Foggy Mountin' Breakdown

Thar she sits. We've been having one of our neighborhood teenagers, Brett, mow our lawn during the intense heat these last couple of summers, and during the 'winter' months, I do it. Brett's back in school, and besides a heavy workload, he's into sports, so I thought, wellllll, since it is September and Fall, I'll just mount up ol' "Black Beauty" and ride her around the yard. Usually, when I finish mowing, and after she's cooled down, I crawl around on the ground, reaching around her underbelly pulling out grass cuttings that have matted under there, then I wrangle up her cover, which is supposed to protect her from the weather, and cinch it on 'er. It's been working just great, but when we came home after Hurricane Gustav, I noticed that the cover was on the ground. I took note, but with everything else needing to be done immediately, I didn't go out and put it back on. Right away, it seemed, Hurricane Ike came barreling along, making more problems in the neighborhood. We picked up bushels of torn shingles from other people's houses that had blown into our yard, and worse; pink foam insultation, from those roofs. We have metal roofing, so they weren't from ours, but most of the houses around us, are presently sporting pretty blue plastic tarps.(the view out our back door)Golly, it seems as tho' lately, everything's been breaking down. Our front door has been waiting for a new door knob assembly for quite some time, the A/C has been acting up, and while guys were up in the attic checking that out, they found that the hot water unit needs replacing. That's not all, but I know everybody's got the same problems from time to time; if it not one thing...yadda yadda yadda...and that's how it goes. So, I quit as far as being "John Wayne"; I never was good at all the 'man things' that needed gittin' done anyhow. But, with help, we'll "gitter done", tho. We always do.
So, yesterday, I thought I'd take matters into my own hands and fire up "Black Beauty". I checked the gas tank and found it empty, so put in what was left in the gas can, which wasn't much. I thought I'd better go get some more, but maybe first I'd better fire her up, to make sure she was still working. She had sat there 'nekked' during Hurricane Ike, all exposed, so who knows whether she'd want to run or not. I leaped into her saddle and tried to coax her into starting. Well, she was pretty balky, and she did start, but boy! she started pouring out big clouds of gray smoke. Cappy was in my ear on the phone, and he said that she must have gotten dust in her engine from the hurricane wind blowing it in there, but she'd burn it off, once't she got goin'. Good enuff fer me. I rounded up the 'boys', SparkyBear and MarkyBear into the SUV, drove to the nearest gas station and rustled us up a couple gallons of gas for $11.(now that's just wrong), drove back home and 'watered' the 15 horse power ol' gal. Well, she drank it in good and all, so I mounted the saddle again, turned the key and at once was sitting in a fog-bank of thick, choking gray smoke! I knew something was definitely wrong, but maybe Cappy was right, the dust just needed to burn off, so I put 'er in gear and she took off, galloping across the lawn at a higher speed than I thought she would. I yelled at the lazing dogs, "Get along little doggies, get back, get BACK!!!", yelled,"Whoaaaaa", got her stopped and put into a slower gear, then off we went again, but she was not happy, and began balking again. Hmmm. I drove her around the yard one time, out-running the cloud of 'dust' behind us, til we saw Maggie, Brett's mother walking toward us, so I shut off the engine. Maggie said that Brett had planned on coming out in the morning to do the yard work, and could do whatever I didn't get done. I said I'd try to get most of it done, because I know Brett's been incredibly busy. I wish she hadn't said, laughing, "Yeah, you might not get it started again", meaning the jittery 'charger' I was sitting atop, as she, no doubt, had witnessed the rolicking ride I'd just been on, before I spotted her. I chuckled back as she turned to leave, got the lawn cutter roaring again, and went bucking across the lawn until we got out by the road next to the mailbox. Then she just broke down...quit. Pore thang. I dismounted, knelt down on my hands and knees and looked underneath. Aha! Some kind of rod had come loose and was half laying on the ground. I tried to get in there with my little fingers and shove the end back into the hole I thought it had come from, but it was going to take stronger fingies than mine. Impulsively, I thought about 'girding my loins' and making it go in there, but before I could ration that I got no loins, I noticed that the smoke had increased and was billowing out of the engine itself. Ok, pardner, I give up!! The whole thing was a lost cause, so I trotted back to the house and flounced myself into a big comfy chair under a fan, like Scarlet O'Hara consumed by the vapors, thinking, "Fiddle-dee dee; I shant think about this right now...if I do, I'll go crazy; I'll think about it tomorrow". And when tomorrow came, from down the street came a sound so sweet; the smooth music of a fast purring engine headed this way. The dogs recognized it at once and ran pell mell, hurry scurry out their dog-door, merrily barking at the approaching lawnmower and it's rider...low and behold it was the Lawn Ranger, Brett, to the rescue! I 'helped' him push ol' "Black Beauty" into the driveway. So, now she can just sit there in her "stall" until some scallywag comes along and fixes her.


