Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Three Down, One to Go

Sherry and Sarah are off to the beauty parlor for some trimming and styling, and I'm unwinding here at the homestead. I've had a busy day, and expect an even busier one tomorrow in order of protection court, where I have been acting as courtroom clerk. I decided it would be a useful way for me to learn our rather arcane computer system, and it gets me into the courtroom at least once a week, which I like. Since we're all off for Good Friday, tomorrow is the end of our work and school week.

Activity Out Back

The house in back of us has been vacant for quite a few months now, but there are cars in the driveway and a couple of guys working outside the house. Perhaps we are about to get new neighbors.

Condo in Gatlinburg

My friend Johnny and his two kids will be in Gatlinburg this weekend staying at his aunt's condo, which is on the Parkway. Since both of Laura and Stewart's cabins are sort of off the beaten path, it will be a nice change to actually be in the middle of Gatlinburg. Sherry is traveling to Nashville tomorrow after work, and she may come up on Saturday after she returns to East Tennessee.

Gator on the Go

Check out this Gator Bike on Art Car Central.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Pastitsio

Pasta, sauce and cheese baked in a casserole dish can't be all bad. Recipe is here. Yummy!

Sarah and Frazier

Sarah loves her Uncle Fuzzy. (Photo by Jane)

Movie Review: The Princess and the Frog

We recently bought Disney's The Princess and the Frog for Sarah on DVD, and over the weekend I managed to see the whole flick, though not in one sitting. Sarah has seen it several times now, and she and Sherry went to see it in the theater when it first came out. I thought that it had everything one expects from a Disney animated film. I particularly liked the villain, a voodoo witch doctor named Facilier, who is known as the Shadow Man. Disney does a good job of making the villain and his supernatural "friends" spooky and sinister without being too scary for a child of kindergarten age.

The romance in the film is also well done, if sappy. One of the characters, a firefly named Ray, is in love with a star, which he thinks is another firefly named Evangeline. Tiana, the Princess in this Disney story, has been wishing on this star since childhood. At the end of the movie, the Shadow Man crushes Ray by stepping on him, and Ray dies. The folk of the bayou have his funeral, after which he becomes a star in the sky next to his beloved Evangelina. The movie ends with Tiana and Prince Naveen, both transformed into frogs by voodoo magic, being married in the bayou. Their wedding kiss breaks the spell, and they live happily ever after as humans running the restaurant Tiana has dreamed of running in New Orleans ever since she was a little girl.


Passover begins at sunset today. Passover commemorates the story of Exodus when God sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians, the tenth being the killing of the first born. The Hebrews, who had been enslaved by the Egyptians, were instructed to mark their doors with the blood of a spring lamb so that the spirit of the Lord would pass over their homes and spare them the tenth plague. When Pharaoh finally freed the Hebrews, they left with such dispatch that they did not wait for their bread to rise, and so Passover is commemorated with unleavened bread, or matzoh, pictured above.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sauerbraten Pot Roast

I found a recipe for Sauerbraten Pot Roast on The Merlin Menu, a blog which is new to me.

Mango Salsa

Our friends Biff and Dawn served us some mango salsa when we visited their house a while back, and we've wanted to make some ever since. I found a recipe for a mango salsa on The Guilty Kitchen blog.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sarah's Spring Photographs

Sarah and I just took a walk around our house so she could take some photographs, a few of which we share here. The pink hyacinth shown above is in our neighbor's front flower bed, and the daffodils shown below are in one of the front corners of our lot.

Sarah liked this daffodil in the neighbor's yard.

The ornamental cherry tree shown above is in our front yard, and the grape hyacinth shown below are, too.

Among the first flowers of spring, is of course, the dandylion.

Cookout at Laura and Stewart's House

Laura and Stewart hosted a fun cookout at their house yesterday afternoon, and it was nice to get outside in the sunshine after all the gloomy weather we've had lately. It is the first time that Mom, her kids and our spouses have all been together in months, which is rare for us. Angelyn and her beau, Chris, and avid Boongablogger reader Jane also joined us, and we all enjoyed visiting and catching up. Jane directed me to mention her on the blog this morning, so happy Palm Sunday, Jane!

