Sunday, January 31, 2010

Above the Clouds

This was sunrise above the clouds this morning from Life on LeConte.

Sunday Thaw

It's only about 32 by our kitchen thermometer, though it is in the shade at the side of the house. Nevertheless, the snow is melting this afternoon at our humble abode. Sarah and I went out to play about an hour ago, and here are a few photographs from our exploration of our yard. Sarah also had fun sliding down the little hill across the street, but she was tired of being photographed at that point. Pesky paparazzi!

The Old Berkshire Hunt

This picture hangs over the fireplace in our living room.

The County-Seat Lawyer

From the 1950 essay by Robert H. Jackson:

He 'read law' in the Commentaries of Blackstone and Kent and not by the case system. He resolved problems by what he called “first principles.” He did not specialize, nor did he pick and choose clients. He rarely declined service to worthy ones because of inability to pay. [...] He never quit. He could think of motions for every purpose under the sun, and he made them all. [...] The law to him was like a religion, and its practice was more than a means of support; it was a mission. He was not always popular in his community, but he was respected. [...] He “lived well, worked hard, and died poor.” Often his name was in a generation or two forgotten. It was from this brotherhood that America has drawn its statesmen and its judges.

Friends of Wilson Creek

I just discovered the Friends of Wilson Creek website, which features several photo galleries with images of the area I know as simply, "The Gorge." When I was in college in western North Carolina in my freshman and sophomore years, the Wilson Creek gorge was our favorite place to camp, and I've rock-hopped all along that little river. I must take the children there.

Sunup on Sunday

Sarah and I are upstairs on the computers while Sherry is still sleeping downstairs, no doubt with Emma the cat at the foot of the bed. It snowed a bit more (less than an additional inch) yesterday afternoon, and Sarah and I went back out during the afternoon and built a snowman with the help of our next door neighbors, Eli and his dad. That 's Eli and Sarah in the picture posing with the snowman. It is presently 28.6 degrees according to the thermometer at our kitchen window, and today's high in Maryville is only supposed to be 33 degrees, so not much will melt during the day.

Sherry's Santa Fe soup was delicious for lunch, and I cooked some pork chops for supper. I have discovered that "pork chop" does not sound particularly appetizing to Sarah, so I have begun to refer to pork chops as "dead burnt pig meat," to which Sarah replies "Yummy!" Go figure.
I had a similar experience with Jake and Joey when they were little. I felt sure they would like Fettuccine Alfredo, but figured they would be put off by the name, so I called the dish "Fred's Noodles." They loved it. It's all in the presentation.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Conditions at Blowing Rock, North Carolina

This pond is walking distance from where Mom used to live in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

When the Going Gets Cold . . .

. . .the cold make comfort food! Sherry is making our first Santa Fe Soup of the season, and I just uncovered the crock pot to snap this picture. I wish Blogger came in smell-a-round, because this house smells delightful! Sherry got the recipe from her friend Penny, and we've made it several times a year since she gave us the recipe several years ago. Thanks, Penny! The top photograph is from our upstairs window looking down Faye Street toward East Broadway Avenue.

This is the view out of our upstairs window looking over the roof of our sunroom east down Forest Avenue. Although there was perhaps an inch of snow on the avenue this morning before dawn, the street crew had come through and cleaned the street off by around 8:00 or 9:00 this morning.

Sunset from Mount LeConte

This image is from the Life on LeConte blog. He takes some wonderful photographs! He took this one last Wednesday.

Lazy Molly

Sherry took about ten pictures of Molly the other day, and the cat managed to close her eyes in almost every one of them. I often call Molly the "corner kitty" because she likes to find a corner where she can keep an eye on everyone.

Friday, January 29, 2010

This Afternoon

Sarah and I just went for a walk around our neighborhood, and here are a couple of pictures of conditions outside within the half hour. The image above is the back of our house, with our neighbor's carport in the foreground. The image below is Sarah in our driveway, with Forest Avenue in the background.

Sarah at the justice center (above) and at Sullivan's (below).

Snow on Everett Hill

Sarah's school and Sherry's office both closed at 1:00 p.m. today, and county government closed at 3:00 p.m. We're all at home now, and a light, but steady snow is falling here on top of Everett Hill. I hope everyone makes it home safely this afternoon. Fortunately, the radar is showing the part of this weather system that is producing freezing rain already south of us, so today's weather should just be snow.

Snow Report

Metro Nashville schools are closed today, so Jake and Joey will be sleeping in. Here in Blount County, the Alcoa and Blount County school systems are closed, but the Maryville school system is open, so we'll be heading out to school and work as usual unless they close schools before we leave this morning.