Liquid Gold

Oil is not well. It hadn't even occured to me that there's been a problem. I've been a kind of recluse since I've gotten home from evacuating to Alexandria, LA for Hurricane Gustav. Even when Cappy was home we really didn't go anywhere. I'm still riding around with some of the gas I purchased before I left for home about three weeks ago!
Talking with Cappy over the phone tho', I've noticed that he's not been moving his barge from oil platforms as much he usually does; he's been doing a lot of sitting still, "waiting", and he mentioned a couple of times that half the fleet is doing the same. For some reason it didn't register, until I saw on the national news that even as far away from us as Atlanta, that there are people waiting in long gas lines. Whaaaa?? Hurricane Ike hit the area about two weeks ago, why aren't things starting to get back to normal by now?
This morning I asked Cappy what is going on with our country's oil supplies not being met. He told me that so much damage was done, with the two storms hitting in tandem, that electricity is still not on for much of the rural areas toward the coast. He said the oil platforms, many of them are located too far out for electricity hook up, so they have big solar panels collecting energy to be able to facilitate the prodution of oil. Unfortunately, the solar panels...big ol' floppy things during the hurricanes, took a lot of battering in the screaming winds, so you can imagine what happened to them. People are scrambling like madmen trying to repair them, not only for the country's use, but the production of crude oil puts food on their family's tables, as well.
Another problem is that the Gulf of Mexico consists of salt water, so that when the oil platforms were inundated by the storm surge waves, the salt water corroded the valves of the engines, computers and equipment of the oil platforms, and also corroded and ruined the motors of the bridges, which cross the waterways. In Terrebonne Parish alone, there are over thirty bridges which cross the waterways where oil barges, such as Cappy pushes, and other vessels have to travel.
(Watching these bridges operate has always fascinated me since I've been down here in South Louisiana. One night I was in traffic over in New Orleans, just going down the road, when all of a sudden, there was a redlight, and we all stopped, as usual, but then a strange thing happened. White and black lined wooden arms came down, like at a railroad crossing, and the road ahead of us...the bridge started going up. What the heck?? Then I saw this tugboat chugging along toward the bridge, and I knew it was going to take about five or ten minutes for it to make it's way to the other side, so the bridge could go back down. I thought to myself, "They can't be serious!" I'm from NY State, where things go fast-fast-fast. Ya gotta walk fast; ya gotta talk fast; ya gotta do everything fast. And here we sat, a bunch of cars waiting for this tugboat to slowly make his way, putt-putt-putting alongggggg, holding everybody up. This was just crazy. Well...New Orleans isn't called The Big Easy for nothing. One of the first things Cappy did was teach me how to walk slowly, ...get my mosie on..."Take it easyyyy; walk like ya listen' to some Bluessss...if ya don't the heat is gonna get ya". So, I learned to adapt to that attitude for the most part. Now, when I get stopped at a bridge, whether it be a lift bridge, a swing bridge, a pontoon bridge, I take it as a "mini vacation"; an opportunity to look around at the beautiful scenery; even with storm damage, South Louisiana is a beautiful place.)
Okay, back to the issues; with all these bridges now being nonfunctional due to the two hurricanes, nautical traffic has pretty much come to a standstill, especially in the areas to the south, where a lot of the oil platforms are located. In normal circumstances there are only half a dozen or so electricians who service and maintain this maze of bridges. Since the storm, these electricians are hard-pressed to get them back up and running . One bridge in particular in Dulac sustained over $400,00.00 worth of damage, and that's only one bridge. Some bridges are worse off; some are better; some are high priority because of higher traffic usage, but all need attention. With the bridge closures, oil fields can be isolated; cut off from boat traffic.The electricians are working feverishly on them, and more and more help is coming in, but the whole South East needs help...dang...the whole country seems like it's in one big mess just now. Cappy made it through one bridge today and got to load some crude; however another bridge, where he needed to go, was still not up and running, so he had to wait; and may have to wait, perhaps for a couple of days. He's not alone...many, many of the other company boats are 'trapped', too and those of other companies, as well.
Another fly in the ointment: You'd think crude oil was crude oil, was crude oil...it's not. The oil refineries require a certain thickness; a specific viscosity. The different places the guys pick up the oil, the density, etc. are all different, even from a few miles away from one another, perhaps. Now I guess it's getting rather complicated, eh? Well, because the folks in Cappy's office keep track of the 'recipe', they may send Cappy to load a certain amount of one kind of oil, then to another platform for another thickness or mineral content, then to another. It just depends. I wouldn't want that office job. Tugboats and barges all over the place, and the only way of contacting them is through the company radio, or cell phones. They are all doing the best they can. None of us likes paying higher gas bills, and even tho' Cappy brings the crude oil to the refineries, nobody cuts him a break at the gas pumps.
So, the news is not all that great. Cappy got through two bridges today, he told me tonight; but the going is slow. If it's anything Cappy hates...and I do know this for a fact; it's sitting and waiting out there on his boat. He'd rather be moving along, getting the oil flowing, as it were.
Until Obama and/or the 'Greenies' shut him down, he'll keep bringin' it in, then after that he'll most likely find something else that he loves to do out there in the bayous, swamps and back waterways.
Even tho the darned hurricanes are long gone, the political blustering is still raging, our national economy's future looks rather stormy, and we have no answers as to when our oil shortage problems will get any better. I guess I'll just have to say it again, "The answers my friend,are 'blowin' in the wind', the answers are...why can't life always just be a breeze?"


