MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: December 2006

Sunday, December 31, 2006


You may not party like these ol’ boys, but if you do, be safe!

Over the years we have partied pretty hardy, but time is catching up with us and the number of empties are getting fewer and fewer. However, we still love to be together on holidays and remember the good times. One thing will always ring in our heads and that’s the laughter we shared.

Here’s to another New Year’s Eve – and being thankful for the times we’ve had and the time we still have together.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


In a fascinating park called Spring Park, in the beautiful little town of Tuscumbia, Alabama, sits “Sacred Tears” a monument to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole people that marched through this area on their way to Oklahoma on November 30, 1827. Some 90,000 Indian people were relocated during the 1830’s. The good people of Tuscumbia no doubt saved many lives through their generosity in giving food and clothing to Native Americans as they passed.

The monument was dedicated in September of 2003 and was funded by the motorcyclists who participate in the “Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride” and the Alabama-Tennessee Trail of Tears Corridor Association. The cast bronze statue is eight feet tall and weighs a ton. The model was Kristin Harrison of Sheffield, Alabama and was created by Branko Medenica.

Notice the tear on the cheek of the Indian woman holding a baby in one arm as the other rest on a cross of a deceased loved one.

Cold Water Falls stands as a backdrop to the “Scared Tears” statue and is the world’s largest man-made natural stone waterfall. The falls are 80 feet wide and 48 feet tall.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Well, it is getting close to the end of another year, a time when I usually contemplate the past and try to evaluate how things are going. Over all, they are going well. My prayer for the New Year is that things continue this way for some time – God willing.

I found a picture that best represented a certain time in my life, added the head shot to the body of an appropriate size character in this artwork by Herb Mandel, and came up with this artsy-fartsy timeline of my life. Herb is a good blogging friend of mine and, if you have not, you need to check out his blog. (Yes FHB, the Afro is for you, and the uniforms are for you Goddess!)

Herb and I have similar blogging styles, with one exception, he draws his memories, where as, I try to find appropriate old photos. Drawing takes considerable more talent I think. As usual, I try to take the easy way out!

I have videos of my son playing Little League ball, basketball, and swimming around like a little otter. I have pictures of him being born, his first Christmases, birthdays, and most every step he has taken in life, including his many graduations and holding his firstborn. But, back in my day, they had little more than a Brownie Hawkeye to record fleeting moments. The one of me as a baby is very blurred and grainy, but the best anyone has. How wonderful it would have been to see myself playing ball, laughing, talking, and blowing out candles! Our children just do not realize the sheer wonder and miracle of today’s capabilities.

Can you imagine the thrill of seeing your grandparents and great grandparents growing up in beautiful color with rich sound? Well, if we could, we would take it all for granted too.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Funny how the Dragons congregated in one area and the Knights in another – is that always the case? Well, no not really, it has been more of a recent thing!

Anyway, the Knights enjoyed Winter Lager and Alley Kat beers, intermixed with shots of Patron and “Apple Pie” Moonshine (moon flavored with cinnamon sticks and apple juice), and good cigars.

After stuffing ourselves and taking pictures of the Dragon Sisters, the Knights migrated to the music room, played “find the right remote,” and cranked up the volume. After being yelled at for not closing the door to the dayroom, we closed the door firmly, and resumed “rockin’ out!”

And just think, we still have Christmas Day, another gathering at Bailey’s next week, and then New Year’s Eve! Party on!

Friday, December 22, 2006


Do you remember? Do you remember when you believed it was true? Do you remember the anticipation of Christmas morning? What happened to that innocence?

I only remember three things I ever got for Christmas; a Rifleman cap gun (mostly because we have pictures - see attached of my brother and me), a big Tonka tractor and trailer rig, and an electric train. I remember dad fussing with Sears over the train after Christmas because it did not work. I actually got a better train (how I would love to have that today) when they finally settled and satisfied dad's issues. All the rest is a blur of smaller colorful items mingled with candy and clothes. However, I do remember anticipating the big event and the excitement of seeing Santa for the first time during the Holidays. It was all real then, real to life, and it meant so much.

