Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Well, sort of anyway! The Percocet and Benadryl are keeping me zonked out much of the time. I even almost went to sleep in physical therapy this morning…did not feel too much pain at all with the drugs.

I can tell already that I will be progressing much better after the second shoulder surgery. Swinging the arm straight out and up or from the side up does not hurt like before – there is only some uncomfortable tightness. However, going behind, or bending the arm backward of down as you would arm wrestling is a killer, and trying to reach the middle of my back wakes me right up!

I have three little stab wounds, at least two of which were the same holes that were made during the first surgery. Guess I will never be a shoulder model again!

Percocet does not make me etch as Hydrocodone did, but the very end of my nose is driving me crazy! The Benadryl helps, but it keeps me too sleepy, so today is probably the last time I will take it.

I was afraid I was going to have the prostatitis problem again. I started going to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, but as the block medicine wore off, so did the urgency and frequency. The anesthetist tried giving me a shot in the neck that controls the pain in the shoulder and arm to reduce the chances of another reaction, but it did not work. However, the bathroom trips slowed to normal as it wore off late last night. I was so thankful for that. That problem was what kept me from getting rest the first time.

I slept in this chair last night, but took a nice nap in my bed today, so guess I will try the bed tonight.

I really appreciate all the well wishes in the previous post – you guys are wonderful…better than most of my friends. Thanks so much!

I will be back among you soon with a regular post.

Love ya,

Monday, June 25, 2007


It was family day at Bailey’s and the Wild Wings Café today! My brother and son accompanied me to a last outing before my surgery tomorrow. It was really great to have the three of us together again. We seem to have the same sense of humor and keep each other in stitches with word play and routines from old SNL routines! Nothing is sacred when we get started!

We began at Bailey’s Sports Grille and Bar with chips and dip, and finished off with thirty wings of various flavors. Again, I was disappointed and will never order wings there again. Wild Wings has ruined me! And so, we stopped there on the way home for one more round of beer and tea!

I tried to take a picture of the collection, when suddenly this crooked “bird” or what we used call the "gig finger" pops into the frame! “Damn, that’s a crooked finger,” I say!

It points to the right like everything else,” he laughed.

Ah, you dress right,” I tease? The waitress overhead and did not quite understand.

Young’uns,” my brother said shaking his head.

Almost forgot about stopping at CompUSA! Us fools snapped our photo in front of a Mac and emailed it home! I also brought Mushy's up on the browser and walked away!

So, gang, I’ll see you in a few days, after the drugs wear off. Maybe I can get the doc to take a photo for me…a really gross one!


It was grandkids’ day Sunday with Juliana turning a big 8 and the Chan-Man (Chandler) was cheering her on. The dogs and brats, followed by cake and ice cream were wonderful, and yes, I “backslid” again! Who cares?

We were missing one Dragon and one Knight, but a great time was had by all!

There is nothing like family to cheer you up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


My wife and I stopped by the newly opened Wild Wings Café located at Campbell Station Road in Knoxville Monday afternoon. I had just gotten the bad news about my shoulder, previously posted, and so hot wings and beer was in order!

There are so many ways you can order wings there (31 in fact) that it’s gets down right confusing! We ordered 25, five each with different marinates, and they were wonderful. We remember all the names except the fifth one, but our favorites were the Tennessee Fireball – 4 peppers hot (appropriately named for the state of location), Cheddar Jalapeño – 2 peppers hot, and a Glazed Honey with a kick!

Yes, we ate every last one!

This is my wife saying her prayer before eating…really, she is the hardest person I’ve ever photographed. Her eyes are like greased lightning and shut before the flash reaches her…every time, or so it seems!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Yep, the shoulder is “frozen,” or what Dr. Brady technically calls “Adhesive Capsulitis” and he is going back in Tuesday the 26th!

The procedure was described as going back into two of the previous five holes, cutting the scare tissue away, and freeing the shoulder. He then manipulates the arm in all directions to ensure complete free range of mobility. The surgery will be at 9:30AM and I will be back in physical therapy at 4PM!

