Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Mountains

Provided courtesy of the National Park Service webcam on Look Rock tower. We're excited about taking the kids up into the mountains tomorrow!

Diane's Tomato Pie


I do not know Diane, nor have I tried to make this pizza pie, but anything with these ingredients can't be bad. The rest of the recipe is at Nosh and Tell . Thanks Diane, and Nosh and Tell, wherever you are. I'll have to try this recipe.
Diane's Tomato Pie

4 tomatoes, drained and diced
2 small onions, diced
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 frozen pie crusts
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
*1-2 gloves garlic and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Homework


Sarah turned in her first homework today. They read a book, "Little Red School Bus," last week, and we've had a project to do each evening about the book. She had homework she brought home yesterday, to write a sentence using "I am," which she turned in today. She wrote "I am cat."


We found her homework assignment this morning, but as part of her evening project last night I printed her out a page of tracing paper with "I am cat" on it. She completed that last night, and then wrote her sentence this morning. We sent the sentence, and also the tracing paper, the latter as extra credit, which never hurts.

Floral Aurora Corona

I wouldn't even try to say that three times fast. NASA explains what one is:

Few auroras show this level of detail. Above, a standard digital camera captured a particularly active and colorful auroral corona that occurred last week above Alberta, Canada. With a shape reminiscent of a flower, the spectacular aurora had an unusually high degree of detail. The vivid green and purple auroral colors are caused by high atmospheric oxygen and hydrogen reacting to a burst of incoming electrons.

Weekend Plans

Sherry is going to meet Mark in Cookeville and bring Joey and Jake to Maryville this evening for their last extended visit of the summer. La and Stew's Cozy Creek Cabin is available Saturday night, and we're planning a trip to the mountains tomorrow. I haven't talked to Mom and the Fraziers to know whether they'll be able to join us. Laura and Stewart are in Vancouver for a wedding in his family, so we'll be raiding their facilities while they are on the other side of the continent.

As this Friday begins in Maryville we are in the midst of another downpour, and another soggy day is predicted. The weatherman alleges it will clear out by tomorrow, but then more rain moves in Sunday.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Nashville Restaurants

Sports Page -- The Sports Page at 419 Union Street was another favorite for lunch downtown. They are mainly a sandwich place, and they make a mean burger. Usually I went for their chicken Philly sandwich. It is not unusual to see members of the leadership of the General Assembly of Tennessee having lunch there.



Merridee's Breadbasket -- Merridee's is actually in Franklin, about thirty minutes south of downtown Nashville, but well worthy of mention. The place is a bakery, but they also serve a variety of sandwiches, my favorite being their chicken salad. Sherry is a fiend for their molasses cookies.



City Limits Bakery and Cafe -- Conveniently located at 361 Clofton Drive in Bellevue within five minutes of our erstwhile neighborhood, City Limits was one of our regular breakfast restaurants. Sherry likes their bagels, the children usually go for muffins (the Sunriser is the best) and I like their sandwiches, even for breakfast.



Pizza Perfect -- Located in the same strip mall as City Limits, Pizza Perfect is at 357 Clofton Drive. If you haven't figured it out, we like pizza, and Pizza Perfect also turns out quality, traditional pies. The restaurant is divided into two rooms, the restaurant and the game room for the kids. The restaurant part has video monitors so you can watch your children play in the game room, which has no opening to the outside, while you wait for your pizza to be delivered. It is a great place for children's birthday parties.



Anatolia Turkish Restaurant -- Located at 48 White Bridge Road on the west side of Nashville, Anatolia Turkish Restaurant is a neat place to go if you're looking for something different. I confess that I've only eaten there once. I had lamb, and it was delicious.



Hot Kabobs -- Just down the street from Anatolia, at 336 White Bride Road, is a little Persian restaurant called Hot Kabobs. It is a family operated establishment, and the service is excellent. Sherry has a very dear friend whose family immigrated here from Iran after the fall of the Shah, and so Sherry grew up being treated to Persian meals. When we visited her friend and her family in Los Angeles several years ago, I had the opportunity to try Persian food for the first time, and I loved it, especially a ground beef dish that I think of as Persian meat loaf. There are also several good chicken dishes I liked. Hot Kabobs will serve it up for you. Yum!



Dalt's Classic American Grill -- Competing with its exotic neighbors is Dalt's Classic American Grill. Here my favorite meal is good, ol' American meat loaf, though I've also had burgers and sandwiches at Dalt's. The Monterey Chicken is good as well.



