Walking at Sunrise

I have been waking early lately and grabbing sunrise pictures to share for Skywatch Friday.


Then this past Saturday, when we had a huge graduation party planned we were watching the sky very intently and had to sit through multiple rains showers.

Created for SkyWatch Friday Meme.




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Jubilant – Weekly Photo Challenge -20 May 2016


My daughter and her lifelong best friend were so jubilant about finally celebrating the end of their high school careers.


The Weekly Photo Challenge gives me the excuse to share the photos I collect incessantly about every experience in my life. Yes, that is a confession, I take a lot of photos!


This week the theme in my world has been centered on graduation. My youngest child, a daughter, completed her high school odyssey and celebrated jubilantly with 96 other classmates at a rain free ceremony on Thursday night.

On Friday night the fourth of our church’s graduating quartet was no so lucky weather-wise as her ceremony was rain-shortened. But, she was no less jubilant about collecting her proof of completion. Little did we know the rainforest theme would carry over into the 4 kid graduation party on Saturday.


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Graduation Day 2016

In each of our lives there are days we point to for a long period of time, events we refer to as milestones, or time checks where we mentally and physically transition from one setting or perceived state to another. Today marks such a milestone in the lives of ninety-seven seniors at Patrick Henry High School in Emory, Virginia. Approximately thirty-three years ago I accepted my diploma from this school and began my own transition from being considered a kid to adulthood. Tonight my daughter will get her chance to savor the spotlight as she goes through her own high school graduation ceremony.

Three years ago I put together a similar post to this to commemorate My son’s graduation day. I enjoyed that retrospective so much I decided when this day came I would also post something for my daughter. Taking a few moments to reflect on their high school career gives you another opportunity to see how their lives were enriched by all they experienced. High school can be a trying time for a teen, but my daughter, Meredith, seemed to thrive. Perhaps it was due to not only her personality, but her willingness to plunge into every activity she could.


Throughout all four years of her time at PH Meredith was part of the Rebel Regiment, the high school band. In fact, she got to be a part of the unit early as part of the select few eighth graders to join a year early, just as her brother had. She got the chance to get out of the stands, where she had been for three years watching her brother to out on the field with him for his last two years of high school.


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This is the last football game of 2012, Meredith’s Freshman year and Isaac’s Senior year. She is the trumpet player in the middle.

During Meredith’s high school career with the Rebel Regiment she got to travel all over Southwest Virginia playing at football games on Friday nights in the fall and performing in band competitions most Saturdays each October. Beyong that, though, she also got the chance to travel to the Bahamas and Chicago, IL on band trips.


Meredith pulled double duty her last two years, putting in time as a cheerleader for football and basketball. This meant trading the hot band uniform in September for a much cooler cheer outfit. I think she wished when it all ended she had tried football cheering sooner in her career. Meredith also enjoyed singing with the high school and middle school choirs, which allowed her the opportunity to take part in the first high school musical at her school in thirty years.


Cheering in front of the band, Meredith is in the center of the front line.

In November of 2014 Meredith decided she wanted to take part in the Miss Patrick henry pageant. If there is anything I know without a doubt about my daughter, it is that she does not crave the spotlight. If earned she enjoys it, but she does not go looking for opportunities to stick out. In my mind her reasoning for being in this beauty pageant was more practical. She wanted to give her prom dress one more night out of storage. When her name was called as the winner she was genuinely thrilled.


During her high school career, and really for most of her life Meredith has had the joy of sharing every experience with her best friend, Alyssa. The girls have been inseparable since Alyssa’s family began to attend the same church as ours. Since then we have shared so many life experiences together we are much like an extended family. The funny thing is that Meredith actually got to hand off her Miss Patrick Henry crown to Alyssa this year.




As a matter of fact, the girls have decided to attend the same college, East Tennessee State University so they can room together and continue to share their experiences. So many times the friendships you counted so rich in high school tend to fade as you part ways following the graduation ceremony, but this one seems destined to defy that axiom. Girls tend to develop stronger relationships so I think these two can count on enjoying each other’s achievements for a long time.


