Watchin' God Book One - Listed Alphabetically


Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in the Quarter

Last August Paul and I bought a time-share from RCI with our home resort in Killington VT.  The good deal and the location coupled with an unexpected amount of cash that turned out to be exactly (less $20) how much we needed for the down payment/upfront fees, it just seemed the thing to do at the time.  Should we want to go somewhere else, we can take the points we get and leverage them into more weeks by taking short-notice vacations, or buy points if we need to.

Which is what I did for Christmas!  On Monday Dec 16, I found a 1 bedroom hotel room in New Orleans (NOLA), where my two oldest sons live, from Dec 20-27 for 6,500 points!  We get 18,000 every two years, so that still leaves us more vacation time!  The plane fare was $800 each, but Paul probably couldn't get the time off from work anyway.

I searched the club air fare, since $800 was way past what I was willing to pay.  I came up with $436 or $524, depending on when I refreshed the screen.  Much better! 

Still, the likelihood that Paul would agree to let me go was slim.  We have had quite a few unexpected expenses the last few months and our reserves are getting low.  And by the time I got his approval, the room would more than likely be gone...

But I called the boys to see if they had any plans.  Nope. I mentioned it to Paul, who was skeptical, but didn't come right out and say ‘no’.  Until he says definitely 'no', I will see if I can make a plan work...  Bad habit, I guess...  On the other hand, when he does say ‘no’, it’s not a big deal.  Frequently I can find as many reasons why his logic is correct as I could to support my own.  So that’s a good habit, right?

The next morning I looked up the room again online.  Couldn't find the same list, let alone the same room!  So I called the customer service number for the club.  The very nice, and surprised, lady said that particular room was already booked --- but there was another one just down the block, in the Central Business District of New Orleans!  She was flabbergasted.  She said she had been looking for at least a week, trying to find anything anywhere for other members, with no luck.  And here I find two of them in two days right where I want to go - even to the street location!  And to add to the amazement factor, the regular trade value for that room is 34,000 points!  A Watchin' God story in the making!

I double checked the flights while she was on the phone, and then booked the room.  I had until the following day at 5 pm to cancel the reservation and get all the money and points back. There is an exchange fee, of course.  But a week in NOLA for the price of one night?  Not a bad deal at all, if I do say so myself.  I didn't book the plane ticket yet, since that wouldn't be refundable, and I didn't want to have a ticket I couldn't use!

I talked to Paul about it that night.  He reiterated the reasons he gave the night before.  I understood, and was willing to cancel the reservations.  However, after looking at our available credit, if not cash, he agreed that I could go, considering the great rate on a plane ticket and such.  I wonder if he was swayed by the ‘should I do this?’ post on facebook…

Besides, it's been 10 and 20 years since I've seen Matt and Bobby for Christmas, and 3 and 5 years since I've seen them in person at any time.  And Paul is always willing for me to visit family.  He’s the best!

Sadly, Paul couldn't take time off work.  Neither could Jamie over in Phoenix, though if he could have I would have bought the ticket, even if he could only stay for a few days.  Alas, it would be just me. 

I didn't want to go down on Friday, because that's a lot of time to kill.  Both of the boys work (Matt works for himself), and I don't like to take vacations by myself any longer.  It's boring.  Besides, the longer I was there, the more it would cost me in food.  And there was a storm coming in Saturday/Sunday. 

So we left the house at 4:30 in the morning so I could catch a shuttle bus to the airport.  We arrived in the nick of time.  Just had time to buy the r/t ticket before the bus was loading up.  The plane didn’t' leave until 7 am, but Paul had to be to work at 5:30 and the trip to the bus would just give him time to drop me off, and still get to work on time. 

At the airport, I was cleared for 'expedited' security, meaning I didn't have to remove my shoes or jacket.  I opted for the old-fashioned scanner, so I still had to take them off, since the boots have a steel shank, and the jacket had metal closures. 

The trip was from Boston to Atlanta to NOLA.  We were a bit late arriving in Atlanta, so the 45 minute layover was cut short..  I got to the departing gate as zone 3 (the last zone) was boarding!  No layover!  All flying time!  That's the way to travel!

Matt picked me up at the airport.  He didn't know what a 'cell phone lot' was, and I didn't know there was one, so he parked in the parking garage.  The clearance wasn't quite high enough, and he broke off his spotlights on top of the cab.  At least he wasn't upset about it.  Glad he inherited those genes from me.  The whip antenna was a bit high, too.  On the way out it went whap-whapwhap-whap on the roof of the garage.  That was funny.

The first thing I did after checking in and putting my luggage down in the room was find and remove the plug-in air freshener.  Those things really mess with my allergies!  I think there was one in the bedroom that I didn't find, because at night I would get a slightly sore throat and stuffy nose.  It cleared up when I got up in the morning, so I didn't worry about it too much.