My mom and dad always went "home" for the holidays - back to their roots. Home was where they left the magic and they were drawn to its origin and continued to try and regain its mystique each year. I rarely had a Christmas at my home, but rather at their home. Nonetheless, Christmas past is remembered as an event.

I remember dark nights traveling at 60 miles per hour down the road to grandmothers. Sometimes, there was snow coming down and it came in like antiaircraft fire across the hood of the old '55 Pontiac. The yellow-lit Indian's head powered its way forward through everything that could be thrown at it. I was the fearless pilot that always made it unscathed. Other times I would sit quietly in the back seat of the car, look wishfully up in the sky, and watch the moon sneak in and out from behind clouds. I distinctly remember thinking that I might actually see old Santa's sleigh and reindeer cross in front of the moon.

I remember seeing E.T. twenty-four years ago (yes, it has been that long) and seeing the bicycle caravan fly across the full moon. It reminded me of those cold, sometimes snowy (yes, it used to get cold and snow in December in Tennessee) winter nights looking hopefully up at the moon and thinking a similar silhouette would reveal Santa to me.

However, there is one memory of Christmas that will forever remain vivid in my mind and stand to illustrate the faith I had in the season.

I cannot honestly remember the circumstances, but for some reason I was up at the hour Santa chose to visit my house, and mom was trying desperately to provide all the ammunition I needed for a Christmas imagination experience. I think they had promised me that we would have Christmas at home (my home) before going "home", and were trying to hurry things up a bit by letting Santa deliver the packages early so everyone could get some sleep and leave early the next morning. So the games began about bedtime.

"What was that noise? Listen!" mom whispered. Dad had conveniently left the house to visit a neighbor. I was too young to question the late hour visit.

My eyes were wide and my ears were perked up like the best of watchdogs.

"Hear that?" mom whispered excitedly.

I will have to admit I did hear something! And to this day, whether through the power of suggestion, or something dad was doing outside, I remember hearing what I described later to my grandparents as sounding like the sliding of the rungs of a sleigh, and the prancing of reindeer feet in the yard (we lived in a basement apartment, so there was no rooftop sounds possible).

I wanted to run to the window and see, but mom grabbed my hand and whispered, "We gotta hide! If he sees you up, he won’t come in!"

Oh, the terror of being discovered awake filled my chest. Mom pulled me behind the stove. Yes, I remember the stove...could have been something else, but that is how I remember it! How she moved the kitchen stove out away from the wall I do not know. Anyway, we were hiding and she was shushing me to be quiet.

Suddenly, loud footsteps came in through the door and passed by the stove. I could hear rustling in the living room and imagined Santa unloading his bag and putting packages under the tree. Oh, I wanted to run and see him and see what he had left, but mom reminded me in a whisper that he should not see me awake.

I did not want to spoil Christmas, so I hunkered there with my mom and imagined what he looked like and the surprises yet to come. It was terrifying and exciting all rolled together.

Finally the footsteps passed by the stove again and went out the door. I heard noises and imagined the sleigh lifting off and passing on to the next house. Finally - finally, I could sprint off to the tree. It was wonderful. I do not remember what was there that year...could have been the red tractor with the blue trailer, I do not know, but the memory of my encounter with Santa will always be fresh in my mind.

I wish the innocence was still with me. I wish it could be true. I wish the world was still such a safe and wonderful place. However, I know too much now and it can never be like that again.

I wish you all a wonderful Holiday season and hope that some how, some way, you are awakened during the wee hours of Christmas morning and think you heard something on your roof or outside.

Merry Christmas to my family and friends! I love you all very much. May peace once again surround us and protect us.

"Praise ye the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen
Sound from His people again;
Gladly for aye we adore Him."

Monday, December 18, 2006


I have already posted more than I intended for Christmas, only really planned on one retro bit I wrote months ago, and here it is spring again. Kind of kills the mood!

It was around 70 today, perfect for outside work, but I did not plan on doing as much as we did. Ms. Mushy thought it was a good idea to trim the holly bushes in front of the "Ponderosa," and handed me a limb trimmer. That will never work – it will take too long I explained. This is going to be a “chainsaw massacre!” Which, by the way, was the second day in a row I tortured my shoulders using the blame thing.

