MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: November 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Judy and I began our Thanksgiving morning by stopping by to visit Tracy, Katie, and Eddie. Katieinsisted I play Guitar Hero, but of course I was no good at it! I’d have to have that program alone in my computer room for a few weeks before I’d ever be comfortable playing it in front of anyone, let alone her!

Of course she has it down and plays it on the “hard” setting! I just stood proudly by, watched her, and listen to the great old rock tunes coming out of the speakers.

Then it was off to Charlotte and Gary’s for the main event…beer, cigars, and food!

Steve and Ron introduced me to at least three new brews; Winter Hook – Winter Ale, Sierra Nevada – Anniversary Ale, Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Pale Ale! They were all very tasty, but I suppose I like the Winter Ale the best with my Macanudos!

However, I stuck with Yuengling for the rest of the afternoon. It has just achieved the best relationship with my taste buds!

The fellowship began with all the Knights taking turns sitting in Ron’s new Highlander! We all spent several minutes each inhaling the “new car smell” before indulging! That’s such a nice smell.

Then it was time to take the obligatory shots of the Dragon Sisters! The main purpose of this photo was to document the conclusion of Steve’s efforts to make them all “hiking sticks”, customized for each Dragon. They also wore their Dragon necklaces to complete the dragon ensemble!

Then of course, Terri had to show off her new bosoms! Finally, after recuperating from her reduction surgery for several weeks, she was ready to display them! Steve says he still hasn’t seen them!

Finally, if was the Knight’s turn to get into the holiday action…this photo was the last time we were able to stand until it was time to go home! Naturally, Steve “passed out”; he had rather have people think he passed out than that he was taking a nap, which was the real case!

I snapped this shot as Ron leaned toward him pretending to kiss him while he was aslee…ah, passed out! We thought about sticking something in his ear, but it was too cold!

The food the Dragons killed and prepared was delicious…I’m still stuffed and uncomfortable as I write this, and going out with the Knights for our traditional “Black Friday” manly-man shopping spree and beer tasting didn’t help much!

Steve got himself a nice Mossberg .410 pump at Gander Mountain today!

Here he is just beginning the one hour wait for his background check! Ron and Gary abandoned him and went to the car, while I waited around, smiling and pretending I was having a great time. Actually, I was having a good time…it’s been a while since one of us bought a gun while the others were around! Further, I had left him alone at Best Buy and I needed to make it up to him!

Anyway, back to the food…look at it! It was wonderful and I didn’t include it all, or the desserts!

There was considerably less cackling and conversation once the tryptophan and sugar hit our veins! However, there was plenty to go around prior to and during the feast!

Yes, we took the time to be thankful too, remember that back in the early summer Ron won his battle with lung cancer. We are so thankful that we still have everyone, and pray we have many more holidays ahead of us.

I sure hope your last two or three days were as good as ours. Just think…Christmas is just around the corner! At least two more opportunities to gorge myself before starting on some lame diet for New Years!

See ya!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



This beautiful and yummy cheese ball and vegetable center piece, resembling a turkey, was created by Jan, the mother of my brother’s children. Yes, both Wade and I still share our lives with our ex’s, but it means a lot to our kids and grand kids. Truthfully, our ex’s are very nice people, as long as we aren’t married to them! We all get along quite well.

Yes, I have started eating so much lately that I need to pre-stretch my stomach for holidays, by attending a large feast at least three before the main event! So, we had a precursor Thanksgiving meal at mom’s Sunday.

My brother is only a holiday visitor, or at least that’s the way it seems of late, so, since he has to work Thanksgiving, we took this time to join together in family fellowship over some turkey and ham. Wade is an aircraft mechanic for Continental Airlines, working primarily on the cargo fleet in Charlotte, NC. He gets little time off, so mom tries to have gatherings around his schedule.

There were plenty of the traditional foods for everyone, with lots left over, even though there were some rather large eaters swarming the table like a pride of lions on a downed wildebeest!

Mom even got in some cooking lessons for Christy (in red top - Wade’s youngest daughter), teaching her the fine art of cornbread muffin and coleslaw making! You can tell by mom’s smile and clinched fists that she was thrilled to have the house full of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren again! It really tires her out these days, but to her it’s worth it to have those she loves near her. She’ll spend the rest of this week, cleaning, and getting things back in order! She’s a bit of a neat freak…not that I’m not!

You can see Brad (Danielle’s husband), Shane (Christy’s husband), and Wade (my brother) begin the circling formation. After a brief prayer of thanks, I join them in line. The men eat first in this family, unlike with Judy and the Dragons, who always eat first!

Christy made the “Butterfinger Cake”, and Jan (Christy and Danielle's mom) made the “Pumpkin Roll”! Both were very tasty! The rolls came in male and female versions, since some of the girls don’t like nuts in their punkin’ rolls!

Later, on the sun-room couch, Wade, Danielle (his oldest), her children Addie and Kaylee, and Christy (Wade’s youngest) squeeze in around Granny (mom)! Mom was where she had wanted to be since last Thanksgiving!

In the kid’s photo, you can see Jan hiding behind Kaylee and Addie. However, I caught a snap of her earlier as she shared photos with Wade, of the girls at the Knoxville Zoo.

Outside, Wade showed off his new Smith & Wesson .40 cal. semi-auto (under left arm). Nice piece!

Nope, no photos of Judy and me…we were there, but can’t prove it!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The family clique, with the exception of Charlotte and Gary, our usual crowd, planned to meet at Carrabba’s Italian Grill at 5 PM tonight. Gary had a root canal done this week, so he was not up to all our frivolity and cackling! Can’t blam’em, you do have to be in tip-top shape and in the best of moods to keep up!

Anyway, Judy and I left home around 3 so we could stop by Best Buy and H. H. Gregg’s. We have decided to buy a mid-range laptop for travel, and to replace Judy’s aging Freecell and Jewel Quest machine. We began by looking at small 15” models, but have since graduated up to 17”!

We have the best luck! We were looking at a Toshiba at Gregg’s Friday but decided we should do some online research first, and then come back Saturday. We discussed stopping by Best Buy on the way out of Turkey Creek, but decided we could do that on Saturday too!

Turns out, we both fell for an HP – Pavilion at Best Buy tonight, and it was $150 off! However, with our luck they had sold all but a demo model Friday! If we had stopped, I might be sitting here configuring it right now – darn it! I asked the guy to sell me the demo, but he said they would not let him do that, since they had a thousand dollar model that looks just like it externally.

I have searched hi and low tonight and it seems this model was made specifically for Best Buy by HP. The sale is off, there are no rain checks, and it isn’t available anywhere online! So, the only thing I could do was to put the item on my “wish list!”

I’m hoping Black Friday will bring out other deals on AMD 64-bit processor and Vista 64-bit software packages!

Meanwhile, back a Carrabba’s, everyone arrived and the Knights begin ordering Yuenglings, and letting our cute little waitress pour them for us. Dang…can’t remember her name…wonder way! Anyway, I gave her one of my “blogness cards”, so maybe she’ll leave a comment!

The fellowship, as usual, was soul filling, and we all needed a fill-up…it had been a while!

The food was the only thing more filling and, as usual, perfecto! I don’t remember ever having had a bad dish at Carrabba’s.

Our only complaint, and it was because of the size of our group (6), was that we were seated near where the waiters pick up their orders. However, it too had some rewards, at least for us Knights. It was mostly the Dragons with their backs to the action that had less of a reward! I kept waiting for Chef Ramsey to come out of the back and scream some obscenity at some cook! (Just a little inside joke…Judy has gotten me into watching his shows.)

There are so many delicious sounding entrées on the menu that it’s hard to make a decision. Ron, of course, had the Grilled Salmon, fresh from some river in Italy, Judy and Terri had tilapia (Which is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fishes, so there’s no telling what they really ate!) from the Pacific covered in “wulfe” sauce, and Neena had something involving chicken I’m sure, but Steve and I had the only real Italian dishes.

Steve had the Linguine Pescatore, which is shrimp, scallops and mussels tossed with linguine in a spicy marinara sauce, mmmmm…Mamma Mia! I choose the Chicken & Spinach Cannelloni, which is stuffed with chicken, spinach, garlic, fresh herbs, fontina and romano cheese, topped with pomodoro and cream sauce! All were great choices!

As we left the restaurant, a dark cloud of stench wafted over us, and everyone looked to their right and left. Everyone was blaming the other, so we hugged quickly and left the area!

After we got home, “someone” called and confessed…Gawd; you can’t take a Dragon anywhere!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Recently I’ve been in touch with another “Harriman Hooligan”, as he likes to call his Class of ’64 buddies. His name is Mickey Jones, and he once worked for the IRS, but now does something along the same lines for the state. He was tight friends with Bob Hamby and Sid Stanley, and they ran around together in school. I was a friend to all but Sid, who I never really got to know well, but we got along.

Mickey and I lived a couple of houses from each other back in grade school, and we used to play some mean games of cowboy and Army. We loved to get together and play, but especially when we got our parents to take us to David Yeary’s over in Walnut Hill. David lived near a stretch of woods full of honeysuckle tunnels, and it was perfect for playing Army! Those were the days my friend, back when summers actually felt long, with perfect temperatures.

We lost contact, naturally, after high school until one day in 1967 when I got a call out of the blue from Bob, who explained that the trio was going to be in Nashville for the weekend. Basically, they wanted to party, but I think his real purpose was to show Mickey what it was like being in the Air Force! Mickey, as it turned out, had plans to join in the winter of 1969, which he did.

I had been promoted to NCO and had access to cheap fun at the NCO Club, so the party was on!

As I remember it, I was still in my “cock-of-the-walk” attitude, and living my life as a true Gemini! I had a little lady that lived near the base, but spent most of her time on the dance floor of the Airmen and NCO clubs. I also had a “hometown girl”, but they never knew about each other (not until one or both reads this anyway). My personality was 180 degrees at home from the wild party-boy at Sewart AFB, but I was young, could carry it off, and was reconnecting with life after a year of base restriction in Southeast Asia!

The months leading up to my marriage to Corey’s mom in March of ’68 were nothing but a party, with weekends off for rest back in my mild-mannered persona!

What I’m trying to say is…I was ready to party!

Billy Jean (not her real name) naturally accompanied us to the club and sat at the table with us guys – that is until the music started. She was then up dancing beside her chair!

Now, I sometimes danced with her, but more often than not I let her dance with guys that asked her. I was playing that “I don’t give a damn” game that drives some women crazy. They can’t figure out if you like them or not, but she was head over heals in love and did not, or could not, bring it up. It made her mad that I wasn’t jealous (or at least show it), but she was afraid to let it show.Like I’ve written before, I’m ashamed of how I treated her, but it was my great “split-personality”, indifference experiment and it worked like a charm for all those months.

As it turned out Mickey was a dancer too. He leaned over to me and yelled over the band into my ear, “Can I dance with her?”

“Sure,” not asking her opinion. I reached out and touched her arm and said, “Dance with man here!"

She looked at me for a couple seconds, with a hurt look, and then over at Mickey. They danced several times that evening, but the rest of the evening at the club is lost in whiskey and time.

I do remember driving Bill Jean home, too drunk to walk, but I could drive. As a matter of fact, we had to pass through a license check point of Tennessee State Troopers on the way. I remember rolling all the windows down, lighting up a Winston, and finding my license.

When the officer came to my window, I was holding up my license causally between two fingers. I said, “Catching many tonight?”

The officer didn’t say anything, just shined his light on my driver’s license and waved us on! Upon arriving at her house, I opened my door, and promptly fell out of the car!

As it happened, Mickey and I were both at DaNang, only 5 years apart! He worked to turn the airbase over to the South Vietnamese, and left after the transition in June of ’71.

We got together again, sometime after my divorce in ’78, and again partied at his house in Harriman. After that he followed his career to Nashville where he lives today. Maybe we can get together one day soon.

Thanks Mickey, for helping me remember that night, almost 42 years ago!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I’ve never mentioned my favorite place on earth before now, and it’s not even in my Laugh & Times of Mushy”, but I was blessed last week to find the person* that now owned this beautiful private place, and discovering that we both call it “our hide-out!”