La Vie Dansante

Randy and Dawn have named their new boat. Here's the e-mail from Captain Randy:

I Christen thee “La Via Dansante” a Cajun/ French term meaning “The Dancing Life”.

Also a Jimmy Buffett song:

See the ships heading for the rocks
See the time melting off the clocks
There’s a light that shatters all the locks
And it saves me, it saves me

That’s why I wander and follow La Via Dansante
On the night wind that takes me just where I want
That’s all I want La Vie Dansante

Miss the beat if you close your eyes
Everyday wears a new disguise
And I live when a new surprise surrenders

That’s why I follow La Via Dansante


Captain Randy

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. –Mark Twain

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Turban Girl

Sarah has started putting her hair up in a towel after drying off from bathing, imitating Sherry. Cute!

Clothing Drive Winds Up

The clothing drive Blount County goverment held for Haiti ended yesterday, and we had enough bags of clothing to fill up a GMC Suburban, which is a pretty big SUV. The clothing was delivered to Hound Dogs, the Knoxville retail store that organized the clothing drive, yesterday afternoon. Thanks to everyone who participated!

An Eat-Your-Heart-Out E-mail from Captain Randy

Leave it to our friends, Randy and Dawn, to send us an eat-your-heart-out e-mail from Destin right before we get buried in snow. They live just west of Destin in Mary Esther, Florida, and acquired a new sailboat over the summer. We look forward to going sailing on it the next time we're down at the coast. The beach sounds pretty nice right now!

Electrocuted Bear

My Uncle Mack sent Mom these photos under the subject line "Call before you dig." According to, this brown bear was electrocuted in Anchorage, Alaska, after he bit into the electrical cables in these pictures. There are more photos on Snopes that show how badly burned the bear's mouth was. Poor guy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Barn Flat in Cades Cove

The Mountain Press reports that the George Caughron barn in Cades Cove was flattened by high winds on Christmas Eve and that it is unlikely the National Park Service will rebuild the structure. According to the Press, George's brother, Kermit, was the last person to live in the Cove, and he died in 1999. His house was demolished in 2001 because it was not "historically significant." Be sure to check out the picture of the flattened barn on the Mountain Press website.

Mud Town

This photograph shows Grace (left) and Sarah (right) making a Mud Town, one of Sarah's favorite activities when near dirt and a water supply. They used sticks, and later a big spoon Laura brought down from the cabin for them, to dig a hole, which they then filled with water using plastic buckets. Kids don't need much to be content outdoors.

News on Our Kids' Schools

The Daily Times reports today that construction of Coulter Grove Intermediate School, where Sarah will likely attend middle school, will begin around February 1. In Nashville school news, there is talk of retrofitting the former Bellevue Center Mall, now a very sad piece of real estate, for use as a new high school in the Bellevue area of Nashville. If that happens, it is where Joey and Jake would likely attend high school.

Getting a Jump on Snow Blogging

East Tennessee is bracing for a weather system, due to arrive Thursday night, that may produce snow and/or freezing rain. We had a few flurries yesterday evening, so I suspect the milk and bread are flying off of the grocery store shelves.

U.S.S. Calabash

Speak softly, and carry a big calabash.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I have discovered that Lorne Greene, who played Ben Cartwright, recorded a version of the Bonanza theme song with lyrics. It is rather campy, but the lyrics are fun. "Fortune smiled the day we filed the Ponderosa claim!" You can listen to it on You Tube. Johnny Cash also did a version with different lyrics. I think I might enjoy seeing some old episodes of Bonanza, which had been on television four years when I was born and ended when I was nine.

Pernell Roberts Dead at 81

The last of the Cartwright men, Pernell Roberts, who played Adam Cartwright on Bonanza, died yesterday at age 81. I've had the Bonanza theme song playing in my head since I heard it on the news this morning.

Sarah Scares Rick

I occasionally pick Sarah up from her after school program and bring her to the justice center to spend the last half hour of the work day with us in the office. My former law partner, Duncan, has told me stories about going to the courthouse with his dad growing up, and I always thought that was pretty cool for a kid to experience.

About a month or so ago, Sarah brought a stuffed tiger with her into the justice center. Rick, one of the hard-working court officers at the justice center was at the security station at the entrance, and when he saw Sarah with her tiger, he recoiled in mock fear at the horrible beast the child was bringing into the place. This absolutely delighted Sarah, and Rick is now one of her favorite people. She begs to go to the justice center so she can "scare Rick." He's a good sport, and always makes her laugh.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Here's a photograph of my niece, Grace, braving the rain with her "rainbrella."

