Saturday, January 31, 2009

In Nashville

We arrived in Nashville in time to pick up Joey and Jake and to meet Grams at J. Alexander's on for lunch, which was delightful, if pricey. We stopped at the nearby Nashville Humane Association to see the kitties, and have made our way back over to Grams' place for some down time before we meet Caveman and Dana at 4:00 p.m. at the Big River Grille and Brewing Works in downtown Nashville before we head over to catch the AC/DC show at 7:30 tonight.

Yesterday on the way to school I told Sarah the plan for today, including the fact that we only have four tickets for the AC/DC show, which she regards as a major injustice given her fondness for the band. She gets to stay here for some quality time with her grandmother, so I think she is satisfied that she's going to have a good time while we're downtown.

Buffett Tickets On Sale Today

Tickets to five Jimmy Buffett shows, including Charlotte, North Carolina, go on sale today. Unfortunately, the Charlotte show is on Tuesday, April 21, 2009, a work day for us. I hope Buffett plays somewhere else nearby on a Saturday this year. I haven't seen a Buffett show since 2003, when Sarah was still in utero.

Headed for Nashville

We're heading for Nashville this morning for our long-awaited AC/DC concert at the Sommet Center in downtown Nashville. We'll probably get to town around lunchtime and find somewhere to dine. I haven't been able to find Purnell's sausage, which is what they serve at Cracker Barrel, at a grocery store in Maryville. Cracker Barrel sells it for about six dollars a pound, but you could buy it at Kroger's in Nashville for about $3.50 a pound. I'm hoping to pick up a few pounds of it, freeze it and bring it back home tomorrow.

Dazzo's Italian Castle

There's a new pizza joint on Gay Street in Knoxville, Dazzo's Italian Castle, that sounds promising. You have to love a place that has shakers of salt, pepper and garlic on the tables. An old North Knoxville favorite is Harby's, which is pretty close to where Mom works, I think. I'm tempted to make pizza for breakfast!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Annular Eclipse

An annular eclipse of the sun by the moon happened on Monday, but it was only visible from the Indian Ocean. The next annular eclipse of the sun by the moon will be in 2010.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Bowl Madness

Check out the Super Bowl stadium sculpture made out of snack food. That's a heart attack waiting to happen.

Bloggers Unite!

The folks at Sweet Services blog, who recently sent me five pounds of free candy for our office candy bowl, recently posted about the Boongablogger on their blog, which I thought was pretty cool.

Sarah's Rapunzel Pictures

The disk with photographs from Sarah's recent visit to Fairytale Photography came today. Here are a trio of pics from the shoot.

Lunch With Sarah

I've been planning for a while to stop by Sarah's preschool to have lunch with her, and I noticed on Monday that pizza was on the menu for today. I had court this morning, and I didn't really think I was going to be able to make it for lunch. The docket went more quickly than I expected, though, and I was able to get over to Sarah's school by lunch time, which is 11:30 a.m. Sarah, of course, was thrilled, and I was a curiosity of sorts for the rest of her class. The pizza rocked, and I still had time to stop in here at the house for a few minutes before I return to the office. It has been a nice way to spend my lunch hour today.

Missing Child

I woke up at 6:15 this morning, which is rather late for me. When I got out of the shower, I turned on the light in Sarah's room and discovered she wasn't in her bed. I conducted a quick search of the house and discovered her in the upstairs closet with one of the cats. A missing child before dawn is not a fun way to start the day.

Wrath of the Iguanas

The Key West Citizen reports that Iguanas have run amok on Bahia Honda Key at the state park there. The reptiles are destroying Nickerbean plants, which is in turn killing the population of Miami Blue Butterflies that live only on Bahia Honda Key. They're talking about having an iguana roundup down there to save the butterfly habitat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I'm glad there weren't any clowns at the circus last weekend.

Barry Protects Inauguration

My friend Barry, whom I have known since elementary school, was deployed to Washington, DC, for the inauguration. Here he is protecting the Capitol.

Heading into the Second Half of the Week

We have dreadful weather here in East Tennessee today. The morning was warm, about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and it featured a breathtaking sunrise and sky as the front moved in. We've had a steady rain most of the morning, and it is supposed to continue as the temperature drops through the afternoon. As long as it clears up for our trip this weekend, I can live with it.

I had a productive morning, mostly consisting of paperwork, and I have court all afternoon, so I'm headed back to the justice center to start knocking out the rest of this work week.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Hanging of Mary the Elephant

In Erwin, Tennessee, in 1916, a circus elephant for Sparks' Famous Shows killed one of its handlers, a man named Red Eldridge. The citizenry declared that the beast should die, and they hung her. What a gruesome sight! There is more about the story here.

Our AC/DC Seats

I talked to Caveman yesterday evening, and he told me about this seating chart for the AC/DC show at Sommet Center this Saturday. We have two pairs of seats. One pair is in section 306, and the other pair is in section 329.
I've only been to this venue once, when we took Joey and Jake to see the Predators hockey team play. I think we'll have a pretty good view of the stage from our seats.

Latin Chicken and Rice

I found this recipe at the Epicurious site, and it looked like something I might be capable of cooking. It calls for saffron, which I've never used before and don't have in the house. The rest of the ingredients look pretty good, although Sherry will pick out the peas. Again, all I am saying is give peas a chance.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fry Bread

Sarah is playing a computer game about the states, and it mentions something called Fry Bread from South Dakota. I had never heard of it, but I found this recipe.

Sunday's Cooking

I made our breakfast casserole yesteday morning. We've been referring to the dish as a quiche, but it has no crust, unless you count the copious cheese. We cooked a ham not too long ago, and have had several bags of ham in our freezer for a while now. I used it instead of the cubed ham we usually buy from the store, and I used fresh mushrooms rather than canned, both of which worked well.

Sherry and Sarah attended Frazier's mom's funeral yesterday. It was late in the day, so I stayed home and cooked venison chili, which turned out nicely. In fact, I just enjoyed a bowl of it with half a homemade pimiento cheese sandwich for lunch.

AC/DC Concert in Nashville This Saturday

Sherry, the boys and I are going to see AC/DC this Saturday in Nashville. My friend Caveman, and his girlfriend, Dana, are going to the show, too, and we're going to meet them somewhere downtown before we head to the show. I haven't seen a rock and roll show in years, and AC/DC is one of my favorite bands, so I'm really looking forward to seeing them play. Caveman sent me this review of the band's show from last Wednesday.

Eagles Play New Orleans

The Eagles, consisting of Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmidt and Joe Walsh, played New Orleans Friday. There's a review of the show here.

Aldrin on the Moon

Neil Armstrong took this photograph of Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon during their Apollo 11 mission in 1969, when I was about to turn three years old. Perhaps because humans were flying back and forth to and from the moon regularly in those early days of my life, I have always been interested in space flight and in the heavens. What an adventure it must be to travel into the sky and look back at the Earth from space!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Elton John and Billy Joel in Concert in Nashville in May

Sherry just scored us tickets to see Elton John and Billy Joel play the Sommet Center in Nashville on May 16. Both musicians are performers I've wanted to see in concert for a long time, so I'm very excited we'll see them both playing together this spring.

