Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Car Trouble

My car, a 1997 Nissan Sentra we got from Sherry's grandmother several years ago, wouldn't start this morning, so Sherry and I rode to work together. When we got home this afternoon, I managed to coax the Nissan to run, and we got it down to Ogle's Auto Center so Chuck's mechanics can take a look at it.

Me and this Nissan are soon to part ways.

More Corned Beef

Having just had a fairly successful experience cooking a corned beef brisket, I found this procedure for cooking one. I cooked mine standing in a marinade of liquid about 3/4" high in a casserole dish with foil over it, but mummifying it in a foil pouch to roast in its own juices sounds like a good way to cook one as well.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mom at Work

My beloved mother is a family therapist at Complete Counseling North in Knoxville. Her practice recently moved, and she sent me this photo of her in her new office.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Bean?

I just got through putting laundry in the drier. In the bottom of the washing machine, I found a bean, a pinto, I think.

I don't even want to know why there was a bean in our laundry.

Time for Camping

My friend Johnny called from Atlanta last weekend to say that he and his family are coming to the mountains next weekend. Weather permitting, we're going to go camping next Friday night. According to the backcountry ranger station, Abrams Creek campground opened March 13, and Look Rock will open May 8. Abrams Creek is smaller, but is wonderful for kids, especially if you get a camping spot on the river. Both campgrounds have cool synchronized fireflies in the spring, though I think we're a bit early in the season for them yet. Sarah loves fairies, and she's at the age to be absolutely delighted by those fireflies.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dolphin Bubbles

This video is 3 1/2 minutes, but worth watching. Dolphins in an aquarium learned to blow rings of air out of their blowholes, but you really have to watch at least part of the video to see how cool it is. Animals are amazing.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Here's a photo Mark sent to Sherry of the boys showing off their school soccer uniforms on the campus of Bellevue Middle School in Nashville. My sisters, who are also twins, stopped dressing alike as soon as they could, and I suspect Jake and Joey were the same. It is a rare thing to see twins at age thirteen wearing identical clothing, but then they're doing it for the home team.

Parents' Night Out Cancelled

The Parents' Night Out event at Sarah's school was cancelled because some of the parents that had signed up had sick children. It is still pretty dreary here, since it rained all day, and we decided to remain at home.

Sherry's Aunt Betty, a great aunt, is very ill in Nashville, and Sherry may travel there to see her tomorrow depending on what her prognosis is. All things considered, a quiet night at home seems to be in order.

Late Lunch

I had a hearing this morning and did not leave court until a little after 1:00 p.m. I had a bowl of oatmeal at about 6:45 a.m., so I was pretty hungry by the time I got home for a sandwich. Sarah's school is having a Parents' Night Out event this evening, so Sherry and I are going to go out to eat after work while Sarah has pizza and popcorn with her friends and teachers at school.

Hot Dog Horrors

The Amazon Al Dente food blog, which I check in on regularly, has a post with five horrid hot dog recipes, including this one from Weight Watchers. I may not eat for a week. Did people really make dishes like this? Surely not.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Insider's Recipes

Thanks to Jane for this link to a very cool online cookbook, Insider's Recipes. It has a lot of restaurant knock off recipes, as well as other offerings.

White Moose

Check out the photographs of the white moose. According to Snopes.com, these photos have been making the rounds for some time, but they were new to Sherry and me.

Wild Bear Falls

One of my colleagues at work is thinking about taking his family on a mountain water park trip, and he told me about Wild Bear Falls, which looks very similar to Wilderness at the Smokies, where we went last weekend. It is also supposed to be a bit less expensive.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grandpa Isenhour

My Uncle Mack sent me this today. Harvey Isenhour is my maternal grandfather, who died when I was eight. I remember that he liked to use wooden tomato stakes as staves and walk in the woods behind his house, and he took us out there too. He kept chickens, and always gave us Fruit Stripe gum when we'd come to visit.

