Monday, November 30, 2020

It was a Covid-19 Thanksgiving!

For most of us, Thanksgiving 2020 was much different than usual…and not in a good way.  Normally we would have been off to St. Louis and then to Omaha, spending time with Laurie’s family and having Thanksgiving with our son and his family before heading back home.

Covid-19 and the pandemic crushed those plans and, like many others who would be at risk out among the non-compliant public, we opted to stay at home for the holiday.

Yes indeed!  Here are the folks who celebrated Thanksgiving at our house this year…just Laurie and me.  I took the first selfie ‘blind’ with my usual camera while Laurie took the superior photo centering the two of us using her smart phone.

We did do the traditional Thanksgiving meal… We had a 13.5 lb. Butterball turkey to work with.  It was a bit of a challenge since we hadn’t roasted a turkey at home in last several years.  We coated the bird with Costco’s poultry seasoning and Laurie put 2 orange halves in the bird’s cavity.  As you can see, visually the effort turned out to be very photogenic. 

Laurie’s plate is always more presentable (photographical) than mine.  She organizes her food much better than I do with little overlap.  As you can see, we had our very moist and flavorful Butterball turkey with asparagus (Fresh Market), mashed potatoes (Bob Evans), sage sausage stuffing (Jimmy Dean and Stove Top) and store made turkey gravy (Fresh Market).  It was an excellent meal with minimal effort involved!

Later on Thanksgiving eve we did indulge in some terrific pumpkin pie direct from Fresh Market topped of course with whipped cream. (Reddi Wip Extra Creamy)

Pumpkin pie has a good shelf life so we were able to spread this treat out for three more evenings!

For me, the best thing about the two of us having Thanksgiving at home (with a 13.5 lb. turkey) and a vat of sausage stuffing, is that there are plenty of leftovers!  The night following Thanksgiving we decided that we’d make turkey sandwiches for dinner.

Both our son and I love to layer mayonnaise, stuffing and turkey on our post-Thanksgiving traditional sandwiches.  This year I used rye bread as my base and before I put the second slice of bread on top, I liberally sprinkled Tabasco on my creation!  Despite the way it may look to you, it was a great sandwich!

Laurie of course created a more compact and orderly turkey sandwich using rosemary salt bread from Fresh Market.  No stuffing or Tabasco on her sandwich…just mayonnaise.  She made her sandwich with the dark meat as that’s her preference… Love those dark russet potato chips!

So, as the sun set over the horizon, yet another family-less holiday faded into history.  Laurie and I enjoyed our Thanksgiving but it just didn’t measure up to past celebrations with family and friends.  Hopefully, we are on track for Covid-19 control and a much more healthy and positive 2021.

We still do have to deal with the latest pandemic surge and self-isolation for the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.  However, our son David II has improved the Holiday outlook for us by sending us a Zoom camera.  We’re now installed and ready to celebrate!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave  

Friday, November 27, 2020

Local Sights and Fall Color

As the last vestiges of fall were upon us, Laurie captured that feeling…as well as some of the final bits of color that popped out here and there. 

Note: When we lived in Chicago, all of these similar sights would have been gone about a month earlier!

Laurie spotted something a bit different about the magnolia tree at the left side of the house, especially for so late in the season. (Looking from the driveway)

There was just one magnolia blossom to be seen, at the very top of the tree.  Perhaps it was seeking just a little more sunshine!

Here she captured a couple of our burning bushes in our back yard.  As colorful as they were when she took the photo, they are even more scarlet red now!

On a walk around the neighborhood, she stopped and took a photo of these pretty pink flowers around the base of a tree.  We don’t know what they are but they sure stood out among the fallen leaves. 

Laurie keeps some herbs growing in pots on our deck.  In this case, our Thai holy basil was giving us a bit of late season color.  Interestingly, many of our herb plantings have survived winters past and just keep on keeping on…

Thai holy basil has a spicy, peppery, clove-like taste and it may be the basil that Thai people prefer.  This plant is native to the Indian subcontinent and it’s widespread as a cultivated plant throughout Southeast Asia.

We also spotted this butterfly-bush on our walk through the neighborhood.  Not only was it blooming but despite being as late in the season as it was, it was still attracting butterflies as well as some small bees.