A Happy Fisherman

Jake caught this impressive specimen this weekend on the Harpeth River. There is a special smile on a successful hunter or fisherman, and that smile on Jake is a great example.

The Calabash Nebula

The calabash certainly gets around.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Warm Inside on a Rainy Day

It is raining here on Forest Avenue, and it has been most of today. Mom survived her sleepover with both granddaughters, and it sounded like it went well, though it didn't sound like Mom got a lot of sleep. Laura had already retrieved Grace when I got over to Mom's this morning, and I got Sarah back home by about 10:30 a.m. I pried the child off of her computer around noon, and she did a great job of cranking through a lot of this week's homework.

Sherry and I spent some time this weekend hanging pictures in our bedroom, which she recently painted. We also changed things a bit in our living room, so our house has a bit of a fresh look. At this point, we're watching it rain and enjoying the comfort of home on Sunday afternoon.

A Brave Woman

Mom and Laura and Grace came over yesterday afternoon for some beef stew, and we had a nice visit while Grace and Sarah played together. Mom took both of her granddaughters home with her last night for a sleepover, which is a first. I hope they were gentle with her.

Album Review -- Buffet Hotel

I got the new Jimmy Buffett CD Buffet Hotel for Christmas, and I've listened to it several times now. I've been a Jimmy Buffett fan since junior high school, and there's nothing better to get you through winter than some new tropical music from Buffett. My favorite song from the album (at the moment) is "Big Top," a song about the circus that is a Jimmy Buffett concert. I haven't been to a Buffett show since I saw him at the Amphitheater formerly known as Starwood in Nashville in 2003, just before Sarah was born. Hopefully, he'll play somewhere nearby on a weekend this year.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Clothing Drive for Haiti

Blount County government is participating in a clothing drive for the victims of the terrible earthquake that has caused incalculable death and suffering in the crushingly poor Caribbean island country of Haiti. The clothing drive is organized by Hound Dogs, a local retail store that caters to University of Tennessee sports fans, some of whom have buyer's remorse from purchasing certain T-shirts some fourteen months ago.
Clean clothing can be dropped off in plastic bags on Monday and Tuesday at the office of the County Mayor at the Blount County Courthouse on Court Street and at the office of the Clerk and Master at the Blount County Justice Center on West Lamar Alexander Parkway. Hound Dogs will get the clothes to Haiti.
Sherry just recently cleaned out her closet, but we donated that clothing to Goodwill several weeks ago. I've filled three lawn size trash bags, mostly with T-shirts, and we'll also go through Sarah's clothes to see what she can donate to Haiti. She is not aware of the earthquake, and I don't think she really knows what one is. I went looking online to find some photographs to explain it to her, so she would know who we are trying to help, and here are a few of the ones I found.
The Daily Mail online has a photo spread of the disaster in Haiti here.

The photo above, from the Mirror of U.K. shows the devastation in Leogane, a town near the epicenter of the earthquake.

These photos, from the Telegraph newspaper in England, show the Haitian Presidential Palace as it existed before the earthquake and as it exists now.

Why Do They Call Them The Smokies?

Look Rock tower's webcam has the answer.

Word for the Day -- Calabash

I was perusing the liner notes on the new Jimmy Buffett CD last night, and one of the musicians on the album is credited with playing an instrument called a Kora on one of the songs. I had never heard of a Kora before, so I looked it up online and discovered it is a lute/harp style instrument made out of a calabash, or bottle gourd, pictured above. It turns out that this gourd is used for all sorts of things all over the world.

Reaching back in my memory, I associated the word "Calabash" with fried seafood restaurants, known as fish camps, that are (or at least were) abundant in Hickory, North Carolina, where my mom grew up. Again through the magic of the internet, I learned that the town of Calabash, on the coast of North Carolina, is known for popularizing this type of seafood cooking. According to one source, it was in that North Carolina town that Jimmy Durante came up with his famous closing line, "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sarah Hits the Century Mark Twice in One Week

Sarah's order form for Girl Scout cookies came back after traveling around the justice center for several days this week. At this point, she has orders for over 100 boxes of cookies! Wednesday of this week was her 100th day in kindergarten as well, and her class celebrated by making trail mix, with each student counting and bringing in 100 pieces of cereal, candy, and the like to contribute to the project.

