MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: February 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I’m in a lot of discomfort, but most from the prostatitis I developed from the anesthesia. I haven’t had much time to think about my shoulder, although very sore, because of running to the bathroom every 10 minutes the first 4 days after surgery. I was getting little sleep. I finally went to the ER and after WAITING three hours got some antibiotics and Flowmax working. I’m now exercising my shoulder as I should have been all along.

The photo at right shows the four holes they poked in me…PB is for Paul Brady – the doctor marking the correct shoulder for surgery.

I’ll be back soon – but it’s very hard to type.

Friday, February 23, 2007


In case you care, communication with me and from me may be infrequent over the next couple of weeks. I go in for the following procedure tomorrow morning – please keep a good thought!
It is outpatient, so as soon as the drugs wear off and I feel like typing with one hand (my left), I’ll be back. However, if I do come back before the effects wear off…please forgive me for anything I may say or post!

In the meantime, entertain yourself with pictures of my big chunk of the world at FLICKR.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Ms. Mushy and I spent a beautiful 70-degree day in East Tennessee shopping for new “patio” furniture. Well, in truth, it will go on our screened-porch, but they do not call furniture that, do they!

Anyway, she started out “loving” some little rickety set with fluffy pillows in a very light flowery color that was only $400.

Of course, being the logical and practical man that I am, I pointed out how unsafe and cheaply made it was, how the screws would fall out of it the first time it’s used by our well feed family, how it would rust the first damp day, and how the pollen and dust would stain and dull the colors this spring.

At another store, I pointed out the quality points of some “recycled plastic” Adirondack styled chairs and matching table with stainless steel hardware and screws. Of course, as soon as she saw the $1600 (sale) price for the 3-piece set, she moved on to some more spindly flowered stuff and sat down, coaxing me to “…sit down and try this – it’s comfy!”

“Okay, but this will never be unaffected by sun, rain, snow, even chlorine and saltwater year ‘round,” I said as I sat down.

She finally found one thing she was wanting in a wicker double lounger, with a 6” foam cushion, in which the two of us could get lost for hours! “It’s only $700,” she said with no exclamation point. My only comment on this, since I really liked it, was that it did not solve our family visitor seating and pieces for sunrise breakfasts for two in the spring.

I suppose, in the back of my mind I was trying to discourage any purchases. We already have pretty nice furniture, albeit it doesn’t match and has served us well for over 5 years.

However, since I could not just keep my mouth shut, I am now obligated to consider all the higher priced furniture, including more seating and the plastic and resin table set! She agreed saying, “You’re right, we don’t need to spend good money on cheap stuff!"

Me and my big mouth!

Pictures coming in the spring.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


One of our favorite summer night entertainments, while we lived in the Mockingbird Trailer Park, was sneaking up on “parked teenagers!” In the dark, we went down through the picnic area, through a small stand of trees, and onto an Alabama red-clay road that ran behind the trailer park. Along this isolated road you could usually find two to three parked cars on weekends.

Richard and I would sneak slowly from the tree line and up to the rear of the closest car. The “in heat” occupants usually had the windows down, enjoying the cooler breeze of the summer night. We would simply stand just back from the rear window and listen to all the “mushy” smooching, wet lipped smacking, and guttural sounds of lovers lost in their own individual worlds. We could even hear all these weird sounds above the radio playing ‘50s hits softly. We listened, choking back laughter, because there is nothing that sounds more stupid if you are not involved – right.

Occasionally, we would lean out and look into the dimness that was lit only by the green glow of the dashboard lights. What we saw was probably more imagined than reality. However, we learned a lot standing there in the summer nights with our little preadolescent swords – things we used later while working on our own “mysteries without any clues.”

Ever spy on someone?

Monday, February 19, 2007


Saturday’s forecast was for snow, so we decided to hike along the School House Gap Trail in the Smoky Mountains and then veer left off onto the lesser traveled, and unmarked, White Oak Sinks Trail. We had been on this trail before, but because we had already done a six-mile run, we turned around and headed back without tackling the steep climb into and out of the “Sinks” valley. However, Saturday, a visit to the valley floor was our express goal.

School House Gap is a steady climb of between 20 and 30-degree grades in its self, but its nothing compared to what is to come. Once you leave the wide trail and start out along the footpath trail of White Oak Sinks, you soon come to where the path splits and both take you to the top of a mountain rim that rings a small valley below.

