Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve


Today is New Year's Eve, and here in the United States many people stay up past midnight to welcome the New Year, often with Champagne and raucous celebration. Being an observer of  Benjamin Franklin's admonishment "early to bed early to rise," I will greet 2017 tomorrow morning.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Jungle Kitty

We keep a peace lily on a table next to one of the windows in our bedroom, and our cat Molly loves to jump up on the table and hang out under the leaves of the plant. It is one of her favorite places in the house, and she loves to be petted when she's up there.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday

For today's throwback Thursday picture, here are Sarah and I out buying our Christmas tree five years ago.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Woodrow Wilson's Birthday

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, was born on December 28, 1856, in Staunton, Virginia.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sevier County After the Fires

We just got home from Cozy Creek. It was our first trip to Sevier County since the terrible wildfires that raged through the area just before Christmas and their busy holiday season, and it is apparent that tourism hasn't fully bounced back. I knew that the Chalet Village fires came close to La and Stew's two A-Frames on Ski Mountain Road, but I didn't realize how close they came to Cozy Creek on Flat Bracnh Road, where there was fire damage on the mountain just a couple of hundred yards down the road from it.

We drove into Gatlinburg, one of the areas hardest hit by the fires, and there is extensive damage on either side of the parkway, although the parkway itself, the main artery through town, was not damaged. There were many gutted structures on either side of the parkway just a few blocks off of it. We drove up River Road to Ski Mountain Road, and both had many burned out structures, including some of the old hotel properties near the bottom of Ski Mountain Road. My friend Johnny's family has a timeshare in a condo complex on Ski Mountain Road that I've been to, and it was hit hard, though if memory serves me correctly the building the Johnny's family's unit was in was not burned. The building housing their wonderful indoor pool was totaled, though.

The most horrific sights, however, were on Wiley Oakley Road, where several people lost their lives that night. If you are not familiar with this road, it is a challenge in the daytime. I can only imagine what it was like trying to drive out of there with the world on fire around you, especially if you didn't grow up driving on curvy mountain roads. (If you haven't seen the video of that, it is here.) We drove from the Chalet Village end to the Pigeon Forge end at the visitor center, and the best word I've heard to describe it is "hellscape." Wiley Oakley is a long road, and I would guess something like 90% or more of the homes on it were destroyed. The ones that are left are surrounded by the ruins of their former neighbors.

If you want to help our friends and neighbors up in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the rest of beautiful Sevier County, the locals up there are open for business and want people up in the mountains enjoying the hospitality. While there is fire damage to be seen, the mountain scenery is still beautiful and all of the shops, restaurants and other businesses are ready to serve. If you are able to give time or a monetary donation go to the Mountain Tough website and help them out that way, too.

Sunset at the Farm

We went to see our friends Tom and Denise over the holidays and captured this picture of the sun setting over their farm off Montvale Road.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Meatloaf Recipe

Back in the early 1990's, I clipped a meatloaf recipe out of The Daily Times, our local newspaper, because it was similar to the meatloaf Dad made for us when he took over the household cooking when Mom went back to college. I've tweaked it a bit over the years, but not much. Mom asked for it the other day, and I was surprised to learn I've never posted it here before, so now is the time.

MEATLOAF

1.5 pounds ground chuck
3/4 cup oatmeal
7 oz. jar pimientos
3/4 cup chopped onion (or one packet instant French onion soup)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (I use Lea & Perrins)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and mix ingredients in large bowl. Shape into loaf on broiler pan lined with parchment paper, and bake 50 to 60 minutes until 160 degrees inside. Let it stand for 5 minutes before slicing to serve.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Movie Review -- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It should surprise precisely no one that on my first day of Christmas vacation Sarah and I went to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story yesterday. It is the first movie in the Star Wars universe that lies outside the story surrounding the Skywalker family told in the first seven films, and it is the story of the rebels that stole the plans to the Death Star that end up in Princess Leia's possession in the very first Star Wars film, now known as A New Hope. It is also the first of the Star Wars movies that tells a complete story within itself. I won't go into details in order to avoid spoilers, but it is a fun movie with interesting new characters and appearances by familiar ones.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Kitty

As soon as we put up our Christmas tree each year, Molly claims her place under it as the Christmas kitty. We leave a clear place on the tree skirt for her, or she'd lay right on top of the presents.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Throwback Thursday

For throwback Thursday, here's Sarah at age two at a photographer's studio in Nashville. The kid was bald at birth, and we had people mistaking her for a boy until her hair finally started coming in, which is about when this was taken.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

By the Chimney With Care

As I've reported here earlier, we repainted our fireplace last year and had a crew come out to repair and put a cover on our chimney and to install a new gas fireplace unit. We've enjoyed it quite a bit already this season, and decked it out with stockings and ribbon for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

O Christmas Tree

This is our Christmas tree this year. We decorated the weekend before last, and we typically have everything put away and the tree on the curb within a day of opening presents. We've also adopted the elf on the shelf routine for Sarah, but this year she doesn't seem too into it. We may let that fade out next year.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Lights at Work