Anyway, after her fussing at me for nearly falling on the darn thing, and for having it too close to my leg at one point, and Baylee trying to take the lawnmower away from me, we finished dragging everything to the back in a little over three hours.

After eating everything I could find and taking a shower, I tried to lie down – both shoulders objected so here I am. I may be here all night if I cannot find something to ease the gnawing pain. After the first of the year, that is right after Jackson Hole, I am going to bite the bullet and have the shoulder spurs removed. In pain is not the way to live – I am not even half the man I used to be - got to get ready for spring yard work!

Thank goodness it will be 10 degrees colder tomorrow and maybe I can rest – or go to Bailey’s. Yeah, Bailey’s, that’s the ticket!

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Finally, as promised, here are a few “sunset” photos from Key West. [After two days, this post will be dated so that it will move down and take its place in order with the other Key West posts.]

The sunsets are spectacular in Key West and crowds gather each night at Mallory Square as if the sun were a magnet drawing them against their will. Sword swallowers, fire-eaters, jugglers, magicians, and one-man bands all frantically vie for the crowd’s extra change, because they know as soon as the sun sets, the crowd disperses back toward Duval and Whitehead Streets (and side streets along the way) to begin the “Duval Crawl” toward the sunrise!

A sunset cruise, on one of the boats like offered by Fury or Southernmost Sailing is a perfect way to get out on the water and even become part of hundreds of tourist sunset photos! Usually there is wine, beer, and champagne included in the price of the 2-hour tours.

When the sun gets low where you live, just think about the party that is just beginning in Key West every night!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I am back from Alabama and glad to report I had a wonderful time. I saw family I had not seen in quite some time and we shared some good food and fellowship.

I wanted to share one of the most interesting and beautiful sights of the trip. I am not usually one for the commercialization of Christmas, or decorating for that matter, but this story had some real meaning behind the lights that decorated about three acres of Wrights Family property in Spring Valley, a few miles from Tuscumbia, Alabama.

I personally have never seen so many Christmas lights in front of one home before, but I am sure there are those with many more. The story here is that a legend has grown up around this annual display. The false story is told that the family lost a daughter several years ago who loved Christmas, and the family continues to share their love for their daughter and Christmas with their community by spending long hours in preparing this display.

The actual daughter of this family contacted me on Flickr, and told me she is alive and well and that her family simply loves Christmas! I like that much better...don't you?!

My photos (click to make larger), of course, do not do them justice, nor do they give a sense of how many lights and displays are there.

Cars enter the family drive and reverently extinguish their headlights and slowing move up and around the circular drive. It is not necessary, but if you look real close on the left, just in front of the house, you can make a donation toward their power bill!

If you know more about this family and the story of the lights, let me know!

If you are ever in the “Tri-Cities” area of Northern Alabama around Christmas, just ask someone for directions to the Wrights!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


The Dragons went to Atlanta today and left the Knights un-chaperoned! It was Sammy Hagar, Ted Nugent, Bad Company, Old Scratch and George Dickel boilermakers, and rib eyes! These were true “depth charge” boilermakers, no sissy gulp, and chase! Plus Macanudo Gold Labels!

The fellowship was the best, the music loud, the steaks done right, and all I remember doing was the vegetable sauté!

Another great day guys!

I’m go’na have to get back to writing one of these days soon!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Ms. Mushy and I took our special “soul searching” camera to a Holiday gathering of old work friends at the Bailey’s Sports Grille last evening. While I do not miss working, I surely miss these guys and gals. They are wonderful people who enjoy laughing and talking over a few local drafts or concoctions like a Kryptonite Margarita.

Anyway, there, right in the middle of all the happy people, was the source – they all sought him. The others could not see what the special cameral revealed, but I saw it. As I lowered the camera to review the latest picture I had
captured, I looked back up quickly to validate what I saw. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone, but at least I had seen it with my own eyes, even if only for a moment. Now, now I have proof, so maybe they will listen.

Beware my friends; you know not who walks among you, seeking to destroy you, yes, even in this season. Even the kryptonite will not protect you – you, as a group, must embrace him, and bring him over from the dark side! But do not turn your back on him because he seeks you individually.

