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Tennessee Adventure

I’m not a big sports fan. I like individual sports teams, usually local or college teams.  Wooooo Pig. Sooooie!  Goo Lady Bears!   It wasn’t until the day before we left for Nashville that I found out the NFL draft was in Nashville the same time we would be.  Oops.  Fortunately we’d made reservations for the hotel and had our tickets to the Gatlin Brothers at the Ryman.  The only real issue would be traffic and parking.

It was raining when we left Willard (cue country music background).  Uneventful trip and check in at motel.  Wednesday we toured the Carnton house and the adjoining Confederate cemetery, as well as the Carter houses.  This battle could have been avoided and included a charge even larger than Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. After all the touring and listening to stories of the families involved during and after the battle we ate at South 55. I had their Memphis hot chicken sandwich.  It was almost too spicy but I managed to eat it all. My dad said it was the best chicken sandwich he ever had.

Thursday morning we headed to Nashville  the area around the Nissan Arena was blocked to traffic   We found a parking garage near the Ryman and paid the $30 event fee to be there all day.  We checked out the Johnny Cash museum.  Did you know Leonard Nimoy sang “walk the line” ?    You can check it out on you tube  we are a sandwich and for dessert Dennis and I shared a GooGoo Cluster.   They were advertised on the Grand Ole Opry.  They are also good   Then we went to the Patsy Cline Museum   Also fun   Then spent several hours at the Country Music Hall of fame before ending the evening at the Ryman   Gatlin brothers were good  but Ashley Campbell was amazing.   Daughter of Glen Campbell.   The night opened with Tony Jackson in his first time at the Ryman.   I’d never heard of him before but I bet everyone will soon know his name.

We finished up the backstage tour just as the fireworks were going off over the Nissan Arena.  Crazy traffic but we made it to the hotel without incident


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Creek is up, but not over the road

We had several cold, gray, and windy days before we got rain. Last night the rain started and it rained off and on all night. There was some thunder and lightning but nothing spectacular. I haven’t heard how much rain we got, but more is in the forecast.

Yesterday we went to the Home & Garden show at the Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield. It wasn’t too crowded and almost all the people were wearing their masks properly. There were fewer vendors, which gave everyone a bit more space. We heard P. Allen Smith speak. Visiting his Moss Mountain Farm near Little Rock AR is still on my travel list. He talked a lot about seed saving and preserving as many varieties of different plants (not just vegetables but also flowers) as well as keeping diversity in the different breeds of chickens. He has a huge Chicken Compound where he has 40 different varieties of chickens, each with their own separate “yard”. I’ll stick to our single Chicken Palace and Buff Orpingtons. We bought a Carpenter Bee trap. It’s constructed with wood boards and has a canning jar at the end of the trap. They go into one of the holes and into a dark “tunnel”. The only light is from the jar, so they go down into the jar and are trapped. Not exactly humane for the bees trapped, but it avoids chemicals/poisons. Dennis and Larry will use this trap as a pattern to make many more.

Afterwards we ate at Panera. I had their flat bread Margherita pizza. It’s my new favorite.

We started watching “The Vanishing at Cecil Hotel”. Elisa Lam disappeared and then was later found dead, in the water tower on the hotel roof in February 2013. In March of 2012 Dennis and I stayed there. It was really cheap…as in $49/night cheap and right in downtown LA. Hannah had recently moved to Los Angeles and wasn’t aware that the hotel was on the edge of “Skid Row”. During the day there were many busy businesses and no signs of the homeless that would start pitching their tents along the sidewalks and alleys about sunset. We were on the 10th floor but that elevator button was missing, so we’d go to the 11th floor and walk down. At $49/night, that was ok. We arrived mid-afternoon on Friday and checked in. We spent the afternoon just walking around. Within walking distance were several restaurants we wanted to check out, including Phillipe’s, which claimed to be the original server of the French Dip Sandwich. That’s where we had our first meal. We noticed the tents being pitched as we headed back to the hotel, but didn’t feel threatened or in danger. We were tired. The room was small but had a comfortable bed, a TV, and private bath. It was old, but clean. Some of the floors had rooms with communal baths. My friend Miranda and husband Reggie picked us up the next morning and gave us a grand tour of an even older historic downtown Lost Angeles. Reggie was concerned about our safety at the Cecil so we promised not to go out after dark. Sunday we had breakfast with Miranda and Reggie at the Pantry Cafe. Then they drove us away from downtown to hike around the coastal bird sanctuary trail. Hannah’s job had her out of town the weekend we arrived, but she was back on Monday. Miranda & Reggie headed back to work and Hannah had several days off. She then drove us up to Sacramento to visit with oldest son Paul for the rest of our stay. So, even though we spent a few nights at the Cecil Hotel, we had no concerns about it being a sinister place. Watching this documentary is a bit unsettling.