This is a species of flowering plant that is native to central China and also Japan.  Widely used as an ornamental plant, it has been classified as an invasive species in many countries in temperate regions.  In the USA, it is actually classified as a noxious weed in both Washington and Oregon states.  Still…it does make butterflies happy!

We thought that the berries on this nandina bush in the woods deserved mention too!  Nandina is also known as heavenly bamboo or sacred bamboo and it’s native to eastern Asia from the Himalayas to Japan. 

Despite its common name, nandina is not a bamboo but rather an evergreen shrub.  It is especially toxic to birds and animals.  This plant is commonly used in rabbit and deer resistant landscape plantings.  It is considered as an invasive species in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.  With some  exceptions, many of the nandina we saw on our walk were growing wild along the edge of the woods.

This colorful maple tree is just up the street about 2 lots from our home.  Very pretty indeed…

I thought that I’d end this short photographic post with a few shots of part of the upper portion of Tellico Lake in Monroe County Tennessee.  With 351 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of scenic photo ops along the way.  We always love seeing the Smoky Mountains in the distance.  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

End of the Visit…Prudent Activities Continued

As Laurie’s sisters Bonnie and Karole along with Bonnie’s husband Bill neared the end of their short visit, we were still out and about…still exercising sensible Covid-19 precautions.  The goal was to avoid crowded venues or places where staff wasn’t wearing masks and maintain social distancing.  Of course, we wore our masks except when eating.     

We stopped for an adult beverage and appetizers at the Tanasi golf course clubhouse in Tellico Village.  The clubhouse includes a popular local restaurant serving decent food at reasonable prices.  The staff was totally masked up and the tables were well spaced out. 

We tried for outdoor seating but it was a beautiful fall day and the tables along the patio area were all taken.  But, in any case, it wasn't just the restaurant or the food per se that drew us in on this beautiful fall day.

These 3 photos above illustrate yet another reason that the restaurant at the Tanasi Clubhouse is so popular.  The views are hard to beat!  The golf course and the marina along with Tellico Lake, the attractive homes and the local scenery all add up to a relaxing atmosphere.

To learn more about the Tanasi Clubhouse and Restaurant and to see more photos, go to Tanasi Bar and Grill - Loudon, Tennessee - Menu, Prices, Restaurant Reviews | Facebook.

Another popular local destination is Sweetwater Valley Farm.  This farm near Philadelphia Tennessee was part of a Revolutionary War Land Grant awarded to General William Ballard Lenoir.  The area was settled in the early 1800’s.

Sweetwater Valley Farm is a large dairy farm with over 1,500 dairy cows.  In addition to milk, a wide variety of cheeses are produced.  The building shown above is their cheese store…although you can find their products in many East Tennessee grocery stores.  The farm produces over 25 different varieties of cheese ranging from many different styles of cheddar to jack, Colby and Gouda.  

However, we weren’t at Sweetwater Farm just to buy cheese.  We wanted to eat some cheese too!  This barn like structure houses a restaurant and gift shop.  What does the restaurant serve…?  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches of course!  The restaurant, (Tuesday – Saturday, breakfast and lunch only, 9 AM to 3 PM), has become another popular attraction for the Farm.

Love the focal point with the old Chevrolet pick-up truck loaded with pumpkins!  While we were there, visitors were posing their families with the truck for photos.  The Chevrolet 3600 series were produced in the late 1940s.

Of course, as befitting a successful and growing venture like Sweetwater Farms, they boast newer trucks as well.  I’m guessing that this van is used to deliver product to the more than 200 East Tennessee stores, breweries, wineries and restaurants that feature and sell their cheeses.  How about that promotional phrasing!  "Cheese. Cows. Wows!"

This is the service counter and kitchen area where the grilled cheese sandwiches and milk shakes happen!  Prices are quite reasonable with The Classic priced at $5.00, while the most expensive creation, The Club XL costs $9.00.  They do make a good grilled cheese sandwich…but I much prefer Laurie’s homemade version. 