As I mentioned yesterday, La and Stew live on the Little River. Their house is near the mouth of the Little River where it flows into the Tennessee River. I walked down to the river yesterday and deemed it too muddy to fish, much to Sarah's disappointment. She wanted to try out her Disney Princesses fishing pole for the first time this season. The menfolk got in a game of horseshoes, though, with Stewart and I losing a match 2-1 to Frazier and Chris.

We're already starting to get some rain here in Maryville this morning, and it is supposed to continue through tomorrow, so we'll spend today inside. I've been meaning to straighten up our garage, including Sarah's art center, so that we can start using that space again now that it is getting warmer. Today may be a good day to do it.

Audiobook Review: Churchill by Paul Johnson

Because I did a bit of traveling around East Tennessee last week, I borrowed an audiobook from the library to enjoy on the road. I selected Churchill by Paul Johnson. I've read or listened to biographies of Churchill before, and I've always been interested in him, perhaps because my father, who was a boy during World War II, liked him. Johnson's biography of Churchill was especially interesting because Johnson knew Churchill and other British politicians of his day.

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, which ends with Easter Sunday a week from today.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another Camel Rider

Mom, like her sister Joan, also has camel riding experience.


I had Pastitsio at last year's Greekfest in Knoxville, and I want to try making some one day. I found a recipe for it, so I may try and make a batch soon.

UPDATE: The Al Dente blog posted another Pastitsio recipe, this one from Martha Stewart. (For some reason the photograph for this recipe is superimposed over the text of the post, but you can still read the recipe part.)

Last Christmas at Grandmother's House

I know that the beginning of spring is an unusual time to watch a Christmas video, but I recently found a DVD with some family video on it and decided to watch it this morning. There were several of my relatives on the video who have died since the video was recorded in 2000, including my Aunt Penny (my mother's other sister) and Uncle Chick, and my first cousin once removed by marriage, Walter, for whom I worked while in my freshman and sophomore years in college.

The end of the video had recordings from our last Christmas at my Grandmother Ogle's home on North Jefferson Street in Winchester, Tennessee. We had already moved Grandmother to Maryville at that point, so she no longer lived in her home, but we brought her back for that one last Christmas before we had to sell the house to pay for her care. Fortunately, we documented it quite well on the video, which included all of us talking in her kitchen as we always did and her lovely dining room set for Christmas dinner.

By the time I finished watching tears were streaming down my face.

Sarah's Spring Break Winding Down

Sarah has been on spring break for the past couple of weeks. She spent the last three days in a program the school calls Dynamic Discovery Days, during which she learned about dinosaurs. She will be in the Adventure Club day care program at the school Monday, and Tuesday she begins her last semester of kindergarten.

We had supper last night at Los Amigos, one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants, and today we are meeting Mom, Les and Frazier over at Laura and Stewart's house for a cookout and some fishing on the Little River.

Basketball Vols Make History

The University of Tennessee men's basketball game made history last night by beating Ohio State to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA basketball tournament. I'm more of a football fan, but it is hard not to be excited about this year's basketball season.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Aunt Joan Visits Egypt

Mom's sister, my Aunt Joan, recently visited the pyramids at Giza in Egypt, and she sent Mom these photos.

Something in Common

I boarded the elevator this morning with a man and woman, and the man, a burly, bearded fellow, was wearing Liberty overalls. I was in my usual uniform, a business suit, but I commented about how I like my Liberty overalls and told the couple my story about how the company sent me free replacement buckles when one of mine broke in the washing machine. At first the couple looked like they weren't quite sure that a guy in a pair of tasseled loafers would own a pair of overalls, but by the time we got off the elevator, I think I had them convinced. They were nice people.

