Thursday, July 31, 2014

Snapshots From First Day of School

As previously noted, yesterday was Sarah's first day of fifth grade, and as her parents we took the obligatory photographs on the first day of school.  They divide the class into "Houses" in the style of Harry Potter, and each class has a color.  Sarah is in the Purple House this year, and dressed accordingly.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back to School

Students in the Maryville City School system begin fall classes today.  Sarah is a fifth grader this year.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Incoming Meteor

This meteor was captured over Indonesia during the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower.  (Via Royal Observatory Greenwich)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday at Buckberry Creek Chalet

With Sherry in Nashville this weekend, my sister Laura invited Sarah and I up to her Buckberry Creek Chalet on Ski Mountain Road in Gatlinburg yesterday.  As I suspected, Sarah and I got an earlier start than Laura and Grace did, so we drove through the park.  We stopped at the Sinks and walked around a bit.  I always impress upon the child the danger the waterfall there, pictured above, but then I also show her all the crazy places up there where, in my youth, I used to throw myself off of the cliffs and into the wonderful swimming hole below the falls.  It's a great place to visit, but beware of those falls.
I recently read that the National Park Service was having a new shake roof put on the Noah "Bud" Ogle home place, and before we drove up to the chalet, we went to check it out.  As you can see, most of the work has been completed, and the old roof was definitely in need of repair.
Sarah and I arrived at the cabin first, but Laura and Grace showed up about lunch time.  Sarah and I worked a puzzle and played pool while we waited.
Both of Laura and Stewart's Ski Mountain Road chalets are part of Chalet Village, which gives them and their guests access to the community's amenities, including several clubhouses and two pools.  The nearest pool is just a minute or two up Ski Mountain Road from the chalets.  La and Stew have four rental properties in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and they rent them through VBRO.  Here's a link to Mountain Laurel Chalet, also on Ski Mountain Road.  (They don't have Buckberry listed yet, but they do rent it out when the other three are full.)
Grace has been working on her swimming skills, and is practicing going further into the deep end to jump in.  The girls had a good time playing at the pool while Laura and I cooled our heels in the mountain sunshine.
This slide got a lot of action while we were at the pool.  I went down it a couple of times, and it was a pretty good ride.
After we got back to the chalet, we walked down the hill to Buckberry Creek, for which the chalet is named.  It is a nice little creek, and you can hear its music from the chalet.

We rounded out our day by cooking hamburgers on the grill, playing cards and building card houses.  Laura has learned to play "Sentimental Journey" on the piano in honor of our dad, who liked to play it on his piano when we were growing up to unwind from work.  We also performed the obligatory rendition of "Heart and Soul."  (Ours is a far cry from this awesome version.)
We did not see any bears, or any other wildlife other than a ground hog road kill, this weekend; however, a trip to the Smokies inclines me to issue a public service announcement about bears because I have seen so many tourists put themselves and their children at risk by approaching these wild beasts.  They may seem cute, but they can and do kill and eat people.  The park service has a current warning for bears in several areas of the park.  They also have helpful information about what to do if you see bears during a visit to our mountains.  Read it and follow the directions if you encounter a bear.  A mama bear with cubs, as cute as they may be, is particularly dangerous.  We East Tennesseans mean it when we say, "Y'all come back now, y'hear?"

Friday, July 25, 2014

A View of the Potomac

The National Park Service has webcams at various parks throughout the United States, including one at Look Rock tower in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I captured this picture from the NPS webcam in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


On July 24, 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 returned safely to Earth after their historic mission the the moon.  Because they landed in the ocean, this was known as a splashdown.  There is a wonderful spread of photographs from the mission at the The Atlantic.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Daddy, What's a Scaramouche?

My daughter, age ten, has been enjoying music by the rock band Queen recently, and after hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" she inquired, "Daddy, what's a Scaramouche?"  I confessed that I did not know, but shortly thereafter ran across an article in Mental Floss that explained it.  He's basically a clown from Italian comedy.

