MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: September 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Monday evening was the last time I’ll have to “paint the town red” for a few weeks.  Judy and I accompanied her sister Neena, and her brother-in-law Ron to the “Crosby, Stills, and Nash” concert at the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville.  It was a great time that brought back so many 60’s memories – of Vietnam, Woodstock, college, and just plain old partying! Their music was “right on” and sounded great.  Even though David Crosby hit those high notes, his words came through clear as a bell!  And, even though Steven Stills has a little “hitch in his get along”, he can still squeeze the notes out of his guitar!

We decided to try the “S&W Grand”, which is a makeover of the old “S&W Cafeteria” that used to be in that spot downtown years earlier.  The new owners took advantage of the old Art Deco styling, and updated it with a new fantastic menu, like my Flat Top Pastrami “Pittsburgh Style”, piled high with coleslaw, French fries, Swiss cheese, and smoked tomato dressing on Brioche!  Or, like Ron’s “Slim’s” Burger with a fresh ground Angus patty, lettuce, tomato, tobacco onions, and truffled herbed mayo.  He opted out of the fried egg, which sounded yummy to me! (see photos)

I loved the bar too.  You can see into the kitchen while you nurse your libation and await your tasty food!

The girls opted for the Certified Angus Roast Beef & Provolone, topped with melted provolone, horseradish mayo, and natural jus.

Ron ordered a “Dead Guy Ale” and a “Sierra Nevada”, while I splurged on a shot of “Woodford Reserve” on the rocks, and later a second round of “Basil Hayden”!  Beer bloats me too badly anymore, so I leave the beer drinking to when I’m home where I can properly vent myself!

After eating, we went outside and ran into Tim and Andy, two guys Ron used to work with, and the same two that traveled to the Roger Waters concert with us a couple of years back.  Tim is amazingly gifted at getting hard to get tickets, so he was with Ron and I in Nashville in ‘09 for the AC/DC concert.  He worked his magic and got us great seats together at the last moment! 

We all strolled along Gay Street to the Tennessee and compared notes at the break and after the last song.  (Sorry no concert shots!) It was a great time. (pictured left to right: Me, Judy, Tim, Andy, Ron, and Neena)

The good times actually started earlier in the week when Corey and I watched half of the Tennessee/Florida game at Wild Wings.  The food was as good as usual; topped only by the company!  As you can see in the attached photo of the place, it was packed with “big orange” everywhere and the table all decked out with large containers of draft beer! 

Corey had his usual cheesecake, and I tried the pictured chocolate brownie and ice cream.  I have to admit I left over half, but it was only because I could not hold it all!
Sunday came and Judy and I visited with Katie Bug who was in from college.  We talked a while and then moved on to Los Primos in Harriman.  For our money, it’s the best Mexican food in Roane County.  Here is a shot of my usual “Chicken Fajita Nachos”!   

Katie was a little homesick and was really dreading going back to school, but she actually loves her new life on campus and her new sisters at Phi Mu!  As the weeks and months roll on, she will probably come home less and less.  Right now, we’re taking advantage of the homesickness!

Monday mornings is always the day we pick Lily up from her pre-school and keep her until Corey gets off work.  We don’t always take her out, but sometimes she says hungrier than normal, so we take her out.  It’s not always fancy for us.  Sometimes it’s just for her, like this week it was McDonalds.  She had her “happy meal” and a small chocolate shake that “Granny Judy” always helps her with!  Not sure who gets the most, but rest assured they both get satisfied.

So, this was a good week and one that will sure make me miss the action while I’m down and out for my surgery.  It’s expected that it will take me 4 to 8 weeks to recover, but with these memories as an incentive, I’ll try to make it as short as possible.

Friday, September 17, 2010


There was a very small reunion Thursday afternoon at the Cracker Barrel at the Sevierville, TN exit off I-40.  It was just three old high school chums that hadn’t seen each other since graduation in 1964! 

Morgan Alred and I have been in touch over the years and have many a good adventure even after school.  He and I met up in Lenoir City and drove the hour up to where we had coordinated with Barry Henderson to meet.  As Morgan and I traveled we went back over the years and the fun we have had, and we talked about our favorite subject – cameras.

I’ve been into cameras since Vietnam and changed brands and styles several times.  When I worked for the Roane County NEWS (1972-1976) I was into SLR work for advertising and football photography.  I began to do weddings for friends and finally it grew into a small business.  I ended up with a state-of-the-art Rapid Omega 200 (4X5) for great wedding shots. 