When I first moved to Harriman and made friends with Barry and Woody, they introduced me to their world. They had a secret place that they loved to visit, shoot a can or two, hunt squirrels, skinny dip, skip stones, camp, or just walk quietly through the splendor of it all. It instantly became my special place too!

The area was not far from where Barry, Woody, and I lived in
those days, but far enough that a car, or as it turned out an old ’49 Chevy pickup, was necessary. Oh, it was well within range of a 2 hour bike ride, but bicycles by then had become way too juvenile for 16 and 17 year-old boys!

Woody was usually our designated driver, using the old work
truck from the nursery his dad owned. The nursery also provided me with work during my junior and senior years. I am very grateful for that job, but I’m more appreciative now for the transportation that allowed 3 adventuresome boys a way to get to their “hide-out”!

When I came home on leave, before leaving for Vietnam, I took one last trip to “my hide-out” and walked in the serenity there. I wondered what I was about to
learn about the big world, and it even crossed my mind that I might not walk there again. As I walked along, forming a tear or two, listening to the crunch of leaves beneath my feet and the whispering of the wind in the trees above me, I suddenly realized that whatever happened, had to happen, and I did not worry about it again.

I don’t think I ever had time to go back there until after Judy and I married, some 15 years later. One of the first places I took her was among the trees in “my special place”, and it has remained “our special place” through all these years.

You might imagine how disappointed I was a few years ago when I wanted to show my granddaughter this “little piece of heaven on earth”, and finding it locked away behind a gate and a “Keep Out” sign!

How could this be? Didn’t this place belong to all those that loved it? Why was it no longer accessible to us?

After a couple of years of wondering and searching, and having no luck, this past week I found out who owned the property*, but that he lived most of the time in California. My heart sank! But, as a last ditch effort to get access to "my hide-out", I sent him an email explaining my situation and love for the area.

I could hardly believe that a reply came that very evening! Better yet, he told me how much he also loved the area and understood my feelings for it. The letter gave me special pass to walk the property anytime I wanted!

Let me tell you, that night was a restless night for me. I was so excited at getting the permission that I had trouble falling to sleep. It was just a dream come true!

Judy and I decided to take our first walk of the area this past Monday. Sunday night was the same as the night I got the news – nearly sleepless! I even dreamed that the area had been developed as a state park of sorts, complete with a gift shop and caged animals! All this had been hidden and unknown until we crossed the creek and stepped into the fall colored forest. I was shocked to see people milling around, shopping, and snapping photos of various rock formations and the fall colors.I woke up several times early Monday morning, but each time I had a big smile on my face. I knew it was just a dream, but I was having the time of my life. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was again back in the dream in the same place as before – it was terrific!

However, nothing was more terrific than once
again stepping foot back into those woods for real! Nothing had changed except me! The tree under which we used to camp was not nearly as large as I remember it, but quite a big beech tree nonetheless! The tree and rope from which we swung out into the creek was also gone.

The 150 to 200 foot rock wall that rims the northern part of the woods there prevents anyone from accessing the area from that direction. To the south, a long steep rocky hill line guards that side of the little hidden valley. The only access is from the east, down a leafy path, across a wide boulder strewn creek that often runs full of swiftly moving water. However, on this day, Judy and I crossed the creek gingerly, slowly picking our way from boulder to boulder, remaining high and dry due to the two year drought.

As we stepped into the woods, we both half expected to see a gift shop! We laughed, remembering the dream, and walked on deeper into our past, barely containing our excitement, adding new memories of our “special hide-out”.

If anyone ever tries to think of a place to sprinkle our ashes…this is it. What could make resurrection more special than for it to happen in “our special hide-out”!

*Who would have ever thought he and I would have so much in common:

See more photos of this area on FLICKR!<

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Like millions of gun owners have been doing in their own areas, we attended the local R. K. Gun Show at the Expo in Knoxville, Tennessee. Everyone was calling it the “Obama Clearance”, and the place was packed, but most of the buying seemed to be ammunition! There were some heavily laden shoppers seen leaving the Expo Center Saturday!There seemed to be a pervasive fear among most of the attendees that the President Elect, Barack Hussein Obama, would soon come looking for their guns! One vendor was even warning people to now buy all the ammo, clips, and weapons they wanted/needed and hide them! Is it really going to be that bad?

