Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Just like the Allstate "mayhem man" came calling this morning around 5AM!  He sat on my Beech Tree limb and made it fall on my house.

When I got home from school last night Judy told me cable had been off since 7, and I went to bed early last evening since cable was off.   I called Comcast and they said it should be restored around 1AM...much too late to do any good, so to bed we went.  I know the tree had not fallen when I got home so it was not the cause of the outage.

I awoke this morning to a bump and jolt, but wasn't fully awake enough to realize what had happened.  I remember thinking, "There's been another earthquake," so I said a silent prayer for all those involved and went back to sleep!

Cable, therefore our phone and Internet, was still off when we got up this morning.  I grabbed the cellphone and began looking up the repair number.  I heard Judy step out onto the deck, as she often does to check the weather, and then she came back in and said, "Uh, I think we have another problem!"

I went outside and this is what I discovered (CLICK ON THE  PHOTOS TO ENLARGE).  About a 14 to 15 inch limb, about a 60 feet long, had broken off the main trunk and slammed into the house and was resting on the corner of the screened porch/deck.  The Comcast line lay beneath all that, so no wonder cable didn't come back on!
I immediately called Charlie (my mayhem man) at Farm Bureau and reported the incident and they said they would notify an adjustor, who would be out soon.  It's been about 7 hours and no visit, no call!
I called Comcast and in 3 hours I was back on line and was able to report this breaking news!

Needless to say, this is going to take time and I'll get more and more steamed each passing day.  I'm sure there is at least $5K in damages, plus the cost of cutting apart and removing the tree.  How long do you think it'll all take?  Month?  Two months?

I just hope they call this week!

Be careful out there...Mayhem is always lurking!

Monday, August 29, 2011


My son's mother, Connie, and I divorced way back in '78, but over the years we've become good friends again.  Her husband and I often introduce each other to friends as "my husband-in-law"!  That sounds so much better than "my X-wife's husband", and it doesn't carry the negative connotations that normally goes along with such an introduction.
Belinda, Janet, Connie, and Judy.
Uncle James, Bill, Belinda, Brandon, and Brooke.
I'll have to admit that would probably not have happened had we not had Corey in common.  He drew us back together as his step-dad, Larry (now deceased), and I stood hanging on the chain link fence, side-by-side shouting encouragement, at his little league ball games.  Larry and I also became friends through those activities, and over time Connie and my current/last wife Judy got to know each other.
Gary finishing up the dogs, while Uncle Cecil supervises!
Judy and "Dub" (Connie's dad)
Aunt Wanda, Uncle Cecil, and Aunt Joyce!
When Larry died, Judy and I were there, at the funeral, with the rest of the family.

Truth be known, Judy and Connie's relationship has had a lot to do with us ultimately getting closer, in a friendly, almost family again, kind of way.  We now often visit to share a meal and our grandchildren, who are themselves instruments of peace and love.
Aunt Wilma and Uncle James (Belinda's parents)
Mary Lois (Dub's friend)
I like Connie now, which I had stopped doing by the end of our 10-year marriage, but now there is a "family love" for her.  She is, after all, the mother of my son, and she is also a very good person.  I can respect and love her for all that, without there being any other connection or feelings.  We are just friends with the added connection of having a son and two beautiful grandchildren in common.
Gary and Connie's backyard...made just for grand-kids!
Her family has always been special to me as well, and her mom, before she died a couple of years back, and her dad always introduced me as "my son"!  That was always a warm and mutual love her family and I shared.  That connection would have always remained had Connie and I never reconnected again.
Corey works on the slide under Brandon and Bill's supervision!
Thank God it happened though.  There is such peace in my life knowing that her family and I still have a close relationship.  I am also thankful that my son and his girls will grow up knowing us as "family" and not X's!  There will never be a need for them to feel anxious when we are together at birthday parties, like there is in other divorced situations.  We will always be just part of the family, in their eyes.
Grant watches as Lily leaps into the air!
Recently I took these photos at a gathering of "family".  One of Connie's aunts, Wanda, came "home" from the Memphis area to see her sisters and their extended families.  She specifically requested to see "all the family" together, so Connie made sure that Judy and I knew to come.  It was wonderful to see her again.  Her husband, Sam, was one of my best friends.  Before he died, we did a lot of fishing and camping together.  There is still a hole in my heart from his passing, and I'll write about all that one day.
Lily aims the water cannon at herself!
Gary, as usual, gave everyone the full food selection...burgers, dogs, chicken, and chile, along with all the fixings that support whatever one choose to eat!  The food was great, which has always been a hallmark of that family.
Judy wakes Kinsley from her nap!
Connie's cousin, Belinda and her husband Bill, and I reminisced about our college days when we commuted from Harriman to UT.  It was a special time for us; they living with her parents, and Connie and me living with her's.  We had fun during the ride to and from school each day, and after school, and before studying, we played hard.  Sometimes it was badminton, horseshoes, bottle rocket fights, playing polo with croquet mallets while riding on lawnmowers, or sliding in the snow on lawn-chairs attached to water-skis!  We were always getting into something!
Bill, Belinda, Connie (Oh, you know she'll hate this shot!), and Mushy back in 1969 while at UT.