Harvey Elester Isenhour Sr. was buried on this date in 1971.
There was about an inch of snow on the ground.
He was born December 17, 1896.

Gracie's Restaurant Celebrates Five Years

There's an article this morning in the Maryville Daily Times about Gracie's Restaurant, which we began eating at fairly regularly when we moved to Everett Hill. The restaurant, which coincidentally bears my niece's name, was named after the daughter of the couple who own it. They make a mean breakfast.

Gracie's has been in operation five years, so we may have to go help celebrate with a meal this weekend.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Saturday at the Wye

Here are a few photographs Sherry took during our short visit to the Wye in the Smokies on our way home from Sevierville Saturday. Sarah and I returned to the construction of Mud Town, which we began a couple of weekends ago. The child would play in that mud all day if she could.

I love Sherry's ability to compose a photograph. She has an artist's touch with such things. This shot is looking downstream from the Wye, with Jake in the foreground and Joey sitting on a rock in the background.

Brotherly love

Dirt dauber

The boys pose by an Entish looking tree.

Ballerina Shoes

Sarah has her second ballet class on Thursday, and her mother has taken her to buy a pair of ballerina shoes. As I expected, today was quite busy, and I got a lot done during my day of office work. Tomorrow morning I will be in a meeting, probably until about lunch, and then I have afternoon court, which includes a fairly lengthy hearing. I have the feeling this week is going to go by quickly.

Busy Start to Work Week

I had a busy day in court yesterday, and Sherry, Sarah and I attended a reception at the Blount County Library yesterday evening, so we didn't get home until around 6:00 p.m. We have to be in Knoxville at 8:15 this morning for approval of the settlement of Sarah's dog bite case, which will be nice to put behind us. Today will be another long day.

Centennial Park Pillow Fight Shut Down

The pillow fight Sunday at Centennial Park in Nashville went on as scheduled, but the authorities shut it down after about an hour because the group failed to secure a permit for the event. The whole thing would have been humorous to watch.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pizza at Sarah's School

Ms. Kathy from Sarah's school took this photo the day I dropped in to have pizza with Sarah for lunch. I've been keeping my eye on the menu at school for the next pizza day.

Water Park Photos

Sarah navigates the wave pool.

Joey comes out of the purple water slide.

Jake and Sarah survive the yellow water slide.
Thor's Helmet, from NASA

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What's Up?

Here are a couple of recent photographs of my niece, Grace.

End of Spring Break

Today is Joey and Jake's last day of Spring Break, and they are en route to Nashville with Sherry. Sarah decided to stay with me, which is unusual, though she had an agenda prepared for me once Sherry and the boys hit the road. The child is in her room watching cartoons, while I make ready for the coming work week.

We enjoyed Wilderness at the Smokies and the indoor part of the water park. They are to open an outdoor portion this spring. I rode all three of the adult-sized water slides they have open now, and they were all a lot of fun. Sarah could ride two of the big slides with an adult, and I took her down them several times, much to both our amusement.

We stopped by the Wye yesterday on the way home, and Sarah resumed construction of the mud town she worked on a couple of weekends ago. The water is still mighty cold, and all we did was wade. People are still making quite a game of throwing rocks at the sign that forbids jumping off the rocks. Next they'll put up a sign saying not to throw rocks at the signs.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Centennial Park Pillow Fight

I just learned that a giant pillow fight was scheduled in Centennial Park in Nashville today, but apparently the authorities have frowned on such an event, saying that organizers should have obtained a permit.

Water Park

We spent the night last night here at Wilderness at the Smokies, a resort in Sevierville featuring an indoor water park, which we all enjoyed. There are several different water slides, and we rode all of them. I was a bit worried that the bigger slides might be a bit much for Sarah, but she loved all of them. The place also has a giant indoor-outdoor hot tub that is pretty cool.

