In a Nutshell

Well, this last month has been unusual, to say the least. When Cappy went back out on the boat, I packed up the dogs and went to visit Aunt Gussie for a few days and to videotape her "for posterity", as my Dad would say. She is such a joy and delight to Cappy and me. Just talking with her on the phone makes our day. I'm sad to say that the visit was not at all pleasant, but we look forward to going back next month with better results. I came away armed with motivation to let everyone I know to please take pains to closely examine the caregivers who are taking care of our loved ones. CLOSELY. The wonderful Mrs. Linda who is now taking care of our dear Aunt Gussie is a blessed hero. God Bless her richly for her observations and true affectionate nurturing.
Maybe next time when I go to visit, I'll leave the dogs with their own 'caregivers'. They didn't help the matter much, since, despite Aunt Gussie specifically demanding the "boys" come visit, and that they were her houseguests, the nutty criminal who was initially looking after our dear lady, constantly lectured me that dogs belonged outside.
The many piles of fireants lurking out in the yard made the visit more difficult as well. (This has been a bad year for fireants...we haven't completely irradicated them in our own yard.)
So, we came home, the dogs and I, where upon I found that the ants had invaded our house!! I had just cleaned the stove, but there was a line from under the front door, all along the edge of the wallboard, up the pantry wall, along the back of the sink and to the stove. They were in, under, around and through the stove...ant if wasn't funny, either. I waged a battle royal for about three days until they finally gave up. One night I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and found myself down on my hands and knees with a damp paper towel swooping up the tiny invaders. They wouldn't touch the ant poison, but walked right over it. I think I have the residents of one whole ant pile trapped and bottled up in my vacuum cleaner with the poison.
Having cleared up those two problems, I accidentally 'poisoned' myself. See, it's this time of year when I do my Christmas shopping, and my traditional 'fast food' has always been sweet and sour soup. Don't ask why, cuz I don't know. All's I know is that whilst I'm out shopping, I like to stop at LIN's Chinese restaurant and get a take-out bowl of soup and slurp it down in the SUV, then go and finish my shopping. Well, while grocery shopping, I picked up a package of the usual sweet and sour soup mix that I sometimes get instead. At home I got it ready and while it cooled down, I put away the rest of the groceries. Ahhhhh, it was soooo good and sooo soothing. About an half an hour later, I felt as though I had gotten sucker punched in the gut. Uh oh. I fished the package out of the garbage and read. They changed the recipe, as some companies do, to save money and it clearly read, "contains Wheat". Too late to 'froe it up'; it was already too far down and causing destruction. So, I was about a week trying to get over it. When something like that happens, despite feeling as though I should be lying in an emergency room, there's nothing one can do, unless extremely dehydrated, but to 'wait it out'. I'm still not completely up to par, but working on it with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and very little spice.
The next week found me taking the dawgs to Petsmart in Baton Rouge for a badly needed grooming. I took Louise with me so I could treat her to a birthday lunch at PJ Chang's where they are meticulously careful about celiac foods. They have a gluten free menu, which is always fantastic. I brought enough food home for a couple of days worth of meals, but we both luxuriated in the chocolate dessert on the spot. They even brought her a special little extra tiramesu dessert with a candle, which caused her eyes to roll back in her head. Lucky girl.
