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Editor’s Letter

Kendra Maness

Editor/Publisher Slidell Magazine

Cover Artist

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The pictures shown here were taken at Salmen High School where I am the guest speaker each year for the JAG classes. At the end of my talk, I promised each class of students that, if they took a selfie with me, I would publish the best one in the December edition of the magazine. I’m not a “give a ribbon to each kid” kind of person but, lemme tell you, I loved every single one of these pictures and the kids that are in them. So, here’s all four of them, because they’re ALL the best. JAG stands for Jobs for America’s Graduates. The program is dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk. In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping nearly three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and

In the JAG classes, I share my story with hopes of inspiring some of the students. Actually, the classes are where I first revealed my biggest secret - I am a high school dropout. I tell the students that it is my biggest regret in life, even now, 28 years later. As ashamed as I am about my failure to graduate, I talk openly with the kids about it with hopes that it will deter them from making the same mistake. My story has a happy outcome, but that’s not the case with most who quit school. (As an aside, I think it’s serendipitous that I’m talking about this in the same edition that highlights the story of my former high school principal, Mr. Buccaran, who fought hard to keep me in school. Our educators truly and deeply care.) So much of our children’s success can be attributed to not only the education, but also the confidence they recieve in school. Some of JAG’s core beliefs are: …JAG students and graduates are capable of extraordinary accomplishments once they realize the future relevance of what they are learning and will exceed expectations when challenged and stimulated. …JAG graduates can and will change the world! …JAG is needed more than ever!

www.SlidellMag.com

With a graduation rate of 95%, the JAG program is changing lives. There are more amazing statistics on their website, which I encourage you to visit, www.jag.org.

Kendra Maness - Editor/Publisher

I know the JAG students are reading this, so this is for them --

PO Box 4147 • Slidell, LA 70459

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Devin Reeson - Graphic Designer Graphics@SlidellMag.com Illustrations by: Zac McGovern www.HalMundane.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS EFOP, Charlotte Lowry Collins The Storyteller, John Case Portraits of Slidell, William Blackwell Pet Points, Jeff Perret, DVM Bayou Christmas, Kendra Maness Go Beyond, Rose Marie Sand Ireland, Part II, Donna Bush Cajun Airlift, Part 2 of 12, Donna Bush Crimmi-Mommly Insane, Leslie Gates Focus on Faith, Rev. W.C. Paysse Legal-Ease, Ronda M. Gabb Making Cents of Your Money, Mike Rich Cover: “Christmas Shopping at Neuhauser Bros.” by Victoria Allen

VICTORIA ALLEN Freelance artist and illustrator, Victoria Samantha Allen, is a native of Slidell, Louisiana where she graduated from Northshore High School. Throughout her school years, Victoria was in the St. Tammany Parish Art Program, and studied art at Margaret Garland’s Rembrandt Studio. Following high school, Victoria went on to attend Savannah College of Art and Design, where in 2015, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. She’s traveled in Europe, and worked in New York at Imaginary Forces, producing visual storytelling. A life long artist, Victoria has won recognition for her work in both local and national competitions. Most recently, she has exhibited with the National River Road Show in Baton Rouge, she is a monthly illustrator for New Orleans’ magazine Antigravity, and she has designed the poster for Slidell Little Theater’s production of The Wiz.

REMEMBER, FOR EVERY DOWN, THERE ARE A THOUSAND UPS!

Further examples of her work may be found on her website:

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DECEMBER 2017

Extraordinarily Fascinating “Ordinary” People

Joseph Buccaran by Charlotte Lowry Collins

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” ~ Frederick Buechner

T

his time of year is exciting for me. The holidays mean something different to each of us, based on our beliefs and traditions. One commonality I hope you share is celebrating with family and friends. In Louisiana, these celebrations can stretch from November through February, sometimes into March and April. At my house, Christmas was the pinnacle of these holidays. My Dad and Mom loved all holidays, but especially Christmas. My Grandmother and Aunt did as well. I remember waiting at the window for their arrival. My sister and I would run to help them unload the trunk full of presents, and the car stuffed with their clothes, and home baked sweets. There was a procession as my family lined up to carry inside the bags and brightly colored boxes with elaborate bows. It mattered not that we knew the wrapping paper and bows well, nor that they were the same ones on our packages last year. My family recycled before the term was popular. The reason for the season was not forgotten. We had a wellworn, well-loved, favorite nativity scene my sister and I set up every year. Then there is the one I made from clay. The star of Bethlehem on our tree was always the most elaborate decoration. It took us days of decorating and hauling angels, candles, lights, garland, ribbon, and wreathes from the attic. I thought we went all out. But, if you live in Fountain Estates, you know there is one house that neighbors await for the Christmas story to unfold throughout the month.

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Joseph Carl Buccaran depicts the entire history behind Christmas, with a new chapter of the story represented every three days. At Slidell High School (SHS), where he was Principal for 27 years, Mr. Buccaran was known as “Mr. Christmas.” As Joe looked back, he exclaimed, “I’ve loved Christmas since I was a little kid. The nativity was always an important part. But it has slowly been disappearing, and the holiday is getting so commercialized. I started putting up an outdoor nativity with illuminated figures. Then I took the lights out of them and painted each one, and they look so much better. Now, my nativity has grown to the point that it draws a crowd and stops traffic.” He smiled broadly and added, “I’ve never had a complaint about the onlookers. I think my neighbors are proud. I get lots of compliments,” he beamed. But his crèche is unlike most others, not only in the size and beauty of his handcrafted scenery, but in its progression over time. Every three days, the scene is updated. Joe described, “It starts on December first, with the announcement that the baby would be born to Mary.” He pulled out his photos and showed me the cutout of the angel, Mary, and the scroll he made with the quote from Luke 1:30-31. Next comes Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth. Joe flipped to the photo of the wood creations. “I had a little coping saw in high school, and had a flair for it. So I decided I would cut these out of wood and paint them. I helped paint the scenery for the SHS senior plays, and learned a lot from that also,” he chuckled.


He continued, “When Ceasar announced taxation, Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem for the census. So I created this rendition of Roman soldiers reading from a scroll, with Luke 2:1 on it." He laughed and explained his research, “I combined a Roman head with a Clip Art figure reading from a scroll to get an accurate stance.” From the photo, it looked as if his yard was filling rapidly, and we had not yet gotten to the scene my Nativity depicted. Amazing! Then he pulled out the photo of the journey to Bethlehem. Mary was riding on the donkey, with Joseph leading them. Joe pointed, “See how tired they are, just barely making it.” He flipped to the next photo, “But off in the distance is Bethlehem, lit from spotlights behind the buildings.” Now my readers, you will have to see the artwork for yourself to appreciate the thought that went into this scenario. He exaggerated the concepts of perspective to give a fantastic illusion of spatial depth. You see, Mr. Buccaran was the Technical Director for the Senior Class Musicals. There is also a structure of an empty stable he created from wood and faux stones made from foam. Joe was quick to allow that he learned that trick from the senior play sets also. “I dabbed blue, black and white paint all over to give the texture of stone," he explained. Not only did he add the Temple with stained glass but, in between the historical icons, he created palm trees in graduated heights, and details on all the buildings like windows and doors. It really is mind blowing. Picture the addition of animal figurines, Angels and a star lifted on high by black poles, and you can see we have a dedicated sculptor at work here. But, wait! The scene is not complete yet. He adds garland and bows with red lanterns across the eaves of his house to bring harmony to the whole collection. Last year, Joe added a bridge with the sheperds, and a fence around the animals. Switching photographs, Joe stressed “The lighting requires blocking. See the sand dunes? Those are hiding the spotlights behind them. And I am always collecting more animals.” You can imagine my awe, as I asked how many people helped him. Shrugging nonchalantly, Joe said, “My wife, Janice, and son, Joseph Jr. help, but it is mostly my energy and creations. I am always having to repaint or touchup. My grandchildren, Chase and Taylor, help some when they come after school from Slidell Junior High and SHS. He concluded with, “After Christmas, it all disappears except the empty stable, and the figures of Mary, Joseph, and the baby leaving. With that is the scroll I made from Matthew 2:14 that first-borns will be killed. See the dove? I suspended it over the manger. That too comes down by January seventh.” My next question is one I’m sure you are all asking, 7


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which is where does he put it all? The answer was simple, “It all stores flat in that red barn in my back yard. The figurines fit wherever there is space in the barn. I once thought that barn was big, but storage is getting to be a problem. Then I try to get the yard back in good condition. It is all quite a job though; it's not easy,” he smiled to himself. But obviously, he is passionate about his endeavor. “Our Christmas decorations indoors include a collection of Snow Village pieces. My wife and I started collecting the lit houses from Jack’s Nursery. We got hooked, and kept it up over the years. Now we have over 200 ceramic pieces.” The display stretches all across the sunroom, which runs across the entire back of their home. He even built three-tiered displays in order to fit them in, all the way to the ceiling. It is literally a rendition of an entire tiny town, much like Slidell used to be. Each structure has lights within, giving an all over twinkling effect. They have homes, churches, a train station with trains, passengers and conductors, tractors, barns, silos, cars, trucks, and animals. “We start putting the wiring and shelving up for them right after Halloween, and are always finished by Thanksgiving when the family comes over. I have the original lighthouse that a store-owner tried to buy from me. But Janice and I love it, we love all the pieces we buy.” So I had to know what the family traditions were on Christmas day. Joe complied, “The six of us gather here every year. Everybody gets a stocking. We also started this game of Christmas trivia in order to find gifts. Each person’s correct answer gives one letter to the clue that spells where their respective presents are hidden. These letters are in random order, so there is still a big puzzle to solve once the answers are correct. Then they find a small piece of wrapping paper. Every present is wrapped in a different design of paper, with no names on them. Once you have a sample of your paper, you can find your gift. The barn also stores tons of wrapping paper. Finally, our meal comes after the presents.” Now, keep in mind that my visit was in early October. He had yet to put up the Halloween skeletons, pirate ship, and black lighting outside. That only lasts a couple of days, as it isn’t their favorite holiday, given that it isn’t quite as family-oriented. Family photographs were everywhere, on little shelves built for them, tables, walls, and windowsills. Somehow, they made room for Thanksgiving. Every room had a reminder of family and the current season. I only hope I get invited back to see the interior during Christmas. And I must detour to drive past their house every three days in December to view the Nativity. As I commented on his artistic nature (we are nothing if not collectors), he said humbly, “I don’t consider