The water park opens up at 9:00 a.m., and check out is at 11:00 a.m., so I imagine we'll have another round of fun in the water before we check out and head home. Sarah wants to take her brothers to the Wye, so we'll probably stop there on the way back to Maryville.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hello Kitty Darth Vader

This is so wrong on so many levels.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Evening

Sherry met me at home with Firehouse Subs for everyone for lunch. She and the kids spent the afternoon shopping in Turkey Creek over the Knoxville, while I attended to my duties in court. Sherry and the boys have gone to Sullivan's Fine Foods to dine, while I entertain Sarah.

They decided to wait until tomorrow to go up to the mountains, and since Jake and Joey like to stay in, we may all end up going up together after all, since I'm going to take tomorrow afternoon off.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Next Car

I just discovered a fun and creative blog, Art Car Central. I plan on replacing the Nissan Sentra I drive soon. I wonder if this thing is for sale?

Neighbor Lady

A kindly white-haired woman lives in one of the houses next door to us. I believe in being a "howdy neighbor," which to me means I say "howdy" when I see a neighbor in the yard, and I generally leave it at that. Such is my relationship with this neighbor.

I opened the front door to look for one of our cats just a couple of minutes ago, and the neighbor lady is hard at work raking leaves out of her iris beds, which will bloom beautiful purple irises within the next few weeks. I am reminded of my Grandmother Ogle, who loved to work on her flower beds and yard and who did so until very late in life. She was especially fond of geraniums and begonias.

Bat News

This is a tale that seemed pretty cool, but turned sad. When space shuttle Discovery launched on its current mission to the International Space Station, a Free Tail Bat was clinging to the external tank, which is the big orange tank the shuttles ride towards space on. NASA scientists concluded that the bat stayed on the tank even as Discovery cleared the launch tower. The story gets sad after that. According to NASA:

Based on images and video, a wildlife expert who provides support to the center said the small creature was a free tail bat that likely had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist. The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery’s climb into orbit.

Going West

Sherry just left the house to pick Sarah up from school and to head to Cookeville, where she will meet Mark and Joey and Jake to bring the boys back here to spend the back end of their Spring Break. My guess is that they'll be back here between 7:30 and 8:30 tonight.

Orson Wells

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Never Mind

Spring Break

Jake and Joey are enjoying Spring Break this week, and Sherry will drive to meet Mark tomorrow after work to pick them up. Sherry and the kids are going to go up to Gatlinburg Thursday to spend the night, and then we've got reservations at Wilderness at the Smokies, the new indoor water park in Sevierville, on Friday night. From the website, the water park looks like a cool place, and the accommodations at the resort look pretty nice, too.

Corned Beef and Potatoes

I have observed at the justice center today that most everyone is wearing green in recognition of St. Patrick's Day. For lunch I just made a sandwich out of some of the corned beef brisket we cooked Sunday. My experiment with the Boxty Potatoes, which are basically potato pancakes, was mediocre. They tasted pretty good, but I overcooked them. I put the batter mixture in the refrigerator with the intention of using it again, but it turned black, so we threw it out.

While I'm on the subject of potatoes, Sarah asked for mashed potatoes recently. She said she'd had them at school, and I generally find she is more willing to try foods offered to her at school, while she turns her nose up at many foods we offer her. Mashed potatoes is one of my favorite side dishes, so she won't have any problem convincing me to make them.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Triumph of Death and the Breaking Wheel

I recently posted a painting, The Harvesters, by Pieter Bruegel the elder, and afterward found his much more sinister painting, The Triumph of Death. I studied the image and wondered what the wheels in the air on poles were, and discovered they were implements of torture called Breaking Wheels. How horrible!

Molly's Humilation

To demonstrate Molly's humiliation at the hands of the barber, we helpfully offer these before and after photos. The poor kitty is still groggy from being sedated and can hardly walk across the room.

Kitty Chaos

This morning with Molly did not go as planned. As I took the garbage out this morning, both cats shot out the back door. I managed to grab Molly by the tail and to throw her back into the house, but after the tail episode, she was not inclined to go willingly into the cat carrier box. After three tries, we got her in and the door closed before she could shoot out again.

