MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: March 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

B. B. KING ROCKS THE TENNESSEE THEATER

Ron and I met Don and Cindy, Cindy, and Leslie at the Downtown Grill & Brewery Saturday night for drinks and food prior to the B. B. King concert at the beautiful Tennessee Theater. Last night was the third annual fundraiser for the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation, and B. B. was the headliner who packed the house.
Prior to the concert starting, there was an auction of guitars and other exciting prizes, and one Gibson electric resembling “Lucille” went for $25,000! I was only out bid by about $24,990!
Back at the pre-concert warm up, the Cindy’s and Leslie gulped down “Blow Job” shooters, while Don and I did a cowboy shooter (normally 3-fingers of Wild Turkey)! We were amped for blues and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
It was a great evening and a return to “doing the town” like Ron and are used to doing.
After the concert, we noticed the buses standing by a side door, which was on our way to the parking garage. However, we got tired of waiting for B. B. to come out, so after about 45 minutes, I took this shot of the license plate and we headed home.
B. B. King is 82 years old, so every time you see him you can’t help but think it might be the last time, so in a way, each concert is now part of history. He even joked on stage that he often sees banners advertising his concert as “B. B. King’s Last Concert!”
B. B.’s concert is really laid back, with stories from the past coming in between each tune. He is such a friendly personality that the stories draw you in just as much as his blues tunes. Any applause is followed by his trademark hands to heart gesture. He truly loves his fans!
He remembered living in Indianola, Mississippi, where he was born, and experiencing the prejudice of the Deep South. As he told it, “All small towns have a train track running through them and Indianola is no exception. They put us (pointing to himself) on one side, and the put you (pointing to the majority white audience) on the other side. I used to do my other job (moving his head as if watching girls walk by), which I did very well, sitting there across the tracks. Sometimes I would have me a beer, and then maybe I’d have me another one, and then I would get kind’a mischievous and want me a drink of water. Well, one of those fountains had a sign over it with the word ‘WHITE’ on it, and the other had ‘COLORED’ on it. So, I would run across those tracks and get me a drink from that ‘white’ fountain and run back across. You know, that ‘white’ water didn’t taste one bit better than that ‘colored’ water!
He ended up thanking everyone for making the world a “whole lot better than it was when” he was a kid! Ain’t it the truth!
The concert ended with his theme song “The Trill is Gone!” The house stood and moved with the wonderful sounds of the band and ‘Lucille’. My hands were bright red and stinging from ‘keeping time’ even after I got home. It was such a wonderful night and I hope and pray “The King of the Blues” sings the blues for many years to come!

Friday, March 28, 2008

BLACK MOUNTAIN TENNESSEE

Thousands of people pass Black Mountain everyday, traveling between Crossville and Knoxville, Tennessee, but they never give it much thought, and that’s good for folks like Ron and me. I’m sure there are more people who get off at the Crab Orchard exit and travel the short distance up the mountain on the weekends, but during the week, we are privileged to have it mostly to ourselves.

At the top of the paved road, the trails of the Grassy Cove Segment or Section 5 of the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park begin. Along the trail up to the sandstone outcrops you will pass two old home places, now just rock foundations and chimneys. However, the old spring house still survives! Once on top you will see Grassy Cove spread out before you, some 1300 feet below.

You will also find, as Bob Fulcher describes, “…a maze of convoluted, fluted corridors, strange, stack-stoned chimney rocks and pillars, unexpected windows and passageways winding in glorious confusion. It is all bejeweled with pure white quartzite pebbles, hung with ferns and flowers and dyed in rose colors, and pinks, yellows, purples, brilliant white, handsome brown and grays. This is Tennessee's unsurpassed stonework.”(Bob Fulcher is an interpretive specialist for the Cumberland Trail State Park.)

This is where Ron and I found ourselves a week or so ago. For me, it was my first time and I was blown away with what my eyes beheld that day. I could not get over the huge rocks and how much it reminded me of old black and white cowboy movies I used to watch. I flashed back to outlaws or Indians hiding in the rocks shooting down at the posse or Calvary below. Simply spectacular and I long to go back soon, so, we're taking the ladies tomorrow!

I can not post all the photos here, but you can see others on my Flickr page.

