Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Ron, our Dragons, and I went to Knoxville’s Farmer’s Market on Market Square today, but it’s just a tad early for much to be happening. There was water cress, some homemade jewelry, and some baked bread, rolls, a hot dog or two, but no huge baskets of corn, tomatoes, peppers, etc. that I wanted to photograph. We'll try again in a few weeks.

However, it was not a complete disappointment, Ron and I began sampling beer at around noon, and finished up around 5PM!

We began with a Yuengling "Black and Tan" on draft, the first time I'd seen that flavor around these parts, and it was yummy.

It went real well with the Chicken Chorizo & Egg Enchiladas I had for breakfast just an hour earlier at Mimi’s Cafe! The girls shared a breakfast sandwich of eggs, ham, cheese, and bacon on Ciabatta bread!

Judy and Neena did some heavy shopping in Earth to Old City giving Ron and I plenty of time to slowly enjoy our brews and watch all the interesting people pass by on their lunch breaks. We also made our plans for the upcoming "Sundown in the City" performances for this spring and summer.

Sundown in the City:

May 15: North Mississippi All Stars

May 29: Robert Earl Keen with Jypsi

After forcing Neena away from the Channel 6 News reporter and camera (she just knew they were going to use her for a “man” in the street interview, but apparently they preferred the old man) we moved on to Mast General Store and perused the great outdoors clothing and accessories. The ladies walked through and touched everything they saw. They finally wore Ron down and he had to rest in one of the rockers…of course, I soon joined him, and forced myself not to buy any of their great selection of candy.

Later, we decided to walk on down to the Downtown Grill & Brewery for a White Mule (the lighter beer full of hops!) and a Downtown Alt (darker for me). After the second round the girls showed up and joined us. We shared some hot pretzels and another beer before moving on to O’Charley’s Restaurant for another round of appetizers (chicken quesadillas and pretzel crushed chicken fingers)! The Yuengling was served in 20 ounce glasses and they both went down great!

Judy and Neena drove us home and I’m sure Ron did as I did, sleep all the way! I was still asleep on the couch when the news ended!

It was just another great day in “retirement world!”

Monday, April 28, 2008


Spring is here people…best one we’ve had for at least 3 years. This year there will be nuts galore on the oak, hickory, and beech trees! The pickings for the squirrels have been sparse the last 2 or 3 years, because heavy rains came every time just as the trees tried to release their prized pollen. No baby trees were made and the squirrels and chipmunks had to dip into their reserves or range further from home. Incidentally, there haven’t been too many new baby squirrels around either.

However, I suspect that this year the acorns, hickory, and beech nuts will be piling up in the driveway and bouncing off my metal roof! I suspect too that there will be many new baby squirrels and chipmunks chasing each other in the yard. Good thing Baylee is getting a little old to chase them far, or she would bring back their little pelts for me to pick up and toss in the garbage!

If you look closely to the left of the top merged photo, you can just make out Judy pulling weeds out of her yellow cannas bed, while I keep watch! Well, someone had to keep Baylee occupied, otherwise she would be lying right in front of Judy and mashing down all the young green shoots! You can see in her eyes that she could care less about flowers!

The azaleas, both in front and out back, have been there since the mid-seventies, pretty much as long as the old tire swing! Judy will not let me trim back the flower laden bushes and shape them up. So, they grow pretty much wild, as does the rest of the yard.

Jeff commented once that we must work our butts off in the yard, but the truth is, we do very little besides pick up dead limbs, cut up the trees that occasionally get blown down, and mow. We don’t really weed or mulch, we just mow very close and sit on the deck and admire God’s good works. After all, they were growing pretty well before man came along to corral and bunch them up into tight little color groups!

I don’t fertilize or aerate, like Corey, I just keep it mowed and mulch back in the fall leaves. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I remember reading something about how trees use up the soil in a yard and actually lower its level over time if you didn’t add back in what was used up! Makes good sense, and I figure that’s all the fertilizing it needs. It also makes for less raking!

Oh, I do trim off low hanging limbs, especially the ones that slap my hat off, waking me up, from time to time, while I mow, or those that poke me in the chins or ribs! I hate it when that happens! I also keep my grape vine pruned back, but I have yet to have a crop survive the birds…and I don’t really care. It’s not like I’m going to make wine or anything! I get a couple off each year, as I make my mowing rounds, and that’s about it.

The other merged shots either look toward the back of the house, or toward the lake, which has not filled up yet, but we can see the water getting closer every day. Once a spring the water covers the backyard up to the azalea line, and the carp come in and roll in their love tumbles in the grass! Its TVA land up to that mark anyway, but I mow everything down to the shore anyway. I keep hoping someone will give me one of those Florida air-boats and I can come screaming in off the lake and up into the yard! What a hoot that would be!