Both Matt and Bobby were working, so Monday I was on my own until evening.  This is not my first Christmas alone in a hotel, so I didn’t feel funny bringing a Christmas tree (about 12" high), a lighted garland, a 100-light string and a large piece of sheer white curtain material.  I set up the tree with the lights under the curtain material.  It's beautiful like that.  Then I decided to locate a grocery store to acquire the makings for Christmas dinner.   The room was equipped with a full kitchen!  The front desk clerk gave me a map, and marked the location of the grocery store.  Away I went! 
I walked several blocks before realizing I was going the wrong way.  Having determined the proper direction,  I thanked God for the boots that were made for walking, because it looked like I’d be doing a lot of that!  On the way to the grocery store, I noticed a little hole-in-the-wall 'essential supplies' store with a deli and stuff on the walls that looked like it has been there since Grover Cleveland was president.  (Don’t ask me how long that has been, but he's way further back than I would remember.)  Since there appeared to be a very eclectic mix of essential supplies, I asked if they had any wrapping paper... There was a partly used roll of green striped paper.  That would work.  I just had the nice lady cut off as much as I thought I might need.  After all, someone else might need it. For ribbon, there was a skein of yarn that looked like someone was knitting something.  I got a few yards of the green/blue/purple variegated yarn.  For tape, the nice lady wrapped several inches of clear packing tape around a tin of Stress Soother that I had in my pocket.  Grand total:  $1.50. 

Back on the streets.  I looked and looked around the new, fully stocked grocery store that I finally located.  On a good day, at home, I hate going grocery shopping.  I have no idea what ever possessed me to think I might do better while on vacation...  I left the store with a platter of 25 tri-angle sandwiches in beef, turkey and ham.  The total would make 6 sandwiches.  Then there was the 4-movie Christmas DVD with 3 movies I hadn't seen.  I watched those a few times each.  And gift tags for the mugs I had made from Shutterfly. 

On the way back to the hotel I went by the 'essential store' again, and stopped to chat and let them know I found the grocery store.  I wanted to buy something else, just because they were such nice people, considering I was a tourist.  In the deli case there were little sandwiches (White Castle hamburger size), but I already had plenty of those.  So I opted for 2 hard boiled eggs and a mandarin orange.  Don't forget the Snickers bar (because I have made it very clear to the doc that I am not going on his diet until after Christmas!)  Total:  $2.00

I was bored, so I walked down to the Quarter.  Bobby was out delivering furniture, so I thought I'd walk to Matt's house.  (He was working on a car in his yard.)  Bobby called me to see what I was up to.  I told him about walking to Matt's.  He was aghast that I would walk that far!  It's 3 miles from Bobby's apartment to Matt's place, and I had already walked about a mile from the hotel to the Quarter, and at least a mile to get to the store.  I figured I'd make it (having a misconception of how many blocks it actually was.)  Bobby got a detailed plan of my route, and a few minutes later Matt and his girlfriend showed up.  Bobby called Matt as soon as he hung up talking to me!  They figured I shouldn't be able to walk that far!  It is about 4 miles from the hotel to Matt’s.   I hung out with Matt and his girlfriend for a little while, then he took me home.

Matt came to get me later that evening, and we met Bobby at a local bbq joint, appropriately called 'The Joint'.  There was a really cool homemade lamp on the wall.  Someone took an old piece of 8" wide board, wired a lamp socket flat to the front of it, covered it with a #10 can that had been punched with a design and cut open to form a half circle

Bobby has a tall bike that he rode over to the restaurant.  It's made of three bmx bike frames welded on top of each other.  The seat comes just under my armpit!  It's  really funny watching him ride down the street with his feet as high as the roof of the cars!  I didn't get a very good look at the bike until the next day.  I took a video – I thought. 

Monday night I watched a movie - or two? - and went to bed.  It had been a long day. 

Tuesday Bobby had the day off.  We were going to hang out, maybe ride a trolley, since neither one of us had.  I sent a text, but got no reply.  In a few minutes I called.  The call went straight to voice mail.  Well, thought I, might as well head down to the Quarter, since even if he does wake up soon he won’t be coming to pick me up. I walked the long way to the French Quarter (did I say he lives there?) and called him when I got close to his apartment.  The call still went straight to voice mail...  I suspected he may have misplaced his phone.  He does that a lot.  I walked down to Greg's Antiques and Other Assorted Junk and asked if anyone had seen him.  I figured if he had lost his phone, he would go there, assuming that I would, too.  No one had seen him, so I left them my name and phone number in the event they saw Bobby and he didn't have my number.  (Who knows phone numbers anymore?  We all just put them in the cell phone and push a button to call.)  Eventually he did call me.  Seems his phone had died in the night.  He came down to where I was hanging out at the market after a bit.  I didn't tell him that I was pretty pooped already.  We went walking around over on the other side of the Mississippi River.  There is a free ferry that take you to Algiers Point.  You really should look up one of those street vieiw maps and ‘walk’ around the neighborhood surrounding the ferry.   It's a nice old neighborhood.  We must have walked dozens of blocks.  By then, I suspect I had walked several miles for the day.  It's good for me, right?? 

