Friday, March 07, 2014
My wife and I always enjoyed the Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, but we had never been to the really big parades. A year ago we made reservations for the last week of the parades to finally see them. Unfortunately my wife passed away in January, and I was going to cancel the trip when my son said that he would go with me. Although I really wish my wife could have been there, my son and I had a great time. We attended 17 parades and got so many beads, stuffed animals, toys, and aluminum doubloons that we gave away all of the beads thrown at us the last three days. Our car was stuffed to the top coming back! Here are a few pictures of our great trip.
Here is a picture of the church at Jackson Square.
Here are my son and I at one of the parades.
Here is Bourbon Street during the day. The people in the balcony are throwing beads to the crowd below.
For the most part, there were lots of people in the parade crowds. We were in a more family oriented section of the parade on St. Charles Street.
While the floats are beautiful to look at, the main purpose of the Mardi Gras parades is to throw souvenirs to the parade watchers. While I didn't get a lot of great pictures because the sun was right behind the floats, I did get a few of the Krewe members (parade club members) throwing things.
Although not a great picture, there were some really nice floats. This particular one, called "Smoky Mary" had 8 trains attached to the tractor. I really don't know how it made the street corners!
There were also a lot of fun characters in the parades. Here are a few.
You even had several celebrities in the parade. Here is Quentin Tarantino throwing beads.
One of the big parades on Mardi Gras day was Zulu - an African heritage parade. This was a really fun parade, but you had to be on the street before 4:00am to ensure you had a good spot (and the parade didn't get there until 10:00!). My son and I braved the coldest temperatures at Mardi Gras since 1899 - and it was raining! One of the prized "throws" was the hand painted coconut. Very few people get them, but because of the cold and rain, my son an I managed several! The following pictures are of some of the Zulu tribesman and two of the coconuts we got.
The floats throw their trash in the street as they empty their bags of souvenirs. The city cleans it up after the parades for that day. Here is one such scene after a parade.
My son and I got enough stuff to share with everyone: my grandkids, his kids, the neighbors, local preschools, etc. Here are a couple pictures of each of our "stashes."
Now I just need to recover from the "vacation!" Take care, everyone!
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
My son and his kids invited me to go tent camping with them last weekend. It seemed a good way to get my mind away from the loss of my wife, so I agreed. We went to a place called Inks Lake State Park in the Hill Country of central Texas - just a few miles from where I grew up. Here is a picture of me and the grandkids near the tent.
Last Friday and Saturday were warm, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s. It was perfect for hiking and exploring, so I took the kids to some of the places I use to go. Here is a place called "Devils Water Hole" at a large creek that empties into the lake. In the summer people dive off of the large boulder into the lake. They have to push off quite a bit to keep from hitting the rocks below. Needless to say, they all ignore the "Danger" signs posted around there.
Hiking a little further up the creek, we came to a nice overlook of the creek below. The water is a little low this time of year, but it's still pretty scenic.
Hiking down to the creek, we came to a spot that my wife and I used to like to come to in the summer. When the water is running more, it's just like sitting in a whirlpool. Lots of fond memories there...
We also went to many other places - unfortunately I left my camera in the car. We had a great time, though, and I got to really visit with the grandkids a lot. The only downside of the trip was the last night. The temperature dropped from the 80s to 34, with lots of wind and rain - not good tent camping weather. We still had a good trip, though, and I think the kids will remember if for quite a while. It was fun!
Thursday, January 16, 2014
My wife, Jackie, passed away peacefully on January 8th after a 4-year battle with a rare disease called Amyloidosis. She was 58. While some people say opposites attract, Jackie was a perfect match for me. We did everything together and never wanted to be apart. She cleared brush at our ranch with me and even helped to build our dream cabin. She never thought anything about throwing 50-lb bags of feed to me. It was hard for both of us to watch her strength disappear over the past couple of years.
Before her illness, Jackie was the Executive Director of the American Volkssport Association, a national non-profit organization of walking clubs around the United States. She was a source of constant inspiration to me.
She also was a real fighter. After a bone marrow transplant in January, 2010, doctors gave her 4-6 months to live. In fact, a very insensitive doctor said she ought to "throw a party" if she made it 6 months. That was 4 years ago. The first year after her transplant, we went on a number of great vacations. Even during the second and third years, we made some long road trips to see friends. While the past year hasn't been a great one, I still treasure the time we had together. We were really soul mates, and I will miss her so much.
Sorry I haven't been on SparkPeople much lately, but I really appreciate all the kind words of encouragement and prayer that everyone has sent. I'll try to be a more "regular" member now. Thanks again, everyone.
Thursday, January 02, 2014
To all of my Spark Friends,
My wife's condition seriously deteriorated yesterday to the point that she had no vision and could not move herself from the bed to the wheelchair. She also passed out in the bed once. To top things off, she continues to suffer from another serious case of Peritonitis (internal infection). Since she has spent 2 out of the last 3 1/2 months in the hospital for the same infection, it appears her immune system is no longer working. At this point, we have brought Hospice in to take care of her. We will continue dialysis through this weekend to allow family and friends to visit, but we will stop the dialysis Monday morning. Thanks, everyone, for all the support during this difficult time. We also really appreciate all the thoughts and prayers.
I apologize if I can't answer each of your comments. I'm having a difficult time right now, and taking care of my wife these past few months has been draining. Although I knew this day would come, it doesn't make it any easier. It is hard to lose your best friend.
I will be back "Sparking" as soon as I can. Take care, everyone.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
My wife has now been in the hospital for nearly three weeks with a serious internal infection. She has had two surgeries and is now dealing with a secondary infection. Although the infection is starting to respond, progress has been slow. The biggest problem now is that she shas no appetite - not even for her favorite foods. She also has lost much of her strength and can no longer support her own weight. Doctors told us yesterday that once her infection is cleared, they will transfer her to a rehab hospital where she will stay at least 2 more weeks. While necessary, we are both tired of hospitals at this point and will be glad when she can come home.
Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts and prayers. While I am still getting some walking in every day, my nutrition has suffered. Like many of you, I don't deal with extreme stress very well. I haven't gained a lot of weight, but my weight loss has definitely come to a stop.
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