Here is our little group at a table located far away from other customers.  From the left, Karole, Bill, Bonnie and Laurie.  Actually all of the tables in the restaurant are well spaced out but this one was really on its own.  All of the outdoor seating was occupied.  Note the gift shop in the back…

I like old autos and trucks… Someone who was visiting Sweetwater Farms arrived in this shiny Studebaker Lark VIII Wagonaire.  This style station wagon was built by the Studebaker Corporation in South Bend Indiana.  I’m not sure when this model was built but I found a ‘rare’ 1960 2-door Studebaker Lark VIII with a V8 engine for sale on-line.  Price $12,500 and it only has 31,500 miles on the odometer!

Back to Sweetwater Valley Farm.  The farm has become a significant regional tourist attraction.  In non covid-19 times, in addition to the cheese store, restaurant and gift shop, tours of the dairy operation are also offered.  As per TripAdvisor there have been 170 reviews of Sweetwater farm and 93% of them gave either 4 or 5 stars.  To learn more, just go to  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!  

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, November 20, 2020

Covid-19 Era Family Visit Continued

The challenge in the Covid-19 era continues to limiting your exposure to the virus.  While mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing help in this effort, avoiding situations and people who haven’t been equally cautious are also key precautions… Relatively safe visitors include those who wear masks, follow other recommended protocols and who also avoid risky situations.  That can be difficult due to jobs, school and necessity.

Here where we live, despite the average age being above 60, there are many folks that we just don't feel take the necessary Covid-19 precautions.  Many only wear masks when they must.  We've been invited to parties/happenings that involve too many people and we just decline.  Normally, we would have been on our way to St. Louis and Omaha for the holiday, celebrating Thanksgiving with our son and his family in Omaha...but sadly not this year.  At our age and given our previous medical history, we are into risk avoidance.

As per my last post, Laurie’s sisters Bonnie and Karole plus Bonnie’s husband Bill did come to visit us and they had been very cautious before driving over from St. Louis.  So what else did we do while they were here?  

More shopping!  We drove over to Sweetwater Tennessee and browsed through a couple of antique shops.  The shops weren’t busy so social distancing was easy plus the staff and most other shoppers were wearing masks.

(Have I mentioned yet that while I consider it a necessity given our age and related conditions, I really don’t like wearing a mask!)

I was a little startled to see this police surveillance tower in Sweetwater’s parking lot in the center of downtown.  They must have had a problem that needed to be addressed.  FYI, the tower isn’t manned per se but it is equipped with CCTV cameras.  Glad to see that the police department is proactive...

When we went to our local Ingles supermarket, we’d been told that they’d stopped cutting pork steaks for the season.  Fortunately, Bill and Bonnie have a great butcher shop in St. Louis and they brought these beauties down with them.  Better yet, Bill grilled them for us too!

Here’s the finished stack of pork steaks, right off the grill!  There were 5 of these huge beauties, one for each of us… They were excellent.  Thanks Bill and Bonnie!

Of course, we had to side those pork steaks with something healthy.  Consequently, we served up our favorite ready to heat store bought cheesy scalloped potatoes. 

Here was a typical dinner plate ready for consumption… Note the healthy vegetable mix!  The pork steaks were so big that ‘sadly’ neither Bonnie nor Laurie could finish theirs! (Leftovers for me) We were stunned to watch as Karole wiped out hers though.  She’s a true carnivore!

One morning we decided that we’d make up a batch of malted waffles and keep them warm in the oven until we had enough for everyone to have one at the same time.  The plan worked very nicely.  Add maple syrup and Amish butter along with some fruit for a healthy touch.  Oh yes, then there was the whipped cream!

On a Saturday we attended an outdoor fundraising event at the East Tennessee Miniature Horse and Donkey Rescue.  It was a small gathering with plenty of space and most people wore masks...

Their motto at the miniature horse and donkey rescue is “Doing Big Things for Little Equines since 2o16”.  While this organization averages about 35 miniature horses, donkeys and mules on site, in a typical year they help about 85 equines.  Adoptions are almost always available.

There were a number booths set up on the grounds offering everything from saddles to baked goods, all to benefit the charity.  Of course cash donations were also welcome…and freely given.  Bill also made a purchase. 

Note: Three people in this photo didn't wear masks.  Stay away from us!  They were the exception... 

