Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas in Gatlinburg!

From the first time I ever visited the Smoky Mountain town of Gatlinburg back when I was a nineteen year old boy, I always thought it would be the greatest adventure to spend Christmas there.  All of these years have gone by, and I was never able to get away for a Christmas in that gorgeous village that is nestled into the ridges of the Smokies below storied Mt LeConte.

And, when I discovered early in my relationship with Cindy that she, too, had always dreamed of a Gatlinburg Christmas, we made a vow to spend Christmas there the first chance we got.

It happened this year!  We made reservations almost a year in advance at the Edgewater Hotel in the heart of the downtown area.  Our room overlooked the Little Pigeon River, and we had a balcony that jutted over that friendly rill, and our view of Mt LeConte and the Space Needle and the surrounding hills was spectacular.

We were in easy walking distance of all of downtown---the shops and galleries and restaurants and yes, the tourist traps.  And walk we did---all over the place.  Our cameras were ablaze both night and day.  Oh, what fun!

Come with me now as our December 23d, 24th and 25th come alive again on Lyrics of Love and Lore.......

Our Hotel...The Edgewater on The Little Pigeon River
From our Balcony, Looking South Downriver
From Hotel Balcony, Looking East Toward Downtown Gatlinburg and the Space Needle
From Hotel Balcony, Looking North
Lotsa' Shenanigans Downtown
The Space Needle Observation Deck Towers 407' Above Downtown Gatlinburg
Our Hotel From the Observation Deck
The Tramway
Big fancy Homes With a View in the Surrounding Hills
Downtown Area---Shops, Restaurants, Tourist Traps, Etc....
It's Always Smoky In the Smokies
We Dropped in Here to See How Moonshine is Made.  Cindy Was Given a 1-OZ Free Sample and She Wanted to Stay a While...."They Call It That Good Ole Mountain Dew / And Them That Refuse it Are Few..."
Lotsa' Chocolate Goodies From The Stores On the Main Drag
River Shots
Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mom's 90th Birthday and Thanksgiving Reunion

Last June, I began to hatch an almost impossible plot. 

Mission:  to surprise my mom on her 90th birthday.

Her big day occurs in late November, so I began to contact family members months in advance to see if I could get commitments from everyone to attend.  This was, for many, no small thing.  I planned to have the party at our home in Knoxville, but niece Wendy lives in Austin, Texas.  Daughters Debbie and Diane live in Enfield, Connecticut and Augusta, Georgia, respectively. 

We had other family members from North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee.

I think God wanted us to have this big party because, miraculously, everyone made plans to be here and He allowed us to have a wonderful reunion and birthday celebration together.

The planning for the event was constant up until the guests began to arrive on November 21.  Cindy worked tirelessly to cook ahead of time and clean, paint and organize.  I shared ideas with her for making the event fun for everyone.  It was a huge success.  When everyone had left for home, we both sat down and thanked God for the wonderful lifetime memories we all share.

The Birthday Girl
Brother Dave
Wendi and Cindy
Diane and Debbie
Deb and Me
Dave and Jan
Dave, Richard and Fred
Cindy Serves the Cake to Mom (Yes, There Are 90 Candles!)
Canyon, Lucinda and Mom
Mom Recites Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat" for the Group
Wendi Entertains

Actin' Silly

Lucinda, Debbie and Diane
All the Different Places Represented
TOP L---R  Richard, Catherine, David, Debbie, Eileen, Fred, Lucinda, Tracy, Clint, Patti, Cindy  ROW 2 Seated L---R  Diane, Clinton, Jan, Wendi  BOTTOM ROW  L---R  Tyler, Canyon

Friday, November 9, 2012

Psalms in the Still of the Night.......

I try to read the bible every day.  Occasionally I miss a day, and I always feel like I really missed something when I do.  Lately I've been reading the Psalms.  They are sensational, lyrical scripture that make me pause in meditation.