Well, From All Reports.

It just feels as though the Gulf Coast has been 'spanked' lately. There's just a kind of somber mood of late, and with good reason. Because communications haven't been up to speed, so to speak, we haven't been able to find out how others have fared in the aftermath of the two hurricanes. People who live south of us, along the coastline are still having a terrible time. First they got a direct hit from Gustav and before they could get back to their devastated homes, they were hit by Ike, although 'he' passed a couple of hundred miles to the south of them, on it's way to our friends and family over in the Houston area. When I went through Houma the day before yesterday, I saw 'villages' of motor homes and shelters for folks who just have nowhere else to live right now. Even in the 'ritzy' sections of town there was so much damage and it appears as though they still have no electricity. I don't even think the schools are open, although I heard the other day on the news that a couple of high schools are open and are encouraging the students to attend with the promise of a hot meal and some air conditioning. Sad. About the family. Initially, we had heard that Cappy's sister Maria's home had a big tree fall down through their roof and destroyed the girls' bedrooms. It turns out not to be true, which, now, is wonderful news. The tree fell, but didn't, despite appearances, even touch the roof of their house. They did also have to take down the big, huge pecan tree which shaded the patio area out back of their house by the swimming pool. (the big tree in the background)

Cousin Mark and Susan, and their family, who live in Houston, replaced me and the dawgs, up in Alexandria, LA @ their Mom and Dad's (Aunt Marguerite and Uncle Eugene). They had just moved into a new home over in Houston. Cappy talked with them and said that, their home seems to have survived, although there are fallen trees everywhere around their yard. I think they said they'd never ride out another storm. It must have been terrifying not knowing at any moment whether or not a tree was going to come barreling down through the roof on top of them. In the news there had been plenty of people reportedly killed by falling trees. Thank God cousin Mark and his family made it through safely.

Our good friends, David and Ginger, who also live in Houston are fine. This morning Cappy called and learned that they, too, had no damage to their home, but presently are outside working hard cleaning up many huge old trees which fell in their yard.

