Monday, October 18, 2010

Quietly Getting Back To Normal

Hey gang--hope everyone had a good weekend and a lovely Monday at work.  Me?  I had the good weekend...

I took off on Thursday to stay up at Mamasan's place, and we had a pretty nice visit.  It's always relaxing to hang out up there--We don't do much but play cards and such (I mean, I never watch tv or anything when I'm up there, I just chill), and it was a nice getaway.  On Friday, we took a nice long drive in the country, mostly just looking at all the brilliant fall colors.  Oh man, there are lots of beautiful trees in middle Tennessee, and we spent most of the day searching them out.  I tried to take a few pictures, but all those back roads have power lines which kept screwing up the photos, so I gave up.  Also, I didn't have hiking shoes on, either, so I didn't want to go traipsing around in the underbrush to get a better shot.  Still, it was pretty cool.

We stopped at a produce stand in Ridgetop, the town we lived in when I was just a pup, and got a few things.  Mamasan got some really nice potted flowers for her porch and her deck, and we also bought some fresh tomatoes and some of the best-looking green beans I'd ever seen.  Having eaten nasty overcooked canned green beans twice a day in the hospital, I'd given up on them, but these looked so good sitting there in the crate that we bought a couple of handfuls.  I think we also got a homemade coconut cake, and I picked up a Mason jar of home-made blueberry preserves, too (Had the preserves on toast for breakfast yesterday morning.  Oh hell yeah, they were damn good!).

After that, we drove by the old house waaaaay out in the woods, then made our way down the back roads to Goodlettsville, just like we used to do when I was about ten years old.  Eventually, we got on one of the back road Tennessee highways and found our way back to Mamasan's place.  I was absolutely worn out after that, so I took a nice long nap.

I woke up to a wonderful dinner, though.  Mamasan had made some of her famous pork chops, a salad chocked full of all kinds of good veggies, baked potatoes, and those farm-fresh green beans.  Man, they were great--I ate two large helpings of them, ruining me for life.  I won't be able to eat normal frozen or canned beans ever again...  Oh well.

On Saturday morning, she dropped me off down by Titans stadium where Sherry met me. We drove out east towards her place, but first we had a nice leisurely breakfast together at Cracker Barrel.  First pancake I've eaten in months, and it was pretty damn good.  I also went with turkey sausage, and it was surprisingly unsucky (they also tried to feed me turkey sausage EVERY morning in the hospital, and it was awful!--the Cracker Barrel version was much better).

After breakfast, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some picnic items, then we went back to Sherry's house for the rest of the day.  We spent the entire afternoon looking through photo albums of all of her past cruises (she's been on twelve of them now!) as we anticipated our upcoming trip.  We've got the fever, and this last week is gonna be tough--y'all think I had it bad waiting for a Vegas trip back in the day, well, I look forward to the cruises even more!

Anyhow, after looking through all the pictures and planning our sailing charter in St. Martin, her husband Steve came home and we got ready to head out for the evening.  Our plan was to go out and enjoy the offerings at Arrington Vineyards.  So we packed a picnic basket and some shopping bags, loaded up a folding table and some camp chairs in the back of Steve's truck, and headed down south.  Amy and Scottie were planning to meet us there later and make a party of it, too.

So I didn't know quite what to expect.  Hell, I had no idea that they made wine in Tennessee.  I thought all we had was Yazoo Beer and Jack Daniels.  But this place was amazing.  It's pretty far off the beaten path, up on a beautiful hill overlooking other beautiful hills, surrounded by forest and streams.  And when we got there, we were shocked to see about seven or eight hundred other people there already, and people directing traffic and such.

I guess it's not exactly a secret.

So we unloaded all of our gear from the truck, and then we were faced with a dilemma.  Sherry thought there was absolutely no way I'd be able to climb the hill up to the main part of the vineyard--believe me, it's a long and steep mutha.  I was willing to give it a try, but just then one of them shuttle-service stretched golf carts showed up, and we piled everything in it and they drove us up the hill.