Many of our friends have children younger than Meredith and they ask at particular events as we approach the close of Meredith’s high school career and thus the end of our eight year relationship with Patrick henry if we will miss it all. When our son graduated I did feel a sort of sadness. We have always tried to attend every event the kids are involved in. Somehow I knew that when Isaac left PH things would never be the same. But with Meredith I feel we have completed our arc at the high school level. She has taken part in so many activities and given us great memories to add to the ones her brother created.

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Art is one of Meredith’s interests and she has spent some time thinking about the decorations she wanted to have on her graduation cap. Reflecting the Christian faith that has developed by leaps and bounds during her high school career she chose you use Proverbs 31:25 to declare her faith to those that attend her graduation.


Perhaps the highlight of Meredith’s senior year was the mission trip she and I made to Belize. I had made two previous trips and she expressed interest in accompanying me on the next one. While this is not directly connected to her high school career, it does directly connect to the idea I expressed at the beginning about transitioning in your life from one state to another. I saw my daughter transition from a young girl to a young adult as she witnessed to mothers about the love of Jesus Christ. It takes more than just another day on the calendar to become an adult, but I feel Meredith is well on her way.


Meredith and Chloe, a girl she met in Belize,  at Xunantanich, a Mayan ruin within sight of the border with Guatemala.



Posted in band, Basketball, Blogging, children, chorus, Faith, Family, Mission Trip, Music, Religion, Travel, USA, Virginia, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

South – Daily Post – 17 May 2016

I don’t always answer the Daily Post prompts, many times because their just isn’t enough hours in the day. But when I saw this one I could not turn away. The one word prompt is South, and I have something I want to write about.

Daily Prompt

I was in elementary school when I purchased two books at the school book fair, one was a book about the Revolutionary War and the other about the War Between the States, America’s Civil War. I know, boys and their obsession with war, but I was young and this kind of thing fascinated me. I also had an interest in World War II for a time, but the conflict of the early 1860s was something that held my attention for quite some time and even today still draws my interest on occasion.

To be sure, this period of bloodshed and struggle was something that the United States will never forget. My home state of Virginia saw more than its share of major battles during the four years of war. The state is well below the Mason Dixon Line, which is commonly considered the break point between North and South, at least in the 1860s, so we consider ourselves Southerners.

I will not engage in any talk of how the North was wrong for this or that, there was enough blame to go around. Civilized people resolve their issues without blood running across the ground, but there was so much disagreement about everything including slavery, states rights and more that an inevitable show of barbarism was going to happen.

Today the vestiges of the Civil War remain in some Southern locales, although the political correctness movement is trying so hard to snuff them out. What will we do slowly try to erase every wrong? Does that make it untrue? We are what we are because of the good and the bad history. The South lost the war due to their inability to match up with the North in almost every area of importance, such as industrial capacity, troop numbers and military organization. But the united States of America came out stronger and more respected and in some cases feared.


The South will always be different than other regions of the country as it should be. If you have never made a trip to the bottom half of my country you are missing a real treat. So far I have enjoyed visiting many southern states and find all to be charming in their own way. The ones I have not visited so far are: Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and more than just a truck stop in Alabama on my way to a mission trip in Florida.

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Survival – Daily Post – 5-12-16

The one word Daily Post prompt is Survival. Immediately when I read this I thought it would tie in so nicely with an idea I have been promoting as we approach the graduation of my daughter along with millions of others from high schools and colleges all over the united State and also the world. For some it is a joyous time full of fun and unbridled excitement. For still others however, it is just a matter of making it through.

Take the young woman who wasn’t quite as careful as she could have been and is now juggling a baby as she tried to nail down her diploma. Or the boy or girl that lost a parent and had to take on a job to help manage expenses at home. While the diploma is still a goal the ground to travel on the way just got a whole lot more rugged.