Wednesday... what did we do?  Hung out at Matt's I think.  Oh yeah.  Wednesday was Christmas!  It was late before Bobby got up, and he wasn't too impressed that I was walking toward Matt's place again.  I called Matt to see what he was up to for the day.  It was Christmas, after all.  They were supposed to come stay the night on Tuesday, but of course that didn't happen.  Matt came to pick me up at a fairly decent hour.  Slightly after noon.  Bobby met us over there.  During the course of conversation it came out that I collect old suitcases.  Matt has an old wooden
Samsonite case - small, but not a train case; those are tall.  This one is about 11"x14"x6".  He kindly gave it to me after he cleaned out the stuff that was stored in it.  We finally decided we should go find something to eat.  Waffle House for Christmas!  It was good, of course.  I haven't had grits for quite some time.  (And if the doc has his way, I won't have them again!)

After supper we went to the hotel and opened the gifts that were under the tree.  I had intended to find a time to tell the kids about the cancer, but with Matt's girlfriend there it just didn't seem like a good time.  Besides, I really didn't want to tell them at Christmas, anyway.  The mugs had several pictures of me and the kid whose mug it was, along with a 2-line message, complete with gospel.  (I figured that was about the only way they would accept the gospel, if it was on something they didn't feel right in throwing away!  They may not use the mugs, but they will at least likely set it out somewhere to see it every now and again.  Who know how many years it will be before they pay attention to what it says?)  When Bobby opened his and looked at the pictures he, of course, had to comment on the pictures, but then he got pretty quiet after reading it.  Matt never gave a second's indication that he even read what was on there.  (Matt’s says ‘Matt, what can wash away your sin? What can make you whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Let the blood cleanse you from every sin! Love you Mat-chew! Momma’.  Bobby’s is ‘Bobby, did you know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? There is power in the blood of the Lamb of God! Turn to Him today, and live. I love you! Momma’)

Bobby had to work the next day, so I arranged with Matt to go over and hang out while he worked on a car.

After they left, I watched another movie then went to bed.  (After calling Paul, of course.)  [as I write this, it's 3:11 in the morning, and I'm home. I just realized that Paul hasn't seen his stainless steel travel mug with pictures on it.  If I stay up for another 2 hours I can give it to him before he goes to work!] 

When I sent Matt a text message Thursday morning (or maybe after noon) to see when he was going to come get me, he said he'd be there in a bit.  I told him where I was (already down in the Quarter), and waited for a few minutes, then started walking again.  I finally decided to rest at an
architectural salvage yard on the agreed-upon route.  I got tired of waiting yet again, so I sent another text message saying I was not good at standing still, and I'd be walking again.  I got several more blocks when I heard his big old Dodge truck with mud tires humming down the street behind me.  I was only about 4 blocks from his house by then!

The car he was fixing to work on had a nut that wouldn't come loose.  He got out the impact wrench, but that didn't do it.  He tried something else.  At this point I was praying out loud for some help from God.  Nothing.  I suggested he try heating up the nut.  He did.  Nothing.  ‘Okay, since you're sure it isn't a reverse threaded nut, how about you tighten it a bit and then try to loosen it.  Sometimes that will break it loose.’  Nothing.  He finally got out the cheater bar...  a 2" heavy-duty pipe about 6' long!  He wedged a wrecking bar (crowbar) between the lug bolts and put the wrench on the nut.  And bent one of the lug bolts when he pushed down on the cheater bar!  After rearranging the crowbar, he tried again.  This time the nut came loose!  Finally!!  To which I had to say out loud 'Thanks Lord!'  By that time, with an interruption from someone else who brought their car over, it was getting too late to take the engine out (he was replacing the tranny), so he took me back to the hotel.  We said our good-byes then, but he did suggest that if I had time in the morning, to stop for a minute at the place where he was laying carpet. He hoped to be able to leave his truck down by Bobby's, since the job was in the Quarter, and ask Bobby if he could take me to the airport. 

Friday morning I woke up several times, but didn't have a clock in the bedroom.  My throat was sore - the air fragrance had done its bad work on my sinuses... I slept in until 9:20!  Good thing Paul called me and I'd packed the night before, because check-out was at 10! 

