Archive for August, 2008

Our 2008 Roses

August 21, 2008
Roses in our large rose bed.  Fairfield Glade, Tennessee.

Roses in our large rose bed. Fairfield Glade, Tennessee.

Betsy and I have been growing roses here in the Glade since 2005, two years after we moved here. We started with seven rose bushes in a flower bed we had constructed along the side of the house.

The roses were pretty that first year and we added more in 2006. But it soon became apparent that there wasn’t enough direct sunlight on the side of the house for roses to do their best. So we started moving the roses to the front of the house. The front of the house has plenty of direct sunlight, but the soil is not that great. After all we do live on a slope on the Plateau, so there are plenty of rocks and boulders under a thin layer of soil.

In 2007 we finished moving all the roses to the front of the house, making the beds as we went along. We finished with a large rose bed on one side of the driveway and a smaller rose bed on the other side.

Since we ran out of room to expand the beds, this year we added some roses in containers on the sides of the driveway.

We’ve persevered in spite of late spring freezes (2007) and summer droughts (2007 and 2008). This year we’ve had 34 different varieties of roses in bloom.

Roses can be a lot of work, but we think they are definitly worth it. Click HERE to see if you agree!

Our Walking Tour of Charleston

August 20, 2008
George at the entrance to Catfish Row in Charleston, June 22, 2008.

George at the entrance to Catfish Row in Charleston, June 22, 2008.

Betsy and I were looking forward to celebrating our anniversary on June 22 (a day early) by taking a sunset cruise in Charleston Harbor on a sailing schooner. It had rained the previous day, cutting short our visit to Boone Hall Plantation, but we hoped that Sunday would be better.

As I’ve mentioned we went to church at St. Michael’s Church in the morning, and then walked around The Battery before taking a carriage tour of the historic district.

After the carriage tour we still had quite a bit of time before our cruise, so we decided to get a bite to eat. We had done some internet research and went to the Fleet Landing Restaurant on Charleston Harbor. We were able to eat on the deck and enjoy the breezes coming in from the harbor.

After eating we walked around the historic district some more before we headed to the Aquarium Wharf and the schooner. As we walked we noticed the sky getting darker and darker, but we remained optimistic. We got to the wharf and found the schooner, but there was no one there. A quick phone call confirmed that the cruise was cancelled because of weather. It started raining as we walked back to the car.

Although we didn’t get to take our cruise, we still had a wonderful time in Charleston. To see more of our walking tour click HERE.

Betsy’s Critters

August 19, 2008
A visitor in our front yard.  August 18, 2008.

We had a visitor in our front yard. August 18, 2008.

Oh, the joys of living in the woods. I’ve already talked about the things we had to go through to find sunny spots for our roses. But that turned out to be simple compared to some of the other ‘joys’.

Take, for example, the critters. I’ve already mentioned Betsy’s birds — the feathered critters that come to visit the feeders Betsy has put out. But there are other critters as well.

We can’t say we weren’t warned. The first time we came to look at the house we saw three deer in the lot next door. (Do you have any idea how many flowers deer can eat in a single night?). For the first couple of years Betsy was enthralled by the ‘cute’ chipmunks and squirrels. (Do you have any idea how many bulbs those ‘cute’ critters can dig up in a single night?).

We’ve had visits from rabbits (they ate Betsy’s impatiens so they weren’t called cute) and woodchucks (did you know they eat roses?). In the summer we have an occasional midnight visit from a skunk (not pleasant with open windows) and earlier this year we discovered a family of bats behind one of our shutters.

So yesterday when Betsy excited called “Come here and look at this” I wasn’t sure what I would see. What I found was the turtle in the picture above, walking across our front yard. We don’t know where he came from, but that is one critter I may be able to live with!!

Another Beauty

August 18, 2008
Tahitian Sunset Rose, Fairfield Glade, August 16, 2008.

Tahitian Sunset Rose, Fairfield Glade, August 16, 2008.

