Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Laura had skating tonight, and so Leslie brought Grace over to join us for trick-or-treating.  Sarah's friend Jamie joined the group of youngsters, and we followed them all around the surrounding neighborhoods as they collected treats.  Sarah was a vampire, and Grace was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, although Leslie carried Toto and his basket around most of the time.  Jamie had a cool ninja outfit.

Sarah was pleased to get a treat at the door of her former teacher, and she was excited about that.  I was worried that little Gracie would have trouble keeping up with the bigger kids, but that was not a problem.  Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Salem Witches

While few Americans are seriously concerned about witches today, witchcraft was a serious business in the late 1690's in Massachusetts, with a slave named Tituba at the center of the controversy (and litigation).  Miss Cellania has a summary of the events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials at Mental Floss.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall Camping at Look Rock Campground

We had a kid-o-rama up at Look Rock Campground this weekend.  When Sarah and I arrived the area where I like to camp was mostly empty.  A group of BMW enthusiasts arrived later, and soon we had plenty of company.  The campground closes for the year this Wednesday.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of firewood available near our campsite.  Sarah and I claimed a couple of the sites near the amphitheater inasmuch as she enjoys performing there for the entertainment/annoyance of other campers.
My friend Johnny and his children Natalie and Teddy arrived after dark Friday evening from Atlanta, and we took the kids on a misty hike to Look Rock tower Saturday morning after breakfast.
The trailhead in the campground has a new sign marking it.
I took this photograph of the kids sitting on one of the rocks behind the weather and air quality station near the tower.  The mist was blowing up the mountainside at us. 

I've been visiting Look Rock since I was a teenager, and discovered two wonderful new things about the area.  When we climbed down from the tower, the children wanted to see what is under and around it.  We found a cool little labyrinth of rocks near the tower, and the kids enjoyed climbing through and around them.

The kids also took us on a trail off of the parking area that quickly opened up into a beautiful view at a rock cliff.  There was a group of kids from Maryville College there getting themselves ready to rappel down the side.  We guided our kids to safer ground and continued our hike back to our campsites.
Johnny and the kids pose at the observation deck at the parking area
Here is another new sign.
My sister Laura and niece Grace arrived around 3:30 to 4:00 Saturday afternoon.  Grace quickly began accumulating a collection of leaves.  This was her first campout, and she enjoyed herself thoroughly.  She reminds me of her mama as a little girl in this picture.

 Sarah organized a performance for us at the amphitheater.
Johnny and I did what guys do at a campout.  We stood around and micromanaged the campfire.
Although I brought my Coleman stove, I was low on fuel, so Johnny broke out his handy propane grill and cooked hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone for supper Saturday evening.  Rain started an hour or so before dark, and we ended up raising a tarp over the picnic table to keep dry.  My gear is still drying out in the garage.

Fright Night

I saw the 1985 movie Fright Night at the small theater in downtown Lenoir, North Carolina.  At one of the scariest parts of the movie some guys in the balcony threw down a dummy with a rope around its neck into a crowd of girls seated below.  Their screaming scared everyone else in the theater.  It was a great venue to see a horror flick.  The toothy chick above is Amanda Bearse, who later played Marcie in Married With Children.
I liked Fright Night in part because the main vampire, Jerry, pictured above, was portrayed as charismatic, as Stoker portrayed Dracula in his novel.  Like most vampires, you wouldn't like Jerry when he's angry, or hungry.  The protagonist is a kid named Charley Brewster, and his friend, Evil Ed, was a cool character both before and after he became a vampire.

Roddy McDowell plays Peter Vincent, a reluctant Van Helsing type, and Jerry scoffs at Vincent's crucifix at first and says, "You have to have faith for that to work on me."  Later in the movie, having had some experience with vampires and having acquired the aforementioned faith, Vincent backs Jerry off using a crucifix.  Ultimately, the good guys win, and Bearse's character, Charley's girlfriend, is saved from existence as a vampire when Jerry is killed.

I recently learned that that a new version of the movie came out last year.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Space Pumpkins

In 1997 five brave pumpkin seeds orbited the Earth 251 times and were returned to a fellow who is currently director of UT's ag extension office in Davidson County.  The City Paper in Nashville has the story.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sarah's Third Grade Portrait

Sarah's portrait for third grade came home with her last Friday, as did her report card, both of which pleased her parents.  All three of our kids are growing up fast.

Friday, October 26, 2012

House of Wax

When I was a kid I was a fiend for horror films, and one of the local Knoxville television stations accommodated me nicely by playing old horror flicks on weekday afternoons just after I returned home from school each day.  Vincent Price was a staple of those movies.  The image above is from the 1953 film, House of Wax, which featured Price as Professor Henry Jarrod.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Lon Chaney, Sr., The Man of a Thousand Faces, depicted Quasimodo in the 1923 film adapted from Victor Hugo's novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, published in 1831.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fish Hook Removal

The Art of Manliness periodically addresses manly skills, such as removing a fish hook from human flesh, with helpful illustrations like the one above.  I've been fishing since I was a boy, and I was always nervous about getting hooked as a lad, even in the presence of experienced anglers like my Granddaddy Ogle and my Uncle Mack. 

