick her up when done. Unfortunately, the appointment was taking longer than expected. Sam needed to get to the hospital to drop off the report but Frieda was waiting to pick up Gladys. As time was running out, I volunteered to pick up Gladys and Frieda took Sam to the hospital.
We grilled burgers for dinner then watched some TV before calling it a night. Sam spends a good deal of the time snoozing in the chair. He is having such a hard time breathing and is so miserable for it. My heart breaks for him.
20 May 2014 (Tue) – Sam did not go down for coffee this morning. Guess he wasn’t feeling well enough this morning. Frieda went to her sewing group at the church. Sam’s friend, Steve, came over and Paul and he worked on trying to resolve the oxygen machine issue for Sam.
At 1 p.m. we all went down to the Chinese buffet for lunch. This is a delightful place. They have about six or seven kinds of chicken and there is shrimp cooked nine or ten different ways. There are four kinds of soup to choose from and even some chicken and greens to munch on. It is very different from the Chinese restaurants in New York!
I cooked dinner tonight – chicken parmesan, sticky rice, and turnips. There was coffee and ice cream afterward. We watched some TV then called it a night.
Frieda is still working hard on coordinating the memorial service luncheon for her friend, Virginia. The phone never seems to stop ringing. Frieda said that their sewing group had a difficult time today trying to decide how to replace her friend. Virginia apparently did a lot for the church without being asked to – she just did things she saw needed doing. Family and friends will be descending on the house this weekend.
19 May 2014 (Mon) – I called my doctor’s office back in New York and coordinated to have my medical records faxed here to LA. They said I needed to fax a signed, written request. I typed up a FAX then drove down to the post office to mail a letter and see if they had a fax machine. They did not. I then went over to the insurance office and asked the agent there if he would send the fax (he has done it for Sam on several occasions). He gladly did the favor. He had a gigantic hornet’s nest hanging in the back of the office – he took it down from his neighbor’s yard.
Paul and Sam went to McDonald’s this morning for breakfast then drove around trying to solve the mystery of his oxygen machine. It appears that his car does not have the power needed to run the machine properly. They put the machine in our truck and it ran fine. Sam was still not entirely convinced and drove off to confer with a friend of his after dropping Paul back home.
Paul and I went shopping for groceries at Brookshire’s. They insist in not only bagging your groceries but walking out to the car with you so they can collect the shopping cart. This irritates Paul as he feels the management does not trust its customers (the boy that walked out with us told us he would be fired if he didn’t go the car and collect the cart right away). When we got back and I described this to Frieda, she assured me that this is actually a southern custom. The grocery stores have always packed the groceries, taken them out, and loaded them into the car. Up to two years ago, the counter was set up so that shoppers could put their carts right up to the counter and the checkout girl took the food out of the cart and rang them up. Now, the customers have to take their own foodstuff out and put it on the belt. That made a lot of people in the area pretty mad. This didn’t ring true with Paul because no other store in the area (in the south, in fact) has been so insistent on doing this. He feels it’s this one particular store that has the silly policy. Wonder what would happen if I mentioned it to the manager?
Frieda cooked round steak for dinner. She reheated the jambalaya she made a few days ago and I roasted some fresh vegetables. After dinner, we had coffee and ice cream, then played Rook. The girls won.
18 May 2014 (Sun) – Art and Vicky left early this morning. I went to bible study with Frieda at 8:45 a.m. Everyone was distraught about Virginia’s death. They went around the room so that we could give a happy memorial to her. Some of the ladies cried, others wrung their hands, and everyone praised her with love and affection. She will be sorely missed.
Apparently, Sam got in the car at 9 a.m. and drove around to pick up Paul, then motored around town for over an hour before meeting us at the church. We attended the Sunday service. It was graduation Sunday where they dedicated the service to three graduating seniors. Then a newly appointed youth minister and his wife were introduced to the congregation and he gave a sermon about preaching the word of God.
We then drove to Sue’s Country Store in Bossier for breakfast. It was quite good. When we got back in the car, Sam declared “So where are we going now?” He did not want to go home. So Paul drove over to the Air Force base and we tootled around, going through the housing area, past the Global Power Air Museum planes parked along the roadway, and around the campground with all the RVs.
We started to head home, but Sam did not want to go back yet. Frieda told him she had to get back and prepare a meal for Virginia’s family. Virginia’s brother, sister-in-law, and son are in town. The ladies of the bible study class this morning were all picking days when they would bring a meal over to the family. Tonight is Frieda’s night. There will be a service on either Wednesday or Thursday. We went home, Frieda and I got out, and Sam took Paul driving somewhere. Sam finds driving soothing. He says it calms his nerves. It is difficult for him to do anything without having to rest because he is so short of breath. Driving is the one thing he is able to do without too much difficulty.
We all threw in our left-overs tonight and had pot luck for dinner. Afterward, we had coffee and ice cream, then played Rook. The guys won.
I called our neighbor’s son this afternoon to find out what happened. Apparently, his parents both caught chest colds and were admitted to the hospital. They both died within hours of each other. They were both sick and had compromised immune systems, but that is really weird. The son gave their dog away to a family where the wife is home full-time (the dog gets upset if left alone).
17 May 2014 (Sat) – This area is often referred to as ArkLaTex because of its proximity to neighboring states – much like we refer to the Tri-State Area (NY, NJ and Connecticut). We are six miles from the Texas border and 30 from Arkansas. There is a town called Texarkana in the area that is half in Texas and half in Arkansas. Interesting problem with police, schools, etc. A lot of businesses use the ArkLaTex name – the ArkLaTex paint store; the ArkLaTex drilling company; the ArkLaTex beauty supply. I guess it means they have stores in all three states?
A pair of Sam’s friends arrived yesterday in their motor home. They live in Birmingham, Alabama, and know Sam through the car shows. Arthur and Vicky Bolton came to discuss an antique scooter Sam had rebuilt. It is called a TRAG. It was originally built by the Methodist Church for missionaries to use when they traveled around in undeveloped areas. The board that decides which vehicles are awarded antique status denied Sam’s vehicle for inclusion. He has been gathering information and sending letters of appeal for years. Art and Vicky are newly elected members of the board (or one of them is), and Sam turned over the paperwork and supporting documentation to them to make another pitch to the board. He also gave them the TRAG. If it is awarded antique status, they will present it in the next scooter show under Sam’s name. After that, the TRAG is theirs.
We received word that Frieda’s close friend, Virginia, died this morning. She went into the hospital on Thursday for a heart valve replacement. When she started to come out of the anesthesia yesterday, she tried to pull off all the paraphernalia attached to her. They gave her sedation to calm her down. There was some question that she had a stroke somewhere along the line (during or after the surgery). She passed away a little after midnight. Needless to say, Sam and Frieda are very grief stricken. Frieda had to make a number of phone calls to let their sewing group and church members know. Paul and I ran down to the grocery store to pick up foodstuff for lunch so Frieda could keep making her calls.
We all went out to dinner at the Longwood Country Store. This is one of those redneck places where you walk in to a falling down place that opens to a small grocery store and has a small dining area with about eight or ten tables in the back. Everything is either paper or plastic. The food is pretty good. The waitresses all call you “Sweetie” or “Honey” and think nothing of reaching across you to plunk down a plate of food or coffee cup.
I got a text message from our daughter yesterday saying that our next door neighbors back in New York died last week. She didn’t know any details. They were nice people. Sorry to hear of their deaths.
16 May 2014 (Fri) – Sam had his driveway paved today. A company came in yesterday and dug up areas where roots had pushed through and broken up the pavement. They came back today with asphalt and a roller to finish off the driveway.
We took Bonnie to PetSmart for grooming. The weather here (when it’s hot) is extremely muggy and uncomfortable. It will be unbearable for her with all her husky down fur so we took her to be shaved. The groomer said it would take four to five hours. We were perplexed. Why make an appointment if they are going to do other dogs at the same time? We left her and tried to fill our time with shopping while we waited. We went to the liquor store to get some wine, then to WalMart where we picked up some household items. We had just walked into the Academy (a sports store) when the groomer called to say that Bonnie was ready for pickup.
It looks like they took her head and glued it on another dog. Her head and tail are untouched. Her body is all white with a black strip down her back. Her feet have retained their tri color and black coloring. It really looks weird. Anybody who sees her immediately asks what kind of dog she is. One guy said he had never seen a dog like that (I think he wanted her puppies). We felt so bad about her looks that we took her to Dairy Queen and bought her some soft ice cream.
When we got home, Travis called and we were able to Skype for a little bit. I cooked pork chops, onion, and potatoes for dinner and Frieda cooked baked beans. We watched a little TV then played Rook.
15 May 2014 (Thu) – Went into the hospital for a scope. Dr. Geist said he saw nothing that would account for my stomach trouble. He is referring me to another doctor for consultation.
After the endoscopy, we went to Another Broken Egg for breakfast. It was quite good. Frieda says this place is very popular and hard to get into. We didn’t have any problem, but we were there at an off-hour. We returned home and I took a nap to sleep off the anesthesia.
It’s been raining on and off for the past three days. It was in the 40s this morning. Darn cold.
13 May 2014 (Tue) – Went to Dr. Byrd, the surgeon, for a post check. He removed the stitches and said everything looks good. Dr. Byrd told me he removed two very large gall stones, and that I had been fortunate to have the gall bladder removed when I did. I was a gall bladder attack waiting to happen at some remote place with no hospital around. It wouldn’t have been very pleasant.
We went across the street and had breakfast at IHOP. We got a new waitress who was not very good at the job. I was able to get hold of Dr. Geist’s office (the gastroenterologist) and made an appointment for 12:30 p.m. Now we had to kill time rather than drive back to the camper and then back into town (everything is at least a half hour away). We drove to Catherine’s and I bought some clothing. We then stopped at a western store and Paul poked around but didn’t find anything he liked.
Finally, it was time to go to Dr. Geist. He scheduled me for an endoscopy on Thursday. He said that the last one was done by another doctor and he wants to see what things look like for himself. We then stopped at Kroeger’s Supermarket and picked up some groceries.
On the way back, we stopped at Cross Lake to visit the American Legion Post there. A member of the post gave us a tour of the facility, which was quite large. They have eleven acres right on the lakefront. There was an elevator to the second floor ball room and a gorgeous club room on the first floor overlooking the lake and bridge. The bar is open during the week at 4 p.m. and on the weekends at 2 p.m. They also have full hook-ups for campers, although many of the posts have been knocked over by unobservant drivers.
We got back to the house around 5 p.m. Frieda cooked dinner. I prepared vegetable fritters using the cookbook for my new convection oven. Afterward, we watched some TV then called it a night.
12 May 2014 (Mon) – Had lunch with Frieda and Sam today. She made hot dogs, chili, and corn chips. I got stomach aches and wound up throwing up. Oh, boy. Does this mean my problem is not fixed after all? Gonna see the doctor tomorrow.
Frieda and I went to her friend’s, Jackie, house. I have an American Legion cap that needed embroidery and a patch sewed on. She had some assortment of high end sewing machines and quilting gadgets. We spent two and half hours there while she tried to match the letters embroidered on my cap. I finally left the cap for her to work on because we couldn’t quite match the letters during our visit.
We came back to the camper and I cooked meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and carrots for dinner. Again, I wound up throwing up. There is definitely a problem unresolved by the gall bladder excision.
Sam often jokes about living on the wrong side of the tracks. To get to town, you have to drive down the road and over the railroad tracks. There are often freight trains going by with hundreds of cars in tow. When you get caught at the tracks, it can be a long wait for the train and all its cars to pass. This is quite a bit different than Long Island which has a limit of (I think) seven or eight cars at a time.
11 May 2014 (Mother’s Day) – Frieda and I went to bible study at 9 a.m. Sam and Paul met us at church for the 10:30 a.m. service. Today was dedication day. Once a year on Mother’s Day, all the babies that were born during the year are dedicated to God. It is something like the christening we do in our church.
We didn’t think we would be able to get into a restaurant today, given the fact that it’s Mother’s Day, so we went home. I cooked a pork loin with pineapple salsa and sweet potatoes. Frieda prepared field peas and green peas. It was a delicious dinner.
After lunch, we went to Sam’s Club to pick up some walnuts for Frieda. Sam and Frieda seemed to enjoy walking around the store. Paul and I finished looking around and wound up sitting in chairs waiting for Sam and Frieda to finish. We then drove to Barnes & Noble so Sam could get something to read. Paul and Frieda went next door to Office Max and I went to the café for coffee.
We returned to the house and went back to the camper to feed the animals. Paul promptly fell asleep for 15 minutes. After he woke, we went back up to the house. Paul grilled hot dogs on the barbeque and we had a late dinner.
10 May 2014 (Sat) – Sam drove out around the neighborhood this morning to see what effect the storm had on the surrounding area. He found downed trees, broken tree limbs, and flooded areas. When Paul walked Bonnie, he found that the creek down the road was swollen to full force.
