Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mister Mom's Baked Beans

When my late stepfather Ron made his entrance into our family in the middle of the '80's, he promptly took over Mom's kitchen at her place on 4th Street Court Northeast in Hickory, North Carolina.  One of the many delights resulting therefrom was what we called Mister Mom's Baked Beans.  I made it yesterday for the first time, and I had no idea it was so easy.  Of course, Mom was here when I put it together, so I had the benefit of her first-hand experience.  My own stepsons, Jake and Joey, and two of their friends will be here the week after next for several days during fall break, so I am preparing to fuel four teenage boys.  I think they'll like this.

Here's the recipe:

2-2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
60 to 80 ounces (four to six standard cans) baked beans
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp.yellow mustard
1/2 bottle ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large onions, chopped

Brown the ground chuck and one of the onions, then drain.  Combine all the other ingredients but the bacon.  I used sorghum molasses because I was out of brown sugar, and Mom suggested I could use table syrup as well.  You could probably get by with a different kind of mustard as well.

Cook in casserole dish in 35 degree oven after covering with bacon.  Serve with barbecue, if available.

"Dad, Why Are You So Boring?"

My child considers me boring, which is not an unfamiliar comment when her mother is out of town, as she is this weekend.  The comment was prompted by a visit to the library yesterday to renew a biography of Theodore Roosevelt that I am in the middle of.  She said, "Dad, why are you so boring?  You're always learning."  To tell the truth, I considered it a compliment.  I think I'll watch some C-SPAN.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oakenshield and Company

The poster for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey is out.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bob-Bob's Excellent Adventure to Disneyworld

Neatorama recently ran an article about a cat named Bob-Bob, who accidentally got zipped up in his owner's luggage when she flew to Disneyworld.  Having owned house cats for many years, I long ago learned that a cat will try out as a bed anything it thinks is remotely comfortable, and our younger cat, Molly, curled up to go to sleep in my luggage earlier this month when I was packing for my clerks conference.  I can see how Bob-Bob's accidental trip could happen.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Although Godzilla's halitosis vaporized a lot of cars, he let his scales down when he was off camera.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

John Prine to Play Tennessee Theater

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports this morning that John Prine will play the Tennessee Theater on Friday, November 9, 2012.  I've seen him a couple of times.  It has been a long time since I did so, and the Tennessee Theater is a great venue for any show.  Comedian Ron White, one of my sister Leslie's favorite comics, will entertain there January 5.

Butterfly Lake

This image is from Butterfly Lake, Utah, via Earth Science Picture of the Day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Support Your Local Farmers!

On the way back from the mountains Sunday, we stopped by the Butler's Farm Market to buy a pumpkin, and as you can see they had some whoppers.  The pumpkins in the foreground were priced at $15.00 each, and we chose one of them.  I was hoping to see the proprietors, James and Donna Butler, but we missed them this time.
Molly the cat could fit inside that pumpkin if it were hollowed out.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Womenfolk in the Backcountry

Sherry, Sarah and I took a short hike up to backcountry campsite 1 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I am pleased to report that the womenfolk enjoyed their first foray into the backcountry, and they both expressed an interest in backpacking in for an overnight stay at campsite 1.
This is campsite 1.  It is on the water, has two firepits, good, flat ground, lots of space and two different sets of metal cables to pull your backpacks into the air to keep them away from animals.  It is much better than I remembered it.
Small streams cross the path in many places, so we did a lot of rock-hopping to keep our feet dry.
Sherry and I identified this plant as White Wood Aster using our Wildflowers of the Smokies book.
The storms that blew through Abrams Creek campground a few months ago must have washed this huge tree downriver.  It gives one the idea of the power of a full mountain river.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Early Morning Walk

Friday evening I suggested to Sarah that we walk to her school the following morning, and when I woke up at 6:00 a.m., she was awake and wanted to walk.  After a bit of star gazing in the front yard, we put on our shoes and started walking in the dark.  We left just before daybreak, and by the time we got to the school it was light out.  She played on the playground for a little while before we returned to the house.  I estimate it was a 2.5 to 3 mile walk, which suggests to me that she can handle a short hike in the Smokies.

Meet George Jetson

Fifty years ago today The Jetsons made their television debut.  More at Neatorama.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

75th Anniversary of The Hobbit

In anticipation of the December release of The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey, I recently reread J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, which was published 75 years ago yesterday.  The image is Tolkien's depiction of Hobbiton, one of many pieces of artwork he produced showing various scenes from his stories.

First Day of Autumn

Today is the vernal equinox, which is the first day of autumn.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Laura's Book Signing Event

Here is my sister, Laura, at a recent book signing event in Charlotte, North Carolina, to promote her first children's book, No-No Nona and No-No Nita.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Raising the Flags

One of Sarah's duties as a member of the school safety patrol is assisting in hoisting the flags as school opens in the mornings.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

National Cheeseburger Day

According to my Jimmy Buffett/Key West calendar and the Cattlemen's Beef Board, today is National Cheeseburger Day!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Constitution and Citizenship Day

Title 36, section 106 of the United States Code states,

(a) Designation.— September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

(b) Purpose.— Constitution Day and Citizenship Day commemorate the formation and signing on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution and recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.