Uncle Maurice and Aunt Margaret went East to stay with family while the storms were blasting away. Sadly, too, they lost several trees, had roof damage, and their fence was destroyed. Repairs are about to get underway, perhaps tomorrow, or Monday, so they plan on extending their getaway, by driving up the coast, headed north, visiting and enjoying the Fall scenery. Now that sounds like a Plan. If the storm hadn't hit, Cappy and I would've just completed our visit up thataway. Now we plan on going in November, barring any other major catastrophe.
Speaking of catastrophe, tho, last week Cappy inadvertantly scared the wits outa me. He took both my hands and told me he had to tell me some very bad news. "You know our cousin, who you got to bond with...get to know this last month at the Jambalaya...Bill? He was shot." Oh Lord, No! Well, what would you think?
Everything all at the same time went through my mind. We pray he's going to be fine eventually. He was out bird hunting with a batch of his high-falootin' friends from his work, when one of them went 'vice-presidential' on him and "Cheney'd" him in the head with bird shot. I guess his face got it pretty badly and I think he still has to have some surgery. His beautiful wife, Kim, Cappy's cousin, who has a great sense of humor, said, (I was told) that as long as he is now sporting three new holes in his ear, why not fill them with jewelry. I guess, Bill, being a rough, tough cowboy sort, did not find that a viable option. I'm wondering now, if instead of anesthesia, if he will just bite down hard on a rolled up bandana and fortify hisself with a shot of ol' "Redeye", instead. Cappy's right; I did get to visit, at length with Bill at the Jamabalya and found him to be every bit as great as Cappy said he is. I'd send him a get-well card, but I'm not sure if mail service is up and running in Houston just now. Most everything, from what we hear, is not up and running. Cousin Kim told Aunt Gussie, who told Cappy, who told me...and I'm tellin' you, that they didn't have any damage to their home and that their electricity is on. At least they don't have to suffer any more than they already have this past month. I think Cappy told me that Bill's accident happened between hurricanes. What a month, what a month.
Last night our friend, Melissa and her precious grandson, Little David, came over to visit. Little David, is the son of Melissa's son, David, who passed away last year in a car accident. Little David is three years old now, and seems to be shy until he warms up. At first I had a hard time understanding what he was saying, but once he got started, I was thrilled. A couple of times as I was talking to Melissa, he was trying to get by me, while he was playing with SparkyBear, and I heard his sweet little voice say, "Excuse me". Awwww; he's already polite. He spent the hurricane up in Alabama with family, while Melissa, as usual rode the storms out, as she says, "Layin' on the floor, prayin' ". This last year has been very hard for Melissa. She's also had health issues on top of the loss of her son. It doesn't seem to matter what kind of storm she goes through; most likely layin' on the floor, prayin', she always rises to the top, and leads the Gospel group singing with such Joy, through her tears. One of the songs I love to hear her sing is "We Fall Down, But We Get Up". I think she epitomizes the Cajun spirit. I don't know how else the people of the Gulf coast could survive the many beatings they've taken over the years. They may be down right now, they may have lost family, they may have lost everything, but despite everything; and I don't know how they do it except by Faith and sheer tenacity, they do Get Back Up.


Pegody's Stinking Hurricane Adventure

The calm before the storm. I took this just before we left for Alexandria, LA
I made a short, poor quality video of my Alexandria, LA 'riding out the storm' visit, but it turned out rather disappointing. Nontheless, it's here: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=O-4xosdn7kQ
While I was puttering around the house wondering what I was going to do about the impending storm, Cappy called and said, "Get everything into da truck and go on up to Alexandria and wait out the storm with Uncle Eugene and Aunt Marguerite; I already called them". Actually, I was much relieved. I've never ridden out a hurricane, close up or from a distance. I thought I'd already had it kinda/sorta settled in my mind, to just go across the street, as invited, to ride hurricane Gustav out with Jude and Sonia and their family, but then, watching ol' Jim Cantore, despite my better judgement, I got myself all into a confused lather. Cappy's orders came as an instant relief.
I did the best I could at stowing things around the outside of the house, but at the last minute, I grabbed the little red barn birdhouse, which was sitting on the porch glider's arm, and took it into the house, along with sundry other things I wanted kept safe while I was away. In the kitchen, with the birdhouse still in my hand, I noticed a swarm of angry wasps, who appeared to be forming some kind of posse...Oh-oh! I ran outside (leaving the door hanging open) with the 'birdhouse' aka newly renovated hornet barn and tossed it onto the glider, then made my own bee-line to the SUV. The dogs and I waited until we figured the coast was clear, then I sneaked back to the house long enough to close and secure the doors, then we hit the road. I had to kind of laugh to myself, thinking, "Well, I'll bet I'll never see that birdhouse again, or the wasps; it'll be long 'gone with the wind' by the time I get back".
First, we got to Aunt Gussie's house and stayed with her a couple of days, which was nice. She decided, instead of going with the dogs and me, up to Alexandria, rather to go stay with her doctor, who is more like her son. Actually, he insisted she go stay with them, much to her delight. I don't blame him; I'd keep her if I could...I just love her to pieces.
The storm was to hit the next day, and the gas stations in Aunt Gussie's town were already sold out of gas. During the night, however, a truck had made a delivery, so I mosied over to the gas station on the corner and topped off my tank. There were only a couple of pumps working, tho', and people who were waiting, had stopped being polite. One guy got out of his taxi-cab, walked over to another man, who was pumping gas, and started yelling and shaking his fist at him. I quickly finished my business, jumped into the Trailblazer and got outa town. I tried getting onto the recommended interstate 49, but at that point, they weren't letting anyone onto it, and even tho' there was 'counterflow',(ALL lanes headed North) it was a "parking lot". It was jammed packed full of vehicles, but nobody was moving...at all! Well, I figured I could make better time than that. Actually, I had planned on driving up one of the older routes, 71, and I'm glad I did. There was practically no traffic at all. It was just a regular Sunday drive. The dawgs and I had a wonderful drive, looking at cows and horses, or dogs in folks' yards; (their favorite views). It would have seemed like just another day, but for the fact that halfway to Alexandria, 18 ambulances (I counted them) were in a convoy, all headed south, then as we got close to Alexandria, we came across an evacuee shelter at LSU Ag, where many, many buses had already unloaded hordes of humanity. Just the sight of that jolted me back to reality.