Morgan is into cameras too, and has even owned and operated a camera store.  Locally owned camera stores took a big hit with the digital era, so he’s doing other things now, but photography always comes up when we get together. 

Anyway, that was the basic topic all the way to the Kodak exit.

Once there we sat nervously, anxiously awaiting our old friend, on a bench outside facing the Smoky Mountains, and continued to reminisce.  We both halfway expected Barry to ride up on his Harley, which his is Facebook icon, but with the threat of rain in the area that didn’t happen.  Had I not known what Barry looked like from the recent contact I made on Facebook I would have walked right past him. 

Finally he rolled up in his car and I recognized him immediately.  The three of us walked quickly toward one another and before I knew it we were in a “group hug”!  It was a wonderful feeling to actually show our emotion and feeling for each other!  In high school we would have never dared hug another boy!  However, on Thursday, three men embraced each other like brothers.  It was as if 46 years of pent up feelings had finally broken the dam of American social mores.  We were men, but we were loving it up!

We stood outside a few more minutes and talked and let the nervousness of the meeting wear off.  Finally, we were ready to go inside and begin catching up! 

Catching up turned into picking up and we were off; telling the old stories and mixing in what, when, and where our lives had been over the past 46 years.

I’ve written several posts about the times Barry, Morgan, and I have had over the past few years, but hearing them confirm my memories was very satisfying somehow.  However, there were details that I didn’t remember and some I can’t believe ever happened without me remembering!  Some of those things will remain secrets just between us guys.

Barry was not that different in his emotions, because I knew him pretty well back in school days.  We used to talk about things in private, mostly on our backyard campouts, that we would never have shared with any of our other friends.  But that inner Barry was still there.  What had changed about Barry was his attitude and outward persona. 

Back in our junior and senior years, Barry was a mysterious fellow, especially to the younger boys in our neighborhood.  Barry had that “Fonzie” persona.  He was straight out of a 60’s teenage movie, with his black duck-tailed hair, pointed black loafers, tight jeans, and white t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and one sometimes held a package of Pall Mall cigarettes.

Like Fonzie, he looked like he had hit someone at some point in his life, and younger boys imaginations played with that scene as he walked by their house on the way to mine.

Barry did have a couple of fights during school, but to me he was just Barry a good friend.  I mentioned how some of the neighborhood kids had felt about him and he seemed surprised and even a bit ashamed.  He confessed that he had been a mean and troubled young man, but life has mellowed him and showed him what is important in life.  One of those things is having good friends you can depend on.

I loved Barry back then...I just didn’t know it, would never have expressed it.  To get to hug my “best” friend and tell him I loved him as he left, settled so much that had been unresolved inside.  I’m whole again!  Truthfully, there was just something missing by not knowing what happened to Barry and not being able to share my life stories with him.  We’ve both seen and done so will take a long, long time to really catch up.

I had thought of Barry many many times over the years, whenever I was in a strange, exciting, scary, or even erotic situation, and I always wished Barry had been there to see and feel it too.  Like in the old days.  Now, after our 46 year separation, we can resume being friends the way friends ought to be...honest, open, and caring.

What a difference 46 years make!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


If you started watching the University of Tennessee and Oregon football game held in Knoxville Saturday, you know that there was a 70 minute game delay due to lightning.  That same storm rumbled across my backyard some 30 minutes prior to that delay, raining down some heavy drops that quickly turned into torrents down my drive-way.

I grabbed my camera and took a few shots and discovered a shivering hummingbird sitting on the feeder.

Lightning flickered across the sky and leaves and limbs came tumbling down from the trees.  There's always something to pick up or blow off my drive, but storms give me even more work.  It's the price you pay living under a canopy of Beech, Oak, and Hickory trees.  

From our second story screened-porch, it makes you feel like you're living in a tree house.  We love it, but we duck every time a storm comes through, or the Hickory turns loose of another nut!  They hit the aluminum roof like a rock and roll loudly off to the ground.

This latest rain gives us hope for a beautiful autumn leaf show, but it has been dry at the key time for turning the colors brilliant.  Up until the past three weeks, our place has been like a tropical jungle; all rich and lush with green grass and foliage.  Recently we noticed the usual August brown moving through the trees and across the grass.  However, there is still hope.

I'm still hopeful for Tennessee football too, although it will have to wait another fall to happen.  Today's game went as I expected it, even if I did go into the game thinking we might see some surprises.  We did...lots of young players, with a young coach, with lots of potential.  Next year my friends!

