Archive for July, 2008

Rock Garden and Semps

July 21, 2008

Betsy and I bought our ‘retirement’ home here in the Glade back in 2002.  At the time we were both still working, so we used the house mostly for a weekend get-away.  After Betsy retired we moved up here, but I was still working so we didn’t have a lot of time to work on our yard.  It was only after I retired that we could really get busy on projects.

Don’t get me wrong — the house is beautiful and was (and hopefully still is) very well taken care of.  But there were a couple of problems on the outside.  Our house is built on a slope and we had some erosion problems.  We handled the uphill side of the house by building a retaining wall and putting in a long flower bed.  We’ve planted a ground cover — periwinkle — on the downhill side of the house.  The periwinkle is spreading and has greatly reduced the amount of erosion we have there.

That left one problem area.  There’s a fairly steep drop-off from the driveway near the house.  The previous owners had started a rock garden, but when we got the house it was mostly rocks and weeds in that area.  We cleared out the weeds, but wanted to find a way to keep the weeds from coming back so abundantly.  Needless to say the soil is very poor in that part of the yard.  And to make things more interesting part of the hill is in deep shade while the rest in quite sunny.

We finally settled on sempervivum — hens and chicks.  The semps require very little care and do a good job of multiplying and filling in the spaces between the rocks.  The picture above shows a part of that rock garden with several different varieties of sempervivum.  Both Betsy and I love them and we highly recommend them for any problem areas you might have.

What a Doll

July 20, 2008

See that adorable baby in the front seat of the car above?  That’s my beautiful bride with her father in Big Stone Gap.  Since Betsy and I are still in BSG, I couldn’t resist publishing this picture.

Both of Betsy’s parents had passed away by the time I met her, but I would have liked to have met them.  Doesn’t her father look like the proud Papa in this picture?  I’m sure he was, but I suspect he was wrapped around a certain girl’s finger as much as I am!

We’re Off to a Family Reunion

July 19, 2008

Betsy and I are in her hometown, Big Stone Gap, Virginia for a Cummings Family reunion.  Betsy is related to the Cummings family through her mother.

Betsy has been looking forward to this reunion for several months.  She’s looking forward to seeing some cousins she hasn’t seen in years, although she has gotten re-acquainted with two of her Cummings cousins over the past year.

Betsy has been working hard on her family history and has printed off some genealogy charts to give her cousins.  She expects close to 100 people to be at the reunion, so she should be able to get caught up on lots of family history.

The picture above was taken at another family (this time the Bruce family) reunion back in the 1960s.  Betsy is also related to the Bruces through her mother.  I don’t believe Betsy is in that picture, although I’m sure we’ll come back from the Cummings family reunion with plenty of pictures including Betsy!

An Anniversary Trip to a Special Place

July 18, 2008

A couple of days ago I told you about a waterfalling adventure that Betsy and I had in the rain.  We try to do a better job of scheduling our hikes and we are usually fairly successful.

A special place for the two of us is Fall Creek Falls State Park here in Tennessee.  Fall Creek Falls is about an hour from here, so we get to go back there fairly often.  Fall Creek Falls contains five beautiful waterfalls and has several hiking trails.

The reason Fall Creek Falls is so special to us is that we went there on a date on April 21, 2001.  We had dated a couple of times before that day, but by the time we left the park we realized that we were falling in love.

We try to get back to Fall Creek Falls at least once a year.  After we both retired, we try to get back there on April 21.  Although we didn’t do any hiking on that first visit, we now hike at least on trail each time we go.  Of course we also make a point to visit as many of the waterfalls as possible.

This year April 21 was a beautiful day and we had a wonderful hike and day at the park.  To see pictures from Fall Creek Falls, click HERE.

Questions I’d Like Answered

July 17, 2008

We made our weekly trip into town to do our grocery shopping today and I noticed that a gallon of gas now costs more than $4 here on the Plateau.  I know the price is higher in other parts of the country, but now the pain has come home.

For the past couple of weeks the airwaves have been filled with people talking about the energy crisis,  There has been lots of talk, but very little discussion.  I have some questions I would like to see answered.

Some people say drilling will do no good because it will take 5 – 7 years for the oil to become available.  When will alternative fuels (hydrogen, fuel cell or all-electric) become available? And by available I mean available enough that I can drive the 650 miles necessary to visit my children.

If we don’t begin new drilling now and the new alternatives aren’t available in 5 – 7 years, what do we do?

The United States pioneered nuclear power for generating electricity.  Both France and Norway now get a higher percentage of their electricity from nuclear power than we do, and they manage the nuclear waste problem by re-processing uranium.  Why can’t we help the environment by replacing at least some coal- and oil-fired power plants with nuclear power plants?