162 Ska-Doo

I noticed that the Londontown Apartments website features a photograph of my former home, Apartment 162, which is behind the door on the left at the top of the steps in the photograph. The bottom step was the ninth hole of the Frisbee golf course we laid out on the apartment grounds.

Nice Knoxville Afternoon

I drove to Knoxville yesterday to go to the dentist and to run an errand at the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, and I enjoyed the visit to my old home town. My dentist, W.C. Battle, maintains the same office on Kingston Pike that he occupied when I first started seeing him when I was in third grade. Londontown Apartments, where I lived during my college and law school years, is nearby. I was a bit early for my appointment, so I drove through the apartment complex to have a look around. We had some good times in those apartments!

After my dental appointment, I grabbed a Rooster sandwich at the Smoky Mountain Market on Northshore. When I first moved out as a teenager, I used to live off of those things. Back then a Rooster, which is a sandwich featuring a deep-fried chicken patty, lettuce, tomato, mayo and cheese, came with a small drink for 99 cents. Now a sandwich without a drink is $2.99, but it was worth it this afternoon.

I made my way to downtown Knoxville and the Supreme Court Building via the University of Tennessee campus and drove past the George C. Taylor "College of Knowledge," as Professor Jerry Phillips used to call the law school. I wish I would have thought to drive over to Frat Row to see the Rock, which has new graffiti commenting on the abrupt departure of former UT football coach, Lane Kiffin.

I haven't been a Knoxvillian since June 1993, but I still love that town.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Upon LeConte

There are some great photographs of the recent thaw on Mount LeConte on the Life on LeConte blog.

Dead Crab

The second of the two hermit crabs we acquired last summer died. We've enjoyed them and have a nice habitat, so I suspect we'll get more eventually.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Big Girl on Campus

Sherry called this morning to let me know that Sarah made it into her school without incident this morning. Luckily, that was before the rain started. It has turned out to be a very soggy day.

Sarah's Girl Scout cookie sales appear to be brisk. Sherry and I circulated the order form in our offices, and it is now floating around the justice center somewhere. I'm quite curious to see how many boxes have been ordered by the time it finds its way back to my office.

A Minor Milestone

Sherry usually walks Sarah to her classroom when she drops her off at school in the morning, but Sarah asked to get out of the car in front of the school this morning in the "car-rider line." This will no doubt save Sherry some time each morning, but it is also one of those bittersweet moments, when your child grows up just a little.

Already Wednesday

We're enjoying a warm week in the 50's after over a week of frigid temperatures in the 20's. I just opened our gas bill last night, and it cost us some money to keep this old house warm during that cold spot.

I had hoped to get some of Sarah's homework done during our weekend at the cabin, but that didn't happen, so she's been bearing down on it since we got home. She had gymnastics last night, but is on track to have everything done by the time we get her Friday folder with more work for her at the end of the week. It is a short, but busy, school and work week.

Charlie Daniels Has Stroke

Charlie Daniels had a stroke in Colorado last Friday. He is recovering from it at his home in that state. No concert dates have been cancelled.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Family Gathering

Sarah's school has a family gathering every Friday morning, and last Friday the kindergarten classes led the assembly. Sarah's class led the Pledge of Allegiance. Here are a couple of pictures from last Friday.

Refurbished Computers

I am posting from my old 1998 IBM Thinkpad, which I haven't used in several years. Mom's computer guy put a bunch of new memory in it, though, and it's working fine. He also refurbished a computer for Sarah's room, and she now brags about having the fastest computer in the house.

Back to School

Sarah and I are heading back to work and school today after the long holiday weekend. Sherry's office was open yesterday, so she didn't get the benefit of a three-day weekend, though she did have a fun visit with Joey and Jake and Grams and Grams' new cat, Tony.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January Cabin Trip

While Sherry was visiting Jake and Joey and Grams in Nashville for the weekend, Sarah and I met my sister, Laura, and Grace, my niece, and my friend Johnny and his three-year old son, Teddy, out at our cabin in Estill Springs. It was a pretty rainy weekend, but we got the kids outside enough to prevent cabin fever from setting in. With a roaring fire and plenty of space heaters, we stayed warm, though we blew a fuse when we first plugged everything in. We had a good trip, but it is nice to be home.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Banana Splits

I remember The Banana Splits, pictured above, from my childhood, and they air the shows regularly these days on the Boomerang cartoon channel. The show originally ran from 1968 to 1970.


This is an image of galaxy Messier 104, known as "The Sombrero," from the European Southern Observatory. The Sombrero is in the Virgo constellation.