Friday, June 25, 2010


The family went out to eat at Carino's Italian Restaurant, in Knoxville, last weekend and had a great time. We all still call it "Johnny Carino's" 'cause that's what it used to be called. Then suddenly it closed and we missed it. Now, it's back, under an assumed name, but the food tastes just like it used too - GREAT!

There's lots to enjoy on their menu too, but whatever you decide on, you've got to get the "Italian Wedge" (a hearty wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce topped with ranch dressing, applewood smoked bacon, candied pecans, gorgonzola cheese, fresh apple slices and roma tomatoes)! It was every bit as good, if not a tiny bit better, as Chesapeake's!

I could only reach my dish (which was the same as Steve's) and Gary's with the camera, so here are our choices.

I had the mouth watering Jalapeño Garlic Tilapia, which is a fillet of tilapia pan-sautéed with fresh spinach, roma tomatoes, jalapeños and garlic in a lemon butter cream sauce over a bed of angel hair pasta. I couldn't believe the portions we were served and I brought half home for lunch the next day. As a matter of fact, Judy and I halved that and had plenty!

Gary decided on the Chicken Parmigiana, which is a Carino's signature "classic Italian" recipe, with special seasonings and layered with tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella cheese, served with spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Everything would have been perfect had Neena and Ron been there. Neena was a little "under the weather" so they took a rain check. It was a little funny, her not being able to make it, seeing how she was the one that called and got everyone to agree to go some 2 or 3 days earlier.

God willing, there will be many more opportunities to gather, as a family, and enjoy breaking some great bread together.

Next time you're out eating and you're disturbed by a camera flash, it's probably just me!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Some time around 1949 or 1950 my family moved to a "flat top" house on West Outer Drive in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I can remember the area and much of what happened in those days, even at 4 or 5, but seeing an original "flat top" at the AMSE Museum Saturday did not bring back any memories of the interior of the house.

I wanted to remember details of the house, but the exterior is all that I can remember. However, the tour of the original 68 West Outer Drive unit did nothing else for me, except make me proud that I lived during this era.

This unit is on permanent display at the museum now and you should make it a point to visit it...just for the sake of history.

My family moved from Oak Ridge around '51 or '52, but I will always feel a little part of Oak Ridge and of all that history.

Number 68 was auctioned off in 1950 and taken to Tazewell an used as a weekend home by the Fitzpatrick family. They recently donated it to the museum and I think it's a great addition and wonderful way of preserving history.

At a cost of around $3400 each, 1622 of these Type B-1 Houses, with 576 square feet of living space, were built in Oak Ridge between 1943 and 1945 to house some of the 75,000 people working at the plants.

The Type B-1 House had 2 bedrooms, one bath, a kitchen with extended pantry, and a living room.

Obviously, the houses got their name from the flat roofs. Some of these still stand today. This "flat top" house was originally located at #68 West Outer Drive.

It was sold in 1950 and used as a summer home in a nearby town. The family recently donated it to the AMSE Museum in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Take a tour:

More photos HERE!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Judy and I celebrated our 30th anniversary at Knoxville's Chesapeake's last evening. It was our first time there, and as usual, you can't go wrong at one of the Copper Cellar's Family of Restaurants!

Chesapeake's is located off Henley Street in the Central Business district of Knoxville, Tennessee in a beautifully restored historic building. The décor is dark wood and what you would expect to find in a classic seafood restaurant along any coast in America. Our booth was bathed in the light of a live aquarium, which added to the romantic atmosphere we experienced.

All their seafood is flown in fresh daily and prepared to perfection by the restaurant's chefs. Judy chose the Grouper and I, naturally, requested the fried sampler platter of scallops, oysters, fish, and shrimp. Judy tried the "wedge salad" and it was wonderful, even to me! I ordered a cup of gumbo, and now wish I had just ordered a bowl of gumbo and the wedge salad! The gumbo was full of okra and shrimp and had a spicy taste that went well with the fresh bread and butter!