I have found a most magic time to read these thoughts, songs and prayers---between the hours of midnight and 5:00 AM.  If I can't sleep, I just get up and spend an hour or so reading.  There is a quiet stillness that is not present during the day, and I am able to focus solely on the messages of scripture.

Last night was such a night.  After reading a few chapters, it occurred to me that we live in a world that was inconceivable just a couple of decades ago.  I mean, we have more wealth in this country than any nation in the history of the world.  We have material possessions beyond reason.  We have instant communication with each other.  If we want to learn just about anything, we can Google it and voila!---we have our answer. 

Given all that, we should by all factors be the happiest nation on the happiest planet in the universe.

But we are not---not even close.  As a nation, we are bitterly divided over many important issues.  Race, welfare, foreign relations, health care, the role of government, etc, etc, etc.  There is an air of hatred in our relationships when it comes to politics.

In our world, there is religious intolerance and hatred.

How can this be if we have so much in technology and materialism?

The answer lies in the truth.  And the truth is, as is pointed out so often in Psalms and the rest of the bible, nothing on this earth will ever make us happy or fulfilled except that which comes from God.  We have pretty much rejected Him in the year 2012, and we continue to move away from Him.  We are less and less fulfilled and more and more conflicted.  The bible points out time after time that He is watching.  His judgement will be very painful.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Blue Plate Special.......

I decided to spend the day downtown yesterday.  I was looking forward to attending "The Blue Plate Special" free concert that is held every day at noon at the Knoxville Visitor Center.  And I looked forward to having lunch at one of the many eateries in the downtown area.  And then I planned to walk over to the area of Knoxville known as the Old City---a neighborhood in a part of town once known as "The Bowery" that for many years was a rough and tumble locale but which is now being rejuvenated with the entry of new shops and restaurants.

Knoxville Visitor Center
And, of course, I planned on taking many pictures to document my day and to share with friends.  To that end, Cindy gave me 4 new recharged AA batteries to go into my camera.  At 11:10, I departed my driveway and headed south toward downtown, a 10 minute drive.

I arrived at the Visitor's Center at11:30ish.  I staked out a good seat just in front of the stage.  The place began to fill up, and promptly at noon, the show began.

Let the Music Begin!

The Blue Plate Special is held Monday through Saturday at the Visitor's Center and is conducted by radio station WDVX in Knoxville.  The Emcee for the production is a really cool lady named Red Hickey.  A Knoxvillian, she is perfect for directing the hour-long program.  She is perceptive, personable, funny, knowledgeable and yes, easy on the eyes.  She keeps the audience fully engaged while making sure the performers stay on time.

I Hope It's OK That I Lifted This Photo of Red Hickey Off Of Her Bio Page.  She is A Sensation.

This day, there were two sets of performers.  The first 30 minutes of the show featured a two-sister act named Scenic Roots.  Their names are Erin and Amber and they sang to their play on dulcimers and fiddle.  Very good and unique duet. 

Scenic Roots---Erin and Amber
The final half of the program featured the music of Ian McFeron and his backup singer, Alisa Milner.  Ian sings his own material and accompanies himself on guitar while Alisa also plays fiddle.
I really liked these two performers.  Ian has a natural enthusiasm---even exuberance---that is very appealing.

Ian McFeron

Alisa Milner
When the show began, I took out my camera and turned it on.  Guess what---the batteries that Cindy gave me had not been fully charged and I was able to take only two pictures.  I was not a very happy camper.  But I did at least get to see a wonderful free hour-long concert by professionals.  I did enjoy myself and the crowd.

Without the ability to take the kind of pics I wanted, I decided to forgo my visit to the Old City and try that another day.  Instead, I ferreted out a restaurant I had not tried---Oodles Uncorked at Market Square---and sat down to a wonderful char-broiled burger with homemade pepper chips.  Oh yeah, babe.  Clint was hungry and that burger really hit the spot.

Oodles Uncorked
It was a good day in spite of the camera issue.  I'll be back downtown soon.  I love Knoxville.