All of the picnic tables were taken by then, but we found a relatively flat area and set up our camp.  They grow grapes all over the property, but the main tasting house and store are at the top of the hill, kind of like the headquarters of the place.  There is also a big covered patio for dining, a concrete area with a stage and several more tables off to the side, and then on the other side of the tasting house, there is a huge fire pit for bonfires. The rest of the property is expansive green space with random picnic tables and swings for people to just come out and enjoy.

And the people come out by the hundreds to enjoy it.  Yeah, there was a band over by the tasting house, but there was only room for about a hundred people over there, but there were families and small groups of friends scattered all over having picnics and just relaxing in the last bit of warmth from a sunny autumn day.  Seriously, the place looked just like you'd expect to see in a wine commercial.

Amy and Scottie showed up a bit later, and we stopped in the little store to get some of the wine.  We each bought a bottle, and while some of it was good, some of it was, well, Tennessee wine.  Not Napa or Bordeaux or anything like that.  I'd say two of the bottles were good, the other ones, not so much.  But the atmosphere was absolutely top notch.

So we sat at our picnic table enjoying cheese, crackers, fruit, summer sausage, fresh bread, etc., sipping on our wine and just marveling at how nice it was to be out there.  Oh, we're definitely gonna do it again.  Once the sun went down, it got pretty dark out and most of the crowds started heading home.  We never got to do a wine tasting--the waiting list was much too long--but we enjoyed the bonfire and the live music before calling it a night.

Sherry and Steve passed me off to Amy and Scottie, and we then made our way over to Cyndi's place in Spring Hill, which isn't too far away from where we were.  But Amy and Scottie had spent their Saturday buying a new pickup truck (they got used to using mine since I've been here, and decided they needed one since Scottie's Altima is about to got tits-up on him), and Cyndi and Tim spent their day buying a new, ahem, mini-van.  So we had to go over and compare the new rides.

By the time we got out of there, we were all dog-tired and had to make that long trek back up to Nashville, where we all went straight to bed once we got home.  It was a long day, and all that hiking around at the hilly vineyard just wore my ass completely out.

On Sunday morning, it was nice to just sleep in and be a slug for awhile.  But we couldn't relax at the house all day, there were chores to be done.  I went through all of my 'cruise clothes' and found the stuff that's going to the cleaners, then I went through everything else and found a bunch of stuff to take to the alteration shop, too.  But that chore didn't get quite completed--none of the local cleaners are open on Sundays.

Once the chores were done, Scottie and I met Cyndi and my niece Diana over at the Loveless Cafe.  Once we hooked up with them, we were waiting on Tim, Reverend Dave, and Diana's boyfriend Jeff.  They had all spent the night down at Dave's place in Alabama and were riding their motorcycles up the Natchez Trace.  Since the Loveless is right there on the Trace, we agreed to all meet up for lunch.

Of course we started with their famous biscuits, and some folks had breakfast.  But I went the lunch route and had the best damn grilled turkey and Swiss with onion sandwich that I've ever eaten.  Seriously, it was quite the nom-fest.  They have a big damn display window in the kitchen, and I think Scottie's head almost exploded when he saw the bin-o-bacon.  He got so excited that he couldn't sit still after that.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, or else you'd be seeing it here, too.

After our meal, Scottie picked up a jar of those famous blackberry preserves for Amy (who couldn't join us, as she had a prior commitment), and then we headed back to the house.  Reverend Dave came by to hang out for a bit before too much daylight (and warmth) burned away, but the rest of the afternoon was completely mellow.

I think on Sunday night, we had Chinese food and watched the first Harry Potter movie.  I've never read a single Harry Potter book nor seen any of the movies, but I think Amy is trying to convert me to being a fan.  But the movie wasn't too bad.  I'll probably give the book a chance.

