Archive for December, 2008

Watery Wednesday 16

December 30, 2008
Upper Cove Creek Cascade, Wears Valley, Tennessee.  December 30, 2008.

Upper Cove Creek Cascade, Wears Valley, Tennessee. December 30, 2008.

Tuesday was a beautiful day here in eastern Tennessee, so Betsy and I decided to drive over to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to check out some waterfalls.  We haven’t been over there since late October and we hoped that the rains of the past couple of weeks would have replenished some of the streams in the mountains.

We visited several falls that we had seen before and then later in the afternoon drove through Wears Valley.  We drove along Cove Creek for a short

Secret Falls, Wears Valley, Tennessee.  December 30, 2008.

Secret Falls, Wears Valley, Tennessee. December 30, 2008.

distance, and, seeing a fair amount of water flowing, stopped to walk along the creek.  We enjoyed the cascade shown above and then noticed a small sign pointing to Secret Falls.  Secret Falls was unknown to us, so we just had to investigate.  A short walk led us to the pretty little waterfall shown on the right.

It was as close to a perfect day as we could possibly get — cool temperatures, a brilliant blue sky, and the sound of rushing water.  What more could a person ask for?

To see more of our trip to the Smokies check Betsy’s blog HERE.

To see more  pictures on the Watery Wednesday meme click here or on the logo below.

waterywed2c

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My World 11

December 29, 2008

To day I want to share a small, but very important part of my world — our home in the Glade.  It’s not a very big or fancy house, but we sure do like it.

We saw the house for the first time in August, 2002.  The picture below shows us what sold us that first time — the great room.  If you click to make the picture bigger you’ll see that there is a fireplace (which gets a lot of use in cool weather) and the doors opening out onto the wrap-around back deck.  There is a third patio door to the right of the pictures.  The three doors provide wonderful ventilation in the summer.
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The picture below shows the front of the house on the day we closed.  We were so excited — he had a retirement home!  We used the house as a weekend hideaway until July, 2003, when we moved up here full time.
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Since then, we’ve made some changes — mostly on the outside of the house.  This next picture was taken this year, and shows some of the changes we’ve made.  As you can see, we’ve added a flagpole, three circular flower beds (only two are visible) and the rose beds on either side of the driveway.
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This last picture is of the larger of the two rose beds.  I’ve included it because I like roses and because I am already thinking about Spring (don’t tell Betsy!).
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I hope you enjoyed the tour of my little corner of the world.  To see more of the world, click HERE or on the logo below.

mwtblack

Waterfalls Have Water!

December 29, 2008
Water tumbling down the escarpment near Grandview, Tennessee.

Water tumbling down the escarpment near Grandview, Tennessee.

Betsy and I traveled to Chattanooga yesterday to spend some time with son Jeff and grandchildren Landon and Avery.

To get to Chattanooga we took the back way down off the Plateau and on the way we saw something that we haven’t seen in a couple of years — water coming down the escarpment.

We’ve been in a severe drought in this part of Tennessee for the past two years and most of the waterfalls and cascades have been dry or nearly dry.  However, we’ve had quite a bit of rain over the past two weeks and our rainfall total is now close to normal for the year.  Lakes and streams are higher than they’ve been for quite some time.  It’s a good time for waterfall enthusiasts!

Betsy and I were so excited to see water cascading down the escarpment that we stopped on the way back home to get the picture above.

Bali Ha’i

December 27, 2008
Sunset on Bali, June, 1987.

Sunset on Bali, June, 1987.

I was a junior member on the faculty of Heidelberg College in 1987 when I was selected to be part of an exchange program with a Chinese university in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China.  A team from Heidelberg would go to Tianjin to teach English as a Second Language and a Chinese professor would come to Heidelberg for the academic year to teach Chinese.

Part of our arrangement with the Chinese included a tour of parts of China, but because of differing calendars the tour was to be held before our teaching session rather than afterward.  The Chinese also invited spouses to come along for this part of the trip.

Although we had two children getting close to college age, I really wanted Elizabeth (my late wife) to go.  So we counted our pennies and signed Elizabeth up for the trip.

It was at this point that two of the senior faculty members decided it would be nice to leave the States a week early so we could visit Bali.  That really stretched our finances since the Chinese weren’t covering that part of the trip, but we scrapped up the money for the extra week and went.

The picture above was taken on Bali at sunset on an evening late in June.  It was like living a scene from a movie.

To see more sunrise and sunset pictures from around the world click HERE or on the logo below.

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What Is She Trying to Tell Me?

December 27, 2008

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As I’ve mentioned before, Betsy and I give each other Christmas ornaments at Christmas.  The ornaments usually commemorate a major event during the year or convey a special message.

This year Betsy gave me a very cute ‘Honey-Do List’ Santa.  As you can see in the picture above, Santa is carrying a ladder and holding a very long list of things that need to be done.

My first reaction when I opened the present was “Isn’t this a cute ornament”.  My second thought was “What is she trying to tell me?”.

On Christmas morning Betsy told me to stop being paranoid and enjoy the day.  After some hesitation I took her advice and we had a marvelous day.

Ah, but the day after Christmas arrived.  And what did I do?