Still another example is the student who just doesn’t make it through every class with ease. We are all different and some strengths serve us well in particular classes, while in others we may feel totally inept. I remember feeling many times like I was the only one who didn’t get some of the concepts.

Surviving high school or college is a monumental achievement we should celebrate it as such! My son graduated three years ago and I celebrated with a blog highlighting his achievements called While a Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Boy Graduates in Virgina. In seven days my daughter will put the finishing touches on her high school experience, so I will have to get busy on a similar tribute to her experience. She is the more social, so I expect her photos in the tribute to be filled with many of her friends.

What did you highlight in your survival post?


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Chaos – Daily Post – 9 May 2016

The Daily Post topic of the day for 9 May is Chaos.

When I saw this one word prompt I could immediately think of only one thing that easily fit into the definition: The 2016 Presidential Primary Season and the impending General Election Campaign. What else can you conceivably think this could be beyond uncontrolled chaos. I know, controlled chaos is an oxymoron, but this whole election cycle promises to be the biggest disaster in modern political history.


Even though Senator Bernie Sanders remains in the democratic primary fight, I think no one considers any other likelihood than a Clinton-Trump prizefight to be the forty-fifth president of the country I call home. Let me be perfectly clear, I support a democratic method of selecting our chief executive, but the 2016 version of the process is becoming more and more embarrassing.

When I was in the midst of completing my undergraduate degree I had a college level government class and learned about the way the Prime Minister is chosen in Great Britain. I found that process to be much less desirable than ours and was happy to know we had what I considered to be a better process. Over time I have come to detest the Electoral College and its process, but the primary process is usually not so dramatic or divisive.

I have a friend at work that is not originally from the United States and he mentioned the race to me the other day when we were in the exercise room. I shook my head and told him I was embarrassed for my country that we were acting in such a manner. In all truth the president does not have as much power as we want to believe. He works in concert with Congress on many initiatives, but our American economy is so large that any action they approve takes months or even years to fully see fruit.

All the political candidates, From Clinton to Trump to Sanders and Cruz, worked overtime to try to convince you that on day one of their presidency all would be different. Well, it won’t!  In the first 100 days the energy will be there and some flash, but the real work just takes time. So do not expect the chaos to end after November 8th!



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Earth – Weekly Photo Challenge – 5-6-16

The Weekly Photo Challenge for the week ending 5-6-16 is Earth.

I love photo challenges! Basically it gives me a chance to plunge into my vast library of photos and relive moments I felt were worthy of remembering. Our instructions, as always are simple and open to our own personal interpretation. Here is what we have as a starting point: Share your vision of our magnificent Earth through your lens.

First of all I want to share three photos taken in Western North Carolina in the fall of 2015. The first shows my wife and I on a part of Grandfather Mountain, which is a local attraction near Boone, North Carolina. Grandfather Mountain is right at 5,280 feet above sea level and boasts a swinging bridge a mile high! The other two phtos were made during an anniversary trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The bottom left photo is from Little Switzerland, a small resort-type location we stayed in for a night. On the right is Crabtree Falls, one of the many waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway. An interesting tidbit is that the majesty of Crabtree was aided by the torrential rains that soaked North and South Carolina when Hurricane  Joaquin set up camp off the Southeastern United States for days, pumping record-breaking rainfall into the Carolinas.

The next set of three photos are from tropical locations. The Bahamas first of all, from my children’s 2013 high school band trip, a pier at Hopkins Beach, Belize from a 2013 Mission Trip and The Caribbean Ocean, also from the 2013 Bahamas band trip. There is so much beauty on earth and we are cheating ourselves if we don’t try to enjoy as much as possible!

The final three photos are of my personal favorite place on earth, where I live. I have enjoyed tilling the earth and planting and harvesting for nearly half my life. Gardening is not a chore to me, but a release and therapy from a job where I sit all day. The final picture is of a sunrise on one of the paths I use for morning walks. Nature’s beauty can make you breathless and is different every day.

