Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Eve Photos

Here is a trio of photographs from Christmas Eve at Grams' house. Sherry posed all three shots using Grams' neighbor's Christmas lights as props after she and Grams took the kids out shopping that evening. (One of the rewards I give myself for starting our Christmas shopping in June each year is not having to go anywhere near a department store during the holidays.)

We had a nice lunch event at noon that day, and I don't know how we managed not to have any photographs of Sherry's brother, Jay, and her Great Aunt Betty and cousin Mary Helen, who dined and exchanged gifts with us. Perhaps I'll be able to post some later.

Albamonte Family Photos

Mom forwarded these photos that her sister, my Aunt Joan, sent her from her family's Christmas gathering. Pictured here is Sophia, the eldest daughter of my cousin David Albamonte, and his wife Margaret.

We have been plotting a family reunion with our Albamonte cousins, and have locked down a weekend in June for the event. We recently chose a hotel to serve as our headquarters, and so this morning I sent an E-mail to our other cousins to invite them as well. All of the Albamonte clan have met Sherry, but only Aunt Joan has met the children, so it will be fun to see how all the kids interact. There will be a pool at the hotel, which usually is something all ages can enjoy.
Here is my cousin Andrew Albamonte making himself comfortable. Andrew came to visit us in Nashville in 2002, and he was driving an old camper. When I met him at the interstate exit to bring him to our home at Cotton Blosson Lane, he pointed out his vehicle and reminded me of the scene from the first Star Wars movie where Princess Leia first sees the Millenium Falcon, She looks at Han Solo and says, "You came in that? You're braver than I thought."

Pictured here are Elena's children, Kelle and Matthew, in red shirts, seated with their uncle, David Albamonte. David and Margaret's younger daughter, Isabella, is peeking at the camera over her father's shoulder.
Pictured here are Michael Somavilla, Sharon Bowar and Margaret Albamonte. Cousin Mike is a dedicated fan of the music scene in San Francisco, where he lives, and he introduced me to many cool bands I would not have heard otherwise. He is in Washington, where the Albamontes live, visiting with his mother, my Aunt Penny, Mom and Aunt Joan's sister.

Margaret is my cousin David's wife, and I still remember warmly their hospitality when Sherry and I visited their home in Washington, DC, some years ago. They served us Mediterranean chicken and couscous, which was delicious, and we also ate at an Ethiopian restaurant when we were there. The Albamonte cousins, having been brought up in Washington, DC, have a much broader cultural palette than I do. I always feel like the country mouse visiting my cousins in the big city.

I do not know Sharon, who is My Aunt Joan's stepdaughter, although I have seen her paintings.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Recipe: Santa Fe Soup

I just sampled the latest batch of Santa Fe soup, and am now full and happy and feeling like I need to go on a walk. Here is the recipe for the soup:

2 lbs ground chuck
1 onion
15 oz can black beans
15 oz can white corn
15 oz can pinto beans
15 oz can Rotel
15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 packs powdered ranch dressing
2 packs powdered taco seasoning
2 cups water

Brown the meat and onion, and drain. Mix in with the rest of the ingredients, and bring to a boil. Simmer for two hours, and then serve with cheese and sour cream.

You can make this as mild or hot as you like it. We usually make a relatively mild batch, and offer hot sauce like Tabasco as a condiment. We also usually use the crock pot rather than the soup pot, but then we're fond of our crock pot.

Cookeville

Sherry and the kids should be arriving in Cookeville to meet Joey and Jake's dad about now. I've been working on laundry and straightening up the house, and I put on a batch of Santa Fe Soup, a recipe I've been looking forward to making since it finally got chilly, before they left this morning.

The house is back to about as clean as it gets around here, except for putting up the clothes, which I decided to do once I have everything clean and folded. The soup smells delightful, and I'm getting hungry.

Grace Graham, Infant Model


Here is a copy of an advertisement Sherry created for the January issue of Skirt! magazine, featuring our niece, Grace. The issue can be found at East Tennessee newsstands now.

When you have a graphic artist in the family, you're liable to wind up in an advertisement, article or catalog from time to time. Sarah and I had a couple of our photos published in a parenting magazine earlier this year, one of which featured us walking out the dock at Randy and Dawn's down in Florida. I haven't added "swimsuit model" to my resume yet, and I do not plan to quit my day job.

Angus Young and Keith Richards

One of the things I've learned from looking at the booklets enclosed with my new DVD's is that Angus Young and Keith Richards played on the same stage together for a benefit concert in Toronto. A photo of the two guitarists playing caught my attention, and Keith is even trying to do Angus's trademark (well, it's really Chuck Berry's) duck walk.

TNT

The AC/DC song "TNT" begins with a chant I did not understand until I was in my thirties. I always thought they were saying "Oy oy oy oy . . . ." I later figured out they were saying "Hey," with Australian accents.

Sarah's fallen into the same mistake, though her first guess was closer than mine was. When she sings it, she sings, "Hat hat hat hat . . . ."

She keeps asking me to put the "rock and roll" on television. That's my girl!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Movie Review: AC/DC Family Jewels & Plug Me In

I make no apologies for being an incorrigible AC/DC fan. I received two AC/DC DVD's for Christmas, and we've been watching both of them. I still love that band, and it is especially cool to see old film of the band playing with Bon Scott.

Sarah's been jamming to Angus and the boys since she was born, and she's been enjoying the videos almost as much as I have, more about which later.

Margaritaville Opening in Panama City

There's a new Margaritaville Cafe opening in Panama City, Florida, on February 15, 2008. On vacation we stay in Seagrove Beach, which is between Destin and Panama City, but rarely visit Panama City. We'll have a reason to next time we're down there.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas in Destin in 1915

I just ran across this in the Destin Log.

It was a time of no roads running through Destin.

The nearest towns by boat were Niceville and Fort Walton Beach. And “because you’re all poor fishermen,” says lifelong Destin resident Cyron Marler, there was only one answer for a celebratory Christmas — community fellowship.

Without it, the children could have quite possibly been looked over by Santa Claus.

“Many of them were lucky if they got one toy for Christmas,” Cyron said.

As far back as Destin’s Christmas pasts are recorded — about 1915 — Christmas was a time in which the entire town — all 10 families of it, give or take a few — gathered on Christmas Eve around the community Christmas tree, singing carols.

William T. Marler, or as he was commonly known, “Uncle Billy,” is credited with establishing the first Community Christmas Party in 1915. And it was he who first put on the Santa suit.

They gathered in the Community Church and first school house, which was located on the Choctawhatchee Bay side, facing the water.

“It was a lot like coming together for church — a get together,” said Cyron, greatgrandson of “Uncle Billy.”

Those with a crafty skill, such as woodworkers or seamstresses, would fashion toys — models of ships, dolls and stuffed animals — to give the children. Each also received a bag of fruit and candy. Tricycles and red wagons were rare treats, but with streets of sand they were strictly indoor toys.

Restaurant Review: Big Ed's Pizza

At long last, I have returned to Big Ed's Pizza, where the boys and I dined before visiting the museum. Big Ed's still rocks! (May the big guy rest in peace, and pizza.)

Trip to Oak Ridge

I took Jake and Joey to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge today. They had an animation exhibit sponsored by Cartoon Network there, and we spent probably an hour checking out all of the exhibits. It has been raining like hell here all day, so it was a good indoor activity for us.

Atlantis Launch Scrubbed Again

The January 20 launch of the space shuttle Atlantis has been canceled again due to problems with the vehicle's fuel sensors. No new launch date has been scheduled.