On our way home I noticed a black lab sitting back off the road in a farm field alone, looking lost or injured. After I took Louise and the dogs back to my house, I went back to see if he was still there. It was almost dark by then, but I found him on his side curled around a woman's black shoe, trying to go to sleep on the big lumpy rocks where I had seen him. The poor boy. He was happy to see me...or anybody and was so sweet and willing to come home with me, but I had a hard time getting him into the SUV. When I'd get his lanky front part into the side of the vehicle, his back leg would buckle and he almost sat down in a big fireant pile. That would not have been good at all. Somehow I managed to get him in and take him home. I fell in love with the big goof because he reminded me so much of Casey the black lab we had in Rochester years ago. I called him "Casey", just so I had something to call him. I called shelters and vets offices and put signs up everywhere to find his owners, to no avail. SparkyBear liked playing with him some, but "Casey" didn't get to run freely, being on a leash attached to my arm. MarkyBear had other thoughts, and they were not lovely. He told "Casey" on several occasions who was boss in his yard. I had "Casey" tied up on the patio and the change in his diet apparently changed his 'potty habits'; however, being a sweet polite guest, he refused to have any 'accidents' on the patio, but needed to go 'potty' several times during the day AND night. Still weakened from the bout of wheat poisoning now loss of sleep, we'd get up at midnite, 2 a.m, 4 a.m., 6 a.m., 8 a..m. to go walk around the cold wet yard in 'our' Croc's and pj's, then it's always difficult, once I'm awake, to get back to sleep. I was staggering around punch-drunk, and thus knew that somebody else had to take over the responsibility of finding the poor guy his owners or a good home. I decided to do what we had done with Raleigh, our other dog rescue story which turned out with such a wonderful ending. I decided to take "Casey" to the animal shelter in Sorrento, with the provision that they would NOT put him to sleep, but to rather, call us if it came to that, then we'd go back, get him, and keep him til we found him a good home. I opened the back hatch on the SUV and "Casey" just so gracefully lighted up into the back, all excited, looking out the windows...("oh boy, where we gonna go?? Home??") On the way, while sitting at the corner waiting for the light to change, I thought I'd drop off another flyer at the River Store, so stopped. Inside, the owner waited on me, so I asked him if he would post my sign. He read it and asked, looking out the window, "Where is he"? Sign still in hand, he went right outside, saw what a beautiful, SWEET dog "Casey" is and said, "I'll take him! Don't take him to that shelter; if his owners don't show up, I'm keepin' 'im!" His son, who looked to be in his late twenties, said, "But you already have that other dog". The store owner told "Casey", "sit", whereup he did and quietly sat there obediently. (Also, he "heeled" perfectly) The store owner said again, "I'm keepin' 'im", then rolling up the sign tightly, repeated quietly, "if the owners don't show up". But it's been over a week and no one has called. So, that's another dog story with an happy ending because I'm told by people who know, that this store owner LOVES animals and will treat him better than if the dog was a person. Tah dah! :-)
This final week 'til Cappy gets home will find me pickin' more hot peppers, and tending the garden, which Cappy and I planted the day before he went back out on the boat. I'd have more pictures, but my handy camera broke...baw!
Tonight I'm taking a pot of my smoked chicken, andouille gumbo to a Forum dinner, where there will be other pots of other kinds of gumbo. (Oh, it was fun trying to keep my 'smoke' going the other day with the wind and rain blowing out on the patio, lol.) For those Yankees, who aren't aware of what gumbo is, it's a combination of many wonderful ingrediens that make up a comforting, delicious, "soup" served over rice or baked sweet potato, or potato salad. YUM!!! I made enough to have some in the freezer waiting for Cappy, and will can some more to send to my son, Joe in Rochester. Next time I make gumbo, I want to use our friend, Smokin' Sam's smoked sausage and smoked andouille and a big fat smoked hen...I'll bet that is going to be some goooooood stuff!!!! For some kind of 'political' reasons, only understood fully by other Cajuns, Cappy insisted I do it all myself this time.
Oh...and the citrus is ripening...the lemons, the grapefruit, the oranges, and the SATSUMA oranges!!! I pulled down a big frond of about a dozen ripening bananas, and will make them into loaves of banana nut bread. The pecans have been dropping for about a week now, too....all good news from the yard.
So, that's what's been going on around here, in a BIG FAT NUTSHELL...from soup to nuts.


Our Cajun Joby

I watched the news from New Orleans today. No mention of it. A tower is missing over there today. To us, Joby was New Orleans. A great big tower of a man with a voice that sounded like a deep foghorn.