At 9:30 a.m., we drove down to Main Street to watch the Poke Salad Festival Parade. We parked in the Town Hall and walked to the street. Paul, Frieda, and I poked through an antique shop across the street. At 10:10 a.m. the parade started. We were amazed with all the “Miss” this and that – Miss Poke Salad Queen, Miss Poke Salad Alternate, Miss Elementary School Queen, Miss Runner Up, Miss Toddler Queen, etc., etc., etc. It was ridiculous! The parade was about a half hour long. The reviewing stand consisted of three people dressed in casual clothing commenting on the event. The sound system was pretty good.
We returned to the house, Frieda and I stayed home, and Paul and Sam took off for Harbor Freight and Home Depot. At 1:20 p.m., Frieda and I went to the hairdresser so I could get my hair cut. Michelle was a very talkative lady – I don’t think she stopped talking from the time I walked in the salon until the time I walked out. And she had customers waiting all over the place.
Afterward, Frieda and I went to the Poke Salad Festival. It was an area with vendor tables and rides set up. The tables ran along a kind of haphazard line at the back end of the festival area. We walked along the tables, admiring the crafts and items for sale. We listened briefly to the band playing music in the pavilion (last year, they brought in a band from Opryland). There were several carnival rides in the back of the festival area, accessible to anyone who had purchased an arm band (POP).
We returned to the house. Paul and I then got in the truck and drove into town. After a quick lunch in Ta Molly’s Mexican Restaurant, we picked up pet food at Pet Smart and our groceries at Brookshire’s. We came back and watched Huckabee with Sam and Frieda, then turned in for the night.
9 May 2014 (Fri) – Paul puttered around Sam’s workshop, straightening and sorting things out. I spent the day scanning receipts into the digital files. At 4 p.m., we left for the Baptist church annual fish fry and auction. The menu included fried fish that had been caught from February through May in their fishing contest. There was also French fries and cole slaw. I was highly cautious of the fried food, considering that I just had my gall bladder removed. I had a little but stopped long before I was full. I bought a brownie and a Mississippi mud pie slice for dessert that went to the Belize mission fund.
After dinner, we went into the old sanctuary. They had 180 items donated for auction, some of them quite expensive – charcoal grills, smokers, fryers, pick-up truck tool boxes, artwork, yard work, etc. There were about 100 seats set up in the sanctuary, facing the front altar where the auctioneer was going to be. As we were waiting for the auction to start, a big rainstorm rolled in. Soon hail was also falling. The sound of it pounding the roof was like a roaring freight train. Sam got extremely distressed and had to get out of the room. He rode his scooter out to the portico and sat outside watching the storm. Paul stood out there with him. The kids were having a ball sliding on the ice balls collecting on the sidewalk. It was a ferocious storm.
The power went out. There were two small lights on the ceiling still working, and light was coming in the stained glass window at the end of the sanctuary. They dragged out a bullhorn from somewhere but it wasn’t that loud. The church folks went ahead with the auction. It was noisy. One auctioneer was on the stage calling the numbers bid by the attendees. A second auctioneer was standing in the audience, pointing out the people who were making the bids. A woman sat on the stage making note of the amount bid and the bidder’s number on a paper. The people talked throughout the event – about the weather, about the items begin auctioned, about whatever. Someone brought in portable lights, and another person managed to get the audio system working.
My stomach was bothering me and we left before everything was done. When we got home, the power was out at the house. Paul rigged up the generator and just as we got everything up and running OK, the power came back on. We played a game of Rook then called it a night.
8 May 2014 (Thu) – We both took showers this morning. Did some laundry at the house. Went shopping for groceries. Baked a cornbread pudding for a covered dish supper at the Baptist church this evening.
At 5:45 p.m., we drove over to the Baptist Church for a presentation by a lawyer on Power of Attorney and Living Wills, along with our dinner. It was raining pretty hard – not supposed to do that until late tonight. We brought our hot foods into the kitchen and laid them out on a large table. Desserts were put on a smaller table in the dining room. There were about 16 couples there – not much of a crowd compared to what we usually did in Islip. One of the women made a comment: “There’s nothing like a Baptist covered dish.” I bit my tongue, wanting to tell her she ain’t seen nothin’ till she’s gone to a Methodist covered dish supper.
Apparently, the attorney guest speaker did not show up. A member of the church who does mission work in Belize was called on at the last minute to talk about his work there. He did a good job describing their work over the last three years.
I had some mild indigestion/heartburn during dinner. Not sure if it was related to the gall bladder removal or just spicy, southern food. The cornbread pudding I made was well received. It was one of the recipes in the cookbook that came with my new microwave.
When we left the church, it was pouring outside. The drive home was a real soaker. We dropped Sam and Frieda at the house then hurried to our camper out back. Bonnie had gotten into a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups. We’ll have to keep an eye on her. Probably get diarrhea during the night.
7 May 2014 (Wed) – I slept pretty good last night. I did not want to take the narcotic that Dr. Byrd prescribed so I took three Anacin Blues. Seemed to work well.
I am sore but functioning today. It feels like I got punched in the stomach. The doctor fills the abdomen with air to separate the organs so my belly is very bloated. There are four puncture wounds on my stomach, covered with plastic bandages. I was instructed to leave the bandages on, even when I shower, until my check up next week. Unfortunately, my bra kept rubbing on the top bandage and caused it to shift and some blood to leak out. I put on more bandages to protect the area.
The new microwave showed up at 8 a.m. this morning. Paul put it aside while we packed up the RV and drove to the Flying J to dump the tanks. After we returned, Paul went to work on removing the old microwave and installing the new one.
At 6:30 p.m. we went to Sam & Frieda’s for dinner. She made a delicious meal of meatloaf, cornbread dressing, corn on the cob, and fruit jello. After dinner, we played a game of Rook.
5-6 May 2014 (Mon-Tue) – We painted the back porch on Sam’s house in the morning. Paul went back to give it a second coat while I began to prep for tomorrow’s surgery.
The nurse instructed me to buy a 10 oz. bottle of magnesium citrate and drink it between 2 and 4 p.m. She said it would begin to work in 20 minutes and continue working for the next six hours so stay at home and close to the bathroom. Well, I drank the stuff at 3:15 p.m., stationed myself on a chair outside the bathroom, and waited. One hour went by, then two, and three. Still nothing. Four, five, six, seven hours and nothing. I began to wonder whether I should run out and buy another bottle of that stuff. What if nothing happened? Did that mean I would have to postpone the operation? I went to bed at 11 p.m. and watched TV until midnight. Still nothing. I finally went to sleep hoping something would work itself out.
I bolted upright at 1:40 a.m. with an urgent need to use the bathroom. The stuff continued to work for the next six hours until 7:30 a.m. the next morning. Needless to say, I did not get much sleep. At least I wouldn’t need much anesthesia.
I got up at 8 a.m. and took a shower. The drain did not go down, meaning our tanks are full. It is time to go to the dump again. We arrived at the hospital at 10 a.m. I was ushered into the prep/recovery room and instructed to shed all my clothing and put on compression stockings (weird – why do they put a hole in the bottom of the foot?). A young nurse came in to start my IV line (I later surmised she was a student nurse, probably doing a stick for the first time in her life). She took my left hand and tried to get a needle into the back of my hand. Besides hurting, the vein blew out. She removed the needle and sat pressing the stick site for 20 minutes. Then she turned my left arm over and tried to stick the needle in the middle of the arm. I think I actually came off the bed. Pain!!!!! I nearly began to cry, it hurt so bad. And she wouldn’t stop trying to force it in.
Then the anesthesiologist came in to introduce herself and ask some questions. After she was done with her interview – all the while watching me whimper like a little baby – then she offered to help the nurse with the stick. She came over and seemed to make the damn needle bigger. She commented that there was something in the way and did it hurt when she pushed on it? Was she kidding????? Finally, she left the needle just short of the something-in-the-way, and the nurse finished taping everything in place. Paul was summoned to join me in the prep/recovery room.
Then the surgeon, Dr. Charles Byrd (70 years old and quite a charming little sprite) came in. He proceeded to lead us all in prayer, then left. This caused a flash back to the day I deployed for Iraq in January 2005. Here we were standing around the airport waiting for our flight, when a priest invited us to join him in a communion service. Those of us interested (I think there might have been about 20 or 30 of us) formed a circle in a corner of the waiting room and prayed together, then shared in communion. It was then that the reality of where I was going really sunk in. Dr. Byrd’s prayer made me realize that this was not a frivolous event. Although these operations take place all the time, there is always the chance something can go wrong.
My arm began to swell and it was apparent that the IV drip was leaking into the surrounding area. The student nurse went out to get another nurse to look at it. The new nurse agreed that it was a bad stick and removed the needle. Again, I sat with a nurse pressing on the site for 20 minutes. Then she turned to the back of my right hand. This time, she injected lidocaine first, then the IV needle. All went fine.
It was after noon that they finally came to get me. We think that because I was not ready when Dr. Byrd was ready, they took another patient in front of me. At any rate, the surgery took about 40 minutes, then recovery was close to two hours. We got home around 6 p.m. Paul has been very attentive in making sure I obey the pre-op directions. I have to breathe into a tube every day for three days. Also, there is no bending or lifting allowed. He is tenacious!
4 May 2014 (Sun) – There was only one combined service today. Frieda and I went to bible study class at 9:15 a.m. We then met Sam and Paul at the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service. They had a senior’s appreciation day after church, where they served a nice luncheon for the “older” folks. The menu consisted of tossed salad, chicken fried steak with gravy, potatoes with cheese, some kind of green bean, and apple cobbler for dessert.
We returned to the house and Paul power washed the back deck on the house. We found out that Sam’s friend’s son was killed in a motorcycle accident yesterday morning. A friend of Frieda’s, who has been in hospice for several weeks, passed away yesterday, too. Sam is taking things pretty badly. He’s reflecting on all the friends who have come down with terminal illnesses this last year or so and told us to leave before we get sick, too. Pretty depressing.
We went over Sam & Frieda’s for dinner. She reheated the chili soup. Add in the 7-layer salad and it was quite a delicious meal. We watched some TV then called it a night.
Those foot pads have helped so much in relieving the pain, that it hurts terribly when I don’t wear them. What have I gotten myself into?
3 May 2014 (Sat) – Paul worked on repairing the automatic gate out on the front of Sam’s property. A childhood friend of Sam & Frieda’s son stopped by for a visit. Frieda cooked up some of her delicious chili soup.
Our microwave stopped working for some reason. After some unsuccessful attempts to fix it, I got online and ordered a new one. Stores in the area carry a very limited selection of appliances. With logistics today, you simply place an order for what you want online and it is usually in your hands within the week. Best Buy promised a delivery date of May 24th, Loewe’s on May 17th, and Home Depot for May 7th. We went with Home Depot.
I cooked a chicken in the broiler/convection oven and some of that delicious red beans and rice we discovered last week. Everything tasted so good. After dinner, we watched Hannity then Judge Jeanine Pirro on FOX.
2 May 2014 (Fri) – Went to Dr. Byrd’s office this morning. The GPS got the address wrong so we had a bit of problem finding the place but we finally got there. There were 5 or 6 people already waiting in the office when we arrived. The doctor had been hung up in surgery and was late getting in. We sat for over two hours before I was called in. The Dr. was very pleasant and seemed to be quite competent. He approved the need for the surgery and sent his nurse in to set up the surgery date. The assistant took the information she needed, scheduled Tuesday, May 6, for the surgery, and sent me off to the hospital for pre-op bloodwork.
We stopped at Applebee’s for lunch then arrived at the hospital around 2 p.m. They took two vials of blood and gave me pre-op directions. We then drove to Walgreens to pick up Magnesium Citrate (I have to drink it Monday afternoon) and a few other items, including some foot pads for ailing feet. They certainly helped to relieve the pain I am experiencing.
On the way back, we spotted a plane doing aerobatics. We were so mesmerized that we turned off the road to find the airport the plane was flying over. We arrived, parked, and watched for about 15 minutes. The pilot was flying straight up, stalling, kicking over, and tumbling downward in a flat spin. There were spins, turns, and rolls. That pilot was sure talented. Don’t know how that pilot didn’t pass out from the g-force of all those maneuvers. Sam later told us that a 7-time world champion stunt flyer lived in Shreveport. That was probably him practicing. He is in his 80s now and doesn’t compete any more – just spends his time teaching his grandchildren to fly.
Got back to the camper around 4:30 p.m. Went to the house to fill Sam and Frieda in on the doctor’s findings, then returned to the camper for dinner.
1 May 2014 (Thu) – When I got up this morning, my foot was feeling almost normal. I took Bonnie for a 2-mile walk and by the time I got back, I was limping pretty badly. Guess I have to baby my foot for a few days.
When I walk down the country lane with the houses each placed on 5-acre lots, I am struck by the lack of wildlife here. I have not seen cats, raccoons, or opossums out here – alive or dead in the road. When I mentioned it to Frieda, she remarked that everyone has dogs. Where there are dogs around, the wildlife usually goes elsewhere. We had dogs back home. And the neighbors on either side of us had dogs. Most people on the block had dogs. Yet there was plenty of wildlife around. We had a raccoon that used to come back every year to build a nest in our eaves. It puzzles me.