We easily found our way to Uncle Eugene and Aunt Marguerite's house and made ourselves at home. Soon, another lady, Pam and her daughter, Katy showed up to stay with us, too. Then cousin Cindy and cousin Larry. It was fun visiting and catching up on the lastest news, all the while, in the background, the television was broadcasting the progress of Hurricane Gustav. Cousin Cindy and I went to Walmart to buy a few more supplies, then headed home. The store had a flurry of people, also doing some last minute shopping and already a few of the shelves were looking kind of sparse.
The next day day, the storm was due to 'hit'. We watched television and continued to visit that day, Monday. Around suppertime, while the others were about to eat, I only wanted a small can of asparagus, with some cheese or something. I couldn't find the regular can opener, so...aha, I spied the electric can opener. Have you ever seen something happen before it actually happens? It came to me that if/when I put that can under the can opener, the lights would go off. I chuckled, knowing it was a silly thought, crossed the kitchen, put the can of asparagus under the lip of the electric can opener, put the lever down and the lights went out. Pitch dark. "Good one", I thought. The lights didn't come back on. I remember thinking, "I want a 'do-over'!" Immediately Aunt Marguerite set about lighting the candles and hurricane lanterns, which she had strategically placed earlier in the day. I was impressed. I hadn't thought the wind had gotten strong enough as of yet, to have taken down the electric poles, but sure enough, something had happened. As the evening wore on, it started to get a little warm in the house. When we all went to bed around midnight, I really slept well. It was wonderful, and I slept til I felt guilty, until around 9:30 a.m. I thought everybody would think I was a slug-a-bed, but was relieved to see folks were only just getting up, as well. It was kinda warm...and quickly gaining ground on the warm scale. By noon, it was downright sultry in their big sprawling house. Going outside didn't help. It was hot out there. By three o'clock, it was really, really hot IN there. There was no relief from it. It felt as though we were immersed in very warm bath water, from the floor to the ceiling, breathing in the water, but we weren't drowning. Breathing was an effort, tho'; breathing in the warm bath water, breathing out the warm bath water. The dogs were panting constantly, too, and flopped anywhere they thought might have any promise of cooler air. A couple of times, I wandered outside, but was immediately met with a fiery gust of scorching hot air, so back inside I went. I couldn't complain...the others weren't saying a word about it, so how could this 'X-Yankee'? I tried reading, but it interferred with my concentrating on breathing in the hot, thick air. Napping was good...sleep was good. Lying down, feeling as though there were an inch layer of sweat encasing the heated body, and beyond that, the very warm bath water. I was surprised at how easily I could fall asleep for those three or four days. Uncle Eugene and Aunt Margerite, and the others are made of sturdier stuff than I. But I refused to complain...my goodness, they had taken us in...me and the brat dogs, and others, too! They were very gracious hosts. For that I am more appreciative than I can say.
When Hurricane Gustav finally made his appearance in Alexandria, I have to admit, I got frightened, and when I could have gotten some very good camera footage, I opted to hide out inside, while the others sat out in the 'breeze'. Tuesday and Wednesday were difficult, as we were in a total news blackout. No radio, or television, the phones didn't work. Nothing. I was worried about our friend, Melissa and her family, our friend, Pam and her family, our friend, Lona and her family, and all our neighbors, like Jude & Sonia, Steve and Monica, the Loups', Miss Annie and our wonderful friends on the local Forum.
HotHotHot...NapNapNap...walk the dogs up the street in the blazing heat, to the grassy cul-de-sac circle for them to potty, then back again four times or so, a day. The whole street was a loud roar, with the sound of hard-working generators coming from all the houses, powering their homes with electricity.