I sure hope I am still drugged! That has to hurt like a sombitch!

Basically, it was not because I was so long in getting to therapy (5 weeks) that caused the “freezing” but instead I am a fast healer! Good for some things and bad for others I suppose!
The severity of the rotator cuff repair I had, warranted the extended post-surgery wait before going to PT.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Thank God dad traded the old ’55 Star Chief in before I really got into dating heavily my last year in high school. I needed a little more class in the sixties, or so I thought if I was to attract the prettiest girls. The truth, and I did not realize it until I was in my early twenties, is that personality is what really gets girls attentions. In retrospect, they would probably have dated me in the ’55 had I had the nerve to ask. This fact has been proved to me more than once since dating high school acquaintances since then. “Why did you never ask me out on a date?” they would ask.

Anyway, along came the ’64 Pontiac just at what I perceived to be the right time. It was long and wide and its 389 cu-in engine was powerful. Outside he was snow white and inside a beige vinyl trimmed in darker brown, with a backseat more than adequate for a teenage boy to work on his “night moves.”

I remember a friend once asking my dad, while the three of us had our head stuck under the hood admiring the 4-barrel carburetor, “When you going to let Mushy take this out on a date?”

He looked up with a wide grin, took a drag off his Camel, and embarrassed me by saying, “And let him get pecker tracks all over the backseat?”

“Daaad!” was all I could muster.

There were lots of dates, double dates mostly, but the best times were the nights with the guys. It was a time to proudly display your driving skills and show off what “Tonto” could do!

It was standard procedure to drive the car straight to the nearest filling station, pop off the hubcaps so you would look cool, turn the top of the breather upside so he could breathe and call out to you when you pressed hard on the accelerator, undo the speedometer cable, and let about five pounds of air out of the rear tires for traction!

The nights all began by circling The Beacon to see and to be seen. The fantasy was to pick up girls, but the truth is, we were just as happy to be seen by the guys.
I remember a friend’s dad also bought a ’64 Ford Galaxie that same year, he, and I always looked for each other, and before the night was over we usually ended it with a drag race on a straight stretch of HWY 61, the part that flattens out after Bitter Creek coming into Harriman.

We each usually had our entourage of three fellows eager to egg on any nonsense, especially since it did not involve their family car.
Barry and James always got out and hopped in the backseat for added traction, and his bunch did the same. At the shout of GO from Barry out the rear passenger side window, we were off!

Both cars tended to squat and burn the tires like crazy leaving a wiggly black line for about four feet before they each caught and lunged forward. Both 4-barrels were deeply inhaling air at such a rate that you imagined you could see the hoods being sucked inward! What a sound – nothing like that sound!

I think we won an even number of heats over those few months during our senior year, but I only remember the smiles and yelling coming from Barry and James. It was a wonderful feeling, a happy time, but it soon was dampened by worry about whether or not my dad would find out. He would have absolutely beat me within an inch of my life had he known.

He had to suspect, but he never once asked any questions, even after that Sunday morning when he noticed the speedometer was not working on the way home from church. He pecked on the plastic and calmly said, “Huh, strange, the speedometer isn’t working.”

My heart leaped into my throat and I did not know what to say or do. Finally I got out, “Really? I’ll check it when we get home.”

I coupled the cable back onto its proper place and nothing was ever said about it again. Surely, he must have known.

It is a shame you have to get to this age before realizing some of the simple little unspoken ways your dad said he loved you.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Skipper Gary took two of the Dragons and me out on the lake Saturday. It was a beautiful day with the temperature around 90, but with low humidity! We circled Sand Island, which is similar to California’s Copper Canyon around this part of Watts Bar Lake, in East Tennessee. However, there is much less nudity – darn it!

There were not too many boats there today, but on a holiday you can barely find a spot to beach, and you could probably walk around the island, from boat to boat, without getting you feet wet!

Most boats prefer to just anchor outside the main flotilla and eye the sights with binoculars anyway! The merge shot at top is of the south side, while the one at the bottom is off the north side.