We all went on errands this morning. Sam needed to stop at a place to get the transmitters and receivers for their automatic entrance gate. We also stopped at a health food store where Frieda picked up some herbal stuff for Sam. Lunch followed at the Southfield Grill (Sam’s favorite place).
When we got back home, I put my foot up and wrapped it in ice. It didn’t seem to help much. At 5 p.m., we drove over Sam’s friend’s house, Judson and Marvel. Judd gave us a tour of his house and workshop. He put an addition on his house that was as big (if not bigger) than the house itself. After our tour, we went to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner. That blooming onion is sure delicious!
30 April 2014 (Wed) – It was a pretty quiet day. I hurt my foot falling down the stairs yesterday and I am limping pretty badly this morning. Took some Anacin Blue and that made it better.
Paul pattered around Sam’s workshop most of the day. I did some housekeeping, laundry, and computer work. Paid some bills. Sam and Paul took a ride to trade in his oxygen machine for another model. The new one is lighter and easier to transport. They (Sam & Frieda) are getting ready to drive to New Orleans for their grandson’s graduation.
We brought the shepherd’s pie I cooked yesterday to the house for dinner. We had more of that 7-layer salad that Frieda’s friend made. After coffee and ice cream, we played a game of Rook.
29 April 2014 (Tue) – Paul went with Sam for breakfast at the Gator Bite this morning. When they came back, Sam, Steve, and Paul worked on resetting the posts for the fence line. I spent the morning working on the computer.
At 1 p.m., the guys broke for lunch. Sam and Steve went to Home Depot and lunch, and Paul and I went to Ta Molly’s for lunch then grocery shopping at Brookshire’s.
The guys returned to working on the fence posts. Got to talk with my son and daughter-in-law today. We missed a chance to Skype tonight. Will try again tomorrow.
I cooked Shepherd’s Pie for dinner. Unfortunately, no one was very hungry so we wound up putting the pie aside for dinner tomorrow. Frieda had a 7-layer salad she picked up at her sewing group today. She and I had some. It was quite good.
We watched O’Reilly on FOX News, then called it a night.
28 April 2014 (Mon) – Paul put the emergency weather radio on before we went to bed last night. It was on the “Alert” setting. The idea was that it would sound off if a tornado happened to appear in our area during the night. The problem with the emergency broadcast weather system is that the alert comes through every hour. You have just settled into a nice deep sleep when a screeching tone blasts into the room followed by a mechanical robot voice announcing that there is a tornado watch in the surrounding area. The voice then proceeds to list the places where you need to be on the alert – Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. After the third such blasting alert, Paul turned the radio off.
There was some rumbling that rolled through with a little rain sometime during the night, but nothing dangerous. This morning’s news said 16 people were killed overnight when tornadoes appeared in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and North Carolina. The news was calling for more very strong storms coming through the area today. However, this afternoon cleared up fine and the temps reached the low 70s. The storms moved east toward Georgia and the Carolinas.
Paul worked with Sam on resetting the posts for his fence line. They are all set in concrete, so Paul had to dig around the foundations and literally move the concrete bases back into line. It is certainly very physical work.
Frieda cooked a dinner of fried steak and rice. Paul barbecued some asparagus but it was not fresh and turned out tough to chew.
27 April 2014 (Sun) – I woke with a terrible stomach ache this morning. Paul, Sam & Frieda went to the 8:15 a.m. church service while I stayed home. After they got back and I was feeling better, we went to the Southfield Grill for a late breakfast/lunch. We beat the rush of Baptists and Methodists (according to Sam).
After we were done eating, we went to Bed, Bath & Beyond so I could buy a pillow and a few other items, then to CVS for cash from the ATM machine. Sam & Frieda directed us to the Broodmoor neighborhood where their son, Ric, used to have his first and second houses before moving down to New Orleans.
We came back to the house. Paul and Sam worked on setting up a generator in case of a power outage. We are expecting severe thunderstorms with hail tonight and tomorrow. Severe weather storm warnings are beaming over the air waves.
At least Sheba is doing well. She is having a bowel movement every day now and has even lost some weight – she doesn’t look so much like a tootsie roll any more. She is not eating very well though. We are still trying to find something healthy for her to eat that she likes. It is a chore.
We were able to Skype with our son, his wife, and the baby tonight. That little guy is so cute. He has found his voice and it is adorable to listen to. He makes these cute, kind of little “O” sounds. He counts and says the alphabet and identifies colors. What a bright little guy! His voice automatically brings a big smile to my face. I love listening to him.
26 April 2014 (Sat) – Packed up and checked out of the motel. Had breakfast at the diner next door. Got on the road at 9 a.m. headed for home. Stopped in Jackson, MS, at Appleby’s for lunch. Stopped at a McDonald’s at 4 p.m. I ordered two senior coffees and one café mocha. After five minutes when I kept seeing orders going to other people who came in after me, I asked, “Who’s making the coffee?” A young man came over and told me the mocha machine was broken and they couldn’t make any. I told him to refund my money. The cashier, who was a brand new employee, stated she didn’t know how to do a refund and needed help. The guy went over and helped her with the process. After another ten minutes, I asked who was making the coffee. The same young man came over and stated that they had to make a fresh pot of coffee and started to wash the pot out in preparation for making the coffee. At this point, I was boiling mad. I told him to forget the coffees and just refund my money. There was a whole process (again) of helping the cashier to refund my money. I spent 20 to 25 minutes in that McDonald’s and didn’t get a thing. How frustrating! Frieda said it was typical southern Louisiana.
We got back on the road and arrived home at around 6 p.m. We dropped the car at the house and jumped into the truck to drive to the kennel to pick up Bonnie and Sheba. They sure were glad to see us. Sam and Frieda picked up their two dogs.
We got back to the camper, gave Sheba and Bonnie a chance to get a little exercise then brought some rice and beans to the house. Frieda heated up boneless roast leftovers and some peas and corn, followed by ice cream for dessert. We watched some FOX News programs and then called it a night.
25 April 2014 (Fri) – Went to breakfast at 8:30 a.m. - first at the complimentary breakfast bar at the Super 8 Motel (which was not acceptable), then at a diner next door. Afterward, we drove to Booneville, Mississippi, where Sam drove around looking for familiar neighborhoods. I tried to imagine what the place looked like back in the 1940s through the eyes of a young boy growing up. We stopped in at a place where a high school friend of his worked. Sam sent Frieda in to see if the friend was there. She came out with the bad news that Sam’s friend had passed away on April 5th. Boy, Sam is going to be depressed tonight. Add to his already current depression over his ailing physical condition, and Frieda is going to have her hands full.
After we looked at the farm that used to belong to Sam’s grandmother, and then the house they moved to when he was five, we drove to Shiloh National Battlefield in Tennessee. This was purported to be the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. There are more than 3,200 soldiers buried here – over two-thirds of them are unknown. Talk about depressing! The visitor center was playing a movie about the battle but it was 50 minutes long and Sam was waiting out in the car, so we passed on the movie. As we were driving back to Mississippi, we saw a sign for Brices Cross Roads Battlefield and followed the signs. We followed a few of the self-guided tour signs then gave up on it and drove back to Tupelo.
In Tupelo, Mississippi, we drove over to look at Sam’s grandma’s house (which has been torn down) as well as his Aunt’s former home (she has since passed on). We went to the graveyard where Paul & Sam’s dad is buried along with some other members of his family (including his first wife – Sam’s mother). Then we drove over to the birthplace of Elvis Presley. There was an area with a very small house, a church, a memorial chapel, a welcome center, and a living fountain. The center was closed so we walked around the area, reading the different signs in the area.
Elvis Presley was one of two babies born in 1935. His twin brother was stillborn. When Elvis was ten, his mother took him to the store to buy something. He wanted a gun or a bicycle but his mother was afraid he would hurt himself so she refused to buy either. The merchant, seeing that Elvis wanted to buy something, brought out a guitar and the music world was changed forever. Elvis’ father was in and out of prison (the signs didn’t say for what), and his mother was the primary adult in the home. They were very poor and received “commodities” (welfare). In 1948, when Elvis was 13, the Presley family moved out of Tupelo, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee.
The town of Tupelo had those artistic sculptures situated around town – these were guitars. There were guitars of all kinds of colors and pictures around the main drag; all dedicated to the memory of Elvis Presley.
We drove past the Antique Automobile Museum, which was closed. It is bigger than the new one that opened in Hershey, Pennsylvania, but Sam says the cars are not as classy.
We finally returned to the motel at 8 p.m. We parked Sam’s motorized cart in our room to charge (their room
24 April 2014 (Thu) – We dropped off Bonnie and Sheba at the kennel at 9:30 a.m. Returned to the camper and packed up then walked to the house to see if we could help Sam & Frieda. Sam had a doctor’s appointment this morning so we left later than intended. We didn’t hit the road until 1 p.m.
I tried to call the surgeon’s office but kept getting busy signals. This usually means the phone is out of order. I finally got through after office hours and got a recording that the office was closed. Lol. I’ll try again tomorrow.
Paul asked the GPS for a nearby restaurant and it recommended a seafood restaurant. We got off the interstate and followed the directions to a place a couple of miles off the highway. It didn’t even look like a restaurant. It was a small ranch style house with the word MAYPROS printed in large, hand-painted letters over the stairs. Inside was small but neat. There were many different kinds of pictures and decorations around the dining room – a stuffed bobcat, a picture of an anguished Christ with thorns on his head, Coca-Cola memorabilia, pictures of the U.S. and U.S. presidents tacked on the wall. There were all types of signs for sale around the cash register. It was all very eclectic. The place was serving a seafood buffet that turned out to be quite good. Everything was pretty tasty (although I did not care for the deep fried corn – they ruined a good piece of vegetable), but the cost was a little pricey.
As we got closet to Tupelo, Mississippi, we started to experience lightning and rain. We finally arrived at the Super 8 Motel at 9:20 p.m. After everyone was checked into their room, Paul and I walked to a nearby shop and bought some Southern Comfort, a bottle of Sprite, and a few snack items.
23 April 2014 (Wed) – Paul spent the morning working on the brick post out in front of the house. It had settled in the clay and was listing to the side. Paul had to dig out the post and pour concrete in to shore up the post.
I did some housekeeping chores as well as laundry. Took Bonnie to the vet to get a blood test for heartworm. We finished off her medicine and vets require a blood test before renewing that particular medication. She turned out fine. We also had her anal glands expressed and her nails trimmed. Paul walked next door and picked up a portable oxygen generator for Sam to take with him on our trip to Mississippi.
We stopped at the Walter P. Jacobs Nature Park on the way home. There was a sign saying that the park was a Louisiana World Exposition ’84 site. It might have been quite something in 1984 but it certainly hasn’t seen 30 years of funding. The place was run down and in need of refurbishment. There were some cages with wildlife on display.
I made pork chops and rice & beans for dinner. We discovered a pretty good brand of rice & beans – Vigo. We’ll have to add some andoui sausage next time.
22 April 2014 (Tue) – Paul went for coffee with Sam. When they came back, he started doing major repair work on brick posts in the front of Sam’s property. He had to jack up the post, dig out the dirt around the base, then pour a new footing. When I walked out at noon to tell Paul it was time to get ready to go to the doctor, I found him digging under the post and three guys standing around watching. I wanted to know if he had decided to go back to work for the state.
We went to Dr. Geist at 1 p.m. He said the results of my HIDA Scan show that my gall bladder is not functioning properly and needs to come out. The surgeon’s office will call me to set up a surgery date.
We went to CVS to fill a prescription for more antacid medication but the insurance company said it is not reimbursable until May 3. We stopped at Thrifty Liquor to pick up some wine and liquor. Had lunch at El Potrillo. It was quite enjoyable.
Got back to the camper around 4 p.m. Sam and Frieda were getting a new HVAC system installed. Sam wanted to hear all about my medical plans. We were sitting around watching TV when Sam decided he wanted to take a ride to test out his oxygen generator. We all piled into the van and took a ride around the countryside for an hour. Stopped at the Dollar Store on the way back home and picked up some ice cream. Returned to the house and enjoyed a bowl of ice cream before turning in for the night.
21 April 2014 (Mon) – Paul went for coffee with Sam. I spent most of the day scheduling activities. Called the doctor to follow up on the HIDA Scan I had last week – got an appointment for tomorrow. Called the vet and got an appointment for Bonnie for Wednesday to get a blood test for heart worm. Called the kennel and arranged to drop off both our animals and Sam’s on Thursday morning when we leave for Mississippi.
When Paul got back, he worked on painting the posts in front of the house and making edging for the bottom of the posts.
Frieda made a delicious pot roast for dinner. It was de-li-cious!!!
20 April 2014 (Easter Sunday) – Went to church with Sam & Frieda. The service was pretty much a repeat of last week’s service, but not as showy or powerful.
After church we went to the Outback for lunch. The food was good and, because of the holiday, the place was very crowded. We had to park Sam’s scooter out of the way and he seemed to be put off by that. Sam was in a pretty depressed mood all day.
