Saturday, April 30, 2011

First Grader

This is Sarah's class picture for her first grade year. She's growing up fast!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Arbor Day!

Today is Arbor Day. I must confess that I haven't planted a tree in years, though my boy scout troop planted a bunch of pines on the campus of Bearden High School, from which I graduated, across the river in West Knoxville. The last time I drove by they were still there along Gallaher View Road. I don't think Sarah has ever planted a tree. We'll have to correct that deficiency.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Today is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Since I am away from my office, Sarah won't be able to participate today, but she is no stranger to the justice center. Sherry and I spent the year Sarah was three working out of our home as we were in the process of moving from Nashville to Maryville, so she has plenty of experience seeing her parents at work.

According to the event's official website,

Designed to be more than a career day, the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® program goes beyond the average “shadow” an adult. Exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day is important, but showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, and providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future and begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Administrative Professionals Day

Today is Administrative Professionals Day, on which we honor the many office professionals who make the world of business and government run effectively and efficiently. My office at the justice center is staffed by eight dedicated and hard-working professionals all of whom I appreciate very much, and I have been fortunate to have been assisted and supported throughout my professional career as an attorney by administrative professionals who have made my life easier and the provision of services to my clients, and now the public, less expensive and more pleasant. They are the people on the front lines, and they don't get enough appreciation, especially from the public they serve.

Capstone Training at Montgomery Bell State Park

For the next several days I shall be at the Inn and Conference Center at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tennessee, which is about four hours from Maryville and about forty minutes from where we used to live in Bellevue on the west side of Nashville. I will be participating in the Capstone training provided by the County Officials Certificate Training Program of the County Technical Assistance Service, and at the program's conclusion I hope to achieve the status of Certified Public Administrator. The sixty hours of training I've had so far have focused on laws applicable to county government in Tennessee and on management and leadership issues, and I will complete another twenty hours in training over the next few days. I expect they will be busy, and I trust that CTAS will do their usual fine job during the training sessions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Down on the Farm

We visited our friends Rat and Renee on their farm between Conover and Statesville, North Carolina, last weekend, and Sarah was fascinated by their chickens. They have five Golden Comet chickens, and the chickens lay about one egg a day each.

Comet McNaught

Aunt Lucy's Apple Cake With Penucke Icing

My mother recently found my Aunt Lucy's recipe for Apple Cake with Penucke Icing, which Mom says was one of the best cakes she ever tasted. Aunt Lucy was my Grandmother Ogle's sister, pictured second from the left in the photograph above. Pictured from left to right are four of the seven children of Ira and Lillie Spencer, my Aunt Fay Simpson, Aunt Lucy Brandon, Aunt Vesta Carroll and Grandmother Ogle, whose first name was Willie, though she went by Bill. Mom says that the recipe, which is the image below, is in Aunt Lucy's own hand, which is cool. I will try to make this recipe.



2 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¾ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup oil
2 eggs
3 cups chopped apples
1 cup nuts

Mix ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes in a 8 x 13 pan.


2/3 stick margarine
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup milk

Put margarine in skillet to melt. – Add brown sugar and melt thoroughly. Pour in milk and let it come to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, [and] place in cold water to cool to touch. – Pour mixture into confectioner’s sugar.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spanish-American War

On April 25, 1898, President William McKinley sent Congress a letter requesting a declaration of war against Spain, hostilities having already commenced. On April 28, 1898, Congress declared war on Spain recognizing that the Spanish-American War had begun. The depiction of the Charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill is by Frederic Remington.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Today is Easter Sunday, which is observed on the first Sunday after the paschal full moon and celebrates the Resurrection of Christ. The eggs and rabbits came about because the celebration occurs in spring, a time of seasonal rebirth.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Down on the Farm

We are presently at a farm between Conover and Statesville, North Carolina, as guests of our friends Rat and Renee. We had lunch at the Olde Hickory Tap Room with my friend Gregg and then drove out to the farm where Sarah got to meet some chickens. R&R are having a farm party today, and we expect to see some friends we haven't seen in a long time (and at least one whom Sherry and Sarah have never met). Before that gets started, however, we're going to drive into Hickory for some breakfast at the Snack Bar, a local favorite.

A Dietitian Visits Los Amigos

My favorite Mexican restaurant in town is Los Amigos, located at 409 Cusick Street, Maryville, Tennessee. A dietitian from Blount Memorial Hospital recently visited the restaurant and gave it good marks. As you can see, she chose shrimp fajitas for a low-fat entree, and Hector, who runs the place, makes some wonderful fish dishes as well. (Via Murvillian.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Christ Carrying the Cross, El Greco, 1580

Today is Good Friday, which commemorates the Crucifixion.

Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, which was first celebrated in 1970. Here are some interesting facts about our planet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Many Colors

Check out this cool photo spread from the Boston Globe depicting a Hindu religious celebration where everyone gets to throw and smear paint on everyone else. I would think that children in particular would love this, and the pictures support that premise. I would hate to have to clean up the mess when it is over, though.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trip to North Carolina

North Carolina has been in the news this week because of the terrible and deadly storms that struck the state. The area around Raleigh got pounded with tornadoes, and that's where the worst damage is. In the western part of the state, where I used to live, they had flooding in Wilson Creek gorge in Caldwell County. If you follow the Wilson Creek link, you will see photographs of men wading in water above their knees down the middle of the road that runs through the gorge. I used to camp up there all the time, and it is prone to flooding.

We have been planning a trip to the Hickory-Statesville area for some time, and I am looking forward to seeing some of my old friends. Sherry has only been to Hickory, where my mother grew up, on one occasion, and Sarah has never been. I am looking forward to visiting some of my favorite Hickory restaurants, including the Snack Bar, Joel's Kitchen, Homer's Windy City Grill and the Olde Hickory Tap Room.


Sarah had a dentist appointment yesterday, and the dentist referred her to an orthodontist. The child is missing an adult tooth on her bottom jaw, and she has an adult tooth coming in at a 45 degree angle in her upper jaw, so the dentist thought braces are likely.

That Rabbit's Dynamite!

Thirty-one years ago today, President Jimmy Carter was attacked by a swamp rabbit during a fishing trip in the President's (and the rabbit's) hometown, Plains, Georgia. The event inspired a song, which I once heard Arlo Guthrie perform.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passover Begins

Passover, which commemorates the events in Exodus, begins today.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

The 18th of April is the anniversary of the famous Midnight Ride of Paul Revere of 1775. I make a habit of reading Longfellow's poem each year on April 18. This year I discovered that the organization that cares for Revere's house has a website with information about Revere and his role in the American Revolution.

Emancipation Day

I wondered why Federal income tax returns are not due until April 18 this year rather than April 15, which is usually tax day in the United States. I learned that Washington, DC, celebrated Emancipation Day this year on April 15, so the filing deadline was moved from last Friday to today. Emancipation Day is a holiday for our nation's capitol, and it commemorates Abraham Lincoln's emancipation of the slaves in that city on April 16, 1862.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Molly's Humiliation

As promised, the picture above shows Molly after having been deprived of most of her luxuriant fur. For comparison, see her lavish furriness in the photo below. She is a much smaller beast without her fur, though neither photo really shows how tiny her tail looks compared to what it looked like Friday morning before she had her hair cut.

Frontline Online

Molly the cat spent Friday at the vet getting her annual examination, vaccinations and grooming. She is a long-haired calico, and we've learned to have her shaved down in the spring so that all that fur ends up in the vet's garbage can instead of all over our house. We use a product called Frontline to control fleas and ticks on the cats during the warmer months, and I bought seven applications of the product from the vet, as I usually do, at a cost of $85.50 ($12.21 per application). I've always heard that it is much cheaper to buy online, and I discovered today on Amazon that I can acquire six applications of Frontline for $59.04 ($9.84 per application), which includes shipping and handling. We'll buy it online from now on.

Check back later to see a photograph of Molly's humiliating hairdo.

Jimmy Buffett Day

Yesterday Florida celebrated the first official Jimmy Buffett Day, which was proclaimed by the Florida House of Representatives:

The Florida House of Representatives recently passed the resolution in appreciation of the 64-year-old music icon's charitable efforts, support of the environment and positive economic impact in the state. The resolution cites numerous events and activities including the opening of the first Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Store in Key West in 1985, as well as Jimmy and Governor Bob Graham's formation of the Save the Manatee Club in 1981.

Additionally, Jimmy used the proceeds from his 1995 tour to fund the Singing for Change Charitable Foundation, which gives "grants to local charities that support children and families, the environment and disenfranchised groups." He also raised $3.4 million for hurricane victims in 2004 with his Surviving the Storm Hurricane Relief Concert.

(Via The Boot, with Thanks to Captain Randy)

Weekend Activities

Sarah's soccer game yesterday morning was cancelled after a rainy night that soaked the field, so we walked back down Forest Avenue to the house after learning of the cancellation over at Everett from some parents in the parking lot. I spent the morning making spaghetti sauce and then lasagna to take to the ladies in my office for an early Administrative Professionals Day inasmuch as I will be in Middle Tennessee for my Capstone training on the actual day.

