Category Archives: Life Its Own Self

Movie Star

You’ve been out of town for eight days and you have to move in three days. What do you do?

If you are my wife, you go to New Orleans for one final movie shoot before moving away!

Peggy has been acting in television shows and movies ever since we moved to Louisiana. She found out that Louisiana has a thriving entertainment industry, and she got recruited into it shortly after arriving. It has all been background work, but she has gotten to work with some amazing people.

She appeared in the remake of “The Magnificent Seven” and got to meet Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. She spent two weeks in an office building working on a movie with Rob Reiner, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson and James Marsden. She appeared in one of the Jack Reacher movies and got to meet Tom Cruise. She was in the television miniseries “Underground” and got to spend an entire night shooting with Christopher Meloni (think “Law & Order SVU”) and Jennifer Nettles. She has been on “NCIS New Orleans” so often the cast members know her by name. It has really been a tremendous opportunity.

So, when she got the opportunity to go to work on one final movie she couldn’t turn it down. The movie is tentatively entitled “Green Book” and it stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. I know the story and all I can tell you is it is going to be a great movie. Whether it will be a big hit, who knows? But with those guys in it, it is going to be good. I mean, you have Aragorn from “Lord of the Rings” and Remy from “House of Cards” in the movie, so how can it not be great?!

It is an overnight shoot, so Peggy isn’t home yet. The movie is also directed by Peter Farrelly, so I am really interested to hear what Peggy thought about his “process” as a director compared to Rob Reiner and some of the others she has spent time with on set. It is a period piece, so she was excited to get to do the makeup and wardrobe. She just sent me these two pictures:

I think she’s playing a rich, white lady
Profile of a rich, white lady

I asked her how it is going. It is unseasonably cold here in Louisiana tonight — almost a real winter evening with low temperatures around 35 degrees. She said she is freezing. They are shooting in a house and they have all of the doors open. All of the crew are walking around in parkas while the cast (at least the background actors) are freezing pretending to be at a concert in a nice warm house. The sacrifice actors make for their art…

I am really glad she took the opportunity to make this film. I know this is something she is going to miss when she leaves next week, so I am happy she got one more turn at bat before moving.

She’s certainly a star in my book.

Florida Swing

I had a work trip to Florida that Peggy and I are turning into a pleasure trip after the work responsibilities are over. Who schedules a work trip for the week between Christmas and New Year’s? This guy.

We had some folks we needed to meet with in West Palm Beach. One of them is leaving the country for a month on January 2. I wanted to get the meeting done before he left, so here we are.

We had the meeting this morning and it was productive. We will be glad that we met because it will move us into the next phase of the relationship while he is gone and we will be ready to roll when he returns. Pushed everything forward by a month. Blah blah…

Now we get to play! We played golf today, and tomorrow we will spend the day at the beach and/or pool. My vote is for the pool — the water in the Atlantic is too cold to enjoy, but the air temperature is nice. I have a feeling tomorrow’s compromise will be to walk on the beach and then hang out at the pool. Negotiations are tough business.

Then we are leaving on Saturday morning for Tampa. The stars aligned for Peggy and I to do something we have never done together. My life-long team, the New Orleans Saints, are playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Tampa, then LSU is playing in the Whatever-New-Year’s-Day-Bowl-is-in-Orlando on Monday. I bought tickets to the bowl game, but my friend Don already had tickets for the Saints game that he is letting us have.

I have written several times about my group of childhood friends and how we still get together. Don is the retired Air Force Colonel and lives in Tampa. He also has the greatest job in the world as the Executive Officer of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. If you don’t know what Gasparilla is, picture Mardi Gras on boats as a parade of pirate boats “invade” the city. Don was a logistics officer in the Air Force, so he is the perfect guy to plan the invasion and make sure everything comes off safe and fun for everyone.

Don has season tickets for the Buccaneers (he’s a Saints fan, but when in Rome…) that he cannot use because there is a New Year’s Ball as part of his Gasparilla responsibilities, so he is giving them to Peggy and me to use. We are spending the night at Don and Kathy’s house Saturday night, so we are really looking forward to the rest of the journey.

Now, where are we eating tonight?

December golf in Florida with a beautiful girl. Tough duty, but I am up for it.

 

Overdrive

That escalated quickly.

I run a business that depends on doctors. Doctors are fairly notorious for taking time off around the holidays, so our business tends to have a predictable lull each December. I have been in San Antonio wrapping things up for the year and getting ready to spend the rest of the time before Christmas at home in Baton Rouge.

Not so fast, my friend…

A family has been to see our house several times and late last week while I was at home they made an offer. The offer was too low to consider so I just rejected it and did not counter. Another couple has also shown interest so I felt pretty comfortable rejecting the lowball offer.

The original family came back with a second offer that was a little higher so I countered with the asking price — I am very comfortable that the price we have on the house is the market price for our area, and I am really not willing to sell for less. Meanwhile, the second prospect continued to visit the house without making an offer. My realtor told the first family’s realtor about the other interested couple, and so on, and so on.

So, on Wednesday I get a full-price offer from the original folks with one stipulation. They need to close on January 9 because they have to be out of the house they are selling by January 11.

Uh-oh.

Peggy and I have been working with a realtor and looking at houses whenever she comes to San Antonio (and I have been seeing several homes while here by myself), but we were not looking seriously yet because we had no offers on our home in Baton Rouge. The house has barely been on the market for six weeks. Now we have to close on the new house in San Antonio in less than four weeks?!

I accepted the offer. Then I called Peggy and told her to get to San Antonio as quickly as possible. I also called the realtor and asked him to remove from consideration any home that was currently occupied. There is no way we can ask someone to be out of a house in time for us to close and move in. I know someone just did that to us, but Peggy’s a ninja. I don’t expect anyone to be able to do what she can do.

I also asked the realtor to hook us up with someone who could get the financing done and closed in that period of time. The mortgage company almost screwed up the deal when we bought our house in Baton Rouge, so I am a little sensitive on that subject. He assured me that as soon as we found a house that he had someone who could get everything done and closed in two weeks, even with the holidays coming up. I don’t believe him, but even if he is wrong by 50% we can still close in time.

Peggy got to San Antonio on Thursday night and we spent all day Friday and Saturday looking at prospective homes. On Saturday night we made an offer on a house. We continued looking at homes after church on Sunday. The owner countered late Sunday afternoon and then accepted our second offer.

As excited as we are to be getting this done so quickly, I really cannot get too excited until the mortgage company comes through. I had already put together the information the realtor told me to prepare to expedite the process. Now it’s in their corner.

Peggy and I went down to the San Antonio Riverwalk for a celebratory dinner. I will be staying in San Antonio this week to make sure the mortgage folks have everything they need. Peggy will be going home to start packing. I know it seems early, but we have a trip planned for the week between Christmas and New Year’s so she wants to get started.

So much for a lull before Christmas…

You’ll forgive us if we look a little glassy-eyed, but the Riverwalk at Christmas never disappoints. We stayed until the lights came on.

Tiger Visit

I had a follow-up visit with my ankle surgeon today in Baton Rouge, so I came home from San Antonio last night. As frequently happens here it was cold last week and beautiful and warm today. Caitie had some work to do in Baton Rouge today, so she brought the baby to spend the day with Peggy.

My visit with the doctor will be my last. The surgery was not successful. Despite rigorous physical therapy I do not have any more lateral stability in the ankle than I had before the surgery. I can walk and I do not have a lot of pain, but I cannot run and I cannot play any kind of sports. Very disappointing.

So, what do you do when life is disappointing? You take your granddaughter and go visit Mike the Tiger.

People were again viewing our home for sale, so we needed to get out of the house. Caitie had not seen the new tiger, so we decided to go over to campus and pay him a visit.

He has grown a lot since the last time I visited him, but he is still just a baby. And he was very interested in my baby. Perhaps as an hors d’oeuvre, perhaps because she is so beautiful. I spent some time talking to him about my ankle and he growled at the appropriate point in the story to let me know he understands. Then, as always, we took some pictures.

Sleeping is important, too.

I am going to show a second picture to make sure you see what is lurking in the back of that cute baby photo. Here’s a little zoom for you:

Look at that good boy — he is so pretty! And he was definitely interested in what was going on. I told him that I appreciated the chat, and he wished me good luck with both the ankle and the sale of the house.

I can get on with the rest of the weekend now.

Back To Vegas

As I have mentioned before, Peggy and I have typically come to Las Vegas each year around her birthday. I changed jobs earlier this year only to discover that I had to make a business trip to Las Vegas. It is a couple of weeks earlier than we usually come, but it is a great alternative to paying for the trip ourselves!

I have chronicled elsewhere my wife’s gambling habit and what it achieves for us, specifically free accommodations at some very nice hotels that have casinos attached to them. Since the hotel is free, my company paid for her airfare. That makes the entire trip free. You know, except for gambling and shows…

We flew in last night and spent today doing some of our favorite things. But first we had to get up at 9:00 am to watch LSU beat Arkansas. It is a blast watching a game you really want to see on the giant TV screens in the big sports books in Vegas. 

Then we walked down to Paris and eat lunch at one of their two outdoor restaurants that overlook the waters at Bellagio. We always walk to Caesar’s Palace and go to the Forum. But mostly we just walk around the Strip and take it all in.

Like I said, we are here a little earlier than usual this year, so we will not likely get to see the Christmas decorations. However, because it is earlier we are going to get to see Celine Dion. The big stars’ shows are typically “dark” when we come, but being two weeks earlier means we will get to see at least one of the big shows.

The conference starts on Monday, so we will have two days for ourselves before the “work” starts. I think we can handle it…

Celebrating the early-morning victory at Paris

Allie

Peggy was in Dallas with her father who was in hospice care. Mike had finished the tenth grade and was in Katy with me.

We had a wonderful old dog named Tater who had just been put to sleep a couple of weeks before. Tater, like all of our pets, was a rescue. I got her as a puppy after someone abandoned her at the firehouse. A fireman friend of mine called me and asked if I would take her.

Mike was only five weeks old at the time, so I didn’t ask Peggy. I went and got the puppy from the firehouse. And then I slept with her in the kitchen for a week so her crying wouldn’t wake up the baby.

Tater lived to be sixteen, and Mike knew her for literally his entire life. The boy needed a new dog.

Mike and I went and started looking at rescue dogs. When we found one we thought was cute we would text a picture of the dog to Peggy. While she was sitting with her dying father. Who thought it was hilarious that we were sending dog pictures to Peggy while she sat with him.

Twelve years ago we got a two-year old rescue dog named Alice. I changed the name to Allie — and Peggy was spared a lifetime of “to the moon” references. Three years later we discovered that Allie was severely diabetic. The vet told us that dogs with diabetes do not live more than about two years after they are diagnosed.

Peggy gave her insulin shots — more insulin that human diabetics take — twice a day. And they developed a special bond. So special that Peggy forgave Mike and me for sending her pictures of Allie while she was sitting with her dying father. Who thought it was hilarious.

Allie beat that two-year prognosis by more than nine years. We had to put her down this morning after she had a stroke and lost the use of her hind legs. I am so glad that I was home to be with her and to make the decision with Peggy. But it hurts.

She loved her Mama and she loved her cats and we will miss her every day. Sleep well, my good girl.

Allie in Austin. She loved walking down to the river — and hated coming home!
Allie with Sandy. Sandy thought Allie was his girlfriend. 

Back Porch Time

When Peggy and I bought the house in Baton Rouge, it had everything we wanted — three bedrooms, three baths, completely renovated, huge master closet, brick floor in the kitchen, covered parking. It checked all of the boxes except one.

We are outside people. Ten months out of the year you will find us sitting outside on the porch most evenings. The Baton Rouge house did not have a back porch, so the first thing we did upon moving into the house is add a covered back porch.

It’s a beautiful thing. There was a small half-moon concrete slab outside the back door, so we extended the paving to fill the gap between the two “wings” of the house and added pavers on top of the concrete. The slope of the roof didn’t allow us to just continue the roof line onto the porch covering, so we had to come up with a different plan. I called someone that was recommended by a friend, and we went and saw a sample of his work. It is a “floating” cover that is attached to the sides of the house. So the awning doesn’t disrupt the view, and so water doesn’t run off the front, it is inverted to be higher in the front and lower in the back. The rain (which is fairly common in south Louisiana) runs back toward the house and into the high capacity gutters. It is a really innovative design and it works like a charm.

During football season we put the television outside to watch the games. The two ceiling fans keep it from getting too hot and also help with the mosquitoes during certain times of the year. As it gets cooler we turn on the gas fire pit and enjoy the flames. We spend at least part of every evening out there.

This weekend we will do our home tailgating on the porch waiting for the LSU game to start. Tonight we fixed dinner and ate it out on the porch. It isn’t cool enough for the fire pit — though that doesn’t necessarily stop Peggy — but the fireflies are out in force. It is one of the many things that makes me love living here.