Frieda picked up a Sunday paper and Sam cut out a bunch of coupons for Harbor Freight. We drove there and got several items for free and other items on deep discount. It turned out that this place is Sam’s favorite store. He seemed to enjoy the opportunity to toodle up and down the aisles.
We returned to the house and sat on the porch for a while, enjoying the lovely weather. Paul’s sister skyped in and we got to talk to family as we watched our grandsons take part in the annual Easter egg hunt at Joan’s house. I can remember all our children doing the same thing. Now it is a whole new generation enjoying our traditions.
I cooked chicken and rice for dinner. For dessert, we had some of Frieda’s friend’s blueberry salad (inappropriately named since it contains fresh blueberries, whipped cream, coconuts, and walnuts – it should be called blueberry crème de la creme).
19 April 2014 (Sat) – We met Sam & Frieda at 11:30 a.m. and drove to the Shreveport Water Works Museum. We took an hour tour with a very informative guide. After we left, we stopped at El Potrillo Mexican Grill & Cantina. The food was excellent and very plentiful. The wait staff was friendly and attentive.
We left the restaurant and drove to Hobby Lobby where Frieda wanted to look for something to raise their television set up about twelve inches, but would look attractive in the room. She didn’t find anything but we enjoyed the place very much. It was like a combination of Michael’s, Party City, and Jo Ann’s. There was a large selection of Americana items. We picked up a couple of things, including a piece to send back to our church.
We then drove to a bookstore called Books-A-Million where Sam wanted to look for a book to read. He didn’t find anything, but I bought five books (ugh). Frieda went shopping next door at Stage, a popular department store down here.
We got back about 8 p.m. After feeding the animals and letting Bonnie run in the yard, we went back to the house to discuss our plans for tomorrow. Frieda will go to Bible Study at 9, and we will come to the church for the 10:30 a.m. service. After the service, we will go out for brunch.
Sam is also concerned about his illness. He does not believe he is getting much better and is fixating on his coming demise. He wants to return to his hometown of Booneville and Tupelo in Mississippi. This is an eight or nine hour ride. Sam can’t drive that far – Paul and I will do the driving. We are planning to go on Thursday, look around on Friday, and come back Saturday. We’ll have to call Penny at the kennel to see if we can leave Bonnie and Sheba there while we’re gone.
18 April 2014 (Fri) – Paul and Sam went to the Gator Bite for their morning coffee and political debate. We gathered Sam up at 11 a.m. to take him to see the Shreveport Water Works Museum. On the way, we stopped at a place called Herby-K’s for lunch. What a dive! The place was packed with people waiting outside. It was small – one room had a long picnic table that sat a dozen people with another picnic table on a platform that sat four people, and a second room had four booths and a counter with seats for eight people. A sign said the place opened in 1936 and the shelves behind the bar were loaded with stuff, most of it from that time period. The food was OK, but the service needed help. There was a white man and woman overseeing operations, and several black teens who were serving and cleaning. One of them was mixing drinks at a makeshift bar.
After lunch, we drove to the water works museum only to find it was closed for Good Friday. We dropped Sam back at the house, then Paul & I went food shopping. We also stopped at PetSmart to pick up pet food. We are still trying to find canned food that appeals to Sheba.
We came home and I cooked meatloaf and potatoes for dinner, then brought them over to the house. Frieda made corn and we shared a delicious dinner.
17 April 2014 (Thur) – Did some laundry. Paul went down to the Gator Bite with Sam for their morning coffee. Apparently, there are a group of guys who meet there every morning (the “democrats” and the “republicans”) to have breakfast and bemoan word events. Sam has been taking Paul with him on Tuesdays but now is inviting him on a regular basis.
Sam & Frieda had to run an errand. Paul painted the posts in front of the house then we cleaned off the roof. It was full of pine needles and debris. Bonnie played in the yard while we worked and managed to find a big pool of wet mud to dig in. We had to give her a good washing before letting her back in the RV. What a mess!
The animals gave us a god run for our money today! Paul opened the door and Sheba ran out. He turned to grab her and put her back in when he saw that Bonnie had run out of the open door while he was chasing down Sheba. She was in the nearby field running with the horses (Sam & Frieda rent their pasture to a guy who owns two horses). Paul finally recovered Bonnie and left. Sam’s dog came wandering over while I had the cat out. I tried to get the cat back in the camper but she ran through an opening into Sam’s workshop. I had to go to the house to get the key to unlock the workshop. I went in and Sheba ran out. I locked the shop back up and went out to recover the cat. She ran off under some items and I searched but couldn’t find her. Certain that she ran back through the opening into the workshop, I unlocked the double padlocks again to look in the shop. Sheba was not there. I relocked the shop and continued to hunt for her. I found Sheba around the side of the shop. When I approached, she bolted off and ran up the stairs onto the roof. Knowing there was nowhere she could go except back down the stairs, I just waited for her return. When she came down, I scooped her up and put her in the camper. In the meantime, I was trying to chase Sam’s dog, Smokey, back into the yard so I could close the gate. Bonnie, who I had chained to the steps, was dogging me (no pun intended) while I tried to get Smokey into the yard. I kept expecting the leash to tighten up so she would drop off but she never did. I turned to look at the leash to see that she was not attached to the camper and running free. It was only because she thought I had a treat to give Smokey that kept Bonnie next to me.
After they got back, Frieda and I went to the dollar store to pick up some grocery items. I am afraid we will have to make a run to the full grocery store because the dollar store didn’t have everything I needed.
When we got back, Frieda cooked another one of her delicious meals and then we played Rook.
16 April 2014 (Wed) – Spent two hours this morning packing up the camper, then we towed it down to Love’s travel center and dumped the black and grey water tanks. The hook-up was higher than the camper tanks and resulted in a very slow dump.
We returned to Sam & Frieda’s and set the camper back up. After we were set up again, we rode into Shreveport to pick up some paint for the front posts on Sam’s house. Then we ran several errands – got cash at CVS, bought some Easter cards, mailed the cards off at the post office, and stopped for lunch at Posadas Café. On the way back home, we stopped and looked at some pre-fab homes. Some were pretty nice and some left you scratching your head.
We got back to the RV about 5:45 p.m. Fed the animals, took Bonnie for a quick walk, then went in to see Sam & Frieda. Sam had a gift card for the Cracker Barrel so we headed there for dinner. The service was sooooooooo slow, but the food was good. Louisiana is the only place we have found where the service at Cracker Barrel has been so slow. Frieda says it has been slow wherever she has stopped at Cracker Barrel – no matter what state they were in.
15 April 2014 (Tue) – Paul went for coffee with Sam this morning. When they came back, they worked on the posts in the front of Sam’s house. At noon, we took a ride with Sam and his friend, Steve, to Home Depot to get some stain for the posts (after stopping at Johny’s Pizza for lunch). The guys finished the project after we got back but no one likes it. They are going to buy paint tomorrow to cover it over.
Frieda made dinner tonight. It was one of the most delicious chili soups I have ever tasted. I have to get the recipe.
It was very cold this morning – 37 degrees. It never really got that warm today. I think it hit a high of 59 degrees. And once the sun started to dip in the sky, the air got chilly again. I think it’s supposed to be in the 30s again tonight. Bbrrrrr.
14 April 2014 (Mon) – Woke at 7 a.m. and drove to the hospital to take a medical test for the gastroenterologist. It turned out that my appointment was scheduled for Wednesday, despite the fact that the scheduling nurse told me Monday. It was my fault that I didn’t look at the date written on the paperwork. They made adjustments and fitted me in anyway.
The nurse injected gamma ray stuff in my arm then used a machine to trace the movement of the stuff to my liver, gall bladder, and small intestines. The test was one and a half hours long and there was no discomfort during it.
After the test, we went to IHOP for breakfast. A cold front blew in and lowered the temperature by 22 degrees. Damn! It was cold. We went to CVS to get a prescription filled by the gastroenterologist. My medical insurance will not approve the specific medication – just a generic equivalent. I have been taking that generic since November and it is not working. Dr. Geist wants me to try a different medication. I had to get a number for the insurance company, call the doctor’s office and give it to them, ask them to call the insurance company, justify the reason for taking this new (non-generic) drug, fill out a form and swear to the reason. The insurance company will review the form and, if approved, will send notification to the pharmacy to fill the prescription. A person could die waiting for the wheels to turn here. Fortunately, the doctor gave me 25 days of free samples because he knew there would be a problem with the insurance company. Ugh.
We then drove to the movie theater and saw Noah. It was interesting but a little too much computer graphics for my taste. It entertained, and that’s what I wanted. We then walked along the boardwalk although it was too cold to linger for long.
We returned to the camper, fed the animals, then went in to visit with Sam & Frieda. Paul & Sam researched generators online. Sam would like to buy a generator for the house in the event of a power outage. The two of them will probably go shopping for one tomorrow.
13 April 2014 (Sun) – I enjoy walking Bonnie in the morning. Chocktaw Lane is a straight, narrow paved road with no shoulder that dips and rises for over a mile. It passes brick, one-story homes situated on 5-acre lots and large front lawns. Most of the houses have dogs that bark loudly when we pass by. One house has a rooster. There are not many flowers in bloom yet, but you can imagine what they will look like. There are many areas filled with trees where so many different kinds of birds hang out. I have been able to identify cardinals, blue jays, catbirds, hawks, and woodpeckers. It is a peaceful walk and gives me my daily exercise.
Went to church with Sam & Frieda. It was quite a show. They had two large TV screens on either side of the stage and a very large screen set up in the center of the stage. There was a large choir of maybe 50 people up in the choir loft. They were going to read their lyrics on a screen in the back of the hall but it wasn’t working. The technical folks brought in a large TV screen but couldn’t get that working either. Someone finally came in and handed out hymn books to the choir.
They started with the story of creation and continued through the generations to the birth and death of Jesus Christ. People on stage read scripts and the choir sang at key points throughout the slide show. It was quite breathtaking and very moving. It leaves me wondering what they are going to do for Easter. They told it all today.
After church, we went to IHOP for breakfast/lunch. There was a 40 minute wait but we were finally seated and had a good breakfast/lunch to eat. We returned to the house, then Paul and Sam went on a ride to test his oxygen system with his car.
I cooked dinner and brought it over to the house to eat. We had coffee, cookies, and pleasant company afterward.
12 April 2014 (Sat) – Paul and Sam drove off to look for generators today. A tree fell on the power line yesterday and the block was without power for several hours. Since Sam depends on electric for his oxygen, he is very concerned about not having power for when he needs it so he wants to get a generator for the house as a backup for power outages. Apparently, it happens fairly frequently.
Frieda cooked a wonderful dinner of red beans and rice, sausage, and tossed salad. She tried a box of Zatarain’s rice and beans. She said it wasn’t as good as another brand she uses. We didn’t think it tasted as good as Copeland’s rice and beans.
After dinner, we took a ride around the area. Sam drove to Orangeport, Mooringsport, and Oil City. Louisiana used to be a booming oil producing area until Barack Obama was voted into office. During one of our earlier tours, we learned that a company had twenty oil rigs that employed 5,000 people each (a total of 40,000 employees). Because Barack Obama favors natural resources (i.e., air and solar), the oil companies left. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs and the economy in the area collapsed. As we drove around these towns tonight, we saw dozens of oil wells with nonworking drills. Silent sentinels attesting to the oil companies’ evacuation from the gulf.
11 April 2014 (Fri) – Went to the casinos tonight. First, we arrived at Sam’s Town but the restaurant we wanted to go to wasn’t open yet so we played the slots for an hour. Had dinner at Smokey Joe’s. Everything was delicious. Then we walked over to the Eldorado and played the slots there for an hour. We lost just about everything we put in the machines.
On the way back to the parking garage, we spotted an area under the highway bridge marked the Red River District. We walked under the bridge where shops and restaurants lined the walkway. There was a band playing on a small platform. We stopped at a place called Nicky’s for drinks and listened to the music. The weather was balmy and just delightful.
10 April 2014 (Thu) – Woke to sunny, blue skies. The temps reached 78 today. The wind was blowing softly, the flowers were blooming, the smell of wisteria filled the air, the insects were buzzing around, and the birds were chirping away. What a beautiful day!
Collected Sam & Frieda and drove to Gibsland to try and get into that Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum again. Unfortunately, after an hour ride the museum was closed. We tried the door, hoping maybe the guy just forgot to turn the “Closed” sign around. No such luck. Went across the street to the service station and asked if they knew anything about the museum. Other than that it was supposed to be open at 10, they knew nothing about the place. The attendant did know that the owner lived in the trailer just up the block. We drove over to the trailer – a decrepit, run down, broken up residence. The man was sitting in a badly conditioned living room (broken window, walls falling in, stained carpet, etc.) with another man and woman. He said he was 80 years old, sick, and trying to listen to his doctor to slow down. He apologized for not having the museum open, gave Paul a business card, and encouraged us to call next time we wanted to come in to tour the place. Unfortunately, the phone number listed on his card is the same number with a recording that says the place is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. He needs to update his message.
We left and stopped at the Huddle House in Minden for lunch. It was a kind of 50s style diner – clean and attractive. The food was good.