Restaurant Review: Tailgate Grill

Joey and Jake and I stopped for lunch at a new Maryville restaurant, the Tailgate Grill, which is in the building where Scholtsky's used to be in the Foothills area. Once we sat down, the server told us that it was their first day, so we were among their first patrons.

I had their Philly chicken sandwich, which was good. It was served with two sides, and I got the house salad and potato wedges, which were okay. Jake and Joey split a huge burger, and it looked pretty good as well.

Our meal, even with the boys dividing a platter, was just under $27.00, including a $5.00 (20%) tip, and my overall impression was that for the money it really wasn't anything to write home about. The menu was pretty boring, and so was to decor of the place. I wish them luck, but I don't think they'll last long. Applebees or Ruby Tuesday would be more festive, and Applebees would probably be cheaper.

Bellevue Center Mall in Nashville Sold

The Bellevue Center Mall, which was about five minutes from where we used to live in Nashville, was purchased by a California company called Foursquare Properties, which plans to redevelop the property. The mall has become something of a joke to Bellevue residents in the past few years as businesses closed leaving much of the mall's space vacant. In an effort to make at least some rent off of the property, the owners in recent years have leased space within the mall to offices and consignment stores. Frankly, it's pretty lame now, as malls go. Hopefully, the redevelopment will bring Bellevue a decent shopping center again.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Meigs Creek Trail

The boys and I cleared out of the house at about 11:00 this morning, and we drove up to the Sinks and the trail head for Meigs Creek Trail. Even though it was cold, they looked at that clear water and thought about wanting to swim there. I showed them some of the places at the Sinks where I liked to jump and/or lounge in the sun, and hopefully we'll be able to take them for a swim there this summer.

From the Sinks we walked up Meigs Creek Trail perhaps a mile to get to the sunshine on top of the ridge, and it was uphill all the way. Meigs Creek itself was just a damp ditch due to the drought, and the Little River is still sadly low despite some recent rain. Once we got up to the ridgetop, we all agreed we were ready to climb back down, which we did.

We went back to Maryville to check the post office box and to have lunch, and then we killed about 45 minutes at the library to give Sarah time to finish her nap. After picking her up from school, we fed the ducks and seagulls at Springbrook Park in Alcoa and played at the playground there for a while before heading home. It has been a fun, busy afternoon.

Benazir Bhutto Killed in Pakistan

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who just recently returned to her country from exile, was killed today following a political rally. She returned to Pakistan as a leader of the party in opposition to the current government there, and an attempt was made on her life shortly after her return. CNN is reporting that she was shot, but BBC, the London Times, Reuters and Radio Netherlands are reporting that she was been killed by shrapnel from a bomb detonated at the scene by a suicide bomber.

This is in the wake of a suspension of constitutional government by the current President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, during which forces loyal to Musharraf rounded up lawyers by the truckload and hauled them off to jail. The rule of law in Pakistan is falling apart.

Goodbye Christmas Tree!

I got up this morning, took down and packed up the Christmas decorations and threw the tree out in the backyard. I haven't vacuumed up the needles off of the floor yet, because Jake and Joey are still asleep, but I have the vacuum cleaner waiting in the living room.

Sarah came down this morning and said, "What happened?" Sherry just laughed.

Back to Work and School

Sherry has to work today and tomorrow, and I figured I'd take Sarah to school as well so she can start getting back into her routine. I think I shall propose a hike in the Smokies to Joey and Jake this morning, though I'll let them sleep in so the day can get warmer for us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Roasted Chicken

Sherry and I are going to make one of the chicken salad recipes we like this afternoon, so I baked us a hen this morning. I just took it out of the oven about thirty minutes ago, and the house still smells delightful!

Gift Round Up

We've concluded our Christmas festivities for 2007, and Mom left shortly after we had breakfast. Sherry, Joey and Jake had money and gift cards burning holes in their wallets, so they've gone out shopping. Sarah and I are hanging out and playing with all of her new toys. She got a bunch of toys, but also a lot of art materials, including new paints, a play dough kit, pastel crayons, chalks and an easel. She also got a princess dress-up box, so she's been parading around the house looking like she's ready for Prince Charming to come and take her to the ball.

Christmas presents for Jake and Joey are quite different than they were five years ago, when they would have been opening mostly toys. This Christmas Jake got a twelve gauge shotgun, and Joey got a cool automatic action toy gun that shoots green, plastic pellets. They also got a digital camera, digital picture frame and I-pod, as well as a flock of Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, which is all the rage these days.

Sherry and I did pretty well too. I got a couple AC/DC videos and a Rolling Stones video, which I'll enjoy watching. Since Sarah already sings "It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll", she'll get a kick out seeing Angus and the boys play it. Sherry also got me several fun items of clothing, including a necktie with the signatures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence on it. She found it on the Monticello gift shop website. She always knocks the ball out of the park with neckties, and I'm damned hard to buy a necktie for.

Sherry got a GPS unit for her car, and an electric blanket and some fancy pillows she wanted. (I am also a beneficiary of these, of course.) I bought her a couple of cute cat gifts she wanted. One is a watch with a goldfish as a second hand and a cat whose eyes follow the fish. The other was a set of pint glasses with Dao cats (hiss/purr, good cat/bad cat). Though it isn't really a Christmas present, we recently had a new ring made for Sherry, and we picked it up just before the holidays, so she's been enjoying flashing it around. We took the rather small stone from the ring I bought her when we married and put it and a stone of the same size on either side of a larger stone. I'm glad she finally has a nice ring.

Santa's Arrival

Since we were in Nashville Christmas Eve, Santa delayed delivering all of this year's gifts to our family until Christmas night. (He also visited Gram's place Christmas Eve. He's Santa, and he knows families travel.) When I got up this morning, there was another batch of gifts under the tree, and the stockings, though not hung by a chimney, have been filled. I haven't looked outside yet to see if the reindeer ate any of the chow we left out for them, but it looks like Santa got into the cookies Sherry baked last night.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Back Home for Christmas Night

We're back home after a busy two days in Nashville, and traveling. The children scored lots of loot so far, and we're still expecting Santa to visit us tonight so that they'll have another Christmas morning at our place tomorrow morning. Les and Fraz just came by for about an hour or so, and Mom's planning on coming over tomorrow morning for the Christmas tree.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Reindeer Chow

Sarah has received two packages of oatmeal in plastic baggies this holiday season. The contents are purported to be reindeer food, which is to be sprinkled on the lawn to provide fodder for St. Nick's reindeer. We always left cookies out for Santa, but no one ever suggested to me that the reindeer were getting stiffed. Anyway, since we've got two sacks of reindeer chow and are having Christmas Eve twice, it works out nicely.

Happy Christmas Eve!

We're up early and making ready to head out to Nashville this morning to exchange gifts with Sherry's family at her mom's house this afternoon. We're going to meet Sherry's dad tomorrow, and Jake and Joey will open presents with their dad and his family before we head back home. We'll have another round of gifts the morning of the 26th with Mom and Les and Fraz.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Report from Canada

Blog of the Devil, and she sends an E-mail. Here's an update from La-La of the Klondike:
Just wanted to say HI! I'll try to call soon too.
We had a great flight up---upgraded to 1st class
the whole way!

It's snowy and cold here and just beautiful!
Max and Judy are coming for
lunch and tomorrow we're heading for
Canmore in the Rockies where Mike and
Laurie have there mountain place.
Andrew comes Sunday.