We spent the afternoon at her friend Laurel's birthday party, which included one of those inflatable affairs for the kids to bounce around in. After the party we picked around on the guitars a bit and then picked up pizza at Papa Murphy's. I'd never had their pizza before, but had heard good things about the bake-at-home product. We got a pepperoni pizza for the kids and a Chicago-style stuffed pizza for the adults, and they were both excellent.

We're expecting the family this afternoon for a visit and a meal. The local Food Lion had a special on sirloin tip this week, and we bought one, which was about twelve pounds of beef. We had them grind eight pounds, four of which I used in the spaghetti sauce, and we have four pounds for beef roast, which we'll serve this afternoon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sarah's Report Card and Sound of Music

Sherry and I met with Sarah's teacher yesterday afternoon after receiving the child's report card last week. She had a very good report card, and her teacher reported that Sarah has had less frustration when doing her work, which we have also observed at home, though spring break was a bit of a setback for her. We plan to come up with a plan of study for the summer break so that she doesn't get rusty while she's out of school. On a different subject, Sarah came home Wednesday afternoon asking to watch Sound of Music, which they apparently saw a bit of at school. We watched it with her, and we all enjoyed it. Sound of Music, like Wizard of Oz, was a movie that Mom and Dad watched with my sisters and me at least once a year, and both movies were very much a part of our growing up. Sarah especially likes "The Lonely Goatherd" and "My Favorite Things." I can play several songs from the movie on guitar, so I can play and we can sing together.

Classes and Capstone

Although I issued a press release that ran in my local newspaper, I have neglected to report here that I have completed sixty hours of course work in the University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Service County Officials Certificate Training Program. I recently passed their exit exam so that I can attend a three-day Capstone training event at Montgomery Bell State Park at the end of the month. After the Capstone event, I will be a Certified Public Administrator. I believe I have benefited from the training that I received in the program and that what I have learned will help me continue to run an efficient and professional Clerk and Master's office for Blount County.

Tax Day

April 15 is the deadline for filing income tax returns, and it is also usually when they bring the lake levels up for the spring. Maybe we'll drive out to my old stomping grounds in Louisville this weekend and have a look.

CORRECTION: As the former law partner of one of my county's best tax attorneys I am embarrassed to state that tax returns are due on Monday, April 18, this year, rather than April 15 as I incorrectly reported above.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jack and Rose

Les and Fraz spent some time up at Cozy Creek this week, and they visited the Titanic museum in Pigeon Forge during their trip. Looks pretty mushy to me.

Hourglass Nebula

This is the Hourglass Nebula via the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Old Money

Check out these bills from 1896.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Civil War Begins

On April 12, 1861, 150 years ago today, Southern forces fired upon the Federal garrison quartered at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and the War Between the States began.

UPDATE: Cool photos from CNN via my sister, Laura.

Ice Skating Blue Ribbons

My sister Laura is an avid ice skater, and she has included her daughter Grace in the sport. The two of them recently competed at the Ice Chalet in Knoxville and won blue ribbons for their event!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Yesterday was my mother's birthday, and although I called to wish her a happy birthday, I did not put up a blog post yesterday. As I feared, I came down with Sarah's stomach bug yesterday. Fortunately, our friend Jane took some photos of the event for us.
Grace and mom
Laura, Mom and Leslie

Although her cousin Sarah wasn't there to play with her, it looks like Grace enjoyed the pretty weather.

View From the Top

My friends Randy and Dawn replaced a light on the top of the mast on their sailboat recently. Randy described the feat as follows:

I had to replace a light at the top of the mast. First- picture half way there, Second- I’m almost there, Third- It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll, View from the top was beautiful. Four stories high on a 6 inch diameter poll I definitely was not in a safe harbor. In danger every minute and loving it!

They've also acquired a hammock for the sailboat, which I will enjoy much more than climbing up the mast. Yikes!

It looks like the view of Choctawhatchee Bay at sunset was worth the climb.