Our waitress documented the occasion with this photo and figured out it was a special evening for us. She brought a slice of double chocolate cheesecake, at no charge, for us to enjoy. While the cheesecake was delicious, I'm finding that I will not be able to keep fried and sweet things on my list of regular foods. Since my stomach "wrap", I have to be very cautious about what I eat. So cautious, in fact, that I've now lost nearly 30 pounds!

Now, for you folks with regular stomachs, you can't go wrong choosing Chesapeake's for a great evening of fresh seafood!

Judy and I talked about how the time has flown by - where have the past 30 years gone?! However, we both agreed that if given the opportunity and choice we would do it all over again. It has been a very enjoyable 30 years - full of good times, friends, and family. There's little we would do over.

Thanks for sharing our anniversary with us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


June 12th is our anniversary!

Seems like yesterday that we got together again at our 15th year class reunion, where David Arp told me he'd whip my butt if I didn't ask Judy to dance (click to re-read the story). Well, little did he know that I needed no prompting, but I have to admit it was hard to pass up a good fight with David. We had such a history in fighting after school (click to re-read our fight-club history)!

Anyway, I did ask her to dance and, seventeen years after falling for her Betty Davis eyes out behind the Carol Ann drive-in, I was sitting in her living room watching the sun come up. I was with the love of my life. She had been special to me for a long time, and we were finally together the way I'd always dreamed.

Thirty years is a long time, but our life has been so blessed that the time has zipped by like months instead of years. I think we may have had one or two heated discussions, but I can't say we've ever really fought. We knew we were blessed with finding another chance at love and we were determined not to mess it up. We also decided long ago that if we ever reached a point we couldn't stay married, we would still live in our home together! Strange, but we ain't leaving!

I can't image ever wanting to call it quits, and never can Judy. We are so thankful for these thirty years and we ask God to give us at least thirty more!

I love you Judy and always will.

Thanks for the memories and happiness!

Pictures from the past 30 years:

This is our wedding photo - 1980!

Friday, June 04, 2010


Three times before, my family has planned and had "low country boils". Each of them, from what I heard, was a great success and delicious. Once I even got to sample some leftover shrimp, but I had never been to one.

Each time one was planned I got sick on that day and had to send Judy on without me.

I've written before about "one less set of feet" being under the table and about what it would be like after one of us had passed on. It's not a happy thought, but there are things that remind you, once in a while, about that inevitability - things like when someone gets sick and has to pass on a family gathering.

My wife has four sisters and a brother (he lives in Atlanta and is not always able to come) and we are always together on holidays - it's tradition! Judy and I will be married 30 years this coming June 12th, and family gatherings have been a given on holidays from the beginning. Actually, it started long before I came along, but for me it's been 30 years of pure enjoyment and something I anticipate like Christmas itself!

We get together more often than on holidays too. Sometimes we just can't wait and someone schedules an evening out, or a weekend or vacation retreat together. It just makes life more enjoyable when you can share it with family. Friends are okay, but family is just special!

The times I've missed, and I've missed more than anyone, was an event I sulked over for days afterward. So, you can imagine how thankful and how wonderful it felt when I realized I was not going to miss this Memorial Day's "low country boil"!

The family loves being together, even though the boys and girls always segregate themselves, each finding their own corner. It has to be that way, especially for us guys, if we intend to communicate with each other. You see, we can hardly hear each other over the voices and laughter of the women folk! If you want a sample, just scroll down my sidebar until you see "Dragons Cackling" if you dare. This is not an unusual's typical...believe me!

So, I broke the jinx, finally, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I even drank more than one beer and had two cigars! First cigars in almost a year!

There are specific and timed steps to a "low country boil", as you know if you've ever had the pleasure, so there was a lot of yelling, "Is it boiling yet?!" Then there is the long awaited, "Start the timer!" Each question is followed by multiple people shouting an echo and more laughter!

It seems after each of the 7 steps (see large numbered photo) there is a 15-minute length of time before proceeding to the next step. So, after a couple of drinks, the yelling gets louder, and the comments get funnier! I could see exactly what I'd missed by being puny on the previous occasions.