Well, thanks for walking around with me and enjoying spring. I’d love to share it with you any time – free of charge…’course you could bring some beer!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Who was the most important person in your childhood?

That's the question David McMahon asked this week.

Well, I've already answered that in a post back in November of 2006, called A Seasoned Bond!

I figured this was as good a time as any to reintroduce that post.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Ron, Neena, Judy, and I took another road trip this week to the Burgess Falls State Natural Area (State Park), where we found lots of water flowing, for a change, and many wildflowers.

The area is named for Tom Burgess who started a lumber and grist mill that used the power of the water flowing in the Falling Water River, near Cookeville, Tennessee. He received the land grant here in 1793 as payment for his service in the Revolutionary War.

In the early 20th Century, a dam was added and a hydroelectric plant was built that supplied electricity to Cookeville. A flood in 1928 washed the dam and power plant away, but was rebuilt and served the area until 1944, at which time the TVA Dam network made these small plants obsolete.

Today, you can still see the old dam, the base of the old grist mill wheel, and remnants of the hydroelectric plant. However, the 350 acres is now being allowed to return to its natural state, and it is beautiful!

The hike was 1.2 miles, and was rated as moderate, with lots of steps. Along the way I found a “clump” of Jack-in-the-pulpits, which is my favorite wildflower, mostly because they are so rare, and a lovely bunch of Foamflowers surrounded by Wild Blue Violets. There are basically three falls, Little, Middle, and Big Falls, along the way, with tow grand overlooks.

On the way back to Cookeville, we stopped for Ron to buy us a Sam Adams for the trip into town. The Frenchman’s Market boasted of selling 765 gallons of beer weekly, and our two were just drops in the bucket. They had no opener, so I improvised like I did “back in the day” and popped the tops off on the door mechanism of the car! They were good and cold!

We ordered a couple more Killian’s at Puleo's Restaurant! I had this wonderful lasagna – they others had less exciting fare like chicken sandwich, chicken pot-pie, and a salad!

On the way home we visited a little roadside market run by some of the local Mennonites in the Crossville/Jamestown area. Ron and Neena stocked up on cheese, apple butter, and soup mixes.

We thoroughly enjoy our free time, our hikes and adventures, and each other.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Whiskey Scars, Bobby Bare Jr., and Son Volt

Tuesday night was terrific…Ron and Paul on the town again!

It’s good to be retired and out on the town…not having to worry about “tomorrow is a work day!” God, I hated that and am so thankful things worked out so that I have this free time. Time to enjoy my favorite’s in concert even during the week! All the free time I can stand right up until the end of my time.

We hit the ground running, charging up the hill from the parking garage to the back door of the Downtown Grill & Brewery and into the restroom. The twenty minute ride into Knoxville is sometimes uncomfortable with bladder urges in check until the last step before the porcelain bowl, and you almost think you’re going to lose it before the horse is out of the barn!

We passed on through the Brewery and out on Gay Street and headed for The Old City and The Crown & Goose. We looked over the menu, but decided to get a sampler each of their most popular micro-brews!

Having sampled the beer, surveyed the waitresses, and taken a few snaps, we were off in reverse direction to the Brewery. We took the high-top table nearest the door, ordered White Mule and Downtown Alt (for me), and watched the evening’s dinner traffic come and go. Ron ordered their famous burger and I sampled the “fish & chips” and washed it down with two more micro-brews! Mighty tasty grub!

We then made our way over a block to Market Square, where we intend to take in Robert Earl Keen with Jypsi next week at the Farmer’s Market.

We decided to have a Sierra Nevada and a Yuengling at the Preservation Pub before making our way on to the Bijou Theatre, and enjoying our evening with Bobby Bare, Jr. and Son Volt! You’ll notice I took a bar shot and a couple from the bathroom! Ron said, when I finally came out of the restroom, “I was wondering what was taking you so long when I saw the flashes coming from under the door!”

The walls of the pub was also festooned with hilarious photo art with words of wisdom from little known’s like “Whiskey Scars” to Tom Waits!

I took a few existing light shots of the bands to post, and one three shot merge I made of the inside of the refurbished theater. It is about a third the size of the Tennessee Theatre, but a beautiful place just right for small bands to spread their early wings. Don’t laugh at the name Bobby Bare Jr. either, because Ron and I were wonderfully surprised at the great music they presented to us. The band is made up of all Tennesseans, Bobby, of course, the son of Bobby Bare Sr., lives in Nashville, the horn section was from Oak Ridge, the drummer was from Mt. Juliet, and the bassist was from Kingsport - just hometown boys, and one girl, doing well!

Monday, April 21, 2008


You can only hike and look for wildflowers so much. Sometimes you just have to take a break and go out on the town.