Yes, I'm mindful of what fall usually depicts - the end of life for another season.  With my current situation (see previous post), it does make me stop and reflect, and think about things to come.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


I’ve already let several of you know all about this via email, but I know I have “blogging friends” that, like me, lurk more than comment, so here’s the deal.

Several weeks ago I had a colonoscopy, about a year earlier than scheduled, because I had a lot of “butt” discomfort riding to the Outer Banks this year.  There was nothing inside that would indicate what was causing my pain, so my proctologist ordered a CT scan to see if there was anything outside the rectal area that might be anything serious causing my discomfort.

The good news from the internal exam was that I only have diverticuliosis in both the ascending and descending colon.  That was a given, what with my mother and an uncle that were plagued with it.  With this condition, you usually end up being “short-shooted” at some point in the future.  You know you have it, obviously when you see blood in your stool, but, like mom, she was losing blood that could not be explained.  Even test and colonoscopies did not find the blood loss issue.  She ended up having a full-blown bleed out that scared us all to death! 

As for me, there were no polyps or excessive hemorrhoidal issues evident.  Therefore, the CT scan was ordered and given.

The bad news is the CT detected unknown “masses” in both kidneys.  The right kidney appears to have bleed internally at some point from some hard blow.  The question to me was, “Have you ever been in a car wreck?”  I then recalled a fall I took back in February of ‘09, while shooting photos upon a nearby mountain.  The result of that fall broke 4 ribs!  You may even remember that post.  The Doc thinks that’s what may have caused whatever is showing up in the right one.

Luck, or Divine intervention, the injured right kidney caused the reviewers to look closer at the CT scan.  That’s when they saw the 4cm “mass” on the left one.  Without that “double take” they may have never noticed it at all! (Illustration is not my real scan)

The written report said the left “mass” was “reflective” meaning it had blood flow, and that it should be assumed “malignant” until proven otherwise.

I had my first appointment with Dr. Sloan on the 7th.  I recorded the audio of that office meeting so that I could hear it over and over until I understood everything.  I also wanted the audio file so that I could look up any medical terms on Google.  As it turned out, he, like me, talks in simple, down-to-earth, terms.  Therefore, the sound bite is just a matter of comfort to me.  His confidence and clear plan forward is evident in the recording.

The jest of the doctor’s analysis is this – there is:

1. No bleeding
2. No fever
3. No significant back pain
4. It’s small – about 1.5 inches
5. Appears to be outside of the kidney
6. It is rather early on, so the involvement should be minimal to non-existent.

The next step is to determine if my right kidney can support me on its own, should the left have to be completely removed.  I go for a renal scan Wednesday.

Dr. Sloan believes in leaving as much of the kidney as possible, provided cancer has not invaded it, which is doubtful.  The old school theory was to just remove the whole kidney.  Today, doctors do much more evaluation and leave what they can.  As we grow older, our kidneys function less and less, so every bit of working tissue is important.

Bottom line, I will have surgery soon, probably by the end of the month, and it will be determined at that time if cancer is involved, and how much, if any, of the kidney can be left intact.  He also expects that chemo or radiation will not be necessary.  Renal cell cancers do not respond well to chemo and radiation anyway.  The tumor is a T1A size, very small, so it has been detected very early.

I will be sliced open this time, no laparoscopic procedure for this one, because the doctor wants a good view before making his decisions. 

So, I’m preparing for another round of tests, needles, poking, and prodding, and most uncomfortably, probably nights in my recliner.  If it is the worst then, who knows.

My only concern now seems to be how well the right kidney is functioning.  That could be an issue if the entire left kidney is removed.

Regardless, Judy plans to cancel our Ireland trip in November.  God willing, there will be plenty of time of travel next year.

For the past three years, it’s been one thing after another for me.  My genes may be working against me...cancer in both my parents, a couple of uncles on both sides, and diverticulitis in my mom and on her side of the family. 

You can eat healthy, not drink or smoke, run, swim, take vitamins, and have checkups, but you just can’t fight genes!  When the pre-programed genes think it’s time, that’s it! 

Luckily, we have more advanced science today that can find and cure lots of issues with our bodies, but eventually, time and genes will take you out.

Time ticks away so fast these days, and the moments in time that I get to share now, will probably be even more important.

Thanks, in advance, for your prayers.  Almighty God is the “great healer” and it’s all in His hands.  I will accept His will for my life.