A little more than three months ago I got a Fitbit and since then I make a special effort to get up, get out and enjoy the Earth as much as possible. You can read more about my Fitbit experience if interested here: Why Buy a Fitbit? It Can Change Your Life! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will let me know which photos you like!




Posted in Belize, Blue ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway, exercise, Mountains, North Carolina, Photo Challenge, Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Admiration – WPC – 4-29-16

The Weekly Photo Challenge for this week (4/29/2016) is centered on the theme of Admiration.

In my lifetime I have been blessed with so many role models. My father, both grandfathers, and next door neighbor who became like a second mother in the beginning to me and a very close and trusted friend and advisor as I matured are the people I will detail here.


My grandfather Joe Hoss, father, me and my son Isaac in 1995

First of all, let me tell you about my dad. He was a good man, a Navy veteran and a great teacher of how to be a citizen, friend and a man. My dad was a moral man, but not necessarily a devoted Christian. He did not attend church, but did not want us to miss the chance to gain from the benefits of being part of a church congregation. I will explain how all that worked in the last section of this post.

My dad was a good husband, too. Sure he and my mom had disagreements about particular problems in their relationship or in the way the family or household operated, but he dealt with it by discussing, not using his physical strength. He was also a good son who respected his parents in all ways. He definitely deserved the admiration I had for him.

His dad, and my namesake Joe “Hoss” Owens, was much like my dad, no doubt why my dad was who he was. Granddaddy was well-liked throughout his small town of Glade Spring, VA and even to this day is recalled by people who know I am his descendant with smiles and hilarious stories. My admiration for him remains to this day almost a decade and a half after his death.


Joy was the order of the day everyday I spent with my Granddaddy Russell.

My maternal grandfather, Ray Russell, was an exceptional man in his own regard. He was among the first generation that worked at the Eastman Chemical Corporation in Kingsport, Tennessee. Continuing an interesting theme, my Grandfather Russell was another very moral man but necessarily the church-going type. I found out that he had been at one time, but I was not bold enough before his death in 1982, when I was just 17, to inquire about this further. Granddaddy Russell had the role of Grandfather down pat. He knew exactly how to thrill his four grandchildren with everything he did. He was also the mayor of his hometown of Clinchport, Virginia in 1977 when a great flood basically washed the town away. Watching him deal with the aftermath in his soft-spoken, yet direct way only seemed to add to my admiration.

The last person I will talk about in this admiration post is the person that set me on a path to my strong Christian faith. While it is difficult to admire one person more than the others that are integral in your life, Minnie Bryan deserves one measure more due to the lasting effect and continuing reach of her influence. My mother had a professional career as a very sharp and capable nurse, so there was a need for day care from early in my life. I had another lady provide this for a small time, but it would be Minnie that would forever shape my life. She brought one qualification extra that the three men I have just highlighted did not, her unshakeable and unquestioning faith in God and example of service for Him..

From a very early age Minnie transported me to and from church. I got involved in a lot of activities with adults forty, fifty and sixty years older than me and quickly began to understand how to live God’s instructions. I feel like I earned some admiration from them as I conducted myself on a plane older than my age. But it was due to Minnie’s steady hand that I developed like this. One vital component of her teaching was something called the J.O.Y. Principle. This stands for Jesus first, Others second and yourself last. You can get a more in-depth understanding through this link  The J.O.Y. Principle which will take you over to my faith-based blog, Faith By Acts.


A part of Minnie’s Others focus that remains and grows stronger each day is the desire she had to find me a good Christian girl to marry. Minnie was not one to beat around the bush and she got to know Libby Thomas very thoroughly, in effect vetting her as Congress would a new political appointee. When all the questions had been answered and probing was complete Minnie arranged for a blind date. The rest is history, twenty-three and a half years worth, with two kids as a bonus.

Minnie lived this principle every day in every way that I saw. As I begin each day I choose to refocus my heart, mind and actions using this guideline. So far it has not failed me. I am now counting eighteen years since Minnie’s presence slipped the bounds of the human existence, but her influence remains very strong. In her absence I am able to maintain the connection to her strong influence by enjoying my special almost sibling-like relationship with her daughter Martha. You can read more about this in a birthday tribute post I wrote in 2013, My Definition of a Sister, Happy Birthday Martha.

These are my admiration subjects and I will leave you with a final picture of me and my dad on the day my brother came home from the hospital. I was not a happy camper about a new baby. It is my favorite picture of me with my dad.


My dad and I the day my brother was born. I am wearing my “happy” face.






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Why buy a FitBit? It can change your life!

Have you been considering the purchase of one of the Fitbit devices that charts your activity levels? If so, can I ask what has held you back? Perhaps it is the price. I mean these little gems carry a not insignificant price tag. The Fitbit HR that I use is selling right now for anywhere from $99-$136 on Amazon.


This can seem like a lot to pay for yet another device, but there are some substantial benefits to consider and that is what I will try to highlight in this post. In short, I want to share my Fitbit experience. How in ninety days this little device has radically changed my exercise and activity experience.

You already know this, but the human body was not designed to remain in a sedentary state. We who have a love affair with technology in the form of television, video games or cat videos can develop a very bad habit of settling in after work or after our supper meal to let the rest of the day melt away. Worse still is those of us who are “blessed” with a sedentary job, i.e. sitting at a desk pecking away at a computer.

Eight and a half years ago I transitioned from owning my own business, a greenhouse, which required me to be upright and moving at lest 12-14 hours a day to a job where I am sitting with the aforementioned computer before me. At the time I left the greenhouse business I was about 175 pounds, mostly lean and with a low BMI. You can see an example in the next photo, taken while giving a demonstration to my daughter’s  first grade class at my greenhouse.


Geraniums on the left and Spikes on the right

While the change was gradual, the weight began to add up and the dimensions of the clothes I had to buy kept increasing. When this photo was made, last September, I had reached the point of critical mass, at least in my mind. This was taken at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, on Labor Day. But feeling a need to change  and making a change are two very different ideas.


I needed something to hold me accountable. My wife and I tried an exercise and food plan called the 21 Day Beach Body last summer and I was turned off from the outset. First of all it was promoted by a girl that was a size Minus 2 that was way too perky. I mean when you are climbing onto the floor and back up and down and back up in rapid succession the last thing you want is for a never “fluffy” but always cheery someone declaring “I know it’s hard” (NO SHE DID NOT, SHE WASN’T TRYING TO USE MY OLD BODY PARTS) “But you will love me at the end of 21 days”. (I DIDN”T!)

Over the fifty or so days we kept at this I managed to shed about eight pounds and did not feel the exercise getting any easier. My motivation was not increasing and a payoff for the struggle seemed elusive. So fast forward the couple of months to the pivot point in September and I was wondering what could be the answer.

As always seems the case, the holidays came rolling through, definitely not the time to try to lose weight. I had a foreign mission trip that captivated my attention and took it off my situation for a time within the holidays, so the search for the elusive answer continued. Next was our entry into full-on winter and the worst time of year weather wise, offering yet another impediment.

But, on January 30th I made one of the best choices of my life as far as the potential impact on my health. I chose to attend a work party with my wife and was the lucky recipient of a door prize, namely my now favorite device, the Fitbit HR. I strapped it on that night about 7:30 PM or so and began what is now a transformative adventure.


