Friday, October 30, 2009


My mom is home now and seems to be doing well, but last Tuesday night she was still in the hospital getting over pneumonia complicated by asthma. Tuesday was a rainy, foggy, and kind of chilly evening in Knoxville, Tennessee, but Corey (my son) and I were determined to relieve a week’s worth of worrying about her by enjoying a good meal, some pale ale and tea, and some great blues.

Joe Bonamassa, one of the world’s greatest guitarists blew us away! Corey could not believe an acoustic guitar could be played the way Joe delivered it Tuesday night at the Bijou Theatre! Awesome and unbelievable were two words that he used over and over to praise Joe’s playing. Check out this audience shot clip of a similar performance:

As one well lubricated guy in the balcony screamed, “You freakin’ rock, dude!

Joe Bonamassa got his first guitar at age 5 and by age 7 he was playing Stevie Ray Vaughn tunes note for note. At the age of 11, during a short period of being mentored by Danny Gatton, he learned such styles as country and jazz as well as heavy rock. During this time with Gatton, Bonamassa sat in with Gatton's band whenever they played in New York. He first opened for B. B. King at 12 years of age. After first hearing him play, King said, “This kid's potential is unbelievable. He hasn't even begun to scratch the surface. He's one of a kind.

Corey and I had dinner at the Downtown Grill & Brewery on Gay Street before walking the two blocks to the Bijou. And BTW, if you’ve never attended an event at the Bijou, you’ve missed an intimate little 900 seat venue for music.

Corey had his traditional chicken sandwich and fries, soaked down with glass after glass of unsweet-tea, while I enjoyed half a Hawaiian pizza (pineapple, bacon, and ham) with added onions, marinated in the Brewery’s own Downtown Blonde Ale (a light-bodied Kolsch displays a smooth malt note and a hint of fruit flavor in the finish. The Kolsch style has little hop flavor or aroma, letting the sweet malt taste prevail.)

Outside the Bijou we stopped to take a photo of Joe’s equipment trailer, and then went inside out of the drizzle. I gave Corey a tour of the theater, since he had never been there. I told him some of the history of the theater, mainly about it once being a brothel, and during my time at the University of Tennessee, a porn theater! He was shocked to hear that I had once visited such a place, but I was merely skimming the surface of my colorful past!

I also mentioned that some say the Bijou is haunted!

I got a shot of Famous Grouse blended scotch whiskey over ice and preceded up stairs to our loggia seats. Our view of the stage was completely unobstructed, situated along the right wall of the auditorium, just behind the upper level box seats. To our left, the balcony seats began just one level up from our view. We could get up and leave the theater and come back without bothering a soul!

Corey had never heard of Joe Bonamassa, but he became a fan Tuesday night. He has always loved “slide” guitar, like his daddy, so I’m sure there will be a couple of CDs of Joe’s in his vehicle soon!

I’m looking forward to more “nights on the town” with my son in the coming years.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I visited my mom this morning and stayed until after lunch. She is doing well now and her appetite has been changed by the Prednisone her pulmonary has put her on. This steroid should help clear her lungs of fluid and inflammation. I’m hoping to take her home Wednesday.

She wanted KFC, not the wimpy stuff either, the full fat original recipe dark meat with slaw, mac and cheese, and a big biscuit! She loves her some KFC biscuits! She ate both pieces of chicken and a large portion of the sides. I was so happy to see her eat like that!

I left early so I could get home and see Lily. It’s been two weeks since I’ve gotten to see her, so I met her and Judy at Riverfront Park in Harriman. Lily had made friends with a little girl about a year younger and they became each other’s shadows.

The two girls played hard for about 2 hours in the cool, clear, fall air, with the bright colored trees in the background. The little one even learned to slip down the slide on her belly like the older one. It is a shame the two girls may never see each other again.

It took a little gentle coaxing to get her back in the car seat, but we were soon at home, and she was tucked in for an afternoon nap.