Talk soon,
Laura

Mount Ranier National Park


Here's the frozen scene from Mount Ranier National Park in the State of Washington via the NPS webcam at a place called Paradise. La and Stew and Co. are north of there. Brrrrrr!

I have to admit, though, the snow-laden firs look pretty for the season.


Sausage Balls and Lasagna

Mom and Lez and Fraz came over yesterday afternoon for some pre-Christmas festivities. Sherry and I decided to get some cooking done, so she made her raspberry congealed salad and sausage balls for our Christmas Eve gathering at Grams' house in Nashville. I made a big batch of homemade spaghetti sauce and two lasagnas, one of which we put away so we'll have an easy meal when we get back home from Nashville Christmas Day.

We put a major dent in the sausage balls, but we bought ingredients for two batches, so we'll make the other batch today. We also put a hurtin' on the lasagna, but we fed everyone well. Mom left before the lasagna came out of the oven, so we sent her home with a container of spaghetti sauce.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Terrorist Attack in Mecca Thwarted

Al Jazeerah is reporting this morning that Saudi authorities prevented a terrorist attack on security forces protecting Muslim pilgrims taking part in the hajj, and important religious pilgrimage to Mecca. There are three million human beings there right now taking part in the pilgrimage that is required of all Muslims at least once in their lives.

The Saudi authorities have linked the terrorists to al-Qaeda, which marks the first time the terrorist organization has targeted the hajj.

Hoodie Two-Shoes

During my morning perusal of some of my favorite blogs, I noted that two bloggers in Nashville are commenting on a new controversy involving the Metro Nashville Public Schools dress code, about which I wrote about the time school started this year. The dress code seems to me to pretty clearly ban hoodies (hooded sweatshirts); however, they are popular with kids, so parents are looking for loopholes so that their kids won't have to follow the rules. The dress code allows "outerwear," the definition of which includes sweaters, and parents are arguing that a hooded sweatshirt is a sweater. Surprisingly, some of the principals seem to be buying it.

Sweaters are scratchy, itchy, look neat and are therefore uncool and thus acceptable under the dress code regulations. Hoodies are comfortable, especially if you wear them five sizes too big, look slovenly and are therefore cool and thus unacceptable under the dress code regulations. Isn't the whole point of a dress code to have the children looking neat so that everyone has to look uncool together? Ask your kid to put on a sweater, and you've got a fight on your hands. Ask him to put on a hoodie, and you'll get far less complaint. A controversy is born!

Road to Nowhere

Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman Heath Schuler have announced that federal funding of $6 million has been secured toward the $52 million t he U.S. government will pay Swain County, North Carolina, in lieu of completing the Road to Nowhere, which was to run along the north shore of Fontana Lake, through one of the most pristine and beautiful areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here's some information on the Road to Nowhere:

In the 1930s and 1940s, Swain County gave up the majority of its private land to the Federal Government for the creation of Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hundreds of people were forced to leave the small Smoky Mountain communities that had been their homes for generations. With the creation of the Park, their homes were gone, and so was the road to those communities. Old Highway 288 was buried beneath the deep waters of Fontana Lake.

The Federal government promised to replace Highway 288 with a new road. Lakeview Drive was to have stretched along the north shore of Fontana Lake, from Bryson City to Fontana, 30 miles to the west. And, of special importance to those displaced residents, it was to have provided access to the old family cemeteries where generations of ancestors remained behind.

But Lakeview Drive fell victim to an environmental issue and construction was stopped, with the road ending at a tunnel, about six miles into the park. The environmental issue was eventually resolved, but the roadwork was never resumed. And Swain County's citizens gave the unfinished Lakeview Drive its popular, albeit unofficial name The Road To Nowhere.

Where There's Smoke . . .

As Sarah and I were returning to the house from lunch yesterday, I saw a huge plume of gray smoke billowing up in the sky about a mile west of our house. By the time I got in the house and got into casual clothes, I looked out the back door, and there was no more smoke. I figured it was someone burning brush.

The Daily Times reports this morning that it was a mobile home fire over on Middlesettlements Road. I'm going to drive over there after the sun comes up and have a look to be sure, but the fire was reported at 12:15 yesterday afternoon, so I'm pretty sure that was the source of the smoke cloud. What a sad thing to happen just before Christmas; however, no one was home so no one was injured.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Back from Morning Duties

I finished up in court at a decent hour this morning and picked Sarah up from day care. We grabbed lunch at the Dairy Queen and stopped by the post office before coming home to find Sherry had taken the day off to work on the rest of her Skirt! business. I've been tidying up a few bits of paperwork, more to have them out of my hair than anything else, and the girls are now watching SpongeBob.

Ready to Put the Suit Away for a While

I have a hearing in Judge Duggan's court this morning, and it is the last court appearance on my calendar until 2008, so I'm ready to put my suit in the closet for a week or so. When I went out to run errands yesterday, it was apparent to me that the local schools had dismissed their students for the holidays, especially at the Chick-Fil-A, which was filled with kids and parents. I suspect I'll bring Sarah home from school when I conclude my hearing this morning. I'm ready for the holidays!

Another Happy Christmas Adoption Story

There is a delightful photograph on the front page of the Knoxville News-Sentinel's website this morning. Chancellor Daryl Fansler, who recently presided over the open meeting lawsuit involving the Knox County Commission, is pictured receiving a hug from an eleven year old boy who was in the Chancellor's chambers with his adoptive family having his adoption finalized. Lawyers and judges deal with so much unpleasantness and disputation, and adoptions are one of the few happy proceedings in which we get to be involved. Chancellor Fansler's smile says it all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Catching Up With Sig

Jim Sigmon was the first friend I made at the community college I attended in North Carolina. He and his friend Kevin Freeman were in a gym class I had, and the three of us used to have breakfast at the local Hardees most every morning after gym. Since L&L's friend, Dana, has been dating Kevin for some time now, I've seen him fairly recently. I haven't even talked to Sig in years.

Anyway, Sig and I talked on the phone for about an hour today. His son, Chandler, is twelve, the same age as J&J, and his daughter Kendall is eight. He has been married to his wife, Carol, for probably twenty years. Christmas is great for catching up with old friends and remembering why you're friends in the first place.

A Couple of Nice News Stories

I have seen coverage today regarding a father and his three kids who became lost in a snowy forest for three days while looking for a Christmas tree. The were a pretty saavy family. Dad found a culvert for the group to shelter in, and they used branches to write "help" in the snow for searching helicopters. A search 'copter, making a last pass before a big snowstorm moved in, rescued them.

The Today show had another nice story this morning about a young man in his early 20's who was raised by adoptive parents. Curious about his birth mother, he searched the adoption records for her, and it turned out that they worked at the same Lowe's store. Though both were apprehensive about the reunion, it apparently turned out well.

Can't Fight New Orleans City Hall

I just caught a glimpse of video of the violence that broke out in New Orleans during a city council meeting. Protesters filled the council meeting room to its 300 person capacity. Violence broke out both inside the council room and outside city hall when the meeting room became filled to capacity. Protesters swarmed the council meeting to protest demolition of several public housing projects.

Working from Home

Sherry and I have both been in front of our computers for most of the day, although I went out to get the mail and to run some other errands. She's piled up with adverstisements for Skirt!, and I've been churning out legal documents and letters like mad. It's been a dreary day, which is perfect for getting some inside work done.

The Prosecution Calls Wanette Bolen to the Stand

Mom has been subpoenaed to testify in a trial in Newport, I believe, in a case involving a child whom she is seeing in counseling. Apparently the trial is set for three days, with tomorrow being the last day. Mom wasn't sure when she would take the witness stand, though in my experience courts do their best to inconvenience professional people who are called to testify as little as possible.