We drove the hour back to the house, then Paul and Sam went off to visit with some of Sam’s friends. I looked over our mail and caught up with some paperwork. After Paul got back, we went over and played Rook with Sam & Frieda. The guys beat the gals soundly. We’ll get them next time.
9 April 2014 (Wed) – Skies were blue all day and temps were in the high 70s. We went to the Shreveport Water Works Museum and Railroad Museum with Frieda (Sam wasn’t feeling well). It was quite interesting. You just turn on the faucet and there’s the water. You never really give much thought to where that water comes from other than the water company. This water works was built in 1887 and operated until 1980 (almost 100 years). It sat for 30 years and was then opened as a museum. They got the raw water from the bayou and Red River. It entered the facility, was put through a filtration system that allowed the dirt and sludge to fall to the bottom of the tank. Then it went through a series of filter tanks, each time making the water cleaner and cleaner. Finally, the cleaned water went into a holding tank where it was chlorinated, then pushed on to the town. This particular plant processed 5 million gallons of water a day.
After the water works museum, we walked over to a trailer with some railroad memorabilia in it – some lights, tickets, brochures, news articles, a model train running on a track, etc. They are expecting to get some actual rail cars to set up around the area within the next couple of years. It promises to be quite an exhibit.
We came back to the house to get Sam then went to Copeland’s for lunch. We all had their red beans and rice. It was delicious. After lunch, we stopped at the Dollar store to pick up a few item, drove past a friend of Sam’s house to see how he was doing, then returned home. The dog and cat got some outside time, then we spent the evening visiting with Sam and Frieda. Sam is so depressed about his physical state. I hope our visit is cheering him up.
8 April 2014 (Tue) – The skies were blue today. Not a cloud to be seen anywhere. The temperature is still a little cool – high 50s. There is pollen covering everything. Frieda is literally washing off the porch every day to get rid of it. It seems to cover everything.
Tuesdays are Sam’s workshop day. When he had all his antique cars and scooters, he would work out there with friends, restoring stuff. Since he has been sick, he has sold off most of his vehicles. A friend of his still comes by on Tuesdays and they poke around the shop. Afterward, they go down to the pizza place for lunch. Sometimes, it’s not about what you do at all but the ambiance of the socialization.
Spent a good part of the day scanning receipts and paperwork into the computer. Paul washed the truck and part of the camper then it rained (lol). A small cloud passed overhead amongst the wide blue skies.
Frieda cooked dinner for us all tonight then we sat around and chatted for a couple of hours. They are delightful people to visit. So glad we came here.
7 April 2014 (Mon) – Went food shopping at WalMart (of all places), then over to Pet Smart to buy food for Bonnie and Sheba. Wrangled an appointment with a gastroenterologist. I have been having some serious stomach issues that need attending. The doctor scheduled some tests. Hopefully, I won’t have to go under the surgeon’s knife. We’ll see.
On the way back to the camper, we spotted a sign for a water works museum. Sounded interesting so we followed the sign, but the place is closed on Mondays. We will have to go back and see what that is all about. We still have to get back to the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum.
After dinner, we visited with Sam & Frieda. Sam can sure spin a story. He is so interesting to listen to when he starts to recall some funny event in his psychology career. I enjoyed the visit very much.
6 April 2014 (Sun) – Well, we made it back safely. It was a whirlwind week. Seemed like we flew into town, ran around like nuts, then left. Our son’s wedding was near perfect. They made such a stunning couple. Windows on the Lake was a wonderful setting and the staff did justice to the occasion.
We got back to Dallas, TX, on Friday around 7 p.m. We dropped our luggage off at the hotel then headed out to find someplace to grab a bite to eat. The first street we drove down had about twenty bail bondsmen on it. What the heck kind of town is Dallas? Then we drove through town and saw police officers on every corner – in cars, on foot, riding motorcycles – they were everywhere! It was evident they were expecting something big to happen. We tucked tail and headed back to the hotel.
Parked the truck, walked next door to Doubletree Suites, and had dinner in their restaurant. The food was good. Returned to our room at Best Western, watched the news, and discovered that there was not only a free concert during the day but also the Final Four basketball competition that night (called March Madness). Guess the folks get rowdy around Dallas when these things take place.
We drove back to Shreveport, LA, yesterday. Picked up Sheba and Bonnie from the pet kennel. They sure were happy to see us. They enjoyed the opportunity to get out and stretch their legs when we got back to Sam & Frieda’s place. Frieda cooked dinner for us all, and we spent the evening visiting and catching up on each other’s news.
Today (Sunday), we went to church with Sam & Frieda. We attended the 8:15 a.m. service then went out for Sunday brunch. Unfortunately, they were no longer serving breakfast so we had to settle for lunch. It was a buffet service, something like Ponderosa. There were a lot of food choices. We returned to Sam & Frieda’s where they proceeded to teach us how to play a card game called Rook. It was very similar to hearts.
26 March 2014 (Wed) – Closed up the camper, then went in to say good-bye to Frieda. Sam was at a doctor’s appointment. Took the animals to the Good Going Pet Resort. Sheba was mad to be left and Bonnie was upset. The lady that runs the place, Penny, is supposed to be very nice with the animals in her care. Hope things go all right.
Left Shreveport shortly after 10 a.m. and drove the three hours to Dallas, TX. Stopped for lunch at Terrell Steak & Grill Restaurant along the way. Checked into the Best Western about 4:30 p.m. After looking over the room, we drove to one of the restaurants recommended by Guy of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Avilas Restaurant is a real Mexican style eatery. It was small but very neat and clean and well decorated. The food was quite authentic (spicy) and plentiful. Paul had beef brisket tacos and I had chicken mole. Returned to the motel to get ready for our flight to New York tomorrow. So looking forward to seeing our grandson and attending our son’s wedding on Sunday.
This is my last entry until we return to Louisiana on April 5th. See you then.
25 March 2014 (Tue) – Did some housecleaning and laundry this morning. Sam took Paul down to the coffee shop where he usually goes on Tuesday mornings to meet with his buddies. When they came back, Sam had his friend pull some of his antique vehicles out of the barn for us to drive (Paul drove, I rode). There was a 1941 12-cylinder Lincoln Zepher, a 1947 Chevrolet Master Deluxe, a Cushman motorbike, a Tragg motor cart.
We rode down to Johnny’s Best Pizza for lunch. It was like a pizza buffet. There was a salad bar on one side and a selection of different types of pizza on another bar. There were even dessert pizzas – peach custard and iced cinnamon. They were tasty. There was a windowless room in the corner of the restaurant (which wasn’t very large to start with), that had a door on it with three big locks. It looked to be about the size of a standard bedroom (10’ X 12’). There was a sign on the door that indicated it was their casino. It couldn’t have fit more than four to six machines with chairs. Weird!
After spending the afternoon playing around with all the antiques, Frieda cooked a superb meal of meatloaf, potato salad, corn, green beans, salad, and corn muffins followed up by coffee and ice cream.
We then spent a pleasant hour reminiscing with Sam about childhood and young adult experiences, before returning to the camper to pack for our trip back to New York.
24 March 2014 (Mon) – Whew! It was a busy day today. It started out cold in the high 30s – got up to the low 60s. We left for Bossier City to do some shopping. We stopped at Chick-Filla and got breakfast, then drove to Barksdale Air Force Base. The GPS ran us all over the place. We finally arrived at the air force base and they were doing construction that had one of the main gates closed. We went to the Air Power Museum and saw some displays on Generals Barksdale, Eaker, and Doolittle. The outside displays were far more interesting. There were so many historic aircraft lined up for viewing. We spent well over an hour walking the line and reading about each aircraft – the B52, the superfortress in many versions, the MIG 21, the Blackbird, etc. It was all quite interesting.
We stopped in the Class VI store but didn’t find what we wanted, so we left Barksdale AFB and drove back into Bossier City. Stopped at the Thrifty Liquor Store and picked up some wine. They had a drive-up window to get frozen drinks. Crazy.
Went to Dillard’s and bought a dress for me. Walked across the mall and bought a dress purse at Sears. We left the mall and drove across the street to Cheddar’s for lunch. What a mistake! The food was good, but the service was lousy. The waitress was stoned or something. She was surprised at some stuff and clueless about others. It was either her first day at EVER waitressing, or she was stoned out of her mind.
After lunch, we drove over to the Shoe Carnival and found a pair of dress shoes for me. The day complete, we returned to the camper. Went in and visited with Sam & Frieda for a couple of hours.
23 March 2014 (Sun) – Went to the First Baptist Church Sunday service with Frieda. Sam was not feeling well so he stayed home. The church – dubbed the Cowboy Church – usually has a classic service on Sunday and a service on Thursday for cowboys who ride in on their horses. Once a year (and it was today), they combine the two services for a Cowboy Church Sunday. There were many people there in jeans and chaps. The altar had a saddle on one side and a tree stand with cowboy hats on the other side. The service was nice – a woman gave testimony about how the cowboy church is drawing in people and the youth minister baptized four young men. We met the pastor who gave us a welcome gift of CD music, water bottle, book, and a pen.
When we got back to the house, we picked up Sam and drove to the Southfield Grill for brunch. We tasted okra, fried squash, and cabbage. Everything was very good. Afterward, we drove over to Shreveport proper. Frieda and I looked in Burlington and Labels for a dress for me but didn’t find anything. We returned to the house about 3:30 p.m. Threw some laundry in the washer, had coffee, then returned to the camper, fed the animals, and had dinner. We Skyped with our son and his family. That baby is adorable. He is talking now and that baby voice is so cute. Can’t wait to hug him!
We went to Sam & Frieda’s at 7 p.m. and watched the Huckabee Show. Afterward, we taught them how to play thirty-one. Frieda believes that her granddaughter would love the game.
22 March 2014 (Sat) – Frieda called this morning to say that a friend of hers was diagnosed with brain cancer. She is in the hospital and asked that all the ladies from her sewing group come in to see her. Frieda apologized but felt she needed to go see her friend. We agreed and said we would get together later for dinner.
Paul and I drove into Bossier to look for a dress. We went in and out of stores – bridal shops, department stores, specialty places. It was exhausting! And I never found anything. We stopped at the Men’s Warehouse and got Paul measured for a tuxedo, then sent the information back to New York. Had lunch at Logan’s Roadhouse. They brought a small bucket filled with peanuts and another one to put the shells in. The food and service were very good. We stopped in Petco and Pet Smart looking for the special food for Sheba only to discover that it must be prescribed by a veterinarian. Tried to call the vet Sheba saw in Branch but the office was closed. We will have to try to get in touch on Monday. Then we shopped in Kroger to get the baby food for Sheba, as well as a few other items.
Went to dinner with Sam & Frieda to a small place called Longwood Country Store. There were about ten tables in the place, along with a couple of shelves of goods. Sam’s friend and wife, Judson and Marvel, joined us for dinner. It was quite an enjoyable evening. Unfortunately, Sam started to have breathing problems and needed to get home to get on his oxygen machine. His portable unit was not working as well as it should have. We visited for a while then bid them good night.
21 March 2014 (Fri) – While Sam took his dog to the groomer, we drove to the kennel with Frieda to see about boarding Bonnie and Sheba when we fly back to New York next week for our son’s wedding. Penny was very nice and we were assured that our babies will be well taken care of.
Got back to the house and Sam returned with his neatly groomed Shadow. We then climbed in the car and drove to Gibsland, LA, home of the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum. Apparently, this couple were something of folk heroes in the town and the people in the area feel they were gunned down in cold blood unfairly (it doesn’t matter they killed some people or robbed banks). The museum was closed because the owner had to go home for medical treatment. It was expected he would be back in about an hour (he was waiting on the home nurse to arrive). We got in the car and drove seven miles down the road to the location marker where Bonnie & Clyde were actually shot (the museum is the location of the café where they bought sandwiches before they drove down the road to their deaths). The one marker was pretty beat up – looked like people had been shooting at it. There was also a lot of graffiti on the marker. There was also another marker to the government officials who shot the couple.
We drove back to the museum, but it was still closed. We had an enjoyable conversation with two couples who were also waiting for the museum to open. After an hour, we all decided it would not be opening and we left. We returned to Sam & Frieda’s, had coffee and cake and cheese, then returned to our camper.
Spent the night finding a hotel in Dallas to stay when we fly back to New York. Finally settled on Best Western and called to make the arrangement. We can keep the truck parked there for no cost for the week. That will save us a lot of money since it looks like parking is $10 a day.
20 March 2014 (Thu) – Drove to a nearby mall to shop for a dress for our son’s wedding. Tried on dresses in Dillards but didn’t find anything special. We then drove to Natchitoches (pronounced NACK-ah-tish). They are celebrating their 300th anniversary as the oldest town in Louisiana. We wandered through the general store and hardware store. There were many interesting items to examine. We walked around the town and went down to the lake where a couple of colleges were doing scull training. There used to be two branches to the Red River. The Corps of Engineers cut off one branch and turned it into a long lake that now runs through Natchitoches.