I went into work early one morning and was struck by how pretty the decorations are at the justice center and hospital. The Christmas tree in the foreground is on the grounds of the justice center, and the hospital, with its Christmas tree lights on the roof, is in the background. The justice center also has a nice wreath with lights on it over its front doors, but I didn't get a good picture of it.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Early Christmas Gathering

Laura, Stewart and Grace are going to be in Canada for Christmas, so had an early holiday gathering at their place yesterday. Stewart wasn't able to be there, but inasmuch as he is in Hawaii, none of us felt too bad for him. Sarah has been absorbed by a drawing project for the past few days, so she brought her art supplies with her.
Sarah picked up Grace to pose for a holiday hug.
Laura prepared a magnificent standing rib roast, and Leslie made a yummy broccoli casserole and brought a bunch of sweets. Our contribution was mashed potatoes and Sherry's apricot nectar cake.
Sherry and I mug for the camera beside the Christmas tree in Laura's living room. The sofa is the one that used to be in Grandmother and Granddaddy Ogle's living room. It was white. Laura wisely recovered it with a nice green.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bad Influence

Emma tries to talk us out of going to work almost every day, and on Fridays she is especially persuasive. (Or should I say purrr-suasive?) Nevertheless, duty calls.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Throwback Thursday

For today's throwback Thursday picture we go again to the 1940's to find Grandmother Ogle posing on the front porch of the Camp, which she formally named Hillside Cottage. We had a sign made for her that still hangs on the front door, but nobody ever calls it that. In the old picture you can see how few trees there were back then. The next project on our list out there is to repair the porch and then to rewire the place.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Here's Lookin' at You, Kid

This is Prohodna Cave in Bulgaria looking up at a feature in the cave's ceiling aptly named the Eyes of God. (Via Earth Science Picture of the Day)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last Moonwalk

On December 13, 1972, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt conducted the third and final spacewalk of Apollo 17. It was the last time humans set foot on the moon as of this writing. Cernan is pictured next to a lunar rover with the American flag in the background.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Birthday Frank Sinatra

Legendary singer Frank Sinatra was born December 12, 1915, in Hoboken, New Jersey. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Busy Saturday

Just checking in for a quick Saturday update. Sarah is marching in the Maryville/Alcoa Christmas Parade with the Primary Players theater group, but should be home soon. Sherry is at work for the farm, and I am manning the fort here on Everett Hill until they get back after rounding up our groceries and a Christmas tree.  Mom and my sisters are gathering across the river to see my niece Grace perform in the Nutcracker at the Ice Chalet over in Knoxville. There's no business like show business.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Calico Nirvana

This is as close to Nirvana as Sarah gets, being kicked back in bed with two cats, an electric blanket and an I-pad. Not a bad way to pass a quiet day at home this weekend.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Throwback Thursday

We're going way back to the 1940's for today's throwback Thursday picture. This is an old picture of the Camp, our family cabin in Estill Springs. For comparison, there's a picture of it from a couple of years ago below. It is amazing how small and few the trees were back then. In my memory, it has always been a cabin in the woods.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sputnik Planum

As scientists continue to study data transmitted from Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft, some are speculating that the large heart-shaped area, known now as Sputnik Planum, may have an ocean under it after some large object impacted Pluto. (Via Astronomy Picture of the Day)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pool Cat

Saturday, December 3, 2016

December Saturday

These are a couple of pictures of fall foliage here on Everett Hill from a few weeks ago, Wind and rain have taken most of the leaves at this point. We expect more rain over the next several days that will hopefully help the firefighters still working the Chimney Tops fires In the Smokies. City officials allowed residents and owners back into Gatlinburg yesterday during the day, and they are doing so again today so that people can assess their property. They hope to reopen the Parkway and other main roads next week.
We plan to do some cooking this weekend here at home in Maryville. I bought ingredients for McAllister's tortilla chicken soup, and we have some brown bananas that we will make into banana bread. Sherry is at work at her part time job at Blackberry Farm, and Sarah is leaving at 1:00 p.m. for a friend's birthday at an escape room in Knoxville, so I'll have some time for cooking.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Buckberry and Mountain Springs Chalets Survive the Great Fire of 2016

Laura got word yesterday morning that both Buckberry Chalet and Mountain Springs Chalet survived the fire, despite being in Chalet Village, part of which burned. They had renters in all four of their places in Sevier County for Thanksgiving weekend, but they all checked out Sunday, before the wildfires swept the mountains there. Laura pointed out the decorative flag in the driveway at Buckberry says "In everything give thanks." Amen. Sunset Ridge and Cozy Creek are still okay, too.

Others, however, were not so lucky. The death toll and property damage numbers have been increasing as emergency personnel are able to get into more places as they clear debris. The local television stations here are giving it wall to wall coverage if you want more information. There are a lot of scary pictures and videos out there.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday

For today's throwback Thursday picture, here's Mom and Sarah in 2006, the year before we moved from Nashville to Maryville.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Battle of Franklin

Battle of Franklin by Kurz and Allison (1891)

On November 30, 1864, the Confederate Army of Tennessee suffered devastating losses attacking fortified positions manned by Union troops in the Battle of Franklin.