My Monday was rather boring.  I caught up on my sleep, and spent most of the afternoon playing with the puglets.  Man, they are two little bundles of ready-made entertainment.  I swear, I laugh my ass off every day with them.  The highlight of the afternoon was getting them all wound up and playing on the polished hardwood floor in the living room, and then dropping a fleece blanket over the top of them.  I swear it was the highest of high comedy watching them negotiate that.  Holy hell, I almost peed myself laughing.

Once their 'parents' came home, we put the harnesses on them and took them over to the dog park and let them roam free.  Oh man, they love that.  I just went off by myself to walk the perimeter (it's a quarter mile around if you stick to the fence), but before long, I was the pied piper of puppies--they were all following me around.  One of my favorite dogs is down there all the time--he's a HUGE German Shepherd named Wyatt, and he's just downright beautiful.  And he looks like he's not something to be trifled with--very intimidating if you're not a dog person.  But I got to play with him for a bit, too, which is always nice.  I've always wanted to get a German Shepherd again (that's what we had as kids when we lived up in Ridgetop), but dogs like that need a big damn yard.  Hell, at this point, I don't even have a house anymore...

But we had fun, and the pugs always love to go to the dog park.

On the way home, Amy needed to stop at the store, so while she was doing her thing, Scottie and I wandered over to the hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean joint in the same strip mall and picked up some dinner.  I'm not at all familiar with the genre of food, so I just told the proprietor to load me up with lots of veggies and salad on a combo plate.  We got some warm pita bread and hummus to go, too.

We got home a few minutes later and ate dinner in front of the tv--I don't quite know what I had exactly, but damn it was good--and good for me, too.  I couldn't begin to even spell the stuff we ate, much less pronounce it, but I enjoyed every bit of it and will gladly be going back for lunch again soon.  While eating, we watched an interesting documentary about the road to fame that Tom Petty took.  All three of us are big fans, so it was a great way to spend the evening--good food, good music, good documentary.

But I've got to go to bed early, so I need to wrap this up.  I've got my follow-up appointment with my surgeon at 8:00 this morning, and I'm hoping he'll tell me that I'm cured.  I'm feeling much better nowadays, my chest only hurts first thing in the morning when I first get up, and I'm moving around pretty well.  I don't have all my strength back, but I can tell that I'm more flexible than I was before I got sick.

I hope that it goes well and that I'm finally able to come off some off these medications.  Once I get done with the doctor (and the blood lab--can't forget about that!), I'm going to run a couple of errands and then do a little grocery shopping.  Once I get home, I'm going to spend my afternoon on the internet, looking at pictures of the Caribbean.

We leave in a week.



FredGarvinMP said...

It looks like going back to Tennessee has been good for you - getting back with family and friends. Except the whole almost buying it part, of course!

Your story reminds me of one night on liberty in Athens (Greece, not Georgia). There was a park that had a nightly wine festival (I believe a Dionysus festival). You paid a small admission, and then bought a small wine flask. You then went around to the various barrels andd poured your own. There were also concerts of local, pop, and rock music, and various food stands (my favorite was the shish kebob and the roasted ear of corn - my first of many).

Naturally, being Americans who grew up (so to speak) in the 1970s, we had a Frisbee and thus became one of the "attractions" there. I suppose Frisbees were uncommon, as we attracted a fairly significant crowd.

Kelly Deal said...

Med & Middle eastern food my absolute faves. Avoid the fried stuff, eat lots of tomatoes, olive oil & greens, beans - yum, nothing better. Glad you enjoyed it! Lots of it is pretty easy to make too - let me know when you're up to cooking again and I'll send along some recipes :)  Glad you're feeling better - walking every day, in the beautiful southern autumn - we went out walking on Sunday - perfect day for it!

Little Drew said...

I concur with your CB turkey sausage review - off to get some of my own there shortly.  At least there's 1 good thing about Tulsa.