The left fork of the footpath takes you to steep decent of between 30 and 50-degree grades, and the path meanders for nearly a mile to the valley floor. The right fork takes you to the top of a mountain backdrop for the falls and ends at a steep drop off of between 60 and 70-degrees.

We decided the steep climb out near the falls would be brutalizing, but the quickest way out of the valley. As you ascend the dirt, rocks, and roots to the top, you are literally moving on your hands and feet – it is that steep! My chest heaved as I grasped for saplings, clinging while I recovered. I moved up the hill at a snails pace, but once I was on top, drank some water, and hacked my lungs free of mucus, I recovered and moved on, rewarding myself with the thought that I had avoided the mile longer agony of the other trail.

Years ago, several families lived in the valley and the story goes that the children walked up out of the valley each day to walk on to the school in Cades Cove. Once you have climbed out of the valley once, you have a great respect for these children.

The valley now is beautiful, with rocky outcrops at two ends, a cave where bats are protected by a steel grid guarding their home, boar traps can be seen in different locations, and a spectacular falls that disappear into the mouth of a cave. The icicles that decorate the falls this time of year make it worth the hike effort.

Check out how we recovered at Mushy's Cookings!

See you on the trail!

Saturday, February 17, 2007


I spent Friday evening with my friend Don, who is also the last boss I had before retiring, at Bailey’s Sports Grille. Don has taken on helping his son’s Rugby team at Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. Don asked me to set up a quick and easily updated website for the team. I suggested they use a blog – cheaper than a domain and host!

So, we spent the evening tweaking the blog template and going over how Don should administratively manage the blog. The wireless LAN in Bailey's worked like a charm!

Luckily, we finished our business before having our third draft and chicken wings!

What do you think of our collaboration? Go to the Bearden Bulldog Rugby page.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Did you ever walk through the woods, especially near where there was once an old homestead and see a smile on an old oak tree?

A tree, especially an oak (any variety), has a strong will to live. It can it smile in the face of pain and live to be over 200 years old. It will always have that scar, but it remembers the pain no more.

Many years ago, some farmer decided he would clear-cut an area for planting. So, he notched the trees intending to come back later to fell them with another deep cut in the opposite direction. For some reason, the farmer decided not to cut, or over looked, this particular tree and let it stand. Over time the mighty oak grew and put bark further and further out into the cut. Until all that was left is this smile to remain us that we too can overcome great adversity.

I found this one on the UT Arboretum property during a walk this week. It is a nice place for a quiet walk, and if you forget the name of a tree (like the Chinese Fir pictured), no problem – they are labeled.

Regretfully, the great American Chestnuts were not as robust – only their stumps remain. The Chestnut blight wiped them all away by 1950.

Stand strong, face what live sends your way, and strive to live on like the mighty oak. Show the world your smile!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007



Ol' Mushy is going to do something else he has wanted to do for years - SEE ROGER WATERS IN CONCERT! (fingers crossed) It is just another thing off my "Things to do before I die list!"

The video clip above features Doyle Bramhall II and Snowy White. However, Bramhall will not be with Roger on this tour. It is a shame because he was brilliant with the licks during the “In the Flesh” tour. Doyle, with his casual gum chewing while dueling with Snowy during the Comfortably Numb and Mother numbers, made it look so easy to play!

You may remember Bramhall from his time with band The Arc Angels, another little blues band from Texas.

While David Gilmour is a great guitarist, his licks are by the book, as written, and do not show any fresh spark of creativity. Bramhall’s time with the blues inspires his licks that lose none of the original intent.

Most recently, Doyle played with Eric Clapton on the Sessions with Robert Johnson CD/DVD.

Keep your fingers crossed that the ticket situation ROCKS out for Mushy – sales begin March 3rd! With or without Bramhall, it will be a wonderful music experience.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


As a follow-up to Just This Side of Total Fear (posted on October 3, 2006), my cousin Mark sent me this email. He and I just met again after 20 or 30 years (see post below) and I asked him to read this post and verify the details. Turns out, my memory was “spot on” except that I originally, thought it was another cousin. Mark is the gentleman in the beige sport coat, back row, with my hand around his neck. He writes:

Mushy (not my real name),
You are right-I think we both grew up some that night. I have seen some foggy nights since then but that was a surreal experience for us. I remember we met an ambulance coming out from Lawrenceburg. That must have been around 1963 or 64. Hardly a foggy night passes that I do not recall that night.