I left at 7:00 a.m. for the vet, but they weren't open yet. I looked at my calendar, and sure enough I wasn't supposed to have her there until 7:30 a.m., so we went back home for a few minutes. When we got back to the vet, it turned out I had made the appointment with another vet a mile or so down East Broadway from where we live. I finally got the cat delivered to the correct vet and Sarah delivered to her school before barely making it to work on time. I told the vet staff to give Molly her shots, which are due in May anyway, so at least we'll have one cat that (hopefully) won't need to see a vet again for a year.

Oh Emma! Here kitty, kitty! You're next.

Discovery Launched

Space Shuttle Discovery launched last night for a mission delivering solar panels to the International Space Station.

Monday is Upon Us

I am covering a General Sessions Court docket for a colleague this morning, and then have the afternoon to work on office tasks. Before work, I will drop Molly the calico cat off at the vet for a hairdo. She continues to accumulate mats in her fur, so it is time she had a major shearing. I'm going to ask them to leave her paws, head and the tip of her tail long, so she'll look like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. We used to have Sherry's Himalayan, Caesar, shaved like that, and it was always amusing, at least to the humans.

They will sedate Molly, and they asked us to keep her from food and water beginning 6:00 p.m. last night. This, of course, means our other cat, Emma, has also been fasting, so both cats are pacing around trying to get me to feed them.

Painting Project Complete

Sherry finished her painting project in the bathroom and hallway yesterday, and it really looks nice! The light blue in the bathroom gives the space a tropical look, and the dark hallway really draws you in from the living room.

Laura had some computer issues at her house, and she dropped by yesterday afternoon as Sherry was finishing up. We visited while Sarah played and went back and forth to the garage to look at her worm harvest.

Earthworm Ranching

We had a wet weekend here in Maryville, and we mostly stayed inside. Sarah noticed that there were a lot of earthworms on the driveway, and during a lull in the rain, we went outside so that she could gather some of them. I got her a transparent plastic container full of dirt, and we made a little terrarium. She got a lot of worms, three snails, a pillbug or two and a centipede of some sort. I just got my 2009 fishing license, and I figure those worms will come in handy out at the lake.

Bellevue Begins Recycling Today

Bellevue, the part of Nashville where we used to live, begins curbside recycling today at a cost of $10.00 per month. I'd say it would be worth the $10.00 not to have to load all the recyclables into the car and haul them to the recycling center, which I probably do more often than once a month.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Corned Beef for Saint Paddy's Day

I've got a corned beef brisket in the oven so we'll be properly prepared for Saint Patrick's Day this Tuesday. I also found a recipe for Boxty potatoes at this website for Irish recipes.

Sarah also helped me make some brownies this morning. She inhaled one of them as soon as she got her hands on it. I failed to buy Mayfield Vanilla Ice Cream. What was I thinking?

McDonald's Story

The restaurant I worked in for three and a half years was McDonald's No. 1243 at 7030 Kingston Pike in Knoxville, pictured above. (It's so much fancier now than it was back in 1979-82, when I worked there.) I've always believed that it would benefit society as a whole if everyone had to work in a job where they directly serve other people, like in a restaurant, at some point in life.

I've been chewed out by guys for offering to sell them french fries. "You @#%#@*, if I'd wanted fries I'd have ordered them!" It is called suggestive selling, and it works, which is why it is company policy. Why would you chew someone out for just doing a job, especially when that job is to prepare and cook your food? Remember, be nice to the people who make your food.

But I digest, er, digress. The story I thought of this morning after buying Sarah a sausage biscuit and Sherry a breakfast wrap, is set in the heat and humidity of a blazing July day in Knoxville. I was at McDonald's working grill, which means I was standing over a 5' x 5' flat grill full of hamburgers cooking at about 375 degrees. The air conditioning was out, and even with doors open and fans blowing, it was miserably hot. We took a lot of breaks, drank a lot of fluids and used the walk-in refrigerator to cool down.