However, this past week we just stood back and watched our grandchildren as they played on the big water slide, and took pictures.  There is always some new milestone to document, like Kinsley learning to climb up into the slide without help...what a great thing that was!

I had such a great time watching them play in the backyard and being with my other family again!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


A sudden phone call and we're minute we're just sitting there relaxing and thinking about what to watch on TV or write on my blog, and then a call comes asking us out to share a few drinks and a bite to eat.  No hesitation on our part, we're ready to go at a moment's notice!

Such as it was last Friday, Judy's sister called and asked if we wanted to eat at Carrabba's with the family.  Does a bear ____ in the woods!  We're there!
Of course we were one couple light, with Charlotte and Gary off touring the north west, but the rest of us carried on the tradition of gathering as often as possible.
Carrabba's is one of the group's favorites, so there was no question that the food would be good, it was just a matter of deciding on what to order.  It's hard to make a choice when everything we've tried there has been both an olfaction and gustation treat!

I had never tried the Italian rib dish called Ribs Agrodolce, so I tried it and now I have a new favorite!  The dish is baby-back-ribs braised in red wine with fresh herbs, finished on our wood-burning grill and served with housemade chips!  It is so yummy!

I took a photo of the rib plate, along with Neena's Chicken Parmesan, coated with our Italian  breadcrumbs, sautéed and topped with pomodoro and mozzarella, Judy's Lobster Ravioli, ravioli with tender Maine lobster in a white wine cream sauce!  It was all so good!

I ordered water, since the Knights and I had earlier burned some time waiting on the Dragons to shop at Parkside Grill, where it just happened to be Happy Hour!  We ordered 2 or 3 Yazoo drafts, which came with 2 or 3 free ones!  We had a lot of fun remembering the Yazoo's we had in Nashville after an AC/DC concert a couple of years back. 

After the "happy hour" treats, we walked from there up to Carrabba's and met the Dragons.

Then there was this past Tuesday when my friend Gary called and asked me to meet him at Harriman's Los Primos for...what else, food and drinks!  Gary still works, so I met him, Wendell, and Nathan there at around 6.  Gary's wife was out of town, so he wanted some company and we all were more than glad to oblige him.

You could never guess Wendell's age meeting him, or looking at this photo of him and his daughter Cindy (who just dropped by), but he is 84!  I noticed when Nathan was showing him his iPhone that Wendell didn't even need a matter of fact, I've never seen Wendell wear glasses.  Good genes are amazing!
I had my usual, Chicken Fajita Nachos, which consists of corn tortilla chip's topped with moist and tender strip's of chicken, onions, and peppers, (sauteed with Fajitas seasoning mix) topped with melted monterey jack, cheddar cheese, and jalapenos!

I normally go for a margarita a Los Premos, rather than the Dos Equis, which tends to fill me up too quickly.  We also usually sit outside, providing the weather is nice, but even then it's sometimes hard to hear a complete conversation due to the passing trains!  Los Primos sits right next to the tracks, and the squeaking of steel wheels on steel track often makes for some lip reading practice!

However, we don't mind, it's all pure South, and pure Harriman, and we'd have it no other way.

This group usually does a lot of reminiscing about the "good 'ol days"; about the things each of us did and should have gotten into more trouble than we did, and about the Princess Project that's dear to our hearts.  It's always a good time and we always enjoy each others company.