J. Alexander's -- We usually dine at the J. Alexander's at 73 White Bridge Road #130, but there is also a restaurant at 2609 West End. J. Alexander's has an elegant atmosphere, but it is a restaurant where one can still feel comfortable in casual dress. My favorite dishes at J. Alexanders are the pork tenderloin and smashed potatoes and the rattlesnake pasta.

Rainy Week

When I woke up this morning it was raining, so I had to ditch my walk again this morning. Today is supposed to be another rainy day, but the chances of rain decrease over the weekend, which is good because Jake and Joey are coming to visit. We, of course, need the rain, but I'm ready for a break from it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Space Station Growth


A friend of mine sent me this link, which shows the growth of the International Space Station over time. It also shows where the various space craft that visit the station dock.

Homegrown Tomatoes

Sarah and I had breakfast last weekend with some friends of mine, and afterward they gave us a bunch of homegrown tomatoes from their garden. It is a good crop, and we've been enjoying the fresh tomatoes. I've got two tomato plants growing well on the back deck, but none of the tomatoes are ripe yet.

Drenched!

Yesterday as I was heading to my car in the justice center parking lot the heavens opened up and a deluge ensued. Getting into school and getting Sarah and her backpack loaded in the car during the downpour totally drenched both of us, even though I had an umbrella. A wet business suit is very uncomfortable.

When we got home our long-haired calico, Molly, who refused numerous offers by me yesterday morning and yesterday at lunch to come inside, was hunkered down underneath the azalea near the front porch. She was soaking wet, and launched into the house as soon as I got the door open. The downpour was still in progress when Sherry got home, and she also got soaked, even though she parked mere feet from the door.

At least I didn't have to water the plants last night.

Baby J's Controversy in Destin

My family vacationed in Seagrove Beach, near Destin, on the gulf coast of Florida a month ago, and we've spent a week each summer down there for many years. I am therefore surprised that I had never heard of Baby J's, a restaurant in a boat permanently moored to a dock in Destin. The fact that the boat does not move renders it in violation of local safety ordinances, and the City of Destin will ask their local circuit judge for an order prohibiting further operation of the restaurant until it complies with the safety code. I've been following the story on the Destin Log website.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tea

Someone needs a recipe?

Space Porch


This image shows the Japanese Experiment Module - Exposed Facility as it looks from inside Kibo. The Japanese Experiment Module, or JEM, called Kibo -- which means "hope" in Japanese -- is Japan's first human space facility and enhances the unique research capabilities of the International Space Station

Space Crews Say Goodbye

The crews of the International Space Station and the space shuttle Endeavor said goodbye and closed hatches this morning in preparation for Endeavor undocking to return to Earth. According to NASA,

The station will be reoriented for undocking by 12:38 p.m., and docking latches will open at 1:26 p.m. allowing Endeavour to drift free. Pilot Doug Hurley will guide Endeavour on a fly-around of the station at a distance of 400 feet, with final separation from the orbiting outpost at 2:41 p.m.

Sarah Eats Lasagna

Sarah, who ordinarily insists on eating her pasta devoid of any toppings, asked for and ate a bowl of lasagna last night. Also, after a few reminders, she is now taking her shoes into her room and putting them away when she gets home and takes them off in the afternoon.

Sherry signed her up for a gymnastics program at Foothills Gymnastics, which is about five minutes from our house. Her first class is this evening.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Corona

The corona of the sun, from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Lasagna and Tie Dye

Sarah's art class will use tie dyed T-shirts for smocks this year, and Sherry volunteered on Friday to do the tie dying, which we did yesterday afternoon. Les and Fraz and La and Grace and Mom all came over to help us, and so we put a Stouffer's lasagna in the oven when they started to head our way from Knoxville. Some friends gave us a bunch of tomatoes from their garden, so we also had a salad and some garlic cheese toast. I'd say we tie dyed around thirty T-shirts, along with a single size sheet. I failed to use the plastic gloves provided by the kit, so my hands were black when we got through. Fortunately bleach got most of the die off of my hands.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Alice in Wonderland


There is a new Alice in Wonderland movie by Tim Burton coming out next year featuring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Sarah will enjoy seeing this trailer for the movie.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday


Even astronauts need a day off.