It was a long shift, and we eventually became delirious. We had a lobby full of people standing in line with sweat pouring off of them waiting for their food, and the grillmen began to sing Christmas carols. If I remember correctly someone came out of the walk-in after a cooling down break in the cooler and started singing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." The entire store, including the customers, sang Christmas songs for hours in that horrible heat, and I still believe it helped. I'm pleased that I remember what was probably one of the hardest days of work I've done in my life as a fun experience, but I'm not quitting my day job.

Good Breakfast -- Papermill Drive Waffle House, Knoxville, Tennessee

I was on the road before dawn this morning to pick up Sarah from Mom's house. They must have had fun, because they were both still asleep when I got there at about 7:15 a.m. I listened for signs of wakefulness for a while and decided to go have breakfast at the Waffle House at Papermill Drive and Weisgarber.

I worked in a restaurant for three and a half years as a teenager, and I like to see one operating well. The Papermill Waffle House was operating perfectly this morning. The crew was stocking the kitchen for the breakfast rush, but the service was still excellent. The cook even did a little happy boogie dance after he put my food on its plate, and he later circulated among the diners to be sure we were enjoying our breakfasts. It was a very pleasant breakfast experience.

Roast Beef

I'm sitting up here hungry and looking at foodie blogs. After looking at this, I may have to make a beef roast today.

Solar Prominence

That cloud of hot gas in the upper left of the photograph is a solar prominence, courtesy of NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day. The Earth could fit in the space between the cloud and the Sun.

Car Hits Vic's Deli

The Daily Times reports this morning that someone plowed a Cadillac into the side of Vic's Deli that faces Airport Highway yesterday. Fortunately, no one was injured. Unfortunately, the driver was not insured.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Off to Wannie's

Mom and La stopped by this afternoon, and they just left with Sarah, who will be spending the night with Mom for the first time in several weeks. I think they will have fun together tonight.

North Carolina High Country

My mom used to live in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and the mountains of western North Carolina are as beautiful as our side of the Appalachians here in Tennessee. Having lived on either side of the Appalachians, I discovered that North Carolina has spectacular sunsets, as the sun goes down behind the mountains, while on the Tennessee side, we enjoy especially lovely sunrises as the sun comes up over the mountains. This sunrise, from the Blue Ridge Blog, seen from the North Carolina High Country, isn't too shabby, though. It has recently snowed up there, and Blue Ridge Blog has a lot of pretty pictures of the mountains in the snow.

Painting Project

Sherry decided to take advantage of a rainy Saturday by working on her project to paint the walls of our hallway and bathroom. She selected a light blue for the bathroom and a chocolate brown for the hall, and Sarah's down there "helping" her. I plan to spend the day puttering around the house, as my mom calls it, taking care of some of the minor tasks and chores of home.

Was I Speeding Officer?

Five-Year-Old With a Camera





Hair Ball

Molly the calico cat is having a bad hair month, and we have an appointment to have her groomed Monday at the vet down the street from us. We have already cut several matted places out of her fur, but she needs professional help at this point. Yesterday evening there was a terrible noise in the kitchen. When I went to investigate I found Molly had just coughed up a bunch of fur. Poor kitty!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kookie Spookies and Other Tales from Sarah's Haunted Room

Sarah has taken an interest in flashlights of late, and in order to keep her from damaging our good flashlights, I put some batteries in a plastic one for her. This morning she went into her room, turned out the lights and played "ghost room." The haunting sounds coming out of her room were really scary.

When she escaped the haunted room, I told her that when I was a boy, I liked to get everything in the house that glows in the dark and go into a dark place just to watch the light from the glowing toys. I remember especially a family of glowing ghosts I had, and I wondered if I could find them online. Sure enough, through the magic of the internet, I discovered that they were called Kookie Spookies. The guy pictured above is Brother Mortimer. I found them on this website that also had some other games like The Green Ghost and Ka-Bala. Scary!