We drove to Fort St. Jean Baptiste. It turned out to be a replica that was built based on architectural plans that were found in one of the engineer’s papers. It was a tight fort that housed fifty marines with a jail cell, a storehouse, a storage building, a barracks, a house for a shopkeeper, and a house for the commandant. It was all surrounded by a rough hewn fence.
On the way back, we stopped at another mall and looked at dresses in J.C. Penney, David’s Bridal, and Dillards (another one). Still didn’t find anything. Returned to our camper and went in to speak with Sam and Frieda about tomorrow.
19 March 2014 (Wed) – Went online and found that the Bonnie & Clyde Museum is closed on Wednesdays. Bummer. We walked over to tell Sam & Frieda, who were as disappointed as we were. I threw a load of wash in the machine, then in the dryer. We chatted awhile about where to go and then decided to drive to Jefferson, Texas. It is an old town on the border that is struggling to stay alive. There were empty buildings and many run down homes. But there were also a lot of historical buildings with markers outside. We stopped for lunch at the Hamburger Store. Every chair in the place had ripped upholstery, yet everything was clean and looked well maintained. There were license plates, auto related signs, and even a grill from a mac truck on the walls. The menu was everything burger. Frieda and I had hamburger in a bowl and the guys had sandwiches. Food was good, service was satisfactory, and price was decent.
After lunch, we walked through the Jefferson General Store. It was a real neat place, quite large, and gave you the feeling of an old time store. The ceiling was very high and the floors were wood planks. There were many unusual items packed around the walls and displays, and they even had a bunch of food items available to sample. It was very interesting. We walked over to the Blackburn Jelly distribution store and Frieda bought some items.
We left Jefferson and drove to Marshall, Texas. We drove around and looked at their historical buildings for a while, then drove back to Shreveport, LA. We looked at some pictures of Sam’s family, chatted awhile, got the laundry out of the dryer, and enjoyed coffee and pound cake together.
18 March 2014 (Tue) – Left Ricky & Helmut’s at 10:15 a.m. We had a great time visiting with this side of the family and look forward to swinging by this way again.
Stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch. The service was soooooo slow. OMG. We are really in the deep south now. Not only that, we had to push for the biscuits and they didn’t come out until the end of the meal. We wound up taking them home. There was a work crew paving the parking lot at Cracker Barrel so we couldn’t pull forward. I walked into the street and helped direct Paul back onto the roadway while holding up traffic. It is so “fun” to drive a big rig. It has its special challenges.
Pulled into Sam & Frieda’s drive way in Shreveport, LA, a little after 3 p.m. Frieda was working down at her church with a sewing group. Sam was in the garage with one of his friends. He has been ill and is quite depressed about his condition. I hope that our visit will help to cheer him up.
When Frieda got home, we sat out on the porch and chatted for a while as we let Bonnie run about the yard. Unfortunately, they have a dog that kills cats so we can’t let Sheba out. This is too bad since she is finally starting to feel so much better. Around 7 pm., we left for the Chinese Buffet for dinner. They had quite a selection and it was all fresh (unlike most of the buffet places back home). We agreed to meet at 11 a.m. tomorrow to go to lunch, then the Bonnie & Clyde Museum.
17 March 2014 (Mon – St. Patrick’s Day) – Saw no parades today and no real signs of celebration.
A cold wind blew in last night from the north, dropping the temps down to the 40s. Woke this morning, and the temp was still in the low 40s. Put on our winter coats, hats, and gloves and headed out to Champagne’s Swamp Tours on Lake Martin in Breaux Bridge.
Stopped at the post office on the way and mailed off souvenirs. Arrived at the swamp tour five minutes late. There were four other people waiting to go on the tour, too. It was cold, and the tour guide was trying to gather up some coats and sweaters for the ladies (a grandmother, her daughter, and two granddaughters). We got in a flat bottomed aluminum boat with ten swivel seats and the tour guide standing in the back steering with an outboard motor. The tour was almost two hours long. It was too cold for the alligators to be out, but we spotted a barn owl, an osprey, cormorants, white egrets, blue herons, and dozens of purple martins skimming the water. The cypress trees in the swamp were covered in Spanish moss which made it both beautiful and spooky at the same time. The other tree common in the area is a Tupelo gum. There were water hyacinths that were not yet blooming. There was a rookery on the road that we were not allowed to come near with the boat (we drove by it later). We saw this rookery last week with Ricky. There were more birds in the trees this time, but still not 20,000. We saw white egrets in the interior and blue herons on the outer ring. There were two roseate spoonbills that we spied as well. I bought a t-shirt.
Drove back towards home. Stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel. Picked up some cracklins for Paul’s brother, Sam. Spoke with our son by phone tonight. He was feeling pretty depressed. Sometimes, life just sucks. Prepared to move tomorrow. Headed for Shrevesport, LA.
16 March 2014 (Sun) – It rained on and off all night; at some times, accompanied by thunder. Sheba came running into the bedroom to hide in the closet. When we got up, we found she had had a bowel movement. Guess the thunder scared the shit out of her.
Went to church with Ricky & Helmut this morning at the Mowata Baptist Church. Everyone was very friendly and we ran into Duane, who promptly continued our education on rice farming. After church, we went to Chef Roy’s for lunch. The food was very good.
At 3:20 p.m., Ricky came by to pick me up and we went back to her church. Two Mexican women (members of the church) were cooking up some food for the membership. The large kitchen was filled with sixteen women, plus the two women cooking and a young man interpreting Spanish (they didn’t speak a word of English). The kitchen was filled with the sound of women chattering; asking questions, English and Spanish flying around the room, and the smell of cooking food filled the room. They made green and red salsa, wheat and corn tortillas, refried beans, shredded chicken, and flautas. The food was good (but the salsa was too hot). It reminded me of working in the kitchen at our church back home during a Christmas fair or other dinner event. It was lots of fun.
15 March 2014 (Sat) – Ricky & Helmut drove to Washington to pick up a table they ordered some weeks ago. It is made out of re-purposed cypress tree wood and pieces of an old tin ceiling. We hung around the yard, trying to get Sheba to move around. She is in a great deal of discomfort and just sits where you put her. Poor baby.
When Ricky & Helmut got back, we helped them move their new table into the kitchen. Then we drove into Rayne to do some grocery shopping. Had lunch at the Candy Cottage – ordered Frito pies followed by a piece of butter pecan fudge. Filled up the truck, did the food shopping, then returned to the camper.
After dinner, we walked over to Ricky & Helmut’s and taught them to play thirty-one. We tried out a new wine we bought (I didn’t care for it), and we munched on veggies and olive salsa while Helmut showed us what a card shark he can really be. It was lots of fun.
14 March 2014 (Fri) – Spent the morning giving the animals play time. Bonnie always gets so goofy. Poor little Sheba is in great discomfort. She does not want to move. We picked her up and put her a little ways away in the yard. She simply snuggled down and refused to move. We tried to get her to do a little walking but it is obvious she’s hurting. The vet gave us laxatose for her. It is a thick, viscous, dark brown medication that smells strongly of molasses. We are supposed to give her a teaspoonful two or three times a day. It is very thick to get into the syringe but we struggle with it. Hope it works soon. Poor baby is so tender.
We left at noon to drive to Louisiana Spirits, home of Bayou Rum, in Lacassine, LA. The owner gave a tour of the plant. Unfortunately, they were going through some renovations so no bottling, labeling, or packing was going on. We saw the tanks and learned how they make rum. It was informative. The tour finished in the bar room where we got to taste Bayou Rum Silver and Bayou Rum Spiced. Then we got a drink of some kind of sangria they were experimenting with (not bad – I would drink it at a party but wouldn’t go out to buy it), followed by a hot buttered rum drink (WOW! We will DEFINITELY have to make that one). We bought a bottle of spiced rum and continued on our way.
Stopped at Lil’ Cahon’s Meat Specialists for lunch. It was a small place with a deli counter and four tables in the place. Paul had boudin balls and cracklins; I had boudin links. Everything was quite tasty.
We followed the road down south to coastal highway 82, called America’s Scenic Byway. It was a lot like driving down Ocean Parkway on Fire Island back home. There was lots of open swamp land with water, cattle grazing, and exotic birds flying around. The horizon was dotted with off-shore oil rigs, and there were many refineries, holding tanks, and pipeline terminus’ along the way. We even had to take a ferry across a bayou to continue on the road.
13 March 2014 (Thu) – Took our cat, Sheba, to the vet this morning. She has only had one bowel movement in the past seven days. She had a serious calcium deficiency when she was a kitten and this resulted in a skeletal deformity. One of those deformities resulted in a narrow pelvic canal, making it difficult for her to go to the bathroom regularly. She eats a high fiber dry food and we add fiber to her can food, but apparently it’s not enough. The doctor prescribed a laxative for her and suggested we change her diet to include pumpkin and squash baby food. We’ll see how she does. Because we did not have an appointment but walked in, we waited over two hours to get in this morning to drop her off, then an hour and a half to pick her up at the end of the day.
Drove into the town of Eunice and had lunch at Ruby’s Restaurant. The street was an old, narrow main street with high curbs and trees planted in the intersections you had to drive around. The restaurant was surprisingly spacious compared to the small store front. There were two large bars and lots of tables that were nearly all full. The place was quite popular. The food was good, as was the service.
After lunch, we walked over to the Jean Lafitte National Park Acadian Cultural Center. We started with a very moving video of about 20 minutes, than wandered the museum area reading about the different areas that make Cajuns so different from everyone else. They are, in fact, French Canadians who were expelled from Nova Scotia by the English. Their story is an emotional one and you had to marvel at their resilience in making a new life for themselves down in the swamps of Louisiana.
We had a delightful conversation with the park rangers about the Mardi Gras celebration in Eunice. It is so very different from what they do in Mobile and New Orleans. A group of people go from house to house, dressed in costumes (nothing like those worn elsewhere) and beg for food. The homeowners give them a chicken and it’s a race to see who catches the bird. Other donations include sausage, potatoes, and other foods. At the end of the roadside trip, all the contributions are brought back and a huge meal is prepared for everyone in town. It was so interesting to see how the same holiday is celebrated in such a different way.
Got our laundry and threw it in the washer, then ran to the natural food store to pick up pumpkin seed extract (recommended by the vet for Sheba). They only had capsules, and the lady at the store told us we could puncture the capsule and squirt the oil on the cat’s food.
Threw the wash in the dryer and drove over to the vet to find out about Sheba. The vet was unable to do an enema on her because the feces is still high in her intestines. We discussed what we could do for her, then took her back home after picking up the laundry.
When we got back, we went over Ricky & Helmut’s for wine and cheese. They gave us a tour of their family home. It is a wonderful place rich with history of Ricky’s parents and siblings. They have done some interesting things to the house and are still working on renovations.
After enjoying wine, cheese, and boudin balls (they were scrumptious!), we went to dinner at Hawks. This place is only open during crawfish harvest season. People were ordering platters of four pounds of boiled crawfish. It was an orgy of seafood! People were breaking the crawfish apart, sucking the meat from the head, peeling the tail, dipping it in sauce, and popping it in their mouths. And there was no resting between fish – they can’t seem to shovel the stuff in fast enough. Tables were strewn with hundreds of crawfish bodies.
Paul and Helmut had a fried crawfish salad, Rickey had a burger, and I had a crawfish etoufee. Because of the snacks we had at the house, my appetite was low so I wound up taking a good portion of my meal home. Everything was very good.
12 March 2014 (Wed) – Took a tour of Mr. Charlie, an old oil rig turned training institute. This was the first floating drill platform used in offshore operations. It had a platform that sat on the ground and the legs filled up with water to weight the rig. When done drilling, they let the water out, raised the platform, and floated the rig to the next site. The rig was named after the guy who invented it. The rig was only two stories high (today’s rigs go as high as eight stories). There were 50 people who worked on this rig. We saw their bunkroom, galley (set up as a cafeteria with four meals a day served), and rec area. Outside, we saw the drill operation explained – the form is dropped onto the ocean floor and the double sided drill pipe is fitted through the center of the form. A special mud is pumped down the drill pipe and returned on the outer side of the pipe along with the debris they dug up. Forms are continually fitted one on top of the other to keep the sea water out of the drilling operation. Drill pipes are connected to each other as the drilling goes deeper until they hit oil. The oil is then piped to an oil platform, which is moved on via other pipelines through platforms until it reaches the terminus back on shore. It was a fascinating and very educational tour.
We had lunch at Rita Mae’s Restaurant in Morgan City, LA. It was a little house converted to restaurant. There were four small rooms. The room we were in had two and a half tables (one table seated one person who sat in the corner facing the wall). The room adjacent to us had four tables seating four to six people each. Another room off that one, adjacent to the kitchen, had one large table that could seat eight people. There was a counter on the porch with about six stools, and one table that could seat two people. The silverware was plastic and wrapped in a napkin. There was one waitress serving all the tables. The customers kept coming and going – the place was quite popular despite its tiny, one-man showmanship. All the signs around the place were scrawled in black marker. The food was good, but the cost was pretty high – $30 for the two of us.
We got back to the camper about 6 p.m. It was a full day.
