Veterans Day

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Today is Veterans Day and a three day weekend for me. Saturday the weather was rainy and I spent most of the day reading or doing stuff on the computer. Today at church we had a special Veterans Day service. Two of our members gave very moving speeches about their thoughts on what Veterans Day is all about. After services we had a congregational meeting is which office members were voted on. I was made a deacon of our church which is a great honor for me. I have been pretty active in church lately and as a newly appointed deacon I expect to be even more involved. Teresa and I did a little yard work, getting things ready for winter. Tomorrow we are going to be mulching the flower beds and weeding. The weather is still very mild for this time of the year, almost as if Fall has been swallowed up by an extended summer. I get the feeling that we won't get cold weather until December. Maybe there is something to this global warming. One other thing, we bought a new 32" Samsung LCD TV as a Christmas present for both of us. It will replace our old dinosaur of a TV which is long past retirement age.
Amid some blustery weather from Hurricane Noel, which was passing by us off the coast, I spent a good part of Saturday at my church chopping barbecue for our annual Fall barbecue sale. The church rented a cooker and bought 400 pounds of pork to cook. The cooker could cook about 200 pounds at a time, taking about 5 1/2 hours to properly cook the pork. So I reported for duty at midnight to help with the chopping of the pork. Luckily there were a lot of volunteers to help with the chopping so it only took about 2 1/2 hours to chop the first 200 pounds. So I went home for a couple of hours sleep before I had to go back at 6 am to chop the last 200 pounds of pork. This time there were fewer choppers so it took us twice as long as before. The second pig was also not as lean and required a lot of trimming before we could chop it. So I finally got home about 10:30 am with a sore wrist and forearm from all the chopping. Teresa went back to the church at about 2 pm and bought two barbecue dinners complete with coleslaw, hush puppies, pound cake for dessert, and beans. So I got to eat some of the barbecue I had chopped all night. It was pretty good and the church was selling lots of it. I hope they will be able to sell it all. Even Hurricane Noel cooperated and quickly passed us by, with the sun coming out and the winds subsiding. The rest of the day I will be taking it easy and reading or listening to a book. I deserve a rest.

Halloween and Fall

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We are finally starting to see some Fall weather. Last night the temperature dropped into the 30's and today was a beautiful, crisp Fall day. But the next two days are forecast to be in the lower 70's, still a little warm for me. Teresa has been sick the last couple of days and finally went to the doctor today. The doctor thinks she may have colitis or diverticulitis. She is scheduled for a CT scan tomorrow and she has an appointment with a gastroenterologist. She has been given some antibiotics and something to drink tonight before her CT scan. I think everything is going to be OK but I have been stressed out over it. Tomorrow at work we are having a chili contest with six of my co-workers bringing in their own deadly recipes. I just hope the Alka-Seltzer and the Tucks medicated pads are in supply to cover any aftereffects. Tomorrow is also Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. We don't celebrate it as much as we used to because we have no children in our neighborhood to trick or treat. But I have been enjoying the horror movie marathons on AMC and the SciFi channel.

Returned from Gulfport

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I have been back from Gulfport, Mississippi for a couple of days now. The week spent in Gulfport was very challenging but I think that we were able to accomplish much while there. We worked on a house owned by Dona and Morris Davis. Previous groups had restored the back half of their house and we worked on the front half. Most of the work involved tearing out drywall, flooring, and ceiling. We also took out a vanity and a toilet in the bathroom. We were trying to prepare the house for the electricians to re-wire the house as well as for insulation to be put in the ceilings and outer walls. Once that is done then the drywall would be replaced and the flooring and ceilings would be done. We did get to frame two closets and install hurricane straps to the rafters and floor to help combat uplift from any future hurricanes. The humidity was extremely high during our stay and the temperatures were in the 80's for most of the week. I didn't know if I could do such manual labor for eight hours in such conditions but I did. I guess you never quite know what you are capable of until you try.

We went into New Orleans to the French Quarter on Thursday evening and had a lot of fun although the drive by the 9th ward and the abandoned neighborhoods we saw on leaving cast a pall on the festivities. Gulfport and New Orleans suffered unbelievable damage from Hurricane Katrina. You really have to see it with your own eyes to understand the enormity of the destruction. Even though I am glad to be home I am thinking of going down again this April to do some more work. Those areas will be in need of a lot of help for many years to come and I hope to do my share.

Heading down south.