I believe this ridge of rocks is identified on maps as Sand Rock Ridge, and it is well worth getting off I-40 and driving the 8 miles just to spend a few minutes walking among the huge boulders or just sitting on top of one and looking out across the valley. I can feel my heart rate going down as I type!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

SPRINGING BACK INTO SOME KIND OF SHAPE

It has now been over a year since my first shoulder operation, and nine months since my second one, and today, for the first time I worked like I used to in the yard. Now don’t get the impression that I’ve lost a bunch of weight, ‘cause I’ve not, but I do have some stamina again, at least for a couple of hours work.

First though, I had to change my bed, and make a couple of phone calls. Judy and I applied for early Social Security online this week, and mailed in the documents they required. I got a follow up email from the SS Admin office in Tampa, and they wanted me to call. So, while I was changing the bed, I kept hitting redial. Each time I heard them say “All agents are currently busy. Please call back later.”

Yes, they didn’t mess around with putting me on hold or asking me to leave a message, just “call back later!”

I finally got through and that’s when I found out I did not have to mail them my original documents or any documents at all. I’m not sure why the instructions tell you to, but they do, and I did! However, I was told they would mail them back to me.

Then Baylee (my dog) and I began work on the lawnmower trailer. The Knights have this old trailer frame that we share. Steve was the last to have it and the deck rotted away, so I picked it up and brought it home last summer. Ron and I planned to work on it together, but, as you know, he and I both had a little surgery this past year and we haven’t been able to get the job done.

So, today I did it by myself, with a little supervision from Baylee, and Judy who held two bolts that I could not reach until I tightened them. The trailer was stored sitting over on one side, so I just put the plywood up against the trailer frame. I held it in place while I drilled the holes with c-clamps, alternately shifting each end until I centered the 4X8 sheet of marine plywood on the trailer. The only bolts I could not tighten were those I could not reach over or under and hold with my other hand. That’s when I went and got Judy away from Dr. Phil!

Turns out I completed the little project in about an hour. I had thought it would take much longer, but it did not. I plan to use the eye-bolts (shown) as anchor points for my tie-downs, which should hold the mower firmly on the rig.

Then the real hard work started.

Two years ago I put in a rainwater drain at the top of my driveway. Then about a year ago they started a new house about a hundred yards from the cul-de-sac where the drain is. Oh, they put up the required plastic barrier and straw like they are supposed to, but it did not keep the mud from stopping up the county drain and threatening my supplemental drain. I should report them, but I don’t think the EPA is too concerned about local housing construction too much!

My drain was already cleaned and clear, but the county drain was completely stopped up. I dug through about 6 to 8 inches of dark topsoil, in about a 3-foot square area until I found the grate. Surprisingly, the drain box was clear of dirt and debris…just the grate had clogged and allowed several inches of soil to be deposited on it, rendering the drain useless, and forcing storm water further down the curb to my little drain, which constantly gets clogged with leaves and overflows down my driveway.

So, I finally got, after having to make Baylee move several times, she loved the dark damp earth and wanted to lay right where my shovel was supposed to go, the grates out. I bashed them against the pavement and cleared off the dirt and roots, and then put them back in place.

I have much more digging to do along the curb of the cul-de-sac, above and below this drain, but that hour was all my old body, especially my back, would stand for one day.

I got on the mower, which I used to carry my implements of destruction up the hill on, and took them back down to the basement door.

Before putting the mower up, I ran several rounds in the front yard, knocking down the wild onions, and mulching up the tiny limbs that had accumulated over the winter months.

It was a good day, even though I hobbled back upstairs from the basement in pain.

After a hot shower, I was pleasantly surprised by a wonderful meal Judy had waiting – ham, mashed potatoes, peas, and some fried onions and apples! Man that was delicious and hit the empty spot in my stomach, which by then had begun eating itself!

At least I know now that this year has the potential of being a much better year than last. Come on warm weather…I’m ready!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

THE DISAPPEARING DEER TRICK

As I stated in a previous post, I hunted the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) twice during my hunting career, the first time scoring my first kill, but the second time was a heart breaking experience. This story is about the second time.