11 March 2014 (Tue) – Had a great day today! Ricky brought us over to her Cousin Duane’s farm. He raises both rice and crawfish (also called crayfish, crawdads, and mud bugs). He took us on a tour of his 1,200 acre farming operation (he owns some of that land and rents the other part of it). It was raining this morning and the fields were muddy.
In the wild, crawfish burrow into the ground to the water. In the process, they leave a mound of dirt on the surface to breathe through. Ricky has several of these mounds dotting her yard. When the crawfish are farmed, the fields are filled with water and then the fish are dropped into it. The crawfish mate and the females dig down and incubate their eggs. When the eggs hatch, the babies swim out of the burrow. Because they are a prey food for birds, turtles, frogs, mammals, etc., a female lays thousands of eggs at a time.
The crawfish farmer puts baited nets in the water, about 50 feet apart on the side and 60 feet along the row. There are approximately twelve nets per acre. The crawfish crawl into the net through one of three tubes and can’t get out. The nets have to be emptied every day once the harvest season starts. The harvester rides up and down the aisles in a flat bottom boat he steers by foot, lifts the net out, empties the contents in a bin, re-baits the net, and then puts it back in the water. As the bin fills with crawfish, the harvester puts the crawfish in a bag for weighing. Crawfish currently sell for $3 a pound. Duane told us they pull in about 14,000 nets a day.
The other part of his operation is rice farming. The fields are smoothed out so the seedlings will take root. They spray the grass with Roundout and then fill the fields with water that acts as a natural weed control. The seeds are dropped by airplane and in about two weeks, the seeds have set in the soil. The plants grow about waist high, then a combine (like they use for wheat crops) is used to harvest the rice. The rice is brought to a grain silo where it is dried to a specified moisture level before being shipped out. Temperature plays an important part in the rice growth – if it’s too cold or too hot, the rice won’t grow properly. The stubs from the rice plants are used to feed the crawfish when they are seeded into the same fields. They eat the plankton that forms on the stalks. It is all interconnected.
After the tour of Duane’s farm, we drove to Lafayette to do some shopping. Returned to the camper a little after 5 p.m. The sun was still up and shining warmly (it got up to 76 degrees today). We took a pleasant walk out around the rice fields (Ricky has a couple of hundred acres that she rents to a rice farmer).
10 March 2014 (Mon) – Left with Ricky at 9:30 a.m. We drove through several small towns between Branch and St. Martinville. We toured the African American Museum and the Acadian Museum. They were small but very informative. We learned that before the civil war, there were three classes of peoples – slaves, free people of color, and whites. After the civil war, our society was reduced to two classes – blacks and whites. The free blacks were the real losers in the war between the states.
The Acadians were French persons who were ousted from Nova Scotia by the English. Some went back to France, some were deported to other states along the east coast, and some retreated to Louisiana. Over a 30 year period, the displaced Canadians found their way to Louisiana. Some of the Acadians were offered land grants by the Spanish to come to Louisiana. Every four or five years, they have a big reunion of the original 50 families that settled in Acadiana.
After the museums, we walked over to St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church founded in 1765. It was a beautiful old church with figures along the walls and a domed ceiling made out of wood. There were two statues in niches as you entered the church.
Next, we walked over to a local restaurant for lunch. Ricky, Paul, and I all ordered the crab cake with potato and a tossed salad. Yum! We walked back to look at a memorial to the Acadians. There was a wall with 3,000 names on it, and across the room a mural was painted on the wall. A narrative accompanied the mural that told the story of the Acadians who were thrown out of Nova Scotia. In the courtyard was a diaspora cross, tiles with names of the early settlers laid out on the ground, and an eternal flame.
There was a town square with the Evangeline Oak and a bust of Henry Longfellow (who wrote the poem to Evangeline). The park sits on the Bayou Teche. It was all very pretty and many years old.
The cardinal has managed to circumvent our Mardi Gras beads and was still attacking the windows. We strung up a plastic garbage bag hoping that the wind would make it move and scare the bird away. This is one determined bird!
9 March 2014 (Sun) – Woke at 7 a.m. to find Helmut’s friend and son already working on the pipe. It turned out that the water in the pump froze, which caused it to pull away from the pipe. They were able to get everything working again, and Paul and I were happy to have running water again.
Ricky came by at noon to get us and we drove to Washington to see about picking up an antique table they ordered some time ago. We had lunch at a wonderful place called the Steamboat Warehouse. The ceiling beams were rough hewn and you could see the cedar shingles through the slats on the ceiling. The walls were brick with some of the cement covering crumbling away. It was very rustic looking. We had fried catfish and shrimp etoufee (a shrimp and rice dish with a creamy sauce).
After lunch, we went to the antique mall which was made up of vendors set up inside an old converted school gymnasium. The table Ricky wanted to pick up was not ready. We walked around the building and looked at the antiques for sale.
After we were done exploring the mall, we drove around the small town of Washington which was established in 1817 (eighty percent of the town is on the National Historic Register). It is so amazing to drive around this state and see mobile homes sitting next door to brick houses sitting next door to three story frame homes sitting next door to run down shotgun houses. There is such an amazing mix of architecture around here. And much of the land is wet. The rice fields are flooded with about a foot of water, and they also raise crawfish in the same fields. We will be going to Ricky’s cousin’s farm on Tuesday to hear more about rice and crawfish farming.
Some crazy cardinal keeps attacking our camper. It sees its reflection in the windows and thinks there is another cardinal invading its territory. We strung up some of those Mardi Gras beads to chase it away from the windows (everything in a camper does double duty). Hope it works.
8 March 2014 (Sat) – Went to Avery Island today. Avery Island is actually not an island, but a plug of salt that pushed up to form a huge mound on a peninsula. The McIlhenny family has been mining rock salt here for over a hundred years. When you drive up to the entrance, there is a small shack with a very old, wizened man sitting by a window who greets you by passing out a long stick with a clothespin on the end. He passes you a brochure and you pay him a $1 entrance fee, all on the stick.
Once inside the park, you follow the signs to the Tabasco Factory. They grow peppers here, and make pepper sauce as well as export seeds to South America to other farms. The Tabasco label is printed in over 20 languages and Tabasco is sold in 160 countries around the world. They ferment the pepper mash for three years! It is one of the most recognized labels, next to Coca-Cola. The tour began with a short video about how the family started the business, followed by a walk through a hallway that looked through a glass window onto the factory floor where they produce many of their products. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and no one was working, so we looked through the window and guessed at what each piece of machinery did.
After the tour, visitors are invited to visit the country gift store where you can sample several Tabasco products. We tried pepper soda pop, raspberry chipotle ice cream, and other spicy treats flavored with Tabasco (jelly, mayo, mustard, etc.). There were all kinds of Tabasco products for sale – aprons, t-shirts, kitchen ware, etc. We were each given four tiny little bottles as part of the tour. And there was no charge for the tour! Each little bottle cost $0.55 in the gift shop. I used to get these little teeny tiny bottles of Tabasco sauce in the MREs we were issued in the Army. I remember being so impressed with how far along the pre-packaged meals had come compared to the K-rations from Korea/Vietnam.
After the Tabasco Factory tour, we drove to Jungle Gardens (still on Avery Island) and paid an entrance fee to drive along a five mile scenic roadway that featured all kinds of plants (few were in bloom) and various wildlife (we spotted a couple of alligators). The highlight of the drive was a stop at the Bird Watch. Back in the day, the snowy egret was facing extinction because it was hunted for its beautiful white feathers. McIlhenny brought seven young egrets to his plantation where he built a bamboo platform for them to nest on. Fifty years later, there are over 20,000 snowy egrets that come to the rookery to breed and raise their young. A man standing on the observation platform with us said that when the eggs hatch, you can see the alligators hanging out below the platforms trying to get the chicks that fall out of the nest. There were the most gorgeous live oaks around the property. One had a limb that stretched out longer than the tree was high. Many of the trees are more than 300 years old.
We left the “island” and stopped at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. We each had a big mug margarita, and some typical Spanish food (taco, enchilada, refried beans). The place was decorated nicely, but was a little on the seamy side with ripped upholstery, peeling paint, and plastic forks wrapped in little napkins. Enjoyed the experience.
We drove back to the house and found that Ricky and Helmut were home from their cruise to the Caribbean. We chatted for a while, met their three dogs, and planned out some activities. Paul and Helmut looked at the pump for the well but couldn’t get it to work. Helmut called a friend who said he would be over tomorrow morning to look at it.
7 March 2014 (Fri) – Went shopping at the commissary and did some laundry this morning. Stopped by the office and got some of those delicious red beans and rice when we picked up a FedEx package from Escapees forwarding our mail. With everything cleaned up and tucked away, we left at 12:30 p.m. for Branch, LA.
We stopped at a visitor’s center in the Atchafalaya Basin. What a great place! They had a video about the area, and animated critters singing and joking with the audience in a swamp like setting. There were loads of brochures and flyers about activities in the area, and they were offering free coffee.
Back on the road, we arrived at Paul’s brother’s wife’s sister’s place in Branch, Louisiana. They are away on a cruise to the Caribbean and will be back tomorrow. They have a large land area and directed us to park in the back where her brother parks his motor home every year when they visit at Christmas. There was not enough maneuver room and the truck got stuck in the mud. Paul had to jack up the truck so we could put some wood and stone under the wheels for traction. That didn’t help much and we wound up leaving the truck. We were unable to level the camper so we will be living on an angle for a few days.
People just don’t understand the amount of room required for a fifth wheel RV to maneuver. Our camper is almost the same length of a motor home, plus the truck. We have to drop the RV, then unhitch the truck. The ground must be solid for a greater amount of area. The same with height. People just don’t seem to be able to imagine how much clearance we need for 13’.
After we stopped fiddling with trying to level the camper, we tried to hook up. The electric and sewer were fine, but there is no water. The faucet turns on but we are not getting any water. This is probably a well and there is a pump somewhere that needs to be switched on. Guess we’ll have to wait until Erica (Ricky) and Helmut get back from their cruise tomorrow.
Sheba is not feeling well. She only took a few bites of her breakfast this morning. She is listless and not interested in interacting. She turned her nose up at dinner – didn’t even come over to sniff at it – and I haven’t seen her drink anything all day. We will have to keep an eye on her.
6 March 2014 (Thu) – Went to Mardi Gras World today. It is a huge warehouse where they make floats and figureheads and other animated figures/items for Mardi Gras. About 30% of their business comes from making items for Disney World, Universal Studios, Las Vegas, and other places around the world. We saw a 15-minute video on Mardi Gras, had a piece of King Cake (a kind of bread pastry with icing), then walked through the warehouse. We saw one artist placing paper mache over Styrofoam pieces, and all the floats that were used this year were lined up in the warehouse. They have 15 warehouses to store floats and figures, as well as a work area to create their artistic pieces. The best time to tour this place is right after Mardi Gras. The staff was cleaning out the floats, which were full of so much stuff – beads, bags, insulated bags with food stuff, and all kinds of give-aways. They were offering visitors to take whatever they wanted – and there was stuff on every float.
We discovered that a basic float costs about $60 to $80 thousand to build, and that they build in a bathroom (port-a-pottie) on every float. Revelers are on the floats about six to ten hours, and they are all drinking. We saw the Zulu krewe with a port-a-pottie that was being used during Tuesday’s parade. We didn’t realize every float had one.
We left Mardi Gras World and looked up Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on my iPhone to find a nearby place to eat lunch. We followed directions to Parasol’s Restaurant & Bar. What a dive! It was a tiny little place with four rooms – the main dining area had six small round tables adjacent to a small kitchen. There was also a side room that you stepped down to with four small round tables. You passed through a narrow doorway into a bar area. Paul ordered a muffaletta (an Italian sandwich on a huge sesame seed bun), I ordered a Po Boy Firecracker Shrimp, and we shared an Irish sundae (potato salad with roast beef drippings). Everything was quite good.
On the way back to the campground, we passed the Audubon Zoo. On a whim, we stopped in. What a great decision! The place was old, but they had animals here that we have not seen in other zoos. The cages were clean (there were no scuzzy left-overs gathering mold or animal droppings that needed to be cleaned up), the animals all seemed healthy, and the cages seemed appropriate to the particular type of animal contained in it. It was a large zoo and easy to follow the lay out. The only complaint we had was with the reptile house. There were several signs where the lights were out and/or the cages were empty without explanation so that you were standing there trying to find the critter in the cage where there wasn’t, in fact, anything in the cage.
We stopped at one of the cafes to warm up with a cup of hot coffee. Got a cup of gumbo that was pretty good. All was hot and tasty. The zoo closed at 5 p.m. We crept back home in the rush hour traffic, arriving at about 6:30 p.m.
5 March 2014 (Wed) – Went to the NASA Stennis Infinity Science Center in Mississippi. It is a rocket engine test facility where engines for the space program have been tested since the early 1960s. The visitor’s center and museum had the feeling of being newly established and not quite finished, despite the age of the test facility itself. I think the federal government said, “The tourist industry brings in loads of funding – open up the space programs to visitation.” The standard fee is $10 per person (we arrived on seniors Wednesday and got to pay half-price).