She said that the last time she testified in this matter, someone put a screw in her tire.

Graham Report

Laura, Stewart, Andrew and Gracie left Tuesday, I think, for a two-week holiday visit with Stewarts relatives in Western Canada. Laura loves mountains and snow, and she should get plenty of both up in the frozen Northwest. Brrrr!

Sherry just got a Skirt! ad approved that features Grace's photograph. Be sure to pick up a copy of the next issue and see if you can find her.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Robots

I've been playing with Sarah since bringing her home from school, and finally got around to checking my E-mail to find our internet service down. Sherry is due home in moments, and she has a bunch of work that depends on being online.

I called our provider and talked to a really nice robot, but I soon became frustrated and asked to talk to a human. As soon as the human answered the telephone, both of our computers miraculously came online before the aforementioned human could so much as ask our account number.



I asked him to apologize to the robot for me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

End of Monday

We've all made it through Monday here at Stately Ogle Manor and are glad to be out of the cold. La and Stewart are headed straight into the cold, cold north tomorrow, and they'll be in Canada until New Year's Eve.

I had juvenile court this morning, but the hearing concluded quickly so that I could get back home and spend the majority of today's billable hours digesting a pile of paperwork about the size of the Knoxville telephone book for a meeting tomorrow. I've had a flurry of telephone calls today, but have managed to stay on top of things for the most part.

Boston Tea Party

Yesterday was the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which occurred on December 15, 1773. It was a protest against British taxes on the colonies, in particular against a tea tax. Americans still far prefer coffee to tea, though I personally am an exception to that rule.

It is 28 degrees Fahrenheit according to our outdoor thermometer, so it is not a bad morning for the hot beverage of your choice.

Dan Fogelberg Dead at 56

Dan Fogelberg died at his home in Maine over the weekend. He was 56, and he died of prostate cancer. Expect "Same Old Lang Syne" to get extra airplay this holiday season.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hoagy Carmichael

Sherry is working on a crossword puzzle and found a reference to a songwriter named Hoagy Carmichael. One of his songs, "Stardust", was the answer she needed, but I also learned on his official website, maintained by his son, that he also wrote the tune for "Georgia on My Mind". There are several of his songs to listen to on the website.

More Reindeer Games


Sarah donned Grace's antlers for this photo last night. Check out that red nose!

Cold, Dreary Sunday

We're holed up here at the house on a cold, blustery and dreary Sunday. Sarah went home from our lamb feast last night with Mom, and so I ran over there to fetch her back home this morning. Sarah opened several Christmas presents last night, so she's had fun playing with her new toys.

Sherry has shortened deadlines for both of the publications she works for, so she's worked a bit on her new Skirt! advertisements today. I may fry a few pieces of chicken for us later this afternoon, but we're pretty mellow around here today.

Remains of Man Killed by Andrew Jackson Sought in Nashville

There is an interesting article in this morning's Tennessean for those interested in history and/or archeology. On Saturday in the front yard of a home off of Nashville's West End, near where Sherry grew up, archeologists searched for the remains of Charles Dickenson. Andrew Jackson killed Dickenson in a duel in Kentucky, where duelling was then legal, after the men argued over the results of a horse race. Jackson, an avid horse racer, was 39 at the time, and Dickenson was the only man Jackson ever killed in a duel.

According to the newspaper account, Dickenson fired first, hitting Old Hickory in the chest, probably breaking a rib. Jackson, however, remained standing and fired his return shot, fatally wounding Dickenson, who died within the day. Historical reports placed the site of Dickenson's burial on a family farm, which was near present day West End. Unfortunately, no remains were discovered.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

First Christmas Feast

We're heading over to La and Stew's place just as soon as our cheesy potato casserole is ready to travel. We're also providing asparagus and broccoli, and the Fuzzies are bringing a rice dish the last I heard. La and Stewart are roasting a leg of lamb, so we should have quite the feast. We're also going to exchange gifts with La, Stew, Andrew and Grace, since they'll be up North for Christmas.

Grinch Party at the Blount County Library

Sherry took Sarah out to the Blount County Public Library morning for a Grinch party, which featured a reading of the Dr. Suess classic, along with snacks and arts and crafts. Sarah came home very excited about her acquistion of a Grinch pencil and eraser and a Grinch "paper draw page."

Supper with Mom

Mom came over yesterday afternoon to inspect our Christmas decorations, and she joined us for supper at Los Amigos. Sarah, of course, expected that she would be spending the night with her Wannie last night, but we persuaded her to wait until tonight, so that she can go home with Mom after our Christmas event with Laura and Stewart, who will be in Canada for Christmas.

Vols' Offensive Coordinator to Become Duke Head Coach

David Cutcliffe, the University of Tennessee football team's respected offensive coordinator, has accepted the head coaching job at Duke University in North Carolina. It is likely that one or more of his assistant coaches will follow him there. This is tough news for the Vols' coaching staff, especially after a difficult season this year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gaddafi in Paris

Libya's leader, Gaddafi, is winding up a trip to Paris, where he has thoroughly embarrassed his host, French President Sarkozy, by running around like he owns the place and disrupting the lives of Parisians, who have had enough headaches with the transportation strike. This is Gaddafi's first trip to a Western country since he started cooperating with the West in 2003. The Times of London reports,
Pierre Moscovici, a former Socialist minister, said that Mr Sarkozy had blundered by offering Paris for Colonel Gaddafi’s first official visit to a Western nation since he renounced his wicked ways in 2003. “Sometimes you have to sup with the Devil, but you use a long spoon and don’t serve him the soup,” he said.
I agree.

Cold Mountain, North Carolina

It's a lovely day up on the North Carolina side of the mountains.

She Likes Sour Cream?

Sarah was just browsing in the refrigerator and asked to try some sour cream, perhaps thinking it was whipped cream. I warned her it was sour, not sweet, but she tried it and asked for more. I'd say she ate about a teaspoonful.

Lights Out!

We have had a rash out light bulbs burning out at our place in the past couple of weeks. I would estimate that I've changed about ten bulbs in the past fourteen days. I suspect that the person who lived here before we did let a bunch of bulbs burn out without replacing them so that the landlady had to replace a bunch of bulbs all at once.

Atlantis Launch Rescheduled for January 10

I just had a look at the NASA website, and the Atlantis launch has been rescheduled to January 10.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Got Him

It was four years ago today that U.S. soldiers found Saddam Hussein in a "spider hole" in Iraq.

Sarah's Eye Doctor Appointment

Sarah has an appointment at 11:30 this morning to see the surgeon who operated on her eye after she was attacked by a dog in August. She still has problems with the eye draining properly, so she is constantly wiping her eye. We're apprehensive about the idea of another surgery, but are also anxious for the doctor to examine her and give us his opinion about the ongoing problem.

Mistrial in Murder Case Involving Brother Stabbing Brother

A friend of mine and fellow member of the Blount County Bar has been defending a murder trial this week in which a young man was accused of murdering his brother with a large kitchen knife. The case caught my attention not only because of my friend's involvement, but also because of a similar situation involving two brothers that I went to high school with. In both cases the brothers were hot-headed and fought frequently, and in both cases a fight ended up in one of the brothers dead from stab wounds.

My friend must have done a good job, because the jury found his client not guilty of the two more serious charges involved, and they were unable to reach a verdict on the lesser offense. Accordingly, the judge declared a mistrial. Having just defended a criminal case in which a mistrial was declared myself, I can say that a hung jury is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the defendant escapes conviction, but the prosecution can decide to try the case again, so the accused still has the criminal charge looming large in his or her life.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How It Used to Be Done


This man, Babe Ruth, became a baseball star by enhancing his performance with beer.