The second hunt was with Allen and Judie Henegar, her brother Buzz, and a mutual friend Art Mallard. As a side note, Art’s wife was named Debbie, and we often referred to her as “Debbie Duck” for obvious reasons! Always thought that was great!

Art and I bunked together in his pop-up camper and after setting up camp we scouted the hills and valleys in walking distance of our camp site. Later, we sat up most of the first night talking, drinking, and playing cards with the others.

Art is a funny drinker. After a couple, he piddles around the camp, or camper, making a sound like “Huum” almost as a punctuation mark of some sort at the end of this thoughts. As the evening progresses, the “Huum’s” get more and more numerous until it makes you want to drink more so you don’t notice them!

On another hunt, years later, we again camped on a bitterly cold night, with a light snow falling into our food, while we sat eating our supper in lawn chairs, and watching UT play in some bowl game on a 6-inch TV he had brought. By the time the game ended we were out of booze, and I threatened to drain the radiator for us to drink, but luckily Art knew I was just kidding…I think! He just said, “Huum,” and wobbled off to bed.

Bright and early that morning at LBL, well before daybreak, I walked directly across the road from camp, jumped across a small ditch, and stepped over into the dark forest to allow my eyes to adjust.

The fall leaves took turns dropping dew from leaf-to-leaf, drop-by-drop, to the forest floor, smothering all other sounds. My darting wide eyes suddenly caught movement just 20 yards from where I stood. I froze, not daring to move a muscle, even though I was also blurred by the morning fog, so I waited until the buck passed behind a large oak just ahead of him.

The buck’s head was decked by a huge rack; I estimated at least 8 points with a wide separation. I could not believe my eyes or my luck! My heart was about to pound out of my chest!

The huge rack soon disappeared behind the oak tree, so I raised the Ruger .270 to my shoulder, found the tree in my scope, pulled the rifle hard into my shoulder, leaned slightly forward anticipating the recoil, made the perfect crosshair picture, laid my finger lightly on the trigger, held my breath, and waited.

How easy this has been,” I thought! The guys will never believe the size of this big boy, and how I just walked into the woods…man!”

I continued holding the sight picture and released half my breath and began to tighten my squeeze. I waited…and waited…finally I had to take in another gulp of air and held it. Nothing!

I finally raised my head and looked over the scope…still nothing!

I stood frozen for at least 5 minutes before I began to inch slowing in the wet leaves toward the oak. He’s hiding…must have seen me…I’ll get’em though,” I said to myself.

I reached the tree, which must have been three feet wide, and peered around its side, slowing scooping out the area on the other side. Nothing! What the…? This can’t be,” I now said out loud.

I later surmised that the seasoned buck had seen me and turned after reaching the tree and angled straight off with the tree been him and me. Don’t tell me deer aren’t smart…this ol’ boy knew exactly what he was doing and he certainly made a fool of me that day.

That night I went over and over the tale until I’m sure everyone was sick of it, but finally we all, being worn out, went to bed early. However, not long after lights out, the rains came, and I mean came down hard. The huge drops beat against the canvas top of the camper’s pop-out wings so hard that you could feel tiny bits of spray on your face. It really rained and it seemed to have rained most of what I remember of the night.

The night was also filled with dreams of the huge buck. I kept seeing him walk by me in the fog, snickering to himself, and finally tip-toe behind the tree. I awoke with new resolve and excitement. I was determined to get in the woods even earlier and ambush this ol’ boy!

I quickly dressed and tossed down a breakfast bar and headed off filled with anticipation of that being the day I would score my first buck.

I did not get half way across the road before I head the sound of rushing water. The little ditch I had easily hopped across the morning before was now a 10-foot wide raging creek! My heart sank…but I was determined and turned and walked first up the road and then back the other way. There was no use…the water did not subside until after noon that day…much too late for an early morning ambush.

The hunt ended with no further sightings, but I was again armed with lessons for the future. I would never again be fooled by the ol’ disappearing deer trick!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

EASTER SATURDAY IN BLACK AND TANS

The Dragons and Knights gathered to gorge ourselves for Jesus Saturday, and to send a salute to Jeff with black & tans for sending us Vintage Macanudo cigars to share! Little did he know at the time he mailed them, and a neat ammo clip lighter, that Saturday would be one of the toughest days of his life.

