Archive for November, 2009

A Reason To Be Thankful

November 30, 2009

Wild turkeys on Bays Mountain, Kingsport, Tennessee. November 26, 2009.

After a delicious Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and all the trimmings, Betsy and I took our friend Reida for a drive to visit a waterfall and to see some of the other sights in the Kingsport, Tennessee area.

One of the places we visited was the Eastman Recreation Area on Bays Mountain.  We saw these critters near the lodge, walking around as if they didn’t have a care in the world.  Since it was the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, and they were able to enjoy an afternoon stroll, I guess they really had a reason to be thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

A photo from the internet.

When I was teaching in China, my students always wanted to know what was the ‘most American’ holiday.  After some probing, I decided that what they really wanted to know was what holiday was most uniquely American.

Many countries celebrate Christmas (it was even celebrated in China) and every nation has a special celebration for its independence.  So I told them that the most American holiday was Thanksgiving.  Part of my reason was the historical background of the holiday and part was the fact that this holiday was about families and being thankful or the blessings of our lives.  But how would you have answered their question?

On this Thanksgiving Day I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Betsy and I are heading to the mountains of east Tennessee to work off our feast by doing some hiking and visiting waterfalls.  I’m not sure if we’ll have internet access while we’re gone, but we’ll be back home Sunday and I’ll catch up with all of you then.

I would also like to share with you this Thanksgiving prayer:

Almighty God, giver of all good things:
We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land.  They restore us, though we often destroy them.

We thank you for the great resources of this nation.  They make us rich, though we often exploit them.

We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in this land.  It has drawn people from every nation, though we have often hidden from its light.

We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich variety.  It sustains our life, though we have been faithless again and again.

Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun.  Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime.  And hasten the day when all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will glorify your holy Name.  Amen.

— The Book of Common Prayer

Watery Wednesday #63: Rainbow at Niagara

November 25, 2009

Rainbow at the American Falls, Niagara Falls, New York. August 30, 2002.

This is my post for Watery Wednesday.  To see more of our beautiful watery world, or to join and post your own pictures to share, click HERE.

Yard work has been keeping me busy for the past couple of weeks, so I went to my archives for the picture above.

In 2002 Betsy and I went to Niagara Falls.  Although we stayed on the Canadian side of the river, we did spend one day at Niagara Fall, New York.  As we walked near the edge of the falls on Goat Island, I was able to capture this rainbow in the spray from the American Falls.

Memories of Centennial Park

November 23, 2009

My very first picture of Betsy. Centennial Park, Nashville, Tennessee. April 7, 2001.

I’m really beginning to like rainy days.  On rainy days I can work on pictures at my computer without feeling guilty.

Betsy and I had our first date on March 29, 2001.  It was a dinner date to discuss the Bible classes that I missed when my work took me out of town.  (That topic never came up).

I thought the dinner date went well, but Betsy was ‘busy’ when I asked her out again.  In spite of that rejection I wanted to see her again, so I took a picture of the spring flowers in bloom in Centennial Park, Nashville, (I worked near the park) and e-mailed it to her with an invitation to go there with me on Saturday morning.  The tulips must have been irresistible because she said ‘yes’.

Centennial Park has beautiful gardens as well a unique feature — a full-sized replica of the Parthenon.  The exterior was being refurbished while we were there, but the main hall with the statue of Athena and an art gallery in the lower level were both open.  We enjoyed our visit to both levels of the Parthenon.

I didn’t have my camera on our first date, but I had it when we were at Centennial Park.  The picture above is the very first picture I took of Betsy (I’ve taken a few more since then).  If you would like to see more of our morning at Centennial Park click HERE.

Scenic Sunday #71: Wesner Bald Overlook

November 22, 2009

The view from Wesner Bald Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. October 25, 2009.

This is my post for the Scenic Sunday meme, which shares beautiful scenes from around the world.  To see more Scenic Sunday posts, or to join and show your own pictures, click HERE.

Our drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway last month was so wonderful that I took many pictures that I want to share.  The autumn colors were gorgeous in some areas, but even when there wasn’t a lot of color on the trees, the blue sky was dazzling.

The picture above was take at the Wesner Bald Overlook on the Parkway  where it seemed that the mountains were marching to the horizon.  I think that last line of mountains shows why they are known as the Blue Ridge Mountains.

29 Years Ago: Who Shot J. R.?

November 21, 2009

Who shot J. R. Ewing? Anyone who was around in 1980 and above the age of about six remembers that question and the speculation that it raised.