Before she knew it, her dad arrived to gather her and her day-school things up for the ride to their house. Corey, Judy, and I visited for about 30 minutes before waking her, but it was time enough to ask Corey to accompany me to the Joe Bonamassa concert Tuesday evening. He agreed, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s night on the town!

More on that later!

It was a lovely day in our neighborhood!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


It’s blurry, but it was worth documenting the good news mom’s doctor brought us this morning, “No recurrence of the tumor,” she said, meaning that mom’s 2001 cancer has not come back.

Mom has been in the hospital a week today with a diagnosis of pneumonia. The CT scan confirmed the pneumonia is in the upper right lung and the lower left lung. However, with the antibiotics and breathing treatments over this past week, mom is much improved. She is eating well, and walking each day around the floor.

When we arrived at the emergency room last Sunday, she could barely walk or breathe, and had a temperature of 101. After a four hour wait, she was diagnosed and admitted.

She is still plagued with a debilitating cough that leaves her weak, gasping for breath, and hoarse. Her family doctor has now referred her to a lung (pulmonary) doctor, whose job it will be to rid her of the fluid and infection in her lungs, and therefore, the cough.

I’m hoping she will be discharged by mid-week.

Prior to the CT, an x-ray raised suspicions of a cancer recurrence, but it could not be accurately determined through the fluid surrounding the lungs. Today’s CT scan relieved us all and now she can get on with the business of getting well.

Just outside her hospital window, a beautiful fall is waiting to make her ride home even more enjoyable.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Within fourteen hours of being told he had a “mass” on his kidney and liver, Uncle Tom passed away quietly in a Florence, Alabama hospital last week. On Wednesday evening the family gathered to support Aunt Carolyn (and each other) in her grief. She had gone home to get a few things to make her overnight stay in the hospital room more comfortable; when she got the call telling her Tom had slipped away. She feels badly that she wasn’t there, but he was talking to her when she left. It was quite a shock to everyone and only began sinking in at the funeral services on Thursday morning.

It was too quick for the family, but quick enough that he didn’t suffer.

The family gathered on a hillside in Sheffield, Alabama, just across the river from Florence, to say goodbye. Uncle Tom served in the United States Air Force for over 20 years, so the Air Force sent a detail to the funeral. It was a very touching funeral with taps, an honor guard firing rounds in the air, the flag being removed and folded, and finally being presented to Aunt Carolyn.

After the pastor read from the Bible and said his prayer, the pallbearers filed by and left their boutonnières on top of the coffin.

The earlier service was marked by one of his granddaughters reading a poem she had written, one of his daughters reading letters received from friends who couldn’t make it, and a prayer Tom had written in his personal Bible. I read a few words that were heavy on my heart that centered on the “black pepper” incident I once posted.

As is normal for most extended families, we don’t see each other more than a couple of times each year, sometimes its twenty years, and more often than not, the circumstances revolve around a tragedy. The Cousins” enjoyed seeing each other and we always take the time to take a group shot. We were missing a few in this one, but we are discussing an annual reunion that will keep us in touch. I’ve also encouraged Facebook as a means of staying involved in each others lives, and I have already added several cousins to my “relatives” list.

I don’t know what it is about the “cousins”, but they always make me “act up” and this gathering was no different. I was going around taking one handed photos of me and various cousins…usually the girls for some reason, and having a great time making them laugh.

Happy as we were, we missed, and will miss, Uncle Tom. For the past couple of decades he has kept the family close, taking grandmother’s place as the focal point for our family. It’s now up to us to keep the relationship going. I’m hoping Facebook and a possible annual reunion will do the trick. Otherwise, there is no doubt that we will drift further and further apart. Since we still enjoy “playing” with each other, as we did as kids, that would be an even worse tragedy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


In my previous post I mentioned that my Uncle Tom (in the center) was sick...well, he died this morning at 3AM.