This was as bad as when she asked me where paisleys come from.  I asked a lawyer I know what parents did before the internet, and he said they just made it up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sundogs and Such

There is all manner of coolness going on in this image from Vancouver, British Columbia, including an upper tangent arc, halo and sundogs.  For more information on all this visit Earth Science Picture of the Day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Armstrong on the Moon

On July 21, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk upon the moon.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Foothills Milling Company Bakery

A couple of weeks ago this sign for a new Foothills Milling Company Bakery appeared at the former home of Five Points Restaurant, which is just down the hill from our house.  We've noticed activity there and surmised that someone was readying the building for something, and now we know what.  I sent them an e-mail via their website, and the person who replied said they were not ready to announce an opening date.  It will be nice to have an eatery within walking distance of the house again.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Maryville Saturday

Although it has been raining this morning here in Maryville, we've been out and about running errands.  I did our weekly grocery shopping before the womenfolk awakened, and got drenched getting groceries from the store to the car and from the car into the house.  After the gals woke up Sherry made some breakfast, and we made tabouli, a wonderful salad made with parsley, mint, tomato, onion and seasonings.  We also have a crock pot full of fresh green beans, which we are cooking with bacon, onion and garlic.  I bought a pork loin and some chicken at the store, but I may hold off on that until tomorrow.

The girls are off getting their nails done, and we are going to visit with some friends later this afternoon.  Sarah's child care program is closed next week, and Mom and Laura are going to spend time with her while Sherry and I are working.  This includes an overnight trip to Mom's and much spoiling of my child.  Sarah is very excited about it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Snellen Chart

The display of letters one encounters when having one's vision tested is called a Snellen Chart after its inventor Hermann Snelling.  I plan to impress my ophthalmologist next time I see him.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Restaurant Review -- Holston's Kitchen, Sevierville, Tennessee

I recently attended a luncheon meeting at Holston's Kitchen, 639 Dolly Parton Parkway, in Sevierville, Tennessee, a restaurant I have wanted to try for some time now.  Unfortunately, I got my wires crossed and thought it was on the parkway that runs from Sevierville to Gatlinburg (i.e. Highway 441), so I arrived late for the meeting, which was my own fault.  Fortunately, I got there in time to have lunch and participate in the meeting.  I had the country fried steak with mashed potatoes, white gravy and broccoli, all of which were delicious.  With iced tea and the tip it was about $20.00.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Launch of Apollo 11

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11, the first mission to take humans to the moon, was launched by a Saturn V rocket, pictured here at liftoff.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Visit to Louisville Point Park

Over the weekend, Sarah and I went out to Louisville Point Park, which was a fifteen to twenty minute trip by canoe from my erstwhile residence in Louisville and about the same by automobile from our current Maryville residence.  Both of these photographs show Fort Loudon Lake, the flooded channel of the Tennessee River, with west Knox County on the other shore.  The park is on a peninsula which separates Fort Loudon Lake from Louisville Lake, which was also created by Fort Loudon Dam.

Monday, July 14, 2014

More From the Weekend

Here are a few more snapshots from our weekend.  We are determined to make our deck more colorful, and flowers and paint seem to be doing the job.
Our wrought iron deck furniture was black, and badly in need of a paint job.  Sherry decided to paint the table and each of the four chairs a different color.

In addition to outdoor chores, we also did some cooking.  Sarah baked some blueberry muffins for her breakfasts next week.
I made my first batch of gumbo yesterday.  The recipe called for two to three pounds of fried chicken, and I cooked four.  I also used Andouille sausage.
The recipe called for the Holy Trinity of New Orleans cooking, namely sauteed onion, green pepper and celery. 
Now that the deck has been pressure washed, we hope to begin staining it next weekend.
Our outdoor furniture is much more festive now.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Household Projects

We had a busy Saturday, which began at Wal-Mart.  Sherry claims to hate the place, but it is difficult to get her to leave one.
We potted some flowers last weekend, and the plants seem to have settled into their new home well enough.
We decided to work on our deck this weekend.  We pressure washed it last year, but it needs some more cleaning before we can stain it.  Sherry and I worked on the deck, and Sherry and Sarah painted our deck furniture.  I am going to purchase more cleaning and paint supplies shortly.
 Sherry attacks the deck with the pressure washer.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Final Foothills Fall Festival