It is said that the oil companies have leases on 68 million acres, but are not drilling on any of them.  Why?  How many of those acres are tied up in law suits or other challenges?

Wind power is touted as an energy source of the future.  One of the largest wind farms in the country is planned off the coast of Cape Cod, but is being challenged because it would destroy the view.  What do we do if more alternative energy sources are blocked and no petroleum sources are available?

As I said, I’ve heard a lot of speeches about energy, but have not heard any answers to these questions.  And unfortunately I’ll probably have even more questions before the problem is solved.

One more question for now:  Is hot air an energy resource?

A Rainy Day Waterfalls Trip

July 16, 2008

Betsy and I ‘collect’ waterfalls. Since we fell in love at Fall Creek Falls back in 2001, we’ve visited as many waterfalls as possible. We now have 277 waterfalls in our ‘collection’.

We do most of our hiking to waterfalls in the winter or spring, since that’s when most waterfalls have their greatest flow. Besides that, our lawn and flowers keep us busy in the summer.

We do try to do our hiking in good weather, but we’re not always successful. Earlier this year Betsy did some research on the internet and found two waterfalls at Lula Lake near Chattanooga, Lula Lake is owned by a private organization and is only open to the public on the first and last Saturday of the month.

We decided to go visit Lula Lake the last Saturday in March. It was cloudy when we left the Glade, but absolutely pouring by the time we got to Chattanooga. We went on to Lula Lake anyway and, because there were very few people there we were able to drive fairly close to the falls. We got soaked anyway.

On the way home we decided to swing by Lowry Creek in the Cherokee National Forest. Lowry Creek has a series of small waterfalls that can be reached by a relatively short hike along the creek-side. The trail was muddy (and steep) but definitely worth the effort.

To see pictures of our rainy day visits to waterfalls click HERE.

I’ve Moved!

July 15, 2008

As you may know, I’m a big Apple fan. I’ve had Apple computers for more than 25 years — first an Apple II and then Macs. And I absolutely love my iPod.

I started this blog on .Mac, using Apple’s iWeb. At first everything went very well, but then I began having increasing problems. I have to admit that I’m fed up with iWeb as far as a blog is concerned. It takes two or more hours to publish a blog post, and during that time I can’t do much of anything on my computer.

So I’ve moved to this site. I hope to be able to continue my blog here for a good long time. I’ll try my best to keep it interesting.

I’ll try to continue publishing photo pages using iWeb. That process seems to go better than the blog publishing. Links to the photo pages can be found to the right. There is also a link to Betsy’s blog.

I hope to see you again!

Fort Sumter

July 13, 2008

Three weeks ago Betsy and I were in Charleston, South Carolina. I had been there several times, but Betsy had never been there.

We didn’t have time to take the boat out to Fort Sumter, one of Charleston’s most famous historical sites.

But we did catch a glimpse of Fort Sumter from the Battery (more properly known as White Point Gardens), which sits on the southernmost edge of the Charleston peninsula, where the Cooper and Ashley Rivers meet to flow into the Atlantic Ocean.

Fort Sumter was built on a man-made island in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter, a masonary fort, was part of the third system of defenses constructed along the coast and was unfinished when South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 21, 1860. U. S. Army Major Robert Anderson moved his command to Fort Sumter five days later because he felt it was the most defensible position in Charleston harbor that could be held by the Union.

On April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries around Charleston harbor opened fire on Fort Sumter for what became a 33 hour bombardment. After that time Major Anderson surrendered the fort because red-hot shells and started fires in all the wooden structures of the fort and were threatening to explode the powder magazines.

No Union soldiers were killed in the bombardment, but one Union soldier was killed and another mortally wounded on April 27, during the firing of a salute to the American flag allowed by Confederate authorities.

Fort Sumter remained in Confederate hands until February 22, 1865, when Union troops of General Sherman occupied the fort after the evacuation of Charleston by the Confederates.

Our Last Daylily

July 13, 2008


Yesterday the last of our daylilies bloomed.  We were fortunate enough to have sixteen different varieties of daylilies blooming in our yard this year.  That’s the most that we have ever had, and they were all beautiful if I do say so myself.

I know the name of most of the daylilies in our yard, but not this last one.  It was part of a collection which was among the first flowers we planted.after we bought the house.


Daylilies are not true lilies, but they are nevertheless beautiful.  The flowers of most species open at sunrise and wither at sunset.  Fortunately there are usually several blooms on the same stem.


Daylilies are extremely easy to grow — they are perennials and spread season after season.  Betsy and I enjoy them a great deal!