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Ode to Ice


Winters in the East TN Valley are normally not that bad. We normally don’t get much snow. Well, snow that sticks that is. It will snow here from time to time, and sometimes it will even snow in April or May. It’s just the sticking part that is not normal.  Sure we have black ice covered roads, but the County owns plenty of salt trucks that enables travel after just a few short hours. Although for the last two days I have had the distinct pleasure of looking out my window to see a lovely, sparkly, ice-snow mix clinging to everything.

Ice & Snow in East TN Valley

Ice & Snow in East TN Valley

It truly is a lovely winter wonderland scene, until the need arises to get out on the road for travel. The main roads have been well treated I hear. But sadly, the twisty- curvy- drop off the side of a mountain back roads have not. So of course, everyone had the classic run on the grocery store to stock up on milk, bread, tuna, peanut butter, and soups in the days before the arctic blast hit. Posts on social media sites have all poked fun at the grocery store runs and many southerners have borrowed humorous northern memes referring to Bosses expecting employees to be at work regardless. I’ve read the funny stories of falls and accidental body part grabbing to steady oneself while slipping on the ice. I’ve even had fun watching our 50lb puppy holding her feet in the air when we take her outside to do her business in the ice/snow. I laughed at some of the silly posts from transplants (people that have moved here from other states) about how we can’t drive in snow. But, there are sad stories as well. Unfortunately, this year, the ice hit us harder than we could handle in Tennessee. As a matter of fact, the State of Tennessee declared a State of Emergency two days ago. The saddest part of the whole event develops from the people who did not take the weather serious or were simply not prepared. I’ve heard news stories of a local elderly lady dying out in the cold because her door locked behind her when we went to the mailbox and she couldn’t get back inside. An entire family lost their lives in a home fire. There were over 50,000 people in TN without power due to the ice and over 21,000 of those where here in Knoxville. At one point the entire city pretty much shut down. The Smoky Mountains have been shut down as temperatures reached -23 degrees atop Mt LeConte (which is the 5th coldest day ever recorded there) with the wind chill at -67 degrees. Thank God there are no stranded hikers up there to date. As for other people in Tennessee, there have been 11 deaths reported related to the harsh cold temperatures or ice. So, I ask nicely if you are not currently living here that you keep the jokes to a minimum and keep us in your prayers as the forecast calls for more snow, ice and rain to come within the next couple of days. The resulting possible flooding could steal more lives and result in further damage throughout the state. I love my home in East Tennessee and I ask, won’t you help me pray for everyone living here right now? Thanks, Chrissy

Graceland – 20 years later


Earlier this month my husband took me on an amazing honeymoon stay and we visited Graceland. :-) We had a wonderful time, but only because we made it wonderful!  The tour was not so good!

After purchasing our Platinum Tour tickets at a discounted price, we were instructed to stand at the door to board the next bus to the Mansion. The wait wasn’t long. Next we were ushered to a staging area for a Graceland souvenir picture and handed a set of headphones. After being seated on the bus, we were handed an iPad and instructed to log in. At first I thought, “wow, this is super cool!”.

When the bus started moving, the young lady at the front of the bus mechanically stood up and said:

“Place your headphones on your ears at this time. Press GO”. Then she sat back down. John Stamos began talking about the tour, the iPad, and such. While this was playing in my ears, I looked around at the other tourist. My husband’s iPad wasn’t English. It was Spanish. Several of the older tourist were having difficulty with the technology and had not even started the tour by the time we arrived at the mansion.

At the Mansion, a woman was talking at the door. I had no idea what she said. John Stamos was talking in my ear and evidently, while I was trying to read her lips …I missed several scenes on my iPad. My husband nudged me and motioned for me to remove the head set. Ah ha! That’s what the lady had yelled over & over. “Take the headset off!!!” There was an elderly couple of men in front of us that were hearing impaired. The hearing aid gave it away for me, but not for the lady yelling on the front steps of the mansion “TAKE YOUR HEADSET OFF!!!!!!!!”

It was all very unorganized, impersonal, and unprofessional.

On the inside of the mansion, there were cattle herders (employees) holding out their arms to prevent passage into different areas and pointing to where they wanted you to go. Everyone on the tour was  bumping into one another as they were attempting to walk while looking down at their iPad. That was it for me. After seeing the stunned look on all the faces in there, I realized this was not excitement I saw, but confusion. People tried to do as instructed with the headphones and iPad, but most were not coordinated enough to not bump into someone else while doing so. I saw so many stumble and almost fall into a “display”.

I mean come on…really? Experience a tour of the iconic Home of Elvis Presley’s Graceland with eyes wide shut? That’s exactly what they did.

My husband taking a picture of himself in the hallway of a million mirrors. (Notice the Borg like iPad junk hanging around his neck?)

My husband taking a picture of himself in the hallway of a million mirrors. (Notice the Borg like iPad junk hanging around his neck?)