Just kidding “Big D” – you have been bloggered!

Friday, December 08, 2006


Mr. and Ms. Mushy had a ball in Key West, from the day trip in the rented convertible, from which Ms. Mushy would occassionally let out an “East Tennessee War Hoot” and scare the wildlife (she flushed a Key Deer at least once), to the sunset cruise and free music, horsedovaries with suds, wine, and/or margirettas!

Mushy and two of the other “Knights” (see Part One) can be seen in the background, almost lost in the daylight streaming in through the open windows of The Green Parrot. You don’t find too many doors, screens, or air conditioning in the famous bars, or restaurants for that matter, of Duval Street, or on any other street for that matter. As a matter of fact, you might find a rooster, hen with chicks, or a cat laying under your table.

You don’t need windows when you aren’t bothered by bugs…don’t remember seeing one mosequito or gnat the whole trip, well, except for when we got back to Atlanta.

The hour we got to spend there was almost worth the whole trip. If you can’t sit back and relax here, you might as well not look for another bar. There was only one waitress when we were there, but I’ve never seen another gal work one as hard. All the bar stools, somewhere between 40 and 50 were full, and a couple of the tables and wall seats were occupied, but she knew who was next, what they had been drinking and never let a glass or bottle go dry. The “tip bell” rang several times, which is the sign of happy customers!

I’ve never had the pleasure of being there at night with the music going, but I’d would bet no one goes away grumbling about bad service. Besides, “snivelling ain’t allowed” even if you wanted to complain! Oh yeah, No Credit Cards are allowed either.

We visited Sloppy Joe’s twice, more because it was centrally located and had live entertainment day and night. Here are two shots, one with the Dragons and three of the Knights, and another taken by a Dragon of all the Knights! You’ll notice we sat a different tables, so each table could flirt all they wanted and more than the waitresses wanted.

Yep, you have to pace yourself on this kind of vacation, otherwise, you’ll end up in a restroom with somebody photographing all your business! It’s a lonely feeling to be first – right Ron?

Okay…I ran on and out of room again, so one more with sunset shots next! Just for Bozette!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


One of the other reasons to vacation in the Conch Republic (Key West) is the beautiful old homes and, of course, the ocean with its spectacular sunsets. You can look down some streets and see from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico or “from sea to shining sea” as one tour guide put it! It became evident as I prepared this that it was just too long, so, I will break this up into two parts, with this one concentrating mostly the polydactyls of the Hemingway house! I will do the sunsets on the next post, and then we will get back to BEER!

The homes are not only beautiful due to their age and architecture, but because of the varied fauna from around the tropical world made possible by the climate of the Keys. If it can grow in a jungle from South America, a tropical island, or Africa, it can grow in the Keys. Many non-indigenous plants have been brought to the keys by homeowners, and some have now been banned. For example, the Banion tree can no longer be planted there – the Banion tree grows where it wants!

One of the most intriguing homes is the Ernest Hemingway Museum and Home, which still feels lived in, to some degree, because his cats still have free range there. The cats lay around the house and the grounds as if they owner will be right back to feed them, and in a way he will. Hemingway provided for the cats in his will and they rule the roost! There are approximately 60 cats living on the property today, half of them polydactyl. A few of these cats are descendents of Hemingway's first cat.

These cats are almost as famous as their ancestor’s owner because they have extra toes (technically known as polydactyl, Latin for "many digits").

The normal cat has 18 toes (five on each front foot and four on the rear) found on most cats, polydacts have six or more toes on the front feet, and sometimes an extra toe on the rear. The cats living here have been given the nickname "Hemingway Cats.”

The black cat pictured has at least 7, and is the same cat shown drinking out of the “unique trough.” It is easy to see why they are sometimes called “Mitten Cats!” And yes, polydactyls are the result of inbreeding, but they no longer reproduce in this kind of atmosphere, but at least some of the cats still carry the original gene. Most of the cats are spayed and/or neutered, but at least a couple are allowed to carry on the gene pool! These are the “real” lucky ones!