As I’ve mentioned several times, Betsy and I grow roses here on the Plateau.  It’s been quite an experience.  I’ve grown roses at three other homes I’ve had, but it never got to be quite so ‘interesting’.

One problem we had was that our first rose bed was too shady.  So we moved the roses from the side of the house to the front.  That got the roses into sunlight, but the soil in front is about an inch deep.  Below that are rocks, rocks and more rocks.

But in spite of the difficulties we have 32 roses in two beds — one on each side of the driveway.  And since there are more irresistible roses than we have places for in those beds, we also have six roses in containers on the sides of the driveway.  I’ve never grown container roses before, so it has been a new experience for me.

The rose above, Tahitian Sunset, is one of the container roses.  It got a late start this season, but I think it has come along very nicely.  Roses may be a great deal of work, but we definitely think they are worth it.

Betsy’s Birds II

August 17, 2008
Tufted Titmice on our deck.  August 16, 2008.

Tufted Titmice on our deck. August 16, 2008.

I mentioned a few days ago that Betsy was fascinated with the hummingbirds that visit the feeders she put up around our deck. She just loves those hummingbirds.

But she has broadened her interests since then. There was a base for a bird bath behind our house when we moved in, but we never got the top for it until about a week ago. We finally got the top and set up the bird bath and Betsy has been keeping a close watch on it. She got very excited when she saw a cardinal using the bath. Unfortunately it flew away before she could get her camera!

A couple of days ago we were at Lowe’s and Betsy saw a bird-seed bell — bird seed pressed into the shape of a bell. Since she knew we had many small birds around the house, she got one and put it up on the deck.

The cardinal visited the bell a time or two, but the stars have been Tufted Titmice. These little birds absolutely love the the new seed bell. We’re not really sure how many titmice are around, but we counted six different birds on one occasion.

So for the time being at least, Betsy is in ‘bird heaven’. But there are some disadvantages for her. As she looks from the hummingbird feeders, to the bird bath, to the seed bell, Betsy is in danger of getting whiplash!!!

No Wonder We Think Government Is Broken

August 16, 2008
Cumberland County Commissioners  meeting, August 12, 2008.

Cumberland County Commissioners meeting, August 12, 2008.

If you live in Tennessee, you’ve probably heard about the mess we have here in Cumberland County.  School was supposed to start here on Monday, August 11 (which seems entirely too early, but that’s another story).  On Friday, August 8, the Board of Education delayed the opening of schools because the budget hasn’t been finalized.  Betsy wrote a good blog about the issues involved, if you haven’t read it, click HERE.

Since then things have really gotten interesting.  For several days county football teams and bands practiced on the courthouse lawn.  Three compromise budget resolutions were voted down at a County Commission meeting.  As you can imagine, the discussions at that meeting were very heated with much more shouting than calm debate.  Even the Knoxville television stations covered that meeting!

Then our county mayor sued the Board of Education, claiming that the Board had violated Tennessee’s Sunshine Law.  The lawsuit claims that the August 8 meeting was called by the Director of Schools instead of the Chair of the Board of Education as required by law.

The next day a member of the Board of Education resigned, saying he didn’t think that the school was holding the director of schools accountable or putting the students first.

Then the county mayor filed a second suit against the board, asking a judge to schedule a hearing to consider an injunction ordering the schools to start immediately.

I can hardly wait to see what happens next — aren’t we setting a great example for our children?!?

August Waterfalls Before the Drought

August 15, 2008
Twin Falls, Rock Island State Park, Tennessee.  August 3, 2002.

Twin Falls, Rock Island State Park, Tennessee. August 3, 2002.

As you know, Betsy and I love to visit waterfalls. While we were both working we visited mostly in the summer, when we had vacation time. Now that we’re both retired we can more easily get away any time of the year, which is a good thing since we’ve had drought in this part of the country for the past two years. As a result most waterfalls have a very diminished flow during the summer.

It wasn’t always that way. Betsy and I first visited Rock Island State Park here in Tennessee in 2002. Rock Island is fairly close to Fall Creek Falls State Park, which is our favorite here in Tennessee. We knew there were three waterfalls at Rock Island and we wanted to see them.