I think I 'met' Joby even before I 'met' Cappy in the Cooking Room on Yahoo. Since I was such a newbie online I was always having technical problems, so Joby, as he did with others, patiently talked me through all the mazes. And it was amazing; so much so that I began calling him "Jobyson" as though he were my sensei, and I was the 'grasshopper' who had much to learn. I never was able to be good enough to 'snatch the pebble from his hand', but because of him, I learned to at least be able to navigate online and know where to go for help. Whenever I'd thank him and say, "Thanks again, good-bye", he'd say, "Nooooo, Boo, (he called lots of us, "Boo", as it's a Cajun term of endearment)....Nooooo, Boo, don't say 'goodbye', that sounds too permanent, like you'll never see me again...say 'Cya' ". He also introduced me to real Cajun music. He sent me ("pirated" Cappy would say) CD's that he'd burn of his favorite music. WONDERFUL stuff! One of his screen names in the Cooking Room was "They Call Me the Breeze". I asked him where he got that name and he said it was the title to one of Lynyrd Skynyrd's songs. Believe it or not, 'til then I'd never heard of ol' Lynyard's band. (I'd led a very sheltered life). He also requested that I learn a song called "Lola Lola Lola Don't Go Out to Bingo" to play on my accordian. Which I did, and played for him at one of our family jambalayas when I moved down to South Louisiana. That made him happy. I'm glad I did it.
Now there was a reason Joby was in the Cooking Room; the man could cook! I have printed out so many of his recipes and tried them and they are fantastic. Most every year he would come to our family jambalaya and bring a dish to pass and a special surprise for me that was celiac friendly...no wheat or gluten carefully prepared so as not to have any cross contamination, which is a hard thing to accomplish. Every year the family would wait in anticipation to see what he would bring. LOL...I think it almost hurt Cappy's feelings sometimes because Cappy was working so hard on the main dish, either the seafood courtboullion or the jamalaya, but everybody kept talking about Joby's dishes. No matter how hard Joby tried keeping my food separate, 'the buzzards', not content with what he brought for the crowd, always swept down on the aluminum covered container clearly labeled, "Peggy's Special Food" and began grabbing with both hands. It was so funny to watch. I actually got some of it...deLISH.
We just loved the big guy. We hadn't heard from him in awhile, tho...at least I hadn't; I guess Cappy had. He had undergone a lot of upheaval in his life of late; had intestinal bipass, and when we were all wondering where he was for the family jambalaya this year, we learned that he had gone off and gotten remarried to a beautiful woman, so was honeymooning . aha, that explains it. Today was his birthday, so yesterday as I do every year, I went to BlueMountain ecards and sent him a card with a note saying how very happy he looked in the photos we saw of him on Facebook, and that we HAD to get together SOON with him to meet his lovely new wife.
Then last night Cappy called and said that he had heard that Joby had died last Friday. No way. We would have known...somebody would have called us. We didn't believe it and thought it was a mean practical joke. Cappy called Joby's cell phone and told me to look and ask around online. Since Joby is one of my friends on Facebook, I went there and saw...
Sighhhh...then I went to the link that took me to the funeral home on Canal Street in New Orleans. We just can't believe it.
This morning my plans were to go to New Orleans to see the ship USS New York depart with much fanfare to leave, going down the River before heading north toward New York City. This is the ship to which Cappy spoke about in an earlier post, which has been made of steel and materials from the Twin Towers in NYC. Today's departure commorates the birth of the United States Navy. October 13, 1775. The ship was to pass two big Navy vessels that prominantly sit in the River in New Orleans. Joby was responsible for those two ships. Joby worked for the Navy making sure these two supply vessels were well-equipped and well maintained. He would have been there today. Cappy and Joby had a running joke whenever they'd talk on the phone. Joby would always address Cappy in his deep booming voice, "HEYYYYY Coo-zan!" and Cappy would say something like, "Hey ya ol' pirate, how ya doin'? I just passed by your two old rusty buckets sittin' over there in the River the other day". And they'd joke back and forth, laughing raucously. sailors.
So today, Joby's birthday, Oct 13, also the birth of his Navy, and sadly, was also the day of his funeral. When I went out to my SUV to head over to New Orleans, I found my back passenger side tire flat. Well, that's about right. Too late. I wasn't about to unearth Cappy's Jeep, Tinker Bayl and head over...oh yeah, she'd like that for sure; it was thundering and lightening and pouring rain again today.
I wanted to go over and tell our Joby good-bye. It's strange, but all day it just felt like Joby was around. The only way I thought I could stop 'puddling' up tonight was to come back to the computer where I found him,... or he rescued me, and tell him "Cappy and I will dearly miss you old friend"...so..."Cya Jobyson".