A Rainy Day In The South...

The wind blew Wednesday as the clouds rolled in.  We had made our preparation and settled down to watch a movie and eat our warm soup.  Every now and then I would walk to the door and open it just to see what the wind was like...it was blowing pretty hard out there.  But this was not unusual when a hurricane or tropical storm was on its way.

                                                     We moved furniture under the patio...

                And took umbrellas down and turned chairs over so they wouldn't blow away.

                              The blue skies from the day before had suddenly turned gray.

The lights flashed a couple of times and I looked up at them and said, "Please...no, no" and they never went completely out (whew...).  Our generator was hooked up and ready to go but I really didn't want things to get to that point and was thankful that they hadn't yet.  Ryan was home and I had checked in with my other children, my mother and my sister to let them know to call my cell phone in case we lost power to the land line.  I finally settled down to work on a project I am currently knitting for "Baby Jarrell" and hoped for the best.  When I went to bed, the wind was still blowing terribly hard and I could hear it howling through the windows...

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                                         You can see and hear the wind beginning to blow...



I awoke a couple of times during the night and noticed that we still had power; I could feel the cool air above my bed blowing down upon me.  I fell back asleep and got up close to 8.  The wind was now blowing lightly and the rain had set in.  Others in our area had apparently lost their electricity but we still had ours and I was really thankful for that.  I walked to the kitchen, grabbed a cup of coffee and then decided to let the doxies out while the rain was only lightly falling (they really hate getting wet...).



Since neither the wind nor rain was terrible Thursday, I got up and headed to town to attempt to organize my new art studio space...



David and Codi, who had been staying with her parents while in town, called to say that they had lost electricity and would be heading our way soon.  Robby and I met up with them, ate some lunch and I finished setting up my art supplies.  After that, I headed home to where Robby was preparing chicken on The Big Green Egg.  David received updates on the status of his electricity from Entergy in New Orleans,over 600,000 customers had lost power during the storm, he was one of those customers.  Ryan thought that he possibly had power, but neither had to be back in the city until after Labor Day.

 I enjoyed having my boys home for a few unexpected days and was very thankful that we, in Central Louisiana, had not been hit hard by this storm.  My prayers, however, go out to the many families in south Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama whose homes flooded and they now find themselves in shelters.

Today may be the rainiest day we have had here.  I can hear the roll of thunder, the skies are dark and overcast and it continues to rain.  Is it too much to hope to see the sun tomorrow?

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Continuing To Prepare For Isaac...

I stayed glued to The Weather Channel Monday morning until the LSU medical community in New Orleans made a decision on allowing their dental students and residents to leave the area for a couple of days because of the impending hurricane.  Relieved, I then waited for them to make it back to Alexandria, which is generally a three hour drive.  David and Ryan left at 1:20 and arrived here at 7:00.  The traffic was backed up so far that they decided to take another route that was also clogged with traffic.  That was part of my concern with them leaving the city so late.  During Katrina people were on the road for so long that they were running out of gas. 

I had continued my own preparations throughout the day; washing clothes and dishes and my husband checking the generator to make sure it would be ready to turn on in case we lost electricity.  In the midst of these preparation, I decided to brave the craziness of the shoppers out in town, also making their preparations, to get a few more supplies I needed.  I live on the outskirts of my town so I definitely didn't want to have to go all the way in and hoped that a small local gas station had what I needed.  Naturally, it didn't (sigh...), however, while I was there, I did fill my vehicle up with gas (which had already risen in price over night...).  Girding my loin, I headed toward the Dollar Store...Surely they would have everything I needed and I wouldn't have to make a dreaded trip to Wal- Mart.  When I pulled up, I was pleasantly surprised; had no one thought of this little jewel out here?  I leisurely shopped for what I needed and even got a few extra items...






By the time I headed to the check out counter, I noticed that quite a lot of people had also thought of the Dollar Store...



And the lines were beginning to form at the neighboring gas station too...


It was time for me to get back to my house.  As I traveled home, I noticed that the farmers had frantically begun to harvest their cotton.  I love to see those cotton fields in full bloom and have watched those poor farmers scramble to save their cotton crops under the threat of the pouring rain of a hurricane.  This day, those preparations had begun....








The skies were still blue and clear and it would be so difficult for anyone who had not been through a hurricane before to believe that bad weather was on the way.  And as much as I wanted to believe that, I knew it was not the case, I knew from experience that this was merely the calm before the storm.

