Many of you know that I left after Thanksgiving to visit my mother and sister in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. While we were enjoying our time together, my mother suffered a heart attack and passed away the next day (the 10th). We’ve been busy since then dealing with so many tasks that follow the death of a loved one, while working through our grief. The last day I was on TV was Nov. 27. It’s been as long time (I wonder what this old man has forgotten). We head back to Grand Rapids later today (Fri.). I hope to be back on the air this Sunday (22nd) at 6 pm.
I tried to send mom a postcard about every other day. She saved them. We found hundreds of them…going back many years. She wrote “thanks”, knowing that some day I’d find them. The picture above shows just some of the cards I’ve written over the years. Thursday, I set all the cards out in the bin to be recycled.
I took this picture above just a few days before she died. We got to her apartment at the senior living center and one of the first things she did was show me the cards that many of you sent for her 100th birthday back in July. This was about half of the cards. She hung some of them up around the doors, so she could see them coming and going and got the cards out to read them again from time-to-time. Thanks to those of you who sent a card – you made a dear lady very happy. I hope to write more about mom in a later thread. She lived through the depression – sang and played piano with the U.S.O. in WWII – worked many volunteer hours for charities over the years.
This is a card signed by the residents and staff of the Senior Living Center where my mother had an apartment.
We’ve had a lot of sunshine down here. Thursday, I didn’t see a single cloud all day (and I was looking). Wednesday, I took this picture of the only cloud I could find…just above the northern horizon. Here by Lake Melton, winds are often very light. The lake is surrounded by mountains that block the wind. The National Climate Data Center has a list of cities by average wind speed and Oak Ridge TN was least windy of all of them. The December Climate data for Oak Ridge (available here: https://w2.weather.gov/climate/getclimate.php?wfo=mrx) shows that the average wind speed at the weather station here has been just 2.9 mph this month…one day with an average wind speed of 0.1 mph! Oak Ridge has had 5 days this month with highs in the 60s and the coolest day had a high of 41 (that day was sunny).
Here are the flags at Lake Melton. I had to wait a bit for a gust to blow the flag out. In the distance there are two smokestacks at the power plant.
The railroad bridge over the Clinch River (Lake Melton is a lake behind a dam on the river) could use a little paint. The line is still in use, but the trains come only once or twice a day. They used to be frequent, bringing coal to the power plant. The coal has been replaced (largely due to the marketplace) by clean and reliable natural gas.
There are always ducks – mallards dominate, but there are usually several kinds, sometimes a few loons in the winter. Gulls come over to get a handout. There is a dispenser and for a measly 25 cents, you get a big handful of duck chow. Ducks came right up to me, quacking happily.
You can rent paddleboats, motorboats, kayaks, canoes and paddleboards at the lake. The rental was closed today, but you can see the boats in the water here and not stored away for the winter. Thursday was the first day that we didn’t see a boat on the water.
Rowing is huge here on Lake Melton. There is a straight north-south stretch of the river that is perfect for rowing and combined with the usual light winds and Lake Melton was made to “oarder” for rowing.
We’ve see dandelions, pansies and these pretty purple flowers (I believe these are asters) blooming here in Oak Ridge.
There’s a restaurant on the water at the north end of Lake Melton. It’s about a mile north of where we parked the car. We walked there for soup and a salad. Right by the restaurant, I took this picture – note the green grass and the green, waxy leaves on the trees. Holly bushes are not only green in winter, but they have red berries. There are quite a few planted here in Oak Ridge.
I’ve done the grocery shopping a couple of times down here. I’ve noted before that they sell Old Orchard juices from Sparta, Michigan down here. They were on sale this week. I picked up four of them…a little taste of home. BTW – I got down here without a working shaver…so I’ve let my beard grow…I had a beard for a couple of years in college (hippy-dippy weatherman…), but I’m a ‘stache guy, not a beard guy…so that’s gone before I get back on TV. I would like play Santa, though.
I’ll leave this thread the way we started, with a beautiful Tennessee sunset. I’ve had every emotion one could have on this trip. Life goes on and sunrise will bright a new day with new hopes and experiences. Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers.