What do the Russians want with me?

I have finally regained control of my blog after an amazing barrage of messages from Russians. I have removed all the comments from posts — it was easier than going through the more than 20,000 (!) comments and deciphering which ones were real, so I just deleted all of them. If you feel as though you commented before it just may not be deja vu you are experiencing.

So what about my blog attracted the Russian onslaught? I realize I am a man of great importance, but what about my message got me targeted? Am I too obviously American? Did my support of John Bel Edwards in the Louisiana governor’s race mark me as too liberal (I swear it was for two reasons — he is from Amite and I could not bring myself to vote for his opponent without needing a shower afterward). The attacks began shortly after his election and continued until this year. Is there a connection?

Good news, though. Obviously those pesky Russians could not have tampered with the 2016 election as they were clearly too busy spamming the blog of a fifty-something-year-old dude in ‘Merica. I guess that means I am an influencer. Of what,…

So, I’m back and will continue to comment on what it means to be over fifty. These colors don’t run!

And if you don’t hear from me for a while, please come look for me…

Incognito so they can’t find me

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.

Not the Plan, the Sequel

You have got to be kidding me.

Yesterday we sat in beautiful weather in Tampa to watch the New Orleans Saints lose on a long touchdown pass with nine seconds left in the game. Today we sat in atrocious weather in Orlando to watch LSU lose to Notre Dame on a long touchdown pass with about a minute-and-a-half left in the game. Maybe it’s us?

New Year’s Day bowls are a wonderful tradition. When I was a kid the four most important games of the college football year took place on New Year’s Day. If your team happened to be playing in the Sugar, Orange, Rose or Cotton Bowl, you knew you had enjoyed a fantastic season. And the winner of one of those games was almost always crowned the National Champion, mythical though the title was.

It’s a little more diluted now, with seven or eight games on New Year’s Day and a playoff to determine the National Championship. I think the bowl LSU and Notre Dame played today is now called the Citrus Bowl — it was called the Tangerine Bowl when I was younger — but after the bombardment of advertising I can really only tell you with certainty that it was played in Camping World Stadium and presented by Overton. I am not familiar with either Camping World or Overton, but their names are forever stamped in my brain. At least until the next barrage of advertising.

It rained for most of the game and the play reflected it. We had great seats and we cheered for the Tigers with all our hears. I am really glad we stopped for rain gear yesterday, and it worked pretty well at keeping us warm, too. We were hoping for a little better weather for tomorrow since we are here in the home of Disney, but it looks like cold and rainy is en vogue for the rest of the week.

We fly home on Wednesday morning to finish packing up the house. The moving van is coming next week.

While neither game had the ending for which we had hoped, I am glad we got to make the trip before we move away from Louisiana.

Go Saints and Geaux Tigers!

It rained most of the game. By the way, did you know the game was presented by Overton’s?
A brief respite from the rain. It didn’t last…

Not the Plan

Well, that sucked.

Saturday was great. We got to Tampa and had a great evening with Don. Talked about everything that has happened since we were together in July. Got the tickets to the game. Good times.

We got up this morning and the weather was perfect. Hung out with Don. Went to lunch. Then he had responsibilities so we headed out.

Our first stop after lunch was at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Why, you ask? Well, today’s beautiful weather in Tampa is not going to be continued in Orlando tomorrow. A very large, wet cold front is expected to blow in tonight, and Peggy and I did not bring any wet weather gear on the trip. We stopped at Dick’s and got Peggy a rain suit and me a rain jacket for tomorrow’s game before proceeding to the Bucs’ stadium.

Raymond James Stadium is a beautiful place to watch a ballgame. It is much smaller than Tiger Stadium, and there are no bad seats in the house. Our seats were on the home side in the corner of the end zone; a great vantage point to watch the Saints whip the Bucs and claim their first South Division championship since 2011.

Not so fast, my friend.

After leading for much of the game, the Saints gave up a bomb for a touchdown with :09 left in the game to lose the football game. They should have also lost the NFC South championship, but fortunately Atlanta beat Carolina and the Saints got the division title. That was not the way you want to win a championship, but you takes what you can gets.

After the game we drove to Orlando. It is only about ninety miles across the state, but as soon as we got in the car the rains began. It rains in Florida like it rains in Louisiana, so we were comfortable driving in it. What was not comfortable, though, was the thirty degree drop in temperature. Sunshine state, my a$$…

We made the executive decision to order dinner in the hotel instead of going back out in the rain. There have been Disney fireworks to greet the New Year. We will watch the ball drop in a few minutes. Then we will go to bed.