And Tuesday proved that to be true.  The skies were still blue but clouds were quickly moving in and the wind had begun to blow with gusts that had me steadying myself against them.  The farmers were still working on getting that cotton in and I feared that they would never get it all in before the rain set in. I went into work for a little while and then ran my errands; there were not many people out and about today.  I suppose most had gotten their supplies the day before.  Grabbing just one more flat of water, I headed home to start dinner.  Friends and neighbors were making gumbos and I was planning on making chicken and spaghetti with a hot loaf of French bread; we go for that comfort food of chicken here in the south.  And so, we get ready to hunker down and ride out whatever it is Isaac has to throw at us...

***Isaac has now been upgraded to a category 1 hurricane and the rain is predicted to set in here in Central Louisiana this evening and continue until Friday.  I will hopefully be able to post more tomorrow if we are fortunate enough to not lose our electricity.***








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Watching Isaac...

As I awoke this morning to the sun shining in Central Louisiana it was difficult to believe that a hurricane was slowly making its way toward our Gulf Coast...toward New Orleans, where two of my children now live.

We, here in Louisiana, are not unaccustomed to the threat of hurricanes.  During this time of year, our eye turns more frequently to the Weather Channel, checking for those threats.  With all of my traveling lately, I haven't kept up much with the tacking of these tropical storms and now it appears that Issac has sneaked upon us eerily reminiscent of Katrina.

I realize that Issac does not appear to be capable of packing the punch that Katrina did, however, that will be where our minds always wander when a hurricane threatens our coast or state.  What I recall about Katrina was how we were just going about our business and then suddenly it was upon us.  It was a serious threat that had us scrambling. My own sister was out on a cruise ship that had left the Port of New Orleans and had to be rerouted to Galveston.  Her son, working Search and Rescue, was able to retrieve it before it was destroyed.  I remember the lines of traffic rolling into our city and at the gas pumps.  I remember the setting up of shelters in our area and driving past each day to see the uprooted individuals standing around outside...waiting to see what would remain of their homes.  And so Katina will always be in our minds here in Louisiana.  Rita hit within a few weeks of Katrina and actually affected us here in Central Louisiana, causing flooding and power outages, along with all of the hundreds of ousted New Orleans residents living in shelters.  It was a bad hurricane season that year for us.  Gustav was the last big hurricane disaster we had here.  The road I live on was without electricity for over a week.

I'm not sure if folks who do not live under the threat of hurricanes realize what happens before, during and after this threat.  First, there is the preparation for the threat.  Once we understand that there is the possibility of the high wind gusts, it is necessary to take precautions for all items that can move.  In other words, all patio furniture, umbrellas, plant stands, lawn ornaments and the like must be moved to a safe place.  Next, if one lives in an outer lying area (like I do...), we begin examining all trees that look as though they could be brought down by the winds and damage buildings and cut them down.  We make a trip to the grocery store to purchase batteries and water and food that does not have to be cooked.  Water is a big deal for my family since the water supply is run on an electric pump and, although we have a generator that will run electricity, all water is immediately shut down.  One does not realize how much thy depend on water until they have none.  We also fuel up our vehicles and get extra gas to run generators.  Those who do not have generators and lose electricity for a week risk losing food in their refrigerators and freezers.  Once all of the preparations have been made we sit...and wait...and watch.  When the storm passes, the clean up begins; trees, limbs and debris must be cleaned up...and it is usually very hot and humid.  For those who lose electricity for days, the heat is quite unbearable.

This storm is the first to hit while I have two sons living in New Orleans.  Last night public schools in New Orleans began to close, oil rigs began to evacuate and a state of emergency has been declared.  David, in his residency program with LSU Health Sciences and Ryan, in LSU Dental School have both been told they cannot leave the city yet.  And so they have fueled up their vehicles and made preparations in the case that they are able to leave before the storm hits.  Me?  I am constantly texting to see if there had been any word on when (or if they can leave...).  They told me that it was pretty crazy down there last night with many people already leaving; they had to sit in line for 30 minutes to be able to fill their vehicles up with premium (no regular fuel left...) gas.  I worry about the traffic situation if they actually are able to get on the road.  The evacuation route from New Orleans through Baton Rouge is brutal.  On a normal day, one can get caught up in Baton Rouge for an hour.  The other thing I worry about is the flooding that will surely take place in New Orleans.  Ryan lives near the levee that broke during Katrina and I do not believe that this will happen again, but as they say, New Orleans is a bowl and with heavy rainfall, it is very difficult to pump the water out efficiently.  When we were visiting the boys a couple of weeks ago, a heavy downfall caused people to flood out on the roads...