Nashville Restaurants

Back in February I posted about Nashville restaurants that I like, intending to add further posts about more Nashville restaurants and provide the information to a friend who asked me to recommend some good places to eat in Nashville. I obviously forgot about the project. Here are a few more good places to have a meal in Sherry's hometown.

Sir Pizza -- Our favorite local pizza in Nashville is Sir Pizza. What I find unique about their pies is the sauce, which is somewhat sweet to my taste. The crust is also notable, being nice and chewy. The atmosphere is laid back, and they have a wide variety of toppings. I wish we had a Sir Pizza restaurant in East Tennessee!


U.S. Border Cantina -- For Mexican fare in Nashville, you can't beat U.S. Border Cantina, and our favorite location was in Bellevue, where we used to live. Jose, the chef, has several interesting dishes featuring fish, including trout, served with Mexican trimmings. Sherry likes their verde sauce, usually with Enchiladas.

Kobe Steaks -- Our favorite Japanese steak house in Nashville is Kobe Steaks, located near Centennial Park and the Parthenon. Like most Japanese steak places, the chef is the entertainment as well, and they send pieces of shrimp flying about. I particularly like the little volcano they make out of an onion, and for lovebirds they make a rice heart on the grill as they fry the rice.

Brandon's Bar and Grill -- Brandon's is a pub located in the Arcade in downtown Nashville near my former law office on Printers Alley, and they serve up a nice sandwich, as well as libations. My favorite was their club sandwich, though I've had many fine lunches there featuring other sandwiches.

House of Pizza -- Manny's House of Pizza, also in the Arcade, was another good lunch venue when I worked in downtown Nashville. Their pies are more traditional than Sir Pizza, but also very good. A friend of mine who first guided me there, warned that one should be careful not to make the proprietor upset so that one is not banished. No pizza for you!

Phillip's Delicatessen -- Phillip's Delicatessen, with locations in both Brentwood and in the Arcade, was also a regular lunch eatery for me in downtown Nashville. I especially like their tarragon chicken salad sandwich, but they serve up about any sandwich you would expect from a traditional deli.


State Cafeteria -- I wouldn't recommend it for a tourist visiting downtown Nashville, but the State cafeteria in the Cordell Hull Building downtown, where I worked in the Central Legal Office of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, was a great place for a quick, inexpensive lunch. It was nothing to write home about, but it was a convenient place to get a hot meal on a rainy day



South Street -- South Street Smokehouse, Crab Shack and Authentic Tree House Oyster Bar, located downtown on 20th Avenue South, is a very festive and fun place to eat. The atmosphere reminds me of a Joe's Crab Shack, only not quite so hokey. They have crab cakes that can't be beat, as well as a number of other items from Po' Boy sandwiches to oysters to steak and seafood.

Bunganut Pig Pub and Eatery -- I've been to England. I've visited British pubs, and Senator, this is a British pub, complete with pub towels and pints of Guinness, and entertainment in the evening. Technically not a Nashville restaurant, the Pig is in lovely Franklin, Tennessee. Go to nice Pig. Have shepherd's pie. Be happy!

Bosco's -- Ah, Bosco's! This restaurant and brewery is the site of my first date with my lovely wife, and it is therefore very near and dear to my heart. With locations in Hillsboro Village, near Vanderbilt University, and in Cool Springs in Franklin, Bosco's features handcrafted beers and a full menu. I love their pizza and pasta. The Hillsboro Village location used to feature a string quartet for Sunday brunch.

Jacket a/k/a Baked Potatoes



I have never heard baked potatoes referred to as "jacket potatoes," but apparently that's what they are called in England. Come to think of it, I would have been thrilled to have a baked potato when I visited England, though I don't know that baked potatoes with beans would have been my choice. This photo looks more like the kind of baked potato I like.

Sherry Heading Home Early

Sherry is coming home today instead of tomorrow, and I'm glad because we've been missing her. It sounds like she's had a good visit in Nashville, though. I suspect that she'll get home about the time we get home from my friend's going away lunch in Knoxville, or perhaps shortly thereafter.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ziplock Omelet

I haven't tried this, but it sounds like a great idea for camping.

ZIPLOC OMELET (This works great !!! Good for when all your family is together. The best part is that no one has to wait for their special omelet !!!)Have guests write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker. Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them. Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc. Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes [we did 15 minutes]. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water. Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed. Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved in the process and a great conversation piece.