While I didn’t memorize the miniature horse’s names, I do know that the donkey shown above is named ‘cAssper’.  Laurie and I really like donkeys!  The organization is 100% donation funded and it’s operated by volunteers.  Located on 6 acres, every paddock has a shelter for its equines and there is room to roam.

The East Tennessee Miniature Horse and Donkey Rescue is located at 6545 Calloway Road in Loudon Tennessee.  Note: Visits are by appointment only.  Phone: 865-266-3396.  The organizations website is found at:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, November 16, 2020

We actually had Visitors…and More!

Excitement reigned!  Laurie’s sisters Bonnie and Karole and Bonnie’s husband Bill drove over from St. Louis Missouri.  Bill, who is still working, had a Covid-19 test, a regular event at his place of employment.  There were bathroom and gas stops along their drive and masks were worn at each stop.  Given the Covid-19 protocols, they were about as safe as possible and we sure were glad to see and visit with folks other than each other.

But before getting into the family visit, and our related activities and dietary indulgences, I wanted to share the following Veteran’s Day appropriate photo we’d received from one of our friends. 

Our friend Jodie posted this photo of her husband Morrie from 1965.  Morrie served in Viet Nam and this picture was taken at a refugee camp.  This little girl ran up to him and wouldn’t let go… He made her feel safe!

Thanks to Morrie, as well as members of our families plus all others who have served in our armed forces, many of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice! 

We didn’t want to just sit at home with our visitors but, given Covid-19 and the risks involved, we wanted to limit any possible exposure to the virus while getting out and about a bit.  Our first stop was a local consignment shop and then we dropped in to the Good Neighbors Shoppe, a charitable operation based in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Everyone was masked up, social distancing was possible and we did make a couple of purchases.

This is a great store for purchasing quality donated clothing and household items at terrific prices.  All the proceeds go to supporting local charities.  The Good Neighbors Shoppe is located at 420 Leeper Parkway in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Website:  

The visit was all about the 3 sisters getting together to plan a future ‘sisters trip’ to Scotland, whether in 2021 or in 2022.  I pulled this old photo of the girls from our file.  From the left there was Bonnie, then Karole and then Laurie.  Cute aren’t they!

Here are the 3 sisters during Karole and Bonnie’s visit.  From the left there is Bonnie, Karole and Laurie.  The photo was taken along the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley Tennessee. 

The Parkway is a popular component of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Karole had never seen the Parkway and with the fall colors still in place, we knew she’d appreciate the drive.  Best yet, this is an easy place to socially distance while enjoying the great outdoors!

Here are a couple of different views of the foothills, mountains and Wears Valley as taken from the Parkway.  It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine…and we still had some decent fall colors to appreciate.

In the second photo you can glimpse part of Wears Cove, a valley that runs parallel to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and includes the unincorporated town of Wears Valley.  The population of Wears Valley is close to 10,000 at this time…up about 50% from the 2000 census.  The Cove itself is about 4 miles long and a mile wide.

Despite its growth in population and its proximity to both the National Park and its outlier, the Foothill Parkway, when compared to nearby Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, this touristy area is laid back and less stressful.  There are stores to visit and places to eat, but the traffic and crowds are relatively minimal. 

We stopped at Harper Bros. General Merchandise Store, actually looking for chocolate rocks. (Eatable chocolates that look like pebbles) They didn’t carry them but a couple of purchases were made.  The staff and 90% of customers at Harper Bros. wore masks for everyone’s safety.

I’m not much of a shopper…so I wandered around out front taking a couple of photos and then settling down at the fire pit in front of the store.  I just watched folks coming and going and relaxed. 

Harper Bros. is located at 4149 Wears Valley Road.  Website:

Confession… We didn’t take this photo.  However, someone who probably had a boat and knew how to use a camera did…and they posted it for all to see.  These are the fall colors in their full glory along the shores of Tellico Lake.

All of us spent a fair amount of time on our screened porch.  Bonnie spent a bit of time going through Laurie’s collection of home related magazines.  As you can see, Karole and Bill were catching up on emails, texts and news from St. Louis on their smart phones.  However most of the time was spent catching up on life and sharing some of the experiences that we’ve all gone through in 2020, a year that will indeed live in infamy!

That’s it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave