Friday, December 21, 2012


I often encounter these signs...I ignore them!  I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6!
These signs and notices only let a deranged person know that a business is a "Free/Safe Killing Zone"!

If businesses put up signs that said, "Legal Carry Permit Firearms Allowed", they and the public would be better served!

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Okay, it's probably a ruse, but thanks to a cute 23 year-old sales girl, some razzle-dazzle, and several minutes spent trying everything out, my "sleep number" is 35!

I think that's the norm for air bed users, since that number, or 70 is on all the promos.

Being over 200 lbs., I wallow out a mattress in 3 to 5 years. Then I spend several years trying to get my money's worth out of it; all the while suffering with aches and pains.

The photos below are a real time pressure point photos.  The first one shows how heavy my ass is!  That number is at setting 100, which is the full inflated bed.  It felt so good, even there, especially being compared to the sway-back mule I'm now trying to use.  I would have bought it if it didn't adjust!  I'm averaging 5 to 6 hours in the hole, and my hips are killing me!

At that point the long-dark-haired gal asked me to start pressing the down button.  I could feel my legs and arms start touching the bed...sinking down into the caressing arms of the mattress.  I have never felt my body completely against a mattress.  Some parts always seem to float above the bed with no support.  Others are pressed hard into the mattress supporting the part of the iceberg floating above!
Down, down I went until the photo scan looked like the second 35.  I then noticed, after turning on my side, the way I sleep, that my hip pain had almost dissolved away!  My ass wasn't so heavy anymore!

So, I bought the damn thing!  Now, if I can get 7 hours out of it, it will be money well spent.

Monday, October 08, 2012


I've blogged about being at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta before, so, even though this is 8 or so days later, I felt the need to document this wonderful experience in my life.
On September the 30th, Terri and Steve, Judy and I got up early that Sunday morning and made the trip south.  It's only 3 or 4 hours away, but plenty of time to catch up on each others lives.  Trips to Atlanta come a couple times a year, whether it be to attend a Becky's wedding, as mentioned in an earlier post, or to visit Tony, Judy and Terri's brother.  However, the trips to see stage plays at the Fox have been some of the best times.

"War Horse" won six Academy Award nominations after opening last Christmas.  The movie and subsequent stage plays were based on the 1982 children's novel by Michael Mopurgo by the same name.

The play first appeared on a London stage in 2007, and is based on a horse's perspective of the horrors of World War I.  

Now, you might not think you could get into the mind, or the story, of a 100 pound cane and metal horse puppet, but believe me, you can!  Some have written that the stage "Joey" is somehow more real than the live one in the Spielberg's movie!  That's so true!

You start out in the first minutes seeing a huge horse size mechanical thing heaving and moving around the stage supported by two men inside, whose legs, for the most part is all you see, and one guy sliding around beside the huge frame holding up a horse shaped head.  However, as time passes you begin to see the star, the real star, Joey, who is telling the story.  He breaths, twitches his ears and his tail, moves his eyes, and soon he's as alive as any "real" horse.

As the play progresses, you feel Joey's pain and suffering, and by the time he becomes entangled in the horrible biting barbed-wire of War World I, you weep for him.  You find yourself quickly wiping away your feelings so no one can see, but then you find that you're not the only one.  Everyone feels the real suffering of war...part of purpose for the original book.

Eight million horses in total are believed to have died during the four year war that begin in 1914.  Sounds like a lot, huh, but think about there being twice as many human deaths; 10 million military and 6-7 million civilian!  Mind boggling! 

I'm not sure what happens in the movie or book, but on stage Joey survives...barely, and by chance events.
Joey was just one of Britain's conscripted horses.  England lost over 484,000 horses, one horse for every two men!

I'll not go into the story, because you should read or see it yourself.  You're cheating yourself out of some real raw emotion if you don't.

On the way home we treated ourselves to a great meal at the "Marietta Diner", just off I-75.  

I had the fried scollops, and I don't remember what the others had, but we were all full and satisfied.  There's some great food there and plenty of it!

The girls got to enjoy their brother just a little longer and Steve and I got your bellies full.  Which was just the ticket we needed to dose all the way back as Terri drove.

So, bottom line...go see the play...not the movie!  

Unfortunately for you though, it's no longer at the magnificent FOX!

I so wanted to go back last weekend and see Jack White, but alas, I'm the only one here that even knows who he is! 

But, there's still time to educate them, so maybe we'll go back sometime soon!

Monday, October 01, 2012

So Long Dr. Sloan - I Will Miss You!

Just a quick post to salute Dr. James C. Sloan, formerly with the Oak Ridge Urologist Associates, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  

Dr. Sloan leaves me and a host of other patients that have grown to see his presence as a comfort.  Just knowing he was our doctor meant that we were in good hands should anything happen or reoccur.  
He is going back to his hometown in Indiana, to build another following of satisfied urology and cancer patients.  God bless him and his family, please send us another great doctor!

Dr. Sloan graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Medicine in 1997. He completed his general surgery and urology post graduate training from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2003. 

In my opinion, he was the best, but I may be prejudice...he saved my life!

It's been two years since he operated on my left kidney, removing a malignant neoplasm (cancer).  Today was the anniversary, and I am still cancer free.

His confident manner and smile really meant a lot to someone that thought that the future held little hope.  You grow up hearing the word cancer, and learning to fear it.  Dr. Sloan gave me hope and confidence to face it, with just his smile!

Of course, the road after surgery wasn't all roses, as I have blogged about in the past, but now I can say I have the hope and health I need to continue my life.

Thanks Dr. Sloan! 

Monday, July 09, 2012


Finally, Gary, Doc Ahler, and I got out for another adventure this past Saturday!  It has been some time, due mostly to Gary's hectic work schedule, and Doc's various political commitments and his love for "fine glass"!  Me...well, I can go out and play most anytime, providing there's not some new aliment afflicting this ever aging adventurer!
Gary had an idea where to go, but Ahler soon diverted our interest toward the rich farming valley of Delano, Tennessee (that's right, named for the President), where the "plain people" live and work.  This group of Mennonites is new to the area near Calhoun, in Polk County, Tennessee, having only started the community in December of 2002.  The good soil proved good enough to warrant a "farm market" that very spring (2003), and folks are beginning to learn of it's location and fine produce.
The Delano Community Farm Market is open mid-April thru October.  It's the center of activity for the Christian community of 18 families working 400 acres (a triangle of land formed by Hwy. 411 and Bowater Road in Polk County, TN), growing a wide range of vegetables from asparagus to zucchini, picked and brought to the on-farm market daily.

The market also sells homemade breads, cookies, jams, jellies, honey, soaps, etc.  Every September sorghum molasses are cooked the old fashioned way.   All farming is done with horse-drawn equipment and lots of hand labor.

It's a great little drive, from anywhere in East Tennessee, and you can count on getting the finest vegetables and canned goods, like the wonderful peach/pineapple preserves I happened upon there Saturday!  It was so good on my Monday morning biscuit!  
The tomato I brought home made a great bacon and tomato sandwich Sunday morning, and it was gone quickly, almost too fast to remember, while watching CBS's Sunday Morning.

Anyway, it seems everything these folks grow taste like it used to, and should!  I've read that it's because they "plow deeper" than us common people.  Seems it keeps the soil "mellow", which to them is far better than us "despised Yankees" that only scratch the surface!

The fellow, and his son, at the market were very congenial, offering comment about the various produce and canned goods, as well as telling us about the on-site sorghum making there in September.  
I was telling him how I used to work my uncle's "sorghum mill", stirring the sticking mixture down the steaming troughs, or drawing off the finished "molasses" into jars or buckets, and applying labels.  He seemed pleased I knew a little something about the old, good ol', ways, and I told him I would be back in September.  He told me the smells would bring back all the good memories of those days, and I believe it to be true.

We stuffed Gary's truck with corn, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, and the preserves and made the loop around the 400 acres.  There is a sign saying it's all private, but Dr. Ahler insisted, so around the dusty road we went.

They don't really like photos being made of them, but I couldn't resist a quick, through the back glass, shot of a buggy with a little coverall clad, dusty seat an all, boy, wearing his straw hat, while clinging to the back of his dad's buggy!  It was precious and I just had to have it, even if it wasn't the best shot I ever took.  I even gave it a "painting" effect, just to help hide anything identifying them.

On down the road, we were taken aback by a young woman standing by a mailbox.  Wow! I wanted to jump out and capture that for prosperity, but I knew it would have been disrespectful.  However, she did look up, cracked a shy smile, and waved briefly as we slowly passed.  

