Well, thousands of folks prepared for the upcoming eclipse by purchasing protective glasses that allow them to look at the event without fear of damage to eyes. Then, Amazon sends out an email to tell them that the glasses that they bought are fake and not compliant with standards for protection. Now, either it’s too late to get new pairs or the ones available cost more than a small fortune.
Businesses and schools are closing their doors to accommodate people who wish to share the big event with their families and friends. Cities are planning activities throughout the day. The predictions are that thousands, perhaps even millions, are hitting the highways to find perfect viewing places for the eclipse. Some motel rooms have been reserved for years; the few that are left are going for as much as $800 per night. People in neighboring counties are renting houses for thousands or RV spaces in their yards for $200. As someone said recently, “This reminds me of the expected flood of people who were going to descend on Knoxville during the ’82 World’s Fair.”
Amy and I thought about traveling to Gallatin for a better look at the eclipse for about a second and a half. We, too, bought eclipse glasses several weeks ago, and yes, we received the Amazon email warning about them. Reports that as many as 100,000 visitors would invade the town kept us from doing so. The Interstates will be packed, and the smallest fender bender will cause gridlock and leave folks fuming and sitting in their cars as the sun and moon cross paths. Amy has a doctor’s appointment in Lenoir City in the morning, so we are leaving early and hoping that we can get back home before traffic snarls.
We’ve made the decision to stay home during the eclipse. My plan is to sit by the pool for the day. I’ll experience the eclipse by floating in the water as the darkness comes, or I might watch it on television since I don’t have safe eye protection and have no intentions of making milk carton viewers. Yes, I’m a spoilsport, but the fact is that I’m not good in heavy traffic. My road rage is too likely to rear its ugly head to the point that I curse someone who cuts me off or drives like a moron. Besides, the way the weather has gone the last few weeks, it would be my luck to fight my way to a better viewing place only to have clouds and rain sweep in and obscure any view.

The next eclipse that will pass close to Tennessee occurs in May 2078. It’s a sure bet that I won’t be around for it since that year would put me well over 100 years of age. Still, I’m not interested in spending a day trapped in crowds of people. Besides, let’s be honest; the eclipse lasts about 2 minutes, give or take a few seconds. When the next one occurs, maybe I can look down from heaven at the event without worrying about my eyesight or traffic jams. Alternatively, I might look up from another place that will make the solar eclipse look pale. Regardless, I’m going to forego this eyewitness opportunity. 


I took grandson Madden home after a short visit with us. After a few hours of babysitting, I crawled back into my little Nissan Sentra for the return trip. Radio stations fade out quickly as I drive home on the interstate, so, I plugged in my iPod and have access to hundreds of songs. That’s when I relaxed, forgot about the cars and trucks passing by at 90-plus miles per hour, and belted out the lyrics to song that I knew.
Something happens to most of us when we sit behind the wheel of a car. The itch to listen to music to help pass the time hits, and we scratch it by tuning in stations or our own collection of music. We also have a tendency to sing along. Even if a person is much too shy to sing in public, he or she will lift a voice to the heavens and let the sounds come out. Some folks sing well, but others would have difficulty carrying a tune in a bucket. In a car, however, all of us seem to think we sound like fabulous entertainers who could wow concert crowds.
Proper singing position in a car requires a driver to lean back ever so slightly. As the song begins, the head must turn upward just a bit so that the words and melody escape toward the heavens. On some dramatic, heart and gut-wrenching song, the eyes have to close briefly for emphasis. The grasp on the steering wheel tightens and loosens depending on the emotion of the lyrics.
What singing drivers don’t often realize is that other motorists are watching. They see us performing as we speed down the highway. Sometimes, other drivers fear that we are experiencing a serious health problem and that our pained expressions indicate
the need for help. Other times, they laugh aloud at our head bobbing or facial expressions. The biggest guffaws are reserved for the car singers who project their voices into imaginary microphones that they hold.

By the time a singer arrives home from a long trip, his throat feels raw, his muscles ache, and his body is sweaty. He’s given one of the best performances of his entire driving life, and he walks into his house, dumps his stuff, and plops into the recliner for the rest of the evening. Singing on the road is tough work.
I used to be an okay singer. Somewhere along the line, acid reflux and age crippled my vocal chords. My greatest joy used to be singing harmony to songs. However, these days I can’t even carry a tune for long before my voice fades into nothing more than a whisper, something that might possibly be a blessing to riders. I mouth the words to songs when that happens, and yes, like others, I make up words to some songs with which I am not so familiar. The music does soothe the beast that rages in me when other cars cut in front of me in dangerous manners or when I am trapped behind a semi-truck that is rolling at slow speeds up long grades.
My taste in music includes oldies, country, and religious songs. I also have a few comedy recordings on my iPod. When they shuffle, sometimes an old favorite hymn is followed by a routine by Robin Williams or Rodney Carrington. I hope the Lord forgives the mixture.
Everyone should enjoy those favorite songs that play over devices, and singing along is just a natural thing to do. It is important to remember, however, that others are watching your performance and might enjoy a laugh at your expense. Also, remember that your main job is to drive safely so that you reach your destination.


I just arrived in Hendersonville, TN, to return my grandson Madden to his home. He’s graced us with his presence for the last three days. During that time, we made whirlwind trips to places where the boy could enjoy himself. Madden is a wonderful boy who was stricken with the same problem that my brother Jim and I experienced. In my mother’s words, “[he] talked incessantly.”
Madden spent the prior week with his other grandparents. Now that he’s home, the opportunity to tell Mom and Dad about us exists. I’m curious about what he will say. I’ve talked about my mother since she passed, and I sometimes wonder what my own children will say about me when I’m gone.
One thing for sure is over the years I’ve uttered plenty of things that have stuck in their minds. When they’ve misbehaved, the words “Don’t make me spank you” has been yelled through the house. How ridiculous is it to think that my children would purposely do something to bring about swats to their back sides. Sometimes, I threatened to “wear them out.” Yeah, right! Spanking Dallas or Lacey always left me upset for a long time. It was more like punishment for me.
I wonder how I’ll be remembered as a dad. My intent was to always do the things that would help my children grow up to be good people who knew how to treat others, who obtained a good education, and who built productive lives. Maybe they might comment on my insistence that they played sports on teams and refused to allow them to quit until seasons were over. Of course, during those years, I made plenty of mistakes; perhaps they won’t remember too many of them.
How many of the “lectures” that I subjected them to will be remembered? I’ve delivered hundreds of them over the years. Not using drugs or driving drunk was one such topic. Another was showing respect to their parents, even when they didn’t agree with us. I know that the threat to remove slammed doors from bedrooms is burned into their memory banks. Of course, the one I delivered about the demise of the Egyptian civilization due, in part, to excessive concern with looks and self-adornment will remain long after I’ve gone to my reward, whatever that might be. What others might be recalled is anybody’s guess.
What I hope most of all is that my “young’uns” will recall just how much I loved them. They have been the center of my world, along with Amy. Over the years, they’ve given me so many times to be proud of them, and the hugs and kisses that they gave as little ones and, though less often, as adults, have made my life a good one. I’ve watched them learn to love others and allow them to become parts of their lives, and with luck, they will always find the same kind of love that I’ve experienced with Amy. Lord knows she’s put up with my goofy, too often hateful ways for more than 40 years.
I certainly hope that Madden will have kind things to say about me. He said today that I was like his mom, who also sometimes becomes miffed with his behaviors. If I’m lucky, he’ll remember that I told him I was proud of him. I hope he can say that his grandfather loved him completely and tried to make our time together fun. I further hope he will say that I passed along a couple of good pieces of advice.

I’m not sure the good lord allows us to look down on the ones we leave behind. If that is the case, I only hope that what my family says about me will be mostly good, along with some of my many shortcomings. One things for sure: I won’t be remembered as having been saintly. 


Sadie and I took our morning walk before the heat enveloped the area. The circuit takes us through the subdivision, up and down Fitzgerald Road, and down a private driveway on which we have permission to walk.
The ditch line on Fitzgerald Road hasn’t been mowed by the county for a while, and the weeds have grown so tall that they bend over so that cars brush against them as they pass. Poison ivy, honey suckle, and Virginia Creeper vines have crossed the ditch and now encroach on the asphalt. A bit of dew still appears on reedy leaves as the sun dries the countryside.
That ditch line reminded me of the walks that six or seven kids used to take on vacation. My brothers,
the Burns children, and any other kids that were invited spent many hours of that vacation walking. Sometimes we headed to the main store on Highway 321. The route took us up a country road and then along the highway until we reached the store and ran across busy lanes of traffic to buy items that we’d used up or ice creams that were eaten or melted long before we completed our return trip.
At other times, we walked the opposite way. That took us over a wooden bridge where cars poked as the boards creaked and clopped with their weights. I think I correctly remember that some of us jumped from that bridge at least one time and landed into deep areas of the river below. Then we shuffled into the little country store that sat beside the bridge. We’d buy something or just look around for a few minutes.
A few walks took us to a camp ground across the river. Each year, a wagon train that set out from some far away state set up camp there for a couple of nights. We’d mingle with those folks and kids that were resting from their travels. On some occasions, we made the walk at night and traveled the road without flashlights; instead, we relied on our memories of the road and the help of each other to make our ways.
Some of our walking trips took us up the gravel Greenbriar entrance to the Smoky Mountain National Park. Most of the time, we traveled to a point where the rapids spewed over the rocks like a waterfall before calming and flowing down stream. We’d enter the water at that point, slip over the falls and then ride the river and rapids back to our swimming hole downstream. Those trips wore out the bottoms of our cut-off jeans and bruised our backsides, but the fun we had on the ride down that cold water was worth a little pain.
All these memories finished, the things that all the roads back then and this morning hold in common are creeping weeds and vines that ran up to and on the roads. The sounds of scurrying mice or the croaking of frogs were ever-present. A few times, snakes came slithering from the weeds to cross the road. I’ve never liked snakes and jumped or ran in the opposite direction whenever one of the things appeared.
It’s nice to still be able to walk along roads that are similar to those that I traveled as a boy. More cars pass on today’s roads, and just beyond the ditch where a beautiful hay field once existed are dozens of houses that were slapped up in quick order in subdivisions that seem to be spreading like a plague. Even so, Sadie and I will continue our walks as long as our legs allow us or until cold weather runs us inside until spring.