(c) Proclamation.— The President may issue each year a proclamation calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and inviting the people of the United States to observe Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies.

(d) State and Local Observances.— The civil and educational authorities of States, counties, cities, and towns are urged to make plans for the proper observance of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and for the complete instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and of the State and locality in which they reside.  

I first became interested in the law as an undergraduate student in 1987 during the bicentennial of the United States Constitution.  It was an unprecedented achievement in 1787, and our Constitution remains among America's greatest intellectual and political achievements.  Cherish it and our laws accordingly.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Italian Airglow

This is airglow over Italy from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Fall Clerks Conference

I attended the fall meeting of the Tennessee State Court Clerks Association last week at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tennessee, which is in Dickson County about an hour west of where we used to live on the west side of Nashville. The only wildlife I was able to photograph on this trip was a Canadian goose that loitered around the lawn between the inn and the lake, though I tried and failed to photograph a couple of turkeys I saw as I was leaving. I had a meeting during lunch on Wednesday, and the room it was in had a big window with hummingbird feeders and more hummingbirds than I've ever seen in my life.

William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft, the only person to serve as President of the United States and Chief Justice of the United States, was born on September 15, 1857.  I am in the middle of the audiobook version of Edmund Morris's Colonel Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt has just founded the Progressive Party after losing the Republican nomination to Taft, whom he had chosen as his successor four years earlier.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Summer Recap On a Roll of 35 mm Film

This is a collection of photographs we took this spring and summer on Sherry's 35 mm camera. Sarah didn't understand why you couldn't see pictures immediately after they were taken like you can with the digital camera. In the first snapshot, Sarah strolls through Look Rock campground in the Smokies in early spring. In the next two, Molly the cat prowls her domain, the front yard.
Here are a couple of photographs of Sarah.  In the first she models her sun dress on the front sidewalk, and in the next she enjoys some sand and surf with Skippy, the rubber rat, who accompanies us on most of our vacations.
I used up most of the roll of film when we were down in Florida in July.  We stay in the quiet community of Seagrove Beach, which we love, but we enjoy nearby Destin as well.  Captain Randy, a friend of mine since junior high school, almost always invites us out for a sailboat cruise aboard his craft, La Vie Dasante, and this year he found a group of dolphins, including a juvenile, to show us.
I love vacation, but I love coming home to East Tennessee and our little house on Everett Hill here in Maryville.  It has been a fun summer, but as September winds down and the temperature and humidity drop, fall is in the air.

I'm Just A-Doin' My Job. I'm the Safety Patrol

Sarah is proud to be serving as a member of the safety patrol at her school.  I've had Junior Brown's "Highway Patrol" playing in my head all week.  I'd never seen the video at the link.  It's only 2:35 minutes, and it rocks.

I got a star on my car and one on my chest,
A gun on my hip and the right to arrest
I'm the guy who's the boss on this highway
So watch out what you're doin' when you're drivin' my way
If you break the law, you'll hear from me, I know
I'm a-workin' for the state,
I'm The Highway Patrol

Well, you'll know me when you see me, 'cause my door's painted white,
My siren a-screamin' and my flashin' red lights
I work all day and I work all night
Just a-keepin' law and order, tryin' to do what's right
If I write you out a ticket, then you'd better drive slow
I'm just a-doin' my job, I'm The Highway Patrol

I'm the highway patrol, the highway patrol,
My hours are long, and my pay is low
But I'll do my best to keep you driving slow
I'm just a-doin' my job, I'm The Highway Patrol

If your drivin' too fast like you shouldn't do,
You can bet your boots, I'm comin' after you
If you wanna race then get on a race track,
'Cause if you try and run away I'm gonna bring ya back
I'm here to keep all the speeders driving slow
I'm just a-doin' my job, I'm The Highway Patrol

I'm the highway patrol, the highway patrol,
My hours are long, and my pay is low
But I'll do my best to keep you driving slow
I'm just a-doin' my job, I'm The Highway Patrol

I'm just a-doin' my job
I'm The Highway Patrol


Friday, September 14, 2012

Nashville Food Trucks

I have been following with interest the recent explosion in Nashville in the number of food trucks serving the city.  I worked in downtown Nashville for two years and in Metrocenter for three, and I can understand why food trucks are so popular.  It was really easier to get lunch downtown than it was at Metrocenter, and so I ate a sandwich at my desk most days when I worked out there.  A food truck in the parking lot would have been wonderful.  There is a wonderful restaurant in Nashville called The Pie Wagon, that started off as a lunch counter in a trolley car, so the concept is not new. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Movie Review -- The Hunger Games

Sherry recently read The Hunger Games trilogy, and she rented the movie last weekend.  When the movie came out in the theaters I remember it being described as a story about a dystopian future, and I found that description to be accurate.  It struck me as being somewhat like The Truman Show, but much darker and with fighting and violence.  I have promised Sherry I would read the book, but there were no copies available at the library last weekend, no doubt because of the recent release of the DVD.  It was a good flick, but not exactly a feel-good movie.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mount Sharp

The image above from the Curiosity rover shows Mount Sharp on the planet Mars.  (Via NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day)