A Sad Day for the National Pastime

Having been raised in East Tennessee, I follow football rather than baseball. Former Senator George Mitchell issued a scathing report today indicting many star Major League Baseball players for using steroids and other drugs to cheat. It is a sad day for a noble sport.

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

Soaking Rain

We're experiencing a good, soaking rain here on Lively Road, and you couldn't ask for better weather for a quiet day at home. I'm working on Christmas cards, a task that I enjoy because it's a reason to make contact with old friends, and my womenfolk are piled up on the sofa underneath a quilt.

Taking Thursday Off

Sherry had a deadline last night, followed by her Skirt! outing, which she enjoyed, and so she's off today. Since today is the one day this week that has not had an appointment or hearing for me to attend, I decided to take the day off as well, other than a couple of office tasks I needed to accomplish. We also kept Sarah home, so we're just lazing around the house together.

Elf Snowball Fight Game

Some christmas fun

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Message from Your Friendly Neighborhood Red Cross

DECEMBER...Over the river and through the woods

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it means more people may be traveling in inclement weather and traversing roads in questionable condition to see loved ones and celebrate the holidays. Plan ahead for holiday travel by preparing an emergency supplies kit for your vehicle, winterizing your vehicle and sharing your travel plans and anticipated arrival times with others so they can locate you if you become stranded on the way.

For more information about preparing for and coping with severe winter weather, visit the "Get Prepared" section of Redcross.org. The Red Cross Web site also provides cold weather safety tips in the "Health and Safety" section.

Be Red Cross Ready!

Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be Informed.

American Red Cross
Blount County Chapter
1741 Triangle Park Drive
Maryville, TN 37802-4939

Phone: 983-0821

Fax: 983-0826

www.bccarc.org

Richest Man in America


Gnarly Dudes Make SI Cover


Checking in with Friends

Christmas always gives me an opportunity to check in with some of my far flung friends. Last night I talked to Randy Tomberlin down in Destin, Florida, and Thanos Kalimeris, in New Albany, Mississppi. We just saw Randy and Dawn in early November, but I haven't talked to Thanos in months. It has been even longer since we've seen him and his wife, Wendy.

All was well in both households, though Thanos has had a job change, which is always difficult. It was good to catch up a bit with my friends.

Tricycle

Sarah asked me to bring her tricycle out of the garage this afternoon since the wet pavement made sidewalk chalk art difficult. I was impressed at her skill. The last time she rode her tricycle at home she could barely make it move, but she's mastered it now. She said they have tricycles at school, so she's been practicing.

Table Fifteen

Sherry's Skirt! event is at a place called Table Fifteen at Turkey Creek in West Knoxville. She just called for the address and asked me to find the website to get it. It looks like a pretty swanky place.

UPDATE: Oh God! My wife is in terrible peril! Check out the cheesecake!

Christmas Moose


Sarah said something on the way home about a Christmas moose. Wherever did she get an idea like that?





(A moose once bit my sister. No realli! She was carving here initials on the side of the moose . . . .)

Playtime with Sarah

I was so busy yesterday that I hardly got to play with Sarah at all. Since I finally have a bit of breathing room, I'm going to pick her up early so we can take advantage of the warm air outside. I see sidewalk chalk in my future.

Home from Court

I had a relatively short morning in court today, and have no more court appearances this week, unless I get called in to help out in a pinch. I'm hoping to throttle down a bit during the holidays, and am happy to have a couple of days to get some paperwork done here at home.

Since we were all out late last night, I think I'll pick Sarah up shortly after her nap so we can get in some playtime after school. After work Sherry is going to a Christmas gathering of her colleagues from Skirt! magazine, which I think she'll enjoy, but I don't think she expects it to be a lengthy affair.

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone


She's a star! At least at MagMyPic.com.


Snood

Sherry's working on a crossword puzzle and came across a word neither of us had heard. What is a snood? Answer:

A small netlike cap worn by women to keep the hair in place.
A headband or fillet.
Also, a turkey has a snood, which is a flap of skin that hangs down over his beak.

Recipe: Cheesy Potato Casserole

I'm surprised I haven't posted this recipe before. My Aunt Joan asked for it, and since I've typed it up, I will share it here. I got this recipe from a cookbook I received from a seniors' church group I spoke to some years ago, and it's been a family favorite ever since. The official name of the recipe in the cookbook is "Working Girl's Potato Casserole" because it's so easy to make.
2 pounds frozen hash browns
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
10 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups corn flakes, crushed and then mixed with 1/4 cup melted butter

Thaw potatoes and mix with all ingredients except the corn flakes/butter mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 or so minutes. Spread the corn flakes/butter mixture over the top for the last fifteen minutes or so in the oven.
We frequently make two casseroles, so we have an extra one for leftovers. We did this one Christmas, and my sisters, in a lapse of memory with regard to the Doctrine of Massive Retaliation, stole our extra casserole! Accordingly, when Laura went to Canada with Stewart that holiday, Sherry and I let ourselves into her house and stole every light bulb in the house. We also took the batteries out of the remote controls and the Flushmasters out of the toilets. (You only have to hit one twin, because the other one feels the pain.) To date, we have not had a casserole disappear since.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Waiting on the Gals

I just got home from my Red Cross meeting, which was both productive and enjoyable. Since I've been away from the Blount County Red Cross for several years, I'm on a bit of a learning curve, but I'm fortunate to be working with some really impressive community leaders. I hope I am able to get up to speed quickly, and I suspect I'll have plenty of help and support.

Sherry and Sarah went to a Humane Society meeting at the library and are still out, though I expect them shortly. Sherry is looking for a public service opportunity and hopes to volunteer her time to help animals in the community.

Long Morning in Court

I just got back home after all my morning hearing, errands and lunch, and I have more than enough to keep me busy until time to go pick up Boong. However, given the nice weather and my waistline, I am going to go and walk and see how the horses down the road from us are enjoying the warm temperatures.

I have a couple of work tasks I'll need to get done for tomorrow. I noticed that the Red Cross event suggests bringing finger food this evening, and so I'm going to make some sausage balls since we have the ingredients on hand.

Led Zeppelin Performs

Led Zeppelin performed Monday night in London with Jason Bonham, son of the band's late drummer, at his father's place behind the drum set. The legendary band played a ninety minute set, which included "Stairway to Heaven".

Lead singer Robert Plant is reportedly not interested in a tour, but likes the idea of getting the band together from time to time.

Busy Tuesday

I have three hearings in two different courts in two different buildings this morning, so this is a busy morning for me. My afternoon is clear, but I have a Red Cross board meeting at 5:45 p.m. this evening, followed by a volunteer recognition event.

Sherry was expecting an short day yesterday, but she ended up working all day. She is looking in to donating some time to a local animal shelter and plans to visit a meeting of the local Humane Society this evening to check them out. It will be a late day for us.

New Robbery Case

I'll be representing the guy on the left in criminal court next week. What is the world coming to?

Quiet Riot Singer Overdosed

The authorities have completed the autopsy report on Kevin Dubrow, the lead singer of Quiet Riot who was found dead at his home in Nevada on November 25. Sure enough, he accidentally overdosed on cocaine, joining a tragic line of rockers who have fallen victim to substance abuse over the years.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Strange Guests at the Nativity

Grandmother and Granddaddy had an old tabletop creche, or Nativity scene, which I've ended up with. I set it up on a little half table, also from G&G's house, next to our tree. In addition to Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus and a trio of goats, Sarah has added a Santa and a bird in a cage.