The “unique trough” is really a urinal from the original Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which Ernest picked up off the street when Sloppy Joe moved (see last post). Hemingway’s wife had it tastefully tiled, and put in the “jug fountain” in order to “save face” in the neighborhood. Some say he brought it home as joke in response to his wife spending a huge amount on a pool for the backyard!

The cats rarely drink directly from the trough, but rather stand on it and lick up the water as it runs down the side of the jug.

Aren’t you proud of me…I didn’t write about killing cats for once!

Monday, December 04, 2006


There are only two reasons to vacation in the paradise of the Conch Republic as best I can determine, and this post is about one of them!

Key West, Florida (actually all the Keys lay claim to this phrase) is known as “a little drinking village with a fishing problem” and that brings us to reason one. It appears to this traveler that there are more bars in the “Keys” than in the rest of the world. I doubt you could ever have a drink in all the bars in just Key West if you had one drink a day in as many bars as you could each day for an entire year. Sounds like it would be fun to try it though!

Our group of four sisters (The Dragons) and their husbands (Knights of the Beer Table) did not try to find them all, but having been there once before we went back to the most popular and had several in honor of all the rest!

The majority favored Yuengling, from America’s Oldest Brewery, which was on tap in most establishments. We remembered Sunset Ale, from a previous trip, but it seemed a touch bitter this time, so Yuengling won The Knights’ award.

We visited the following six Key bars in order of preference:

The Green Parrot Bar – We prefer this one because it is strictly local. However, locals tolerate Hawaiian, Croc, logo T-shirt wearing, and camera toting mainlanders who add money to the local economy. The nighttime blues music is a plus for this pub, but to us it is the bar’s clientele that keeps us going back. The man with his dog that lapped beer at the bar did not come by during the time we got to spend there this trip, but you rarely find that at Hooter’s!

Sloppy Joe’s – For the best “anytime” entertainment this is the place and the food ain’t bad either! There is always some good solo or small band performing while you eat cholesterol prepared your favorite way. Finding a table may be difficult, but a table for eight is almost impossible after dark.

No Name Pub - Now if you travel about 30 miles back toward Miami from Key West, just north of Big Pine Key, and just 10 miles to the south of the “Seven Mile Bridge,” you will be on the No Name Key. No Name Key is home to the endangered Key Deer and we saw a couple as we drove through in our rented convertible. The pub is quaint and plastered bill-upon-bill with dollar bills!

We enjoyed the conch fritters and watched a beautiful pizza, heaped with everything but the kitchen table, being eaten at the table next to us! That was a work of art! We were finally asked to leave when the table with the pizza complained about the staring, watering mouthed, buzzards sitting across from them!

The Smallest Bar In Key West (no website) – I mention this because it is quite small (two stools), just what you see shown, but a very friendly proprietor made us welcomed as we stopped to refresh our traveling supplies and dropped off a few Mushy’s Moochings Blogness Cards! I know, I am shameless! We also met Capt. Dave Grow (white cap on left) there, which only proves it is liked by the locals too.

Captain Tony’s – This one is linked to Sloppy Joe’s in that it is the original location of Sloppy Joe’s where Ernest Hemingway hung out. However, Sloppy moved because the rent went up a whopping $1.50 per month back in 1937. He moved to the current location in one day by offering free drinks to everyone who moved a piece of furniture. He took everything including the doorknobs and urinals, which I will tell about in a future post.

Anyway, Captain Tony’s has great bar service, good music, and room to shoot pool if you are not a partier!

I would have placed the Hog’s Breath Saloon here, but three nights in a row we could not find room at the inn! We did stand in the parking lot one evening listening to the entertainment, but as soon as our buzz faded, we moved on seeking refuge! The only thing I can tell you about the saloon is that they have a good bathroom.

I know by now you are wondering, “Is that all Mushy did in Key West?” Well, we also did a little fishing! Remember…"a little drinking village with a fishing problem!

More on the other things later…
Update! A comment poster said this: If anyone makes it to 'Smallest Bar' before November, 2008, can you tell Mark or Dano (the bartenders) that 'Team Smallbar Chicago' says 'Hey!!!'Thanks!