I remember the Mockingbird Trailer Park and visiting yall there.

Now, I’m going to test your memory. Do you recall letting me try your new bow and arrow. That must have been one of the craziest, most dangerous, stunts I ever pulled (on purpose that is). Talk about not thinking something through. Do you remember me shooting that arrow straight up? We would run as fast as we could to avoid the risk of being hit when it landed! How did we ever survive? I’m laughing now but it sure wasn’t funny then as I recall.

By the way - I never did know - did you ever find that arrow? (BTW, I did not.)

On a more positive side-what fun we had when we were at Grandmother’s for holiday meals (usually Thanksgiving or Christmas with a rare Easter or 4th of July).

You can probably remember chipping the ice, mixing it with the salt and turning one of those old White Mountain ice cream makers. I don’t know if I’ve ever had ice cream since those days that tasted as good as it did back then. What do you think?

Some of my fondest memories of Grandmother was when I mowed her yard. I was 10-11 years old. That yard looks small today but back then it seemed as big as a football field. And mowing with a 20 or 22” push mower meant several hours since I mowed the side yard too
(another lot just south of the lot her house was on) just to keep the critters (snakes and field mice) at bay. The good thing about mowing that side lot was it wasn’t landscaped with a prodigious amount
of petunias as the house lot-so I didn’t have to take care to move those creeping petunias.

I doubt I ever truly appreciated petunias until after Grandmother passed on.

The rewards were always there though. After cleaning up after the hot and dusty chore, I’d drink what seemed like a quart of ice water. That water didn’t have any added fluoride or chloride - it came from a hand dug well-that was some great tasting water. I imagine that well is condemned now as most others are.

Usually, there was time for a nap. Most of July and August it was in the 90’sF but with an old oscillating floor fan creating a steady breeze - I could “sleep like a log.” In the late 50’s, central air conditioning just hadn’t made it all the way to Lexington, AL yet. Of course, we didn’t miss what we didn’t know about though. As I recall, it was 1961 when our family first had a central unit.

Typically, after a refreshing nap, I would awake to a real treat! Sometimes it was coconut or chocolate cake sometimes it as caramel, sometimes lemon, but most often it was my favorite, homemade chocolate pie and a tall glass of sweet milk! Mmmmmm!

I could go on for a while about that pie but I don’t think there are words in the dictionary to adequately describe how good it was. I always made sure to tell Grandmother I thought it was the BEST!

I don’t expect I’ll ever find a better treat - but I’ll always have these memories!

What an age of innocence compared to the way some children are raised today.

Talk with you later.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


My cousins and I (on my mother’s side) helped celebrate my Uncle Tom’s 70th birthday this weekend at Elk’s Club in Florence, Alabama.
I have not seen most of these cousins in more than 20 years, but we had not missed a step and had a great time reminiscing together. As you look at the photo, you may only see maturing faces, but to us we were all still playing in yard at Grandmother Williams’ house. I did not see the age in our eyes, but young faces running, screaming, and teasing each other as we always did. The youth will never fade from our memories, nor will our love for each other.

We only have my Mom, my Aunt Nell, and my Uncle Tom left out of the original elder family, and we cherish every moment we have with them. Also, we still have Aunt Audene and Uncle Lee who married into our family, and they make gatherings special as well.

Several cousins were missing, a couple sick, a few had to work, and some lived too far away. However, next time, we hope to see everyone together again.

There is nothing better than family!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Does anyone out there remember the Mockingbird Trailer Park (Court), in Florence, Alabama, that was a thriving community in the late 50s and early 60s? I think Fred Bevis owned the court and all the surrounding land.

I doubt anyone comes forward; it has been too long ago, and I was by the area not too long ago and it is not there – just some condos.

My family moved there when I was in the sixth grade, probably 1958 or so, and back again in 1961, when I was a sophomore. My dad and most of the families that lived there worked at either Wilson or Wheeler Dams, or the Colbert Fossil Plant for TVA.

The first time, the trailer park was brand-new and a very exciting place to live. The park had its own grocery store and gas station, barber and beauty shops, a laundry mat, a park with picnic tables, swings and slides, and a swimming pool.

