MERRY CHRISTMAS!  From our family to yours . . .

We would like to wish our many family members and friends a blessed and happy holiday, and hope you enjoy our 2003 Photo gallery as much as we enjoyed the times we shared with you.


 We traveled to Tennessee for a White Christmas (well, at least for a little while) with James' family in 2002.  It's always such a fun, laughter filled time of the year for us on "the hill", especially now since James' sisters are next door neighbors.  New Years Eve was exciting as always with fireworks (and fire water) at the Bienvenu's.  New Years' Day was a quite day spent with our Mom's and our friends at the Scott's, where Kay cooked her traditional New Years' Day dinner with all those foods to bring luck, love and good fortune throughout the year.

Krewe du Vieux went Off the Record in 2003, and the Drips & Discharges "Passed Judgment".  Eileen is still Royalty Captain of the parade, but spent her 10th (and final) year working side by side with Captain/Sister Amelie as Secretary/Treasurer of the Drips & Discharges.  She was once again privileged to work with a New Orleans Legend, "Uncle" Lionel Batiste, Grand Marshall 'estraordinaire', who not only marches to his own drummer - but IS his own drummer, reigning as this year's King.  The rain didn't dampen anyone's spirits and the parade was a huge success.  Our 17th year, we capped out with 900 members, making us one of the largest Mardi Gras organizations in the City.

Mardi Gras was a series of parties, parades and celebrations. Our Tennessee family came down for the festivities, making it in just in time for the Krewe of Wrecks boat parade on the Tickfaw River.  This year, baby Blade got to experience his first Mardi Gras, with cousin Jacob, showing him the ropes.  And, our little Lucy learned that she's not the only small, mean critter with an attitude! Mardi Gras day, we talked our River friends, Dennis, Al & Judy into coming all the way to the city to spend the day with us.  Our morning romp through the French Quarter has become an annual tradition, right up there with the girls' "shots at Mugzy's" when the parades are over.

The Easter camping trip moved to Flint Creek this year, where we enjoyed the luxury of having cabins to replace last year's rain & mud filled tents. Of course, that didn't stop some of us from falling asleep by the campfire!  We celebrated our 1st Anniversary quietly at our Camp, with the Getaway44 renovations in full swing.  Knowing he'd be tied up every spare minute working on the boat, James came up with the perfect 1st Anniversary "paper" gift - tickets for Eileen to go to the Jazz Fest!  Camera in hand, she dragged Amelie all over the place.  And, 600+ photos later, Eileen produced her first DVD slide show, capturing the sights and sounds of this world renowned event.

We celebrated 3 graduations in our family this year.  James' niece Page finished high school in Spring City, TN, and we were there (crawfish in hand) for the "pickin & grinnin" party on in the hill to celebrate the event.  Two weeks later, we were together again, this time in the Big Easy, to celebrate James' nephew, Christopher's high school graduation.  We threw the party at our house after the graduation, where the food and music never stopped, and brother in law, Tadpole, learned a new trick - keg dancing!  The end of the year brings a new celebration, as Eileen's niece, Lauren, graduates from college at UNO.

Our summer weekends were filled with family and good friends, interesting sights, and lots of water fun on the Tickfaw River.  Our camp served as a special meeting place for our many friends and family members to gather together and share good times.  The Lord blessed and protected us from injuries, and provided us His many bounties from the sea.  With 20 traps in Lake Maurepas this year, we had our fill of fresh crabs to share with our friends, lots of leftovers to bring home to Eileen's Mom and Aunt Tee, and then some for Kay's famous seafood gumbo and stuffed crabs.

In spite of the ongoing renovations of the Getaway44, we were blessed with some "very understanding" company, both at home and our camp on the Tickfaw River.  We celebrated Mother's Day with Eileen's family, having a pool party at our house, and hosted both the Drips & Discharges' Officers, and Krewe du Vieux CABAL retreats at our camp.  The new swim platform on the boat worked perfectly for those hot Sunday afternoons at the swimming hole on Lake Maurepas. And, our Lucy still doesn't seem to get enough of her passion - fishing!  She's taken up a new trick of jumping in our bed at the camp to wake us up as soon as the first crack of dawn appears!

We couldn't let this year go by without extending our most sincere thanks to our friends, Pat & Boo, for letting us keep the Getaway44 at their place when it came time to work on the interior renovations. We affectionately call them "the Trolls", since they've taken up residence living under the bridge.  They've been so gracious, and put up with so much from us while the Getaway44 renovations have progressed.  The before and after pictures truly tell the story of the hard work that has gone into this project.  James, Raymond and Dennis have much to be proud of, and we know this never would or could have happened without the help of Pat & Boo.

Our travels took us once again to Tennessee for the Labor Day weekend.  Raymond, Kay and Dennis joined us for our multi-purposed road trip.  We visited Dennis' sister and brother-in-law, Marie and Harold, at their beautiful new home in Maryville, and spent the next day touring Cades Cove in the Smokey Mountains.  Then on to the business part of our trip -- purchasing the cabinet doors for the Getaway44 renovations at the Sweetwater flea market.  James and Eileen spent one afternoon visiting with James' Granny, and then we all spent Labor Day with the McKeown clan at Aunt Johnny Gail and Uncle Harry's place on the Hiwassee River.

Our travels also took us to Madisonville, LA for the Wooden Boat Festival, where James soaked up some creative ideas to incorporate into the Getaway44 renovations.  In early October, we traveled to Helena, Arkansas for the annual King Biscuit Blues Festival.  Amelie, Raymond and Kay made the trip with us this year, where we met our extended family for a weekend of the Blues.  Uncle Buck's transmission problems turned into a blessing, when the U-Haul they rented served as a stage for the nightly sessions of the newly born "U-Haul Band".

2002 was a year of births and brought several new additions to our family.  But, this year was a year of loss, and we lost some very special people in our lives.  James' Granny passed away in October, and we traveled to Tennessee one more time for her funeral.  We also made one last trip to her farm, where James spent many summers with his Grandparents as a child.  Eileen lost both Godparents -- her Parran, Alden on Valentine's Day, and her Nannan, Marian, on James' birthday.  In addition, we lost several good friends, including Bruce, Dan and Shawn.  We were blessed to have known each one of them, and they all touched our lives and hearts in very special ways.  We'll always have the wonderful memories of the times we spent together, and we are both better people for having known them.

And, last but certainly not least, our Tod is thriving and growing more gorgeous by the day.  He is still living at home with us, and we are enjoying being a family together.  He took a job at The Dock this summer, where he entered a national contest for a TV spot on a reality show and modeling contract.  We won't find out if he won until early next year, and are keeping our fingers crossed in the meantime.  He made three appearances on Comedy Central, and had bit parts as an extra in the movies "Runaway Jury" and "Unchain My Heart" filmed here in New Orleans.  Eileen continues to enjoy her passion, photography; and for the second time was published as a semi-finalist in the International Library of Photography's annual contest for her work filming the swamps.  James' business is thriving and has kept him very busy most of the year.  He's made several new business contacts, who've provided him with leads doing the type of work he loves.

We wish you and your family a very Happy Holiday season and blessed New Year!

Love, James & Eileen McKeown and Tod Duffy

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