And so I just sit here and watch and wait to see what will happen.  Ryan told me that he guessed they would just be storm chasers and ride the storm out...after all, they had never ridden a storm out while actually on the coast.  Hmmm...Mama doesn't like that idea one little bit, but this really isn't in my hands, now is it?

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Stretching Out Our Last Two Days In Ohio...

Monday arrived and so did the work week for everybody...except me.  Caitlin is working for the company so she was busy all morning taking calls and placing orders, Robby was on the phone and his computer and Kevin had to go back to work for another 12 hour shift (can you believe that?!).  I waited patiently while everybody did their thing but when lunch time arrived I announced that it was time to get out of the house and go eat.  Caitlin had the perfect place in mind to take her dad and me...

                                                    We ate at The Tree House Tea Room.

    On the back of the menu was the history of this old house which I thought was really cool!

                     We decided to make the most of the cool weather and eat outdoors...again!


                                       I had this wonderful chicken flat bread atop a salad.

                                And Caitlin had this yummy berry cobbler with ice cream for dessert.

There was also inside seating, which I am sure we will have to take advantage of the next time I visit.

And this great little place also has a wonderful gift shop...Can you believe that Halloween decorations are already out?!  I LOVE Halloween!  I guess I will have to revisit this neat little place!

                     And how cool is this wine cellar they have set up down in the basement?

We didn't make Robby suffer through too much of our shopping on Monday but on Tuesday, he told Caitlin and me that we needed a girls' day out and that he was going to stay home and work.  OK...now, how sweet was that?!  We knew exactly where we would be going.  First, we would go have some yummy soup in bread bowls at Panera and then it would be off to do some antique shopping!

It was, of course, necessary to grab some of Panera's big chocolate chip cookies to take along with us!

 This was the first shop we visited, Country Store.  It was chocked FULL of all sorts of antique treasures.

I was SO excited to find two new little vintage elves to add to my Christmas collection!  I've never seen an orange one before.

This shop was also called Country Store and owned by the same gentleman.  This particular store had LOTS of great buys on furniture.  Oh how I wished I wasn't traveling by plane...

                                                              This was our next stop...

       And my next purchase!  I love vintage jewelry and know just the dress I will wear this on.

                                          This was an awesome barn filled full of antiques.

This old out house could be found between the last two shops.  Don't you love how they are already putting pumpkins out?!

                                           This is just a mini tour of what is inside the barn...


               I'm really thinking I should drive back to Ohio the next time so I can pull a trailer!


After this wonderful girls' day of antiquing, Caitlin and I had to head over to a doctor's appointment she had previously scheduled...

   And THIS is what we found...BABY JARRELL!!!  He/She will be arriving on April 4, 2013!

That's right...Robby and I are going to be Ya Ya and Poppi AGAIN...




What a wonderful end to a wonderful first trip to Ohio!  I suppose there are a FEW things I like about the north...the mild weather being one of them.  I was sad to leave Mommy Jarrell but will definitely be returning soon!











































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Lake Erie, a Movie and Ice Cream!

Robby and I slept like babies (or rather not like babies...) Saturday night.  Well, you know what I mean...we were exhausted from traveling, so a good night's sleep did us wonders.  Sunday morning found Robby and Caitlin putting that loaf of Erie Sour Dough Bread that I had bought the day before to good use...

                                       Those two whipped up some yummy French Toast!

Kevin was scheduled to go into work that afternoon for a 23 hour shift so we left soon after breakfast to shop around town and have lunch with him before he had to leave.  After he left for work, Robby, Caitlin and I decided to take in a movie.  We went to see "The Odd Life of Timothy Green".  It was time for the movie to start when we raced across the shopping center to get out tickets.  The previews were still playing when we got in the theater but it was so packed that we had to sit on the second row!  With all of that said, I REALLY liked the movie.  It was so different but had a great message; go see it if you have the opportunity.  When the movie was over, it was time to do a little more exploring.  We decided to take that proverbial "Sunday Afternoon Drive".  And where better to take a drive to?  Why, Lake Erie (which was right down the street...), of course!

