Wednesday, October 29, 2008


My daughter Tracy had a hysterectomy Tuesday, and so Judy and I drove separately to the hospital. Judy knew Tracy would want her to spend the night with her, so that way I had a way home.

Of course Eddie, my son-in-law, was there, and so was Katie Bug and Zack, her “current boyfriend.

Katie and Zack passed the time, about four to five hours waiting on a room after the 15-minute procedure, texting friends at school and comparing photos on their cell phones. I snapped this one as they mused over something interesting.

You can see Zack’s bum left leg from his recent truck wreck. I think he said he had a total of 42 staples in the leg in various places. He broke two bones and his ankle, and had to have a rod inserted to hold things together! He cannot get a “hard” cast until the staples are removed! As you might assume, he had a hard time getting around Tuesday, and especially getting in and out of Judy’s car when we went to eat, and my truck when I took them home with me later.

Please pray for Zack’s family too…his dad is battling cancer right now. That, plus the accident, missing school, and trying to maneuver is weighing pretty heavy on him right now.

The Chinese buffet at the Mandarin House, in Knoxville, Tennessee, took everyone’s mind off their problems for about an hour. The food was good, but it has been better there in the past.

We did notice that the parking lot was not a full as it usually is, but we were there well after the lunch hour.

The kids, and I, passed the time waiting on Eddie to get home from working late by watching scary movies – Jeepers Creepers and the most recent Omen! Then when Eddie came, they just left me here in this lonely house to fend for myself!

I stayed up until about 12:30 and then went to bed. I slept like a baby and didn’t get bothered by a single (or even a married) monster!

This morning I was up by 9, fixing fried Spam, eggs, and toast! Yep, Spam, and later I finished off the small can by fixing a great sandwich that included cheese and sweet pickles! I didn’t get to looking this way by accident!

After all that, I decided to go for a walk around Riverfront Park a time or two, and then drove around Harriman shooting photos of the brilliant maple trees along the streets, at the Harriman Cemetery, and, of course, in the backyard.

Oh yeah, I also talked to FHB for a short time. I pulled over and turned the engine off, 'cause we had some catching up to do!

Right now, I’m completely relaxed, full, and over the surgery waiting room exercise from yesterday.

Happy fall folks!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


We haven’t seen Katie Bug in a few days and I had to revert to looking back at some photos of her to remember what she looked like! Well, that’s not entirely true, but that is what we tell her when we talk to her of the phone.

Her boyfriend had been in the hospital a few days suffering from a badly broken leg he received in a recent car accident. Katie and her mother ran the road between home and Park West Hospital in Knoxville, but he is home now recuperating.

Today I sent her a text message, knowing she’d have her cellphone on during school, even though it’s against the general rule!

Sure enough I got a reply – she loves me too!

I told her I still loved her even though I haven’t seen her in “forever!

Turns out she was planning to come by after work, possibly to spend the night, which means she’ll get here around 9, worn out, and then go to bed around 10. That’s okay, at least I’ll get to see her. She'll stop by the computer, give me a kiss on the cheek, tell me good night and that she loves me, and then off to bed.

We did visit long enough for me to make a descent photo from a cellphone shot of her and Zach kissing! Of course I complained about that, but you know how teen love is! It's for his birthday.

We were over at her house, not too long ago, for “soup night” and I had forgotten about the other shots I’m including within this post.

I was also messing around with ANIMOTO today, a personal video clip creating site I discovered from my PC World magazine, and I found the shots while looking for some to upload for my test video. After uploading my photos, and a music clip by INXS, the site automatically formatted all of it into this great little clip! You should try it!

Anyway, completing my thoughts on Katie, she gets her great love of life from (in order of craziness) her Granny (Judy), her mother (Tracy), and her dad (Eddie). I’m not saying I haven’t contributed, but I figured that went without saying! We’ve always enjoyed each other’s company. We used to go on “ventures,” starting about the time she could see out of my truck from a booster-seat, and on through teaching her about the blues as she sat by my side and listened to my MP3 collection!