Coupled with the addition of a new puppy in mid-October that needs regular trips outside to stretch her legs and attend to nature’s call, I quickly began to meet the suggested and Fitbit standard 10,000 steps per day. Then an unexpected benefit materialized. I felt more energetic and motivated to see what I could do to make the little counter reflect more steps. Through 29 days of February I averaged 8,054 steps, while nothing to sneeze at, a number that would soon pale in comparison. I can remember occasional days where I managed 10,000 steps, a total of six in this month. The sense of accomplishment was immense.

fitbit5But as the snow began to clear and the calendar progressed to March, better weather and growing energy and motivation added to my excitement. The resulting boost in the number of goal days, those meeting the mark climbed to 26! On the days I fell short it was a personal disappointment. My diligence revealed the commitment to accumulating steps as my daily average increased 41% to 11,340. When I reflected on this number I thought WOW, could I be reaching my upper limit? Don’t we always quickly place limits on our potential without having all the information about what could affect our decisions. Little did I know there was something coming that would supercharge my effort all the more.

One day I was looking at the Fitbit app on my phone when I got an invitation from a high school friend inviting me to join a Challenge Group through Fitbit. I wound up adding a friend from church I knew with a Fitbit and we began to take part in this challenge, which is called the Workweek Hustle. The idea is that you try to walk as many steps between Sunday at midnight and Friday at midnight. You have until noon on Saturday to sync your device to the challenge ranks so that you are not disturbing the owls at 1 AM on Saturday.

AprilWithin a few days I was totally hooked and felt a competitive beast long dormant struggle to break free. As I told my friend that invited me I was not sure whther to hug her neck in thanks or curse her for awakening such a creature. But even more energy and motivation, not to mention pounds melting away convinced me the former was the right choice.

I was so excited when I won my first challenge that I took a screenshot of my record on my phone. It took almost  92,000 steps over 5 days to win. Well in truth I could have stopped at 88,700, but you don’t know what the others are doing, so you give it your best and see where the chips fall.


Finally I am so happy to report an amazing side benefit from all this activity. Besides the already mentioned increase in energy and motivation I can now claim at least fifteen pounds of weight gone. My middle aged spread is reducing with every step and with it the potential for heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. As of today I have used the Fitbit for 90 days, or roughly one quarter of a year. While projecting these values to a year’s time frame is better left to economists and other number crunchers, I could live with a year of gain & loss such as this.

90 days

This is my pace at the end of 90 days. The number not reflected here is the amount of weight I have shed, which is fifteen pounds.


If you have a Fitbit please let me know about your experience. Perhaps we can join a challenge group and get some exercise!




Posted in Bicentennial, exercise, Personal Health, weight-loss, Writing | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Music – Daily Post -5-2-2016

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My son as a senior at his final band competition.

For today the Daily Post has offered this single word as our prompt: MUSIC

Five little letters create a word that has such an impact in my life. From my earliest memory I can recall a desire to enjoy music. I can remember early on listening to music on the radio. This was long before I had my own boom box as a teenager. The tunes coming from the radio were from an unknown genre at that time because I wasn’t aware that there was more than one.

By the early 1980s I came to be more in tune with what music was popular, which was called Rock music back then. The song that solidified my connection to the 1980s music scene was Van Halen’s smash Jump. David Lee Roth was still the lead singer in 1984 when this was climbing up the Top 40 charts. I heard it as part of one of those radio Top 40 countdown shows and if I remember right the one I followed had Rick Dees as the host.

This was also during the period that MTV and VH1 were establishing themselves as mainly video only channels. I fell in love with other 1980s groups such as Huey Lewis and the News, the Bangles, Journey, Reo Speedwagon, Genesis and more. This love continues very strongly to this day. In my iTunes library I would say I have at least 50% that are from the 1980s time frame.

Beyond that however, I have also had an attraction to Southern gospel music. I can still remember a gospel quartet coming to my church when I was in my late teens and hearing a tenor rattle the windows. I, myself, am a Baritone-Bass in my church choir and am always wanting to sing my favorite songs when I can. I also listen to my music any time I am outside working or walking for exercise or in the car traveling anywhere.

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My daughter is in the center of this picture, marching with the high school band as a freshman during her brother’s senior year.


When my kids were born I prayed God would bless them with a gift for and love of music. Both my son and daughter have been part of not only our music program at church singing solos, but also in the high school choir and band programs. Each of them also joined the audition-only Jazz choir at the high school. My daughter just recently received word she had received a choral scholarship at he university she will attend in the fall of 2016.