As we raised our smokes and drinks to honor him, we knew that at that moment he was probably emptying his heart out at a gravesite in Texas.

Thanks again “our” friend for thinking of us, but it is you that need our thoughts and prayers now.

May God comfort you and your mom this, and coming weeks.

I just wanted to show you around Charlotte and Gary’s place Jeff. Their home is surrounded by acres of cleared land, not all of which is theirs, but they do have access to the fishing, hunting, and target practicing it provides. Often times you see deer in the field, along the tree line, turkey, and in the fall we sometimes shoot dove. Further down, Gary and a friend have created duck ponds and plan on countless hours of ducking hunting there this fall.

Note the huge grape vine, just one of many he has and you and Denise have already sample the bounty. The vines are already dripping their sap, getting a jump on spring.

Note the dog kennel where the couple boards up to 10 Labs they train each day, and their lovely home near Sweetwater, Tennessee.

As Judy and I arrived, Noel, Steve, and Gary were already taking turns shooting a target setup some two hundred yards away. If you look closely, you can see that Steve made the hike to retrieve the target!

Gary, formerly a Miller Lite man, has now become acommonsewer” of black & tans (Guinness Draught over Bass Ale), although if you click on the link, you will see there are numerous concoctions to enjoy with Guinness Draft!

Note that Ron holds his proudly high so that we might capture the division of color present in a properly prepared black & tan!

So, here’s to you our brother…bottoms up!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

FRIDAY WITH THE LADIES

Friday was the monthly meeting of Judy and her gal friends for lunch. She talked Katie Bug into going along, and I tagged along as far as Wild Wings! While the “hen” party was underway, I was sitting at Wild Wings watching UT play American, sipping on Yuengling drafts and chomping hot wings from the buffet with all my friends!

I was then kidnapped and made to go to Kohl’s with my abductors! You can see them gathered in a tactical meeting about how to disperse and attack the Kohl’s sales going on in every department.

I backed off, and took up a sleepy seat in the vestibule, across from an old gentleman from Crossville, about 60 miles west of Knoxville. Turns out this was his second day there and he was very grumpy and complained the entire time about women and their shopping habits. He was also very upset over the fact that a “Mexican” he had been watching work on some new front entrance construction had talked on his cell phone for 30 minutes instead of working!

He was also very upset over the state of the economy, “Mark my word, this here store will be closed within a year!” I did not argue, just agreed and closed my eyes behind my sunglasses. Finally, his “old lady” arrived from her mission to “drain him dry” with several bags and they left, with him shuffling along behind grumbling that she was going too fast.

On the way home, Katie and I swapped snaps, and poked fun at Judy, and the very loud cell phone call from her mother!

Note how Katie pretended to be concerned for UT as we listened to the play on the radio. Turns out, UT won, but I complained. I had picked them to lose in my fantasy bracket picks. Papaw, that’s not very nice of you,” she scolded me.

Hey, they won the SEC Championship, so that’s all I wanted this season. Besides, I stand to win big if I’m successful!”

How much money you go’na win?”

Well…none, but I need to beat Corey!”

It was a good day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

William C. "Billy" Wilson Jr.

After a short illness and fifteen years after suffering a heart attack and having a triple bypass operation, William C. "Billy" Wilson Jr. passed away in his sleep, Thursday, March 20th, from heart failure. He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, the former Inus Hargrove of Temple, a daughter, Margaret Wilson of Belton, a son, Jeffrey Wilson of Killeen, as well as many other loving relatives and friends.

William Wilson was born on a tenant farm in Bell County Texas in 1922 and grew up picking cotton during the Great Depression along with parents his three brothers. He graduated from Academy High School in 1939 and started college at Temple College, which was then in the basement of Temple High School, sweeping floors there at night to help pay his tuition. After a stint in California as a riveter in a factory making B-25s, he returned to Bell County and joined the Army in 1942.

Because of the few semesters he spent taking college classes he was qualified after enlisting to enter officer training and eventually achieve his dream of becoming a pilot. He was trained to fly B-26s and A-26s and just missed service in the Pacific theatre when the atomic bombs were dropped, stopping his deployment. After the war he spent time in Germany and briefly flew a C-47 in the Berlin Airlift. He ended up spending most of the rest of his professional life in the Air Force, serving a total of 32 years and 9 months, retiring as a Colonel in 1974.