I have fond memories of my father playing piano in the evenings after work to relax when my sisters and I were kids. I suppose it isn't surprising that I continue to enjoy listening to the piano as an adult. This should be a fun concert!

Restaurant Review: TC's Grill

One of Sherry's friends at work suggested that we try TC's Grill, which is out Highway 129 on the way up to Calderwood and Chilhowee Lakes. TC's is a small establishment, but their breakfast was good, plentiful and reasonably priced. They hand cut their french fries, which they serve with breakfast. The fries had an interesting flavor I couldn't quite place, and I wondered whether they add something to the fry vat to flavor the fries or whether something else was fried in the vat and imparted the flavor to the oil. Whatever it was, it was good. Sherry ordered a breakfast that included a hamburger steak, the steak being one of the restaurant's specialties. We had to wait ten or fifteen minutes for the food to come out, but it was worth the wait.

Saturday in Knoxville

We spent most of our Saturday across the river in Knoxville. We took Sarah for another round of photos at Laura Owens' Fairytale Photography on Westland Drive. Ms. Owens took the photograph posted above, as well as the other Sarah fairy photos I've posted recently. In this new batch, Sarah appears as Rapunzel. You will see them here next week.
After the photo session, we met my sister, Laura, and her daughter, Grace, at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum for the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. It was entertaining, but the food and souvenirs were outrageous. Cotton candy, which had to be purchased with a tacky hat, was $10.00. A hot dog, fries and drink was $9.00. I attended many concerts at the coliseum in my youth, and I was taken aback by how small the venue is compared to how I remember it. We sat in about the same area I sat in when I saw Heart there many years ago.
We finished off the outing with supper at the Copper Cellar on the Cumberland Avenue Strip, where we watched the end of the Tennessee v. Memphis basketball game. It went down to the wire, but Tennessee lost by two points. Everyone in the Cellar groaned at the defeat.

Free Candy Arrives!

I recently discovered the Sweet Services candy blog. They sent me five pounds of free candy, which arrived last week. They are a bulk candy distributor looking for business and are reaching out to bloggers, which I regard as a good thing. I donated the candy to our office candy bowl.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ms. Frazier's Obituary

RUBY E. FRAZIER, age 90, of Knoxville, TN departed this life for her heavenly home on January 23, 2009. She passed away at home in the presence of loving family members and a dear family friend. She was born in Sneedville, TN, the daughter of Brownlow and Delsia Greene and was preceded in death by her husband, Clyde R. Frazier; son, Roger C. Frazier; sister, Gracie Greene; brothers, Donald, Arnold, Edgar and Omer Greene. Ruby was a member of Hillcrest United Methodist Church in Knoxville, TN. She treasured life, her family and friends, and was a very devoted Christian. Ruby and her husband, Clyde R. Frazier, helped found the Smokey Mountain Chapter for the American Ex-Prisoners of War for East Tennessee. She will always be remembered for her peaceful nature, loving spirit, stark independence, and great cooking ability. Ruby is survived by her son, Stephen C. Frazier and his wife, Leslie; grandchildren, Stephanie Frazier Porter and her husband, Tim, Ezra Frazier, Michael Frazier, Ryan Frazier and his wife Jamie; step-grandchildren, Rachel Cox, Greg Blevins and Michael Blevins; great-grandchildren, Alyssa and Trevin Frazier; sisters, Irene Shelton, Bettye Doyle and husband, Bob; sister-in-law, Janie Greene; several beloved nieces and nephews; devoted friends, Barbara Bright and Linda Moore. Special thanks to the nurses at Covenant Hospice for providing compassionate care to Ruby and her loved ones during the final days of her life. The family will receive friends from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening, January 25, 2009 at Farrar Funeral Home in Jefferson City. The funeral service will follow at 7:00 p.m. with Reverend Patrick Polis officiating. Family and friends will meet at 12:45 p.m. on Monday afternoon at Pleasant Grove Piney Cemetery for a 1:00 p.m. graveside interment service. Arrangements by Farrar Funeral Home in Jefferson City, TN (865) 475-3892

Friday, January 23, 2009

End of a Short Week

We've reached the end of a short work week here at Stately Ogle Manor, and we're relaxing on Friday evening. Sarah has discovered Tom and Jerry on the Boomerang channel, and she found an online computer game featuring them, so she made a beeline for the computer as soon as we got home. Her supper is getting cold.

Frazier's Mom

Frazier, my brother-in-law, lost his mother today. Mrs. Frazier has been in fragile health and recently suffered a stroke. She died this morning at her home in South Knoxville, having been released from the hospital with hospice care. I have not yet heard about funeral arrangements.

Cousin Kinsey's Memories of Grandmother and Aunt Lucy

My cousin Kinsey got in a little late on our Spencerfest from a week or so ago when we were celebrating the 100th birthday of my grandmother, Willie J. Spencer Ogle, and his grandmother, Lucy Spencer Brandon. Here are some of his memories of these two Spencer sisters:

I wish I had more memories of Aunt Bill. I do remember lawn darts at Hillside, watermelons in the creek, Aunt Bill calling us to eat, and who can forget her laugh. I can hear it now. My favorite memory of her, comes from her later years. If I'm not mistaken, she was the tender age of 90. Kelly and Howard were home, visiting. Those that could make it were getting together for a visit and have meal at Hawk's restaurant, I believe. As Aunt Bill still drove, she needed riding companions. Kelly and I were the brave ones! Ha ha! As we backed out of the driveway, Aunt Bill had her head out the window. To better navigate, obviously. And wouldn't you know it, a bush jumped out and smacked her right in the face. She turned to me and Kelly, smiled, said "Oh sh*t!", and kept right on going. We did make it to Hawk's safely, and with a great memory.

Grandma. I could say alot. There are her stories about wartime, trips to Ledford Mill to feed the ducks, hours playing the piano, Christmas, trying on her long beads and clip-on earrings, and so on. There are a couple that really stick out, though. Grandma loved to cook, and was darn good at it. I will add, that trait was definitely passed on to Mom and Kelly. I try, but I digress. No matter what time it was, Grandma was always willing to scramble me some eggs. That's probably why I still eat them at all hours. Sure I got eggs at breakfast, but that wasn't the best part. I loved, and will never forget, making homemade biscuits with Grandma. We would mix the dough, knead it all out, and cut biscuits for everyone. Best of all, I had a special, Kinsey-sized cup, to make mine. Sometimes I let Kelly have one. It was great, and I'll never forget it. As I get choked up, I marvel at the four "Spencer Mafia" women I knew. What a team, and what unique individuals. They are missed dearly, but still provide such big smiles.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Christina's World

American artist Andrew Wyeth recently died. This is one of his most famous paintings, Christina's World, which he painted in 1948.

Hot Dog Map

I like this Strange Map website. This map illustrates the use of slaw on hot dogs in West Virginia, allegedly.

Kitty Leeter Rhinoplasty

Like most kids, Sarah has one particular stuffed animal, Kitty Leeter, which has been so loved that it now looks utterly disgusting. It didn't look great when it was brand new, and it is now missing a piece of its pink plastic nose. Sarah is demanding that Kitty Leeter have a nose job. I suggested a big, red clown nose, but Sarah rejected that idea. Pink felt might go over better.

Thanks to my loving wife Sherry for the title of this post. It was impossible to resist.

School Dress Codes

Joey and Jake attend Bellevue Middle School in the Metro Nashville school system, which has had a fairly strict dress code for at least the past couple of years. Male students basically dress in golf shirts and khakis, and the shirts can only be certain colors. Today's Nashville City Paper reports that the Nashville school system is considering allowing certain schools to opt out of the dress code. Apparently the dress code has caused the biggest problem in high schools, and it has been controversial from the start.

Coincidentally, there is also an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel this morning that says that other schools in the Knoxville city school district are considering implementing a dress code because Austin East High School has had success with their dress code program.

Loveless Barn

The Loveless Cafe, a famous restaurant in Nashville only minutes from where we used to live, is opening a concert and event facility, the Loveless Barn, on their property behind the restaurant. The first concert is tomorrow night.

I haven't had a meal at the Loveless in a while. We'll be in Nashville next weekend, so we may have to stop in for some biscuits and gravy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pop vs. Soda

I can't vouch for the science behind this, but this map shows what people call soft drinks in different parts of the United States. I grew up calling any soft drink a "coke." The map is from the Strange Maps blog.

Thawing Out

We are thawing out here in East Tennessee, but it is still pretty cold today. I've been in a meeting all morning, and am taking my lunch break before I head back to the justice center for court this afternoon. I took Sarah out to play in the snow yesterday afternoon, and we broke out her new down coat for the first time. We played in the snow until our hands and my feet got cold, so at least she got to frolic in it a bit, though it was a dry snow and not really fit for making a snowman, which was what she really wanted to do.

We're supposed to have temperatures in the fifties by the end of the week, which will be nice after some real winter weather.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have never heard of celeriac, much less cooked with it. It has been referred to as the vegetable world's ugly duckling, and the lower photograph demonstrates the point. Celeriac au grautin, pictured at the top of this post, looks better.

Blount County Justice Center Closed

I just learned that the Blount County Justice Center is closed today due to the frozen roads and snow.

Attorney Desk Book

I just accidentally kicked my attorney desk book, which I have not touched in months. For most of my career as an attorney, I have logged my billable time, by the tenth of the hour, into my desk book so that I could get myself paid for what I do for a living. I also used the desk book to keep track of appointments.

When I joined the District Attorney's office, there was no longer any need to keep up with my time, which took some getting used to. I use a smaller calendar at work to keep up with my appointments, so the attorney desk book has fallen to the wayside. It is an administrative task I do not miss.

Schools Closed

Most East Tennessee schools, including all three systems in Blount County, are closed today because of frozen roads and snow. Sarah's preschool follows the Maryville system's decisions on weather closings, so she won't be going to school today. I haven't seen anything on television or online to indicate that the county government is closing, so it looks like I will have to take a day of leave to stay home with her unless Sherry's office closes.

There are a lot of schools closed in Middle Tennessee as well, but Snowbird doesn't list the Metro Davidson system as being among them, so it looks like Jake and Joey are going to school this morning in Nashville.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blue Church

Sarah with I-Pod

Sherry bought herself a new I-Pod and loaded up the old one with kids' songs for Sarah. The child has her headphones on and is dancing around the den to the Ben 10 theme song.

R.I.P. Robot

Bob May, the actor and stuntman who was the robot on Lost in Space, has died in California. However, there's a company that will fix you up with your own B-9 model robot. Danger, Will Robinson!


We have a light snow falling here in Maryville, and the weatherman says we could get up to four inches of accumulation, which would be fun. As an employee of the State of Tennessee I am enjoying a day off, though Sherry has to work. I'm hoping the snow will cause her office to close so she can join Sarah and me at home. In the meantime, Sarah and I have been watching the Today show and painting a toy wooden sailboat Mom gave her on Saturday. I also promised the child I would bake her some sugar cookies.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Man and His Duck, Part 2

I just realized I neglected to post a link to the story about the man and his duck. Here it is.

Hockey Video

Here is the video clip Sherry sent me of Jake and his friend, Graham, playing hockey while Joey gives the play-by-play.

Back Home on Forest Avenue

Mom made us breakfast this morning, and I managed to pry Sarah off of Mom's computer so we could drive home, where she immediately started playing on Sherry's computer. I've done a bit of laundry and other household chores and am eagerly awaiting the return of my spouse from her trip to Nashville.

The Big Green Wall Falls

I worked for eight and a half years at Crawford, Crawford & Newton, in the First Tennessee Bank Building in downtown Maryville. You couldn't see much from my office window except a big, green wall, which was the side of the National School Products building. Last night, the fascade of that wall collapsed on a car that was passing by.

At Mom's House

Sarah and I invaded Mom's house yesterday since Sherry is in Nashville visiting Grams and Jake and Joey for the weekend. We came over here after our Saturday morning errands, and I took my second whirl at Daube of Beef Provencal. It turned out pretty good, and I didn't destroy any cookware or make a big mess this time. Mom has a stainless steel soup pot that served nicely, and we rounded out the meal with mashed potatoes. Yum!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Brace for Impact!

Like many Americans, I came home from work the day before yesterday to learn that U.S. Airways flight 1549 was sinking in the Hudson River after an emergency landing made necessary by the airplane's collision with a flock of Canadian geese. By the time I was aware of the story NBC news was reporting that everyone on board lived through the experience.

From all accounts, everyone on the airplane acted with courage and honor. I immediately thought of the flight crew, who in a very few minutes had to prepare a plane full of people for what was about to happen to them. The pilot announced, "Brace for impact!" as he brought the plane down in the river.

After realizing that they had survived the experience and were now in an airplane that was taking on water, the people aboard the plane got off of it in an orderly fashion, women and children first, and waited on the wings of the aircraft while the citizenry of New York City rushed to their aid. Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot, was the last person off of the plane. He walked from the cockpit to the rear of the cabin twice to be sure all of his passengers were off of the plane before he climbed onto a raft. The professionals did what they were supposed to do, by the book, and the passengers trusted the professionals to do their jobs. It is a remarkable event.

In this drama, the City of New York was a central character. It is tempting to think of a big city as a place where humanity is nameless and faceless, a hive of drones, but it was not so. People called 911 from their offices when they saw the plane going down, and emergency crews, and every other boat on the river, sped to the airplane to take passengers off as quickly as possible on a frigid January day. As I was in the wake of September 11, 2001, I am proud of our New Yorkers.