Last night we watched an interesting B/W horror film on Svengoolie. It was “Devil Doll”, a 1964 British film. It was sufficiently creepy and I loved the twist at the end. I did not see it coming.


We had several days of sunshine and temperatures as high as 60*. It was great. Today started out frosty at 29*. It’s been mostly cloudy with a gusty NE wind. Most of the snow is gone. There are patches in the ditches and some of the deep drifts, and on the north side buildings and of some trees. You can see a hint of green beneath the brown grass in the back fields. Of course there is mud everywhere.

Our friends George & Linda stopped by to see us on the way back from Texas. They planned to escape this last bit of ice, snow and cold on South Padre Island. That didn’t go as planned. They have quite an exciting story to tell. My favorite was getting to a hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio (after being assured they had electricity and running water) to discover the only running water was in the San Antonio River. Fortunately George had a 5 gallon bucket in his truck. He used it to carry water from the river up to their room to flush the toilet. Fortunately a nearby restaurant had running water and served meals. It gave us all an even deeper appreciation for the fragility of our infrastructure and grid.

My latest cookbook arrived. Keven Belton’s Big Flavors of New Orleans. I borrowed it from the library and tried several recipes that were delicious. Last night we had his “empty the fridge frittata”. It did not disappoint. I like the way he gives you measurements but also encourages you to experiment with your own ideas.

We finished the final season of “Downton Abbey”. I miss the characters. We planned to watch the movie about the Royal Family visiting Downton Abbey but we would have had to pay $14.99. We decided to check the library to see if they have a copy or there is a way to watch it for free. Since then we’ve watched a great Sci-Fi movie called “Space Sweepers”. It’s Korean and has a combination of dubbing and sub-titles. The beginning was confusing but it soon starts to make sense. My cousin who recommended the movie said it reminded him of “Firefly” but that comparison is pretty abstract.

28 Days until Spring

Yesterday the high temperature was above 32* for the first time in 14 days. The sun was also shining. A lot of snow melted. Between Dennis shoveling off some snow and the melting, the chickens dared leave the palace and enjoyed a bit of fresh air. We unplugged the heat lamps yesterday and are keeping our fingers crossed we won’t need them again this winter. We’ll still have some nights in the 20’s next week, but most of the daytime temperatures will be in the 40’s.

I call this photo “Dude and his chicks”

We missed Zane’s birthday on the 17th, but were able to go hang out with him yesterday afternoon. We had a great time catching up with everyone’s activities. Matt and his bunch never slow down. Zane had a cat theme birthday party. I found a couple of cat themed books for his birthday. He and Jax were reading from the Are You Smarter than Cat in the Hat? book when we left.

Zane and a party decoration

Church was cancelled last Sunday so it was doubly nice to see friends who braved the snow remnants, wind and gray skies. It’s above freezing and rain is predicted later this afternoon. The ground is still frozen so there will be a lot of runoff from both the melting snow and rain. It’s time to put away the UGGS and get out the mud/rain boots.

A Sunny 30 Degrees

The chickens were briefly motivated to go outside this afternoon. Unfortunately the snow was too deep for them sucessfully navigate very far from the palace. Too deep to walk. Chickens don’t hop well. Flying was awkward and scattered snow on other chickens, causing them to squawk. It didn’t take them long to figure out life was better inside the palace.

This morning we made a successful grocery run to Aldi’s. It wasn’t crowded and everthing was well stocked. After lunch I ran some errands in Willard. I got stamps and picked up a refill on my thyroid medication. Then I stopped by the library. I turned in my Winter Reading Challenge and received my mug. It’s very similar to last years, only dark green instead of gray. If I do this challenge long enough, I will have quite a collection of coffee mugs.

Last night I finished The Moviegoer and today I moved on to Untamed.

Unlike the chickens, Khloe is thriving in the snow. She bunches up her long legs and runs like a greyhound. The snow is starting to melt but it is still hard walking for me. I’m ever so grateful to Hannah for giving me UGGS for Thanksmas.

Our friends George & Linda have had an exciting travel adventure the past week or so. They decided to go to South Padre Island and excape this last winter weather. Unfortunately the cold and snow went much further south than usual. They spent a few days in SPI without electricity or water. They called a hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio which claimed to have both electricity and running water. When they arrived, there was electricity but no running water. George had a 5 gallon bucket in the truck which he used to scoop water from the river to flush their toilet in the hotel room. Fortunately the British Pub next to the hotel did have running water and was serving meals. Now they are headed to Houston, where they hope to find running water and electricity. At some point their travels will bring them by our place. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we still have power and running water when they get here.

Ash Wednesday

Going to a church service was totally out of the question. It snowed again during the night and off & on most of the day. Dennis said there was at least another 3″ added to what we had. 5* and gray skies at 7 AM. It warmed up to 19* but no thawing. We’re supposed to reach 25* tomorrow and see a bit of sun.

Happy 7th Birthday Zane! We planned to do a Door Drop of his gift today, but weather nixed that plan. Maybe we can have a quick visit this weekend.

In honor of our Irish ancestors, I started making St. Pat’s cards today. I have green cardstock left from last year’s Spring cards.

Paul dressed Peyton today and sent us a photo. She had on an interesting combination of stripes, polka dots and checks. She looked adorable.

Coldest Mardi Gras ever

At least that is what the news people have been reporting. I was amazed at all the houses that people decorated to look like floats so people could walk by and almost feel like there was a parade. They referred to it as “yard-i gras”.

That’s -9 degrees when I got up this morning. The sun was shining. News said the low last night was -13*. I’m glad I slept through that. Larry came over on his 4 wheeler and snow blade. IF we decide to go somewhere, I can get the Jeep out of the garage, down the driveway and to the road. He also cleared a path from our driveway to my parents porch just in case we’d need to go over to their house. So far all our communicating has been via phone.

With the sun shining we’d warmed up to 10* at lunch. First double digit temperature in a while. There’s a gradual warming trend and we may see temperatures above freezing Friday or Saturday. Unfortunately there’s another snowstorm and colder temperatures on the way. Up to 6″ of snow may fall overnight.

I have no complaints. We are not having rolling blackouts like in Springfield. Our electricity isn’t entirely out like in some places. Our water hasn’t frozen. We have plenty of food to eat and a stove to cook it on. We’ve had no tornadoes. I just downloaded Untamed on my Kindle. The library may be closed but wi-fi still works. I’m almost half through The Moviegoer and thoroughly enjoying it. It’s set during Carnival/Mardi Gras so reading it now is kind of ironic. No real parades in New Orleans, and it’s been a long time since people could actually go to a theater and watch a movie.


It’s -2* with -18* windchill. It’s still snowing. The snow is so dry and fine that we think there’s only 2 or so inches. The wind blowing it around doesn’t help either. Khloe dashes outside for her potty break, does her business and dashes back inside. She enjoys looking out the window at the birds. They seem to be all that is moving outside today. The birds all fly away when we open the front door. I stepped out on the front porch and took a few photos. I got too cold to wait for more birds to calm down and come back to the feeder.

The news has been asking people to conserve energy due to a natural gas shortage. Some local utilities get their electricity from plants that use natural gas, so it’s not just for those who heat with natural gas. It’s bad enough that Springfield is planning for “rolling” outtages that will last 30-60 minutes. Being out in the country, we are part of a rural electric co-op and haven’t heard anything that drastic. Still, we are not leaving lights on in empty rooms or doing laundry. The TV is off, but my computer is plugged in. We heat our house, water and cook with propane. The motor that pumps the hot water through our radiators is electric, so without power we have no heat. That’s the only thing I’m concerned about right now. The chickens would be upset if their heat lamp went out or they lost the heater to their waterer. The bright side is that if we survive the -6* tonight, it’s supposed to be 16* tomorrow. Almost a heatwave in IL. LOL

Last night we finished watching season 5 of “Downton Abbey”. So we have the final season and then “From Time to Time” movie left. I think “Space Sweepers” is next on our agenda. This is based on advice from a cousin who said it had a “Firefly” vibe to it.

Off to the daily challenges of cleaning and figuring out the next meal.

Happy President’s Day!

A cold Valentine’s Day

Our niece in SD posted a -17 temperature photo. Made me feel like we were having a heat wave…NOT.

I don’t know why there was a sun and flower on the screen. No sun. No flowers blooming. Just gray skies, wind and blowing snow. I’m not complaining. We have electricity and our water isn’t frozen. We got our propane tank filled yesterday and our vehicles have full or almost full tanks of gas. We don’t have to go anywhere except to check the chickens and be sure Khloe takes care of her bathroom needs. The chickens are refusing to leave the palace and are worshiping the heat lamp.

