A Journal Of
Fishing and Farming
 Along with other good times and interesting discoveries

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Richard Loller

Well, we start off with a trip to visit Harry's Amish friends in Kentucky and then I go fishing in Florida and then we visit Maine with good friends and toward the end we visit Erwin, Tennessee, to see the land my son had bought on the Nolachucky River and also a long overdue visit to Asheville, North Carolina, to see my wonderful cousin Nita.  Whew.  It's been a big year for trips.

January 11 here we are in the wilds of Kentucky where we couldn't find Harry's friend Jake and his family but we did meet the Amish Bishop who had bought their farm.  There it is.  Impressive. The day was filled with strange things.  Among the strangest was this cloud in the shape of a Hebrew letter.
No self respecting Bishop would be caught without a very nice buggy.  Among themselves the Amish speak German.  They call non-Amish "The English."This is the local Amish school.  Kids go to school through the eighth grade.  After that they get on with their lives working with their parents or on their own.

We saw a lot of these lucky stars on houses and barns.  It is a custom brought down from Pennsylvania, I guess, where it is commonly seen among the Pennsylvania Dutch. Several of Jake's relatives still lived in the vicinity.  We visited this place and had a nice visit with one of them, the young man who runs it.
January 20.  Ann was down for a visit and we got a light snowfall.  She took care of the puppies while.... Elizabeth made the most of our pitiful and infrequent snow.

Elizabeth and Zinnia really worked hard to scrape up enough for a snow creature.  Or whatever it was. January 29.  This is a reunion with some of my former YMCA yoga class.  A couple were chasing the waiter when we snapped this.  These were the best of the lot anyhow. 

February 3.  Zinnia's 12th birthday.  Whoa!  Seems only yesterday we were playing Peep Pie! with her.
James creates another theme cake.  I think this one has something to do with Dungeons and Dragons, Zinnia's current craze.

The day was perfect considering it was early February.  As my old grandmother used to say, "Enjoy it now.  We'll have to pay for it later."  She was usually right.  As a special treat Zinnia accompanied the singing of Happy Birthday on her uke.

Sherry and I just tried to stay out of the way and be cool.  Here she is with Pooke.  I amused the dog, Raven, better know as Ray Ray, by throwing his slobbery tennis ball about five million times. Ruff!. You can't have a good party without a lot of work going into it.  Beside the cake there was a ton of scrumptous food.  Here is the work crew.  Pit boss James and executive helpers Travis and Ann.
February 20.  Harry made another trip to Kentucky. This time he had good directions.  Jake had moved up North near Canada for a while but had come back to Kentucky, this time way up near the northern border. Those are homemade donuts and yes, they light the house with kerosene lamps. And of course they heat with a wood stove.  These do not in any way slow down the good food that results.  Harry can vouch for it.
February 27.  That's the Stones River boat ramp near the greenway.  As you can see the water is almost up to the parking lot.  It normally would be 20 or 30 feet lower. You probably know we live right on the Cumberland River and that that there was a huge flood that did a lot of damage to our old house in 2010. This is the view from the deck of our old house this February.  During the 2010 flood the water was three feet above the deck.  Boats were puttering up and down Pennington Bend.  So when the river is only this high we laugh and don't worry.  Much....
(FYI--We lived here at 2213 Pennigton Bend from 1967 until 2010.  We moved out during the flood and moved back in 2011 when repairs had been made and lived here until our new house four doors down the road was finished.  New address is 2313.  Numbers are strange on this old street.
March 7.  Ann went for a walk with a friend in Shelby Bottoms and got a good shot of this barred owl. The same day I took the dogs down to the Stones River where there is a hugh field belonging to Metro Nashville. I got a long shot of this bald eagle pair across the river.
The dogs love this place because we can get far enough away from other folks so they can run and play without leashes.  One of the benefits is the delightful dead fish and other nice things they can roll in. They run and run and I just walk.  I guess they would finally get tired but since I get tired first I guess we will never know.
March 9.  Almost Spring and the crocuses along the path at our old house are coming up.  They don't last long but they are always the first and really cheer us up to see them. There you are my prettys.  We love you! 
March 21.  Visiting Frank Mann in Alva, Florida, just outside Ft. Myers.  We always some fishing.  Above is Al, Frank's resident gator that lived in the little fish pool until he left for bigger quarters not long ago.  Frank wrote a story for my Animal Story Contest about.  You can read it here. One of the real pleasures of the trip is visiting Betty, Wiley, and Missie.  They were with us (Frank, Mary Lee, Sherry, and me) on our houreboat and fishing trip to Rainey Lake near International Falls.  None of us will ever forget that trip.  Wonderful scenery and good fishing too.
March 19.  One of our first outings this trip was to fish one of the meanders, the old Caloosahatchee river channels that were cut off from the main river when the Corp straightened it so Yankee boats (that's what Frank calls the big yachts that zoom down the river from points north on the way to Ft. Myers) could take a short cut across Florida from the Atlantic.We didn't catch much (as in nothing) but the trip is always scenic. We saw this fully sea worthy three masted sail boat moored in one meander.