We have a couple of coves that we love to pull up into and float around letting time pass as slowly as possible. This particular one is where we plan on spending the 4th of July this year. The bottom is sandy with few rocks, it is almost hidden from the main channel, there seems to be a breeze most of the time, and there is plenty of beach space to set up our grill and lawn chairs.

I love the old silos that still stick up out of the lake indicating where old farms were located before Watts Bar Damn was built. There are lots of little islands, like this one with an old abandon duck blind and trees full of Cormorants.

Bald Eagle and Osprey nests can be seen up and down the lake, and in the springtime you can see little heads bobbing up and down taking food from their parent’s mouth.

I love it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Three of us Knights played today while the Dragons shopped. Yes, yesterday was my anniversary, but shopping comes first these days!

The two sidekicks and I walked around Gander Mountain, River Sports Outfitters, and the Leaf & Ale today before settling down at the Kingston Alley Grill and Ale House. There we each had 22 ounces of Sierra Nevada or Bud (yuck)!

As I have stated, we are looking around for a new “day on the town” headquarters, and Kingston Alley is about to convenience us to move from Bailey’s Sports Grille. We feel that Bailey’s has begun to let us down the last few visits. Once they were out of coleslaw, ketchup, and the pizza oven was broken. Further we have begun to notice that Bailey’s is smokier than it used to be, as if their filtering system is on the blink. The bathroom often runs out of paper towel, and some of the food is not quite on the same par as it was a year ago, and they have dropped some of our favorite eats.

Worst yet, the last few beers I have had there tasted like the taps were not being cleaned properly. Although, we did stop by there today to enjoy one last beer and a cigar before heading home and the beer had the proper taste. Maybe things have made a turn! We actually hope so, because we have made some good friends with a couple of the waitresses there and we hate to say goodbye.

Meanwhile back at Kingston Alley we ordered lunch and all three of us had a wonderful dinning experience!

Ron had the Crunchy Grouper – a grouper fillet topped with cheddar and pepper jack, served with cilantro lime tarter sauce.

Steve had the Black and Blue Salad – Large Caesar salad topped with grilled sirloin, blue cheese crumbles, tomatoes, shredded cheese, and bacon bits.

I decided to experiment with the Asian Chicken Salad – Roasted chicken served over mixed greens and carrots and cabbage tossed in sesame dressing topped with water chestnuts, fried wonton, and mandarin oranges.

Kingston Alley just may win the prize to become our new HQ, but we still have high hopes that the new Wild Wing Café, opening Friday on the west end of town, will become our favorite hangout!

On the way west bound on I-40, we encountered a back up several miles long. Before we could get to an exist, that would allow us to cross-country home, the man who does not believe in naps and thinks those that take them are sissies…fell asleep!

Gotcha! It is now officially documented! You have been bloggered Steve!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


When you came into my life, 27 years ago, you opened every door in my heart and every window in my soul to the wonder of TRUE LOVE!

Thank you so much, JUDY, for all those wonderful years!

Monday, June 11, 2007


I suppose I should count myself lucky not to have become an alcoholic with all that I have enjoyed over the years, but I think it is something you have a predisposition for, like a gene perhaps. So whether lucky or blessed, I have had a long life of enjoying alcohol. I can say I have only abused the privilege three or four times in my sixty plus years, because after the teenage wild and crazy years and the military era, I am thankful that I grew to just appreciate the wonderful varieties of taste. My sole purpose today is to enjoy the countless flavors; how they mingle, and enhance the taste of foods and good cigars.

My first taste came from a cold steel “church keyed” can my father held to my lips when I was probably five or six years old. Just a short swallow without mom seeing, but it was cold, refreshing, and the taste intrigued me. I can remember thinking how I could not wait until I was old enough to buy my own. Actually, the thought was more about how nice it would be to enjoy a can of beer with my dad. Looking back, I am not sure that ever happened.

I also had two uncles that I admired greatly and they both would come to our house and drink beer with my dad. I longed to be old enough to share that experience with them – a sort of rite of passage, I suppose.