Music has always and will always be something I love. I look forward to reading others music connection.

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Come See My Hometown

IMG_20160429_171643855_HDRI am proposing a new recurring blog event, called Come See My Hometown, where the participants will write a blog post highlighting some unique historical site, festival or event unique to your region. For instance, in five months Bristol Motor Speedway, which is about twenty to twenty-five miles from my house intends to break a record for the largest attendance at a college football game ever.

battleWhere I live, in Abingdon, VA, we are about midway between The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. Bruton Smith, the owner of Bristol Motor Speedway worked for a long time to get the two schools on board for an epic meeting in the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway, one of the largest NASCAR venues. In fact the half-mile racetrack has the capacity to host 165,000 souls. The current record was achieved in Michigan’s home stadium in Ann Arbor where they defeated arch-rival Notre Dame 41-30 in front of  115, 109 on September 7, 2013.

Besides the obvious NASCAR events in our region we have one of the larger music festivals the third weekend in September of each fall, called Rhythm and Roots. No to mention the Dolly Parton namesake theme park Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, TN. So you get the idea, right? Pick something from your hometown and write a post, with pictures to document and draw some interest, and join the fun. I plan to do this on Thursdays so folks can get ideas for weekend trips if it is in their region. For now it will be only on the second and fourth Thursday of the month until I get enough participation.

Are you interested? I will try to pick some categories and tags to get some attention and if you read and can think of one of your blogging friends that might like it, please pass it along.

I look forward to seeing you in my hometown!


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Crossroads – Daily Post 4-26-16

1 MIL stepsSome people love approaching crossroads. It can be an exhilarating feeling if you seek adventure. But for others it taps into one of their greatest fears, making the wrong choice. I have seen two really interesting examples as I watch my children approach their high school graduation dates.

My son Isaac was all about it during his junior year, but about a week before The start of his senior year on a Saturday morning we went to the local farmer’s market and he told me he just wasn’t ready for it to begin. My daughter had somewhat a similar sentiment at the beginning of this school year, her senior one, but as of this point, with less than 30 days to go she is ready to move to greater experiences.

Daily Prompt

I recently experienced a crossroads of a sort in my professional life and my personal life. In the professional area it involved transitioning sectors of work within my corporation. There was a period of no active assignment which caused no small amount of trepidation. Then there was a decision about whether to take the leap to change sectors. Now that I am one month plus I am happy to report the decision to change seems to be a very good one.

So what was the personal crossroads? It is one I have long desired to change. From 2002 through the summer of 2007 I owned my own business, a greenhouse. During that time I was on my feet nearly constantly, especially between January and August. My scale numbers hovered in the mid 170s and my BMI was absurdly low. When I graduated from college in 1989 I had a degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, which was great, but not a great fit for my region. But in 2007 that calculus changed and for the first time in my professional career I was working in a job directly related to my degree.

Hang on, this is still relating to the personal crossroads, I promise! When I got the new job I transitioned from on my feet 14 hours a day to on my feet basically never! It was a sit down job that required me to utilize the brains God had seen fit to bless me with. Before long the pounds began to multiply and with it some health issues.

Namely I had trouble with blood clots in late January of 2013 and early February of 2014. But still I did not make the significant change. I will fast forward the story to January 30 of this year and a most insignificant event may well blossom into the biggest crossroads event of my physical life. I won a Fitbit HR at a work party and began to take notice of the amount of activity I accumulated each day. Before long I began to notice increased energy and motivation. Then I noticed my clothes beginning to loosen.

1 MIL steps


This was from a two day, Midnight Friday through Midnight Sunday challenge.


The next major event was joining a Fitbit challenge group. This pushes you to not only meet your 10K step goal, but to go beyond. If you are interested in more of the Fitbit experience you can click this link: Fitbit. While walking alone won’t stave off the potential for blood clots, along with specific prescription medicine I expect to be in a safer position. These are my crossroads, I look forward to reading yours.