Since then he has played golf (his all consuming passion for 40 years), earned a Masters Degree from Texas Christian University, raised Pugs and fat house cats, and enjoyed the sweet fruits of his many labors in a long and happy retirement along side his family and friends.

He lived a blessed life, lucky in virtually all things, and now goes on to an even greater reward. His many surviving family and friends will miss him terribly but we are comforted to know that others, already passed on to the other side, welcome him with joy to his new life in another realm.

Written by his loving and loyal son,
Jeff Wilson (http://fathairybastard.blogspot.com)

The family receives friends tonight, with a private graveside service Saturday.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WA’URMELON TOEZ

You’ve all seen her fancy colored fingernails in So Long Nigel, so you might as well see her “wa’urmelon toez,” as she called them, using her best English accent! An accent that is quite good, if I may say so. She’s pretty gifted in mimicking accents, like the time she came away from a perfume counter on a cruise telling me the prices of different sizes in her interpretation of a South African inflection, “It’s $19.95 for the smoll Papaw, or $29.95 for the larrz!

As you can imagine how it cracked me up when I came by the couch where she and her Granny were lounging, and encountered her feet suddenly thrust before me, toes up, and her saying, “See me wa’urmelon toez, Papaw?”

Oh, those are sharp! Does everyone paint’em up like that,” I asked, looking over at Judy out of the corner of my eyes?

Nope, just me…I started to put my initials on’em…KT,” she said proudly.

KT?

Yes! You know, KT…K A T I E? That’s all I put on my school papers now…just KT! Everyone knows it’s me!”

Hummm, maybe you’ll start a trend,” I said as I winked at Judy.

No doubt,” she said. So, I added the letters using Photoshop, just to see what the fad could have been!

It's hard to believe that almost 16 years ago this was her:

She’s a wonder, and always surprising and refreshing to be around, and I love it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

THE FIRST KILL

The Land Between the Lakes (LBL), is a National Recreational Area about 90 miles northwest of Nashville, and about 26 miles north of Clarksville, Tennessee, right on the Kentucky and Tennessee state line. The inland peninsula itself is half in Kentucky and half in Tennessee and was formed when the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were impounded, around 1953, creating Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The large area is bisected by The Trace, also known as KY 453, a 45 mile long highway. The land is prime deer hunting land and the former location of many old homesteads.

I hunted LBL twice during my hunting career, the first time successfully, but the second time, while not successful; it was the most challenging experience. This story is about the first time.

The first hunt was with Vernon, Leroy, Martin, and Squeaky. They prepped me for the hunt about two months prior to the hunt, making me shoot countless arrows down through the trees at a range in north Knoxville. There were a series of tree stands and ground stations throughout the woods near the rifle range there. Martin in particular made me practice shooting straight down from a tree stand to a target below at about an 80 degree angle. He had missed a doe directly under his tree stand the year before and he was determined that neither of us would make the same mistake at LBL.

The morning of the hunt, (I’m skipping right to the chase because the two hunts are meshed in my memory and the details leading up to the actual hunts are somewhat confusing now), the five of us skirted a large cornfield in the dark, walking to our stands, spaced some 200 yards apart, located between the field and a slow sloping hill.

I quickly inched my way up the tall hickory I had scouted and settled in for the wait, scouring the area with quick little movements of my eyes in order to pick up movement, but not really focusing on anything. This is the same technique I had learned in Vietnam while standing post, and the same reason lifeguards can watch a large crowd and still pick up something out of place – not normal.

All day I sat there, sucking on the kernels of corn from a dried ear I picked up coming along the field. Slowly, as went the time, kernel after kernel dissolved in my mouth and occupied my time. Occasionally, I would have to pee in the plastic bottle I had packed…along side my lunch!

The day drug by and the heat rose to around 65 or 70, and I could feel the sweat trail down my brow and into my eyes, but I was careful to move very slowly when I had to wipe it away.

The sun sank lower until it silhouetted the top of the hill about 200 yards away. I started to think that my hunt was over for the day and that I had wasted all the preparation and anxiety time.