Finally, on Wednesday, one of the house phones started working, so family started calling so everyone could touch base and see how one another survived. Cappy called and said that it looked bad as far as power coming back on. He related that on the news it said that the electricity wasn't expected to be turned back on, for at least four to six weeks! Oh no!!!! I couldn't stay at Uncle Eugene and Aunt Marguerite's house for that long, putting them out that way. I told him I might as well, go on up to New York State, if I could find gasoline, because we were supposed to be leaving to go up and visit with Dan and family in Rochester, NY the next day, anyhow. He said he'd get back to me. Well...he got back to me and said to get ready to come pick him up at work the next day, but we couldn't go to NY because we had too much to do at home, and gave me the yard report about his pecan trees, etc. By then, everyone else had gone back to their own homes, cousin Cindy, cousin Larry, Pam and her daughter, Katy. It was just our hosts and da dawgs and me.
So, I kept breathing the suffocating 'bath water', along with everyone else in the house, and went to bed early, around 8 p.m., but had a harder time falling asleep, so just lay there in the swaddling of warm sweat and hot, thick air. I woke up sometime later, hearing MarkyBear somewhere in the pitch black house, whimpering. I had no idea about where he was, but surmised he was way out, past the long hall, through the long dining room area, somewhere around the enclosed porch area, wanting to get out to go potty. I tried whispering for him, "Mark!!!", but he kept insitantly 'mewing' that he had to go out. rats! and me with no flashlight, as I was told by Cappy and the radio and television to keep handy. I thought there was a lantern in the bathroom, mayhaps, with a lighter or matches. With out-stretched arms, I made my way there, but found no lantern, no lighter, no matches. I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face, it was so dark. ("Ok...if I make my way down the hall and through the dining room, hands ahead of me, knocking precious knick-nacks off the wall and overturning lamps along the way, I might be able to locate the darned pup".) I knelt down and began slowly crawling on my hands and knees along the carpet, feeling the familiar area rugs along the way, as guideposts as to my location. Down the little room division line, which I hadn't really noticed before in the myriad times I had walked over it, to the open glass-sliding door and found MarkyBear, who was thrilled to have found me down on all fours right in his face. I was suddenly aware of a bad smell...a very bad smell right there next to the enclosed porch area, and whispered, "Mark, what did you dooo?" But he still wanted out, so I crawled along through the doorway out onto the cool linoleum floor, found the door to the outside, stood up and followed him out into the cool refreshing night air. Oh, it was wonderful! I sat out there and drank it all in, the sky revealing a few twinkling stars, here and there, but they were quickly gobbled up by the still present clouds, accompanying the hurricane, which was waning somewhere farther up north of Alexandria. I was startled from my reverie by a clawing on the door next to me, looked to see a kind of white blur inside, stood to let SparkyBear outside, who seemed to be 'harumping' for having been left to fend for himself inside the big dark house. I didn't know what time it was, but would have been delighted to have spent the rest of the night sitting out there, but knew I needed to get some sleep if I was going to travel all that way in the morning to go pick up Cappy and drive home. As soon as we got back in the house, I smelled that awful pile of whatever it was again...darn! I can't believe Mark would have done something like that! I pawed around on the porch, lightly trying to feel for a lantern, which I thought for sure, I had seen right there. Yep, there it was. Nope, no lighter or matches there, either. DangDangDang. I hope I don't 'step' in doggy-doo-doo with my knee as I'm crawling back through the house or then track it all along their carpet. Back on my hands and knees, I gingerly felt my way around, this time with 'laughing' dogs, who thought it was great fun to have their 'mother' as part of their pack on an adventure wandering around on the floor in the black dark. "Lord, just don't let them step in it and drag it all over Uncle Eugene and Aunt Marguerite's carpet...pleeeeeze". Oh it smelled terrible. ("Uncle Eugene & Aunt Marguerite!!") Now what to do? I could just imagine them getting up, walking along unsuspectingly and stepping in a big pile of dog cah-cah.
I had forgotten to mention that upon our arrival to their house, the first thing SparkyBear had done was to 'potty' in their fenced-in back yard, and in doing so, the big wad he was waiting to finish, hung onto his fur and stayed there. He stayed in position for what seemed like forever, then looked over his shoulder at me with pleading eyes, that said, "Hellllp". I tried everything to get him cleaned up, but the more I tried, the more embedded it became in the white fur on his backside, spreading into a big huge, stinking smeary mess. Even Aunt Marguerite started bringing paper towels and dampened rags to try to help with the dark growing blob. What a way to start the day as a welcomed house guest. Eventually, we got him cleaned up.