Pirate Primer

Learn some of the basics of piracy, as well as privateering, from The Art of Manliness.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Abrams Creek and a Sick Boong

We had a fun campout at Abrams Creek yesterday, and my friend Johnny and I and our collective children had the campground all to ourselves for most of the afternoon. Sarah and I brought a couple of tubes, and the children had a good time carrying them upstream and floating down to our campsite. As I expected, the water was quite cold, but the day was warm. There was also plenty of firewood strewn about the campground, so we had a good fire to warm up by. I got up early in order to get Sarah back to town for her soccer game. On the way home on Montvale Road, which is very curvy, Sarah complained about her tummy hurting, and she got sick just before we got back into town. I stopped in the road to clean her up, and before I finished a couple of sheriff's deputies were on the scene to offer assistance. I thanked them and declined, and got Sarah back home, where she's been resting comfortably. She got up a few minutes ago and wanted to play, but almost immediately went back to the sofa. Poor kid!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rice Eli Olds

Behold the Curved Dash Model R1 Oldsmobile, which rolled off the assembly line in 1901. Car Lust recently had an interesting article on Rice Eli Olds, the father of the Oldsmobile, and the cars, music and musicians he inspired. My first car was a yellow Delta 88 Royale, and my third car was a blue Delta 88 Royale (lovingly known as the Bluesmobile, with apologies to Jake and Elwood Blues), so I've always had a fond spot for Oldsmobiles.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Watermelon Art

Sherry took pictures of these watermelon carvings while on her cruise. We both thought what a neat job the artist, who also does ice carvings, has riding around on a cruise ship constantly producing artwork for the passengers to enjoy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Battle of Shiloh

The Battle of Shiloh took place April 6 and 7, 1862, in Hardin County, Tennessee. Union forces commanded by Major General Ulysses S. Grant and Major General Don Carlos Buell defeated Confederate troops under General Albert Sidney Johnston and General P.G.T. Beauregard. About 110,000 troops were engaged in the battle, and there were about 45,000 casualties of the fighting.

Up In the Mountains

My friend Johnny and his children are in Tennessee from Atlanta to spend their spring break, and Sarah and I plan to join them up at Abrams Creek campground Friday night to camp. Sarah has a soccer game at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning over at Everett, so we're going to come back to Maryville for that and then head back up to Laura and Stewart's Cozy Creek Cabin in Gatlinburg. It is on Flat Branch Road and not far from where the sewage treatment plant ruptured up there yesterday, killing two men who worked there. Frazier likes to fish in the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River where Flat Branch Road intersects the Parkway, but his spot is just downstream from the spill and the treatment plant, which is still discharging raw sewage directly into the river. The authorities are advising against fishing or coming into contact with the water downstream from the spill.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sherry's Sweet Potato Casserole

Mom recently asked for Sherry's Sweet Potato Casserole recipe, and I was surprised that I had never shared it here.
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (two large sweet potatoes) 2 eggs, beaten ¼ cup milk 1 cup sugar 1 tsp. vanilla ½ cup margarine Mix these ingredients and place in baking dish. For topping mix the following: 1 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup flour 1 cup chopped pecans Spread topping over contents of baking dish, and then drizzle 1/3 cup of melted butter over the topping. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cool Nature Photos

Check out the cool photographs I found of what Mother Nature does when she is irritated.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Courthouse a Bit Closer to Home

I pulled out all of my law-related photographs yesterday to see if I had any that we could use to create a website for the Blount County Bar Association. I took this photo of the courthouse years ago.

United States Supreme Court

This is a picture of me on the steps in front of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, in 2002. As you can tell from my casual attire, I was there as a sightseer and not to argue a case.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Sherry brought home a recipe for Broccoli Cheese Soup that she got from her friend Amy at work. She made a batch for lunch, and it was delicious. It's always nice to have a new soup recipe. I suspect we'll make this one again.


2 bags Pic Sweet chopped broccoli (We used the Food Lion product.)
3 boxes of chicken broth
1 stick of butter
1 cup evaporated milk

Cook the ingredients listed above over medium heat for thirty minutes then add 1 cup evaporated milk and let simmer. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cup flour and enough milk (evaporated and/or standard) to make a medium thin mixture. Not as thick as pancake batter. Perhaps more like the consistency of house paint. This is a thickening agent for the soup. Add until it is the consistency you like and then add 3 cups shredded cheese. (We used sharp cheddar.) Mix together until the cheese melts and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve with Homemade Croutons!


Cut a loaf of French or Italian bread into one inch squares. Toss with onion powder, garlic powder, seasoned salt (We used Tiger Seasoning, known in our household as Praise Wally.), Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Bake on sheet pan at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Sarah's First Soccer Game

We signed Sarah up for soccer a couple of weeks ago, and her team, the Red Dragons, played their first game this morning at the soccer fields at Everett. They got their jerseys today, and so she was excited about that. Sarah played defense and got her foot on the ball a couple of times during the game. Her brothers have been playing soccer since they were five, and they are fifteen now and play for their high school team. I'll be interested to observe them watching their kid sister play for the first time.

Friday, April 1, 2011