I didn’t want to be assimilated by this Borg, so I removed my headphones and hung the iPad from my neck to ignore it. I tried to hand it back to an employee, but they wouldn’t take it. Anyway, that is when the tour opened up and the excitement creeped in! My husband followed my lead after the next room and we thoroughly enjoyed the photo-ops! We took shameless selfies and had fun with the staff. Did you know the employees are actually people, like real humans? Yeah, surprised me too! The entire experience of a personal tour guide was removed from the Graceland tour back in August 2014 when the iPad tour was introduced. I assume this is a way to cut payroll substantially as there is obviously very little training required to work at the mansion now.

Anyway, when we took over our own personal experience of the tour, we had a blast. Several other patrons did the same after they saw my husband and I having so much fun :-) By the end of the tour, only 4 people still had the headphones on – their loss.

Resist the Graceland Borg!! Headphones off and iJunk ignored!

Resist the Graceland Borg!! Headphones off and iJunk ignored!

Selfie with the Lisa Marie!

Selfie with the Lisa Marie!

My husband shooting a picture of the shooting area.

My husband shooting a picture of the shooting area. Notice the absence of headphones?

We of course, just had to do the archive tour. There was a short movie around Christmas time to see there and a Big Bird that Lisa Marie held onto that Elvis gave her. That’s it really. The Archive experience lasted 10 minutes from the time we unloaded the shuttle bus until we loaded back onto the shuttle bus.

When we were back in the parking lot of the admissions area, we were handed a photo as soon as we got off the bus. We were told these were $30.00 if we wanted to buy them. My husband bought them. We went through a gift shop to enter the Airplane area. We walked through the Lisa Marie and that was it.

Inside the Lisa Marie Airplane

Inside the Lisa Marie Airplane

There were 3 other planes/jets in that area, but they were “Closed”.

We went through another gift shop to enter the Car Museum. I loved the cars and props that were there. Fun-fun.

"Walking in Memphis" okay, not really...that's way too dangerous!

“Walking in Memphis” okay, not really…that’s way too dangerous!

We had so much fun at Graceland!

We had so much fun at Graceland!

All in all, we had a spectacular time and gained some memories of a lifetime. My last trip to Graceland was 20 years in 1995 and oh goodness… technology has not made a positive impact on this place. Although…one thing that is totally different now is that the guards could care less if you touch the cars in the museum now. Shoot, there were even kids crawling around inside them while we were there! So, this might be nice for someone wanting a photo-op inside one of Elvis’ cars…  I didn’t this time ;-)

I would still recommend a visit though :-)  Go, make your own fun and enjoy!

Love y’all,

Chrissy

Item #46 Bucket List


In July 2014 I was blessed to cross another item off my bucket list. With the help of my husband and his right arm best friend, I was able to overcome my fear of lake water…on a boat.

Item #46 on my bucket list was to ride on a boat. I was tickled pink and we were out on the boat all day on the lovely Douglas Lake in Dandridge. Here are a few pictures of that awesome day!

IMAG2983 IMAG2991 IMAG2993

Dreaming about the Beach


As January comes to a close (slowly) I find myself dreaming about the island again. We’ve been 3 years in a row and I truly hope we can go again this year. I miss the beach and the charm of the northeastern shore. Simply put, I am dreaming about the beach again.

When most of my friends go to the beach, they go to the closest one – Myrtle Beach (only a 5-6 hour drive). When we go to the beach, we take a long drive through Virginia to the Delmarva. Yep, we go to Chincoteague Island :-) It’s a 12 hour drive for us, but it is so much nicer than the other beaches. It is not commercialized. There is no boardwalk to buy corn dogs and giant funnel cakes on. There are no ferris wheels and no rides; no night life and no loud businesses open past 10 or 11pm. It is peaceful, hidden, away from the world and most cell phones have little reception! There are no parties to attend and no crowds running up and down the beach.

With these attractions missing, what does it offer?

Peace.

Peace on Chincoteague

Peace on Chincoteague

Quiet.

Quiet Beach

Quiet Beach

Calm.

Calm at Chincoteague

Calm at Chincoteague

Relaxation.

No better place to relax

No better place to relax

Just you, the ocean God created, and few birds to eat the tiny sand crabs.

Notice the serious lack of people? No major crowds are here and if they have a “busy day” which they do around holidays, there are over 10 miles of beach to walk and grab a private spot! (If you know how to swim & do not need a lifeguard.)

Our last trip was June 2014 and I so am looking forward to another trip soon!

Watch Out: Student Driver – Part 2


It’s been a year & half since the boys began learning to drive. We’ve made a slow go of this process due to everyone’s busy schedules. Each of the 3 boys had their turn behind the wheel and my insurance premiums have flown through the roof! I am happy to report there have been no accidents and each of them have improved substantially. Boys will be boys…and they have had  a lot of fun helping and making fun of each other through the process.

While teaching them to drive,   I experienced 3 major issues:

  • 1 lead-foot driver
  • 1 terrible at judging distance
  • 1 Granny driver

They each had several learning opportunities to overcome, but had one trait more prevalent as described above. My lead-foot driver had to learn to slow down. He also had to learn that when backing out of the driveway, accelerating so quickly lead to ditch & mailbox type problems. Thank God, during his learning he was safe personally and the car did not receive any new dents or bangs. The neighbors mailbox post was (and still is) as removable as a Lego piece, so it survived also.

Ah, let me tell  you about the neighbors… As soon as I decided it was time for the boys to begin learning to drive, I walked across the street and spoke to our long time neighbors. They offered me prayer and said they would understand any accidental mailbox bumps. They were sweet and very understanding. Each time the kids bumped the their mailbox, I made them walk across the street and apologize. To the kids, this was more embarrassing than a nuisance. None of them wanted to eat cake and publicly admit that they had made a boo-boo. So, this rule of our house stood as a deterrent and each tried their hardest to judge distance appropriately to avoid it. This rule also applied to their friends who were driving. If their friends knocked that mailbox over, it was their responsibility to fix the mailbox and apologize – if their friends drove off without taking ownership. Needless to say, that mailbox took the plunge so many times I lost count and most of the incidents were not caused by our boys, but by their friends!! After seeing several of their friends taking out the mailbox, I didn’t feel so bad about our boy’s driving skills at all :-) I did wonder about the ethics of their friends though…because ALL of them sped away (sometimes squealing tires) when they realized they had knocked it down. Teenagers!

Back to the 3 extremes, the lead-foot driver did everything too fast! He had to learn to go the speed limit and had a hard time grasping the concept of slowing down further if weather conditions were not the best. Riding with this driver felt like being on a rollercoaster ride around curves, up & down  hills, and coming to an abrupt stop at intersections. My nerves took a toll as well as my tummy with this one behind the wheel. I am happy to report that he did, in fact, pass his driving test and did learn to sloooow down. Yay :-) We were all proud of him… but I still don’t offer him the keys much now. He doesn’t have a job, nor any desire to work. So, I have no desire to allow him to drive independently until he shows financial responsibility & can remember where his wallet is.

The boy challenged with judging distance scared me probably a bit more than the other 2. We only allowed him to practice driving on clear days at low traffic times on back roads. The door handle on the passenger side now has a permanent indention of my grip. That boy scared me pretty bad while he rode the very edge of the pavement. Occasionally I would pee myself and so began to wear the old lady incontinence pads while teaching  him. My nerves were unravelling and my stomach was twisted into knots. Occasionally there was a need for me to screech and my son would scold me, “Mom! Stop that. I’m doing fine!” He never seemed nervous behind the wheel & this was hopeful. Still, his wide turns and distance judging was frightening. Some days I would come home with a strained voice after squealing an entire ride with him. Over the last 6 months, his driving ability has improved dramatically though and he is due to take his driving test in a couple weeks to become an official licensing driver. I am proud of his progress AND he has a job! He has been showing financial responsibility through the use of his bank card and managing his money.

The last major driving issue was the Granny driver. This boy literally drove as I’ve labeled  – like a Granny. He couldn’t accelerate above 30 MPH, slowed down even more on curves, and would get caught in the same traffic light at least twice. He experienced some distance judging issues during his slow motion turns and he rode the brake frequently when driving straight. His start was abrupt  as the car would lurch forward and then he would slow down to turtle speed again. Other cars on the road would fly past us at a whopping 45 MPH. People would honk and make gestures as they sped past us. Bless his heart, he would ask, “Are we going to fast mom?” Then he would break into a sweat as he was cruising down the highway at 30 MPH (in a 55 MPH zone). Each time a car would pass us, he would slow down to 15 or 20 MPH, so you can see we never really even made it to the speed limit at all. He would be so nervous that his poor little hands would shake while holding the wheel. While on back roads, when a car was coming toward him to pass on the other side, he would scoot the car over as far as he could without going into the ditch. Oh Goodness, I felt so bad for him. I’m thrilled to report after much practice, he can now drive without the nervous shakes, feels comfortable at the speed limit, and is much better judging distance. In my mind, he has been upgraded to Teenage driver now and has left Granny in the ditch. I was (and still am) proud of his progress. This one is not driving independently yet due to not showing financial responsibility also. I anxiously await his future employment!!

To sum up this entire process, through much prayer and nervous diarrhea, I have survived this process and everyone is still alive. Oh – and I’ve only changed the brakes once!

 

Freaked out at Brother's driving...1

Freaked out at Brother’s driving…1

Freaked out at Brother's driving...2

Freaked out at Brother’s driving…2

Freaked out at Brother's driving...3

Freaked out at Brother’s driving…3

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