Cake Wrecks Meets Twilight Zone

The Cake Wrecks blog has crossed over into the Twilight Zone with a meercat zombie cake, among others. Creepy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Restaurant Review: Oodles Uncorked-Knoxville, Tennessee

Mom, Laura, Sarah and I ate last week at Oodles Uncorked on Market Square in Knoxville after visiting McClung Museum on the University of Tennessee campus. We were walking around Market Square looking over the restaurants, and ran into my friend Biff in front of Oodles. He recommended the place. Biff knows his way around a kitchen, and as I suspected, he steered us in the right direction.

Sarah and I split an order of spaghetti and meatballs, though she really didn't eat very much of it, having filled up on the fresh bread they served before our meals came. Laura had a duck sandwich, and she let me try a bite, though I note that she has learned through bitter experience not to hand me her whole sandwich, lest I eat half of it in one bite. Still, she gave me enough of a piece of it for me to try out the sandwich, and it was really good. Mom had a bean soup, which she also let me taste, so I got a good sampling of the restaurant's fare. The place had a nice wine list as well, which is where the "Uncorked" part of the name comes from.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Smoky Mountain Heritage Center and Tuckaleechee Caverns

Sarah's class made a field trip to the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center some time ago. I've been wanting to check it out myself, so I took her up there recently to give me a tour of the place. While we were in Townsend, we also visited Tuckaleechee Caverns, which makes her third spelunking adventure. She has also been to the Lost Sea in Sweetwater and Forbidden Caverns in Sevierville.

Sarah poses on the porch of Montvale Station.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dinosaur Discovery Days

Tomorrow Sarah begins a three-day kindergarten seminar on dinosaurs. She protested, "Dinosaurs are for boys." But, I think she'll enjoy the experience. Perhaps I should point out to her that there were girl dinosaurs, too.

Restaurant Review: Willie's Restaurant-Seymour, Tennessee

My duties sent me to Sevierville today to pick up a court file, and on my way up I stopped in at a new eatery in Seymour called Willie's Restaurant. The members of the staff were very nice, and everyone gets hearty greetings as they enter the store. I ordered the chicken fettuccine Alfredo, which came with garlic bread and a salad. My total bill including a drink and tip was about $15.00, but I brought half of the entree' home and am still full. The restaurant also features an ice cream parlor and a separate room for kids' birthday parties.

Cloud Trails Over Greece

This image was captured in Sounio, Greece. For an explanation, go to NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day website.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Restaurant Review: Tinsley-Bible Drug Store, Dandridge, Tennessee

My business today took me to nearby Dandridge, Tennessee, and I encountered a bit of snow flurries on my way up there. I was treated to lunch at the Tinsley-Bible Drug Store on Gay Street, and it was a delight. The place is a Dandridge social hub, and it was like a museum inside.
There's nothing like a good, old-fashioned drug store with a lunch counter, and the Tinsley-Bible store did not disappoint me. I had their Bible Burger, which was delicious. It reminded me of Hoskins Drug Store in Clinton, Tennessee, where I ate as a law clerk, and Byrne Drug Store, which used to operate in downtown Maryville when I started practicing law in 1993.

Quiet Sunday

We spent a quiet Sunday afternoon at home yesterday. I made some spaghetti sauce, and used some of it to make a small casserole of baked spaghetti, so we ate well.

We booked a condo down in Seagrove Beach, Florida, for our summer vacation in June. Jake and Joey will fly to Naples, Italy, with their dad in May, so the beach will be anticlimactic for them, but we always have a good time when we're down there. I'm looking forward to sailing on Randy and Dawn's new sailboat.

Sarah's school is still on spring break, so she will spend today and tomorrow in Adventure Club playing with her schoolmates. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday she has Dynamic Discovery Days, during which she will learn about dinosaurs.

Word of the Day: Octothorpe

The number sign or pound sign is also called an octothorpe. Octothorpe is also a band up in Washington State.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What Is It?

It is a cat, via Big Huge Labs.


Sarah and I are playing on LoonaPix this morning.


I first used a mattock as a boy scout, and it is the tool you need if you need to chop up hard dirt. I found one for about twenty bucks at the Coop, and it sure came in handy yesterday in the garden.