Totinos Makes Good on Recalled Pizzas

We got a letter from General Mills today with coupons for Totinos pizzas to replace the two pizzas we had that had been recalled. I've been eating Totinos pizzas since I was a kid. They were favorites of Grandmother and Granddaddy Ogle, and Dad used to buy them for us as well.

Decapitated Destin Goats

I just read a weird story in the Destin Log, the local newspaper down there. Two decapitated pygmy goats were found last week. One was found several weeks ago. The authorities have no explanation for the incidents other than to speculate that occultists used the animals for sacrifices. The story said it looked like they'd just been thrown out of a car.

Evel Kneivel to Be Buried Today

Evel Kneivel will be buried today, which is good, since he died on November 30. I told him not to tease Floyd when he was eating.

Buffett Plays Small Club in New Orleans

Jimmy Buffett played a few songs at a small bar called d.b.a. last weekend in New Orleans. Apparently he was there incognito, and most of the patrons didn't realize who he was until he took the stage with the house band after they took a break from their set. He said he loved New Orleans, which he called the capital of the Caribbean.

Is It Monday Again Already?

I've got two cases in juvenile court this morning, but neither is contested, so I'm hoping to get some office work done today. Sherry's got a relatively calm week since they published their biggest book last week. I have a lot of appointments on my calendar, which should help the week pass quickly. Today is one of Sarah's gymnastics class days, which she always enjoys. I haven't watched one of her classes in a while, so perhaps I'll arrive a bit early and catch ten minutes or so today.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Decking the Halls

We put our Christmas tree up today, and La and Grace and Les and Fuzzy came over to hang out and share the festive spirit with us a bit. We made a white subservient chicken chili recipe, which was quite good, though spicy. I think Sarah wore Mom out last night, so she bagged, but it is Sunday, which properly is the day of rest.

Grace ascended the steps at our place today, and she really enjoyed climbing them. Once she went up the first time, she kept heading for the stairs no matter how far we hauled her from them. Mom's father, Harvey Isenhour, once said, "Show me a baby that won't crawl off of a blanket, and I'll show you someone who won't amount to anything." No worry in that department with Grace.

Atlantis Launch Cancelled

The space shuttle Atlantis was scheduled to go into orbit this afternoon, but the launch has been scrubbed due to faulty fuel sensors, which could endanger the flight. This mission is to take the Columbus space laboratory, built by the European Space Agency, up to the International Space Station. If NASA is unable to launch by this Thursday, the mission will be delayed until the next flight window in January.

The Columbus laboratory is one of three that will eventually become part of the ISS. The Destiny laboratory, built here in the United States, is already in orbit as part of the ISS. After Columbus is installed, a third laboratory, built by Japan, will be added.

Cow Abduction and Subservient Chicken

Check out the cow abduction and the subservient chicken websites. The chicken cannot lay an egg, but it will try if you ask it to.

Photo Op with the Big Guy


I can't believe I didn't post this photo last year when it was taken. This was from out visit with Santa at Bellvue Center Mall last Christmas.

Family Photo

Sarah's school asked us to bring in another family photograph. When they asked for one a couple of months ago, the only photo I could find with all five of us in it was from our trip to Dollywood in June 2006. The last time we had a formal portrait made together in a photographer's studio, Sarah barely had any hair. Anyway, here's a picture Grams took of us in front of the fireplace at her house.

Reindeer Games

Laura sent us several cute photos of Grace impersonating a reindeer. Part of the fun of parenthood is dressing your kids up funny and taking pictures of them to show their prom date when they're teenagers. Of course, they'll no doubt do the same to us when we get to old to know any better, but this is the price one pays.

Stately Myers Manor Undergoing Yard and Masonry Work

Dave and Connie Myers are having work done in their backyard. I've never been to their place, but I know they are enthusiastic gardeners, because I've seen pictures of this backyard abloom with flowers in the spring. It looks like they'll have a clean palette this season. Connie's description of the work is below.
Here's the "after" pictures of our new wall and stairs. You all will have to use your imaginations when it comes to the finished product, as it was too wet for the crew to do the final grading and seeding. It will just be a muddy mess till spring. And we have to talk to our carpenter about building a railing of some sort, as one would not want to fall off the tallest point! Also note the short wall on the far side of the garage. In the spring, we will plant something there, so we won't have to mow it anymore.

Grinched at Opryland

As I mentioned earlier in the week, Sherry had planned to take the children this weekend to Opryland to see a Grinch/ice sculpture exhibit.

We ended up going out there yesterday and arrived about fifteen minutes after it opened for the day to find at least 500 people standing in line in the rain to get into the place. We decided to give it a miss, which was good since a downpour began about five minutes after we drove away. Sherry and the kids, especially Sarah, were disappointed, especially since we'd been talking about it for several days. I'd love to see the pile of money they made just off of the 500 or so that were there when we drove by. The tickets were $21.00 for adults and $14.00 for children over three.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Grams and Her Grandchildren

December 7 and the U.S. Constitution

In the United States we remember December 7, in the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as "a day which will live in infamy" because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the Empire of Japan in 1941. (It is also the anniversary of the day Sherry married her former spouse, Mark, about which I will offer no further comment.)

I did not learn until this morning that December 7 is the anniversary of another quite important day in American history. On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first State to ratify the United States Constitution.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Grams' Chili

Sherry just left with Grams and Sarah to pick up Jake and Joey from school. This gave me the opportunity to sample the chili Grams has cooking in her crock pot. Yummy!

It's very dreary and damp here in Nashvegas, so chili is just right for tonight.

Christmas Card

Mom sent us this cool interactive E-card. Enjoy!

Asteroids!

One of my favorite video games from my childhood was a simple black and white game called Asteroids. I just found it online here!

I can't wait to show it to Joey and Jake, though I suspect they will be underwhelmed as owners of an X-Box 360. I, however, am thrilled!

High Profile Nashville Case Concluded

The sentencing hearing on my high profile criminal court case in Nashville concluded this morning, and as usual, there was a battery of television cameras in the courtroom. It was a rather brief hearing, so I was able to get back to Bellevue in the western suburbs of Nashville before 11:00 a.m. local time.

The jury could not reach a verdict on the more serious of the two charges against my client during the trial in October, and the district attorney's office is at liberty to bring that charge back to court. For now, at least, the matter is at a conclusion after nearly four years.

Off to Visit the Kitties

After lunch the girls decided to go to the local animal shelter to visit with the kitties. I decided I'd rather come back to Grams' place and hang out, so they dropped me off here and went back out.

Restaurant Review: McCabe Pub

Sherry, Grams, Sarah and I just had lunch at McCabe Pub, a Nashville favorite. I had their meatloaf sandwich, which is what I usually order there. It was delicious as usual. Grams had their pork loin stew, which sounded interesting, while Sherry had the meatloaf plate. Sarah had the children's portion of spaghetti, which was big enough to make two meals for me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gibson Debuts Self-Tuning Guitar

Gibson has created a self-tuning guitar. It is no doubt to expensive for the likes of me, but what a wonderful idea! Now someone needs to invent some artificial callouses for guitar players' fingertips.

Sentencing Hearing Tomorrow Morning

I have a sentencing hearing tomorrow morning in a relatively high profile case here in Nashville. The local media outlets have been all over this case since it began, though I haven't seen any coverage this week leading up to tomorrow's hearing, which is fine by me. I will be surprised if there is no media presence at the hearing tomorrow.