Maryville city leaders, citing rising entertainment costs, announced this week that the Foothills Fall Festival this October will be the last.  The festival was first held in 1999, and it is something our community has become accustomed to.  It has been several years since we paid for the tickets to see performers at the entertainment venue at the amphitheater in the Greenbelt Park, but we enjoy visiting the vendors' booths and the kids' play area.  During the 2006 festival, Sherry and I made the decision to move to Maryville from Nashville so I could reestablish my law practice here.  Fall will be different without the Foothills Fall Festival here in Blount County.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nazgul Ride From Mordor Tonight

Thankfully, this is just the northern lights above Norway, not Ringwraiths issuing forth from Orodruin.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Restaurant Review -- It Don't Matter Family Restaurant, Highland Home, Alabama

On the way back from the beach in June we stopped in for breakfast at the It Don't Matter Family Restaurant, 18700 Montgomery Highway (Highway 331), Highland Home, Alabama.  We were served promptly, and all enjoyed our breakfast.  As the sign says, they have a lunch buffet, which may come in handy next year because we're usually looking for lunch about the time we pass through Highland Home.  One drawback for Sherry was that there is a nearby Pepsi bottling facility, and so most of the businesses down there serve Pepsi rather than Coke products.  Since we all like iced tea, it wasn't much of a problem.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Restaurant Review -- Gondola Pizza and Steakhouse Restaurant, Tullahoma, Tennessee

On our way to Estill Springs back in May we stopped in for lunch at the Gondola Pizza and Steakhouse Restaurant at 412 East Carroll Street, Tullahoma, Tennessee.  Grandmother and Granddaddy Ogle took us to eat there from time to time when we were children.  I ate there a couple of times in my 20's, but haven't been in the Gondola for years, though I have fond memories.  Sherry and Sarah ordered a pizza, and I had the gyro and some fries, all of which were good food for hungry travelers.  Their menu is extensive, and their prices quite reasonable.  The Gondola has served quality food at good prices for decades.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Granddaddy Ogle's 110th Birthday

My paternal grandfather, William Ellis Ogle, was born on July 7, 1904, so this is his 110th birthday.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

More Fun on the Fourth

Sister Leslie sent us a few snapshots from our day on the river Friday.  The weather was nice for floating around in the sun.
Laura's house is on a hill high above the Little River.  Mom came down to the dock with us to enjoy some sunshine, too.
We enjoyed this multi-person float Laura bought for the occasion.  Fortunately, she has an electric air pump.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fun on the Fourth

We spent the afternoon yesterday at Laura's place on the Little River.  The weather was absolutely wonderful, and after eating the obligatory Independence Day barbecued chicken, potato salad and corn on the cob we walked down to the river for a dip.  La bought a couple of big floats, and we floated around her dock soaking up sunshine.

Sarah got in some kayaking practice on Laura's little one-person kayak, and the child paddled all the way across the river, which is a pretty good haul there near the mouth of the Little River as it feeds into the Tennessee River.  Grace is getting to be a pretty good paddler, too.  I'm curious to see how well they can handle a canoe.  To our shock, Sarah is now wearing an adult life jacket, so we handed down her small one to Gracie.

Sherry is reading the last book in the Harry Potter series, and she borrowed all of the movies from a friend at work, so we are also having a Harry Potter movie marathon this weekend.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

I have a long standing tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence aloud on Independence Day.  If you are so inclined, you can click here for the text.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Colorado River Reaches the Sea

Living in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, we don't worry much about having enough water.  It is a big issue in the American Southwest.  The Colorado River has not reached the sea in decades.  It is diverted to provide water for cities and farms in the United States and Mexico, but recently the governments of the two nations agreed to an environmental experiment to release water into the river's empty delta system.  It reached the Gulf of California, and as it flowed downstream people who had lived beside an empty river bed for years suddenly had their river back, if only for a short time.  Some environmentalist/scientist dudes paddled it.  Here is the very cool story.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Congress Votes For Independence

John Adams believed that we would celebrate Independence Day on July 2, the day the Second Continental Congress adopted Richard Henry Lee's motion to declare independence from England.  We wrote his wife Abigail, "The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America."  Although he got the day wrong, he had a pretty good idea of how we would celebrate.