myself an artist, I just dabble in it. I do scrap booking the rest of the year. I have thirty scrapbooks I’ve made, and growing! Every family trip means another scrapbook,“ he reminisced. Photographs maintain the threads of his family’s life, as you will discover. While sitting at their table, I was about to travel through the decades, through his family’s history, and to distant shores. I asked about his background, and where he may have gotten his talent. “My parents were Joseph and Josephine Buccaran. I have two sisters. Ann still lives in Empire, a small fishing village, where we grew up. Barbara is exactly two years older than me. I was born November 26, 1941, and was christened the day they bombed Pearl Harbor. My mother was a saint. She joked that she was born on an oyster pile near Dunbar Oyster Packing Plant in 1906. My father died when I was five, and my sisters were seven and eight years old. His business burned in May, and Dad was devastated. He never recouped, and died of a heart attack that October, 1946. Mom didn’t talk about the past, so we never asked much about Dad or their family’s past. We didn’t want to upset her.” “Within a span of two and a half years, she lost her husband (at 46 years old), mother, and a brother. She was just a rock. We never saw her cry, but heard her drop to her knees at night and heard her sobs. The next morning, she acted as if nothing was wrong. Our family continued to celebrate for holidays, no matter how poor we were. If nothing else, we had 'picnics' in our backyard. I learned a lot from her. I learned about faith, and to always keep the peace at all costs, that nothing is worth division. I try to emulate her, but I’m not always successful,” he said with a wry smile. Then added, “By the way, I did learn that her brother was killed in the Coast Guard during the sinking of the Leopold.” He was one of the 171 killed after an acoustic torpedo was fired from the German submarine, U-255. “My mother had two guiding principles, devotion to God, and dedication to her children’s education. This shaped my childhood and influenced my life. I was the first in my family to attend college.” Joe looked off and remembered, “The day Mom died, I had been Principal of Slidell High for three months. Mom called me the night before, but I was touring an Industrial Arts shop in Picayune. I never got the chance to talk, because she died the next morning just after she got up. I know she was proud, and I’m so grateful she knew about my promotion before she died.” I asked about his teaching, and Joe said he knew he wanted to be a Science teacher since the seventh grade. Mrs. Anna Mae Johnson was his Science teacher that year at Buras High School. “Empire

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and Buras were so tiny, that there was only one school,” he explained. Then he laughed and added, “I had the same teacher again in high school, and she was wonderful. I never deviated from that dream. I graduated from Southeastern in 1963. It was just on the heels of Sputnik, so Science teachers were in demand. I had contracts all over Louisiana, even in Florida. St. Tammany Parish had Biology openings, but the only thing I knew about Slidell was the White Kitchen and the train tressle. So, I went to interview with Mr. L.V. McGinty and fell in love with SHS. I took the job on the spot. Having been born and raised in the marshlands of Louisiana, I loved the piney woods and ozone air of the Northshore. Then the space program came to Slidell, and as you know, our city just kept growing, and so did SHS.” As a description, he allowed, "My classes were a sheer joy to me. I remember rehearsing my lessons on weekends in front of empty desks. As an educator, I was both a scholar and an entertainer. I felt my students were excited about class, and many were inspired to go on to careers in Science. Many hours were spent preparing labs for my students." Joe was rewarded for his hard work and his passion toward learning. He was awarded Outstanding Science Teacher in Louisiana, and National Science Foundation Grants. He loved science and education, going back periodically for graduate classes at LSU, SLU, USM, and Our Lady of Holy Cross. Ultimately, even with a family, he obtained his Masters in Education, plus 30 additional graduate hours.

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Joe and Janice celebrated their 50th anniversary in June 2015

When Mr. McGinty retired in June of 1976, Joe applied for the position. He began his principalship of SHS in August, 1976. Joe remembers thinking to himself, “'Gee, I always dreamed of that job.' It was difficult to take over the reins from a man who was so beloved and respected. Within the first three months, the gym and the cafeteria burned to the ground. My wonderful wife and son encouraged me to devote time for SHS. I immersed myself in my new role, and learned over the years. I loved the school, and the teachers were great. I liked the kids, so it was perfect for me. But consider the odds. I was 21 when I started teaching, and became Principal at 34, with no administrative experience. I didn’t sleep for three days after I was named to the position. I wanted to make SHS the best in the nation. The rest is history. By the time I retired, I'd had the privilege of shaking over 10,000 graduates' hands.”

During Joe Buccaran’s tenure as Principal, he established the SHS Arts Center, and had the school auditorium built. He wanted students to love learning as much as he did. On beautiful days, he would announce over the loudspeaker, “Teachers, I encourage you to take your classes outside for experiential learning activities.” Joe created the ‘Mark Contest’ in which classes engaged in fun and school spirited, and even charitable activities, with the goal of leaving the highest mark on SHS. One of his proudest moments was the National Award for Contributions to Educational Theatre. He was greatly instrumental in developing the Career Academy, which became the model for the state. He was awarded Louisiana’s High School Principal of the Year, selected as the principal to represent Louisiana at the National Conference in Captiva, Florida, and Principal-in-Residence from all of Southeast Louisiana at SLU. Mayor Ben Morris declared May 22, 2003 as Joseph C. Buccaran Day in Slidell, and the City Council renamed Tower Drive as “Joe Buccaran Drive.” But Joe showed me his biggest reward - a file box of thank you notes from students, teachers, and parents. So now you know a lot about Mr. Bucarran’s career and hobbies, but how about Joe and Janice’s past? Joe explained, “We met in first grade at Buras High School, and went to school together though twelfth grade.” Janice brought in their first grade picture, and they named off every single classmate together. Smiling at Janice, Joe admitted, “We dated a little, and I always carried a torch for Janice, but I don’t think she realized it. She went off to Soulé Business School,


while I went off to SELU. Then she went to work for Plaquemine’s Parish.” Laughing, Joe recalled, “I bought a 1965 red Mustang convertible and drove it past her house. I always say that’s what won her over. We dated six months and married June 12, 1965. Janice intended go back to college, but after we were engaged, she decided to stay in Nairn (between Port Sulphur and Empire). We loved it there by our families, but I was already teaching at Slidell High. Hurricanes Betsy, Camille, and Katrina wiped it out. Buras High School never reopened after Katrina, and has since been torn down. You know people say they lost everything, but probably not like losing an entire town. Empire lost their zip code.” Once the couple bought their home in Fountain Estates, Joe became active in decorating the front entrance of the neighborhood for every holiday. They won second place in the community decorating contest two years in a row. His photos show that his decorations include New Year, Valentine’s, Mardi Gras, Easter, Father’s Day, 9/11,

Firefighters and Police Appreciation, Think Pink, and every other holiday or commemoration you can think of. As you might guess, the start of each new school year and graduation are also part of his commemorative designs. No surprise there! Joe reflected, “My principalship was a highlight for me, but there were rough patches that went with that - deaths, suicides, students that did not graduate. Of course there were also great moments. A lot has changed. Slidell is so ‘citified’ now. On my last day as Principal, I vowed to go into classrooms, and savor a mental image. I saw that things really hadn’t changed that much in 40 years. Retirement was hard, and really took an adjustment period, but I love it now. I remember I didn’t know what to do on graduation day, as that was such a part of me. My wife took me to the World War II Museum to get away. That was the best way to transition for me." Looking further in the past Joe remarked, “I find it amazing to realize that my father was born 117 years ago. He must have

seen some changes. But I did finally discover my father’s history.” Joe settled back to tell the story. “In 2000, I got a letter postmarked from New York from someone named Fedora Rucconich. In the letter, she explained that she was researching the Buccaran side of her family, and came across my name. She was guessing we were related, and that her Grandmother was my father’s sister. I learned that my father was a Croatian immigrant. Janice and I were delighted, and called her immediately. Two or three weeks later, we went to meet her.” “In 2007, my sisters, Janice, and I planned a trip to Dad’s birthplace, Nerezine Harbor, which is on the island of Losinj, Croatia to see where our ancestors were from. It turned out that my father, Guiseppi (Italian for Joseph) Buccaran, was a ship’s carpenter in the area of Austria, Italy, and Croatia.” I had to stop the conversation to let that fact sink in. No wonder Joe was so inclined toward designing and building with wood. He may not have known it, but carpentry was in his genes! Of

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course there was a scrapbook from that trip! It was such a beautiful area, that I even looked it up on my computer. I learned that there are only about 400 inhabitants, and that the seamen built magnificent homes for their families, overlooking the crystal blue water. After a few moments of our side-tracked reflections, Joe continued, “I learned that 17 members of Fedora’s family escaped communism in a boat in the early 1950’s. The Communist regime had taken all the ignitions out of the boats to prevent desertion. But remember, my family was all boat builders, and knew how to build ignitions. Fedora and her family left for Italy, and ultimately New York. Fedora has since sued the Croatian government and got her land back. It was amazing to see it. It was so old world.” “When he was in his early twenties, Dad was working on a ship that sailed to the port of New Orleans. It was starting the return trip when my father decided to jump ship near Port Sulphur, Louisiana. It seems he found work there and sent money back to Croatia, to his wife and daughter Laura. Sometime after that,

they divorced. I learned the reason was that his wife ran off with a doctor to Africa. After Croatia, we actually went to Verona, Italy and met my halfsister, Laura. Unfortunately, she is now deceased, so I wouldn’t take anything for going on that trip. We just don’t know a lot about her. Then, fast forward in time. Eventually, Guiseppi met my mother, Josephine Roberts, and settled in Empire. And you now know the rest. People’s lives are so complicated,” and Joe paused in thought.

“Once again, I’ve decided I can only be the best I can be with what I have now. What talent I have, God gave me as a gift. It is imperative to me that I use this gift to the best of my ability and to benefit others when I can. I live by the Vince Lombardi philosophy - ‘You have to please the man in the mirror.’ But I am my worst critic. I have to be pleased with whatever project I undertake. There’s no halfway with me.”

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Joe and Janice with their son, Joseph, daughter-in-law, Bridgett, and grandchildren, Chase and Taylor

Looking up from the photos, Joe said, “But these days I just want to be a good caregiver, husband, father and grandfather, because that’s where I’m headed now. At my age I have started thinking about where I want to be. My family is so important to me. We’ve traveled, done cruises, and had a great life. We hit the pavement the moment we land. Both of us are very active. Once the grandkids came along, we focused on them. Despite hardships, my family has truly lived a blessed life in so many ways. We just celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary,” and he showed me the photos.