It was great seeing Don, and it was a beautiful day for a football game. Now we have to get ourselves prepared for the big game tomorrow.

Hopefully, we will be better luck to the Tigers than we were to the Saints!

It was a great visit with Don…
…and a beautiful day at the stadium, even if the wrong team won.

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.

 

Merry Christmas!

I know it’s really Christmas Eve, but we celebrated our family Christmas today. Two reasons: it allows the kids to spend Christmas morning with Caitie’s family, and Peggy and I are flying out tomorrow morning for a business/pleasure trip to Florida.

This was the first Christmas with a grandbaby, so it was a new experience all the way around. Delightful in every way, but totally new.

The kids came in yesterday and the fun commenced. I won’t bore you with details of all the Christmas foolishness that takes place in our home, but it is something different every year. This year Peggy found Christmas “crackers” that make noise when you open them and then reveal a prize inside. Our prize was a paper crown. I wore it proudly.

Family photo with the king of Christmas

Mostly we spent today pretending that a four-month-old baby has any idea of what is taking place around her. She got a lot of presents, most of them things that her parents needed. That plan will likely work for one more year since babies seem to more interested in the wrapping paper and bows than in the actual presents. After that, though…

It was a wonderful day and we cooked a wonderful Christmas meal. The kids are gone now on their way to Pumpkin Center, Louisiana (yes, that is the actual name of the town) for Christmas with Caitie’s family.

Santa and Mrs. Claus have to pack for an eight-day trip to Florida. It’s a mullet trip — business in the front followed by party in the back. I am sure I will have something to say about it, but for now I have only one thing to say.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Mrs. Claus holding the baby and overlooking a mound of Christmas joy

White Christmas

I surprised Peggy with tickets to see “White Christmas” in New Orleans, so we stayed in the city tonight and will attend the play tomorrow. We love coming to New Orleans for a night every now and then, and plays give us a perfect opportunity to do that. “White Christmas” is one of Peggy’s all-time favorite movies, so I am counting on the fact that the play will be just as good. And she needs a break from the stress I have created for her with the upcoming move!

We had our own version of a white Christmas a few weeks ago, but the weather has returned to normal. We were comfortable walking around the city tonight. We had dinner at the Palace Café then went to the different hotels to see how they were decorated for Christmas. Each hotel has its own personality and the decorations are completely different at each.

The Roosevelt Hotel is famous for its decorations and they are stunning each year. We actually preferred the Ritz Carlton’s decorations this year. It’s like choosing your favorite dessert at a five-star restaurant — you’re going to enjoy whatever you get!

Tomorrow we will get up and have breakfast and stroll around the city until it is time for the play. We love to stay at the same hotel on Canal Boulevard that is convenient to the theater and to the French Quarter, and we much prefer visiting the Quarter in the daylight. We will likely walk to the Café du Monde and see what is going on there, as well.

It is her trip, so we will do whatever she wants to do. And then we will go to the play.

I hope it’s as good as the movie!

Some of the decorations in the lobby of the Ritz

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.

Winter Wonderland

I had to make a trip north this week. I realize Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri are not north to some folks but they are all north of here. It was cold; really cold. We ran into icy roads and high temperatures in the low 20s, so it was the kind of stuff we really aren’t used to down here.

We came back to San Antonio on Wednesday night and it was actually chilly in San Antonio, too. I went into the office on Thursday and came home at about 5:30. I took this picture at 6:25…

Wait! This is San Antonio?!

Damn north followed us home. I sent the picture to Peggy in Baton Rouge and she told me it was supposed to snow in Baton Rouge the following morning, too.

Now, the “following morning” is Friday, and I am supposed to be driving from San Antonio back to Baton Rouge. I wasn’t counting on bad weather where I am headed; I was just concerned about getting out of San Antonio!

The roads were fine in San Antonio this morning — the ground had been too warm for the snow to stick on major streets. So, I went in to the office and Peggy sends me this picture:

Peggy and the cat enjoying a surprising snowfall

I never really considered Peggy a “one-upsman” but I am pretty sure she trumped me with that one. This is the second-earliest snowfall ever in Baton Rouge, a place that gets snow about once every ten years. The snow started about 3:30 this morning and she and Sandy were outside enjoying the fire and a cup of coffee by 8:00. Well, I’m fairly certain Sandy did not have a cup of coffee.

There is still snow on the ground in both places, but it does not appear that there is any left on the roads. I am leaving San Antonio now to get back to Baton Rouge for the weekend.

Wish me luck!

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.