She is my crazy little granddaughter!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Judy was up and out the door to make the rounds at Curves by 8:30. Me, well, I was up by 9, or so, and heating up the oven and starting the coffee to drip. I popped 3 biscuits in the oven, and hit the bathroom, and by the time I was out, the biscuits and coffee were done.

When Judy got home she made her wonderful southern “white” thick gravy, while I scrambled 3 eggs and fried 2 pieces of “light” beef baloney!

After my second cup, I took a shower and shaved, and we were out the door to the community center where we both voted an early ballot, marking our selections by shading in a rectangular box with a number 2 pencil.

We then zipped about 12 miles up the road toward Oak Ridge, passed K-25, where I used to work, and on to the west entrance to the North Boundary Greenway. Yes, I’ve written about it before, but we love to walk there.

It’s a beautiful, usually isolated, easy walk of about a mile and a half out to the 4th bridge, the largest one on the walk that crosses Popular Creek. We love the slight rolling hills that make you begin to sweat, but there are also long flat stretches that wind their way through the DOE property. The three mile round trip is just about all we really care to do.

It was another beautiful, dry, fall day, with the temperature just below 70, a light breeze, and lots of colorful leaves rustling all around us. It has been so dry here this summer and fall that you are really pressed to find brilliant colors this year. However, there are subtle red, yellow, orange, and still lots of green leaves around, but there is a lot of brown mixed in too.

Ron bicycled the route just a few days earlier and had told me about a new beaver dam just off on the right side of the second bridge you cross after leaving the highway.

There it was – such a masterpiece of construction too! It amazes me how they instinctively know just how to perfectly build a dam, seeming to know how much of an area the backwater will cover. Their lodge must have been further up stream, because we could not see it from the bridge, but you can bet it was up there somewhere, with a safe little family unit proudly surveying their domain.

Judy posed proudly with her new “hiking stick” that Steve, her sister Terri’s husband, made for her. It’s a strong hickory stick, tapered to an epoxy tip at the bottom. Steve cut groves into the top for grip, and inset an emerald stone, her birthstone, into the very top. Down the top forward side he carved “Lucy Dragon”. Lucy is the moniker she was awarded after leaving her purse in a public restroom in Key West! Luckily, some honest person turned it in to the police and she got everything back before the cruise ship sailed. We were truly blessed…again!

Steve has been on a mission of making hiking sticks for all the Dragons, and I think he only has one more to deliver. He has 19 acres of fine Tennessee forest, so he doesn’t have to look too far from his workbench for the raw materials.

I encourage you to get out and vote, and to take a nice long walk down some country gravel road before winter comes. They’ll both do you good!

There are other shots on my Flickr page!

Monday, October 20, 2008


First, you can run by about 9 AM and get your flu shot.

Have you gotten yours yet?

Second, drop in at your little momma’s, and wait for your wife to make the rounds at Curves!

If you’ve been really good, she’ll bring you a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit back for breakfast.

Then you can all hop in the car, letting your wife drive, and go shopping for new hair clippers for you, and a new bed and a big bag of pig ears for your doggie!

Then you stand around and watch your mom and wife cuss and discuss new drapes!

Afterward, you can talk them into a big Ol’ Smokey at Gridiron Burgers! Yummy…for my tummy!

Finally, you get everyone and everything back home in time for an early afternoon nap!

Thank you God for my retirement…and please watch over my retirement fund!

Tomorrow, we plan to vote early!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Look at this great photo my mom had taken for her church directory! (
Isn't Photoshop wonderful!)

She still looks great at 82 today!

It's hard to believe this little 100 pound lady used to whip my butt while holding me still with one hand!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This week’s road-trip (10/10) with Ron and Neena was to Maryville (pronounced Murville locally), Tennessee and the annual “Foothills Fall Festival”!

Judy and I had been sick with some virus that took us down for a couple of days, but we decided getting out on such a beautiful Friday might make us feel better. Generally speaking, it did do us wonders, even though Judy is still moving kind of slow. She was sure glad to get back home and lay down for a few minutes.

As usual, at these kinds of things, the women folk straggle behind, touching and feeling jewelry at the first kiosk we come to, or smelling a bunch of candles, while Ron and I wonder slowly on ahead looking for a pub!