I had to turn one of these impromptu meetings down today because I woke up to some dizziness.  But no fear, they will carry on without me and, of course, there will be another day soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


My wife had a doctor's appointment in Knoxville today, so we took off early this morning.  I had left my truck at Jerry Duncan Ford last evening so the oil could be changed and a set of new shoes could be put on today while we were gone.

After the appointment, Judy and I did some shopping at a couple of different stores, but ended up doing most of the buying at Khol's.  I always warn her that if I have to go shopping I'm going to buy something!  So, true to my word, I bought a new pair of jeans and walking shorts...both in size 38 I may add!  Yes, I'm feels good to be able to wear decent size clothes again.

I also went into Blue Ridge Sports and bought a Timex sport watch...with a big digital face on it.  I'm getting tired of not being about to read the time on my old expensive analog watch!  This one I can even wear in the shower, if I want, or never even take it off again!  Best was only $19.95! 

We went from there to the Pei Wei Asian Diner, a place I had never been.  The first thing I notice is that there is no bar, but they do have beer and they simply display a single bottle of each type they have, and on the wall behind the cash register are single bottle displays of the wine you can order.  Different from what I expected, but at least they have a decent bottle selection!
Judy didn't want to be disturbed!

We ordered a single dinner, as we are in the habit of doing these days since we seem to fill up faster in our old age, and two pork rolls.

The Mandarin Kung Pao Spicy (spicy) comes with chile seared soy sauce, scallions, garlic, snap peas, carrots, peanuts, and was plenty for the two of us.

Their hot sauce is wonderful too.  It is already mixed, unlike P. F. Chang's, and is a delightful mix of hot and sweet, but really adds plenty of punch, so go easy until you taste it.
This is just half the order!
The pork rolls were crunchy, yet tender, and made a good "pusher" for the chicken and brown rice we ordered.

I brought along two packages of Crystal Light Lemonade to turn our water into a delicious beverage for our meal.  No, I didn't get a beer, and that too is becoming more and more common for me these days. 

Had I gotten one though, it would have been a Kirin Ichiban!

We left, more than satisfied, and all I can say is...I'll be back!  I love the cool dark ambiance of the place, which makes a quick food place seem more expensive than it really is.  I also like serving myself my drinks, napkins, condiments, and while yet eating on "real" plates, with "real" knives and forks!  'Course you can eat with chopsticks if you like, but I can't get the food in my mouth fast enough like that!  I'm a true westerner!

Finally, we get back to Harriman and I pick up my truck with her new shoes!  I'm $1K poorer (including the oil change and alignment), but she sure looks nice in those Michelin's!

My only compliant is that they did not wash my truck after spending that kind of money!  If my old buddy Carl had been there, he would have!

So, I went down the street and had it washed, asking them to pay particular attention to my new tires!

Monday, August 22, 2011


My high school class graduated in 1964, from Harriman High School, Harriman, TN. We have been a close class, having reunions every 5 years, but we also take advantage of other milestones to get together and PARTY!
We had a reunion/party on our 50th birthday year, and this year brings around another special event; we are all turning 65! So, it's only fitting that we PARTY again like we (did last summer) used to. We are calling it our SS & M Party - Social Security and Medicare Party!
Donna, Bob, Ronnie, Sandra, and Jerry Lou
The best part of the reunion or milestone years, to me, are the planning parties!  You've already read about one planning party, back in July.  Those of us that still live in the Harriman area love any excuse to get together and party, and we often do, even in non-milestone years.
This year we plan to have the party at the same place we had the "warm up" party before the last reunion, at Kay and Bob's house - poolside! There will be lots of finger foods, oldie music from our era, and loud talking and laughing!
Ronnie, Sandra, Gene, Jerry Lou, Judy, Donna, and Bob
Jokes will be told, mostly about each other, “Remember the time you and I...!" Something always gets revealed, and someone blushes, but we're way too old to care what happened years ago. Now, it's just plain funny!
This month's planning party was this past week at Sandra and Tommy's home up in "God's Country" - Morgan County.
Mushy, Donna, and Bob
Sandra and Tommy built their home themselves, and it's beautiful! Some of the prettiest and most varied types of wood I've ever seen in a house. I'm talking pine, oak, hickory, cedar, walnut, wild cherry, and some I don't remember. It was hand harvested and cut, sawed up on the land where it fell, sanded and finished, nailed, and put in place by a husband/wife team that don't give up! They are hard working, salt of the earth, folks who love company and really put on a food spread for them!
This is country living at its best...the house is surrounded by heavy timber, fields, pastures, barns and outbuildings. A porch runs around three sides of the house with a view that no city folks have ever seen. 