March 21,  Old Friend from college days, Bob Casey, had recently retired to Ft. Myers so the three of us took a day and a half fishing Lake Okeechobee.   We didn't catch much.  It was windy, rainey part of the time, and the water was so low we got stuck several times.  Still, we managed to enjoy ourselves.  
March 23?  Here we are, courtesy of Frank's life long friend Tommy Smoot,  at his cabin built out on stilts on the south end of upper Captiva Island.  It's off the east edge of Pine Island Sound.   Here is about the best catch of the two day trip.  Tommy says ordinally you could catch snook, redfish, trout, etc. from the deck, but as usually my fishing curse held and aside from a few catfish we struck out.
Actually, Frank's catfish was the second best catch of the trip.  Above Tommy holds the best catch in his left hand.  It's the rod and reel I lost the day before when one of those pesky catfish jerked it off the deck while I was carelessly fetching a beer and took off with it for Mexico.  I saw it go in and from it's speed and trajectory I was sure I had hooked a whale.  I shrugged and accepted that it was gone forever.  Nope, by some miracle Tommy snagged the line and brought in the outfit and the foot long catfish too! Tommy's faithful old lab went with us and though he was sleepy and slow I think the sun and rest did him good.  Nothing like an old dog and adequate adult beverages to make the trip a success.

Here I am fishing in the best way known to man.  Note my foot is now firmly on the rod.  I may be slow to learn, but once I catch on I learn well. Here is the porpoise that I was sure was on the way to Mexico with my rod and reel.

While we were mostly on our own out there we did have a boat load of tourists come by now and then to marvel at our fishing skills and fine appearance..

What a way to live!  Here is the beautiful sunset after a day of sincere fishing and tale telling.  After we ate some delicious steaks and potatoes we adjourned to lounge chairs in front of a cheery wood fire on the deck and watched the stars come out in their uncountable trillions.  
March 28.  Son Hanley sent a shot of himself in the legislative chamber of Kentucky.  He works there doing what is needed so the deathless words of the lawmakers are kept securely in computer files forever.   His real job is teaching folks how to kayak well and safely.  Here is his car with, count them, five kayaks loaded and ready to hit the water.
April 7.  Hanley was visiting and got these shots of a hawk, we think it was a Coopers Hawk.   Evidently it had good hunting and was chowing down on a limb of the pignut hickory on the riverbank in our back yard.

June 13.  Hanley's birthday.  His sister Travis sent an Elvis impersonator to his office.  Note the fellow workers enjoying the show. Elvis tried and tried to embarrass my boy but finally had to admit it just wasn't possible.  
June 17.  One the way to the YMCA I decided to detour slightly to visit this huge truck stop near downtown.  I wanted to see if the mural our friend Ann Cummings had painted years ago was still there.  I've labelled the friends whose faces Ann put in it: Jim (Mouse) Moore, Jim Bateman, John Cummings, Harriet Bateman, and Bill McPheeters. July 3.  I got behind this trailer coming home and wondered what the Hell inmates were doing working in offices?  Finally someone explained I had read it wrong.  Can you figure it out?
This is Kay Harper, one of our really fine writers.  She and I met in person for the first time today.  She was on her way home from an event and we met at an interstate Cracker Barrel.  Kay has had an interesting life which she tells about in some of the stories on my web site.  My favorite is called, Danger Man.  To read it Click here.  If you like that one there is a link to her story list at the bottom of the page.Since her adventurous younger days Kay has moved on to a sincere Christian life.  She travels all over doing a comedy routine for Christian seminars, conventions, etc.  Her devotional book above has been well received.  You can buy it at Amazon.  Click here.

