Looking back, we are reminded of some of the famous people who died this year: Leonard Nimoy, Kenny Stabler, Paul Prudhomme, and Allen Toussaint. Our extended family lost a member with the passing of Dean McFall, husband of our cousin Jacqueline McFall. On a more joyful note, our extended family also grew by two with the addition of Mason Ward (son of our nephew Matthew) and Nathan Shearn (husband of our niece Taylor Artel).
Here in Louisiana, we had an exciting election for governor that ended with a surprise: the winner was a Democrat! Our new governor, John Bel Edwards, will take office in early 2016. Our state faces many problems, but we are optimistic that our new governor will work with our still mostly Republican legislature to begin solving them.
Locally, this year saw the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flood caused by multiple levee failures. Those were harrowing days. This year, we were thankful that the hurricanes stayed away from our part of the country. Nevertheless, our thoughts and prayers were with those in other parts of the world who were not so lucky, especially those hit by storms in the Pacific.
Suzanne has been retired from her job with the State of Louisiana for a few years now. She has taken up a second career as a yoga instructor, conducting regular classes at West Jefferson Fitness Center, Premier Fitness, and Ville St. Marie. She also does a lot of racewalking, training for and competing in several races, including the Larry Fuselier 25K (1st female racewalker), the Big Heart + Big Easy 5K (another 1st-place finish), and most recently, the Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon (3rd in her age group). She also maintained strings of appearances in the Louisiana Half Marathon, the Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon, the Jazz Half Marathon, and several Q50 trail races.
Ray practices appellate law at Adams and Reese LLP, where he’s been for over 13 years now. In his spare time, he’s continued to work on improving his guitar playing, alternating between liturgical music and blues. For the umpteenth year in a row, he attended all seven days of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, dragging his 57-year-old body all over the Fair Grounds to see (deep breath here) Steve Winwood, Anders Osborne, the Meters, Aaron Neville, Marcia Ball, Corey Ledet, the Royal Southern Brotherhood, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (more on him below), Rev. John Wilkins, Jarekus Singleton, Shooter Jennings (son of Waylon), Bonerama, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Spencer Bohren, The Who, The Word, Kenny Brown, Carolyn Wonderland, Delbert McClinton, Little Freddie King, John Mooney, the Zion Harmonizers, Vieux Farka Toure, Sonny Landreth, Johnny Sansone, Mia Borders, Wayne Toups, the Tedeschi-Trucks Band (Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks), and many others.
On the running side, Ray had a bit of a setback. Somehow, he damaged the peroneal nerve in his right leg, giving him a foot drop. The orthopedist prescribed a break from running, which Ray did for a little while. Today the nerve damage seems to be mostly healed, so now the struggle is to resume regular running. Despite this setback, Ray still competed in the annual Tchoupitoulas Barathon (6 miles, 6 bars, 6 beers). He also competed (sort of) in the Guinness Challenge at the Shamrock Run (8K plus four 4-0z. Guinnesses along the way) and most recently, the 105th annual Turkey Day 5-miler in New Orleans.
Both of us remain active in Holy Name of Jesus Parish. Each of us serves as a lector at the Sunday 6 p.m. mass. Suzanne is also a eucharistic minister and an usher (oops, hospitality minister), and she has a weekly one-hour shift in the Adoration Chapel. Ray plays guitar with the Sunday 6 p.m. music ensemble.
We share our home with two cats, both of whom were rescued from the street: Jelly Roll (the tabby) and Wednesday (black). They’re both getting up in years. Wednesday likes to lick our faces when she thinks it’s time for her breakfast. Jelly Roll, for her part, prefers to yowl the song of her people at inopportune times such as 3 a.m.
Looking forward to 2016, we’re excited about the upcoming presidential election, which seems to have many people across the country more engaged than usual. We look forward to doing our own little bit for our candidate, Bernie Sanders.
We leave you with this beautiful gospel number by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Peace.