The trailer spaces we evenly spaced and had concrete runways with high-wind tie down anchors for each house trailer. There was a little grassy yard in front, convenient water, sewer, and power hookups.

This was the best trailer park that we ever lived in and it holds fond memories for my entire family.

I learned to swim in the pool, play Marco Polo, do fancy dives, and bond with several kids my age.

I remember that once a pipeline installing crew moved temporarily into the park, only staying a few weeks, and my dad caught one of the dirty crewmembers bathing in the pool. My dad chewed on the guy pretty good, telling him that “my kid swims in that water” and that it was not for bathing! It never happened again.

I remember that a Mockingbird lived in a cedar tree near the pump and filter that would swoop down and pull your hair if you got too close to its nest in the spring. I hated that bird and tried unsuccessfully several times to kill it.

The owner’s son was the unofficial lifeguard and in charge of the pool. He organized a spring clean-up crew every year to bleach and paint the pool and get it ready for summer. I enjoyed this work and learned a lot about organization and delegation of duties from this Florence State student.

I also remember they used to put a railroad tie in the water to keep it from freezing during the winter. I once found something else floating in that water…a baseball glove my maternal grandfather gave me for my twelfth birthday. I still have the glove, but it was never quite the same after the thief tossed it.

It snowed that first winter, yes, even in Alabama, and I loved it! I did not want anyone walking through my yard and making it melt. I attributed footprints to aiding the snow to melt, and protected it from the other kids. They saw that I had a sore spot and picked at me, threatened to run through the yard, and when I made a snowball, they ganged up on me and began pelting me some of their own.

Not to be out done, I loaded my next round with a core of rocks. As soon as they started across the yard I threw as hard as I could – and missed!

“Crack!” The snowball hit our living room window and the rock continued inside.

My dad was immediately out the door and into the yard. “Who threw that,” he demanded. “Tell me!”

I looked around, but everyone else had long since disappeared. “I did sir,” I said, my lips already beginning to quiver.

There was the familiar sound of leather slithering from grey khaki work pant loops, and me already whimpering “No daddy! I didn’t mean to! They were in the yard, daddy, messing up the snow! Please daddy! Momma!”

That night I learned that I did not own the yard or the snow in it – daddy did! However, I became the proud new owner of a large living room window.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


The sin of pride has separated me, to a degree, from my son and my granddaughter. His mother and I divorced when he was only four years old and his loss still cuts me to the core.

My son’s mother and I have long since forgiven each other for the mutual pain we inflected, and we have moved on with our lives and found wonderful people with which to share our lives. However, my pain remains.

I missed so much in his early life, and just in the last few years regained some since of a relationship with him. Oh, I hung on the fence and watched him play, made pinewood derby cars with him, picked him up each Friday afternoon, and watched him graduate numerous times, but the little things is what I missed. I missed birthday parties, watching him mature, watching him interact with his friends, and things he did vocally and with the youth at his church. I missed his friends and girlfriends seeing me as “his dad.”

Oh, people know I am his father, but they do not know me and accept me as part of his life. I am an outsider, whether I have caused it or not, I am still not comfortable in certain aspects of his life. His world is a separate world from mine. It is probably just me. I have never wanted to horn in where I am not invited. I cannot change what is in me – it would take years on a “leather tufted couch” to overcome the personally held mores I have built up over the years.

I ache to see him sometimes, or to hear from him, yet, because it is in me to be this way, I cannot, at times, force myself into his life. I have no clue why not…it is just the way I am.

I ache to see my granddaughter too, but I really do not know my son or my daughter-in-law well enough to just drop in, or invite myself over as often as I would like. Instead, I make appointments to see her, and yes, to see him.

I sat yesterday trying to drink in as much of their faces, their smell, their movements as possible, but as soon as I left the memory began to fade. I know I take too many photos when I am there, but it is an attempt not to forget and to hold part of them close to me longer.

I will always pay the price for letting my failure take them away.

What Mushy gives back to you today is work at it! You lose a whole lot more than a woman, your things, and your money – you lose the closeness of children and grandchildren and involvement in their lives for a lifetime.

One thing has gotten me through the tough times - I thank God for Tracy and Katie Bug (my stepdaughter and older granddaughter). They have been God’s blessing on me and they have filled a void in my soul. They make it possible for me to bide my time between visits.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death.
Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait,
But you just gotta have another cigarette.