We're in Nashville

Sherry and Sarah and I just arrived at Grams' house in Nashville, and Sherry's gone down for a quick nap before we go pick up J&J from school. Sarah and I are just hanging out.

Christmas Song

Here's a link to a cool little Christmas ditty.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.You're a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

You're a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Grinch.
I wouldn't touch you, with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile.Mr. Grinch.
Given the choice between the two of you
I'd take the seasick crockodile.

You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.Mr. Grinch.
The three words that best describe you,are, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
You're the king of sinful sots.
Your heart's a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots,Mr. Grinch.
Your soul is an apalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.
With a nauseaus super-naus.

You're a crooked jerky jockey
And you drive a crooked horse.Mr. Grinch.
You're a three decker saurkraut and toadstool sandwich
With arsenic sauce.

Copyright © 1957, Dr. Seuss.

Restaurant Review: Miles' Family 411 Restaurant

I ate lunch yesterday at the Miles' Family 411 Restaurant in Maryville. The 411 Restaurant is an old favorite around here, but it is now under new management. I had their club sandwich, and it was excellent, though pricey. I passed on any sides, so I just had the club and iced tea, and I was out ten dollars by the time I left the tip.

They had a typical country cookin' menu ("meat and three" to Nashvillians), which included meatloaf. They were also still serving breakfast at 11:00 a.m., and it looked pretty yummy.

I have to admit, I miss the lady who used to man the cash register. I would say she was in her sixties when I left town in 2002. She had a big bun hairdo and always told her customers, "Dooooo come back!"

Sarah Coming Out of Her Shell?

Sometimes the comments I get from Sarah's teachers befuddle me. One of them in particular always seems to have something negative to say about my child, so I was surprised today when she told me how much better Sarah is doing at school and that our gregarious child is "coming out of her shell." I'm glad that Sarah seems to be pleasing her teacher now, but I am perplexed at the thought of Sarah "coming out of her shell."

Sarah's Sartorial Splendor


Usually Sherry picks out Sarah's clothing when we're getting ready in the morning, inasmuch as I am not noted for my fashion sense. I was in a hurry to get Sarah off to school this morning since I had to be back here at the homestead to meet the electricians, so I chose the combination she is wearing in this photograph. Not only did Sherry let Sarah out the door, which isn't always the case when I dress her, but she liked the outfit so much she took a picture.

Emma the Lump

A pair of electricians came by this morning to repair a broken electrical outlet in the kids' room at a cost of $65.00, which seems a bit steep to me, but I am glad the repair has been accomplished. Emma, our calico cat, has been hiding under the comforter of our bed ever since.

Laura and Stew Rent Cozy Creek for the Winter

I talked to Laura yesterday, and she and Stewart have rented their Cozy Creek Cabin for the next three months. I am happy for them and disappointed at the same time. We were actually tossing the idea of going up there last weekend, since it was vacant, but the renter was apparently moving in that weekend. It is a really nice little place. I think their renter will be happy.

Snow in the Forecast

The WBIR weather crew says we may see some flurries or a wintry mix tonight. The mountains looked like they got some snow up at the highest elevations the other day, but it could have been hoar frost. I know they've had to close the roads up there recently because of icy conditions. We may get to see some ice and snow up on the plateau on the way to Nashville tomorrow.

Pigeon Forge Dinosaur Spotted in West Knoxville

Since I'm on the subject of large comical creatures, the funny-looking orange Tyrannosaurus from one of the Putt-Putt courses in Pigeon Forge has appeared at a Putt-Putt course in West Knoxville. He was laying on his side in a Blount County field up in Walland for a while, but apparently he's found work in the city, though I'm sure he misses the mountains. I hate to see a dinosaur down on his luck.

Swedes Build Giant Moose

Those zany Swedes are building a gigantic moose (150 feet long and 150 feet tall) as a tourist attraction. It will have a restaurant, bar and concert venue inside. We should invite them to Gatlinburg and ask them to build us a giant wooden badger.

Egad. Another badger!

Zoinks! A Mystery in Nashville

There's a mystery in Thompson's Station near Nashville, reports the Tennessean this morning. Someone put up a flagpole on 840 with two flags. One was the Stars and Stripes, and the other was a Vietnamese flag with a feather across it. After it was up several days, it disappeared. The Tennessee Department of Transportation had no information on the flagpole.

The Vietnamese flag with a feather honors Native American veterans of the Vietnam War.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Report on Sarah's Eye

Since I am in that interminable pugatory known as hold, waiting to talk to someone at our insurance company, it seems an appropriate time to report on Sarah's dog bite injury. Her right eye is still not draining properly, so it appears as though she is perpetually crying. We have an appointment with her surgeon a week from Friday to see what the next step is.

She is apprehensive about going to the "kid hospital" again, and frankly so am I. What a horrible, horrible experience.

Sand Castle

This is a photograph of Sarah about to destroy a sand castle I built for her down at the beach.

Only One Meeting Today

Today should be a bit more mellow than yesterday, since I only have one meeting today. I have a staffing at the Department of Children's Services at 10:00 a.m. this morning, which will give me some time to do some office work today.

Sherry's got a deadline coming up tomorrow, so her next two days will probably be busy. If her duties permit, we're going to drive to Nashville Thursday when I get out of court and stay through at least Saturday. I have a sentencing hearing there Friday, and I may do some schmoozing when I get through, depending on how long the hearing goes Friday morning.

The Opryland Hotel has an ice sculpture exhibit each Christmas, and this year has a Grinch theme. Sherry bought us a copy, and she and Sarah have watched it several times already. I think they will probably go see the Grinch/ice sculpture exhibit while I'm in court Friday.

Vols Going to Outback Bowl

The Vols will be playing in a New Years Day bowl game, despite their lackluster performance in the SEC championship game against LSU last Saturday. Tennessee will play the Wisconsin Badgers in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida, on ESPN.

Badgers. Egad!

Blount County Decking the Halls

All of the local municipalities are in the process of kicking off the holiday season here in Blount County. The cities of Maryville and Alcoa have both presented their respective official trees
to the community, and the courthouse is full of Christmas trees decorated by various community agencies and businesses. Lights are also starting to go up on people's homes, and the neighbors with whom we share this duplex have two inflatable snowmen in the front yard.

The Town of Louisville had their Christmas parade, which once exiled me from my home on Hardy Boulevard for half a day, about a week ago, and the Blount County Red Cross emergency response vehicle ("Big E") participated in the Townsend parade Sunday. We'll probably start decorating our place soon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Poke Monday With a Fork

What a day! I had a good final meeting this afternoon and got home about 6:00 p.m. to find Sherry giving Sarah her bath. I've got two interesting new cases to get to work on, and I'm excited about both of them. I'm glad, however, to call it a day.

Meetings: Two Down. Two to Go.

My morning meetings went well, and I managed to get back to the house to make a couple of calls and to do a bit of paperwork. I'm off to a Red Cross executive committee meeting at 2:00 p.m., and another client meeting at 5:00 p.m. Whew!

Howling Wind

We've had high winds overnight here in Maryville, and the sound of it blowing across our townhouse building was very strange until I got used to it. I have a busy day today, with four meetings, the last at 5:00 p.m., so Sherry will have to pick up Sarah after work.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Since it's rather cool and gloomy outside, we decided to hang out and be lazy this Sunday. Today is the kind of day that makes us miss having a fireplace. I've been working on Christmas cards, and I made a Hamburger Helper casserole this morning. I'm probably going to also cook up a Zatarain's dirty rice dish, so we'll be stocked up with some easy meals for the coming week.