Finally Friday

The weekend is almost upon us. Tomorrow at noon I'm going to a lunch for a friend of mine who is being deployed to Iraq again. I've known him since grade school, and I suspect his luncheon will bring some of my old friends together. I know at least a couple of guys who are coming to Knoxville from out of town for the event. I'll go and hang out for as long as Sarah can sit still. Hopefully there will be other kids there for her to play with so that I can visit with my friends a bit.

Sherry will drive home from Nashville on Sunday. She's had a good visit with Joey and Jake and Grams. When I talked to her yesterday afternoon they were at the Rolling River subdivision pool, which is where we used to swim when we lived there. It sounded like it was a typical sunny summer day, and you could hear children playing in the background. Before she left, one of the teachers at Sarah's school, knowing that Sherry is creative, asked her to take thirty T-shirts home and tie dye them, so that will be among our projects for Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Visit to Little Ponderosa Zoo

Here are a few photographs from our visit last Saturday to Little Ponderosa Zoo in Clinton, Tennessee.

Kindergarten Report

Sarah seems to be enjoying her first week of kindergarten, and she is coming home tired and going to bed early. As we did with the boys, we are sending her to school with a lunch from home four days a week, and letting her order lunch at the school cafeteria one day a week. I'm getting myself back in the groove of packing lunchboxes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Morning

Sherry's heading for a long weekend in Nashville this evening after work, so I'm about to go for my last walk of the week, which still leaves me meeting my goal of walking three miles four times a week. Sarah and I may go camping this weekend, depending on the weather and finding other campers to join us, but we have three work and school days ahead of us first.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Many New Things

Sarah's first day of kindergarten was Friday, but she did not attend yesterday, which left us in a bit of a day care pinch. Ever since Sarah started going to day care at six months old I have dropped her off and picked her back up each day. Sherry will now drop her off in the morning, and I will pick her up in the afternoons. Sarah's kindergarten experience is now fully underway.

I am in my third week of my new job and am enjoying it, and I am still getting used to my new wheels. Les and Fraz came by yesterday and picked up the Nissan, which Leslie is going to drive. We have a lot of new changes to get used to.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fortieth Anniversary of Armstrong's First Steps on the Moon

Today is the fortieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong becoming the first human to set foot on the Moon. There are many more photographs of the Appollo missions here. Thirteen humans will be celebrating the anniversary aboard the International Space Station in orbit above Earth.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Report from Wannie's

Mom just called to report that Sarah had a fun night with her grandmother. I told Sherry on our way home from Calhoun's that Sarah would have an agenda with Mom that would fill up the day, and I was correct. She started with artwork on Moms' desk (overseen by Sigmund Freud himself), caught some of this weekend's SpongeBob marathon, played Barbies with Mom in her playroom and played computer games on Mom's laptop. Mom is going to wake the child up and bring her over here to have some breakfast.

It's on the Porch

Spacewalking astronauts attached the Japanese Exposed Facility onto the International Space Station yesterday. According to NASA, "The Japanese Exposed Facility is the space station’s new porch and will expose science experiments to the extreme environments of space." The photo, also from NASA, is Endeavor during liftoff.

Hermit Crab Meets Water Table

When we visited at Laura's house last weekend, Sarah and Grace had fun playing with a water table that La bought for Grace. Sherry bought one for Sarah, and it arrived last week. The hermit crab, who is ordinarily confined in a very small cage, jogged all over the thing. The photo below shows Sarah's haircut, which she got last week.

Walter Cronkite Dies

Former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite died Friday, July 17, 2009, in Manhattan with family at his side. He was 92 years old. What a life!

Saturday's Activities

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in East Tennessee. It was sunny with a breeze and a high temperature at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. We took advantage of the nice day by taking Sarah to the Little Ponderosa petting zoo up in Clinton, Tennessee. Pictured above is Carl the Camel, one of the zoo's residents. I was a law clerk for the Ridenour and Ridenour law firm in Clinton when I was in law school. Clinton is still a nice town, though I am sad that their Hammer's store closed down.

After visiting Little Ponderosa, we went to Mom's house for a bit, and then the four of us went to Calhoun's in downtown Knoxville and had lunch on their outside deck. I've wanted to do something Knoxvillian for several weeks now, and lunch on the Tennessee River fit the bill. Sarah went home with Mom to spend the night afterward, and Sherry and I were treated to an evening alone together.