Written by Merle Travis for Tex Williams and released in 1947

It was in the trailer park on Dickerson Road near the Shwab Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee, where I first succumbed to peer-pressure and puffed my first cigarette.

Naturally, at age eleven I was too young to buy my own cigarettes, and so was everyone else. However, we were not above pilfering them from ashtrays and unattended packs as they were discovered around the trailer.

Several of us guys (do not remember any girls tagging along) came up with a brilliant plan to get as many cigarettes as we could from our homes and meet down in the wooded area behind the trailer park.

I was able to get two whole Kools and one Camel (both unfiltered) from my mom’s open pack, and several smokable ducks from the two ashtrays in the living room. Both my mom and dad smoked, and by age fifteen I was smoking regularly at school.

My first preference in the early years was Old Gold Spin Filters, but by the time I entered the Air Force I was hooked on Winston and Kools. I remember getting $25 every 15 days and the first two things I bought was a carton of each. Mom started buying cigarettes for me when I was a junior, in fear I would get hold of some "Waccius Baccius!"

Thank God, other than puffing (not inhaling like Clinton) a great cigar occasionally, I have not smoked a cigarette in almost twenty-five years!

Meanwhile, back at the hideout, we all gathered and piled our contraband on a big rock and gathered around. Someone had the good sense to steal some matches, several books as I remember, and it was a good thing. None of us knew anything about lighting one cigarette from another. It was one match, light as many as you could until your fingers got singed, yell “OUCH,” and strike another!

Pretty soon the five or six of us were puffing away. It probably looked as if Indians were preparing to attack the trailer park!

Someone had the bright idea of inhaling like his dad, and we each in turn gave it a try. After the coughing and sputtering, the experienced dude would challenge the next person.

It was not long before we were all turning green, and I think one poor guy puked his guts right there.

I made it home just about suppertime and my whole world was revolving much too fast and it was all I could do to not throw up as I stepped inside. I walked by the table mom was preparing and almost lost it.

I staggered unnoticed to the couch, laid down, and held on for dear life!

Wash up son, it’s time to eat,” mom said.

I’m feeling kinda sick mom, can I just lay here? Please?

She felt of my forehead and figured I was coming down with something and did not make me get up. I also remember dad coming in and asking, “What’s wrong with him?

Probably a bug or something, let’em rest,” she told him.

God works in strange ways.

I soon fell asleep and the world slowed down again. It was a long time before I ever wanted to “puff, puff, puff” another cigarette.

Friday, February 02, 2007


This week’s hike was about 5 miles (round trip) of the Gallaher Bend Greenway near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory property. The trail begins on the southern side of Clark Center Park (formerly Carbide Park) and runs through woods and fields near the Clinch River that eventually fills the Melton Hill Dam Reservoir.

My hiking partner (Ron) and I found this huge old hackberry tree in one of the fields in the area. An old ERDA (Energy Research and Development Administration – 1974) sign (formerly the AEC – Atomic Energy Commission – 1946) marks, explains, and protects this particular tree. The AEC/ERDA functions were transferred to the Department of Energy (DOE) in 1977. I write all this to give some sense of the age of the sign!

The common hackberry tree has been included in windbreak plantings by farmers to control wind erosion. Additionally, its deep root system makes common hackberry useful for preventing soil erosion on disturbed sites.

Native Americans valued common hackberry for medicinal, food, and ceremonial purposes. Medicinally, the bark was decocted to serve as a gynecological aid that could induce abortion, regulate menstrual cycles, and treat venereal diseases. Bark decoctions were also taken for sore throats.

Historically, southern church pews were made of hackberry wood.

Again, I am blessed to live in an area full of hiking trails that run straight through history.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


This is what the local news is calling a “WINTER STORM,” can you believe it? There is maybe an inch, possibly two, but even last night before anything happened, all the area school systems closed for today. You can put good money on the fact that school will be closed tomorrow as well. They always say, “There are shaded areas on country roads that will remain slick,” so another “Snow Day” for all the kids!

It was evident something was going to happen, because there was a “ring around the moon” night before last. I tried to capture it, but my “point and shoot” camera’s lens was just not wide angle enough. I only caught one edge.

Hope you got out of school or work today and are lounging around the house in your PJs. Me, well, I got to take my wife to the doctor, but the roads look as good as my driving, so we will not have any trouble.

See ya.