It was just two weeks ago that he was visiting here locally with my mom and giving me a big hug. Now, within two weeks he's gone!
Man...we should all be so lucky when our times come. At least he didn't have to suffer through chemo and a lot of pain. His kidneys shut down and he went down hill fast.

As you can see in the 2 or 3 post I've had about him (you can search for them if you're interested), I will miss him a lot. He was special to me...laughed at every joke I ever told!

My mom, on the right in the shot above, has no lost 3 husbands, 4 brothers, and 1 sister. Neither her or Aunt Nell (on the left) ever expected to outlive their younger brother Tom.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Corey and I hit Wild Wings in Knoxville today to watch Tennessee play Georgia…great game! We finally put a balanced attack together and came up with 45 big points!

Our team is young with a new coach, but as the games tick by the experience comes. Everyone had better get what they can of us this season, because the VOLS are coming on strong. Corey predicts a championship in 2011! Let’s hope he is right.

The Wild Wings Café was packed, with extra tables set up everywhere there was space. There were plenty of TV screens to watch, at almost any angle, but we sat on the front row at a “high-top” looking directly at the big projected screen on stage. Terrific seats, great food (a 25 piece sampler platter), good tea and Fat Tire, and an enthusiastic crowd of folks dressed in “Big Orange”.

Check out the huge draft of beer, complete with tap, that some tables ordered! With a plastic bag of ice floating on top, there was plenty of cold beer for the entire game.

I was on a high when I got home, but my mom had called telling us that my Uncle Tom is not expected to leave the Florence, AL hospital. He has cancer on one kidney and on his liver, and the prognosis is not good. Mom is very upset because she is 83 years old and about to lose another sibling. Since Tom is 10 years younger than mom makes it especially hard too. Her age makes it difficult to travel and stay away from home for long periods, so I’m not sure what she will decide to do.

Anyway, whatever she decides about going or waiting, I’m here for her.

All in all, a good day with my son is what I’ll remember. Knowing that time takes us all too soon, there is just too much time between the good times, but my partner makes them memorable when they do come around. It’s days like today that I will remember when my time comes.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


John Muir once wrote, "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul." He was talking about the formation of our great national parks, but I suppose the statement could apply to my bedroom, for it’s true, I have healed and found cheer and strength for my soul there.

Primarily, my room is where I pray, and I don’t just pray for myself, for prayer is not a selfish undertaking. I do pray for my health and well being, but I also pray for the same blessings for my family and non-family members that I care about. If you have expressed a need in your life to me, through our conversations or on your blog or Facebook page, there is a good chance I have prayed for you in my room as well.

Often I hear the distant sound of a siren, or the thumping of the “Life Star” helicopter making its way down the valley to a local hospital, or perhaps a traffic accident, to pick up and transport a victim with special and urgent needs to the University of Tennessee Hospital in Knoxville. Either of those sounds is enough to immediately prompt me to stop what I’m doing and say a little prayer for that unknown person/s and their family.

Prayer is a big part of my life, although you would never know it, even if you followed me day in and day out. It’s private. It often is silent and personally locked away inside my brain. Other times it is an audible whisper of a specific name or need in the darkness of my room called out to my God.

I don’t remember when I first began praying, but it must have been around my sixteenth birthday, for this was the age I was first baptized. Yes, I’ve actually been baptized three times. The first time I was a scared naïve young boy who was frightened by the thought put into my head by a Baptist preacher during "alter call", What if you walked out of here tonight without answering ‘the call’ and were killed?

That is scary stuff to a young uneducated mind, and that’s exactly how most acceptances of Christ’s blood occur. I realize such first time events can lead to a long life of Christian dedication, but it does take time to fully understand exactly what it all meant. Later there comes full understanding, but few go back for another baptism.

The second time I “went forward”, as it is known in the Baptist Church, it was because of a great sin in my life. In order to avoid dying and going to hell for my sin, as I believed then, I again accepted Christ and was baptized again.