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Life Imitates Art -WPC – 2-12-16

This Weekly Photo Challenge is about life imitating art. While I don’t have occasion to mimic many statues I do think I have something that will fit the bill.


My grandfather Joe Hoss, father, me and my son in 1995

Fast forward a few years and many hundreds of gallons of milk later . . .


Nineteen year old Isaac with me. 

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Funding the new hobby (Part 2)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a new post on a new blog I started to try to connect with others interested in model railroading. I am utilizing the mother blog, Joe’s Musings since it has a much larger audience in hopes of reaching new readers. The new blog can be found here: Alpine & Clinchport Railroad.

Hello if you are a returning visitor to this Model Train hobbyist blog. Welcome if you are just discovering my chronicle of the adventure I began with the start of 2016. For both persuasions I intend to document the process and learning curve involved in this new hobby. My hope is to connect with other railroad modeling hobbyists and those interested in the hobby.

This is a continuation of the idea I began in the first post of this series entitled . . . wait for it! Funding the new hobby. As you know if you have looked at the hobby it is not a cheap undertaking . . . unless you do your homework. UGH, homework, I know the feeling.


Calvin & Hobbes by Watterson

But if you come out on the other side of homework with something to show for it it really doesn’t seem all that bad. Here is a confession for you, when you first strike out to buy an engine, track, controller and rail cars you really have no idea what is a good price. Buying without knowing how to gauge the value is like diving into an unknown depth river from a high tree limb.

Luckily I did not break my neck when I did it. All in all when I look over my purchase price I feel fairly confident I made wise choices. But it was the next purchase that really put me on a great path forward. To return to the reason for the post, I must restate that i am trying to finance this new hobby by selling leftovers from old hobbies. So far I have not sold anything from those identified old hobbies. In fact the only items sold thus far are pieces from my second train purchase, which was a large collection for sale at a local flea market that was bought within an estate sale.

I was really just trying to kill time one Saturday and went to this large indoor flea market for “kicks and giggles’ as my daughter and I put it. I thought there might be occasion to find something model train related, but had no idea what that might be. As a matter of fact I came across some old Lionel engines and cars that likely would have been O scale or perhaps S scale, meaning they were in the 1:48 or 1:64 size. I chose HO which is 1:87 due to the prevalence of products available.


When I came upon the collection I ultimately purchased I had to control the expression on my face. I mean you know how the people trying to sell at a flea market try to judge the amount of your interest. You don’t want to come off as so enamored you will just pay anything. The sheer scope of this collection was mind boggling. There was three engines, at least two dozen cars, 100 pieces of track, a power controller, twelve plastic assembled buildings, and another fifteen or so complementing parts.

Keep in mind my layout at his time is only a humble piece of 4 ft x 8ft plywood. It is fair to say all the buildings fill it up. But that is okay because I have identified the pieces I want to keep and the pieces I want to part with to pay for the investment. Four items sold as of February 11th have netted nearly $100 of my initial investment. I have many more in place on eBay where the interest in such is quite high. I also found a Yahoo Group for selling and buying HO Scale items, so the possibility is high I will do well.

You always hear the phrase “Patience is a virtue”. Why is it all good virtues equal waiting for a period of time? Oh well, it goes pretty fast when you are tinkering a bit here and there. Thanks for reading and leave me a comment please.


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TIME – Weekly Photo Challenge – 2/5/16

This week’s photo challenge is to show time. I chose a before and after of my son when he was younger and on the date of his high school graduation.


Sparky and my son in 1996


The perfect picture to symbolize the sunset of his high school career and beginning of a new adventure.

As my youngest child, a daughter, turns eighteen this week I am apt to remember her younger years also. As with my son I will post a retrospective during her week of graduation. I hope you will look that up. If you are interested in the post that went with the picture just above this you can access it here: While a Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a Boy Graduates in Virginia.

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