Since, I have shared a beer with one of them, but the other let religion rob him of enjoying “life more abundantly.” Without understanding Grace, one becomes guilty of every short fall in their life, and some of the good God given things of life become lost. Such a shame!

Then there was the period in high school where we drank mostly because we were not supposed to and just because we could obtain it. There is also that added peer pressure and, of course, you do not want to be different. So, I drank when we could get it on the weekends, and finally when I became bold enough, I bought it at lunch during school just to be cool.

I can remember sitting in the back of someone’s car, drinking a quart in the dark and getting down to that hot pissy taste at the bottom of the bottle or can. You did not want to get caught not finishing every drop, but I could not then drink warm beer. Somehow you slipped the bottle out the window hoping no one noticed what was left, and that when it hit it sounded empty!

One beer episode will always stay with me and that is buying beer from the black (colored then) beer joint in “Basel Town!” Basel Town was what most folks in the Harriman area called the black part of town then. It was spooky enough to us white kids to go into the area at night, but to pull up behind the “Skinny Miller’s” and ask for beer was another step into the unknown.

As you meandered through the parking lot and neared the corner of the joint, you doused the headlights, rolled up to the little porch in back, and sat there waiting anxiously, listening to the music thumping through the walls.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the darkened screen door would creak open about two or three inches. From inside an obviously black voice would grunt, “Wh’ca ont?”

Uh, ah, six-pack of Schlitz?”

The voice announced the price, which could be anything, because no one was about to argue with a darkened screen door! So you just laid the money in the “silhouette hand” that immediately disappeared behind the door.

Had the hand, holding a paper sack full of beer, never appeared again, we would have simply drove off after a long wait and counted ourselves lucky to have survived! But now, with beer in the car, all was right with the universe once again. We were alive and we had beer!

Later, in Vietnam, I learned to drink beer warm and often just plain hot! After the foam blew off about half the can when opened, you just sucked in the hot liquid to get to the high that made you forget, for a while at least, where you were.

I am thankful I lived through all that early experience with beer and whiskey. I am also thankful I now can appreciate it for what it really is. Beer is a wonderful tasting concoction - one of mankind’s greatest achievements and one of God’s greatest blessings.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


What a great time I had early this evening at Bailey’s Sports Grille in Knoxville!

I attended the local blogger's monthly Blog Fest and I am very happy I did. I met some wonderful new people, who are great bloggers, and turned out to be new friends.

Naturally, the conversation was about blogging, and I picked up some great information that I will probably act on soon. Turns out I knew at least one and it took us over 30 minutes to figure out where and why we had met. Mark Steel used to do some telecommunications wiring work at one of the DOE plants in Oak Ridge and that is where our paths had crossed.

First photo is Tish from The Kat House and Mark from Blogitude, standing there side-by-side, as if they were a couple or something.

Second photo is of Lissa of Oh…Really?, Rich of Shots Across The Bow who was the instigator/organizer of this affair, and Les of Les Jones who just had to do a little power blogging while the rest of us drank cider and Killian!

Michael of No Silence Here is in the third shot along with Lissa and Les. I apologize for not getting the little one’s name, but she had a great time watching her DVD and dancing around the tables. She was either Michael’s daughter or granddaughter, and I am sorry I did not pay more attention!

In the forth shot, over the glare of Mark’s head, you can see Doug and his son of Reality Me, and Les again. Doug was laying out advantages of owning your own domain here!

Of course, through out the course of the evening, Mark kept trying to impress us with his electronic connection to world.

It was a good time, and even though I was fighting the pain of a separated rib, I am truly glad I persevered and attended the gathering. They are good people who enjoy the fun of blogging and good fellowship. I shall return!

Please click on their embedded links and check out their blogs – you will be glad you did!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I’m posting this because I get a load of hits from Google on the subject of shoulder surgery, and the facts need to be presented.

Friday at physical therapy I found out that my shoulder is most likely “frozen” (adhesive capsulitis) and, that unless I have another short surgical procedure, my range of motion will most likely not get any greater! I came home depressed and almost in tears telling my wife the details. I’m just about over the pain and duration of this experience!