We did try to get into the shopping/trading mood, but men can generally see from a full 20 feet if there is anything worth second looks, and more importantly, parting with their money.

We walked by the cooking “kettle corn” and “BBQ chicken grills” smelling the delicious aromas wafting in our direction. We even wondered into the old Capitol Theater, mostly to see if they sold beer, and toured the remodeled auditorium and automated restroom! There was an automated paper towel dispenser and the trash can lid opened with a touch of a button. There was even a ultra-violet light shining down from the head of the water tap, and through the water flow; to help kill germs I suppose!

As we walked on, we went by this guy playing mountain tunes using a SPAM can! He had other homemade, dulcimer like instruments made out of beer cans too.

A cop watched us from his Segway, especially after I took a picture of his buddies, as they stood talking over the handlebars of their bicycles, in the middle of the street. I sent copies on to Goddess!

Finally, we stumbled upon Brackins!

I have a friend, Robert, who often plays Brackins Blues Club with one of his blues bands, so I had long wanted to visit the bar and get photos for my “bar shots” on Flickr. I quickly got that out of the way and ordered a frothy Guinness! Ron stuck with his new favorite Flat Tire. NOTE: If you enlarge this shot of the bar, you will see they are among the few that stock and serve George Dickel. They get an "A" in book!

We held it to one each, knowing that there would be more to come over lunch at Aubrey’s!

As we walked the street, looking to hook up again with the Dragons, we noticed an artsy use for old license plates and some young girl collecting money for the local humane society by letting you put a dollar in the collar of her cute doggie. That wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to use our dollars, so we moved on!

Lots more shots posted on FLICKR!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Judy and I were up at 7 and left by 8:15 in order to meet Neena and Ron at the Cracker Barrel in Lenoir City, Tennessee by 9.

Friday began our traditional fall road-trips, which usually begin when the weather cools significantly in October. The temperature Thursday night was down in the 40’s, and the high expected for Friday (10/3) was around 74, and, with the sky a deep blue, it was perfect!

After pancakes, biscuits, sourdough toast, eggs and such, we were off on our 75 mile one way tour of the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forest. The two forests are really the same stretch of wilderness, with Cherokee’s 640,000 acres lying on the Tennessee side, and Nantahala’s 531,000 acres lying on the North Carolina side of the mutual border.

Ron had actually just returned home from spending a few days camping, hiking, and kayaking inside the Indian Boundary Campground, which is located in the Cherokee National Forest area. He wanted to show “the girls” the beautiful area and some of the early fall foliage. He insisted he drive Neena’s Honda, on which he had just had about $1400 worth of work done, including new brakes all the way ‘round.

At the visitor’s information center in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, we made our first “pit stop” and shed our light jackets.

From there we made our way east on 165 to Indian Boundary Campground, and toured the camping area, looking at the spaces and noting the variety of camper types, pop-ups, normal trailers, 5th wheels, and self-contained RVs.

We are becoming interested because of Charlotte and Gary’s recent purchase and subsequent trip to Florida, in their self-contained unit.

We then made another pit-stop and started around Indian Boundary Lake. It’s a 3.5 mile round trip, but we only went to mile-marker 1.0 before turning back to the parking lot. We plan to go back in about two weeks and make the full hike to see the full peak of the fall colors.

We left Indian Boundary and headed toward the 5500’ elevation at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, known as Huckleberry Knob. We also plan to go back there during the peak foliage weeks, and hike out to one of the nearby balds. There are several “balds” in this area (not counting Ron), all due to the high elevation, wind, and cold at this level.

On each side of highway near the top of the “knob” are tall poles with a long board protruding at a right angle out over the road. You see at least two places where the forestry service has placed these poles. Do you know what they are for?

Think about it before reading on!

I didn’t know either because I was too busy shooting flowers to read the information posted at the overlook. However, the girls did read it and finally knew something we didn’t!

There is a large population of Glaucomys volans living in this area. That’s “flying squirrels to most of us, and these poles allow them to glide across the highway safely, avoiding being flattened in to tiny furry rugs! I know! I learned something too!