There were large oaks in the yard with a clothes line, complete with clothes pins, running underneath, which reminded me of my grandmother's place down in Alabama.
A late evening rain in the mountains moved through ahead of a cold front, cooling the day's high temperatures down into the upper 70's, and the dark green leaves dripped wet as a cool fog began forming down in the field and drifting toward the darkening woods. What a had been awhile since I had stood and watched such and evening develop.

Ronnie, our class president, called the planning meeting to order, but everyone ignored him and fixed another Wild Turkey before being seated!
Bob read the class list Jerry and I had prepared, reminiscing over each name with some funny event he recalled. However, Jeannie, his wife, soon put him back on track and we soon moved on!

We are having another planning meeting next month...just days before the actual party, and I can hardly wait to get together again!

It's so much fun hanging out with all those old folks!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Monday is our normal day to pick Lily up from school, but this week we were also scheduled to do it on Friday as well.  However, Judy had a previous engagement, so it was left up to ol' Papaw to do the honors.

Note the pink backpack!
It was her first week of kindergarten and she had been anticipating it since Pre-wee School let out last spring.  One of her favorite people in the whole world is her cousin Julia, who started the third grade this year, and Lily wants to be all grown up like her cousin.  So, at school orientation last week Lily insisted she wear her school backpack!

She was all talk about her day when she came out to get in my truck.  The happiness was very evident and she beamed when I told her what a big girl she was and how much I loved her new short hair cut!

I asked her what she wanted to do and "eat" was almost out of her mouth before I finished the question.  Of course, I knew the answer before asking, but it's such a treat to her her excitement as she explains where she would like to go.
Note the mouth full of chicken nuggets!

She rattled off a couple of places and then I suggested Chick-fil-A, and she blurted out "Yeah, Chick-fil-A!"

I don't think it's the food, it's mostly the play area.  She loves to climb, hide, and slide!

We sat quietly eating for a few minutes and then she had to go to the bathroom.  I had dreaded that moment, being by myself for the first time, but I gave her a few cautions and things about wiping the seat and washing her hands, and released her on her own at the ladies room door.

A couple of anxious minutes passed before a lady came out, looked at me, guessed I was a nervous Papaw, and said, "She's okay...she's in the stall singing!"

What a relief...I knew she was fine then and the second time she had to go wasn't quite as traumatic for me.  She's growing up and I'll just have to face it.

We took a few more bites and she said, "I want to go play."

I said, "Well, we will, let me finish eating first."

"Well, I'll just go by myself," she said emphatically.

I knew then that I was going to have to move, so I looked back toward the play area and spotted an empty table, that was previously occupied, right in front of the play area.  I could easily watch her through the glass as she happily played and I happily ate!

Inside she went, dropping her shoes as she went, and up into the plastic maze, disappearing for several minutes before dropping out of the slide-shoot.
She came up to the window once and started to wave.  I was thinking, "How nice she is to acknowledge me," so I waved back, but then I noticed that her eyes were looking past me.  I should have known better!

She had spotted a classmate at another table, so the giggling, chasing, hiding, and tagging soon began!

It was her friend Ellie, and before the adventure was over, they wanted to pose for a photo.  Ah, how wonderful it would be to be that carefree again.  Wait, I am that carefree again!  Retirement is pure freedom!

Old age also brings you moments like these - having fun watching your grandchildren play and being young.

Old also brings this one from the movie Judy and I saw last week...right in the middle of the week!  We're free!

Back at her house, she insisted I see her "office", and new desk!  So, up the steps we went quietly, so as not to awaken her sister Kinsley, and into her room. 
She showed me her desk, her computer, and told me she was getting a new chair soon, and that she hoped it had "the chipmunks" on it!

I played with her for a while, stuffed a dollar into her money jar, one of three she has, and told her I had to leave.  Downstairs, she gave me a big hug and I told her we would do it all again on Monday!  Can't wait!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Katie's Granny and I have enjoyed the last two days with her spending two days and one night with us.  It's been a favorite blessing for us for over 19 years now, and we hope our good luck holds!

