Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jan’s Birthday Celebration

My sister Jan celebrated her 60th birthday this past August.
Her husband, Dave, started laying plans many months in advance. Every year before Jan's birthday he calls me a month or two ahead of time and asks if I can come for a visit on Jan's birthday. I made it one year, about six or seven years ago. Because her birthday falls in August, it has proved impossible to attend in the last several years because of my job. He almost fell off his char this time when I said yes, I'll be there.

August is not only a busy month for us at the marina, but in the past few years, they have been moving the start date for the local school system up earlier each year. I lose my high school summer staff now around August 10th and my college staffers leave around August 5th.

This year, though, was special. Not only was it Jan's Sixtieth, but she and Dave have just moved back in from having to completely rebuild their home after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina three years ago. That's not all, though.

Jan has just retired from the Army Reserves as a full colonel, after four years of active duty. I hadn't seen Jan in over Seven years, so I talked to my boss and we found a way for me to attend. I'm sure glad I did.

I arrived on a Thursday morning and Jan picked me up at the airport. It was a pretty laid back day. The big party wasn't until Saturday night, but guests would be arriving from out of town over the next couple of days.
Dave was at the marina checking on their vessel, "Winter Solstice." It's a Carver Motor Yacht and a key piece of the puzzle for their retirement years. This boat was found in a very obscure parking lot after Katrina by Dave's son. The entire family had been searching New Orleans for a couple of weeks following the storm before its location and fate were discovered. The boat has been refitted and is just now being put back into service. Dave arrived back at the house as Jan took off for the airport again to pick up her son, Evan.

I hadn't seen Evan in over a decade and was pleased to find he had matured into a pleasant and thoughtful young man. Evan and I stayed up late that first night catching up with each other and doing some male bonding.

With Dave was Phil, a friend of his from his Army days. Phil works for FEMA and had some very interesting experiences to share with us over the next couple of days. Phil and I lounged around the pool for the rest of the afternoon, and were joined later by my nephew Evan. You can just make out Phil at the far end of the pool deep in relaxation, LOL.

The next day, Jan and Dave's friends Bob and Mary arrived. They are a delightful couple and also Army Alumni with Jan and Dave. Bob worked with Dave in a training division and a few years later, Jan worked with Bob's wife Mary in a medical outfit. Later in the day, the seven of us took off in the "Winter Solstice" for an afternoon of cruising across Lake Pontchartrain. Here's Bob and Mary sitting with Jan on the aft deck of "Winter Solstice."

I must admit that the theme from Gilligan's Island ran through my head as we set off for the horizon that day.

I had any doubts put to bed early by Dave's competence at the helm. It was fun joining Dave at the steering station. Yep. Two guys just out for a good time!

Here's a shot of Phil having way too much fun! Lake Pontchartrain is one big lake and you can't see the other side when you leave port. Our destination was all the way across the lake to Madisonville where we would be treated to a great meal at a local seafood restaurant. The distance involved gave us a lot of time to enjoy cruising on the boat.

Yep! That's me with Jan, the Birthday Girl.

Every one eventually made it up to the steering station.

Well, with one exception. Mary didn't make it up there, so we all went down to the aft deck to see her and Jan, too.

Of course, I was in charge of seeing to the needs of the captain, so I was in constant motion; at least

when my drink started to get low, anyways, LOL. As we reached the other side of the lake, we started seeing some very typical examples of just how beautiful Southern Louisiana really is.

I really loved the beauty and serenity of the lake over by

Madisonville! We were able to tie up at a dock along a sea wall almost directly in front of the restaurant.

A short walk across the street brought us to Morton's Sea Food Restaurant.

Here, we enjoyed a casual dining atmosphere and some great Sea Food.

Here's a shot of Jan and I after we finished our meal and before we boarded "Winter Solstice" for a very peaceful and pleasant voyage home. I was going to include more about the weekend, but I've put so many pictures in this entry that it is getting quite long. I'll do another, shorter, entry later to finish out my visit and her party.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Arrival: Star Date 10-13-08

When I heard that AOL was canceling the Journals, I was shocked, just like all the others who used the service. It took a week before I decided my plan of action. I decided to save all of my entries into a word processing program and store them on my hard drive. During that process I weighed all the options and finally decided to wait and see if AOL really could transfer our journals successfully to another service. Imagine my surprise when they succeeded. So, here I am at my new home and wondering, "What now?"

While saving all my journals onto Microsoft Word 2007 documents, I realized that there was a template option I had never tried before. It was a template for a Blog Post. I have decided today to try it and see if doing this in Word is going to be any easier that the other method of posting. Once I chose this template option, I had to register this Blog with Microsoft and also my Photo Bucket account in order to display pictures. It was easier than I thought it would be and I'm excited to see how this comes out once I save it and post it.

As for any news my way, let's just say we are all adjusting to the rhythms of the school year for a fourth grader and looking forward to the Haunted Halloween Trail Cub Scout Camp Out at the end of the month. All the camping gear has been purchased or pulled out of storage and a costume has been selected thanks to Aunt Jan's generous donation to the cause. Thanks Sis! I won't spoil the surprise but I will promise a picture of Trenton in full costume before we hit the "Trail."

I have a lot to do to spiff up the place here at Blog Spot, but that will come in time. In the meantime, I will do a post, I hope, tomorrow all about my trip to New Orleans and my sister's birthday party celebrations. There will be many pictures, (too many, perhaps), and it will be interesting to see how that all works out with this new system. Thanks to all who followed my link from AOL Journals over here and welcome to any others that happened by and stayed to read.

It will be nice if we can preserve our sense of community as we migrate over to here and other locations. Perhaps we can even expand on it now that we are in a bigger blogging domain.