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Focus on The sacred season of Advent, which begins December 3, 2017, holds two remarkable feasts for Mary, the Mother of Jesus: December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception In 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe In the 16th century, La Virgen De Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. She is depicted with brown skin, dressed like an Aztec princess, an angel and moon at her feet, and rays of sunlight that encircle her. According to tradition, Mary appeared to an indigenous, baptized man named Juan Diego. Read or research the story of the miracle that took place on the hill of Tepeyac, December 12, 1531. Advent is the season of the seed: Christ loved this symbol of the seed. The seed, He said, is the word of God sown in the human heart. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed.”… For nine months, Christ grew in His Mother’s body. By His own will, she formed Him from herself, from the simplicity of her daily life. She had nothing to give Him but herself. He asked for nothing else. Working, eating, sleeping, she was forming His body from hers. From her humanity, she gave Him His humanity… Every beat of her heart gave Him His heart to love with, His heart to be broken by love. All her experience of the world about her was gathered to Christ growing in her…

Faith

Identification with the poor is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself. Mary’s appearance to Juan Diego as one of his people is a powerful reminder that the Blessed Mother and the God who sent her accept all peoples. At Our Lady of Lourdes (another title of Mary) Parish, we seek to do the same. Know you are all invited to join us on Saturday, December 16 for a special celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mass will be at 4:00 p.m. followed by a fiesta in the gym. Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year,

Reverend W. C. Paysse Pastor

“Behold the Handmaid of the Lord” Luke 1:38

~ “ADVENT” by Caryll Houselander (excerpt/public domain)

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Friday 8

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The Sacrament of The Feast of the Reconciliation/Confession Immaculate Conception 5PM - 6:15PM Vigil 6:30PM Mass 6:30PM

A morning of Advent Reflection in Church with Michael Whitehouse, Ph.D The Feast of the Immaculate Conception Mass 8:30AM followed by continental breakfast Vigil Presentation 9:30-11:30AM 8:30AM, 6:30PM

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20 The Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession 5PM - 6:15PM Mass 6:30PM

4th Sunday of Advent Mass 7AM, 8:30AM, 10:30AM Christmas Eve Mass 5:30PM in Gym Children’s Pageant 5:30PM in Church Midnight Mass 12AM (singing of Christmas carols prior)

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Feast of the Holy Family 7AM, 8:30AM, 10:30AM New Years Day Vigil Mass 5:30PM

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Christmas Day Mass 8:30AM 10:30AM

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Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God 8:30AM 10:30AM

Saturday

Calendars are full, parking garages are full, shopping aisles are full! In the midst of all the busyness, make time to be attentive and prayerful this Advent.

Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass 4PM Fiesta in the gym follows!

Saturday Vigil for 4th Sunday of Advent Confessions 3-4PM Mass 4PM

Saturday Vigil Feast of the Holy Family Confessions 3-4PM Mass 4PM

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Over the Edge with Chris Rose Cutting Edge Theater • 8pm The Happy Elf • Slidell Little Theatre • 8pm SAINTS @ FALCONS • 7:25PM Run the 18 16 15 14 Party on the 19th Hole Walk/Run Saturday 12/16 Royal Golf Club • Race at 8am • Party at 8:30am Wreaths Across America Free Small Bus. Counseling Veteran's Cemetery • 11am Slidell Movie Nights • Heritage Park • 7-9pm By Appt • Chamber • 9am-3pm Sweet Willie's Cotton Club Cutting Edge Theater • 8pm Slidell's Bayou Christmas • Dec. 14-23 • Heritage Park • 6-10pm The Nutcracker Slidell Little Theatre • 2pm & 7pm

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The

Storyteller THE CHRISTMAS BOXES

T

hey say it is that time of the year. It shouldn’t be. As I write this story, it is not even Thanksgiving. I think we shortchange Thanksgiving now, and tend to jump ahead toward Christmas. I don’t like that. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, with a lot of family traditions. Still, it matters not how I feel, the Christmas season now starts about the first week in November. I read a Facebook post today from a dear friend. She was beginning to unbox her Christmas decorations. After all, it is November 12. She commented on the worn condition of her decorations but

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somehow, they were sentimental to her. Memories of specific times and events. Memories of relatives living and deceased. She said it was just a tacky bunch of stuff,

mostly homemade, that has long lost its visual luster. Should she leave them in the box and hurry off to Walmart? New strands of lights that don’t go dark if one light goes out could be purchased. Battery-powered bells that ring periodically while hanging on the tree are an option. It’s tempting, but it’s not going to happen. Like me, she has reached an age where we enjoy reliving the good times of the past. It is as if we know there are far too few years left to forge fresh long-term memories. As we unbox our trophies, each has a story. I cannot tell you what secrets she retrieves from her treasure chest, but I know mine. I would bet that hers are similar.


First, there is a special box. If the truth be known, each box is special. This specific one contains two pixies, or elves if you like. They were simple artistic creations of my mother’s. I think she made them in some home demonstration meeting, but I am not sure. They are constructed of wire, Styrofoam, and red and green felt for clothing. Mom used to put them on the piano. There were four of them, and they were the first thing she would unbox to decorate her simple home. Being made of wire, you could bend them, so they could sit on the edge of the piano top or straighten them and stand them by a vase. My brother and I would bend them into vulgar, compromising positions which would distress my deeply Christian mother. I remember to this day her asking, “What if the preacher comes over?” I only have two of them, as she gave one to my sister and one to my brother. They must be sixty years old, but if Christmas comes on December 25, they will be on my piano. Yes, my boys, when younger, also defiled their character.

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Some say Christmas is for children, but it is not. It is for all of us. As I have aged, Christmas has marked milestones in a nostalgic history of the youth of my children as well as the growth that Brenda and I have experienced moving year to year in our slow journey to the present. There is another box. It is not large; it is among the smallest. In this box are simple paper items. They are the decorations the boys made in kindergarten, simple artifacts with a total financial outlay of less than a penny. Oh my, but the artwork. No, they will never be hung in the Louvre or even in the New Orleans Museum of Art; but each Christmas, these masterpieces by the two “little Cases” adorn our tree. They are yellowed now from age – after all, they are 35 years old – but with the help of Scotch Tape, which itself is yellowing, they will probably last as long as I do. Then there are decorations of a different kind. These we did not buy and are out of character for us, but we cherish them and they go on the tree with pride. These are expensive items made of fine china, sterling silver, or crystal. They were given by more affluent relatives whom I suppose wanted to leave a memory piece. It worked. Sadly, over the years, most of the donors have passed on, but we have the pleasure of remembering them and the delight they shared when their keepsakes were given. It may be out of character for Christmas, but just as important are some other ornaments we have collected. We must have a dozen that depict Ole Miss or the Colonel Rebel. Yes, he may not be politically correct, but he has been and will remain on my tree as long as I am there to decorate it. He will not be there for what he

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is accused of representing, but he will be there because he was part of our Christmas decorations long before he was replaced by a black bear. If you are wondering, there is no black bear on my tree. In a separate box, there is another collection. It is the box that contains ornaments given to us by friends, including several given to us by our good friends, Hazel and Frank Harrod. Dear friends for almost 40 years, we have shared much together. They were the test readers on the first Christmas story I ever wrote. Over 20 years ago, I wrote Christmas Eve 1967, Vietnam. We are especially fond of these ornaments, as they entail more than material, they represent friendship and memories. We also have a box that contains beautifully crafted replicas of Slidell’s most prominent city buildings. They were sold by the city and are among our favorite decorations. Many of these buildings were destroyed by Katrina. We don’t collect them anymore, because some state auditor said that it was improper for the city to sell them. Scrooge!

There is also an angel atop our tree. That is not unusual; but ours is, to us. It was a gift from Brenda’s mom, Pomeroy, as she was retiring and closing her gift shop. It was expensive. Probably, that is why it did not sell, but it is where she would want it to be and we always think of her when I climb the ladder to give the angel its prominent position. Pomeroy is no longer with us, but it is as if she is watching over our Yuletide celebration. On the other side of room is a ledge over the fireplace. For years, maybe before we had children, Brenda would place two small boxes there. Why she chose just two, I don’t know. Maybe it was an omen that we would have two children, or maybe they were meant to represent just she and I. Nevertheless, the boxes were not much bigger than an aspirin box. Each year, she would place them in this spot. As the boys got older, they became fascinated with them. One Christmas, as we were unpacking, we opened them to find that the year before, the boys had

each placed a toy soldier inside. We closed the box without disturbing their secret contents. I think the best gift Chris and Alan got that year was opening those boxes to discover the forgotten treasure they had left there. It became a tradition. Each year, the boys would leave some tidbit inside to be discovered the next Christmas; sometimes a toy, sometimes a note. Well, even little boys outgrow their toys. One Christmas, we opened the box, and inside were cigarette butts. The magic was over, I suppose, but each year they make their way to the ledge just to see what may be inside. They are grown now, so you see Christmas is not just for kids. A note to my friend: Tacky is an old southern word that means without beauty or class. Your decorations are in no way tacky. Merry Christmas.

 John S. Case December 2017

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GO BEYOND

Kitchen Disasters

Story by Rose Marie Sand

I can cook – really, I can. I just usually choose not to. Take out boxes in my fridge keep me happier than a pig in slop. But the holidays bring out the Martha Stewart in people, so I’ve been thinking about favorite dishes of the past. The most successful ones that have come from my hands were born of hard won experience. I thought my “kitchen nightmare” stories were unique – followers of Go Beyond may recall a tale about a family Thanksgiving when I mistook red beans for sweet potatoes. If you missed it – make sure you check the contents of a casserole dish before you plop marshmallows on top and place it in the oven. I asked around recently and learned I’m not the only one who has embarrassed themselves in the kitchen. What follows is a smorgasbord of what NOT to do in the kitchen stories. But here at Slidell Magazine, we aim to Keep it Positive, so I’ve also included recipes for dishes that you’ll be proud to serve on your Christmas dinner table. DESSERT I’m going to start with a dessert story: “I was working at a local venue, and a cake was delivered for a wedding. We opened the box, and found ants on top of the cake! There was not time to get a new cake made, and we didn’t want to ruin the wedding. So the cake was frozen, and then the ants picked off, one by one.” 20

She assured me this was a long time ago, and that the cake was delicious. Thanks my friend for making me feel better about my marshmallow story. And I’ll forever check to see if the chocolate specs I see on top of cakes are really chocolate sprinkles. Okay, I’ll present the next stories in the order of a proper holiday meal. Well, not exactly proper dishes, but you know what I mean. Let’s start with an appetizer. APPETIZER Gloria Robson O’Connor wanted to bring the ubiquitous spinach artichoke dish, and she consulted a recipe that included the term “pot liquor.” “I searched the alcohol section in multiple grocery stores, to no avail,” she explains. If you don’t know that term, Google it before you head to your local store for ingredients. BEVERAGE You gotta plan for a beverage to go with the meal, right? When she was a little girl, Amy Hogue decided to take care of that with the kiddie favorite, Kool Aid. Only she used salt instead of sugar. At least she was the first one to take a big gulp of it. “I choked on it! I was too young to think fast enough to spit it out, so I swallowed it. And then like an idiot I tried to wash the taste out of my mouth – with more Kool Aid.”

TURKEY AND SUCH, WITH A BIT EXTRA Our next kitchen disaster story involves those pesky plastic bags of innards that come inside a frozen turkey. It seems it’s not uncommon for kitchen chefs to forget to take them out! Bette Bertucci made this mistake when she cooked her first Thanksgiving dinner: “I was so proud of my dinner, but it was too bad that I forgot to take out the bag with the parts. It wasn’t pretty; we ate everything but the turkey.” Bette realized her mistake when she started to slice the turkey. “There was a foreign object sticking out of it. We probably could have eaten parts of it, but after seeing that the thrill was gone.” Consider the Butterball Hotline, friends.


I also heard stories about main dishes that don’t involve large birds but do involve cooks with extreme determination. Anna Bienvenu explains that she was on the way home from the corner store with one bag containing butcher-paper wrapped liver for dinner and a bottle of pine oil for cleaning. Dropping the bag and breaking the bottle, she arrived home with liver coated in strong smelling pine oil. “My Mom washed off the liver, cooked it, and served it. She was not a good cook,” Anna said. I think Jamie Choina Stewart is a very creative and brave cook, as evidenced in her story. “I tried the Pinterest trick of freezing leftover cilantro in olive oil. Then I was cooking tuna steaks and decided they needed some cilantro. So I went for the cubes, but they were stuck in the tray. I decided to pry them out with a butter knife.”

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One surgery and three months of physical therapy later, the deep cut in the joint of her little finger is all better! A dang butter knife! SIDE DISHES It seems mashed potatoes, at least the instant variety (and I make no judgments about using that product instead of boiling and peeling potatoes) have befuddled a few cooks. Slidell Magazine’s Crimi-Mommly Insane writer, Leslie Gates, reveals that she never measures anything. “And I never learn. I add too much water to instant mashed potatoes, have to add more flakes, making it too dry. If you repeat this about three more times, there ya have it. Ten pounds of mashed potatoes!" If you’re not into copious amounts of mashed potatoes for your carb fix this year, consider that New Orleans favorite, jambalaya. Local transplant Timmie Antoine took up the challenge, because he’d learned to make jambalaya in his Grandmother’s kitchen. “I had moved to Chicago, and was asked to make an authentic Cajun Jambalaya for friends. I couldn’t find smoked sausage anywhere, so I thought Italian sausage would work the same. It didn’t. I threw the whole thing away.” Timmie – you’re talking to an Italian who used to make red gravy with meatballs and Italian sausage for every holiday, including Easter. But to each his own, buddy. I just wish I’d have been there to scoop up the leftovers. MORE DIRECTION DISASTERS

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Here’s my favorite story about reading recipes, and it’s from none other than our illustrious and literal Editor and Publisher, Kendra Maness. Now Kendra, like most of my respondents, couches her story with a comment about being too young to know better. Hmmmm.. “I was 20 years old and living with a roommate who did all the cooking. I’d never cooked in my life! She was going to be home late from work and instructed me to make Hamburger Helper by using the directions on the box to shop for the ingredients, then cook it.”

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So Kendra searched and searched the grocery shelves for the listed items. “I couldn’t find what I needed, so I finally rang the bell to ask the butcher. I pointed to Step 1 on the box, 'This says "brown ground beef" and all you have is the pink kind!'"

ROAST TURKEY WITH BACON STRIPS

So this year when you’re sitting around your Christmas feast and want a fun topic to discuss, ask around about kitchen disaster stories. I heard about family dogs eating soupy pancakes, about setting hot pots on vinyl chairs, and dozens of other inedible, but deliciously funny, things. Debra Prine Mitchell sends this sage advice. “You can never purge the kidneys enough to get the Pee taste out.” I’m gonna trust you on that one, Debra. Sounds like you learned the hard way. I can’t top that one, but please – let’s try! Send your "don’t try this at home” cooking stories to us! I just bet there are barbeque stories out there for our summer edition! SEND YOUR KITCHEN DISASTER STORIES TO editor@slidellmag.com

ROAST TURKEY WITH BACON STRIPS 1 (18-20 pound) fresh turkey 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 medium white onions, peeled and halved 3 medium celery stalks, halved crosswise 10 medium garlic cloves, peeled 6 medium ripe pears 1 pound thinly sliced smoked bacon

FOR THE GRAVY:

PralinE Bacon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick) 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 cups chicken broth, at room temperature 8 fresh sage leaves 5 sprigs fresh thyme 1 bay leaf 1 1/2 cups hard pear cider Wrapping your turkey with bacon both insures a moist bird and infuses it with a smoky bacon flavor! Make sure to defrost a frozen bird completely in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

PRALINE BACON 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 12 thick-cut bacon slices Preheat oven to 400°. Process pecans in a food processor 20 seconds or until finely chopped. Stir together pecans, brown sugar, and pepper. Place bacon in a single layer on a lightly greased wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Press pecan mixture on top of bacon slices, coating well. Bake at 400° for 22 to 25 minutes or until browned and crisp. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 22

TO ROAST THE TURKEY: Heat the oven to 400°F. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove the giblets and neck; reserve the neck. Rinse out the turkey’s cavity and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Trim most of the excess fat and skin from the neck and cavity, and make 3-inch slits through the skin where the legs meet the breast. Rub the turkey all over with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, then season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, and place 1 onion half, 1 celery piece, and 2 garlic cloves inside. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Arrange the neck and remaining onions, celery pieces, and garlic cloves in the pan, and place in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F. Every 45 minutes, baste the bird with the pan drippings.

About 45 minutes before the turkey is finished or when the internal temperature of the inner thigh reaches 145°F, cut the pears in half and remove the cores and stems. Brush each half with the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove the turkey from the oven and overlap bacon strips across the breast and around the legs. If desired, secure the bacon strips about 1 inch from the edges with toothpicks. Arrange the pear halves in the roasting pan and return the turkey to the oven. Roast until the internal temperature of the inner thigh reaches 155°F (to get an accurate reading, make sure the thermometer is not touching bone). Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest uncovered while you prepare the gravy, or for at least 30 minutes before carving. Remove the pears to a serving platter, reserve the onions, and discard any remaining solids in the roasting pan. TO MAKE THE GRAVY: Place 4 reserved pear halves and 1 reserved onion half in a food processor and purée until smooth, about 2 minutes. Reserve. Make a roux by melting the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, add the flour and whisk continuously until well combined. Cook until the flour loses its raw flavor and starts to emit a toasty aroma, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth until smooth, add the herbs and reserved pear purée, and bring to a simmer. Pour off as much grease as you can from the roasting pan without removing any of the pan juices and set the pan over two burners over medium heat. When the pan juices begin to sizzle, slowly pour in the pear cider and cook, scraping up any browned bits with a flat spatula. Add the cider mixture to the gravy and stir to combine. Simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.


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Of Your Money

By Mike Rich, CFP®

Pontchartrain Investment Management

Mosquitoes, money, and the things that keep me awake at night. Mary and I had the good fortune to travel to Italy in October. We spent 11 days touring in the iconic cities of Venice, Florence, and Rome. It was my first trip to Europe, so everything was new to me. It was spectacular, and I can’t wait to go back. Our hotel in Venice was an 800 year-old building situated about 50 steps or so from the Grand Canal. The hotel had quite a bit of character, and our room was comfortable, albeit somewhat plain. What it lacked in luxury, however, was made up for by two large and substantially-made wooden windows that overlooked the narrow, quaint street three floors below our room. On our first night, Mary and I opened the windows wide, got in bed, and waited for what we were certain would be the cooling breezes of the exotic Venetian night. But, we didn’t get cooling breezes.

Mary is blessed with this exasperating DNA that somehow makes her immune to attracting mosquitoes, but I, alas, did not win that lottery. At least five of the little monsters invaded our room, and they had their way with me, keeping me awake for much of the night. I eventually terminated their miserable lives with one of our bathroom towels, and, needless to say, I had to close the windows. So much for exotic Venetian breezes. We found out the next day from our guide that 2017 has been a particularly bad year for mosquitoes in Venice. I can confirm that. We’ve got mosquitoes in Slidell, too, and they sometimes make their way into our bedroom and keep me awake at night. So do a lot of other things, and many of them have to do with money. Shortly before I started work on this article, I read the seventh annual “Boomer Expectations for Retirement 2017” report, published by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).1 Some of the report’s findings have me tossing and turning. Here are just a few of them:

We got mosquitoes.

• Only 54 percent of Boomers have retirement savings.

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Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, member FINRA/SIPC.

• Eighty-two percent of Boomers underestimate the percentage of their income that might be required to pay for healthcare in retirement. • More than seven in 10 Boomers believe they can subsist solely on their Social Security benefit it they run out of money before they run out of time. The report concludes that “Boomers are under-saved, underplanned, have unrealistic expectations, and have an inadequate understanding of the risks they will face in retirement.” It’s probably because I’m in the business of helping people avoid these mistakes, but these and other IRI findings make me lose sleep. So, what to do? If you are one of the 54 percent of Boomers who have no retirement savings at all, there’s probably not much I can do to help. However, if you’ve saved a little for your retirement years and need some guidance about how to make it all work, we probably have a lot to talk about. Here are some of the things we might discuss:

1. DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE SAVED ENOUGH MONEY FOR RETIREMENT? You need to have a good answer to this question. You can find a lot of retirement calculators on the Internet, so that might be a good place to start. Even better, you can work with me to crunch the numbers more accurately. I have a pretty cool


retirement cash flow calculator that you can’t get on the Internet. It lets me do high-level, 30,000 foot planning calculations, detail work, Social Security claiming strategies, stress tests for special spending situations, and a lot more. Don’t guess at this one. It is the lifeblood of your retirement plan, so call me now.

2. DO YOU KNOW HOW TO TURN YEARS OF SAVING INTO INCOME THAT WILL LAST AS LONG AS YOU DO? It might sound obvious, but there is a world of difference between accumulating retirement money and spending it. In retirement, it’s all about three things: cash flow, cash flow, and cash flow. The total amount of your assets actually matters less than the cash flow those assets can bring into your bank account, and for how long. If you would like to discuss possible solutions, meet with me.

3. DO YOU KNOW HOW YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR AND YOUR SPOUSE’S MEDICAL NEEDS AND LONG TERM CARE? If you are a long-time reader of my articles, you know the numbers by now. Medical costs for retirees are rising steadily. Seven out of ten people over the age of 65 are going to need some type of long term care. 2 That means you are likely to be one of them. If you have to pay for it yourself, be prepared for a major shock to your checkbook. In Slidell today, the average nursing home room costs $57,000 a year. Assisted living is $36,000. In-home care is anywhere

Need some PLAY

from $15 to $20 an hour.3 Those costs are dead-set on cleaning out your retirement account, and they’re growing every year. Here is what might help: consider letting an insurance company pay for your care. It’s what they do, and you might end up using a lot less of your money than if you had to pay the bill yourself. Plus, by using a special type of insurance, you can cover the cost of long term care, or get a death benefit for your loved ones, or get your money back if you change your mind down the road.4 If you want to learn more about this part of retirement planning, call me.

4. DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE THAT YOUR MONEY WILL GO TO THE PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT, INSTEAD OF TO SOMEONE ELSE? It’s amazing to us here at Pontchartrain Investment Management how beneficiary designations on IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities, and life insurance policies can get so messed up, with money potentially going to the wrong people. What’s even more amazing is how many folks come through our door who don’t have wills, powers of attorneys, or living wills, or who have those documents, but haven’t had them reviewed in years. Bad beneficiary designations and bad legal documents (or none at all) will likely lead to bad endings for your money. If you are uncertain about your own affairs, let me take a look. The last thing I want for my readers is to have them tossing and turning all night with worries about retirement and other financial concerns. And, especially

DOUGH for the holidays?

now, as we leave Thanksgiving behind us and enter the wonderful season of Christmas and New Year celebrations, life should be fun. However, if I had a nickel for every time someone has said, “After the holidays, I’m going to meet with a financial advisor,” I’d probably have enough money for a lifetime supply of mosquito repellant. So, here’s my offer. If you’ve been thinking that now is the time to get your financial life in order, go ahead and enjoy Christmas with your family and friends. Then, call me in January to make an appointment to meet. In about one hour, we can get a pretty good handle on where you are financially, and what we might need to do to help you work to achieve your retirement goals. Deal? Thanks for reading my articles this past year. It means the world to me. Get a good night’s sleep, don’t let the mosquitoes bite, and Merry Christmas to all! Boomer Expectations for Retirement 2017 - Seventh Annual Update on the Retirement Preparedness of the Boomer Generation, Insured Retirement Institute, 2017.

1

2

http://longtermcare.gov/the-basics/how-much-care-will-you-need/

3

Personal observation, 2017.

4

Benefits are based on the claims paying ability of the insurance company

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10 days 80,000 lights

forever memories

December 14-23 Heritage Park

Story by Kendra Maness. Photos by Carolyn Baringer, Mark Smith and Lisa Crowley


The Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Louisiana's Slidell Club, in a partnership with the City of Slidell, will be holding their annual Slidell Bayou Christmas again this year, December 14-23. This festive holiday tradition began four years ago with the support of local businesses and individuals in our community who all care about the future of Slidell youth. This FREE event is a magical celebration with lights, food, music and more to raise money and awareness for the Boys & Girls Club in Slidell. All proceeds from the event will support programs and activities for youth at the Slidell Club. The money raised from Slidell's Bayou Christmas is critically important, as it is the Slidell Boys & Girls Club's biggest fundraiser of the year. The Slidell Boys & Girls Club is open every day afterschool and all day long during the summer months, providing programs and activities to 325 youth. Club programs consist of Education & Career Exploration; The Arts; Character & Leadership Development; Health & Life Skills; and Sports, Fitness & Recreation for all school aged youth, 6-18.

It costs approximately $1,000 to provide a year of Club programming to one youth. It is through the support of the community that they are able to keep their fees low enough for any youth to participate. The Boys and Girls Club believes that by investing in our youth, they help Club members through their "formula for impact," which is for all youth to achieve academic success, participate in increased civic engagement and live healthy lifestyles. Board member Charnetta Robinson says, "As we progress toward growth and change in our beloved Slidell, I view my involvement in Boys and Girls Club as being a catalyst to that change. Our young people are the future of our city, so investing in them is our responsibility. The opportunity to closely watch them grow and develop is the priceless reward!" Last year, approximately 13,000 individuals visited the park during the Slidell Bayou Christmas event. The event is free to the public, which is extremely important, says board member, Tommy Benasco. "We wanted to create something for the Slidell community that

would give families the opportunity to spend time together during the holidays. It has to be free. We don't want a single person to miss out because they couldn't financially afford to take their whole family." Free admission is made possible through donors and sponsors. Board member Danny Blackburn notes,"This wouldn't be possible without all of the sponsors. And the more we have, the more we can ensure that this event will continue to bring joy to kids and families for years to come!" Sponsorships start at $100 for a barricade with the sponsor's name and logo. If you'd like to see your name in lights, that sponsorship level is $2000 (and looks really really cool). Every one will have a chance to show their support of the Slidell Boys and Girls Clubs, in whatever amount they can, because there will be 10 orange donation buckets thorough out the park, accepting change and, hopefully, lots of dollars too! This year will begin a new Slidell tradition one that will be enjoyed and remembered by everyone! Slidell Women's Civic Club

Boys & Girls Club members and volunteers worked hundreds of hours after school to create the huge LED light displays that will be placed throughout Heritage Park


member and lifetime Slidellian, Gwendolyn Clement, lived in New York City for several months and had occasion to admire the tree in NYC’s Rockefeller Square. She looked for an opportunity to bring a tree to Slidell, on a smaller scale, of course. “It has always been a dream of mine to have a holiday tree for the entire city to share,” Gwendolyn says.

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Through a collaboration among many people, it is becoming a reality and promises to become a wonderful community tradition. Even better, the tree will now be a permanent part of our community landscape because it will be planted rather than just placed on a stand! Once the mayor gave the final go ahead, Gwendolyn began searching for the perfect, full tree. As of this writing, the tree has been found and is making its way to Slidell!

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On December 14 at 6:30pm, a Lighting Ceremony will introduce everyone to the 30’ Leyland Cypress tree. The hole has been dug, and the tree will be planted in time for the event. The lights on this tree will compliment the 80,000 lights that are part of the Slidell Bayou Christmas exhibit. Children’s eyes will hopefully be dazzled for many future generations. The tree is sponsored by Slidell Memorial and Ochsner Northshore Hospitals. There truly will be something for everyone at Slidell's Bayou Christmas. Come hungry as there will be great food and beverage vendors serving a delicious variety to satisfy every appetite. Danny says,"We definitely want people to come have dinner with us! We want to show our support for the food and drink vendors because they are part of our sponsorship groups that keep this event FREE." "There will also be the FREE Kiddie Carnival rides again this year!" Danny says. "The kids love them! I have seen kids stay on them for 30 minutes, just having a blast." Parents and kids alike will enjoy the children’s crafts area for creating take-home gifts that can be hung on the tree for years to come. Also making its return is the Photo Booth. This is always a big hit with everyone, especially because the


pictures are uploaded to the Slidell Bayou Christmas Facebook Page where attendees can retrieve them for their family albums.

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And, of course, there will be Santa! Jolly Saint Nick will be available for FREE photos between 7-9:30 each night. "If you think about it, that alone can really save parents money! I've seen photos with Santa cost $10 or $15 each. Here, it's a beautiful professional photo with a festive and beautiful backdrop, all for free," Danny reminds us.

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Even during all the fun, the spirit of the season will not be forgotten. Slidell's Bayou Christmas will host a toy drive nightly to be distributed to children in need in our community. They ask everyone that can to bring new, unwrapped gifts to give to those less fortunate and share our Christmas blessings.

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In conjunction with the City of Slidell Cultural Arts, there will be the "Slidell Movie Nights" on December 16. The movie starts at 7pm and is a Christmas must-see! We can't print the name here but check out the Facebook page:

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There will be nightly entertainment on the Bayou Stage featuring local civic groups, local church choirs, school choirs, local dance schools and more. On Saturday, December 23rd, Slidell's Bayou Christmas will present a "Citywide Christmas Caroling Event" on the Bayou. Everyone is encouraged to tell their friends and family to participate! This is sure to become a yearly event like the one in New Orleans' Jackson Square.

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So much fun to be had! Come to the free 10 day Bayou Christmas annual fundraiser for Boys and Girls Club and share the joy of the season! For information call Danny Blackburn (985) 640-7112

― Kendra Maness Editor/Publisher Slidell Magazine

Find them on Facebook:

Slidell’s Bayou Christmas

Barbara’s Victorian Closet Mall • Slidell Museum Antiques & Art on First • Carolynn’s Wonderland • Slidell Magazine Aunt Tiques Curiosities & Collectibles • Magnolia House Antiques Mall The Who Dat Shoppe • Terry Lynn’s Café • French Bee Interiors Jeanie’s Southern Traditions • Annette’s House of Decor Guilty Treasures • Third Generation Antiques/Consignments

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Part-Irish Lass Visits the Emerald PART Isle2 – story and photos by Donna Bush

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“For each petal on the shamrock, this brings a wish your way. Good health, good luck and good happiness for today and every day.” – Irish Blessing

Last month, I shared with you our visit to Ireland, where we met up with local Slidell resident and Irishman, Bernie Friel. This month, I’d like to share details about life in Ireland and more of the history.

crops. The country has an extensive cattle industry, as well as dairy farming, sheep, horses and pigs. Crops include potatoes, sugar beets, and different grains, such as wheat, barley and oats.

I neglected to mention in Part 1 that much of our tour took us along the Wild Atlantic Way, a scenic route that explores some of the most amazing beauty of the western coast of Ireland. Although we only hit a few of the highlights, I encourage you to explore much, much more if your time permits.

Remember when we were so lost trying to find our B&B on the Dingle Peninsula, another scenic stop along the Wild Atlantic Way? We finally pulled into Gallarus Oratory to ask for directions. The friendly and helpful receptionist suggested we take the tour. When I admitted I didn’t know anything about the Oratory, he led me out the back door to view the stone structure off in the distance, which looked like an upside-down boat. We decided to take the time for the tour, as we were only 10 minutes away from our lodging. So glad we did. This early Christian worship structure was constructed entirely of dry masonry, which means masonry without mortar. With no roof per se, each layer of unmarked stones overlaps the layer below. The fourfoot thick walls meet at the top where the ridgeline is covered by 9 capstones. The layers of different colored sandstones are tilted downward to allow the rainwater to run off. The interior is almost as dry today as when it was first built some 900-1200 years ago. The structure is oriented east to west, allowing early morning light through the perfectly rounded window in the east gable and evening light through the narrow doorway in the west wall. Where the walls and gables meet, the stones are arranged in a neatly shaped line from base to ridge.

I’m amazed that the island of Ireland, which is no larger than the state of New Jersey, has so much to see. Its climate is relatively temperate compared to Louisiana and much better than New Jersey! They experience the same seasons as us. Although, they may have temps below freezing in the winter and as high as the 90’s in the summer, typically 40’s to mid-60’s are the norm. Dressing in layers offers the best solution, allowing you to add or remove as necessary. Plan to pack raingear as you are sure to need it sometime during your trip. For our visit most of the rain occurred at night or while we were driving and offered a great time to stop for lunch or a cup of tea. One of my favorite weather tips: Ireland can easily experience four seasons in one day!

We observed a pair of Irish Wolfhounds, which stand almost 3 feet tall. In olden times they were used as a war dog to drag men off horseback and out of chariots, and later as a hunting dog for wolves and elk. Today, they make lovely, loyal pets.

In Killarney, along the Wild Atlantic Way, we visited the Muckross Traditional Farms, a recreation of a 1930’s rural town complete with working demonstrations of life as it was. There were workers tending the crops, sheep and horses. The climate and soil quality of Ireland makes it more suitable for livestock farming than raising

We learned about Ogham stones, the oldest record of Irish language used from 4th – 7th centuries AD. It is a writing system of various straight lines and notches running along a central line. There are over 400 examples etched into the edges of upright standing stones and woodcarvings throughout Ireland and western Wales.