Another One Bites the Dust

Circuit City has announced it is closing all of its stores in the United States inasmuch as the company is bankrupt. Thirty thousand people lost their jobs as a result of the business's failure.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spanish Fort in Western North Carolina

My mom grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, and she sent me an article from National Geographic about a Spanish fort that has recently been discovered a few miles from nearby Morganton. Archaeologists are excavating the site, and they open it to the public on occasion. I've always wanted to visit an archaeological site, and since I have friends in that neck of the woods perhaps we can arrange a trip around a visit to the dig.

More on Paul McCartney's New Album

I recently posted about Paul McCartney's new album, Electric Argument. Rolling Stone magazine has a brief interview with McCartney about the album, which I shall have to acquire forthwith.

Warmth in the Cold

According to our thermometer, it is ten degrees Fahrenheit on Everett Hill here in Maryville, which is five degrees warmer than the meteorologists were calling for yesterday evening. Even so, that is some bone-chilling cold. Here is some virtual warmth from the fireplace at Grandmother and Granddaddy's cabin in Estill Springs.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Junior the Goat

The story about the man and the duck reminds me of a story my stepfather Ron used to tell about Junior the goat. Ron loved to barbecue, and one day he and a group of his friends decided they should barbecue a goat. Ron found a farm that sold suitable goats, and he made arrangements to drive out to it and purchase one.

When he got to the farm, the farmer brought the goat out to Ron on a rope, and Ron paid him the agreed price. The farmer gave Ron the rope and said, "His name's Junior."

Now Ron is a big, fairly tough guy, but he has a sentimental side, and it really bothered him that the goat had a name. As he drove back to the Ramada Inn, where he was staying, he wondered if Junior liked beer, and sure enough, he did. Ron ended up bringing the goat into the hotel lobby, where the two of them proceeded to the bar. Ron always tips well, and I'm sure he paid well for the tolerance of the hotel staff inasmuch as he and Junior and Ron's friends closed down the hotel bar that night. I can only imagine Ron waking up the next morning with that goat in his room.

At this point, it was no longer possible for Ron to imagine Junior as a meal, not even barbecue. He cancelled the goat roast and made an arrangement for Junior to live out his days in a nice pasture without fear of being barbecued.

A Story of a Man and His Duck

Here's a feature story from a television station in Minneapolis/St. Paul about a man and his friend Frank, the Duck, whom he takes on his truck route every day. It made me grin.

Mustang II

My friend Kevin drove a Ford Mustang II Ghia coupe, pictured above, when I first met him. His was reptile green and was the only one of its kind in the area. We took many trips to the Smokies in that car. There is a rather unfriendly review of the automobile on the Car Lust blog from last year, but I remember Kevin's car fondly.

Burger King Cologne

This seems to bizarre to be true, but I just read on a food blog that Burger King has created a cologne for men that purportedly smells like flame-broiled meat. I hope I don't wind up on an elevator with one of those guys.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

R.I.P. Ricardo Montalban

Ricardo Montalban, age 88, has died at his home in Los Angeles. I remember his Chrysler commercial when he pitched "rich Corinthian leather." has the details here. According to their story:
Montalban was perhaps best known for his portrayal of the character Khan
Noonian Singh, a genetically engineered, tyrannical super-human introduced in a
1967 episode of “Star Trek” that ended with the space ship USS Enterprise
depositing Kahn and his followers on an inhospitable planet. The plotline
resumed 15 years later in the movie “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982), with
Montalban’s character seeking vengeance.

My favorite line from Khan:

"From hell's heart, I stab at thee. For hate's sake, I spit my last breath, at thee."

Khan was one bad dude.

False Start, 1959

More on Aunt Lucy

My memories of Aunt Lucy also include cooking, but also music. As I mentioned last weekend, Aunt Lucy was a piano teacher, and it was not unusual for her to play and for various family members to sing with her during family gatherings. Usually Aunt Lucy, Uncle Charlie, Fran, and later Kelly and Kinsey, had a performance worked up for the rest of the family, but we all joined in for familiar numbers.

I remember several Christmas gatherings at Aunt Lucy's house, and they effectively became a cooking competition between the Spencer sisters, which of course was wonderful for everyone else. They all had their various specialties, and I remember Aunt Lucy's cobblers being especially good, especially when blackberries were in season. Granddaddy used to love to take us blackberry picking in the summer, no doubt knowing that they would then be converted into a cobbler by Grandmother or one of her sisters.

I think the most important gift I got from Grandmother and her sisters was the love that they had for each other and for us. I don't know of any serious dispute that ever arose between any of them, and they always laughed together, told stories and genuinely enjoyed being in one another's company. In my work as a lawyer, I have seen many families that have members that despise each other. I'm glad mine set a loving example, for I too love being in the company of my family, all of whom I cherish.

Jimbo's Memories of Aunt Lucy

Man, I remember those cobblers (especially peach) with the dough criss-crossed on the top and sprinkled with sugar. ;-) I DID spend a lot of time over there with my second "mom". I would listen for hours to her stories about the war and going to Virginia to see Uncle Charlie. The diaper stories are apparently true because I have seen her work on Tan-Tan in the old home movies. I remember getting loose from Mom and my own diaper episode to run, stark naked, across the street for "Che-Che"'s back door and certain prevention of a whuppin'. By the way, I didn't make it. I think I remember Lucy pleading with Mom not to whip me but I guess I needed it. Also, it was reported in the newspaper (I still have a copy) that the only reason that Uncle Earl got elected to the office of Coffee County Sheriff was the "Spencer Mafia" at each polling place. I don't think I would tell them "no". Great memories.

(Editor's note: Tan-Tan is one of Frances Anne's many nicknames, and Jim called Aunt Lucy "Che-Che" when he was a toddler. When Uncle Earl, Vesta's husband, was elected Sheriff of Coffee County, they dispatched a Spencer sister to each polling place in the county, which assured his victory; however, as a former MP during World War II, he certainly had the law enforcement experience for the job.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Memories of Aunt Lucy from Frances Ann

Today would have been my great Aunt Lucy Spencer Brandon's 103rd birthday. The Spencer sisters that I knew, Grandmother (Bill), Lucy, Vesta and Fay, were quite a group of women, and since they lived nearby one another, they and their families were frequently together. Here are some memories of Aunt Lucy from her only child, Frances Anne, my first cousin once removed:

I suppose my most recalled memory of my Mother is how much she loved to cook - and the more there to eat the better. Dad came home from the P. O. every day for lunch, so she had a big meal ready for him and whoever else happened to be there (for many years, it was Aunt Fay and Uncle Aubrey, and/or a handyman who was there that day). Jim, too, was around a lot of the time. Momma loved to cook (and eat!) desserts, so she saw to it that there was a new one every day.

She also loved it when "company" was there - she never tired of seeing family, her own or anybody else's. She was very fond of her nieces and nephews - since she had an "only child", they provided her with the other children she couldn't have. When great-nieces and nephews came along as the years passed, she took to them, too. She found it so remarkable that Laura, Leslie, and Stephen would actually write letters to her (and to the other great-aunts). She always let me know when she got a letter from one of you 3, and saved it/them for me to read.

And then there are so many "Hillside" memories - lots of great ones when all of us could be there, but some equally special ones when just Momma, Aunt Bill, Jim and I were there on a weekday during the summer (I believe Jim and I woke each day waiting in anticipation of that early a.m. phone call!). There was lots of food, laughter, wading, hunting for crawdads, and dominoes on the card table sitting in the middle of the creek.

And then there's "little Jimmy Simpson" -- well, what can I say!??! I always knew Momma thought of him much more as a son than as a nephew (as he and I are more like siblings than cousins, even though he'd never admit it!). I truly believe Jim sometimes thought he had 2 mothers, especially when mine was practicing changing his diapers in the eight months before I was born.

Of course, I don't actually remember it, but heard stories of how those "Aunt Lucy" diapers always fell off - and word was, after I got here, mine fell off, too!! By the time Kelly and Kinsey joined the family, her diapering skills had improved, fortunately. And speaking of Kelly and Kinsey - don't believe there's enough I can say about how much she loved them. To say she doted on them (each in a special way) would be an understatement.

(Editor's note: "Hillside" is short for the Estill Springs cabin's formal name, "Hillside Cottage." We usually call it, more informally, "The Camp." Kelly and Kinsey are Frances Anne's daughter and son, and Aunt Lucy's grandchildren, so we are all grandchildren of the Spencer sisters, at least two of them.)

Tennessee Supreme Court SCALES Project

The Supreme Court of Tennessee operates a program called "SCALES," which stands for "Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education to Students." The Court hears oral arguments in various cities throughout Tennessee, invites classes of students to attend, and recruits lawyers to talk to the students about the judicial system and the specific case the students hear argued.

In October 2007, the SCALES project came to Maryville, and I was asked to speak to students attending school at First Apostolic Church about the court system and about a product liability case involving the death of an eight-month-old child who was killed when the Dodge Caravan he was riding in was rear-ended. The seat in front of the baby collapsed with an adult in it, and the seat and adult crushed the baby's head. The jury awarded a total of $105.5 million at the trial in Nashville, and Judge Gayden, the trial judge, remitted the award to $85.6 million. After the Supreme Court of Tennessee considered the case, the judgment was reduced to $76.5 million. The case, Flax v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., et al., is discussed in this month's Tennessee Bar Journal, so the students got a good case to study.

This is not a law blog, so I won't discuss the details of the case here, but I received a copy of the supreme court opinion this summer and wrote the teachers at First Apostolic Church to inquire whether they wanted me to discuss the decision with their students about the case they heard argued. They invited me to return to their school, and I am to speak to the students about the case today. I will probably talk about the judicial system again as well, since that is probably more important for them to know about at this stage in their education than the intricacies of negligent infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages law as they exist in Tennessee.

What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?

The Destin Log reports that a deck hand recently became belligerent at A.J.'s, cussed a police officer and was arrested. In other news, a woman bit her boyfriend in the finger in the parking lot of the Crab Trap, and then told police that usually he enjoys being bitten. They arrested her for battery. Things get a little crazy down on the gulf coast in the off season.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Busy Week

I was in court all day today, and I'm assisting a colleague with a trial in juvenile court tomorrow. Although it is a very serious case, I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the juvenile center since I haven't been over there in a while. I have trials Wednesday and Thursday, so this week will keep me hopping, which isn't a bad thing.

Sarah's Latest Favorite Game

I posted this weekend about Sarah playing a game of Sorry! with her mother and me. She's about to drive both of us nuts with it at this point because she constantly asks when the next time we will play will be. Of course, I'm happy she likes the game, and it is a fun way to work on her counting and direction-following skills.

As a parent, I've learned that kids like repetition. For example, Sarah selected a Barbie/Rapunzel movie at the library on Saturday (Yes, the movie is as bad as it sounds.), and she's watched it all the way through at least three times. Now that she's learned she likes Sorry!, it is no surprise she wants to play it over and over again, but adults don't enjoy repetition as much as kids do. We solved the problem by encouraging her to play an imaginary game with her stuffed animals. We also should look into acquiring some other board games to play.

Two New Dum Dum Flavors!

Where we live, it is a custom for banks to give children Dum Dum lollipops when kids visit the bank. Sarah starts asking for them as soon as you pull into the parking lot. Spangler Candy, the company that makes Dum Dums has announced they are rolling out two new flavors, strawberry shortcake and banana split.

Garth Brockovich

Michael Silence has noticed that Erin Brockovich looks uncannily like Garth from Wayne's World.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Birthday Girl

Here's a photograph of birthday girl Gracie, with her older cousin Sarah clowning around in the background, at Laura's Christmas event.

Happy Birthday, Gracie!

Today is my niece Grace's second birthday. Unfortunately, the tyke is recovering from a nasty stomach bug, so we decided we'd better not attend her cake-cutting today so Sarah doesn't get sick.

Laura may come see us later though to watch some video of Grandmother. We made a video tour of the interior of her home on North Jefferson Street in Winchester, which will be bittersweet to see. There's also video of a trip Leslie and Laura took with the grandparents to see where Grandmother grew up in Lois, Moore County, Tennessee, and an interview I conducted with her later in her life.

Homemade Pizza and Pimiento Cheese

Weekends in our home usually involve preparation of food, both for enjoying during the weekend and for lunches and suppers throughout the week. This weekend's projects have been homemade pizza and pimiento cheese.

Sarah found a pizza recipe online a couple of weeks ago, and I told her we would make pizza at home soon since I was on a baking rampage at the time. She mentioned it again this week, so I picked up some pizza sauce and crust mix at the grocery store. I overdid it on the ingredients though, as I feared I would. We ended up with a pizza covered in hamburger, Canadian bacon, onion, green pepper and pepperoni smothered in Mozzarella and seasoned with basil, oregano and Tiger Seasoning (a/k/a "Praise Wally"). It was good, if messy.

We also made pimiento cheese based on a recipe I posted last summer. In addition to the ingredients listed on the recipe, we've started adding a four ounce can of chopped jalapenos to the recipe to spice it up. We deleted the dash of cayenne, since the jalapenos fire it up plenty.

Candy Bloggers

I found a couple of candy bloggers this morning. They are Sweet Services, and the Candy Dish. Sweet Services has a post saying they will send five pounds of candy to the first 50 bloggers who contact them, so I applied for it to fill the candy dish at the office. The offer was first posted in June, so I don't know whether I'll be one of the first 50 or not.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cool, if Gloomy, Photograph from Look Rock Tower

This is from the robot camera at Look Rock Tower off Foothills Parkway. I bet a real photographer could take some cool shots up there today. The mountains almost look menacing.