I didn't know if Matt had got in touch with Bobby, and the streets down by the hotel are a bit narrow and convoluted, so I started walking down to where Matt and several other guys were laying [800 square yards of blue indoor/outdoor] carpet in a parking lot.  I didn't find the place, so I called Bobby to see if he would be able to take me to the airport.  He wouldn't, since he had to be at work in 45 minutes.  I said I was walking down to see if I could find Matt ("are you walking over there again" he asked with exasperation in his voice; he was relieved to hear I was only going down the stree from the hotel) and I'd be over to his place in a bit with the Christmas decorations for him.  He couldn't remember when he'd had a tree of any kind for Christmas, and the decorations were made by my mother and sister.  He was on his way to work shortly after I arrived.  I thought I got a video of him riding his bike, but I can't tell how to operate the camera even in good light, but with the sun shining on the screen, I messed it up.  At least Bobby was able to me how to find Matt, since I hadn't been able to locate the parking lot on the way to Bobby's apartment.  After a bit of looking, I did find Matt and got to say good-bye again before walking back over to the hotel to pick up my bag and getting a taxi. 

When I went to check in at the airport, the nice check-in machine offered me an upgrade to first class from Dallas to Boston for only $180.  Since I have never flown first class, and I hadn't spent even $200, including the taxi ride, I decided to treat myself.  Going through security, again I was cleared for expedited security. I guess the NSA hasn't been following my email/facebook accounts and haven't branded me a 'terrorist' for my dissenting opinion of our great leader.

I had almost an hour before the plane left, so while waiting at the boarding gate I made a
scarf from part of the curtain material that wouldn't fit in the container I gave Bobby.  Sadly, I sewed the seams in the wrong order and it was short and wide, instead of long and narrow… Ha!  But when the air in the plane was a bit stale, I put the scarf on and had a mini air purifier!  Nothing is ever wasted!

As the boarding began, I decided I'd make a fast trip to the bathroom, since my zone would be the last to board.  When I returned there were only 3 people in line to board.  I reached for my boarding pass... and couldn't find it!!  Please Lord, could it still be on my seat I had left 5 minutes ago!  ---- and it was!  Thank you Lord!

First class is nice, especially since I was in the first row and had even more leg room.  But I wouldn't spend the money again unless we were going to Anchorage or somewhere far away. 

I arrived home at 10 pm, decided against making a potty stop before looking for the shuttle, and arrived out on the platform about 2 minutes before the shuttle arrived.  Thanks Lord!  Had I missed it, that would have been another 45 minute wait...  Paul picked me up, and we headed straight up to NH for the weekend.  On the way, he told me about taking a neighbor somewhere that evening.  They had quite a talk, and Paul told him about my book, giving him a few examples of how God took care of stuff for me - and him.  The guy was interested in reading it, so Paul gave him an old copy. 

If nothing else came of that trip by way of seeds planted in New Orleans, at least the seed was planted back in Boston.  That would make the trip worth it, even if I hadn't been able to see the boys.  Had I not gone, we would have already been on our way up to NH when the neighbor needed the ride. God knows how to time stuff, doesn't he?!

And all the people said ………………….."It’s So Much Fun Watchin’ God!"

Did you check out all the links?  Especially the 'these boots are made for walking'??  

Comments welcome!


  1. What a great story of your trip to NOLA...I am so glad you finally got to see your sons, too. I pray that you will have many more Christmases to spend with Paul and with your sons. Sure hope they enjoy the mugs, too.

    1. Hello Anonymous! I know who you are! (Cuz - and cuz you told me. heheheh)
      Thanks for your comment. It's always nice to see that someone actually READS this stuff!

  2. Hey Nancy. I guess I missed this post in the holiday hustle. That is so great that you were able to visit your sons for Christmas and it sounds like you had a great time. I love it that you brought your own tree~ that is decorating dedication for sure! I know that kids have to grow up and live their own lives, but when they move so far away it really is hard. I try not to think about it.

    1. Hi Kim,
      I've got to pay more attention to the comment section! It's so rare that anyone comments, I don't even think about it.
      Don't you just love the tree! That was fun! I was ginving some thought to buying something down in the Quarter, (or close by, where it's a lot cheaper) when my husband retires in a few years, but a wise friend who just moved to where her kids are made an astute observation: when you can see them all the time, it's not as special... So we'll think of somewhere else to move. But I might try to visit for Christmas there or even Pheonix, where my youngest son lives.


Thanks so much for commenting! Your comments me keep me going! I mean, seriously, if no one comments, how do I know if anyone is actually reading this blog?? :-)