Gary did buy a clip for a .380, but only because his had broken. I bought a box of “bird shot”, to kill snakes in my fireplace (ha), but I did not decided to horde up a stockpile in my basement. Besides, I’ve already done that!

Anyway, these photos should give you some idea of how crowded the gun show was, and this was just the second of three days the show was in town.

I was personally disappointed, because there were no “new” gun vendors displaying there – just vintage guns at absorbent prices. Remember when M-1s went for about $100? Well, some were marked $1100!

I did not see one Ruger vendor either, other than the usual “cowboy” gun displays, and a few used guns. As a matter of fact, none of the local gun shops were represented at the show – just private collectors and ammo dealers.

I was in the market for the new Ruger LCP, a light weight carry that’s about the size of a .25 auto. I figure I’ll stick it in my other pocket, opposite my camera, and go armed more often. Something that light and with a respectable kick seems to make more sense these days than bulking up with a heavy carry plus a cumbersome holster! Sometimes gearing up with my holster under my ever shrinking shirts is just too much trouble. Can’t figure out why my shirts keep shrinking!

Corey was in the market too, and even had an “I don’t care” from Tia, however, us old silverbacks explained to him what that “really” meant! Anyway, he could not find the
Browning Silver he had his heart set on, but that might have been a blessing in disguise!

Later we watched the first quarter of the VOLS game at the
Smoky Mountain Brewery in Turkey Creek. They lost, as seems to have been their game plan all season, to Wyoming. What a homecoming game that was!

However, the pizza, “pale ale”, and sweet tea went down smoothly, making it easier to take! Anyone know any great coaches that needs a good paying job?

It was good to be out with a full contingent of Knights, plus our understudy Corey. Corey enjoys being our DD on such outings and everyone appreciates him.

Got to go hide my guns now…see ya next time!

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Wednesday found Neena, Ron, Judy, and me on the trail again. This time we started at the east end of the North Boundary Greenway, which is on the west end of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. We ended up doing 4.426 clicks…that’s 2.75 miles round trip!

The fall colors remained another week, and only began to fall today (Friday) after a good soaking rain which lasted most of the day.

After about a mile walk, we left the gravel road and walked along a rough bicycle path into an old rock quarry area where limestone was once blasted out to build roads, concrete pads, footers, and compressor stands for the huge K-25 Plant near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The
K-25 site, along with Y-12 and X-10 plants, were once bustling worksites with over 12,000 men and women (my dad included) working on the world’s greatest secret – so secret they didn’t even know what they were building. Only General Groves and a select few knew the full mission.At some point, workmen hit an underground stream and the quarry flooded, probably covering equipment that couldn’t be removed in time.

The water today is beautiful, reflecting the blue sky above and the green cedar trees that line the quarry’s edge. Only a few scraps of iron and a pile of concrete fence footers remain to bare witness to the work that went on there.

Ron decided we needed to circle the quarry and return back by the Gallaher Cemetery, with is marked as #12 on the Oak Ridge Reservation. The Gallaher-Stone Plantation once thrived in the valley where the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant would be located some 113 years later.

This little graveyard contains both the once ornate
markers, complete with dates and names of the slave owners, and the simple stone markers, no names or dates, of the slaves. This quite reminder of days gone by and of different ways of life sits quietly beneath colorful trees today. Neither the slaves buried there, nor those standing and contemplating the past, and the events of the day before (Nov. 4th), ever think that a black man would ever be elected President. Our country is finally changing its horrible ways!

Our little band of retired hikers moved on to
Ruby Tuesday’s in Harriman for some food and libation - which is mostly the ultimate purpose of our hikes anyway!

At Ruby’s we met Neena’s son Jason, and together we feasted on various items (like the Sanora Chicken Pasta shown) and drank Samuel Adam’s Winter Lager! Now, everything is right with the world.

See you next time…