Many years later, I became part of another church group, totally foreign to my Baptist upbringing, but the doctrine truly spoke to my heart and the logic in my brain. I dropped out of the Baptist Church and accepted this church doctrine and its people and once again was baptized in a long galvanized tub, just long enough for me to stretch out in, and, with the many hands of the church’s deacons and elders pushing me down, I was finally completely submerged! That one is the baptism that I personally accept as being the “real” one and will be the last one I will ever experience.

Anyway, somewhere around sixteen I realized how good I felt if I prayed each morning and night, and I felt better yet if I prayed for everyone I knew, especially those in need. Therefore, it continues today.

A typical prayer outline might go like this:

My wonderful, gracious, and loving Father in Heaven, thank you so much for giving us this day.

I ask that you watch over my mother – keep her safe, healthy, and strong. Thank you for her Father.

Please watch over my brother and his wife.

Watch over my son, his wife, Lily and Kinsley…and thank you for them and bless them.

Watch over my daughter, her husband, and Katie Bug. Please bless them as you have blessed me.

Watch over Danielle and Christi and their babies.

Please watch over me and Judy…keep us safe and healthy and forgive us of our sins. Lead, direct, and protect us Father. Without you Father we are nothing and there is nothing. Thank you from your love, your Grace, and your many, many blessings.

Watch over my brothers and sisters-in-law Father.

Watch over our men and women in the military Father and bring them home safely.

Please watch over our country and protect us from terrorism.

Please watch over…(here I insert names of non-family members I know that need special help, or who have asked to be remembered)

Father watch over and keep us all safe.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

Over the years I’ve prayed for some very serious situations and, more often than not, those prayers have been answered. Therefore, it would be very hard for anyone to convince me that prayer doesn’t work. I don’t demand that my prayers be answered, just that His will is done and that I will accept His decision as best. Although, there have been times when I went “boldly before the throne” and asked that He see my reason for asking for His help.

So, when you see my light go out, please wait a few minutes before disturbing me, because almost immediately, laying there in the dark, with my eyes closed, and my arms bent at the elbows and raised upward, I begin to talk to my Heavenly Father. I may be talking to Him about you!

Sunday, October 04, 2009


This past Saturday was a big event day in Roane County, Tennessee. Both Rockwood and Kingston held annual events that brought people back into the little rural communities to socialize.

I visited Rockwood's 2009 Fall Festival which was held on the main drag. The event included a beauty pageant, dunking booth, and lots of bouncy things for kids, crafts, hot dogs, baloney sandwiches, fried apple, peach, cherry, lemon, and vanilla pies, popcorn, fried chicken legs and much more!

There was an old tractor and car show and many musical acts including Bill Wright, Russ Roberts, Joanne Cash Yates and more. The music played constantly, one act at a time, while people strolled the street eating and looking at the crafts offered for sale. The antique stores had a continuous stream of "lookers", while child giggled and screamed in glee!

Over in Kingston, about 10 miles away, hundreds of cars were parked on the acreage surrounding the old Southwest Point Fort, and crowds walked to see the 2009 Kingston Country Fair. Craft and food booths were lined around the ball field, and inside the field fence was various things to do like listen to bluegrass music, climb a rock wall, face painting, ride a slow pony to nowhere, or bounce or play in the colored balls!

I missed the antique car show, which, by that time, was cruisin' over to Rockwood's event! Darn! I sure wish the events had been on different weekends!

It was a beautiful day in Roane County with low humidity and fall like temperatures, a bright blue sky, and a warm wind coming out of the west. As a matter of fact, I saw folks having lots of trouble keeping their booth canopies firmly grounded. At Kingston, one tent lifted up and flipped over backwards, leaving one booth worker rubbing her head! At Rockwood, one worker held on to the tent while another made my sandwich!

Anyway, I had a great time eating my fried baloney "samich" and cherry pie! Wish you had been could have held my drink for me!

There are more photos of both events posted HERE!