Les and Fuzzy spent the night up in Gatlinburg at La and Stew's Cozy Creek cabin last night, and La and Stew were tied up with yard work yesterday. The family is to convene at our place here on Everett Hill in Maryville at some point today, and I suspect we'll put some food on the table for them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Spacewalk

Morning Walk


I just got back from my morning walk, which I'm trying to reinstitute in order to get myself into a bit better shape. I started last Saturday morning with a goal of four days per week, and I have walked every day except two since, so I'm over quota.

I knew the physical activity would be good for me, but have forgotten how nice it is to be outside for an hour every day in the early morning as the sun comes up and the birds are singing. This morning as I passed the baseball field at Everett Park, which sits in a bowl, it was filled with morning fog, which was rolling down into the bowl and into the field as the sun came up. Nice!

Kindergarten Photos

Here are a few photographs from Sarah's first day of school. She was one tired little girl when she got home from school yesterday, and we made pizza last night in celebration of her first day at school. Her teacher sent out an e-mail yesterday afternoon to give parents a report on the day's events, which was nice. Sarah, as one might expect, was most impressed by the playground.

Horrors! They require the child to wear a name tag. After three and a half years of wearing one at McDonalds, I swore I'd never wear one again.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Air Conditioning

Willis Carrier invented what we now enjoy as air conditioning in 1902. Thanks, Willis!

Endeavor Docks

This is a photo from NASA showing the crew of the International Space Station greeting the crew of shuttle Endeavor after docking occurred this afternoon. According to NASA, "On the 34th anniversary of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project’s docking, space shuttle Endeavour docked to the International Space Station at an official time of 1:47:11 p.m. EDT."

More on Kindergarten

Sherry and I dropped off Sarah for her first day of kindergarten this morning at Fort Craig School. Sarah was so excited about her first day of school that she woke up at 5:30 this morning, and she was fine when we left her there this morning.

I think I would have made it through the experience okay if the teacher hadn't given us a piece of paper with a poem on it about leaving your child at school the first time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten

Sarah's first day of kindergarten is tomorrow, and we went to her new school this afternoon after work for orientation and to drop off her supplies. Mom used to sing this song as a lullabye to my sisters and me, and I hated it, for it made me sad. It still does.

Where are you going my litle one..little one
Where are you going my baby ..my own
Turn around and you're two
Turn around and you're four
Turn around and you're a young babe
Going out of the door

Where are you going my little one..little one
Where are you going my baby..my own
Turn around and you're six
Turn around and you're eight
Turn around and you're a young lass/lad going out of the gate

Where are you going my little one...little one
Where are you going my baby ...my own
Turn around and you're young Turn around and you're grown
Turn around and you're a young girl/man
With babes of your own.

Endeavor in Orbit

Space shuttle Endeavor finally got into orbit yesterday, and I caught part of the launch on television. There is a new camera on the external fuel tank that shows the shuttle as it separates from the tank, and that was pretty cool to see. The crew will spend today inspecting the shuttle's heat shielding, and the shuttle is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bathing Beauties

Grandkids can actually lure my mom into a swimming pool. Wannie as a general rule does not like to get wet, but Sarah managed to at least coax her into the shallow end of the condo pool at the beach.

Still On the Launch Pad

Endeavor is still sitting on its launch pad, and NASA officials are hoping for a launch this evening. When they finally do get the ship in orbit, its crew will complete construction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory.

Smokies Park Improvements

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has received stimulus funds, and officials plan to repave the Cosby campground and the Sinks parking area. A observation platform will also be built at the Sinks to view the falls, and it will be handicap accessible. Both facilities will be closed after Labor Day. Trails and cemeteries will also be improved using the $7.5 million.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Beach Photos

Joey, Sarah and Jake in the park at Seaside

I was amazed during our time on the beach that our 21st century kids, accustomed as they are to being entertained by something plugged into an electrical outlet, had so much fun just digging holes in the sand. It's a lot cheaper than anything Nintendo sells.



Uncle Fuzzy


When we had lunch at AJ's there was a pirate that made balloon animals and posed for photos with the kids. Unfortunately, I don't think we got a picture of him, but Fuzzy did. The balloons on the boys' shoulders are supposed to be parrots.

I'm an Ogle -- Arrrrgh!

The condo where we vacationed a couple of weeks ago had a decent supply of videos, which included Shrek 2. This was Sarah's favorite movie that week, and she watched it over and over.