Loudon Wainwright III to Play the Bijou in Knoxville Next Saturday

Loudon Wainwright III is playing at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville next
Saturday, August 8, 2007.
He is best known for his song, "Dead
Skunk in the Middle of the Road", and if you haven't ever heard the

song, it would be worth going to the concert just to hear the song.
Wainwright is a folk singer I'd like
to see, but I've got a
sentencing hearing in criminal court in Nashville next Friday.
I'd say we'll be pretty
bushed by the time we get home Saturday.

Stevie Wonder Plays Nashville

Stevie Wonder played a 2 1/2 hour show at the Sommet Center in Nashville last night, and from the review in the Tennessean this morning, it sounds like it was quite a performance. I'm not a tremendous fan of Stevie Wonder, but he's been around long enough that it would be fun to see a show just to be able to say you've seen him.

Daily Times Readers Blast Ruby Tuesday

The Blount County Daily Times solicited comments from its readers about the recent changes to Ruby Tuesday restaurants, which have been intended to create an "upscale casual" atmosphere in the stores that justifies an increase in prices. The overwhelming response from readers was, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The gist of the comments was that the corporation is cynically offering less in the way of service and variety and charging more for it because they put white tablecloths on the tables and bought square plates. I haven't eaten at a Ruby's recently, and the Times piece certainly doesn't encourage me to.

LSU Wins Southeastern Conference Championship

The Tigers of Louisiana State University defeated my University of Tennessee Volunteers 21-14 last night to win the Southeastern Conference championship. The Tigers dominated the entire game as far as time of possession and total yardage, but the Vols managed to maintain a small lead in points until the end of the game due to numerous penalties the Tigers inflicted on themselves.

I hate to say it, but the better team won.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Work on Saturday?

One of the more important tasks a lawyer performs is the drafting of documents, particularly court orders. They are so important there is a saying in Latin about it. "Quod non apparet non est." In English it translates to "What does not appear in the record does not exist." Partly because I'm a suck up, partly because I think it is important to have a hand in building that record and partly because I really think it is cool to draft documents that literally become part of history, I usually offer to draft orders resulting from hearings in which I participate.

Sherry and Sarah have gone to Circuit City and Target to go shopping, so I have just finished preparing an order from yesterday's proceedings in juvenile court. You know you've had an enjoyable work week when you feel like putting in an extra billable hour or so on the weekend.

In the Surf With Sarah


I recognize that this is not a flattering photograph of me, but I think it is such a sweet picture of Sarah and me that I can't resist sharing it. One of the coolest aspects of parenthood is the wonderful, vicarious joy one experiences exploring the vast world with one's children, especially when the child experiences something particularly enjoyable and wondrous, like wading in the ocean for the first time.

Feline Fatality Update

The dead cat turned out to belong to the Jesus Saves neighbors, who never seem to stop amazing us with their inability to behave like they are aware of what other people think of them. I guess if you think Jesus loves you, it's okay not to give a damn what other people might think. Needless to say, their cat was not neutered, which no doubt contributed to his demise.

Our experience with this family began shortly after we moved to the neighborhood, and they brought home the Jesus Saves school bus, which looked as though it had been vandalized, and parked it in their front yard. They have about fourteen kids, which they "home school," meaning in reality they spend their day "learning" how to play in the street and jump on their trampoline. They routinely enter our next door neighbor's garage and take their kid's toys, and they take things from our yard from time to time, though I've moved our kids' toys inside to keep them away from the little thieves. Someone put signs up in the neighborhood to wish the mother a happy birthday, and unlike most people who would remove the signs after the birthday, they left them to become trash blowing about the neighborhood.

I suppose I'm a bit put out recently about people who seem to observe no boundaries with regard to their intrusion on others. Don't come selling crazy here. We're all stocked up.

December to Remember

It's hard to believe that today is the first day of December. Didn't we just get back from the beach? It will be the first December I've had in East Tennessee since 2001, and it will be Sherry's first December ever living away from Nashville. I suspect there are many familiar holiday sights we will both miss from Nashville, especially the monkey Santa Claus at the Bellevue Mall.

I've noticed that the City of Maryville has nice new wreaths and lights on the downtown street lights. Alcoa's street light decor hasn't changed, but it still looks very festive. The front yard of the courthouse is covered with Christmas trees decorated by various organizations in the community, and all of the local government offices have decked their halls. Sadly, the Christmas tree farm on nearby Topside Road has closed, but there's one in Greenback, so I reckon we'll cut one down out there unless I figure out where I can cut one for free. (Hmmm. I bet I could find a serviceable cedar out at Mighty Oak. I shall have to call Bartlette.)

Murfreesboro and Maryville

As I was leaving the Blount County Justice Center yesterday morning I held open the elevator for an attorney who was leaving the third floor of the building. He was a very nice and amiable man named Jerry Scott, a retired judge, and during our walk out into the parking lot he mentioned that he was heading back home to Murfreesboro.

During my five years in Middle Tennessee, I had a number of cases in Murfreesboro, almost all of which were before Judge Mark Rogers, who I found to be a very pleasant, intelligent and fair judge. We talked briefly about Judge Rogers, and then it occurred to me to ask Judge Scott if he knew my cousin Jim Simpson.

Boy, did he! We finished our walk to our cars talking about what fine, fun folks Jimbo and his wife Debbie are, and he assured me he would say hello to them for me when he sees them in church on Sunday. I believe that Jim introduced me to Judge Scott during one of our outings after court in Murfreesboro a couple of years ago. It's a small state, isn't it?

Book Review: Butterfly, Butterfly

One of the books we checked out of the library for Sarah Tuesday evening is Butterfly, Butterfly -- A Book of Colors. She likes it so much she has memorized the pages so that she can "read" it. The end of the book has a big pop-up butterfly, which she really likes. She told all of her teachers at school yesterday that she was giving them all sparkly butterflies for Christmas.

I've already ordered her a copy for Christmas from Amazon.com.

Evel Knievel Dies

Evel Knievel died yesterday at age 69 in Clearwater, Florida. He was suffering from diabetes and lung problems, and he almost died of hepatitis C some years ago. Interestingly, both the BBC and Al Jazeera are carrying this story.

Friday, November 30, 2007

End of a Happily Busy Week

I like to be busy. It makes me feel useful, and I have felt both busy, and for the most part useful, this week. Next week should be no different, especially since I have a sentencing hearing in Nashville on Friday in a fairly high profile case. The fun part is that after I conclude my duties Friday morning, I shall liberate my stepsons from Bellevue Middle School for the weekend and bring them to their mother and sister.

Sarah's been itching to put up Christmas decorations, since our neighbors have already begun the process. We'll pull those boxes out of the garage next weekend when Jake and Joey are here to help us with the festivities.

Nazie's Kids


Sherry's friend, Nazie, recently sent us this Fall photo of her daughters, Nilu and Naseem. They live in Los Angeles, and we went to visit them out there several years ago. It was my first trip to LA, and Nazie and her husband, Arsalan, were generous hosts. We saw Nazie about a year ago for Sherry's high school reunion, but we hope to get our families together again soon.

I do not know the entire story, but it is my understanding that Nazie's dad was a high level official in the judicial branch of government in Iran during the administration of the last Shah. The family fled their homeland for the United States during the fundamentalist revolution of the Seventies, and Nazie and Sherry met in third grade shortly after Nazie and her family arrived here. The story of their friendship would make a great book.