The surgical intervention (as it’s called) is aimed at stretching or releasing the contracted joint capsule of the shoulder. The most common methods include manipulation under anesthesia and shoulder arthroscopy:

- Manipulation under anesthesia involves putting the patient to sleep and "manipulating" or forcing the shoulder to move. This process causes the capsule to stretch or tear. (Basically, this is like breaking your nose, finger, or toe to reset it! Ouch!)
- With shoulder arthroscopy, the surgeon makes several small incisions around the shoulder. A small camera and instruments are inserted through the incisions. They are used to cut through the tight portions of the joint capsule.

From what I’ve read people over 60 and with diabetes are very susceptible – I’m 61 and have Type II diabetes!

I found some comfort in learning that the great majority of people recover their motion over a period of a year, but most will always have less than they previously had.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I recently came across these and other shots of Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex I took sometime in 1973. "Brushy" shut down for about 4 years in 1972 and the local paper I worked for sent me on a photo shoot of the deserted prison.

I was really impressed by the lonely cramped cells, with pictures taped to their walls, and thought about the men and stories that passed over this barber's chair.

As I walked the bases of the baseball diamond, which had a shear bluff for a backstop for home plate, contemplating the history and silence of the place, Geronimo, a deer brought to the prison by one of the guards and kept as a pet by the inmates, walked up behind me and nudged my arm innocently. Thinking I was all alone in the deserted facility, I was so startled I almost fainted from fright. He had no fear of me. He was used to lots of attention and was starved for a little companionship and a treat.

The cell blocks consisted of 4 caged tiers, the cells contained 4 steel bunks, one toilet, and all the walkways were caged.

Since I could find only brief mentions of Geronimo in long since shut down servers, I thought I would post these shots as proof he lived and spent his life bringing some enjoyment to the inmates of "Brushy".

Maybe someone who was there will see this post and verify and possibly provide more details.

Incidentally, this is where James Earl Ray began is prison experience, and once escaped from for a day or two!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


If you have been following my remembrances, after this post you think me a hopeless “tush hog” who picks meaningless fistfights. You will not find this definition of “tush hog” anywhere on the web, but that is what we called “bullies,” or boys, who looked for fights during my high school days.

The simple fact was that I ran with Barry, who often seemed, as I have stated, to have a chip on his shoulder. If Barry got into a scrap, then I had his back and visa versa.

Barry was not a large fellow either, as a matter of fact, I out weighed him by a good twenty pounds and was at least a head taller then. However, Barry was like a Fox Terrier, he would take on anyone of any size regardless of the perceived consequences. Naturally, I was just as foolish, trying to save face.

Barry was not the physical guy I described in Cross+Hairs as Henry, but his prowess with his fists and his temper were. I used an actual fight in the book to show how mean my main character was. You have to substitute Barry where Henry appears and Mushy where Bill appears to get the real story!

Barry and I often hung out in the summer at the Gulf Station near our homes. Another friend and his much older brother worked there with their dad who operated the full service station.

Actually, we often helped out when things got hectic, pumping gas and cleaning windshields. But more often than not, we were just there to buy cigarettes, a coke, a pack of peanuts, and pester Morgan and his brother GT.

One day, their father had gone home for lunch and Barry and I began a campaign of irritating the guys to the breaking point. I think we would have broken off the pecking on the cash register and oil cans once we got tired, but GT got tired first and jumped up and threatened to whip Barry’s ass!

Next thing I knew we were squared off in the wash rack, next to a car to be washed. I was standing in front of Morgan, and Barry was at the rear of the car exchanging insults with GT. I do not think Morgan and I were even mad at each other, but we each had a back to protect, so it did not matter – we would fight if the first blow fell.

GT grabbed Barry and held him up off the floor in the corner near the roll-up doors, and Morgan took that as his queue to swing. I ducked and he smashed his fist hard against the driver’s side window and folded in pain!

Barry yelled for assistance so I flew upon GT’s back, and together we pounded him to the wet wash rack floor.