I have to assume she was married since her prayer cap was white.  They never cut their hair, which they wear in a bun on the back of the head. On their heads they wear a white prayer covering if they are married and a black one if they are single.

Just past there was another young girl wading in a creek, still wearing her long dress with apron, and her traditional black hat!  All shots of a lifetime, but not to be taken by me!  I still wonder what was in that handwritten letter (plain to see as we passed), and who it might have been from.  Another young girl from another community perhaps?  A secret friend?

It's a small community with "plain" ways, where everyone knows everyone's business, but if you think about it, it would be nice to again know your neighbors, and work the land with your father and brothers.  We left so much behind.

It's plain to see that the barn is an important part of the farm life.  They are the largest structure, built not just for livestock, but often for meeting places.

Water for the farm is pumped up by windmills that dot the landscape, and no electrical lines touch the homes.  When it gets dark in this area, they go to bed!  There is no TV or Facebook out there, nothing to distract you from making a living from the earth, and the next morning, soon as the sun is up, they are back at...probably happy as larks!

Along the way to and from Delano, we passed old houses and barns, some still being lived in and functioning.  I love to just ride the country roads and snap photos of these structures.  They won't be there long, and since I was privileged to have had the pleasure of living and working on a farm in my formative years, I certainly appreciate what they mean, and am saddened by the realization that they will all be gone someday soon.  Not even my son will ever know the simple pleasures of that life.

One of the other beautiful places we passed was the "Twin Eagle Ranch" in Ten Mile, Tennessee.  According to what I couldn't find on the Internet, it seems the place is not open right now.  We noticed some roof damage on the barn, from recent storms, but that's not why it isn't open.  Must be changing hands, or it's for sale, or something.  However, it's quite a beautiful "white fenced" piece of property, with it's barn like resort building, lake, and out buildings.

Across the road is a great looking old home, we assumed the owners, with a concrete silo sticking up along the side of the road to identify the ranch.  Behind the iron fence, and the "lawn jockey", was a beautiful white, remodeled old home, with giant "southern style" columns, a well manicured yard, all behind a plantation style rock wall.  
I would have loved to have stayed for supper, but there was no one around to invite us!

Later on, we passed the Ten Mile Missionary Baptist Church.  It seemed to be a thriving place, with many out buildings for class rooms and socials.  

If you get off Highway 58, down in that area of Meigs County, Tennessee, you'll see lots of things that remind you of the "good ol' days", provided you even remember those days.  I loved the farms, fields, livestock, white board fences, and chicken houses (lots of them), barns, especially the one almost completely covered in Trumpet Creeper!  

Oh you remember the old "creek rock" filling stations that used to be sparsely sprinkled along country roads?  Well, this one reminded me of my roots in rural Alabama and lower Middle Tennessee, complete with the Sinclair gas pump!  

Someone had added a "Good Gulf" sign to it at some point, and that addition made me wonder if  some local history buff hadn't built it just to remind him of the "olden days"!  Who knows, it was too hot for anyone to be out, so we drove on.  It could simply be it was just recycled when gas distributors were changed by the store owner!

And then there was the 100 year-old M. E. Trew General Merchandise store. 

Trew 's Store was established in 1890 by John Wesley Trew near Calhoun, TN, the site of the first county seat of McMinn County Tennessee.
It is properly located as being half way between Highway 11 and 411 on Highway 163 where County Road 783 enters. Dentville was a one time postoffice in the store and the community still retains its name. (To the ole timers, anyway.)
John Wesley Trew's grandparents, Dr. Thomas Trew and wife Nancy James purchased 463 acres in the Calhoun area in 1836. They came here from Jamestown, Kentucky. They stayed in the area, known as Dentville, and raised their family of ten children.
It's a bygone era, but you can still see evidence of things like this and more that bring back memories of your experiences from yesteryear!  Even the occasional dead of dying old oak tree in a field, like the one I used to play under in the back of Grandmother Williams' old "tar paper" house.  Alas, nothing last forever, not even the old oaks, hickory's, and poplars.

Safely back in Roane County, we said goodbye to the doc, after carrying in his watermelons and corn, and seeing his giant geode!  He was so proud of it, and not wonder...look at the size of it!  He says 350 pounds!

I love these "road trip" Saturdays, with these two guys.  It will be hard to give them up one of these days.  We aren't getting any younger, but man, do we ever have a great time.  We never know where we're going to do or where we'll end up...maybe at your house next week!


To some of you that have not heard: 

The Harriman Hospital has been offered, by the City of Harriman, to the Veterans Administration for $1 to take it over as a VA facility. It is almost perfectly equidistant from existing VA hospitals that are approximately 140 miles distant; Johnson City and Murfreesboro. This could give service to 85,000+ veterans, reducing expense and time for this important people to get better medical service. 

We need a crowd of 600+ to make our best impression for this event this coming Friday.

So, give it your best effort...we need this facility!

11:30 A.M.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I should have waited a few more days and I would have had another subject to add to my previous "What's Goin' On" post!

For a couple of weeks, my wife Judy, had been complaining of a tightness, or pressure in her chest.  I told her she needed to go to the ER, or at least make an appointment with our family doctor.  But NOOOOOoooo!

Saying something like, "I rather die at home than go to the emergency room," she put it off.  It did go and come and seemed to get better, so we waited.  Not a good move!

On Monday, we were watching installers put up our new closet doors.  All the time Judy sat, or lay, on the couch in the sunroom, while the work was being done.  The workmen said they needed to come back the next day to finish up, since there was more finishing work than estimated.

I told them that my wife wasn't feeling well, so please call before coming the next day.  Sure enough, on Tuesday she had had it with the discomfort, and off to Tennova at Turkey Creek we went.  The ER there had treated her great a year ago when an ambulance took her there after she passed out at our family July 4th celebration!  Turns out, this new issue may have been related to that incident!

We walked in, mentioned that she was having chest pain, and they came and took her straight back, while I stayed to fill out the insurance paperwork.

When I got back to the treatment room, the doctor had already done blood work, an extra, and EKG, and had decided that, based on symptoms and family history, he was going to admit her.  The plan was to do a stress test, some more tests, and them possibly a cardiac catheterization (heart cath) with dye the next morning.

After consulting with the head of the cardiac department, it was decided to go straight for the cath on Wednesday morning.  

So, that morning before I arrived, Judy began to hurt badly and her blood pressure rose sharply.  The nurses administered nitroglycerin (2 or 3 tablets), all which caused her to crash!  They could not find a pulse, she was white as a sheet, and remembers being scared!  They lowered her head to an acute level and administered morphine, which eventually brought her pressure back up!

I didn't know all this until after the procedure, but at around 9:30 that morning they did the "dye test" and found the artery on the right front of her heart 80% blocked, and another on the left side 40% blocked.  They put in a "stent" on the right side, but decided not to do anything to the other side.

I've heard since it's because doctors have to discount multiple procedures!  I hope this isn't the case, but I've heard this from a nurse in our family. 

Anyway, she finally got to come home around 7PM the same day, and yesterday and today has been resting a lot.

So, long story short, as Sammie Harris (good friend I used to work with) used to say, the worked completed the doors while I was at the hospital, didn't steal at thing!

This is my room, but Judy's looks the same!

The work looks great!  Now all we have to do is stain the wooded doors and put on the trim work.  

We had almost gotten used to having no closet doors, and miss being able to see right in!  We had taken them off prior to having the house painted, and installing new carpet.  I was going to do the baseboards and closet trim after the door installation.

So, tonight, Judy is resting in the sunroom and I'm cooking supper and blogging!  I'm also having a little Buffalo Trace!  It's mandatory when I'm cooking!

We're having center-cut bone-in pork chops, with a baked sweet potato!  I'm salivating like Pavlov's dog just thinking about it!  Ladies, if you don't know what the dog thing is all about, then you have failed one of the ten things that is required before being considered a "10"!

I posted about this years ago:  

"This idea was spawned by the movie "Semi-Tough" starring Burt Reynolds back in ’77. In one scene, the main characters, Billy Clyde and Shake, discuss their rating system for women.

The ones we made up were based on the movie’s list, however I can only remember three of ours:
1. Never says no – not even in a coma.
2. Knows about Pavlov’s dog.
3. Knows all the lyrics to “Free Bird”." (Actually, Steve Edwards and I added this one!)

Keep us in your prayers.  She still has some issues that need to be resolved, so she is not completely well yet.  Thanks.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What's That...What's Going On?!

It's been awhile, about 30 days, since I've posted, which is getting to be about par for the course.  So, I thought I would bring those interested up to date, and maybe prove the point, that retirement is loads of fun!