Who Cut Down All Those Trees?

We use the Walgreens at the corner of Hall and Joule Streets in Alcoa, and right across Joule Street is Pole Climbers Field, from which most of the trees have been removed. We wondered why. The trees, Cottonwood trees, were dying and becoming a danger according to this morning's Daily Times.

Spring Break Begins for Joey and Jake

Today is the first day of spring break for Jake and Joey, and they are headed to Atlanta with their dad for the weekend. Sherry is going to pick them up sometime in the middle of next week, and they'll be here through the following weekend, when we plan to visit the new indoor water park in Sevierville, Wilderness at the Smokies.

Aunt Charlotte

Sherry's mom lives off of the Charlotte Pike exit from Interstate 40 in Nashville. Like many roads in Tennessee, Charlotte Pike is named after the town on the other end of it. According to the Tennessean, Charlotte, Tennessee, is named after Aunt Charlotte Robertson, the wife of one of Nashville's founders. Similarly, Maryville is named after William Blount's wife, Mary.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Off to Ballet

Sherry and Sarah have headed down the block to Sarah's very first ballet class, and they were both very excited about it. Sarah professes an interest in being a ballerina in the same way she aspires to be a princess, so it will be interesting to see how she reacts when she experiences what ballet is. From my observation of her in her gymnastics class, she follows directions well. (I wish she would do that every morning when it is time to get ready for school.) She also enjoys performing, so I hope she will transition well from gymnastics to ballet.

Our child is growing up.

International Space Station Evacuated

NASA detected a small piece of space junk (about 1/3 inch long) heading toward the International Space Station this morning, and the astronauts onboard were evacuated to the Soyuz capsule attached to the station. The capsule is a life boat for these types of emergencies. NASA reports the danger has passed, and the crew has returned to normal operations in the ISS.

Diaper Cake

Via Cake Wrecks. (You can't make this stuff up.)

Shuttle Launch Delayed

The launch of space shuttle Discovery was halted last night during countdown when engineers discovered a leak in a hydrogen vent line, which connects to the exterior tank as shown above via a NASA photograph. They hope to launch Discovery on Sunday on a mission to install solar panels at the International Space Station.

Thursday Morning

Sarah woke up early this morning at 6:00 a.m. wanting to read, probably because I read to her yesterday morning before we left for school. We read an Elmo book, and now she's playing a Dora game on Sherry's computer while Molly the cat entertains herself chasing a pencil around the room.

Today's high is only supposed to be 42, but it is supposed to warm up over the next several days. We're also supposed to get rain today, so it will be a good day to be inside getting some work done.

Toy Yoda

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Ballerina

Sherry signed Sarah up for ballet today through Blount County Parks and Rec. Here first class is tomorrow, and she will be in the class for kids 5-10 years old, so she'll be one of the younger children in her group, which should be good for her. Here's the description of the class:

For Ages 3-10
These classes are taught in a relaxed and non-competitive environment. Children will grow with grace and rhythm as they are taught proper placement techniques along with a fun, choreographed routine. There will be an end of session recital without any extra fees or costumes!
Thursdays, March 12 – May 7 (No class March 19)
4:15-5:00 PM for Ages 3-5
5:00-5:45 PM for Ages 3-5
6:00-6:45 PM for Ages 5-10
Everett Recreation Center
$75 for 8-week session
Amy Kennedy


Ford Ranchero

Chevrolet El Camino

Behold the Dodge Rampage, an example of something I never quite understood, a cross between a car and a truck. I had a friend who drove a Chevrolet El Camino, and another who really liked the Ford Ranchero. I've never driven a truck as a personal vehicle, and I generally prefer small cars. If I were to drive a truck though, I'd want a regular pickup truck. I suppose the advantage of these car/truck combinations is that you get the speed and handling of an automobile with a truckbed for hauling your stuff.