More Grandmother Ogle Memories

Grandmother was a consummate worrier. If we went on a trip, she would say, "I'll worry you there and worry you back." One time I took a trip without mentioning it to her ahead of time, and she was genuinely disappointed by having missed a perfectly good opportunity to worry.

I went to Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, for a semester. I frequently drove down the mountain from Boone to Hickory, where Mom and my sisters, Laura and Leslie, lived, and Grandmother liked to worry about me driving down the mountain in the snow. She once told me she was afraid I'd slide off the mountain in the snow "and get frostbite and the fingers drop plumb off your hands." When I said something about it years later, she laughed and asked, "Did I really say that?" When I assured her she did, she said, "Well, that sounds like me."

Granddaddy got all he could out of a sneeze, so his sneezing was always robust. Grandmother would mutter, "Well I sneeze too, just not that loud." To this day, if someone in our family sneezes it is more likely the sneeze will be answered with Grandmother's observation than with "Bless you."

Grandmother was a hard worker her whole life, and her motto was "Always have a project." She always did, and she outworked the laborers she hired to help her. I remember her telling me about hiring a man twice her size to help her rake the large flat area at the cabin down by the creek and raking twice as much as he did. I didn't doubt it a bit. It was amazing the work that woman did to make her home and the cabin ready for our visits, including cooking enough food to feed us and the Russian Army and to send us home with leftovers, always in Cool Whip containers.

Having lived through the Great Depression, Grandmother and Granddaddy were quite frugal, and they saved everything. Grandmother said Granddaddy was one of the only men in Winchester with a job during some of those years. They boarded soldiers during World War II, and used their resources sparingly as people had to in those days. They carried their frugality throughout their lives, and cleaning out their home on North Jefferson Street when we moved Grandmother here to Maryville in the last years of her life was a learning experience.

She saved aluminum pie pans, bread bags, the wire twist ties that close bread bags (thousands and thousands of these), Cool Whip containers, paper grocery bags, glass jars, milk jugs, and many other things in huge quantities. If she might need it again, she saved it. She could not stand to throw away anything that might be useful someday, and she savored it when she could use something she had saved or when she used up the last little bit of something, especially something perishable. I inherited this from her. I can't stand to throw away a piece of string because the next day I'll find something I could have used it for.

While frugal, my grandparents were incredibly generous to us. They helped to support all three of us through college and graduate school, and took us on many wonderful trips during our childhood. They took us to Disneyworld, the beach and on a cruise ship to the Bahamas, but they also took us on trips to see important cities and the historic sites in them. We went on trips that took us to Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Gettysburg, Mount Vernon, the Amish Country in Pennsylvania, and other places of historical or educational interest. I credit Grandmother and Granddaddy for my love of history, which led in turn to my interest in political science and then the law.

Grandmother started preparing us for her death twenty or thirty years before it actually happened, and she had heart issues and high blood pressure most of her life, so I suppose she had good cause to, even though she lived to be ninety-six years old. I remember her saying, "Don't grieve me when I'm gone. I've had a long, hard life, and when I go I'll be ready to go." Hers was a life well lived in every sense of the word, and I am grateful to have had such a grandmother.

Where There's a Willie There's a Way

By Leslie Ogle

How do you describe a woman like Willie J
Strong, proud, honest and never far away

We spent summers in Florida, summers in the yard,
Sipping ice cream sodas and watching g-mom work hard,

She always had a project and always wore a smile,
She never said “wait a minute” or “in a little while,”

She was always there for her grandbabies and loved them so
The kind of love a lot of people will just never know

I remember so well her nightly routine
Sitting by her dressing mirror with a face full of cream

She baked pies and stuffing and broccoli with cheese
And if you didn’t ask for seconds, she was not very pleased

“Don’t you like grandmothers cooking,” she would always say
and we would laugh and giggle just to make fun and play

She kept an impeccable home and loved to entertain
And never once in my life did I hear her complain

Except maybe towards granddaddy every once in a while
She would get irritated, but it ended in a smile

I’ll never forget how she fussed over us so
Stephen, Leslie and Laura …all three of us in tow

Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and more
Whatever the occasion, there was so much to adore

Phillip Ellis, her only son,
Granddaddy, her only one,

And three little youngsters hanging on her heels
Loving every moment of how we made her feel

The feeling was mutual, Willie J,
And as always, we think of you everyday

Now you’re with granddaddy and daddy to boot
Have fun in heaven…be yourself….be a hoot!

The folks in heaven don’t know what they’re getting
But when they see you coming, I am definitely betting

They will see a smile plus one beautiful rainbow
And my grandma shouting, “Just bake a pie and go.”

(Editor's note: "Just bake a pie and go." was Grandmother's philosophy about funerals.)

My Little Red Hatchet

By Leslie Ogle

I had a little red hatchet,
It went everywhere with me,

I had a little red hatchet,
It could break rocks and trim trees,

I had a little red hatchet,
No matter what the chore,

I had a little red hatchet,
And it offered so much more,

For it was not just a tool you see,
It was my grandmother’s way to be,

It kept her busy in the summer,
In her garden and yard,

And in the wintertime,
A Christmas tree wasn’t too hard,

To this day, you’ll see her with little strife,
‘cause her little red hatchet is her recipe for life.

(Editor's note: Grandmother indeed had a little red hatchet, and it was her favorite tool. She used it in very unconventional ways. For example, she used it to weed her flower beds. I suspect it chopped down many a cedar tree from their property in Estill Springs for Christmas trees.)


Sherry, Sarah and I played a game of Sorry! last night. I wasn't sure Sarah would have the patience for it, but she enjoyed the whole game. When she woke up this morning she wanted to play again, and now she's pulled out Clue, Jr.

The Spencer Girls

My full name is Stephen Spencer Ogle, and I bear the Spencer name with pride and have given it to my child. My great-grandfather, Ira Spencer, a blacksmith in Lois (Moore County), Tennesssee, moved to Tullahoma in the early 1900's so that his girls could go to school. Pictured here are, from left to right, Fay, Lucy, Vesta and Bill, the latter being my Grandmother Ogle. There were two older sisters, Aunt Anne and Aunt Carrie, and a younger brother, Houston, who died when I was too young to remember them. It is a shame, I bet they were all a hoot like their sisters.

Aunt Fay was a legal secretary to Thomas Wiseman, who later became a U.S. District Court Judge, and Aunt Lucy taught piano. Aunt Vesta, whom we called Aunt Deckie, was a politician as the wife of Earl Carroll, who served as Sheriff of Coffee County, Tennessee. Grandmother never worked outside the home, but was active in the community as a Red Cross volunteer and a pink lady at the local hospital. Grandmother's career consisted of managing her home, the cabin and property in Estill Springs and Granddaddy's income from Smotherman's Wholesale Grocery. She once said of her husband, "Ellis would have never bought a chicken coop if it weren't for me." I'm not sure about that, but I am certain she had great influence on Granddaddy on such matters.

Happy 100th Birthday Grandmother!