The prospect of another dog mishap involving poor Aunt Marguerite was more than I wanted to deal with. Panicked, I stood up in the darkened dining room and prayed...my only recourse as I see it now. (It's usally my only 'out' in any situation.) "Please, Lord, let me find some kind of light so I can find the mess Mark made, so Uncle Eugene and Aunt Marguerite don't have to step in it...pleeeeeeezzze". Just then...what? Light? Uncle Eugene was coming out of their bedroom with a flashlight. I hope I didn't startle him, but nontheless, there I stood, in the dark and said softly, "Uncle Eugene...?" I told him I was afraid that Mark had had an 'accident' and that I needed to find it. We never did find anything that I was afraid had happened. He said that it was five o'clock a.m. and he was going to work. I went back to bed and slept a few more hours. Later, Aunt Marguerite and I found that the foul smell was from things which had defrosted in the refrigerator on the enclosed porch. (whew, then.)
I created a 'staging area' in their kitchen breakfast nook and began loading the SUV, while Aunt Marguerite 'ran herd' on the dogs for me, who were anxious to go home, and knew what we were up to. She walked us out to the curb, and I knew I wouldn't need their leashes because they'd get right in the Trailblazer, wanting to "go get Daddy and go home". True to course, SparkyBear jumped right in and assumed his position on the center armrest compartment. MarkyBear ran to the next door neighbor's yard and rolled in a big pile of some other dog's manure, getting it stuck all over in the fur on his back. That found me, once again, with a big nasty stinking brown swath of dog poo to deal with, upon our departure. We left as we came. I only had a package of those damp hand wipes to try...and try I did, to do my best to clean him up, but left with an obvious tan residue still tatooed to his back, and the strong odor of someone else's dog doo to permeate the beautiful air-conditioned LONG ride home...four hours, of it. It would have been bad enough had it been the smell of my own dog, but to have it be the stench of some other dog. Where was the justice in that? The whole ride home I was left to ponder which was worse, breathing hot bath water, or icy A/C dog pooie.
Because I was told that the roads were once again slow rolling parking lots where people were trying to get back to their homes, I, once again, took the back roads. I should have taken more pictures, but just didn't have the luxury of stopping many times for photo ops. I listened to the radio the whole way, and it sounded as though I was returning to a war zone, with gas lines miles long and waits as long as seven hours in some cases. MRE's and ice were being handed out by National Guards. Driving the back roads was like driving through a dark green tunnel much of the time. I drove on, under, around and through downed power lines and in some cases trees were tenuously resting on power lines, which I hoped wouldn't fall as we passed under them. Trees were down everywhere and everything was 'painted' with green from all the leaves which had been ripped from the trees during the storm. Over the radio it said that flooding was imminant in the areas I was driving through. I could see that it was true, and only hoped that I could be driving ahead of the buildup of water, avoid any of it and not be trapped along the way. People I passed looked shell-shocked, stunned. A few times, I beat the road crew and had to drive around downed electric poles or trees, wondering if I'd actually make it until I'd end up having to turn around and drive miles and miles and miles back the way I came, wasting precious gas and time. A couple of times I had to stop and ask people directions because the map was confusing. People were more than willing to help, and one young man even drew me a map. I thanked them all profusely and asked God to bless them in their recovery.
Eventually I made it to Cappy, recovered him, and we made our way home to see what devastation awaited. Our yard looked terrible. Trees were leaning way over, and as you see from Cappy's post, we lost one of his beloved pecan trees. But...we still have each other. Things on the patio were blown over, things were blown away. But not the light-weight red barn birdhouse. It still sat there on porch glider, right where I had tossed it, and there were the same tribe of angry hornets! We still had each other, Cappy and I...and we still have them, the angry 'bees'. Well, that just stinks, doesn't it?
But you know, as long as we do have each other, and all our friends and families are fine, that's all that really matters, isn't it?