Just then about 5 or 6 deer came up over the hill from the opposite side from me and stood looking toward the field that was vexing them to “come gorge on my corn.” They suddenly broke and started to run down the hill toward the field but away from my stand. Again my heart sank.

Then, as if divinely guided, one doe broke ranks and headed in my direction. While the doe was still shielded from me by low limbs loaded with fall foliage, I came to full draw and followed her; bending from the waist and maintaining the proper shooting posture.

As fate, or God, would have it she stopped dead still directly under my feet and perused the immediate area, but never looking up. My arms began to feel weak as I strained to hold the 60 pound bow at full draw, and Martin’s voice went over that particular shot one more time in my head.

I aimed lower than she appeared, like shooting at fish in water, taking aim about a foot lower than dead on and released! As happened to me many times, the doe took one more step, maybe jumping the sound of the string being that close, and the arrow twanged into the ground. The doe squatted slightly, and bolted, tail down. In a moment she was lost in the darkness that had now crept into the valley.

I cursed myself, only audible to myself, and began the climb down, making more noise than I should have. Just then Leroy appeared and asked, “Did you hit her?

Hell no…I screwed up the shot…Martin will be pissed,” I said loudly.

Where’s your arrow? Was her tail up or down?

I don’t know…down I think…let’s see, she was standing about here...” then my flashlight highlighted the arrow. I bent down and pulled it out of the ground and I felt something wet and yucky. Leroy stepped up and we both lit up an arrow with blood and deer crap all over it!

You hit her man, you hit her!”

I hit her,” I shouted!

The five of us searched for about two hours and could not find the doe in the dark. I had to ride back to the motel and try to sleep wondering about my deer…lost out there in the dark woods.

The next morning, not 50 yards from my tree we found the doe lying under some bushes, with about half of one of her hind quarters eaten away by the forest scavengers; skunks, possums, raccoons, maybe even coyotes, who knows. Needless to say, I was very disappointed, but nonetheless, it was decided that I should salvage what I could, if for nothing else to feed my dog.

So, for the first time, I pulled out my Air Force survival knife and began to cut from where the animals had left off up to her chest cavity.

I heard Leroy make a bet with Vernon about whether or not I would upchuck, but as I laid her open and rolled out the already severed entrails, it was Leroy who gave up the first “Ralph and Earl!” The smell was just too much for him!

I had passed my first rite of passage and made my first kill, as they said with “beginner’s luck!” Either by luck or skill, I made the grade with many witnesses. It don’t get any better than that!

Friday, March 14, 2008

STEPPING OUT – EVERYTHING FROM WINGS TO PIZZA

Last Saturday Corey and I made a “wings run” as he is almost certain to say. He loves the Wild Wings Cafe in Knoxville, and I love the wings and the time with him.

We both ordered Chicken Nuggets, being too lazy to strip the bones and create a huge pile of “carnage”, as he likes to say. I favor THE TENNESSEE FIREBALL WING and the JALAPENO CHEDDAR with Yuengling draft, while he goes for THE GOLD RUSH WING and THE WILD WEST WING and glass after glass of unsweet tea!

Just look at that happy face, those wings, and the giant fries! You can’t ask for a better day than that my friends!

However, today was a happy day too. Ron is back!

Ron and I met up with Steve, Gary, and Gary’s lovely Dragon Charlotte at the Smoky Mountain Brewery. She is not much of a shopper, so she hung with the Knights today while Judy, Neena, and Terri attended Knoxville’s annual Women Today Expo at the Convention Center, which is near the 1982 World’s Fair Site. It seems that most of the retailers in Knoxville were there displaying everything from fashion, careers, cooking, fitness, food, health, to skin care products and more. Charlotte would just soon eat a great cheeseburger with the guys, and naturally we all had rather be with her!

Oh, and the Baker’s Choice Pizza was wonderful too!

It was good to get together with the guys again, but Ron being back, holding a draft again, made it even more special.

After burgers, pizza, and a Chicken Ruben for Ron, we crossed the parking lot to the Irish Times Pub for a black & tan for dessert! Where we watched part of the Tennessee vs. South Carolina basketball game at the SEC Tournament - we won!