As I wrote earlier, my paternal grandmother, Willie J. Spencer Ogle, was born 100 years ago today, which is a remarkable thought in itself. She died on Thanksgiving 2004, when I was 41 years old, so I am fortunate to have known her so long. My Granddaddy, her husband, William Ellis Ogle, died in 2000, and both of them were very important influences on my life. I am thankful that they helped make me who I am.

I came home at lunch yesterday to find my personal E-mail in box full of stories about my grandmother and her sisters, and I am posting much of it here in celebration of Grandmother's 100th birthday. Tomorrow is also my niece Grace's second birthday, and we're going to get together with Mom and Leslie and Laura for Grace's birthday and look at old photographs and video and remember our grandparents.

Some Memories of Grandmother from Leslie

I remember her chasing the umbrella off the table in the backyard when a storm was pushing it around. I remember her getting into dangerous waters at the camp when it flooded to rescue her picnic table…. Fearless she was.

I remember when I was sixteen and she was ironing my shirt and found a cigarette in the pocket. We both looked at each other, and I fibbed, accusing a friend of mine who had borrowed my shirt. She said, “Well, I don’t want you to smoke but if you did you can tell me.” We both grinned a knowing grin at each other and nothing more was said.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Remembering Grandmother Ogle

Tomorrow would have been my Grandmother Ogle's (Willie J. Spencer Ogle a/k/a "Bill") 100th birthday had she lived to see it. I realized it was her birthday in court this morning when the courtroom clerk mentioned that her birthday is January 10, but I did not realize it was her 100th birthday until I checked my personal E-mail at home during my lunch hour and read an E-mail message from my sister Laura. She has the family remembering. Here is an excerpt from her E-mail:

I thought it would be nice to share some memories.

I remember her stepping on a wasp nest with high heel shoes.
I remember her large, work-worn hands, but how soft and gentle they were as they patted sulfur powder on your legs at the Camp to keep the chiggers off.
I remember her laugh…. She was always laughing!
From the kitchen, “I need one little girl!” and “Run ‘um in!”

(Editor's note: "Run 'um in!" was Grandmother's way of announcing supper was ready, so someone should run the guests into the dining room.)

Sprial Galaxy M74

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of Spiral Galaxy M74.

A Tale of Grandmother Ogle's Hospitality from Cousin Jim

Here is another tale from cousin Jimbo about Grandmother Ogle's hospitality. When we went to visit Grandmother and Granddaddy, we almost always stayed at their cabin in Estill Springs, Tennessee, near their home in Winchester, and they always stocked the place with all sorts of wonderful food for us each time we went out there. Unlike Jim, we never discouraged this. Grandmother was in her eighties and still chopping firewood and laying a fire for us so we wouldn't have to when we came in off the road.

Here's Jim's second tale:

I'll share one more. I wanted to share some of my childhood memories of Hillside with Debbie and called to ask Bill if we could spend the a particular fall Saturday there. She, of course, said yes. Knowing her as well as I did, I sternly told her that if she were going to go out of her way to do anything extra in preparation, we would not come. She assured me that she wouldn't and I said that we would come.

When we arrived, there was an entire baked ham, bread and a warm cherry pie waiting for us. When I called to thank her and mildly to scold her, she sheepishly said that she didn't care what she had promised, she wanted to do it! As with other special memories of all of my beloved aunts and uncles, I'll always remember being down by the creek at Hillside and hearing Bill's contagious cackle coming from the cabin kitchen.

Cousin Jimbo's Tale of the Spencer Women

Here is a tale from my cousin (first cousin once removed) Jim Simpson of Murfreesboro, a loyal Boongablogger reader, about my Grandmother Ogle, his mother Fay, and their sisters, my Aunts Vesta (We called her Aunt Deckie.) and Lucy:

I'll attribute this to Aunt Bill, but it could have easily been Aunt Lucy, whose birthday will be Jan. 13! "Neezer" Carroll (Uncle Earl's brother) died and all of the Spencer girls went to visitation. All were already widowed at this point. I was there also, and there they were, lined up on the front row, spines straight, purses in laps, and looking very much alike with advancing age, Vesta, Bill, Fay and Lucy.

"Peaches" Carroll ("Neezer"'s widow) came by, and I'll assume that she had partaken of some fortification for the task that lay ahead and noticed the Spencer girls all lined up. Being a little confused and maybe just a tad inebriated, she acknowledged that they were, indeed, Spencer sisters and said to Bill "Hi, you're Lucy?" Bill looked up at her and said "No, I'm Fay!". The other three erupted in laughter as Bill tried to correct her mistake in not knowing exactly which one she was, but "Peaches" had already staggered away, perhaps much more confused than she had been when she asked the question. We kidded her about that the rest of her life.

The Future's So Bright She Has to Wear Shades

Sarah shows off her shiny teeth.

Macy's Departs Bellevue Mall -- Target to Open?

The Bellevue Center Mall withered on the vine during the time I lived in Nashville. It was a pretty decent mall in 2002 when I moved to Nashville, but it was pretty pitiful by the time we moved back to East Tennessee in 2007. There are plans to redevelop the property, and the Nashville Metro government is making tax incentives available to encourage this.

When we were in Nashville for Christmas, we drove by the mall and speculated about its future. I just learned that Macy's, one of the anchor tenants, is closing its Bellevue store. The redevelopment is still in the works, and according to the Nashville Post, it is possible that a Target store, one of Sherry's favorites, may open as part of the restructuring of the property. The Tennessean also has an article on the subject.

Dentist Pics

Here are a couple of photos from Sarah's first visit to the dentist. She got a clean bill of dental health.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sincere Blue Suit

I recently bought a couple of new business suits from a local merchant, Bill Womack, who with his wife operates Boyd & Thomas, a men's and women's clothing store in Maryville. The business is in the building that used to house Ham and Goody's. I like both suits, and I appreciated the Womacks' helpfulness. I was also satisfied with the price of the suits, which were about $300.00 each, including alterations. I picked the second suit up today, and I will enjoy both new additions to my wardrobe.

Hong Kong Phooey

We recently added some channels to our satellite television package, and one of the channels, Boomerang, features vintage cartoons. I had completely forgotten about Hong Kong Phooey, which would probably be frowned upon if released today as politically incorrect. The character was voiced by the legendary Scatman Crothers.

Sarah's been singing the theme song, and now it is stuck in my head.

O'Keefe Art Collection at Fisk University

When I recently posted Radiator Building, a painting by Georgia O'Keefe, I meant to follow up with a post about an art collection donated by O'Keefe to Fisk University in Nashville in 1949. The collection has been the subject of some controversy recently, and the Tennessean recently reported about the latest round of litigation over the artwork. Radiator Building is part of the collection.

Visit to the Alps

In 2000 Mom took us on a trip to Europe, and we spent five days in Interlaken, Switzerland. Although it was cold and rainy, even in summer, it was a wonderful vacation spot. During our stay there we met a Swiss fellow named Martin, who was a chef for the Swiss army. He gave us the insider's tour of Interlaken, and prepared a gourmet meal for us at his place.