Kevin Belton is being featured on PBS Create channel. Yesterday I watched him make pralines. I checked out one of his cookbooks last time I was at the library and it had his praline recipe. I made the pralines and they were pretty good. I only 2.5 cups of pecans instead of 3 cups. I had to use half n half instead of heavy cream. I used my thermometer to judge the soft ball stage and I think the sugar mixture was a bit undercooked. It wasn’t as smooth/creamy as expected. It spread a bit thinner and was bit crumbly after it set up. The taste was fine. I shared with my parents and Larry & Brenda.

Brenda went to the grocery store Saturday afternoon. She said the shelves were as bare as at the beginning of the pandemic last March. On the news they were announcing that propane delivery people are being allowed to work extra hours during this snow and cold. People using natural gas were asked to turn down thermostats and conserve usage because there is a shortage. It’s going to be Friday before temperatures get above freezing–and the high is only predicted 34*. Makes me feel like I’m back in Champaign-Urbana IL. After days/weeks of snow and below zero weather, it would warm up to 20*. There would be students (I wasn’t one of them) walking around campus in shorts, light jackets and hiking boots.

A shot in the arm

In spite of ice and snow, we loaded my parents in the van and headed to Salem MO. We left at 8:30 AM to be sure we had plenty of time. The 2.25 hour trip took 3 hours. We arrived at the site about 11:30. My appointment was 11:45 and the other 3 were 12:15 but no one cared. We had our paperwork and joined the line of cars looping around the “Commons”. We were in line (inside the warm van) a little almost 30 minutes before we saw the tents where they were doing the actual vaccinating. We handed over our paperwork and got our shots thru the windows. We have to bring our cards back March 11 at noon to receive our 2nd dose. We were back on the road, headed home by 12:30. So the whole process took about an hour. I’ve heard of other places that were faster, but this set up was to give 2,500 vaccines in 2 days. Did I mention it was 16* and snowing?

We missed our usual Thursday morning Senior Shopping at Aldi. We went today. Our Farm Road is slick. Tire tracks on top of snow and ice. The rest of the roads were fine. It’s cloudy and 12*. Sunday’s & Monday’s highs are predicted 3* with snow.

Aldi’s was average busy. There was still bread on the shelves and milk in the cooler. I suspect most people will be hitting grocery stores after work today and tomorrow morning. I was surprised there was no cabbage. I grabbed the last corned beef “package” and put it in the freezer for St. Patricks Day. I also threw a couple extra bags of chips in the cart.

My goal for the next week is to keep warm and stay inside as much as possible. I’m impressed with how “almost warm” the chicken palace is staying with just a heat lamp. We may hang a 2nd one for the nights below 0.

Teeny Tiny Ice Crystals

We’ve been having freezing mist off and on for the past 3 days. It’s starting to accumulate. It’s the 4th day of high temps below 32. The next 8 days show the same unusually cold temperatures.

Since the sun isn’t shining, it doesn’t even look pretty.

Late Monday afternoon I managed to get covid19 vaccination appointments for my parents, myself and Dennis. It’s at a 2-day, mass drive through event in Salem MO. Thank you National Guard and everyone else involved in these undertakings. That means we’ll be driving 2.25 hours each way. That will also mean repeating the same trip 28 days later. With the cold and scattered icy conditions all across southern MO, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t be cancelled.

Our trash is usually picked up on Monday but it’s still sitting out by the road. I suspect the weather has kept the usual trash trucks from running the rural routes. I noticed Farm Road 89 had a significant glaze on it when I chipped off the ice on the mailbox to post some letters this morning. We haven’t seen many vehicles on the road, and the few we saw were going slowly.

I finished the required 5 books for the library Winter Reading Challenge. Then I read Vibration Cooking or Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl as a 6th book, in the Books about Food category. We read a poem about cooking by Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor in the Culture & Conflict class I took in the fall of 2019. Back in another lifetime. I found this book used on Thriftbooks.com and bought it because I liked her poem. It’s a good book about her life in the 60’s and 70’s, and has a lot of recipes without concrete measurements, temperatures or cooking times. I might figure out a 7th book to read before the end of the challenge on February 28.

Right now I’m reading The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. He was the author Toole’s mom got to help her publish her son’s book Confederacy of Dunces post-humously. It didn’t take too many pages into the book for me to realize the mom picked the perfect author to help her.

The chickens’ waterer sits on a heated base and that’s working out really well. Unfortunately the headlamp burned out last night. Dennis and Khloe are working on that problem right now. Dennis is searching for a “spare” bulb. Next he’ll ask Larry if he has an extra one. Last resort will involve a trip (after making the call to be sure they have one) to the feed store or local hardware store. Last resort will be a trip to Lowe’s.

I’ve been listening to Dixie Chicks on Spotify this afternoon. I can’t believe I forgot all about Earl.