Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hank Williams Last Ride

For Halloween Car Lust ran an article about this 1952 Cadillac convertible, which departed the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville on December 31, 1952, with Hank Williams in the back seat, where he passed away en route to a performance in Canton, Ohio.  According to the article, it is in the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, which we pass through on the way to the beach.  The car was in Hank Jr.'s museum in Nashville for a while.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Amish Vampires in Space

Horrors!  Amish Vampires in Space will be coming soon to a book store near you.  There's only one thing to do.  Call Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire HunterA time warp of some kind will be necessary to get Abe a space suit.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Health Check at Tims Ford Dam


Some of my earliest fishing experiences were with Dad and Granddaddy Ogle on Tims Ford Reservoir in Franklin County, Tennessee, where Dad grew up.  Usually we fished from the bank, but Granddaddy's neighbor and friend Robert had a John boat we went out on every now and then.  According to the Winchester Herald Chronicle, Tims Ford Dam is undergoing a health check, which is being performed by the Tennessee Valley Authority.  I learned from the article that the dam was only built in 1970, when I was seven.  It didn't take Granddaddy long to start fishing that lake.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Back Side of Christmas

We enjoyed a bountiful Christmas.  Joey and Jake drove here from Nashville for the first time, and arrived at lunch time on Christmas Eve.  They departed yesterday morning, and we were glad to hear they made it back safely. 

We usually don't let our Christmas decorations linger much after the big day, and this year was no exception.  The tree is on the street, the floor has been swept of evergreen needles and the boxes of decorations are stowed away until next year.  I love the holiday season, but when it is over I like having the house back to normal.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Meatballs

During the holiday season, it is good to have a few quick appetizer recipes on hand should the need arise.  Here's a good one for meatballs from the Nobel Pig.  We do something similar, only with barbecue sauce instead of the French dressing.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Crossing the Delaware

During the night of December 25-26, 1776, George Washington and his Continental Army troops crossed the Delaware River to attack Hessian (German) mercenaries in Trenton, New Jersey.  The American troops defeated the Hessians in the Battle of Trenton.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Deck the Molls

When she is outside our cat Molly likes to sit under the bush at our front porch, so she loves Christmas because we bring a big plant into the house for her to sit under.  We leave a clear place amid the presents for her.  Both cats like the wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes after the kids open presents.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mad Science: Experimenting on Carnations

We had Christmas with Sherry's parents in Nashville last weekend, and among Sarah's many gifts was a book of science experiments from Grams.  Sarah wanted to perform an experiment from the book to angle for extra credit when school starts back, and the first one in the book required carnations, which we acquired from Coulter's Florist across from her school.

The experiment required four containers of differently colored water, and you put a carnation in each one except the stem of one flower is split in half with each half going into a different container.  I suggested Erlenmeyer flasks, which produced this conversation that could only happen in my house:

Dad:  We should use Erlenmeyer flasks for your experiment.
Sarah:  What are they?
Dad:  They are flasks like you'd find in a mad scientist's laboratory.
Sarah:  Do you have any?
Dad:  Of course.  I got them for Christmas last year.


Monday, December 23, 2013

The Boongs of Christmas Past

Here are a couple of photographs of Sarah and Santa from when she was about three and four years old.  Her snake skin boots were hand-me-downs from brother Jake the Snake. 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice

Today is the winter solstice, which is the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year, so our days start growing longer again instead of shorter.  Is it spring yet?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Coulter Grove Christmas

Sherry and I visited Sarah's school recently for lunch and family gathering.  Santa greets you as you enter the lunch line.
We liked this pretty winter scene.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home Made Pizza

We make pizza at home from time to time, but have never tried to be fancy about it.  We usually use dry store-brand pizza dough mix with an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce seasoned with basil, oregano, garlic powder and Tiger Seasoning for the pizza sauce.  Add mozzarella and pepperoni on top of that, and Sarah's happy.  The crust is always pretty lame, though, with no firmness to it.  Perhaps I'll try something a little more involved some day, like this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wright Brothers Flight

On December 17, 1903, the famous first flight of the Wright brothers occurred at coastal Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  This is an image of that flight, with Orville in the aircraft and Wilbur running alongside.  I wonder what they would have thought about a space station.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Courthouse Christmas

Christmas decorations are adorning our fair community as the yuletide approaches.  The courthouse has festive wreaths at its entrances.
The nice ladies in the county purchasing department have a very pretty tree to brighten their office.  I will try to post some more snapshots of the decorations around town as we approach Christmas.



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our Halls Are Decked

Sarah's had a big weekend.  She and Sherry marched in the local parade yesterday for the child's theater group, and after that Sarah went to a friend's house for a birthday party and sleepover.  While Sherry was still asleep this morning I went out and bought our Christmas tree, which we decorated after I picked Sarah up from the sleepover.
Sherry wrapped some Christmas presents earlier this week.  The wrapping paper, as one would expect, attracted a cat.  Molly also likes to hang out on the tree skirt under the Christmas tree.
Here are our stockings hung by the chimney with care.  We are excited that Joey and Jake are going to spend Christmas week with us.  It will be their first drive from Nashville to Maryville.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Eugene Cernan, Last Human On the Moon

On December 14, 1972, American astronaut Eugene Cernan lifted his foot from the surface of the moon to climb aboard the lunar module Challenger.  He was the last human on the moon.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Review -- The Three Muskateers by Alexandre Dumas


Someone gave me an illustrated copy of The Three Muskateers, by Alexandre Dumas, many years ago, and I never made it past the first few pages until this year, when I managed to read the entire novel for the first time over the course of several months.  It is over 700 pages long, and I would have understood it a lot better if I had a better knowledge of the language, culture and geography of France and of the history of Europe in the 1600's.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the swashbuckling, romantic story.  "Un pour tous; tous pour un!"  ("All for one; one for all!").

I got a taste of the 1600's in England and America by listening to the audiobook version of Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul, and The Three Muskateers furthered my interest in that period, which saw the earliest European colonization of what later became the United States.  I knew many of those earliest settlers fled England, and other countries, because of religious persecution, but intend to learn more about the details of the political and religious conflicts that led people to immigrate from Europe to America.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Eclipse in NYC

This eclipse occurred at sunrise earlier this month.  This is what it looked like from New York.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pet Rodents

When we were kids, Mom was attending the University of Tennessee and studying psychology, so over the years we had a variety of rodents in cages at our house for her to study, including mice, rats and gerbils.  As children, we naturally considered them to be pets, however neurotic they may have become under our roof.  We eventually prevailed upon our parents to buy us a hamster, which unfortunately the university would not supply.  Nevertheless, Mom and Dad bought us a couple of hamsters, and a Guinea pig and a rabbit at various times.

The cool thing about hamsters is that they have large pouches in their cheeks that will hold a lot of sunflower seeds, and the uncool thing about them is that they are nocturnal and will make lots of noise at night, particularly if they have an exercise wheel.  Mental Floss recently had an article that says that the Golden Hamster is a native of Syria, and that all of them on the pet store market today are direct descendants of a single interbred litter of the creatures that was found in 1930.

For my money, even if your university won't provide them to you for free to experiment upon, gerbils are by far the best rodent pet.  They sleep when you do, and they have tails for easy handling, if necessary.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Lights

We put up some of our Christmas lights yesterday afternoon.  I brought all of our Christmas boxes up from the basement, and we'll probably deck our halls further today.  Rain is due to set in again around lunch time, and is supposed to be with us a while.  It is a good day for home.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Restaurant Review -- Nero's Grill, Nashville, Tennessee

While we were in Nashville last weekend, Grams treated us to lunch at Nero's Grill, which is located at 2122 Hillsboro Drive in the same building that once housed Green Hills Grill.  While I was a bit wistful for Green Hills Grill, where Sherry and I liked to dine when we lived in Nashville, I was impressed by Nero's.  I had crab cakes and asparagus, which were delightful, and Jake and Joey had these enormous meatloaf and onion ring sandwiches that only teenage boys could devour in one sitting, which of course they did.  It was a fun outing.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Merry Krampus!

In Europe they do things a bit differently at Christmas time.  Santa arrives with gifts for all the good little boys and girls on Saint Nicholas Day, which is usually December 6.  Arriving with Santa is Krampus, pictured above in Munich, Germany, who punishes the bad kids.  The tradition has found its way here to the United States, where Los Angles has a series of events.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Martin Van Buren

On December 5, 1782, Martin Van Buren, the Sly Fox of Kinderhook, was born.  He was the eighth President of the United States after having served as Secretary of State and Vice President under President Andrew Jackson of Tennessee.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Washington Bids Farewell to His Officers

On December 4, 1783,  in the Fraunces Tavern in New York City, General George Washington bade farewell to the officers of the Continental Army after the success of the American Revolution.  To them he said, "[w]ith a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable."

Restaurant Review -- Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge, Banner Elk, North Carolina

During our fall break trip we ate lunch at the Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge Espresso Bar and Eatery on Highway 184 in Banner Elk, North Carolina.  Sarah and I ordered pizza, and Sherry had a nice tilapia sandwich she let me try.  The staff members were friendly, and the service was good.  I had a seven inch pizza, and it was really too big to eat at one sitting, although I did.  Later that day we walked down the Beech Mountain ski slope, so I ended up working it off, I hope.
This elk statue has graced downtown Banner Elk for decades.  It is a nice little college and resort town.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Backpack Debate


Two things I notice on the University of Tennessee campus when I pass through these days is the prominence of personal electronic devices and the fact that everyone wears backpacks using both straps, which would have been regarded as unusual when I was in college and law school in the late '80's and early '90's.  I always carried my back pack on campus with one strap, and most everyone else did back then.  I recently ran across an article that suggests some reasons for the change.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bruno's Leaves Seagrove Plaza

Each summer when we visit the beach our first meal is Bruno's pizza, which is conveniently located walking distance from Beachwood Villas, where we stay on vacation in Seagrove Beach, Florida.  Last week I learned that after 23 years, Bruno's is vacating Seagrove Plaza and moving three miles down the road to a larger space.  While we are happy the business is thriving to the point that they need more space in which to operate, we will miss the convenience of sending the boys to pick up a couple of pizzas while we load into the condo.  I sure will miss the smell of those pies cooking as we pass through the plaza on our way to the beach!