Dallas, a slick soap opera about the private lives and public shenanigans of the dysfunctional, oil-rich Ewing family,  was America’s hottest prime time series in 1980.  Jock Ewing, the family patriarch, had two sons, J. R. and Bobby.  J. R. was the character millions of viewers loved to hate — a charming and unscrupulous Texas oilman who didn’t let little things like morality or the law get in his way of acquiring whatever he wanted.

An unidentified gunman shot the scheming J. R. in the final episode of the show’s second season, but Dallas fans had to wait nearly eight months to find out who fired the shot.  First there was a summer of reruns, followed by a seven-week actors’ strike.  The first three episodes of the third season were filled with false leads about the identify of the shooter, but on November 21, 1980, the truth was revealed.  The shooter was J. R.’s sister-in-law and mistress, who shot him in a fit of anger.  This show earned the biggest audience share in television history up to that point — 41 million of the nearly 78 million households in the U. S. watched the show.

The huge ratings generated by the Who Shot J. R.? stunt helped popularize the practice of ending a television season with a cliffhanger.

Sky Watch Friday: Carolina Morning

November 20, 2009

A western North Carolina morning. May 29, 2009.

This is my post for Skywatch Friday, a meme for sharing views of the sky from all over the world.  To see more, or to join and share your own photos of the sky, click HERE.

I went to my archives for this picture, but Betsy and I enjoy the mountains of western North Carolina so much that its always a pleasure to check out these scenes.

The picture above was taken near Otto, North Carolina, back  in May.  The day had started out rather dreary, but the blue breaking through the clouds when this picture was taken hints that “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning”!

146 Years Ago: The Gettysburg Address

November 19, 2009

President Lincoln at Gettysburg. Photograph from the National Archives.

“Four score and seven years ago …”

Many Americans my age had to learn that entire speech.  I wonder how many students today even recognize it?

President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the national cemetery at the Civil War battlefield.  After the battle in July, the town of Gettysburg planned to buy land for a cemetery and then ask the families of the dead to pay for their burial.  But David Willis, a 32-year-old attorney objected to this idea and wrote Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania, suggesting instead a National Cemetery to be funded by the states.  Governor Curtin authorized the purchase of 17 acres for a cemetery to honor those lost in the battle.

Willis and the planning committee originally planned to dedicate the cemetery on Wednesday, October 23, and invited Edward Everett, who had served as Secretary of State, U. S. Senator, U. S. Representative, Governor of Massachusetts and president of Harvard University, to be the main speaker.  Everett, who was a widely known and respected as an orator, replied that he would be unable to prepare an appropriate speech in such a short period of time, and requested that the date be postponed.  Willis and the committee agreed, and the dedication was postponed until Thursday, November 19.

It was then that President Lincoln was invited — he received his invitation on November 2.

Everett delivered a two-hour formal address at Gettysburg.  President Lincoln spoke a little over two minutes, surprising many by the shortness of the speech and leaving many others quite unimpressed.  Over time, however, his speech, ending with the words “government of the people, by the people, for the people” has come to symbolize the definition of democracy itself.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln – November 19, 1863

Watery Wednesday # 61: Woodfin Cascade

November 18, 2009

Woodfin Cascade, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. October 25, 2009.

This is my post for Watery Wednesday.  To see more of our beautiful watery world, or to join and post your own pictures to share, click HERE.

As you  know, Betsy and I collect waterfalls.  What’s more, we both enjoy the colors of autumn when we can find them.  Last month we were able to enjoy both when we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

The picture above was taken at the Mount Lyn Lowry overlook on the parkway.  The waterfall is Woodfin Cascade, and although we had to view it from across a valley, we could see it well enough to know that it was a pretty falls especially amid what was left of the of the fall colors.

Woodfin Cascade was the 356th waterfall in our collection.

My World: We Can Still Smell the Roses

November 17, 2009

Sonia Rose, Fairfield Glade. November 16, 2009.

This is my post for the My World meme.  It is hosted by Klaus, Ivar, Sandy, Wren, Louise and Fishing Guy.  To learn more about our world or to join and share your part of the world, click HERE.

The rose above isn’t much to look at, but it is a rose, it is fragrant and the picture was taken Monday afternoon.  I’m not sure, but I think this is the latest in the year that we’ve had roses in bloom.

We obviously haven’t had a killing frost this autumn.  Yesterday we had to go to Knoxville fairly early in the morning.  The temperature when we left the house was 39° here at the house, but dropped to 32° before we got off the Plateau.

I’m not sure how much longer this weather will last, but I checked yesterday afternoon and we have three more reblooming iris and 19 rose buds ready to open.  I wonder how much longer we’ll be able to smell the roses?