However, don’t go up there looking for them unless you stay until after dark – they’re nocturnal! (You can see a picture of one if you click on the link above.)

I got several great new wildflower shots during this trip, all of which can be seen my Flickr page (either click on the Flickr badge or the Wildflower link in the sidebar).

I’m including a scan of a “dragon” I found on a map of “The Dragon” (be sure to click this link), an 11 mile stretch of Highway 129, along the border of the Smoky Mountains National Park, that has 318 curves!

Motorcyclist and sport scar enthusiasts risk life, limb, and reckless driving tickets every clear day driving the road that beckons, “Ride me if you dare!

There are several wrecks and deaths each year, on curves with nicknames like, “Pearly Gates”, “The Whip”, “The Wall”, and “Gravity Cavity!”

The dragon lady, used as a logo for “The Dragon” reminded me of our own “Dragons!” It may come in handy for future posts!

Of course, the day was filled with laughter from the back seat, which spilled over into the front! Hard as Ron and I may have tried, we couldn’t help but either laugh along with, or at, the two crazy Dragons in the back!

One story from Neena, which usually entails her view of how her older sisters abused her as a child, concerned how the power used to frequently go off in their neighborhood. Neena was probably 8 or 9, while her sisters Judy and Linda were about 5 or 8 years older.

Anyway, this particular night, the girl’s mother had fixed a big pot of pinto beans and other things, but the girls all love to eat their beans with something sweet. This night Neena had a big pile of beans and a coconut covered “snowball!” Our first introduction to appetizers,” Neena said!

You do remember “snowballs” don’t you?

They were chocolate cake with a cream filling, covered with a marshmallow like icing, usually pink in color, and sprinkled in coconut!

Well, as Neena continued, she was just about to eat her “appetizer/dessert” when the power went off. The next thing she heard was Linda whispering to Judy, “Hey Judy, feel this!

It turns out that both of Neena’s sisters were fondling the top of the snowball in her plate, and when the power came back on all the coconut had been rubbed off!

Of course you had to be there for it to be funny to you, but for some reason it hit me hard in the funny bone! I suppose I was waiting for her to say that the snowball was gone when the lights came back on, but even without the expected punch line I cracked up. The laughter spread to everyone and by the time the last one caught the laughter bug, we were all about to pee our pants!

No, this wasn’t the only moment of levity, but it was the most intense!

So, as we headed back toward home on north bound two lanes of Highway 68, toward I-75, all eyes focused in on two cars ahead of us. One had crossed the two north bound lanes was sitting in the median, while a second was sitting to our right at an intersection.

Just as we were about to pass between the two cars at about 50 to 55 mph, the woman in the Ford Ranger to our right decided to pull across. Ron had already lifted his foot from the accelerator and as she suddenly pulled into our lane, Ron made a slight right direction change in order to pass behind her if she continued across. The woman, who was close enough for us to see clearly was holding a cellphone to her left ear, realized her mistake and slammed on her brakes, stopping directly in our lane, and our path!

Ron corrected his earlier move and slammed on his brakes, sending them into anti-lock mode, and turned to the left to pass her in the left lane. As soon as the car was straight, and it was evident the woman was stopped, Ron released the brakes and we rolled on past.

I had a good close-up of her, still talking on the phone, as we passed.

With adrenalin coursing through my veins, I shouted, “Put down that damn phone you idiot! Of course she couldn’t hear me, but I had to vent!

The last thing I do the night before one of our trips, and the first thing I do the morning of a trip, is ask the Good Lord to watch over us and bring us back safely. I’m thankful of two things: the answered prayer and that Ron had gotten the brakes fixed last week!

The beers Ron and I had at Aubrey’s back in Lenoir City, helped settle our nerves. Ron had Flat Tire and I had one Yuengling, and two wheat beers.

We hadn’t eaten since breakfast that morning so by the time we ordered we were starving, although, you couldn’t tell it by looking at us!

Neena and Judy split an order of Pizza Rockefeller and Chicken Quesadillas, Ron got the Grilled Tuna sandwich, and I decided on the Peanut Crusted Catfish! It calmed us and made us very full and happy once again!

Next week we’re off to a fall festival!