July 4.  Here are Puppy and Ray Ray sitting on the deck looking toward the house next door where my daughter's family lives. They are staying with us just now because the girls are at camp and Travis and James have gone to visit them near Ashville, N. C. The dogs are patiently and hopefully waiting their return. Daughter Travis and Sister Ann pose next to some of the many jars of  chili sauce they made for us to use on our beans and  other stuff.  It's our  mother's old recipe and delicious expecially made with  tomatoes and other things from Travis'  garden and mine.
August 2.  Took the dogs down to the Metro field on the Stones River.  It was mostly grown up with chest hign Johnson Grass, but there is a track or two made by trucks.  Suddenly this big hawk crashed down into the weeds and didn't fly off.  Scared the heck out of me. The dogs naturally went crazy and tried to grab it, but I managed to call them off.  It still didn't move so I called Sherry to bring my big fish landing net so I could catch it and take it to Walden's Puddle where they take care of injured wild animals.  In the middle of the call, however, the hawk got itself untangled from the weeds and flew off.  Exciting little episode for me and the dogs.
August 3  James, Travis, Elizabeth, and Zinnia at the airport and  ready to start their annual trip to see California friends.  August 14.  Summer time is not yet over but fun and freedom is.  It's the first day of school for the girls, grades 7 and 5.  I wish they had stopped growing up around kindergarten.  Note the exotic hairdos.
August 22.  Blossoms on my string beans.  They are pretty enough to be flowers on their own. However, I'm glad they kept on growing and here are some of the results. Yum, and won't they be delicious with the homemade chili sauce.

I got a great stand of okra planted outside my deer fence.  Planted it one deep all along the south and west sides.  Worked great. We did well with okra and beans this year, string beans and limas--especially limas.  But the large tomatoes were few and the large peppers, bell and banana, were scanty.  Got reasonable amounts of cherry tomatoes and jalapenos.
September 2.  A female tohee visits our bird feeding table.  She doesn't come often. Here's another pic of her.  When she hops she flicks her tail and the white feathers on each side pop out.
September 8.  Here are my morning glories growing up the front porch on strings I put up.  Not many blossoms yet.  Sometimes it is October before they get going good.  This year I planted two varieties.  The heaveny blues and another one whose name I forget.  Here you see both growing up a pole behing our mail box.  I have to cut and trim regularly so the mailman can get the door open.
September 12. Here we are in Boothbay, Maine, at the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden.  That's Sherry and our Friends John and Sylvia.  The trip was John and Sylvia's idea and we just sort of opted in on it. Sylvia and Sherry wanted to tour in comfort.  John and I walked. It was chilly and weeping rain at first, but later it cleared off and we saw an awfully lot of nice flowers and plants.  Still a lot growing and blooming in mid-September up here.  Great place.  Try to go there sometime.
This is a metal catepillar on a big rock.  Whoa, what a butterfly it would become! Here is one of those giant pumpkins you hear so much about.  
There was a covered butterfly house and this monarch caterpillar was enjoying a species of milkweed.    I believe this one is a red admiral.  I'm open to correction from anyone.
If you'd like to you can visit the Botanical Garden website and see a lot more of the gardens.  Click here.
 Later on Sherry and I stayed at the Seawall Motel in Southwest Harbor.  This is the same motel Harry and I stayed at a few years earlier.  They then had a sign, "Watch For Speed Bump."  Their cat was named Speed Bump.  Good joke. This trip we were disappointed to find Speed Bump has gone to that great cat house in the sky.  Gone but not forgotten as the many drawings and paintings of him on the office wall attest.  He even still gets junk mail.  What immortality!  Great place to stay if you go.  Click here.
We first stayed in Bath, Maine, and while there visited the Maine Maritime Museum.  This is a whale jaw bone.  Just one of the great exhibits inside and outside.  See more or visit free from Jan. 3-31, 2020! John and Sylvia moved on to Vermont but we stayed in Maine.  We took a tour of Bar Harbor in a great boat and were lucky enough to be there when there was a huge erruption of birds, porpoises, and seals.  They had rounded up a huge school of bait fish into what the guide called a Baitball.  For 20 minutes or so it was really thrilling.
Well, after that we headed way west across Maine to Lake Rangeley.  This is up in the mountains and a lot farther than the maps claimed.  It also took a lot longer because a big explosion in Farmington, which was on our route, forced us to take a detour that put us on tiny winding highways and through slow construction areas.We finally reached our cabin late in the day.  It was pretty cold and damp. The idea of coming here was so I could fish.  Ha!  Cold, damp, misty, and windy. Otherwise it was perfect.  What we found out was that the fishing season was pretty much over and many businesses that catered to tourists were closed.
The cabin even had kayaks we could use.  Anyone for freezing?  No thanks.One unexpected find was that apple trees grew almost everywhere and we found that they were small but very good.
Our cabin was in a wooded area on Rangeley Lake and one of our neighbors was a bear putting some tree scratching time in.We had no wifi at the cabin, so we visited the really nice little library in town. We needed to check on the roads going back to Portland to catch our plane. In the end we took an alternate route and bypassed Farmington which was still blocked off.  Worked out fine.
Most of the restaurants in Rangeley were nothing to brag about, but our last night we discovered Loon Lodge.  The place is beautiful and the food was excellent at very reasonable prices.On our way back to our flight out of Portland we saw some beautiful vistas. Makes me want to come back in the Summer some time.  This is an overlook view of Lake Mooselookmesuntic.  How's that for a stick-in-your-memory name?
September 21.  Back home and friend Frank visited us.  Naturally we fished.  Here he is on our way up Creek J, my simi-secret fishing venue. This bass is one of several Frank caught, which is pretty good considering our rotten luck down at his end of the country.
September 24.  This little frog somehow gets into our upstairs toilet bowl.  It's done it three times.  Sure gives visitors a thrill.  We don't know how he or she does it, but the best bet is that it climbs down the vent from the roof.  Go figure.  Just luck it didn't end up in the Metro sewer. September 29.  Hadn't seen any hummers for a while but here is one that turned out to be the last of the year.  Hope she made it to Mexico or wherever else she was going. 
The same day we saw this pretty bird, which we think may be a yellow rumped warbler (?) in winter plumage.  Correcrtions welcome.  It's on its way south.  It sure was pretty but I don't blame it for seeking warmer climes. October 29.  These are Christmas lima beans.  Ones on the left dried on the vine.  Ones on the right are still fresh.  Both are delicious.  We got a ton and it took two days to shuck them.  We are now set for good eating for quite some time.
Big Creek Cemetary is not far from Lucy, Tennessee, where I grew up.  It is where most of my daddy's relatives are buried.  This is the site where mamma is buried and some of the others.  It is also where we will have our ashes buried. This is a recent memorial Sherry had done.  Nice.  I hope they like it.