Also, on display were a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, carpenters’ workshop, harness maker shop, laborer’s cottage, and various sized farms, with typical farm animals, including 3-day old goats! The blacksmith shop offered demonstrations of the blacksmith making and repairing tools. He was easily the most important craftsman of his day, as he made and repaired numerous farm implements, plus gates, bolts, hasps and hinges.

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The picturesque stonewalls crisscrossing Ireland are similar to the building of the Oratory, since no mortar is used. In order to farm the land, the stones must be removed from the fields. Why not kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and build your fence with the stones, adding to the scenic beauty. During our drive throughout the country, we encountered objects that looked like piles of short wood stacked vertically. We learned this was turf or dried peat, which is still used as a primary fuel source in Ireland. It is found and cut from bogs, a type of wetland where dead plant material accumulates for thousands of years. Today, mostly machines cut it, but long ago it was cut by hand. A spade was used to remove the vegetation from the surface of the bog, followed by cutting out the turf with a slane, which had a metal wing on one side to cut the side wall of the sod. The cut turf is spread out in the sun to dry. When sufficiently dry, they are stood upright and leaned against each other, called “footing.” This allows the wind to blow through the stacks and dry them enough to ignite. I’ve always associated Ireland with sheep farming. When I think of Ireland, I think of lush rolling green hills with little white dots of sheep decorating the countryside. Like a lot of farmers in the United States, farming is more of a tradition handed down from earlier generations and usually carried on in addition to some other job, which pays the bills. We visited Killary Sheep Farm to watch a demonstration of the sheepdog’s incredible herding skill. Fourth generation sheep farmer and owner, Tom, explained that it is the bond built during training between his six-year-old border collie, Roy, and himself that makes the work so successful. Roy will only respond to Tom’s commands, which he is able to hear despite the fierce wind. There are five basic commands: Come by = to left Away = to right Walk up = advance forward Here = come to handler Stop = stop

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A whistle is used to slow him down. Training starts in a small area with only 3-4 sheep to gain experience and then more sheep are added and moved to a larger area. If necessary, multiple sheepdogs can be used and worked as a team. A sheepdog never officially retires. They live to work. Even Tom’s 13-year-old dog still works sheep, but down at the farm, not in the mountains. After our demonstration, Tom gives each of us a baby bottle with milk to feed the orphan lambs. Occasionally, a mother sheep will give birth to a lamb, then wonder off and give birth to a second lamb, promptly forgetting about the first one and never returning to care for it. The sheep farmer must feed it or it will die. We bottle fed eight threeweek-old lambs. They are so darn cute and very hungry!


Travel Tip: Whether due to a decline in wool prices or meat prices, several sheep farmers are turning to tourism to bring in money to keep their farms afloat. Like Tom with Killary Farms, they offer sheep dog tours and lamb feeding, along with bog walks, turf digging and sheep shearing. Many sheep farms are moving in this direction. Some are offering biking trips, hiking trips, and even overnight stays.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from

We now realize that the sheepdog demonstration that we observed was more of a tourist attraction than an actual representation of the skill of sheepdogs. It is obvious that Roy drives the same sheep, the same route 3-4 times a day whenever tourists stop by for the experience. Even knowing that, we really enjoyed watching the action, learning the commands and, of course, bottle feeding baby lambs. However, on my list for our next trip is to find a place to watch a working sheepdog in action. After joining our friend Bernie in his hometown of Donegal, we learned even more about sheep farming, as we visited his sheep farms. Turns out, Donegal is one of the top five counties in Ireland for sheep farming. Bernie’s grandfather was more of a cattle farmer, with just a few Scotch mountain sheep up on the hillside. In those days, sheep weren’t really tended to like they are now. They were left on their own, with the exception of shearing, dipping and dosing once a year. Bernie’s grandfather owned the only bull in the area and provided siring services to neighbors’ cows. As a young boy, Bernie would participate in all of the farm chores – taking care of cattle, chickens, digging potatoes, gathering eggs and working the hay. This even included catching the bull by its nose ring, and leading it down the lane to sire a cow. Even though his first visits were in 1959 and again in 1964, Ireland was stuck in a 19th century way of life. Outhouses were the norm. There was no electricity and no running water. In 1964, his Dad brought running water to the house only for sinks, with no hot water until 1966, when Dad installed toilets and electricity. Farm meals mostly consisted of bread, butter, potatoes and eggs, not a lot of meat. The only meat would be some occasional bacon or cooking a chicken once a month. They grew their own potatoes, cabbage and hay. Bernie's parents had immigrated to Brooklyn, NY when they married, and this is where they raised all of their children, but they remained close to their Irish home and family members. Starting in 2006, Bernie and his Dad would make yearly treks to Ireland to care for his Dad’s sheep. It was on one of these trips that Bernie’s Dad gave him eight ewe’s (female sheep) and told him what mark to use for identification purposes. Double green is Bernie’s mark - green on the rump and green on the right kidney. The mark on the sheep can be thought of like livestock branding. At a glance, a farmer will be able to identify his sheep from a neighbor’s. Some farmers also use a dab of paint to identify those that have been impregnated or dosed. Each farmer creates his own marking system. Some

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sheep look like Technicolor rainbows in a field of green grass! Sheep farming today is more work than it was in Bernie’s grandfather’s day. Fifty ewes, one ram (male sheep), and ten to twelve lambs is a decent size farm for Bernie to maintain. His cousin, Connell, with 5 rams and around 200+ sheep, is the epitome of a traditional serious sheep farmer. He grew up sheep farming and it is obviously in his blood. He has a job at night cleaning the fish factory to make ends meet and allow him to pursue his passion. Connell keeps an eye on Bernie’s sheep when he isn’t in Ireland. Lambing and shearing are complete. Upkeep consists of counting to make sure no sheep are missing or stuck in a fencerow, dosing in September and December, and putting the ram in with the ewes in mid-November. Gestation is five months and by then, Bernie will be back in Ireland wearing his sheep farmer hat! Each farmer has their own unique way of calling their sheep. We pull up to Bernie’s farm where I held a 4-day-old lamb. Bernie blows the horn of the truck and hops out

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yelling, “MEH! MEH! MEH!” Look out! The sheep know what that means and they come running! While driving around County Donegal we ventured through the town of Glencolmcille and found a commemorative 15-foot stone map of Ireland’s 32 counties. Unveiled the prior year, the map contains a stone native to each county and carved by a local stonemason depicting myths, legends and emblems notable to the respective county. Another stop along the Wild Atlantic Way was Bernie’s friend, Cyndi Graham, a hand weaver. Less than 100 yards from Bernie’s brother Danny’s house is Cyndi’s quaint thatched roof white cottage with a red half door. She weaves her merchandise from local yarn using a traditional Donegal Tweed working loom, with flying shuttle. The design of her loom dates back to the early 1700’s and the loom itself dates back to the 1880’s. She creates beautiful scarves, jackets, hats, bags, and shawls in twill, plain or herringbone weaves. Weaving is one of the oldest surviving crafts in the world, dating back approximately 12,000 years. It is a primary method of cloth

manufacturing, where a set of vertical threads (warp) is interlinked with a set of horizontal threads (weft). In 1733, the invention of the flying shuttle really sped up the process. It is a long, narrow canoe-shaped piece of wood, holding the bobbin. It alleviated the need for a weaver to place the weft thread into the warp by hand. Cloth weaving became mechanized during the Industrial Revolution (1760-1815) with the advent of steam and water powered looms. Today, most textiles are mass-produced by automated machines. However, the beauty of a hand-woven product is a work of art, a masterpiece! Our trek along the Wild Atlantic Way, complete with learning about sheep farming, hand weaving, Irish life and much more really highlighted our trip. All of these sparked interest for another trip delving deeper into every aspect of life in Ireland. If you’ve never visited Ireland, I challenge you to do so and if you have, please share your highlights with me for my next trip! You can contact me at donna.bush@yahoo.com. “May you have all the happiness and luck that life can hold--And at the end of all your rainbows may your find a pot of gold.”


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“Your Estate Matters” By Ronda M. Gabb, NP, JD, RFC

Legal-ease

POWERS OF ATTORNEY FOR EVERYONE In my opinion, I believe that everyone needs a Power of Attorney (POA), and that even includes our children! In Louisiana, Powers of Attorney are legally called “Mandates” or “Procurations” but I always include the words “Power of Attorney” on our documents too. Can you imagine someone reading a “Louisiana Mandate” in New York City and wondering what in the heck that means? While I may catch some grief from my “old school” colleagues by including that term too, my main objective is making sure that the document you paid me to draft is one that will be readily accepted by everyone, even those that are out-of-state. And guess what? Since many of our assets have legal headquarters outside of Louisiana (e.g. insurance companies, 401k administrators…), these documents will be scrutinized by out-of-state attorneys. A POA allows someone of your own choosing to be able to transact affairs on your behalf, if you are no longer able to, without needing to go through the Court to do so. A big misconception is that spouses may simply transact business on behalf of each other simply because they are married. While accounts that are titled as an “or” would allow either party to act, very few assets are actually allowed to be titled that way; usually just our bank accounts or U.S. Savings Bonds. An “or” in the title is never allowed on our homes, cars, brokerage accounts, 401ks, or IRAs. If the account holder was no longer able to transact their own affairs, and they did not have a valid POA in place, then a Court proceeding called an “Interdiction” (Guardianship) would need to be initiated. This procedure is expensive (attorneys are needed on both sides), humiliating, and time-consuming. The Court must approve who the Curator (Guardian) will be, annual accountings are necessary, and there are many duties that the Curator is just not allowed to do, in contrast to a well-drafted POA which would be effective immediately. We strongly advise against POAs that are effective only upon your incapacity, as the procedures for determining incapacity are extremely problematic. Our POAs have special provisions to allow possible implementation of compliant Medicaid and/or VA Aid & Attendance Pension planning if the Principal would need to go into a nursing home. It goes without saying that implementing a POA now for hundreds saves literally thousands later. But a POA for our kids, you ask? Yes! Once our children turn 18 years old, they are now legal consenting adults, even if they are still in high school. Their doctors, schools (yes, even though we are paying their tuition), banks, credit unions, etc. cannot speak to us anymore on their behalf. There are stiff fines and penalties for them if they

do. This is why we recommend that everyone age 18 and older have a POA. The children’s POA will usually have health care provisions in the same document and the Agents are usually Dad or Mom first. For some of our clients, we recommend a separate financial POA and a separate Health Care POA. In many cases, there are different Agents for each. For example, one child may be the better moneymanager (even if they live out-of-state), while another child is the better caretaker and lives close by. And lastly, if you have minor children, you should have a “Provisional Custody by Mandate” in place for them. This legal document allows you to name someone to be able to make medical, surgical and educational decisions for your minor children if you are unable to do so. How many of us leave our kids with our friends or parents when we go on vacation never once thinking that if our child was injured, these caretakers do not have the legal authority to speak for our kids when it comes to their health care? It is not uncommon to have several of these in place for all the grandparents and caregivers. Unfortunately, according to our law, the Provisional Custody must be updated annually. We generally recommend picking the child’s birthday so that it is easier to remember to update it once a year.