Preliminary Gardening Observations

My project for last year was digging all the daffodils out of the flower bed in the back yard in order to transplant them elsewhere in the yard. There is a bucket of bulbs in the garage, but there are still a lot of daffodils that have come up in the flower bed, so I will have to dig them up after the blooms are spent. We have a row of daffodils in the front yard along the property line with our neighbors, and I think we'll transplant the rest of the bulbs there as well.

The flower bed in the back yard is choked with roots of junk plants, and so we've been chopping it up with the mattock I bought for that purpose. We pulled two particularly gnarly stumps out of it yesterday, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Once we clear the bed of rocks and roots, it will be a nice flower bed. The dirt is very dark and rich.

The bed also had a bunch of peony plants, and they were just about to break out of the ground. I decided to pull them out of there as well, and they will need to be replanted somewhere in the yard. Sherry has some sunflower seeds, and our intention is to plant them in the back yard flower bed this year.

There's Still Snow in the Smokies

Although the Life on LeConte blog, which I enjoyed greatly, has terminated, its author has a new site, Reflections of the Smokies, where he continues to display his fine photographs of the mountains. Meanwhile, LeConte Lodge is preparing for the season, and the managers are also sharing wonderful mountain photographs, including these, on a blog called High on Leconte. They just got their supplies for the season via airlift.

A Stroll on Market Square

Here are a couple of pictures I took when Mom, Laura, Sarah and I went for a stroll on Market Square in downtown Knoxville on Friday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In the Back Yard

We've been enjoying the nice weather in our back yard today. We put a lot of work into our flower bed, which needed it, and we planted moon flowers. We also washed cars and broke out the sidewalk chalk and Sarah's water table.

Breakfast with Wannie at Waffle House

When Sarah spends the night with my mom, it is our usual custom to have breakfast at the Waffle House on Papermill Drive in Knoxville. We did so this morning, and Sarah got a paper hat from our server, who was especially attentive and kind to her.

Santas Invade Gatlinburg

When we went up to Laura and Stewart's Cozy Creek Cabin in Gatlinburg last weekend, we noticed that the town was crawling with Santa Clauses. As we suspected, it was a Santa convention. We even saw a Santa on a motorcycle as we were getting on the Parkway from Flat Branch Road.

Part of Davy Crockett Show Filmed in the Smokies

Apparently, parts of the Davy Crockett television show in the '50's were filmed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center on the North Carolina side of the park. I had never heard about this before.

That's No Moon

When you think you've seen everything, someone carves a watermelon into a Death Star. I have a bad feeling about this.


Check out the skeleton bike I found on Geekologie.

It's the Equinox, Vern!

Well, it's the vernal equinox, and most importantly, it is the first day of spring! "Equinox" comes from Latin words meaning "equal night," and day and night are nearly equal all over the world at the equinoxes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Over the River and Through the Woods

Sarah is spending the night tonight at Mom's house in Knoxville, which is always fun for the two of them. Mom has a movie, The Water Horse, that she has been wanting to share with Sarah, and I know they will enjoy watching it together this evening. Mom has been feeding some neighborhood alley cats, and I took her a bag of cat food from our cats' healthy supply. Sarah will enjoy making friends with some new kitties.

Born on a Mountain Top in Tennessee

This is a rendition of David Crockett of Tennessee in 1834, when he was 48, just two years older than I am now. He doesn't look much like Fess Parker.

R.I.P. Fess Parker

Fess Parker, who played Tennessee's David Crockett and Kentucky's Daniel Boone on television, died yesterday at the age of 85. Here's the long version of the theme song.


For a lot more on Matisse, click here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rock Slides

East Tennessee has been plagued by rock slides recently. We had the worst drought in years followed by a lot of rain, snow and temperature fluctuations, and that is a recipe for falling rocks. The one that first got a lot of news was on Interstate 40 last October, and the Interstate, pictured above, is still impassable between Tennessee and North Carolina.
There have been more rock slides in various places since then, most recently Sunday on the Tail of the Dragon (Highway 129 between Tennessee and North Carolina) and today on Little River Road in the Smokies, which we were on this weekend. This not only makes travel inconvenient, but it also hurts the businesses in the communities near the closed roads.