She is sitting in the same rocker with Judy right now on the screened porch...the chair barely holds them both, but the closer she can get to her Granny the better she likes it.  And, of course, as uncomfortable as Judy is right now, I know she'd have it no other way!

Summer Break is coming to an end and Katie is packing to go back to school Tuesday, but she made one last special supper request from Judy - cornbread, fried squash and okra, and the new food she recently discovered at our table, hominy!  Yep, the girl is pure country.  She loves her some hominy and grits!

Of course, ol' Papaw benefits from her special food requests, and I lap it up almost as fast!

We got off our usual TV routine to watch a marathon of "Final Destination" flicks with her, and I kind of enjoyed my surprise!  It was better than the usual TV diet of "Intervention" episodes that she normally subjects us to.  I may have to go see the 5th release that's in theaters now!

It is so much fun having Kaitlyn here, listening to her go on about her latest boyfriend contacts, and which of her friends is into what and why she thinks it's so!  She analyzes everything and has an opinion on it all!

Anyway, I just wanted to bore you with the latest about my oldest granddaughter.  I can't help it, I love her so much!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Yeah, I know, I missed the last "Cruisin' In Harriman" for the season Saturday, but as often happens there was a family gathering.  One of Judy's sisters is leaving soon on an extended RV trip out through the upper middle American states, and we had to say goodbye.

Two of Judy's sisters are camper/RV'ers, and they often go on extended trips.  One couple was out in the Grand Canyon area while Judy and I were happily touring on a comfortable, leave the driving to us, trip!

I suggested recently that they buy this rig, just so they could go together!  It's probably better suited for a "mother-in-law" situation! 

I'm just not the pull a camper or drive an RV through a major city kind of me a wuss or something, but I'm just not built that way.  

As you have probably gathered over the years of reading my blog, I make it my business to find things to worry about.  Take last night...I should change out the AC filter tomorrow, and the filters in our room air filters, which we run just for noise, and I sure hope no more snakes get in the house!

"What was that?  I sure hope that air-conditioner makes it through the summer!"

I once worried an entire winter about an old oak tree falling through my bedroom roof.  After a spring windstorm blew down live trees in the yard, and the old dead tree surviving, I had it cut and removed along with the other debris.
So, Saturday was a much cooler day, in the mid to upper 80's, with a breeze stirring from nearby storms.  We could hear rumbling in the distance and see dark clouds northwest of us, but no rain came to soften the crunch of Gary's brown grass!

The cooler weather also eased everyone's mind about Judy...probably less chance of her passing out on us like she did on the 4th, but she was mindful of staying hydrated.  However, I think everyone, like me, watches her like a hawk for the first signs of trouble.  I think we both have figured out our sugar and blood pressure least for now.

However, so recent moisture had kept the nearby cornfield looking nice and green, with their contrasting yellow tassel tops.  He has a beautiful place with ponds, that he uses for duck hunting and training dogs, the field and nearby woods, from which a deer sneaked into the field.  He told us of mowing last week and finding two fawns, one obviously just a day or two old, hiding in the field where their mother's had left them as they foraged.

Sitting out on their screened porch is truly a relaxing day, filled with much laughter, and Dragon cackling!  We Knights, as normal, gather in an opposite corner in an effort to hear each other over the girl's voices and subsequent loud laughter...each trying to outdo the other!

Naturally, we each enjoyed a few of our favorite libations and even Ron had a cigar this time.  It was good to just sit there and watch them all have a good time.

We enjoyed a great smoked Boston Butt Roast that Gary and Charlotte cooked, slathered in BBQ sauces, one sweet, the other hot, on buns,  with creamed corn, and a potato casserole!  Best of all, there were three desserts to chose from,  an apple dumpling fritter kind of thing Terri made, a "Dolly Parton Peanut Butter Pie" that Judy made, and a strawberry yum-yum the Neena brought. 

Judy's pie was a success, however, everyone encouraged her to use crunching peanut butter next time.
 Actually, I have yet to eat any of either.  I'm saving it for tonight.  I've noticed that if I eat sweets, especially too much of them, it gets my Type II out of kilter and I feel terrible for a couple of hours.  I didn't eat any and I felt fine all evening.  Finally, I'm learning to control my food urges and I'm enjoying such gatherings much more these days.

It was a good farewell.  I can't wait for the welcome back gathering!