Sevier County Conflagration

Disaster struck neighboring Sevier County on Monday, when high winds blew embers from a wildfire at Chimney Tops all over the county. Three people are dead, many others are injured and the loss of property is devastating. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge were both evacuated, although Pigeon Forge rescinded its evacuation order yesterday. At a press conference yesterday afternoon Governor Haslam said it is the worst fire in the state in 100 years.

As of yesterday, Laura and Stew had word that their cabins Cozy Creek and Sunset Ridge were still standing, but have no information on Mountain Springs Chalet and Buckberry Chalet. They are both in Gatlinburg's Chalet Village, which suffered damage due to the fires. The fires were still burning last night, but we have had heavy rain overnight and today. Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors in Sevier County.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Battle of Spring Hill


On November 29, 1864, the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Lt. General John Bell Hood attacked Union troops commanded by Major General John M. Schofield at Spring Hill, Tennessee. The Confederate forces were unable to prevent Schofield from reaching fortifications at Franklin.

Monday, November 28, 2016

South Jupiter

This image, taken by the Juno spacecraft, shows clouds near Jupiter's south pole. (Via Astronomy Picture of the Day)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Day of Feasting

Grams and Joey came in Wednesday afternoon from Nashville, and they accompanied Sherry to Asheville Thanksgiving Day to see Jake. We're having our Thanksgiving meal today, and I put the turkey in the oven at 4:30 a.m. so that it will be ready to serve at midday. We're going also going to make mashed potatoes, cheese peas and deviled eggs, and Sherry's going to make her raspberry jello salad and possibly pecan pie. Laura and Leslie are going to work around that. For dessert, we got a gluten-free carrot cake from Lambert's Pie Shop to accommodate Mom, and we have ice cream and whipped cream to top it with. The food coma awaits us with open arms.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Chris P. Bacon

Our friends Tom and Denise recently bought some piglets for their farm. My response to this news was "Yum!" We live in the Hogs and Hominy State, after all. Sherry assumed they were intended to be pets and reprimanded me accordingly, but after visiting the farm this weekend she learned that they will only be pets until such time as they weigh 250 pounds, at which time they will be converted into barbecue, bacon and other tasty pork dishes. Tom has a couple of big cookers on the property, so I suspect a pig pickin' is in their future. I've named this one Chris P. Bacon.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lightning Strikes

This spectacular photograph of a lightning strike near the Washington Monument was captured in 2003. (Via Earth Science Picture of the Day)

Walland Mountain Fire

We have a mountain wildfire burning in nearby Walland, and it has grown to over 1,100 acres, although firefighters have it 75% contained. Sherry texted me last Thursday afternoon, when it first started, and told me to look outside. I had to go check our slot in the mail room at the courthouse anyway, so I walked outside to see this pillar of smoke. We may get a little rain today or tonight to help the firefighters out some.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Death of Blackbeard

On November 22, 1718, Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, was killed in a battle with British naval forces off Okracoke Island, North Carolina.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

At Last, Rain!


I woke up this morning to the sound of rain for the first time in weeks, and it was good to have, although it didn't last long. We have a mountain fire burning wild in nearby Walland, and I imagined the firefighters and homeowners cheering when the rain started pouring down. The Daily Times reported this morning that the fire covers 500 acres, and WBIR said it is only 25% contained, so they have a lot more work to do.

We had a gathering yesterday to celebrate Laura and Leslie's birthday over at La and Stew's place, and we're having another one today to celebrate Sarah's. She's having three guests sleep over tonight, and we expect Joey and Abby sometime today. I plan to cook Santa Fe soup today, and we're going to cook cupcakes and hamburgers and hot dogs for Sarah's birthday party this afternoon. We're going to let the kids decorate the cupcakes.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Happy Birthday to Sarah, Leslie and Laura!

Happy birthday to Sarah and her aunties, Laura and Leslie! I still marvel that my child was born the same day as my twin sisters were.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday

For today's throwback Thursday picture we have Sarah riding a tricycle up in the Smokies at the Look Rock picnic shelter, which has since closed, along with the campground, both of which are a loss to the community.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

More Cabin Pics

Here are a few more pictures from our recent trip to Estill Springs. The glider sofa on the screened porch got lots of use last weekend.
Although this year's drought definitely muted the colors of the fall foliage, it was still very pretty out in the woods.
La and me
For supper Saturday afternoon we had barbecued drumsticks. I really like this little grill we bought to replace our old one. This one is small enough to store inside the screened porch, so it won't weather as bad.
Sarah spent some time sketching on the cot in the bedroom.
Sherry came back from Nashville a couple of months ago with a big box of various candles, so I replenished the supply at the Camp, which was getting low.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Articles of Confederation

On November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress approved the final draft of the Articles of Confederation for ratification by the thirteen original States. The Articles created a toothless national government that suffered from many weaknesses, which led to the adoption of the United States Constitution in 1787.