This is a huge park that overlooks Lake Erie.  There are picnic tables and grills all out there.  The weather was so mild that there were lots of people out enjoying their afternoon there.

We walked down the pier to get a better look at the Great Lake...













It had been a very long time since I had just been out for a Sunday afternoon drive; Caitlin had never even heard of such a thing! (Ouch!  Does that age me terribly?!)  But the weather was so nice and cool that we actually put the windows down in the car as we drove around and just took in the scenery.  And THEN...There it was!  What EVERY Sunday afternoon driver needs...

                    An ice cream cone!  I can't even remember WHEN I last had a dip cone.


As we were driving along, we suddenly noticed a little drive-in where people were sitting outside with their kids eating ice cream.  It was one of those old timey sort of places; so nostalgic.  There was even one of those neighborhood ice cream trucks sitting in their parking lots.

Sunday had been a great day here in Ohio with Caitlin.  She mentioned how much she just enjoyed having the company since she has not made any friends in the area yet.  We went to get a bite to eat for dinner and then headed back to her apartment to watch a little Food Network.  It was "almost" like old times.  Except for the fact that we would soon be leaving and I would once again be counting down the days until my next visit.  But Monday and Tuesday would prove to be VERY good days; with LOTS more to share...











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Day One In Cleveland Was Packed Full Of Activity!

Robby and I woke up early (4 a.m.) to head to the Chicago airport heading for Cleveland on Saturday.  That had been two days this week we had been up at extreme hours of the morning.  But today was different...I would be seeing my daughter in her new home for the first time; I was pretty excited!

As soon as we threw our luggage in her car, Caitlin laid out her immediate plans for the day.  She wanted to get tickets to a tour of The Great Lakes Brewing Company, a local micro brewery.  Apparently the tour was a big sell out each Saturday so we needed to get out tickets early.  The brewery was in the Ohio City, Market Square's Historic District.  There were local vendors there, along with a live band playing and many outdoor bistros.  It was a beautiful day to be outside, the weather was so pleasant, it felt like an autumn day to Robby and me!





While we were waiting for our tour to begin, we walked across the street to the West Side Market.  This place, in an old brick building,  was featured on The Food Network.  It is open several days a week and houses vendors from all sorts of food markets.  If I lived here, it is DEFINITELY the place you would find me shopping for my food purchases...






                                           There are vendors who only have pork products...

                                                                          Chicken...

                                                                        Shellfish...

                                                                             Cheese...

                                                                                Beef...

          Fresh baked breads (which was my first purchase! A loaf of Erie Sour Dough Bread.)

                                                                            Olives...

                                                                      Fresh pasta...

                                                                                Fish...

All of the fresh produce could be found in another separate building...





Can you tell how impressed I was with this market?!

After shopping at the market, we decided to eat a little lunch at one of the outdoor bistros.  I had this wonderful ravioli, stuffed with butternut squash...




Next was the tour of The Great Lakes Brewing Company...










As soon as the tour was over, Robby and I told Caitlin we HAD to go back to her apartment and get a little nap in before Kevin got off from work and we would be heading out to dinner.  For some reason, my allergies had kicked up and my eyes and nose were watering terribly.  All I needed was a Benadryl and a little nap and I felt sure this "Gypsy" would be ready to roll again.  And so when we arrived at Caitlin's apartment, Robby fell across the guest bed and was immediately asleep, while Caitlin and I took separate ends of the couch and fell asleep watching television.  We woke up when Kevin came home and left shortly for round two!

Caitlin and Kevin actually live in an outside area of Cleveland called Avon Lake.  It is a really nice little area with lots of shopping and eating nearby.  We shopped around a bit and then ate dinner at a nice little area called Crocker Park...

There is a center, grassy area in the middle of all the shops and eateries where people can sit and read or just relax.

There is also a water play area for children at one end of the grassy area; children were in their swim suits splashing around!


After dinner we returned home.  It had been a wonderful first day with Caitlin.  We had done a lot on this day, but that was only because we knew that we didn't have much time here.  And if I sat still long enough, I knew that fact would make me sad, therefore I was happy to fill EVERY moment with activity.  There would be more adventures to come on Sunday...
















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