Playing catch up

I finally have some time to just sit and veg a while, so I figured I might as well play catch up on the old blog here.  The weeks leading up to Gizmo’s passing and those following were emotionally draining–if you’ve had a pet that truly became part of your family, then you understand.  Then me, being my nosy self and digging for Pandora’s box didn’t help matters, at all.  That will be a separate blog with the usual password.  There are only a few people (close friends or distant relatives) who have the PW, and they are the only ones I’d share the deeply personal details with.  Heck, if I had a choice *I* wouldn’t know the darned details!

Needless to say, the brain was melting down and hubby made a good call–it was time to go on vacation.  We had discussed about some time in the future visiting his distant relatives as a genealogy information-gathering trip, but since they’re spread throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, it had been entertained as flying to said locations and staying a while.  With some of the household repairs/replacements we needed to do soon there was no way to pay for plane tickets, hotels, etc.  So, hubby says “let’s drive”.  What better cure for a melting brain than another form of insanity, right?  Besides, I had 15,000 miles on a car that was a little over three years old.  It could handle a couple of thousand miles.

The first day we drove from San Antonio to New Orleans…yes, New Orleans, Louisiana.  I was brain dead by the time we got there since I had to put in an early shift at work before leaving, but the hotel room was waiting and I collapsed in bed.  The next day we walked for nine hours, left the hotel room at 9 AM and had breakfast at a little corner coffee shop, went and toured the National WWII museum, hit the French Quarter and had lunch at Huck Finn’s (awesome food!) before more sightseeing.  We then went back to the hotel at 3 PM and took a nap, then headed back out around 7 PM to take a walking Historical/Ghost Tour through the French Quarter.  Once we were done we walked another 10 blocks back to the hotel, got there at 10 PM and ordered a large pizza and wings.

The next morning we left and drove to Fairhope, Alabama.  It was a very scenic drive, and we had some laughs along the way.  There was some road construction going on, and a section of the highway had been reduced to 50 MPH.  Soon a sign came up that said “reduced speed ahead”.  What was the next speed limit?  55 MPH.  Hmmmm.  The definition of “reduced” is?  Anyway, we arrive in Fairhope and visit with hubby’s first cousin on his father’s side and her husband.  Great people, funny as hell, and an absolute trip.  The weird thing was watching his first cousin as she talked and her mannerisms.  I did not realize a person’s mannerisms could be genetic, but obviously they are.  She reminded me so much of my hubby’s sister it was spooky, and they did not grow up together.  You would have thought they were sisters, or as my grandma would have said, ‘two peas in a pod’.  The way they laugh, their hand gestures, facial expressions–you name it, and it was near identical.  And if you ever get a chance to visit Alabama, you have to stop in Fairhope.  It is BEAUTIFUL!

Oh, speaking of brain melting, did I mention that beyond our hotel reservations in New Orleans, we did not have any other reservations?  Me, I plan things out to a T, every single stop, detail, etc.  That’s just the way I am.  The munchkin is the same way.  She was absolutely horrified when she found out daddy hadn’t made any reservations for the rest of the trip.  I reassured her the best I could, pointing out the fact we were on a driving trip, and her daddy was trapped in the car with two females–he damned well better find a decent hotel for the night if he wanted to survive.  It actually turned out good–we stayed in hotels I hadn’t stayed in before and probably wouldn’t have booked because I wasn’t “familiar” with them as I tend to go with what I know.  Downtown Fairhope had a lovely Hampton Inn with very comfortable beds, friendly and helpful staff, nice, quiet rooms and a parking garage in back.  The oldest restaurant in Fairhope was just across the street and down a block, which was where we had breakfast.  I ordered the sampler, thinking it would be a small sampling of the pancakes, eggs, sausage, grits, etc.  No.  They brought the darned thing on three plates, with full sized servings of everything.  The pancakes were as big as frisbees, and there were three of them!  It was very good, but their definition of sampler and my definition are as different as night as day.

Next we head to Florence, Mississippi, where his father grew up.  Ended up finding the house, as well as clues that led to a slew of other relative connections, thanks to the information and pictures his first cousin had shared with him.  Saw the school his daddy went to as well as a bunch of other places in the surrounding towns.  Made our way down to Ruston, Louisiana.  Stayed at a Fairfield Inn that had *THE* most comfortable beds EVER!  Breakfast was at the Huddle House, which had an old fashioned bar to sit at, booths at either end of the bar, and the cooking area directly behind the bar.  It was like you had stepped back into the 40’s and 50’s into a small town diner.  The breakfast there was the best of the whole trip–definitely a country flavor a southern grandma would have served and been proud of, and coffee so good I wish I could figure out how they did it!