November 11.  Another little bird that came and went soon after.  I looked it up and I'm pretty sure it is a Bicknell's Thrush according to the Cornell web site.  Very handsome. Here it is front on.
The same day I got a decent photo of this male tohee.  I'm shooting through the window and screen, so the photos tend to be a little fuzzy. Travis and James bought the big lot on the other side of their house and fenced it so the dogs could run and play.  Ray Ray runs if you will bat a tennis ball (I use my old racqetball racquet).  In fact, you can't wear her out. Puppy isn't interested.  He checkes out the fence line and then begins his more important work.  Digging.  For what?  So far we don't know.
November 17.  Here is that same big field where the hawk got stuck in the Johnson Grass after it has been mowed and the hay harvested.  Much easier for dogs to run in and me to walk in. There they are smelling out something wonderful to roll on.  Between rolling and running this is their favorite outing.
November 28.  Thanksgiving.  We visit son Hanley and wife Denile at Erwin, Tennessee, where they had just bought several acres of hillside and riverside on the Nolachucky River with their friends Georga and Lisa. Here is Hanley and Sherry making a tour of the property.  There are several rough structures and a couple of rusted out school busses where raft guides bunked out in the past.  Hanley's dream is to build a retirement home here and start a kayak school.  Hard to believer I have a son thinking about retirement.
Yes, raft guides have lived here and decorated the trees too. After a huge Thanksgiving dinner Hanley take time to teach one of the boys on hand to play chess.  There were lots of kids and dogs and guests at this house George owns next to the new property.  Lots of fun.
Here is the gang enjoying their newly acquired kingdon.  George, Lisa, Denile, and Hanley in one of their fine school buses which may become a dorm for the future raft guide retirement home. His is my cousin Nita who lives in Asheville, N. C.  Since that's only an hour from Erwin on the interstate we visited her and took her out to eat.  
Nita studied voice at Chicago Conservatory of Music and had a pretty successful career with her singing.  Wasn't she a knockout in her heyday? Here's a photo from not too long ago.  She's all dolled up and sporting one of her 50 hats.  What a gal at 90 plus!
December 12.  This is a ruby-crowned kinglet that visited only on one day.  It wasn't there for food.  It spent its brief visit trying... to fight it's own reflection in our window glass.  I got several photos but it was so jumpy and fluttery most were no good.  I also got a brief video which you can see on Vimeo.  Click here.
December 31.  New Year's Eve.  We visited daughter Travis and family next door for our big celebration. Here is a space ship Zinnia had made from Christmas packaging.  How much longer will she do such things?  Sigh. Finally, here are Sherry, Travis, James and the pups.  I'm taking the pic.  Just in case you are interested we drank champaigne and listened to Etta James on the phono and managed to stay up until almost 10 pm.  Happy 2020 and I hope  all of us will be around to see 2021!  Remember, "Every day above ground is a good one," as my friend E. J. always said.

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