What we didn’t realize at the time was that a dam had been built across the Caney Fork River above two of the falls, so the amount of water going over the falls is completely determined by the dam discharge. The waterfalls, Great Falls and Lower Great Falls, were still pretty but somewhat disappointing.

The third waterfall, Twin Falls, is interesting. Twin Falls gushes down a steep hillside into the Caney Fork River. But this waterfall only appeared after the Great Falls Dam was built. The Collins River is immediately behind the hill from the Caney Fork, and it is speculated that as the Collins River water level rose water began seeping into caverns thought to be inside the hill. The water had to go somewhere, so it proceeded to “leak” out the other side, forming Twin Falls.

To see more of our visit to Rock Island, click HERE.

Our Charleston Carriage Tour

August 14, 2008
Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina.  June 22, 2008.

Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina. June 22, 2008.

As I’ve mentioned before, Betsy and I were in Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday, June 22, 2008.  We attended church at St. Michael’s and then walked around The Battery.

We enjoyed our walking tour of The Battery, but it was a very hot day and walking soon lost its charm.  Several horse- and mule-drawn carriages passed us as we walked, so we decided that would be a better way to see Charleston.

We found Palmetto Carriage and bought our tickets.  We were directed to the nearby barn of the company and told that our tour would soon start.  It was there that we discovered that Palmetto Carriage uses mule-drawn carriages.

Our tour guide was excellent and very knowledgeable.  The city of Charleston has a system to limit the number of carriages in any given part of the historic district.  All carriages have to stop at a control point after they are loaded and it is then that they are assigned one of four routes.  So the guides have to be familiar with all four.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour.  The carriage moved at a slow enough pace that we could see what the guide was talking about.  We would highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Charleston, especially first-time visitors.

To see more of our carriage tour, click HERE.

My Internet-Trained Nurse

August 13, 2008

Those of you who know Betsy know she is an avid internet researcher.  If there is a subject you’re not sure about, a quick Google inquiry by Betsy can make you an expert.

Betsy did research on hernias before my recent surgery, so we had a pretty good idea about what needed to be done.  After my surgery she did more research to check on what the surgeon told her.

And she’s still hard at work.  I had fifteen surgical staples removed on Monday and the surgical dressing left all kinds of adhesive on my stomach.  As a result my shirt would stick to me, which wasn’t always pleasant.  Alcohol didn’t seem to work in getting the adhesive off, so my nurse went to the the internet and Google.  Cellophane tape was suggested — put it over the adhesive and s-l-o-w-l-y remove the tape.  That wasn’t my favorite procedure, but it did seem to help.  Another internet suggestion that helped somewhat was clear nail polish remover.

Although things are now better, we didn’t get off all the adhesive.  But I shouldn’t worry — Betsy has two more internet-inspired possibilities:  vegetable oil or peanut butter.

Did I say I shouldn’t worry?

Our First Trip to Yahoo Falls

August 12, 2008
Betsy at Yahoo Falls, June 3, 2006.

Betsy at Yahoo Falls, June 3, 2006.

I’ve mentioned several times that Betsy and I collect waterfalls. We currently have 278 different waterfalls in our collection, and we try to plan our travels so that we visit a new waterfall on each trip. But we also go back to visit favorites when we can.

Most of the waterfalls we’ve visited have been here fairly close to the Glade. One waterfall that we’ve visited several times is Yahoo Falls, in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area near Whitley City, Kentucky. We first visited Yahoo Falls in 2006.

The National Park Service claims Yahoo Falls is Kentucky’s highest. There is more water going over in the late winter and spring than at other times of the year, but Yahoo Falls is still pretty any time of the year.

The trail to the falls from the parking is about a mile long and is very pretty. You can walk right up to the base of the falls and even behind the falls. The trails go up around the top of the falls, but the views from the top are not very good. There is a trail from the falls to Yahoo Arch, which is also quite interesting.

To see more of our 2006 visit to Yahoo Falls, click HERE.