We walked, puffing from exertion and pride, away from the station and did not come back for a couple of weeks.

However, when we did, GT started in about us having had an unfair advantage in the fight and that he wanted a re-match on firm dry ground.

Okay, so be it! Feeling cocky from our previous win, we marched up a small bank into the backyard of a church on the adjacent property. The other difference was that I had squared off with the older GT and Barry was on Morgan.

Barry began insulting Morgan and GT and I stood nose-to-nose waiting and listening. I think I really did not want to fight GT, but it was left to me to try or lose face, turn tail and run. I stood my ground hoping things would blow over.

Suddenly Barry popped Morgan in the cheek and there was an audible “Uoof!” from Morgan. I looked toward the two, now locked in a wrestling match to see who could through the other to the ground, and then back a GT, who had already begun bringing both arms up and quickly smashed both my ears! If you have ever been hit hard on an ear, you know that first you cannot hear, and second it hurts like a sombitch! Plus, with two hands hitting you at once, you feel as though your head will split open! I fell to my knees and listened to the bells ringing in some distant place in my head.

GT sprinted to Morgan’s aid and they now had Barry on the ground and he was yelling for my help!

I stood up and dizzily staggered in their direction and launched my body into the air. Any other time, this may have dislodged GT or Morgan from Barry and we would have been back on equal ground. However, I misjudged, in my state, and flew over the pile up and right into a huge rose bush!

Once the other three realized what I had done, they broke apart and rolled on the ground laughing, leaving me to scream for them to pull the thorns off me so I could stand up.

We had been friends before the fights and we remained friend afterwards. We recounted the story for years, the last time at GT’s funeral.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Ms. Mushy and I saw “Spidyman” Friday, and we were the only 2 people in the theater! This is another perk of being retired…the 12:05 during the week is usually sparsely attended. We then topped off a lovely day together by visiting Bid Ed’s Pizza.

Since 1970 Big Ed Neusel’s Pizza, at Number 1 Broadway in Jackson Square, has been an institution, a one of a kind place to go and have old Italian style pizza and a beer. That’s all they have, so it has been perfected over the years to a succinct taste. Thin chewy crust with a fat fluffy rim that comes from dough made on site daily and a hot juicy middle available with 10 all natural ingredients!

Besides the sauce, you begin with cheese and then add up to 5 additional items, or get the “Special” and get 6! That’s my favorite…the works!

There are four draft beers, no bottles, to choose from by the glass or pitcher.

Big Ed’s has been mentioned on many national sports shows and many sports stars, and other celebrities have visited there and left banners and photos that adorn the 18-foot walls. There is an eclectic mix of autographed footballs, baseballs, and military memorabilia hanging there or in locked showcases. You could spend an hour just reading the graffiti on the stairs down to the restrooms, or looking at the signatures and dedications local schools and universities have made to Big Ed.

Some of the most important items hanging around are the paraphernalia from military units -- Blue Angels, Marines, Navy -- decorate the walls. Big Ed served in Vietnam as a Marine himself!

Big Ed’s is actually internationally famous (Google and see) and is one the “must visits” when coming to the Knoxville/Oak Ridge, Tennessee area.

High school kids have always worked “behind the glass” making the fresh pizzas for Big Ed. Many have earned their way on to college with a job tossing pizzas in the air at Big Ed’s.

Big Ed died in 1998, but the traditions continue with son David.

Big Ed crafted the cost of operating his business by providing only the barest of amenities – pizza comes hot on an aluminum tray, but you have to pulled the molten pieces off onto 6” paper (thin) plates and saw off bites (until it cools) with a plastic fork! Nothing fancy here except the taste of the pizza!

Going into Big Ed’s is like going back in time for me. I used to go to this same place (called something else then) with my parents when they went out dancing around 1949-51. I was 3 or 4 years old and I remember them holding me up between them as they danced. Gees, I wish I could remember the music – one was probably "Good Night Irene" – and get more of a visual recollection, but I only see the three-headed dancers!