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by Jeff Perret, DVM

Party Animals You’ve invited a slew of friends over for the big game, charred some tender cow flesh and onions on the grill, filled the cooler with ice and Abita Beer (Turbodog for me, thanks!), and laid out corn chips, salsa, nuts and cheese doodles aplenty. It’s the third quarter. The Saints are comfortably ahead. And then you look over at Mr. Big, your geriatric Chihuahua, and notice that he’s…not looking so well. He’s having trouble breathing and he’s coughing a bit. A couple of months ago, when Mr. Big was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs) due to a bad valve in his heart, your veterinarian told you to watch for breathing problems. At that time, Mr. Big was prescribed medications to help keep that fluid under control. You’ve been giving them to him as directed, and he’s done quite well since. But now it looks like you’re going to be watching the last

quarter of the Saints game from the waiting room at the local Veterinary Emergency clinic. Why now? Well, Mr. Big is rather sociable, and has spent the afternoon in the laps of your guests, nibbling corn chips and pieces of steak, picking up the occasional dropped cheese doodle, and giving himself a massive salt hit in the process. With his heart problems, this sudden increase in salt has pushed him right over the edge into heart failure again. He was fine up to now because his diet was consistent: his salt intake didn’t vary from day to day. But this party was his undoing. He’s going to require aggressive treatment, possibly hospitalization, to get stabilized. Emergency room veterinarians see these dogs all the time. They often coincide with events such as Thanksgiving (“Thanks for giving me heart failure, Dad!”), Christmas,

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or the Super Bowl, because many owners are unaware of the dangers of what we consider to be regular foods. Anything salty – deli meats, cheeses, chips and snacks – is essentially poisonous to a dog in heart failure. Meanwhile, at your neighbor’s house, Jackie Chan, the Jack Russell Terrier, has been standing guard by the grill, catching pieces that have fallen in the process, and staring lovingly into the eyes of each guest coming over for a burger. His big brown eyes and longing gaze are irresistible, so much so that guests are giving him bitesized pieces of burger, grilled onions, and the occasional hot dog. Clearly, he’s not going to need dinner tonight! Bloated, but happy, he climbs onto his dog bed that evening and sleeps it off. But a few days later, he’s just not doing well. He’s a little bit short of breath and


sluggish, and his gums are pale. It’s off to the vet’s office with him, and the diagnosis is made with a couple of blood tests – he has hemolytic anemia, a condition where his red blood cells are being destroyed within the blood stream. What could have caused this? Does he have cancer? An infection? Was he poisoned?

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In fact, he was poisoned, but not with a cleaning chemical or a pesticide. He had onions! You and I can eat onions with impunity, save for some bad breath. But as little as half an onion (cooked or raw) can cause a life-threatening hemolytic anemia in dogs. Jackie Chan’s going to require a blood transfusion until he can regenerate his own red cells, all because of a bloomin’ onion! Finally, Hermione, a 2-year-old Labrador, really enjoys a party - any party. She’s not getting into onions, and she doesn’t have heart disease. She just feels she can eat anything (after all, she’s a Labrador, and therefore she lives by the rule that, “it’s food until proven otherwise”). And eat she does! Bits of steak. Pieces of hotdog. Chips. Salsa. Cheese cubes. Sausages, many wrapped in delicious, life-affirming bacon. It all goes down the gullet. Sometimes, she even stops to chew it a bit. Her stomach swells visibly with all the stuff she’s getting. That night, the vomiting starts. At first, her owner thinks it’s just a case of “overeating.” But she’s not looking so good in the morning, and the vomiting has continued. She walks as if she’s on hot coals. It’s clearly serious when this Labrador turns away from her breakfast. At the vet’s office, where Mr. Big and Jack are being treated for their indiscretions, it’s determined that she has pancreatitis. That’s inflammation of the pancreas (a digestive gland) and it can be nasty. (Despite their eating habits, Labradors don't tend to get pancreatitis as often as smaller dogs, such as Schnauzers). She’s going to require hospitalization, IV fluids, pain medications, antibiotics, and other supportive care until her pancreas settles down from the insult it has suffered – and that takes time. Any sudden change in diet, especially involving fatty or spicy foods, can lead to pancreatitis, and sometimes it seems to come on for no good reason at all. Several days later, Hermione makes a full, but dangerous and expensive recovery. From now on, though, whenever there’s a party, she’s going to be locked in the bedroom, or wearing a canine equivalent of a Hannibal Lecter face-mask, so that she can’t partake of the party food. We love our pets and we love food, especially when the holidays or special occasions arise. Just don’t combine the two! There’s a reason it says “dog food” on the bag: THAT’S WHAT THE DOG SHOULD EAT! You may have crazy barbecue skills that are legendary in the neighborhood, but save the tasty browned bits for the neighbors and keep the pets on a steady diet of pet food. Dogs can and should survive just fine eating the same thing day in and day out, no matter what those big brown eyes seem to be saying. On behalf of Mr. Big’s heart, Jack’s red blood cells, and Hermione’s pancreas, thanks for feeding them only the stuff they should eat. Save the human party food for yourself and your friends. Otherwise, you may be killing your pets with kindness.

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Christmas Prep Preparing for Christmas just isn’t what it used to be. What I’m sayin’ is, compared to when I was a kid, Christmas preparation feels like A LOT of work and carries a ridiculous amount of stress. I just can’t seem to duplicate that same carefree feeling from my childhood, no matter how hard I try. From what I remember, there was only one blissful, organized day of holiday preparation in the Thomas household. My Dad, with Coors Light and cee-gar in

hand, along with my brother, sneaking sips of said beer, were outside, listening to country music, while hanging rows of lights down the eaves of our house. Inside, my Mom, sister and I would unpack the Christmas boxes that Mom had neatly labeled. Dad had probably taken them down from the hallway attic before we even woke up that morning. Putting the tree up took some time as we would pull out and sort all the plastic branches (according to color coded tips), then stick them into the matching colored

holes on the metal tree trunk, one by one. (WE, usually meaning ME, because no one liked that job, but for some reason, I enjoyed it.) After spreading the branches of the tree to Mom’s liking, we would hang the ornaments and reminisce on them, as traditional Christmas records played from the den stereo. Once we completed the tree by throwing that slightly annoying silver tassel on the tips of the branches, we would then unpack the Christmas village and Nativity box, placing them on their designated tables. Mom enjoyed watching it

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all unfold. I sensed the pride she carried, as our living room was transformed into a wonderland. Everything had a place and all of us, no matter what we were doing, had smiles on our faces.

Light in the world to get them through it.

It was relaxing and enjoyable to spend that time together. Comforting, to glance out of the living room window every once in awhile and watch Dad put the lights up, cigar hanging out of his mouth. If I was lucky, he would give a goofy grin when he caught my eye. I looked forward to those glances. And it was OK that it took him what seemed like all day to hang that single string of lights on our small house, avoiding what he thought might have been total chaos inside… because, I know Dad enjoyed it, and my parents enjoyed watching our faces light up at night, when the house did. Everyone had a job that day, and on that one special day, life never felt happier.

Second, my husband and I must flip a coin for who is going to venture up the rickety attic stairs. The whole bottom half of the fold out structure kinda just dangles. Going up the stairs is like playing Russian Rung Roulette. Every year just adds another round to the chamber.

If my parents were to sit in the Gates’ household during decoration day, let’s just say, there would NOT be enough Coors

For starters, our attic door is in our teenage son’s room… a subject that could have a book of its own, most likely in the form of an OSHA manual.

If I lose the toss and it happens to be the year the stairs give way, I have already chosen to see the positive… a few days rest in a hospital bed and three meals a day that I don’t have to prepare. Keeping my fingers crossed. There was one year, when the kids were little, and Christmas decoration day had come. My husband lost the toss and had to make the treacherous climb. He came back down alive, thank you Jesus, but not without consequence beforehand. I was in

the living room at the time, technically, underneath him, making room for the tree. When lo and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared… wait, no, wrong story… BUT, do you know what did appear? My husband’s leg. Hanging down through the ceiling above me. After taking a two-day break to get the ceiling patched, we attempted the preparation again. Now, our Christmas boxes are confusing. For example, one of them says, “Army Clothes” (scratched off), underneath that, “baby bedding” (scratched off), underneath that, “X-mas stuff,” with no clear indication of what X-MAS STUFF is actually in there. Half of the boxes immediately go right back up the death steps, adding another unnecessary round to the roulette chamber of fun. Somewhere in the middle of all this, and with a determined, yet, slightly pained look on my face, I yelled out, “Oooh! We forgot to turn the Christmas music on!” 41


Thinking, “Well yeah, that must have been the problem all along.” But, because there were no record players, or any kind of players for that matter, I spent at least 30 frustrated minutes looking for the music channels within the thousands of TV channels on our recently switched out cable company. That is, after searching for the remote. When the Christmas tree box came down, I cursed myself, AGAIN, remembering, I bought the SAME DAMN color coated tree I had in my own childhood, in hopes that the nostalgic feeling within myself would somehow radiate into our own children. Yet, the kids had run like hell, nowhere to be seen. I’m crying, sorting through the branches, alone, and singing whatever Christmas carols I could think of since our complicated TV was stuck on the Cartoon Channel, muted, because I gave up around channel 2000. My husband, Brian, had run to the store for ANOTHER set of outside lights, because he has a problem greater than Clark Griswold, and I sat there throwing myself a little pity party.

It’s one thing to feel you have failed, it’s another thing to feel you have failed on what you have always known as the happiest day of the year. Depressing, right? Sorry, I’m not trying to be. I guess what I’m wanting to say is this… TIME TELLS A DIFFERENT STORY. As the years have passed, and I’ve held on to my own happy childhood memories and traditions, I see that our kids have had their own, all along. Like, when we open the box that says “Halloween” and they see ALL those Christmas ornaments they have made over the years, then start sorting them into their own piles, talking about each one as they hang them on the tree. When they were outside, helping their Dad untangle the 20th strand of lights, running around and wrestling in the yard, singing Christmas carols of their own, while I sat in the house, sorting through the branches, alone, wishing they felt the joy I did as a child, not realizing, they probably were.

When they haven’t wanted to help set up the Nativity, yet, they point out baby Jesus, wonder when Mary and a Wise Man got together because Joseph is in the back with a donkey, or, just pause to look at it, happy that it is there, even if on a different table every year, from out of a box labeled “Mardi Gras beads.” Or, when the sun goes down after Brian has spent the whole day hanging all those lights, and the five of us walk out to see his final work of art lighting up the neighborhood. Literally. LIGHTING. UP. THE. NEIGHBORHOOD. It’s as if I’m being transported back in time. Watching him look back at our kids through a window. Seeing the happiness in his children’s eyes. An approving look. And in return, giving them a goofy grin. The more I live life, the more I see that the happy stuff isn’t always necessarily where I think it will be, BUT, it is always there. Usually, in the smallest of moments. And no matter how much time has passed, so are the memories that they leave behind. Merry first Christmas in Heaven, Dad.