True, the fun is often broken by a low spot, like the last prostrate laser surgery, but boy, has it ever helped.  If you listen at the door, you would think a young horse was relieving himself!  I mean...even when I was young I never had a stream like the one I'd proudly show off now!

Anyway, I'm back to feeling myself (not literally), and having fun.
Dennis Tufano, Stevie G, and Steve Jarrell
I guess the first great adventure I had following the outpatient procedure was the "Dennis Tufano" concert Princess Productions put on down at the Princess Theatre.  He has lost little in his voice, the original voice of the Buckinghams, and his back up band, The Rockerz, with lead singer and guitarist Stevie G, did a bang up job.  The vintage ladies in the audience were screaming like they were 16 again and the boys on stage loved it!
I'll have to put in a plug for Michael "Crawdaddy" Crawley too.  He warmed up the crowd with his box of harps and his gravelly bluesy sounding voice.  He and went outside at break and took a few snaps of the Princess.
Bill Landry, Elizabeth Rose, Sam Venable, and Jim Claborn
They all loved our Princess, and I sure hope this gets things rolling downtown.  We plan on bringing in a quartet of storytellers next.  They are quite a crew, and well known to East Tennessee.  They spin yarns of Appalachia, country folklore, and even a golf and fishing tale might come out.  I had a recent promo photo shoot with them and they keep me rolling the entire afternoon and into the evening over a brew!

Judy and I are still out hiking when we can, even though the wildflowers came early, we still enjoy a walk down a wooded path by a mountain stream.  There just something about the woods that brings the child out in me again.  Being raised essentially an only child, being ten years older than my brother, I found solace from loneliness among the quietness of Tennessee forests.  I did my best thinking out there and discovered a lot about my self and the world there.
It's like the bear we recently came upon in Cades Cove, or the deer in the front yard.  They are my kind of people!  The only animal we came across that I don't consider "good people, was the grey snake at John Cable's mill!
Even the horses in the fields I see almost everyday take me back to a time when I got to be a kind of country cowboy, riding through the woods with my cousin Larry.  
Or the time Richard Lacher and I sneaked into a "walking horse" barn near our trailer park in Florence.  There we met the devil, and his name was "Midnight Sun", a Tennessee Walker of some renown.  

He saw us before anyone and wanted to kill us immediately, although "walkers" are generally gentle!  Came right up to us, trying to break through the steel gate, snorting like the wild thing he wanted to be again!  Probably was all that anger in having to wear those cruel weighted shoes, "stacks" (stacked pads), or weighted chains his trainer made him wear.

I discovered from the embedded web link that he was born in 1940 and accumulated quite record over his career, being a world champion in 1945 and 1946.
Last weekend I shot the "Cruisin' Harriman" car show downtown, which occurs the second Saturday of each month, April - August.  That's always a hoot, and I love community events, and the history that comes alive because of them.  Take this Saturday, it's the seventh annual WWII reenactment at the Secret City Festival in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  I can't wait to see all those tanks, half-tracks, and American and German reenactors running amidst all that smoke and gunfire!  Talk about a hoot and a feast for a photographer!
Photo actually by Kaitlyn Russell
I missed a great feast last week by being too old to tackle Bonnaroo!  The only shot I got was from my granddaughters iPhone...the arch as you enter the rock'n playground for wannabe hippies!  Alas, it's as close as I'll ever get, but I just want to give her credit for sticking it out!  She almost gave it up after the first day of heat, and being ignored, but sucked it up and stuck it out for the full "right of passage" tour!

I'll stick to my hikes, waterfalls, old barns, lotus ponds, and visits to the strange "world's tallest tree house" in Crossville!  That's about as far out as I want to get these days.  That's my element at this stage in my life.
So, I'll sign off by telling you that I'm bushed...we had a big thunderstorm last evening, with the power going off at 9PM and not coming back on until 5AM.  I don't sleep well in the dark...pitch darkness, that is, or in quietness so still I can hear my heart beating.  At this age you think the next beat might be the last one, and you just don't want to hear that last one.  I run an air filter in my room to mask all the static noise...heart beats, squeaks from house expansion and expansion, crickets outside, the refrigerator running, or Judy snoring!  Without, I'm wide awake!

The rain and hail came down in buckets, and I was still there clicking away.  I made these HDR renditions of it all, even catching that spooky orange glow that comes in some storms.  

So with that...see ya next time...maybe sooner than 30 days...IF I got got shots during the war games!