The highlight of the Interlaken part of our trip was when Martin took us up to visit with some of his German friends who worked a cheese making operation up in the Bernese Alps. We drove up though curvy roads to a cattle farm in the mountains. Rows of different sized cow bells hung on the side of the brown wooden barn.

The building was mostly barn to house the animals and feed, but there were living and working quarters for the people as well. We entered the working area to find two men cooking milk in a huge copper or brass cauldron over a fire. One of them was tending the batch in the cauldron, while the other was working with a huge wheel of pale cheese. They were working to the music of Chuck Berry playing "Johnny B. Goode," and my American heart swelled with pride.

We watched them work until their break, when we retired to their kitchen area, which was all wooden, but the whole place was warm and comfortable, especially up on that foggy alp. They let us sample their main product, the wonderful cheese, and they were deservedly proud of what they did. Martin translated for us and told us that one of the men said that now we knew what real cheese tastes like. Indeed.

Other than bread and snappes, everything we ate was a milk product, including some of the most wonderful butter and cream I've ever tasted. I never knew butter could be so good. This was a working farm on a work day, and we were on their schedule. Before they went back to work in the cheese making room, they took us out to see some of the cows they had in the barn, rather than out on the alp, for one reason or another.

They sent us back home with our luggage laden with that wonderful cheese, which we enjoyed for months thereafter.

Daily Times Website Sporting New Look

I just opened the website of my local newspaper, the Maryville Daily Times, to see if there has been any breaking news since I left for work this morning. To my surprise, the website is sporting a new look. As regular readers of this blog may have noted, I changed the Boongablogger's look during the holidays. I guess the Times thought the New Year was a good time for a change as well.

Pickled Okra

I'm not sure when I first tried pickled okra, but I like it an an alternative to the pickled cucumbers we usually eat with a sandwich. I can usually find Talk O' Texas pickled okra on the shelves of my local grocery store.

Sarah's First Dentist Visit

We took Sarah to the dentist for the first time yesterday, and I'm happy to say that she really enjoyed the experience. She came home with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and "Floss Man," a tool to help her learn to use the floss. When she came home from school yesterday the first thing she wanted to do was brush her teeth, and she woke up this morning wanting to brush again.

She's been brushing her teeth in the morning, and we just started having her brush again in the evening at bath time. I'm glad she's so enthusiastic about her dental hygiene.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jupiter and Ganymede

Flooding Closes Blount County Schools

We've had an abundance of rain in recent days, which is a good thing overall since the southeast United States has been dealing with drought conditions. When we came home yesterday we drove through a heavy rain, and the drainage ditches along the roads were full of rushing water. Due to all of the rain, Blount County Schools are closed today. Sarah's day care usually follows the Maryville City Schools decisions about closing, and the city schools haven't announced that they are closing, so I expect Sarah will go to school today.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

ALCOA Cutting 450 Blount County Jobs

One of the major employers in Blount County, where I live, is the Aluminum Company of America, and I can see the plant from my back porch. It is not unusual to see flatbed trailers being hauled around town carrying huge vats of molten aluminum, which has been produced in Tennessee for 96 years.

ALCOA has announced it is shutting down molten aluminum operations here and cutting 450 jobs. The bad economic news just keeps coming.

More on the February Road Trip

I found out today that the Nashville Airport Embassy Suites, where my training conference will be conducted for a week in February, has an indoor swimming pool and whirlpool, pictured here. Sherry was able to get the week off work, so we'll take Sarah out of day care that week for a family week in Nashville. I imagine Jake and Joey will come out and stay with us for at least part of the week in order to take advantage of the swimming facilities. This road trip should be a good professional learning experience, as well as some good family time. I'm excited about both!

Crown and Goose Gastropub

I haven't been to the Old City in Knoxville in quite some time. At one time it was pretty lively, but it was unsafe at night. I'm not sure about what kind of places are there nowadays, but I've learned there is an English pub called the Crown and Goose that sounds like it would be cool to check out.

More on Peanut Butter

Sarah started talking about peanut butter sandwiches on the way to school yesterday morning. This was unusual, since we hardly ever feed her sandwiches, except here lately she's taken a fancy to grilled cheese sandwiches. Sherry made her a peanut butter sandwich for supper last night, and she ate all of it. If you're a kid, you have to love peanut butter sandwiches.

Sliced Peanut Butter?

Once again Boongablogger brings you truth that is stranger than fiction. Behold! Someone has created Peanut Butter Slices, though I have to say I don't generally think of peanut butter as something one would need to slice. I hope they don't come up with jelly slices next.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Enceladus is a moon of Saturn.


Latkes are Jewish hash browns, and they are traditional for Hanukkah. The Festival of Lights celebrates the miracle of one day's worth of consecrated oil lasting for eight days during the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the victory of the Maccabees in the second century BC. I guess latkes go with Hanukkah because they are cooked in oil. Here's a recipe for a health-conscious version.

I'm a meat and potatoes guy, so I'll have to try my hand at latkes sometime. From the ingredient list, I think I would like them.
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 2), shredded
1 medium white onion, shredded
2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 pieces whole-wheat matzo (6-by-6-inch), broken into pieces
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons peanut oil or extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Sunday Round Up

After spending most of the four-day weekend at home, we decided to invade Mom's house yesterday for a visit since Sarah's overnight stay on New Years Eve had to be aborted because of her earache. As usual when she visits either of her grandmothers, she pulled out every toy she could find and had quite a good time.

When we arrived we were a bit distressed to find Mom's driveway empty. When we called her we learned she was at the grocery store buying ingredients for beef stroganoff, which was delightful. Laura came over for the last half of the afternoon before we had to head home.

The weather yesterday afternoon was very nice. We played outside a little at Mom's, but her neighborhood is infested with dogs, so we didn't stay out long over there. When we got back home, Sarah invited her friend, Eli, a neighbor, over to play, and they gave the swing set a workout.

For us, this is the first full work week of the new year. Once I'm through the holidays, I sort of look at the rest of the winter as the long march toward spring, so here we go!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Destin Harbor Dredging

The City of Destin, Florida, has applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to dredge the entrance to Destin harbor again. Norriego Point is getting out of hand.

The Destin Log website had another story from December that caught my interest about a family that found a couple of dead sharks buried on Navarre Beach, which isn't far from where my friends Randy and Dawn live.

Yes. It is January, and I am thinking about the beach.

Yellowstone Lake Earthquakes

Seismologists have detected what the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory calls a "swarm" of small, shallow earthquakes below Yellowstone Lake, pictured above. The Discovery Channel has made a program speculating on the destruction that could be wrought if the Yellowstone Volcano were to erupt, so this seismic activity may get some attention in the press.

Birdsong Hollow Bridge

I didn't feel like I could post about my limited driving of the Natchez Trace Parkway without mentioning the Birdsong Hollow Bridge, which received the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995 for its unusual engineering.