We’ll go out tomorrow for our Friday night date, and I bet we’ll end up back out on the porch. It’s just what we do.

A great night out on the porch

Road Warrior

My life as a road warrior began this week, living in Baton Rouge and working in San Antonio. I have decided to drive back home three weeks out of the month and have Peggy come visit San Antonio one weekend per month. There is one thing that will put a kink in those plans, though…

Today we drove from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to visit my son and his wife. As I have mentioned before, they are expecting our first grandchild in a couple of weeks. They wanted some pictures taken while great with child, so we drove over to visit with them and take some photographs. We also took them to lunch, and we took my nephew with us. Beautiful pictures, great food, good day.

Tomorrow I will get back in the car and drive to San Antonio. I will come back home next weekend unless I have a reason to come back sooner. If the grandbaby arrives anytime soon I do not think I am going to be seeing Peggy in San Antonio for a while. I’m good with that.

We’re pretty stoked about the whole grandparent thing, so I don’t expect to get tired of the driving right away. It’s a little over a thousand miles a week. But I really don’t want to move and take Peggy away from her first grandchild. Besides that, we love it here in Baton Rouge. And football season is about to start!

I’ll keep you posted.

Wonderful dinner after the pre-baby pictures

In the Cool of the Summer

So, after more than a week enjoying North Carolina with two different sets of friends, we are back in Colorado for our annual visit. This year we were able to get here a few days earlier than usual and spend a couple of days with the friends who own the place where we stay every year.

In 2009 we told them where we stay for vacation every year, so they came to Colorado and stayed for a month. They had such a great time with their kids that they decided to buy a place. We have been the beneficiaries of their generosity ever since.

It was great to see them and to ride in a jeep up Montezuma with them and their kids. Their son is about to be a sophomore in high school and their daughter is about to enter junior high, so they are a lot of fun to hang around with. We were going to do a bike ride but it rained. The jeep trip was a great consolation prize!

Jim and Cindy left today, and tomorrow we have other friends joining us. Peggy and I spent today by ourselves walking and seeing the sights. When our friends get here we will do the (downhill) bike ride from Vail Pass into Frisco, CO. It is 13.1 miles of beauty and awe alongside Ten Mile Creek. I’m thinking about getting one of those “13.1” stickers that people are putting on the back of their cars to convince others they have run a half marathon. Surely 13.1 downhill on a bike is the same kind of challenge…

We love bringing folks up here with us. It is obviously a special place to us since we have been coming back for the thirty-two years since we got married, and it is a special joy to share it with our friends. And, it doesn’t hurt that we have been here for two days and the temperature has not gotten above 65 degrees. In August.

It’s a dirty job…

Lovely ladies luncheon in River Run Village
Walking beside the Snake River

Stopping in Denver

When Peggy and I come to Colorado each year we typically drive. It is about a twenty hour drive from Baton Rouge and we usually do it in two days. Since we are coming off the trips to North Carolina, and since I have to drive to San Antonio as soon as we get home from vacation, we decided to fly this year.

Now, you need to understand that the reason we usually drive is because it helps me acclimate to the change in altitude. In the past we have flown up to Denver and come immediately into the mountains. When we did that I seemed to get sick for a couple of days. It took us a few times to figure out that my symptoms were actually altitude sickness. The gradual change in altitude when driving does not seem to create any symptoms in me.

When we do fly now, the remedy has been to spend the first night in Denver and give my body the chance to acclimate in that way. It seems to work, and Denver is a nice place to spend a night. So we flew into Denver today and we are staying at a favorite hotel in the Arts District called, simply enough, Art. I assume it is because of the location and not the owner’s first name.

Denver has some pretty good restaurants that we have visited, but the food here at the hotel is also excellent. Additionally, the hotel has a really cool outdoor bar where we spend quite a bit of time on each visit. I’m sure an outdoor bar four stories up in the Denver air probably has fairly limited utility seven or eight months each year, but in late July it is primo (I have also been here in late September and it was pretty much awesome then, too). We enjoyed dinner and spent a couple of very relaxing hours sitting outside in the cool night air.

We will get up tomorrow morning and make the drive into the mountains, feeling confident that no altitude sickness will befall me. All in all, it’s not a bad way to travel.

We are looking forward to seeing two different sets of good friends up here on this trip, but really we are just looking forward to being back in Peggy’s happy place. I’m sure I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

At the bar in (or out) of the hotel