There is a scene in the movie where Shrek says, "I am an ogre -- arrrrgh!" Sarah has been reenacting that scene in the role of Shrek since we got back from Florida.

Beach Photos

Sherry and the children


Leslie, Laura and Grace


Grace and Sarah

Walk This Way

I used to walk three miles a day, but I gave it up during Sherry's pregnancy with Sarah and have never quite developed a walking routine, though I came close when we lived in our rental place on Lively Road. Today will be the fourth day in a row I've walked, and I can definitely tell how out of shape I am. Yikes!

Endeavor to Try Again Wednesday

The launch of shuttle Endeavor was postponed for a fourth time last night, again because of weather. They'll try again Wednesday afternoon at 6:03 p.m.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Endeavor Ready to Launch

Space shuttle Endeavor is on the launch pad in Florida, and NASA is hoping to get the ship into orbit tonight, unless storms, which scrubbed yesterday's planned launch, interfere again. You can follow events on the mission via NASA's blog.

Nissan Sells

Mom decided to buy our 1997 Nissan Sentra for Leslie to drive. Sherry listed it on Craigslist over the weekend, and we've already fielded several calls and e-mail messages from that listing. I told Sarah that a man was coming to work today and might buy the car, and she was concerned that I might mistakenly sell her booster seat.

Family Visit

We went over to La and Stew's place on the Little River yesterday for a visit. We cooked out and enjoyed the nice weather, though we left as everyone else headed down to the river at about 3:00 p.m., much to Sarah's disappointment. I'd hoped to fish, and we brought my equipment and Sarah's terrarium full of earthworms. We left the worms with Frazier. I hope he caught some fish.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Why Do You Call Him Rat?

Back in college some friends of Rat at Appalachian State University started calling him Rat because of his enjoyment of the music of the rock band The Boomtown Rats, probably best known for their song "I Don't Like Mondays." His college apartment at ASU was known as The Rat's Nest. I sometimes have to call him by his real name, Ken, but I have a really hard time keeping a straight face when I do so.

Back in the Mountains

We had a nice visit with Rat, Patrick and Sabrina yesterday at the Wye, which was loaded with people sunbathing, though not many were brave enough to swim in the cold water up there. I, of course, went swimming up there in March, so jumping in the river in July was no big deal for me.

Rat's family reunion was at a place called Sampson's Hollow, which is a wedding facility on West Millers Cove Road and adjoins the Blackberry Farm property. I was happy to see his dad, whom I haven't seen since his mother's funeral a couple of years ago. While we were at Sampson's Hollow, which some of Rat's kinfolk own, one of the men took a bunch of us on a ride on a flatbed trailer behind a tractor. Sarah got to see some horses and play in a creek on the property.

We took my little propane grill up to the Wye and grilled hot dogs and sausages for lunch. Sarah likes to play in the river sand and rocks, and she calls this Dirt Town. She was so excited about going to the Wye she got up and got dressed on her own before I could get showered. Usually you have to fuss at the child for about thirty minutes to get her to get ready for school in the morning. Not so when she is getting up to go somewhere fun.

Rat and the kids came back to our house in Maryville after the Wye, and they spent most of the afternoon with us yesterday. Sarah and Sabrina played a game of Sorry, much to Sarah's delight. It was a nice visit, and we hope to reciprocate with a visit to Rat's home on Lake Hickory in North Carolina.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mount Rushmore


To see it at night with the Big Dipper above it, click here.

Boldly Going Insane

The people who write the Car Lust blog have lost their minds. This video of Ricardo Montalban as Khan in the Star Trek flick with the Cordoba commercial dubbed over it is hilarious.

Bingsoo

Bingsoo is a Korean shaved ice dish that includes red beans. An article on the Amazon Al Dente blog describes Patbingsoo as "a bowl of red beans, mixed fruit, condensed milk, milk, and rice cakes over shaved ice with a sprinkle of brown rice powder."

Can I just have a bowl of Mayfield's vanilla ice cream instead?

Rat's in Walland

My friend Rat from North Carolina arrived in Walland yesterday with his children Patrick and Sabrina for a family reunion. We're going to get together today and take the kids up to the mountains to swim in the river, probably at the Wye. After a week of hearing waves crashing on the beach, it will be pleasant to hear and feel the flow of cold mountain water in the Smokies.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kids' Tastes

Of our three children, Jake is most likely to try new and different foods. Joey and Sarah are both what I call picky plain. For example, Sarah loves spaghetti noodles, but she prefers them with no sauce, or even butter and seasoning. Joey has become more likely to try new food as he's gotten older, but he still tends to make menu choices based on what he already knows he likes. Also, Sarah eats a wider variety of foods at school than she wants to eat at home or at a restaurant.