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I am leaving early tomorrow morning for Gulfport, Mississippi. I am flying down with three other volunteers from my church. We will be staying in a mission church for a week while we help with the re-construction of houses damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Gulfport suffered as much damage as New Orleans but has received much less publicity and much less federal aid than New Orleans. Most of the cleanup has been done by the residents and volunteers like us from all over the world. We will be sleeping on the floor of the church with pads and sleeping bags. The church will provide meals and facilities for showering, etc. I am somewhat apprehensive about going as I have not done 8 hours of manual labor since I was in my twenties. I just hope that I will be more of an asset than a hindrance. I don't know what to expect as far as the damage that still remains from Katrina but I understand it is still pretty extensive. I think I read that the Federal government wants to buy 17,000 of the damaged homes in Gulfport and destroy them in order to build a barrier system to help mitigate damage from future hurricanes. I expect this trip will be a memorable one that I will look back on as one of the best things I have done in my life. Wish us all luck while we are down there.
As I write this it is the 5th of October. The daytime temperatures all week have been in the 80's. Next week the daytime temperatures will be in the upper 80's to 90. I wonder when Fall is going to finally make an appearance? Work has been hectic but I think things are going to settle down soon. I helped my brother Skip move the other day and I hate to say it but I feel kind of sorry for him. I don't think he has lived in his own house since the days when he was married. He is finally moving out of the place where he is staying because he is trying to get away from his roommates. I moved most of his possessions to his new residence in just one truckload. He doesn't seem to own much or have much furniture. His new roommate seems much nicer than the ones he used to have. This Saturday we are all going to meet at a restaurant in Virginia Beach and celebrate Skip's 63rd birthday. It is hard to believe that all those years have passed. Anyway, I noticed that his TV is really old and beat up so Teresa and I bought him a new Magnavox 19" Wide-screen HDTV LCD television for a birthday present and a housewarming present. It is not the most expensive TV but I think he will like it.

Church has been keeping me busy. I am involved in the technical aspects of moving our Sunday service into the 21st century with inspirational videos and projecting the lyrics of contemporary Christian music onto a screen for the congregation to sing along to. Our Fall bazaar is this weekend and I helped with the chopping of the vegetables for the brunswick stew that we will be selling. Teresa is contributing by baking a cake to sell at the bazaar. That's it for now.
I am back from my trip to Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Forest. I had a pretty good time even though I never had a good nights sleep. Seems I am spoiled in my old age and a tent and a sleeping bag just don't cut it anymore. But the weather was fine and the scenery was beautiful. We climbed Hawksbill Mountain and Stony Man Mountain as well as hiking numerous trails. Saw the usual deer and chipmunks but no skunks or raccoons. We did have a close encounter with a black bear which I captured on video. Work is still stressful but there is good news to announce. My command may be offering early retirements (VERA) that would allow me to retire either this year or the next with no penalties. I told them I was interested and I am now waiting to see if they actually offer me one. Anyway, here are a couple photos I took with my camcorder and a link to the bear video that I posted to YouTube.
baby chipmunkLittle Doe

Another vacation

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I am headed to Shenandoah National Park with my brothers Chris and Jon. We will be camping on Skyline Drive at Lewis Mountain campground. It has been a few years since we last went camping so I am really looking forward to 4 days away from it all. I have charged all the batteries for my camcorder and digital camera and I plan on documenting the trip. I also plan on having fun and letting go a little. Work has been a little hectic lately with me filling in for our IMO who is on two month maternity leave. I hope these 4 days away from it all will help relieve some of the stress. I will be back Sunday and I will be busy processing the videos and photos I will have taken. There is much more going on in my life but that is for a later entry.

This and That

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Tropical Storm Gabrielle was a non-event here. All we got was a little wind and a little rain. We have gotten much worse weather from a thunderstorm. I did go over to Ocean View in Norfolk to see what the bay looked like with Gabrielle approaching and there were some impressive waves for a bay. I will have a short video up on YouTube which I will link to later. My iRiver Clix 2 came and it is going right back. I have not been able to get it to work for more that a couple of hours before it locks up. Then I am unable to unlock it for days. So I have an RMA number and it is being shipped back tomorrow. I really want to get my hands on a good one because when it did work it was a fantastic piece of technology. Summer is slowly coming to an end and the weather is getting too cool to use the pool after work. It is still great on the weekends but it won't be for long. I am going camping next week to the Blue Ridge with my brothers Jon and Chris. We plan on leaving Thursday morning and returning on Sunday. I have not been camping in several years and I am really looking forward to it. That's it for now.

Gabrielle paying a visit

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Tropical storm Gabrielle is paying us a visit here in Chesapeake, Virginia. Gabrielle started out as a sub-tropical storm but has since strengthened to a 50 mph tropical storm. The forecast path has kept changing, first bringing her closer to us and then further away. This morning the forecast is bringing her closer to us and it is starting to become cloudy and windy. So I guess the next couple of days are going to be interesting. About the best we can hope for is that Gabrielle changes her mind and visits someone else.