Once I almost rolled in the yard when Gary, who's basically retired, told us about a day he had relaxed with one too many Miller Lites and went to the dog lot (he trains Labs) to pick up the day's dog business! He didn't think it too strange he didn't find any droppings until he got back to the house and looked down at the mess on his shoes! You had to be there to hear Gary tell it!

Let me tell you...the food was super great, but the company was beyond compare, as it always is. I was very glad all our shoes were still under the table once again.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


It was one of the best vacations I've had, what with Judy and Katie Bug doing all the driving! I only had to drive the last 100 miles home, and that was a pure pleasure. It did me a world of good too. I'm feeling so much better and stronger now, and hopefully I'll keep up a more active daily routine.

Katie drives like Judy and me. When she first got her license I taught her how to drive East Tennessee mountain curves - "...go in low and slow and come out high and fast!" She really smooth at it too and barely lets the car scrub off speed.

She's got quite a sense of humor and confidence too! She shocked me once when she came around a curve where a man was mowing his yard close to the road with his back to traffic. She blew the horn loud and long - the man jumped and I jumped and could hardly believe what she had done! She's always blowing at passing cars and waving like she knows them! She is not bashful.

Anyway, after a 9 or 10 hour drive Judy rolled us off Hwy. 64 and onto Hwy. 12 and headed north to Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks. The "banks" is just a narrow strip of land in the Atlantic about 200 miles long at the tip end of North Carolina. It is broken down into several small towns or villages, each unique, with a plethora of seafood restaurants and fresh fish markets. Naturally, there are too many Wings souvenir shops! Who needs that many t-shirts and towels anyway?

Katie couldn't get over the three or four "Brew Thru's" (link is slow) located in the Kill Devil Hills/Nags Head area!

The first couple of days were chilly, with frequent periods of light rain. We, me particularly, kept our jackets on outside, and I even wore mine inside the condo. Judy kept the AC too darn cold for this old boy and I sat watching TV shivering! Who's the boss? I guess she is!

Katie did a lot of texting and calling while in the room, but on our outings she would leave the phone in the room or put it securely out of sight in the glove box.

The first night on OBX (short abbreviation the locals use for "Outer Banks North Carolina") we patronized "Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar". I got "Arthur's Oysters" with bacon, and Judy and Katie got the crab dip and sweet tater chips! Delicious with Fat Tire!

This was just the beginning, we also visited "The Dunes Restaurant" twice, once for lunch and once for breakfast, "Stack'em High" for breakfast, "Sugar Creek Seafood Restaurant" for dinner, "Miller's Waterfront Restaurant" for dinner, Judy and Katie at at "Dirty Dick's Crab House" one evening and brought something back for me (not feeling well that night), and we even got great tasting seafood at "Crabby Fries" one evening when we were too tired to go out! We did not have a bad meal and the seafood all tasted fresh, with the sweetest tasting scallops I've ever eaten! If we had stayed 2 weeks, we could have found a new restaurant each night!

We walked the beach
one evening, sat in the sun (me under an umbrella) another day, and the other days we spent either at a lighthouse, on the dunes at Jockey's Ridge, at the Wright Brothers Memorial, or searching for wild mustangs on Carova Beach! There is plenty to do, and it you want to see what we did CLICK HERE and go to my Flickr page for Outer Banks photos. Click on "slideshow" and sit back for all 141 shots!

The trip was made even more enjoyable by having Katie along...and not just to drive either. She was always making funny remarks and forcing us old folks up dunes and onward in her search for something special to do. Oh yeah, we also had to watch scary movies one evening! It was great!

The sad part of it all is that this may have been our last time to have her by herself. She graduated from high school this year, which was part of the reason for the trip, and soon she will be off to college, having even more boy problems, getting married, having babies, and forgetting about us (to some extent). Gone are the days of overnight stays and one-on-one conversations. Life changes, people grow up, and we must move on...sadly.

I just hope she remembers the good times, the laughs, and the love we shared enough to come visit once in a while and bring the grand-babies to visit!

We love you Katie Bug!