I have been amazed that Sarah has suddenly decided she likes olives. Sherry's side of the family loves olives, and my dad liked them. I like them on pizza and sometimes in spaghetti sauce, but I didn't start using them as appetizers until I met Sherry. Now, olives are part of the spread we put out any time we serve appetizers at our house, and I've developed more of a taste for them.

With Sarah, I have found it interesting that her willingness to try new food changes over time. For example, when she was about one she ate a whole bowl of sauteed mushrooms at Outback Steak House, and when she was two she pulled a tomato off the plant and bit into it and ate it like an apple. You can't get her near a tomato these days, except for, of course, ketchup, and I wouldn't even try to get her to try a mushroom, even if it were sauteed in butter.

McNair Murder

In Nashville, the Tennessee Titans are who football fans root for. You find Volunteer fans there too, but Nashville turns out for Titans football in red and blue on Sundays the way East Tennesseans turn out in orange and white on Saturdays in the fall. Steve McNair, the former Titans quarterback, was especially loved by the fans, and he was known for his philanthropy and for being a family man.

The city is reeling from news of McNair's murder by a twenty-year-old girlfriend he'd been having an affair with. She shot herself after shooting him to death. What a sad and sordid story.

Cades Cove Campground Store to Expand

The campground store at Cades Cove Campground is to be improved and expanded according to an article in this morning's Daily Times. I was interested to learn that camping statistics are down all across the national park system, which generally means more pleasant camping for those of us who like to tent camp.

Busy Work Week

We've had a busy work week so far, and we're back in the swing of things after our beach vacation. Sarah's still got a few swimming lessons left at Perpetual Motion School here in her last two weeks. A week from tomorrow is her first day of kindergarten.

Laura is talking up getting together this weekend at her place on the Little River. The local news is calling for a blazing hot weekend, so it will be a good time to be near the water. I'd love to put my canoe on the water this weekend, but it is probably more trouble than it would be worth to haul it over there. At least I can fish off of the dock.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Zoological Report

When I came home for lunch this afternoon I discovered that all five of our butterflies have now emerged from their cocoons. Because our calico cats, Emma and Molly, spend most of their days napping in Sarah's room, where the butterflies are, this immediately caught their feline attention. Molly was sitting on Sarah's stool next to the dresser where the butterfly house is looking up at it and licking her chops, but now she's just sleeping there, so I think the butterflies are safe for the moment.

The hermit crab is still just sitting in his cage.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Butterflies!


Sherry bought a butterfly kit for Sarah, and when we got home we were just in time to hang the cocoons up so that the butterflies could emerge. So far, we've got three butterflies out of the five cocoons the company sent us. They are painted lady butterflies like the one pictured above.

We also brought home a tree crab, commonly known as hermit crabs, back from the beach, so our house, which already sports two house cats, is now overrun with varmints.

Back To Work

We got home from the beach Saturday afternoon, and the trip took an hour less than it did on the way there. We spent Sunday relaxing at home, and were all out the door on time this morning for school and work. This is Sarah's last full week at Perpetual Motion School, and the kids are still swimming, which she enjoys. She's excited about starting kindergarten a week from this Friday. (We always approach her new school from the side that features a view of the playground.)

Our beach trip was about what you would expect. We alternated between pools and the beach, squeezed in a half day of shopping at the Silver Sands Outlet Mall and made the obligatory pilgrimage to A.J.'s in Destin for a fish sandwich at the harbor. I was interested, and sad, to see many vacant businesses both at the outlet mall and elsewhere down on the gulf coast of Florida. The weather was good all week, except for one afternoon shower, and we all had a good time. Jake and Joey were able to hook up with one of their friends, Graham, on Thursday, and their dad brought another of their friends, Quay, down on Friday to spend this week with them.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

No Place Like Home

After a week out of state, there's no place like home!

Thomas Jefferson

As most people know, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia is the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, although John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston assisted in drafting it as well. The document is drafted in the form of an indictment of King George III of England for wrongs he committed against his American countrymen.