We visited two of his aunts from hubby’s mother’s side as well as a cousin, who live on the property his grandparents owned and where his grandfather used to take him hunting in the woods when he was little.  Saw where they used to grow watermelons as well as other crops they’d can up and use over the winter.  Found the house his mother grew up in.  We made the trip into Shreveport to see the house his parents lived in when they retired, before his daddy passed away.  Went to the cemetery and found his headstone.  Made our way to Marshall, Texas and stayed at a Fairfield Inn there.  While it was nice, the beds were not as comfortable as the ones in Ruston.  Bummer.

The following day we drove and visited an uncle and his wife from hubby’s mom’s side, toured their new house they had built out on their land in the country.  It still had the new house smell, though they had been in it since Thanksgiving.  Shared more pictures, more info, then drove to Waco, found the house where they lived when hubby was little, before they were transferred to Iceland.  Saw the elementary school he went to, and the kindergarten building that was just down the street from the house where he would walk to school.  (Yes, back then it was actually safe to let your kindergarten-aged child walk a handful of houses down to the school).  Of course, he had lived in Japan before that and had a reputation at 2 years old of being a little escape artist from his backyard–stacked boxes and crates on top of each other to scale a 6-foot tall fence so he could walk down to the guard station on base and “go visit”.  The guards at first didn’t believe a 2-year-old got out of the backyard, until they saw his escape method–they were impressed.  His mother wasn’t.  *grin*

We made it home that evening, completely worn out but having had a great time.  The places we stayed were nice, but nothing compares to your own bed.  I slept like a rock.  The next day was back to work for me, the following day back to school for the munchkin and work for hubby.  Tuesday had dentist and orthodontic appointments, as well as a plumber coming out to fix a leaky shower.  That turned into a ‘lovely’ $500 plus bill as well as having to complete the job the next day due to the oh-so-intelligent former homeowner being a lazy asshole and instead of installing an extension on the cartridge in the shower, he decided to fill the space with two large metal washers and a small metal washer so things would “fit”.  Did I mention he thought he was a plumber, but f’d everything up?  Put a cut-off valve on the wrong side of the pipe in the garage so when you go to cut off the water in case of an emergency, it does nothing?  Totally messed up the irrigation system he self-installed?  I could go on, but we’d be here all day.  Needless to say, because of his laziness, the metal washers messed up the valve in the wall to the point the cartridge wasn’t able to cut off the water.  Not even a new cartridge helped.  Soooo, they had to cut a hole in the back side of the wall, remove the valve, weld in new pipes, a new valve, replace the shower cartridge, handle, riser, etc.  Grrrrrrr.  In having to weld in four pipes, the plumber set off the smoke/fire alarms four different times.  There was no way to prevent that, even with the windows and doors open.  Given that the alarms are direct-wired into the electrical system and hooked together, as well as having battery backup, and there is one inside every bedroom, outside every bedroom, as well as the main rooms, imagine what it sounded like when they all went off…at the SAME TIME, sounding continuously for a minute, off for a minute, then back on for a minute, etc.  Did I mention this was all happening while I was having a new wall oven installed?  Yes, the other one finally crapped out after milking it along for two years, so we used our tax refund to get a new one.  Considering the thing weighs over 300 pounds, they were having a hell of a time getting it up the steps as well as into the wall cabinet in the kitchen.  Between the burning smell, the alarms going off and all the grunting going on in the kitchen, it was a comedy of errors.

In the end, though, everything turned out okay.  We have a new functional shower, albeit with a hole in the wall in the hallway, but we’ll have a sheetrock guy come out and patch that in a day or two after I’m sure nothing is leaking.  The new oven is in, looks great and I ran both upper and lower ovens through their initial heat-up cycle, so they’re now ready to bake.  The $700 I saved while haggling with the salesman over the price of the oven, install and extended warranty went towards the unexpected plumbing bill, so it all balanced out in the end.  Now, if I can keep everything on an even keel for a while, and don’t find anything leaking or malfunctioning, maybe, just maybe, I can get back to writing.  And keeping my sanity…what little there is left of it.  😉

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