I remember one of the members of my Boy Scout group getting hooked in the calf by two prongs of a treble hook on a camping trip.  He was one of the older members of the troop, and his distress made quite an impression on us other campers.  The barbs had already passed through his flesh, and so our scout master used the second technique shown above, cutting the prongs off and backing the hooks back out the way they came in.  I keep a pair of needle nose pliers with wire cutters in my tackle box to this day, just in case.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Saddleback Caterpillar

Our local NBC channel has a gardening expert from the University of Tennessee on the morning show once a week, and he recently discussed the wretched little beast known as the Saddleback Caterpillar, pictured above.  I had the misfortune to sit on one at a Boy Scout outing as a kid, and it is not an experience I would care to repeat.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Prince Albert By Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria of England was an artist, something I did not know until recently.  Above is her rendition of Prince Albert, and you can find more here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Celestial Neighbor

I read last week that astronomers have detected a planet in the binary Alpha Centuri system, the nearest solar system to our own, and it is similar in mass to Earth.  This is just in time for a joke I recently read involving Alpha Centuri, long the subject of science fiction tales.  Here it is:

The space captain returns to Earth from Alpha Centuri, announcing that a planet in the system had a species almost identical to humans of Earth, except they lack the final joint in each arm. 

In other words, the natives are wristless.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Peace From Grandmother Ogle and Laura

In the 1990's I coaxed peace signs out of Grandmother Ogle and my sister Laura in the backyard of Grandmother and Granddaddy's house at 319 North Jefferson Street in Winchester, Tennessee.  I remember being fascinated as a child by the tiny cones from the hemlock tree in the background.  I also remember throwing plenty of them at my little sisters.  The swing set our grandparents purchased for our amusement stood just to the left of the hemlock, and we used to worry Grandmother by rocking it off the ground while swinging.  (I could go for some of Grandmother's pecan pie about now.)

I was distressed this week to learn from the Winchester Herald Chronicle that there was a murder one block away from Grandmother and Granddaddy's old place on Wednesday.  The idea of gunfire on North Jefferson Street is appalling.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Foliage in Maryville

I put our digital camera in my car earlier in the week in order to take a few snapshots of the stunning fall foliage around town.  Unfortunately, my photography doesn't come close to capturing how beautiful the fall colors really are.  The tree in the courtyard of the courthouse is a lot prettier than in looks in these first two pictures.

These trees are on High Street in front of the law offices of Garner and Conner.
This tree across the street from John Sevier Elementary School is the reason I put the camera in the car in the first place, but its colors had changed from bright orange to red by the time I took this picture.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Sherry picked these out at the grocery store, and they now decorate our front porch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Road Trip to Bald River Falls and the Tellico Trout Hatchery

During our fall break visit to Monroe County, Sarah and I drove up through Tellico Plains to see Bald River Falls, pictured below.  I first camped in the Tellico River area when I was sixteen.  As a young man, I used to go up there quite often, but I haven't been up there in years until this trip.  The Tellico River is still as beautiful as it always has been.  I reconnoitered several campgrouds in the area for a future trip.

I had forgotten about the Tellico Trout Hatchery until I saw some signage for it as we made our way to the falls.  Sarah was impressed by all of the fish, including some that were absolutely huge.  She was more impressed by the cat that lived at the trout hatchery.  That is one lucky cat!

This blast of water was impressive, too.  I would hate to be standing in front of that thing.

Just one of these trout would feed a family.  They were huge!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Birthday Weekend in Pigeon Forge

We celebrated Joey and Jake's seventeenth birthday last weekend at La and Stew's Sunset Ridge cabin in Pigeon Forge.  It was their birthday desire to bring two friends with them, stay at Sunset Ridge and visit Dollywood.  They also requested an ice cream cake, which we all enjoyed.
Pictured above, from left to right, are Tyler, Brandon, Jake, Joey, and the pariah, Sarah.  In fairness, Sherry took a picture that was more inclusive.  It's hard to be the little one sometimes.
I initially planned not to join the group for the trip to Dollywood.  I don't generally go to the mountains to stand in lines for amusement park rides, and from Sunset Ridge you can hear the Dollywood train from the front porch while still enjoying being in the woods.  I decided to go along, however, and pledged myself, against my better judgment, to ride a roller coaster with Sarah if she was allowed to ride and wanted to go.  I rode two of them, and it will be a while before I have any interest in riding a roller coaster again.  Of course, Sarah's statement after each ride was, "That was awesome!"

This was on the train, which was much more my speed these days.
Sarah took this snapshot of Sherry and I near one of the water rides.  We decided not to chance getting wet, but the teenagers went for it.

I like overalls as well as jeans in the cooler months, especially for all the pockets.  Sherry and Sarah and I were watching some guys making sorghum molasses as we waited to catch up with Jake and Joey and their friends for lunch.  A lady inquired of her friend what was going on, and having seen a Heartland Series episode about making molasses just that morning, I answered her question.  Like the guys making the molasses, I was clad in overalls, so she figured I was an expert.  I had to explain, "No Ma'am.  I just saw a Heartland Series episode about this on Channel 10 this morning.  I'm a lawyer."

Secretly, however, I would love to learn how to make molasses.

Even scarier than the roller coasters was this ride, in which I had to ride in a miniature 1950's style car with Sarah driving.  The terror!

The ride was just long enough for the car's audio system to play Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."  (On a side note, watch the three minute video at the link.  It is Berry in 1958 at the height of his powers.)

I'm a history buff, so my favorite ride was the Dollywood Express.  We had a few cinders on us after the trip up the mountain and back, but it was fun imagining what it must have been like back in the day when everyone traveled by rail.

Sarah took this photograph of Sherry and I posing in front of the locomotive, though it is hard to see in the background.