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Cajuns to the Rescue: Cajun Airlift “A mile of highway would take you just one mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.” ~ Author unknown

Story and photos by Donna Bush

Editor's Note: This month, we continue our 12-part series covering the amazing work being done by Louisiana heroes in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes and natural disasters. Slidell Magazine's award-winning writer and photographer, Donna Bush, has spent months travelling with multiple Louisiana-based organizations and volunteers, documenting their missions in the affected areas and those whose lives they've impacted. We share an unfortunate kinship with these survivors. We know all too well that disaster recovery is a slow and painful process. We are proud to showcase the volunteer efforts of our fellow Louisianians.

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W

e’ve all seen the Cajun Navy boats as they rescued those trapped and flooded by the 2017 storms. But, did you know relief was coming from the air as well? Yes! Cajun Airlift began August 31, 2017 when a group of aviation enthusiasts in the New Orleans area banded together to lend their area of expertise to those needing assistance. The group provided aid during the 2016 historic flooding in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas, but didn’t officially form until Hurricane Harvey took aim at southeast Texas. Chanse Watson, Asst. Director of Lakefront Airport, Lakefront Air Traffic Controllers Christina Messina and Kristina Williams, and Pilots Owen Bordelon and Ankur Hukmani decided they must do something to help their neighbors in Texas. They put an email call out to the aviation community the night of August 28th and, by morning, they had 30 aircraft volunteers!

Their mission – “Get help to those that need it in the most efficient way possible.” The aviation community is a close-knit family, bound together by their love of flight. What might be considered a job to others is a passion to them. What more rewarding way to share your passion than by helping others? After Hurricane Harvey, a United Airlines Captain who flew his work route from Argentina to Houston, headed home, changed clothes, took off in his personal plane, flew to Lakefront Airport for supplies and landed them in West Houston. Pilots are a unique breed and what better than a Cajun pilot – an angel in the sky. No plane is too small or too big. The Civil Air Patrol even contributed their large C-47 cargo plane, ‘Bluebonnet Belle,’ to the efforts. There is always a need, a way to help. As Chanse shared, “If your plane can only carry one bottle of water, then


A CONTINUING COVERAGE SERIES FROM DONNA BUSH PART 2 OF 12 get in it and fly that one bottle of water to someone who needs it and the reward will be yours. Flying is great, but flying for a purpose is better.” Even though the organization has only recently formed, they have created some important ground rules. Once a demand (need) comes in, it must be vetted (verified legitimate), unless it comes from one of their trusted partners. Vetting is a huge part of their process. After all, they could be sending a pilot and copilot on a 6-8 hour flight into an unknown situation. If available, verification is performed by local support partners on the ground in the area. If not available, then Chanse will verify via phone conversations. After vetting is complete, they confirm they can meet the need. If, for example, the demand is for cleaning supplies and enough is available in current inventory, then they proceed to the next task. If not, a call is put out to their nonprofit partners for donations and delivery to a Cajun Airlift supply location. While the supply effort continues, an aircraft search begins. Once supplies, aircraft, and pilot are available, flight logistics are shared. Flight logistics include the name, location and contact information of destination, plus aircraft tail number, plane description, pilot name and contact information, precise time, date and airport departure, and tentative arrival time. Most efforts go to a church group or shelter for distribution. An aircraft is never dispatched without having all of the pertinent information shared between destination and pilot/copilot. As Chanse told me, “We don’t pride ourselves on being first on the scene. We need to vet the need first. That’s why things started slowly with Puerto Rico. If

Cajun Airlift Partners

we send an aircraft down there, we need to know that aviation fuel is available, that the airport is open to receive them. Where are the supplies going? Is the government or military commandeering them? Are supplies really getting to the people who need them? We want those donating time and money for supplies to know where their efforts are going.” I caught up with Owen Bordelon, pilot and founding member of Cajun Airlift. Owen isn’t new to flying for a cause. In the past and currently, he flies animal rescues all around the south. Stay tuned for a future story about animals in the air. Per Owen, “It was an unusual situation, flying so quickly after a major hurricane into a vastly devastated area. There were Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight restrictions. Cajun Airlift was allowed to fly through these restrictions when general aviation was not. Coordination with the Baton Rouge FAA office gave us permission to file our flight plans with a notation ‘Cajun Airlift – Hurricane Relief Effort.’ Air traffic controllers typically get a bad rap. I want

Baton Rouge Emergency Aid Coalition (BREAC) was created by a group of Baton Rouge women with a passion for service and helping others. It was created with a broad mission to serve the community after the devastating flooding of south Louisiana in August 2016. The organization is comprised of physicians, attorneys, therapists, business owners, but most importantly, mothers. Physician Relief Network (PRN) was founded by doctors to provide a private group for physicians to reach out to other physicians in unique situations such as Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria and California wildfires have presented. Medical Disaster Response Network (MDRN) is open to everyone, whether medical field, pilot, or an individual wishing to assist. LSU Hispanic Student Cultural Society (LSU HSCS) is partnering with Cajun Airlift, BREAC, and PRN to help fellow Puerto Rican citizens with emergency supplies, food and medical needs. Team Gleason recently partnered with Cajun Airlift, BREAC and physicians in Puerto Rico to provide support to ALS communities in Puerto Rico. Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Mommy Pilots is a community of women pilots who support mom pilots and Cajun Airlift. Visit them on Facebook: CajunAirlift 45


to give a shout out to all of the ones I worked with. I would call Lakefront Tower for permission to taxi to the east side where the container was housed and they would ask if I was loading hurricane supplies. When I answered ‘yes,’ they said they would send a couple of people down to help on their break.” 370 GATEWAY DR, SUITE A SLIDELL clarkhaner@allstate.com

Several weeks after Harvey finally left Texas, many areas remained isolated and cut off from land based assistance. Owen, like other pilots, loaded supplies from the Lakefront container into his Piper Warrior, packing from floor to ceiling in the baggage compartment, back seats and all the way up to the pilot and copilot seats. They quickly discovered it was easier to remove items from boxes and pack them directly into the plane. Owen shared a truly exceptional experience, “When President Trump visited Texas after Hurricane Harvey, the FAA imposed President of The United States Temporary Flight Restrictions (POTUS TFR). Typically, if you fly into one of these, you are escorted to the ground by two US Air Force fighter jets and you can kiss your pilot’s license and your ass goodbye. In a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, I was cleared to fly in a POTUS TFR! On my flight computer was a big red circle that said ‘VIP TFR,’ with my plane inside the circle! Yeah! I took a screenshot. And our radios were on the same frequency as Air Force One!”

Merry

CHRISTMAS! from Councilman Bill and Laura Borchert

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It’s not all glory though. In the very beginning there were issues with airports. Some were closed due to no electricity, runways under water, control towers inoperable, and various other reasons. It was critical to get the supplies into these hard-hit areas. Owen flew into Lake Jackson on the southwest side of Houston to find that the airport’s weather station was out, no potable water, no operational bathrooms and empty vending machines. He was able to get fuel, but that was not the case with every airport. Some would have fuel but no electricity to pump it. Many of these pilots are footing the bill personally for aviation fuel, which is not cheap. You can figure on average a gallon of aviation fuel will be about twice what we are paying for a gallon of automobile fuel. Occasionally, they receive monetary donations for fuel. Cajun Airlift members share a passion among aviation enthusiasts who want to give to those in need in their own unique way. They have given their time, their money and their hearts to help. From one bottle of water to a plane packed floor to ceiling, they’ve taken to the skies to provide relief. They are Cajun Angels in the Sky!


A statewide celebration of Louisiana’s cultural treasures. Art exhibitions • Art markets • Book signings • Literary readings • Concerts • Live theatre • Museums Dance exhibitions • Art workshops • Healing arts • Local film screenings • Culinary adventures Including St. Tammany’s Holiday Festival of Arts and An Evening with St. Tammany Greats - Covington WineArt Wednesday, Winter on the Water Festival and Christmas Past - Mandeville Christmas in Olde Towne Slidell, Spirit of the Season and Christmas Under the Stars - Slidell

See complete event schedules at www.ShopLocalArtistsWeek.com

These events were made possible with support from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. Supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. St. Tammany’s Holiday Festival of Arts is supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts as administered by St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs.

A Northshore Cultural Economy Coalition initiative • 2017 LA Senate Concurrent Resolution 20

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Portraits of Slidell Story and Photos by William Blackwell

SALMEN BRICK YARD In the early 1880’s, Fritz Salmen started a tiny two-man brick making business that was to later grow into a multimillion dollar operation that employed hundreds of Slidell residents during the first quarter of the 20th century. Lumber and shipbuilding operations were later added to Salmen’s list of business enterprises that occupied the land bordered by the railroad tracks, Bayou Liberty Road and, on its western side, by Bayou Bonfouca.

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Today, only one complete structure remains that was actually part of the brick making process from the Salmen era. We can see it from Front Street near Cleveland Avenue. That very large building was once used as a cover over the continuous oil burning kilns that sat side by side facing Front Street, glowing embers clearly visible. Back in the day, it was known as the largest structure of its kind in the industry. The building that

stands today is the result of numerous renovations completed by subsequent owners, including Textron. Probably the most interesting relics of that bygone era are the ruins of Fritz Salmen’s “pressed brick plant,” which are located on the western end of Cleveland Avenue and accessed from Bayou Liberty Road. What is left of this building appears to be just an old vine covered brick wall, approximately 15 feet long, that sits a few feet from the


street. Viewed from a side angle, the wall reveals a thickness of maybe six feet or more. A former owner of the property confirms the structure to have been the pressed brick plant based on an old archeological study from CLECO, who apparently now owns the property. Although it’s not clear why the one wall remains in position today, what can be appreciated is the beauty in the antiquity of those old bricks and the subtle reminder of Slidell’s industrial past. It seems not unlike the sugar mill ruins in Fontainebleau State Park with the picket fence and lush vegetation that sets it off so perfectly. The difference, however, is that these ruins are on private property and only ours to view and appreciate from street-side and, of course, from modern photographs.

William Blackwell is a native of Slidell. "Once I began studying photography, it seemed to me that some of those wonderful buildings in Olde Towne should be photographed to capture and preserve their memory, beauty, and antiquity for future generations." See his Slidell shots and more on his facebook page: FieldofViewPhotography

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Slidell Magazine was EVERYWHERE this month! Here are just a few of our adventures!

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Slidell Magazine - 89th Edition  
Slidell Magazine - 89th Edition  
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