1.  Replace the large wind chime torn apart by last week’s storms.
2.  Repair the three wind chimes less badly  damaged in those same storms.
3.  Replace a roof shingle we found in the back yard.
4.  Remove the leaves that Betsy raked from the front yard.
5.  Remove a blooming dandelion Betsy found while raking leaves.
6.  Replace the lanyard on the flag pole in front of the house.
7.  Repair and reinforce a small retaining wall that had fallen down.

Honey, can you please find me a sleeping Santa ornament for next year?

Skywatch Friday 24

December 25, 2008

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After several days of clouds and rain, it was nice to have a clear day and to be able to see the sun.

Late in the day I walked along the golf cart path on the back nine of the Druid Hills Golf Course here in the Glade to the twelfth tee, which is one of the higher points on the course with a view to the west.  I got there too late to see the setting sun, but I did find this beautifully painted sky.

To see more beautiful sky pictures from all over the world, click on Skywatch or on the logo below.

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For Unto Us a Son Is Given

December 24, 2008
The manger at Nashville's Opryland Hotel. December, 2001.

The manger at Nashville's Opryland Hotel. December, 2001.

I’m writing this a little early because Betsy and I will be busy later tonight.  We’re going to head down off the Plateau tonight to attend the Christmas Eve service at St. John (Episcopal) Cathedral in Knoxville.  We enjoy our little church up here on the Plateau, but the Christmas Eve carols and choral Eucharist are very special for us on Christmas Eve.

Since Knoxville is about 90 minutes from here, we get another benefit by going there tonight.  Our travel gives us plenty of time to hear the complete Messiah by Handel.  I’ve been listening to Messiah on Christmas Eve for about 40 years now, and never get tired of it.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:  and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not:  for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

May the meaning and joy of Christmas be with you and your family throughout the days ahead.  Merry Christmas.

Watery Wednesday 15

December 23, 2008

fallcreekfalls020421There’s water going over the falls, so I hope this will qualify as an entry.  Betsy and I collect waterfalls and this is the one that started it all.

This picture of Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee was taken April 21, 2001.  A day trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park was our first big date.  Betsy and I had gone to dinner a couple of times, but that was it.

This date turned out to be a big one.  I hadn’t even held Betsy’s hand before then, but I did as we walked in the park.  I even got my first kiss before the day was over!

Fall Creek Falls is one of five major falls in the park.  It has a drop of 256 feet, which makes it one of the falls with the greatest vertical drop east of the Rocky Mountains.  As you can see, it drops into a huge sandstone amphitheater.

That date to Fall Creek Falls not only led to our marriage, but also to our waterfall collection.  We’ve now seen a total of 287 different waterfalls and are still finding more to visit!

To see more pictures on the Watery Wednesday meme click here or on the logo below.

waterywed2c

My World 10

December 22, 2008

The rain and then the cold have kept me inside most of this past week, so my world has been pretty much our house and preparations for Christmas.  That’s what I want to share with you.

Our Christmas tree is a memory tree.  Many of the ornaments commemorate significant events in our life together (such as our first Christmas or new home) or souvenirs from our travels (such as ornaments from Williamsburg.
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Although the tree is the largest of our decorations, we do try to remember the true meaning of Christmas.  Christmas is so much more than shopping, presents or parties.

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We have a fireplace, but it doesn’t have a mantel, so our stockings are hung on the bookcase with care.  I hope Santa will find them and that he will decide that we’ve been good enough to fill them.  You don’t think those stockings are too large, do you?

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You can see the nicest feature of our great room (at least in winter) on the left of this last picture.  A fireplace was one of Betsy’s requirements for a house and we both certainly love this one.  It gets a lot use in cold weather.  Not only does it help provide heat, but it gives us a wonderful place to enjoy a relaxing cup of tea.

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To see more pictures from around the world click on the logo below or visit My World.

mwtblack

Christmas in a Far-off Land

December 22, 2008

The manger scene in the picture below may seem a little unusual.  (You can click on it for a larger version if you like.)  It’s obviously a manger scene — the three men on the right are paying homage to the baby held aloft by the woman in the center.  On the left is a shepherd with one of his animals.

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But the scene does look unusual.  The animal on the left looks more like a long-necked rabbit than a sheep, and the three men on the right are unlike any wise men I had seen before.

The most unusual thing about this manger however, is its location.  The picture was taken in December, 1994, on the shopping floor of a hotel in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China.

I spent the academic year 1994 – 95 teaching in Tianjin, and I was frankly quite surprised to see this manger on public display.  The hotel catered to Chinese visitiors, not foreigners.  I was the only westerner in the place when this picture was taken!  At a time when public displays of Christmas symbols is under attack in some places here at home, I find it more than interesting that this public display could be found in communist China over ten years ago.

There were more secular displays of Christmas as well.  The picture below was taken in front of a store front restaurant in Tianjin.  It looks as if the reindeer have left Santa stranded, but that is definitely Santa in his sleigh.

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I find it amazing and comforting that Christmas has spread to even the most likely parts of the globe.  I had a wonderful Christmas in 1994, and I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas this year and for many years to come.