Hurricane Gustave and now Hurricane yIKE's Near, Too!

While we are almost breathing a sigh of relief that hurricane Ike might not come this way, we are also still trying to get things back to normal from the last hurricane; that being Gustav. Considering how badly other people are still having it; that being no electricity or food or water OR gasoline, in the parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne, not to mention how badly Baton Rouge was hit, as well, and having as of yet, no electricity (blessed A/C), water or food, we have been truly blest. Cappy worked like a dog trying to get the pecan tree cut and stacked for firewood. It took him a few days in terrible heat. The other pecan tree isn't looking all that well, especially today when the high winds have been kicking up from Ike, down there in the Gulf of Mexico. Cappy's father had these two pecan trees transported to our yard and professionally planted shortly before he passed away. He and his Dad were very close. "Raymond" was his best friend in the whole world. These pecan trees mean more to Cappy than you could possibly know. While he was lovingly cutting the one tree into proper sized pieces to fit into the bbq pit, I know he silently shed a few tears out there in the heat, which disguised themselves as sweat dripping off his chin. He said by measuring each stick and having them carefully stacked, that it was his way of best honoring the tree and his father's memory. He said, in that way, it would be like having his Dad with us as we bbq in the future, using that dear ol' tree.

Usually, I would have had Cappy's beloved Abita Amber beer all iced and ready for him while he sweated all day out there in the yard, but there was an alcohol ban for the week after the hurricane, so he was relegated to drinking ice water...not a bad thing, but he really wanted a refreshing 'cold one' all week. (I hadn't had time to go shopping for groceries beforehand and didn't think to stock up on his favorite beverage, because I had high-tailed it up to Alexandria, LA for the hurricane. On my way back home, I drove through a lot of awful debris and wreckage, and was nervous about running out of gasoline, because I was listening to the radio the whole way, and let me tell you, there was very little gasoline to be had anywhere. I heard people saying they had been sitting in gas lines for as many as seven hours!!! Thank the Lord I picked Cappy up at a place near one of his offices and we made it home with gas to spare, because Robert, his co-captain had thought to bring a couple of gas cans full of gas for us to use to get home. That is a good man!)

Now, with Cappy at home this week, we finally we got the yard relatively back in good shape, so we took Tinker Bayl, his Jeep, for a small road trip to Thibodaux to Walmart to try to find a few groceries, and along the way saw a lot of damage done by hurricane Gustav. We made this little slideshow of our Gustav aftermath. I, Peggy, still have my side of hurricane Gustav to complete, perhaps in a few days. Until then...the slideshow @ YouTube, (cuz dis blogger don't wanna upload 'em anymore, I guess.) ALSO: note somewhere there on YouTube, that you can click on the option to view the slideshow in a better quality...I recommend that. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=CAfZTUAL3IA


Cappy's Gustav Story

I spent hurricane Gustav safely moored in one of the company's fleets. I was secured to a fleet of our barges, which were tied to a lot of big cyprus trees on an island. The name of the island is Graveyard Island; I aint superstitious but, wouldn't a Safe Harbor island or somethin' been more comforting?? Being between the island and the bank, we were safe from most angles; the wind could blow, and we were very well tied down. We spent the day before securing the boat and barge and "battening the hatches". We duct taped the windows and waited the storm out. As the rain and wind steady increased I was much relieved that we were on "da good side" of the island and it blocked most of the wind. It was only after the Eye passed over us, that the wind began hitting us on the stern(the backside), but it wasn't too bad a ride at all. For me, Katrina was much worse. Even though the winds I experienced from Katrina were not as strong, my location during her, wasn't protected from the wind and waves, so I really took a beating. I was alone on the boat during Katrina and was getting pounded by waves and wind and actually feared loosing the boat. This time wasn't near as bad and I had wonderful company. It was sure nice to have young David, my tankerman on board with me. He is an intelligent level-headed sorta guy, and I didn't hafta worry 'bout him freakin' out when da wind started to howl, and howl it did. I heard a boat nearby say the wind was sustaining 86 mph, but felt certain it was gusting well over 100 mph. We sat safe and sound behind the island and our only minor complaint is that when it finally quit raining, the boat was covered with cypress needles leaves, small branches and mold. It took us the better part of the day to scrub her back to ship-shape. When Peggy picked me up Thursday evening after it was all over, it was all I could do to hide the tears of relief and joy that we were safe and together again.


Pickin' Up Da Pieces

We got home Thursday afternoon around 5pm. Peggy drove from Alexandria, Louisiana, where she had sheltered from Gustav with family, to Belle River La. and rescued me off'n da boat. We are very thankful, and happy to say the electricity got home an hour before we did.
The yard is all messed up, and after spending all day yesterday trying to put it to rights, we barely scratched the surface. Please be patient with us and we will both tell yall our stories of riding out the latest hurricane. We are very busy trying to get our house and yard back to normal and it may take a few days til we can sit down and blog. Till then, know we are safe and happy and thankful and sweating our butts off in da yard. Speaking for myself, I'm impatiently waiting for them to lift the alcohol ban so I can get a good cold beer.