We took a bus ride over to the concrete pads where the engines are set up and ignited. Back in the 60s, when a rocket test took place, people could hear it up to 100 miles away. It caused ear damage and broke windows within two miles of the test. Today, you can go up to a quarter of a mile of an engine test without injury.
The museum had display boards that told the story of how people came to expand their horizons and travel beyond their shores. Seems it all came down to commerce – people traveled beyond their shores and traded with the people on other shores. From Phoenecia, to Greece, to Italy, to Europe, and so on.
There were many interactive displays for the kids that were quite educational. We stopped in the gift shop and picked up something for our grandson. Also picked up a dehydrated ice cream bar. It was surprisingly good. Tasted just like a slice of Neapolitan ice cream. As you put it in your mouth, your saliva rehydrated the ice cream. It was quite an experience. Having gotten the taste for ice cream, we stopped at the Dairy Dip on the way home and got hot fudge sundaes. Yum. Once back on base, we stopped in at the Class VI store and picked up some wine.
Although it has not rained today, it is still overcast and dreary. Hope tomorrow is nicer.
4 March 2014 (Tue) – Left at 7:45 a.m. for the ferry. The day was rainy and cold. The temps ranged in the high 30s to low 40s. When we parked in the lot near the ferry, the guy tried to charge us $40. (He charged us $20 two days ago for a spot that was supposed to cost $10.) When we balked, the guy only charged $20.
Arrived on Canal Street and decided to go into Harrah’s for their breakfast buffet. It wasn’t bad, but a bit expensive. After we finished eating, we put up our hoods, donned gloves and hats, and walked to the French Quarter to see the Zulu krewe parade. The crowds were six to eight people deep. People were crowded together and those with umbrellas were poking people in the head, back, and eye. We couldn’t really get very close to the parade route where the Zulu krewe was handing out painted coconuts along with other throws.
We decided to walk around the parade route into the French quarter. Walking down Bourbon Street, we decided to stop in a place called Bourbon Heat. They had a really great courtyard, nicely decorated for Mardi Gras, but all wet from the pouring rain. Upstairs on the second floor was a bar and small eating area. The place was decorated with old, peeling walls – paint over brick – and dark wood floors. The food was tasty and the service was good, but the price was pretty steep.
At 11:45 a.m. we continued down Bourbon Street to St. Anne’s where they were conducting a gay costume judging contest at noon. There were ten judges on two balconies, split on either side of the street. Music was playing and they were dancing and cavorting around, throwing beads to the crowd below. Some of the guys in the contest put women to shame; they were so beautiful. We are sure there would have been many more contestants had the weather been nicer. As it was, there were entertainers and contestants prancing, singing, and strutting their stuff.
When it was over we left the judging area and walked over to Café Dumond for coffee and beignets. The place was packed. The coffee was nice and hot, and the beignets were a mess of powdered sugar. We then traversed the Moon Walk from Jackson Square to the ferry, where we rode the boat back across the Mississippi.
On the way back to the campground, we stopped at Copeland’s Restaurant to pick up red beans and rice for dinner. This is the place where the campground folks got the beans and rice the other day that we found so delicious. I had to wait twenty minutes and wound up with two dinners to go that had not only the red beans and rice, but also Andouille (pronounced Ahn-doo-wee) – a very spice sausage. We got back to the camper at 4:30 p.m., cold, wet, and partied out.
It was so funny to watch the local news coverage of Mardi Gras. These folks take this holiday very seriously. The king of Mardi Gras, Rex, challenged the mayor of the city last night. He demanded the mayor halt all business and proclaim the next day (Fat Tuesday) a holiday and direct the people to party. The mayor capitulated and awarded King Rex the key to the city.
A reporter was interviewing the officers of the Zulu krew – the president, the historian, and the witch doctor. These guys are elected by their fellow krewe members, and serve for the year. They sat in their chairs dressed in bright, sequined gold suits with gold and black striped bowties, holding instruments of their office (a scepter, a book, and a voodoo spear with skull), speaking very seriously about their respective roles. The news reporter, likewise, was very serious.
The reporters covering the parades today showed up wearing wigs and other costume items. In fact, walking the streets today, we saw every kind of costume imaginable. People wore some of the most ridiculous items. There were also all kinds of street performers trying to make money from the revelers, as well as groups of religious fanatics standing in the middle of the sidewalk blaring out news of everyone’s demise over portable loudspeakers. Drunk kids threw water balloons and other items at them. Music blasted out of all the bars and restaurants we walked by.
3 March 2014 (Mon) – It was overcast, cold, and blustery today. After breakfast, we walked over to the community center and did some laundry. When that was done, we went over to the office to share some information about a website with the clerk. They had some rice and red beans available for lunch. It was delicious! Paul and I both had two bowls each.
After that wonderful lunch, we drove to the Chalmette National Cemetery & Battlefield. We took a small ferry that cost $1 to go over, but nothing to come back. There are over 15,000 graves in the national cemetery - over 6,600 of them unknown soldiers. In their place are just small square blocks with a number. It is sad that no one should know who they were, and families who pined for their sons and husbands never knew what happened to them. There are personnel buried in the cemetery spanning five major battles, starting with the War of 1812 and ending with the Vietnam War. Some of their dependents are buried there as well.
The battlefield was from 1815, the last fight of the War of 1812. Unfortunately, the visitor’s center is open from Tuesday through Saturday. Furthermore, this national park will be closed for Mardi Gras tomorrow (a state holiday). We were able to walk around the battlefield a little. There were many signs that made it easy to self-guide the park. There was a large monument to the men who fought and died there, as well as a replica of a plantation home that was on the battlefield that day. At about 4 p.m., a ranger showed up and told us he was locking the gates so we had to leave.
On the way back, we stopped at Zydeco’s for some Cajun cookin’. Everything was outrageous! We started with a gumbo, then followed with a crab au gratin for me and a BBQ shrimp dish for Paul. Each of our meals came with a half loaf of French bread brushed with melted butter. Wow! After the last two days experiences with poor service and bad food, this was heavenly.
While we were driving along the levee, you could see ships behind the mound of grass (the levee) literally in people’s backyards. The ships stood higher than the houses and you could imagine the levee breaking and the Mississippi River pouring into the area. Scary.
2 March 2014 (Sun) – Watched some of the local news last night. There was a special about the Edymion Krewe parade that took place during the day (the one we WOULD have seen had we been able to get around the parade). The organization held their extravaganza in the Superdome. There were 18,000 attendees, all dressed in formal gowns and tuxedoes. They lined the parade route as the floats came in through the middle of the crowd. There were several high school bands playing and the whole thing was led by the New Orleans Motorcycle Police brigade. There were lights flashing, sirens blaring, bands playing, people yelling, and horns blaring. It was an incredible cacophony of noise and costumes and color. The news reporters were trying to yell above the noise. They were saying that the parade participants ha marched five miles to the dome and were still as fresh as when they started. Amazing!
Left for New Orleans a little around 9:30 a.m. Got to the ferry at Algiers Points without incident (whew!). It cost $20 to park in a lot that we were told would only cost $10, then had to pay $2 each for the ferry when the website said it was free. This town can’t seem to get any of its digital information to line up with what is actually happening. The trolley had a sign saying the cost was $1.25 each and that you had to have exact change. The gal at the information booth told us they have machines on board the trolleys now and have just not adjusted their signs.
The ferry ride was all of five minutes (if that). The exit deposited us on Canal Street. Harrah’s Casino was right across the street from the ferry depot. There were people everywhere with all kinds of costumes, beads, ballet skirts, and other colorful paraphernalia. We stopped in a couple of souvenir shops to find something party-appropriate. I got a black sequin hat with flashing lights and a colorful crown to put on the hat. Paul found nothing he liked. We also picked up a Christmas decoration.
We proceeded to walk down the street to the French quarter. We got to the Court of the Two Sisters and decided to pop in for the Jazz Music brunch. Things were very confusing. The gal at the reception desk told us to stand on line – no, wait a minute, wait until the line goes down – no, stand on the line – no, sit down on the bench. We weren’t asked to pay anything and people were walking past us and getting on the brunch line. Finally we jumped up and got on the line (which didn’t seem to be moving at all). I peeked around the corner and saw that we were, indeed, on the brunch line. No one had asked for any money and I couldn’t see where we were supposed to pay. A couple walked up to a second reception station. Asked if they had reservations, they said yes and were shown right in – the waiter didn’t even ask their names. Greatly aggravated, we left.
Back on the street again, we discovered there were small parades from local groups taking place aside from the large, scheduled parades. We walked down to Jackson Square, then up to Decatur Street near Café Dumond. The line from the café was miles long! OMG. We decided to just leave. Walked back to the ferry and drove back to the base.
On the way back, we pulled into The Original New Orleans Breakfast and Pancake House, intending to get some lunch. There was a woman chatting with another woman who, we thought, was the receptionist. When five minutes went by and she did not acknowledge us or stop her personal conversation, we figured she was not an employee and turned to the reception station. There were two women standing there smiling away. When we asked about getting a table, we were told to wait for the woman who was chatting who was, in fact, the receptionist. When the woman saw the receptionist was not finishing up her personal conversation, she offered to take us to a table. A few minutes later, the receptionist appeared at our table to take our order.
Everything on the menu was eggs and something. Eggs and steak; eggs and pancakes; eggs and catfish. I ordered a seafood omelet with smothered hash, and Paul ordered biscuits and gravy with eggs. We waited over a half hour for our food. The waitress at the table next to us was telling her customers that they had been overwhelmed with a big order and begged their patience. There was a table with seven people at it. That was overwhelming?
Finally, the waitress brought my food. Nothing for Paul. She gave me grits and said the smothered hash was coming. I never ordered grits. Ten minutes later, the waitress tending the table next to ours brought Paul’s order. It looked like they had scraped the bottom of the pot to get what was left of the gravy onto the biscuit. It didn’t cover half the biscuit and was dried out. The sausage patties looked like hockey pucks. The waitress also told us they were out of hash browns – had been for two hours. Then why did our waitress take our order for them? Paul pushed the plate aside in disgust and asked our waitress for the check. She apologized and said she would take his meal off the bill, yet we still paid over $17. They kept complaining that they had been slammed with orders. There were five tables with two people each in addition to the one table with seven people. Two waitresses were serving the tables. They certainly would not be successful in New York!
1 Mar 2014 (Sat) – Grrrrr. Wasted three hours sitting in traffic trying to get to the ferry. We were driving along when we came upon a Mardi Gras parade. The road was closed and all the side roads were congested with parked cars. We slowly crept our way down a side street onto a road by the levee, cut across the lower end past the parade route, then tried to head back up towards our destination. We outsmarted ourselves and found ourselves wedged into a narrow street where people had simply parked their cards in the middle of the road and walked down to watch the parade. We turned the key off and waited for the parade to pass. After 45 minutes, we saw some people walking past us and asked if the parade was over. She said, yes, it was almost over but the parade would be coming back. Apparently, they loop around and come back down the same parade route.
We tried to back down and around, then go back up the narrow street. It was blocked by a police car and two cars behind him. A traffic cop appeared and told the two cars to back up. One of the cars had no reverse gear, so the cop called on the bystanders to help push the car out of the way. The party revelers, with one hand full of throw downs from the floats and drinks in the other hand, boisterously joined in to push the car to the side of the road.
We got down the road then had to sit in a long line of cars trying to get out of the side streets. People were driving the wrong way down one way lanes; they were cutting across a major roadway to jump onto another byway; and driving up and over medians. It was a mess.
We finally got through the mess and headed back to the campground. We were supposed to meet a couple we had met in Mobile, Alabama in the French quarter and have lunch together at 1:30 p.m. Since we never got to the ferry, we called and cancelled the date. We came across Lil G’s Kajun Restaurant on the way back to camp and pulled into the parking lot. We walked in and saw three booths and one table occupied. We stood at the reception station for 15 minutes. The waitress passed us four times, and never even acknowledged us. She did not look at us, nor offer to seat us or tell us to seat ourselves. We left and posted a very negative evaluation on Trip Advisor.
After we got back to the campground, we had wine and cheese for lunch while the animals played in the sunshine and grass. Later, we barbequed steaks for dinner.
28 Feb 2014 (Fri) – Left Hattiesburg, MS, at 10 a.m. and arrived at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Aviation Arbor RV Park in New Orleans, LA, at 2 p.m. We stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel along the way. The weather was clear and cool, and the ride was uneventful.
When we checked in, the clerk overwhelmed us with information about New Orleans and Mardi Gras “stuff.” The charge is $20 a night; $120 for a week (that makes one night free). We got full hook-up and the campground is right on the base, two blocks down from the commissary and exchange area. We are in the heart of the base and right on the other side of the runway. Can’t wait to watch some of the flights take off and land.
After we gave Sheba and Bonnie some outside time, we headed over to the commissary to pick up some groceries, then the Class VI store to pick up some wine. We came back and snacked on wine and cheese while we read all the material Kenny gave us. Dinner was left-overs. Called and made a reservation for the Court of the Two Sisters tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. We should be able to catch a 4 p.m. parade in the French quarter.