Saturday night we all met at Bonefish in Knoxville and started out with Bang-Bang Shrimp, and great bread dipped in olive oil, salt, and pepper! Then we gorged on fresh seafood like salmon, grouper, wolf fish, shrimp, and scallops! Of course it all had to be washed down with Yuengling draft!

It seems we always go out to eat somewhere each year around this time, evidenced by the arrival of young boys and girls all dressed for their local proms! We saw them same time, same place, last year, but we have also enjoyed watching them at Carrabba’s in years past. Note how the Dragons are critiquing the gowns! Oh yeah, check out the tux with the backward ball cap! Where's Mr. Blackwell when you need'em?

Another group arrived as we were standing outside, letting our food settle, so I decided to be their paparazzi for the evening. I have no idea who these people were, but some took the time to wave or smile at the camera. Oh well, it distracted me from my original intention of going next door to Maggie Moo’s for a double dip of cookies’n cream! As you can tell I didn't need it anyway!

After meeting in the parking lot to exchange magazines, and making it look like a dope deal going on out of the trunk, we made plans to meet up at Borders Book Store. There I found and bought two of Cormac McCarthy’s books. Jeff (FHB) got me started reading again by sending me “No Country for Old Men” and demanding I read it before he returns to pick it up! Well, I saw the movie, and have since finished the book, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both! I now look forward to reading All the Pretty Horses (1992) and The Road (2006).

Well, at least three of the Dragons will be back on the shopping trail tomorrow, while Steve works, Ron delivers an old bedroom suit to a local “goodwill” type store, and I mow the lawn!

However, another rest day comes Tuesday evening for Ron and me as we are set to enjoy a group called “Son Volt” at Knoxville’s legendary Bijou theater. Of course, we will stop in at the Downtown Grill & Brewery prior to show time to enjoy a burger and micro-brewed Downtown Ale!

Now be sure to follow all the links…I worked hard on them, and you might actually learn something!

Friday, April 18, 2008


Thursday found Ron, our Dragons, and me on the road toSavage Gardens” in Lake City, Tennessee.

Neither of us had ever been there, but a mutual friend of ours told Ron about it and gave us directions.

Savage Gardens is located in Lake City, Tennessee near Norris, as in Norris Dam. The gardens are privately owned, but the Dew family, generously opens their property in March, April, and May to the public. The gardens are located off I-75, exit 128 at Lake City. You then cross Hwy. 441 to Lovely Bluff Rd. Follow Lovely Bluff Rd. to where Savage Garden Road turns off to the right. Go up the hill to the first driveway on the left. Parking is in the driveway turnaround.

As we got out of our vehicle, we immediately heard turkeys gobbling. These turkeys, each named for a character on “The Beverly Hillbillies”, are the Dew’s watch dogs! As we left the property, we heard gobbling and a curious dragging sound getting closer to us. The turkeys came down to see who was in their backyard and the dragging is from their wings. They drag them to create a larger and scarier noise to protect them from would be enemies!

We first passed a shelter built against one of the large rocky outcrops, where visitors are invited to picnic if they so wish. There is running water, a BBQ grill, and tables and benches under the tin roofed lean-to.

We walked the backyard gardens and quickly discovered the natural beauty that flourishes there. The hundreds of wildflowers were planted “only by the hand of God”! We discussed names and points of interest with Ms. Dew (Inside joke of the day - her name is Morning and her husband’s is Mountain – Ha!)

The paths wind through, beside, and along large limestone outcrops which reminded me of ancient Aztec ruins! In all the cervices, cracks, and all along the tops were beautiful Purple Phacelia in full bloom. Other white beauties of flowers I’ve forgotten scream out to be admired!

Along the way I discovered a bumper crop of Little Brown Jugs, Wild Ginger, Trilliums of several varieties, Rue Anemones, and Wild Geraniums. We missed the Twinleaf blooms, but caught the hard green seed pods (not shown).

The trails were very small and you had to watch out for the young poison ivy shoots and tiny leaves where ticks were already gathering for the feast. However, Judy was the only one that carried one home with her!

Later we toured on over to Norris Dam, one of the first dams TVA built during the 1930s. You can see the large marina above the dam on Norris Lake, and the shallows below the dam where trout fishermen wade about almost every day, except those days when the dam is generating! However, on calmer days like this one, kayakers and people in canoes enjoy the peaceful waters.

Since we hadn’t eaten since early morning, we hopped on the Interstate and tooled on down to Turkey Creek below Knoxville. There we chose O’Charley’s and wet our lips with Yuengling drafts, swallowed some fresh rolls, and feasted on Pretzel-crusted Chicken, Salmon on a plank and Jambalaya Pasta!

Please click on the photos to enlarge them, or go to FLICKR to see them and others in larger sizes.