Sunday, November 19, 2023

House Mountain: 3 Hikes in 3 Days! (published 11-19-2023; article #442)


Howdy, fellow hikers! Would you like to hike along with me? You are welcome to join me, virtually, on three hikes, in three days, on House Mountain! (The 3/19/2006 article calls it My Mountain!) I've been hiking My Mountain, with dedication, since the fall of 2003. This year marks 20 years of hiking House Mountain. I'll be your trail guide. Let's hike!

This article is the 56th entry, under the "hiking” topic section, and the 14th, under the "pets” topic section. Yes, Molly, our ol' puppy, hiked, on the first hike!

As we fill our canteens with water and put on our hiking shoes, I'll review other hikes, in three or four days. Thirteen years ago, during the last four days of October, 2010, I'd hiked a different location every day. Those hikes are in the article, Four Hikes in Four Days! (published 11-14-2010).”

Looking through my hiking log, I realized that I'd hiked House Mountain two days in a row, on three occasions. The first was on October 4th and 5th, 2011, a Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn't publish an article about those hikes, but I took two photographs, on 10/5/2011. The next was on October 17th and 18th, 2015, a Saturday and Sunday. I didn't publish any articles, in 2015. My youngest brother and his family hiked with me, on 10/17/2015. I took two photographs of them, on the upper middle bluff. I'd hiked alone, the next day, when I photographed my old 1995 Nissan truck. The third was on December 7th and 8th, 2019, Pearl Harbor Day and Sunday. Those hikes are mentioned, in the article of 12/13/2019.

Canteens are full of water. Hiking shoes are on. Let's hike House Mountain, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday! Before the conclusion, my embedded hiking theology podcast -- on Thursday, at the middle bluff -- encourages everyone not to accept evolutionary hogwash!

Hike #183 (11/14/2023): Molly's Hike #8!

Publisher's note: our first hike is on Tuesday, 11/14/2023. The weather is warm, too warm, and sunny. It's my 183rd hike on House Mountain. Molly, at age eight, wants to hike with us! It's Molly's eighth hike on House Mountain. If you recall, Molly's first article is titled “A Dog's Perspective, on Her Birthday (published 10-31-2023; article #439).” In it, Molly mentions her first seven hikes. Molly, you have the keyboard now! Tell us about your eighth hike! (I took the four photographs, which I'll mention.)

Molly's comments: Woof, woof, and tail waggy, y'all! My front paws are typing again! Today, the man had my carrier, in the truck bed. The tailgate was down! I jumped up and placed my front paws, on the tailgate. The man knew that I wanted to hike with him!

I enjoyed the brief ride, to the mountain. Once we got there, the man let me out, and I jumped to the ground. I remembered the area. It had been a while. (The man told me that my seventh hike was on 3/17/2019, St. Patrick's Day.) The man had put my hiking clothes on me, and he had the leash clipped to my clothes, but he told me that I could lead!

Sniffers! Wow! I smell where many other animals have been! Can't you smell all this, man? Okay, I want to go up the east trail! The man said that it was 2:15 PM, when I started leading him.

I still remember. When the man says “whoa, Molly,” I know to stop or slow down. His right knee and foot are damaged, so he can't keep up with me, like he used to do. I want to go all the way up the mountain, to the ridge, but the man doesn't think that he can keep up with me, on the more steep and rugged upper trail. I think that I'll stop, at the first switchback.

Publisher's notes: I took the photograph, below, at 3:00 PM, on the dot. We have been pausing several times, so Molly could do her sniffing. Molly is looking northwest. She is thirsty. I pour water, from my canteen, into the small container, which I have tied to my belt. Molly is glad to have a drink of water! Aren't you glad, fellow hiker, that you brought your canteen?

Seconds later, I took the next photograph. Molly sees something, to our south (or right)!

Three minutes later, I photographed what Molly, you, and I are seeing! Molly continues typing, after the image.

What is that? It's some kind of bird. I've seen them before, but not this close! It's having a staring contest with me! Watch me win! I won! The bird flew off! The man calls it an owl.

The man says, “Let's go, Molly!” I'll lead us back down the way that we came. I see two human females and a dog! Come on, man! Keep up with me! I want to meet that dog! Sniff, sniff! I like that dog and the two humans! Why is that dog carrying a big stick in his mouth? That's funny! I don't want to carry a stick in my mouth, while I'm hiking, but that dog does!

Well, here we are, back at the spot, where I can turn left and go back to the truck or turn right, to go up the west trail. I look at the man. He says, “it's your choice!”

Okay, here we go, up the west trail! Sniff, sniff! Wow! I smell the scent of may dogs! Wait! What's that? I see and hear squirrels -- two of them! Oops! I forgot about the leash. I can't chase after the squirrels! That's okay, man. In my excitement, I might chase them so far that I'd not remember how to get back to you. I don't want to get lost!

I'm thirsty again. Where's water? Oh, there it is!

Publisher's note: I took the photograph, below, at 3:35 PM. It's just below the first lower switchback, on the west trail. An underground stream is still trickling out enough water, in this area, thankfully. Molly has a drink of fresh, underground water!

That's good water! It's better than the man's water that he shares with me!

The man says, again, “Let's go, Molly!” I'm ready to go back to my house. I'll lead us back to his truck. The man said that is was 3:52 PM and that “an hour and 42 minutes in the woods is better than not having been there.” I agree. The ride to my home cooled me off.

Thanks, man, for hiking with me today! Who was that other person, who hiked with us? Oh, is that the one, who is reading what I am typing?

Hike #184 (11/15/2023): Loop Trails

Thanks, Molly, for writing about our hike yesterday! Do you want to go again, today? I'd left the dog carrier in my truck bed. Today, Wednesday, I dropped the tailgate and called for Molly. She is in the “back forty,” as I call the back yard. She wants to play and get petted a while. Molly, however, isn't interested in hiking with us today. I give her a snack.

The weather is still too warm. The morning clouds had broken, and the sun is shining, but we see clouds, rolling in from the southwest. Let's hike House Mountain, even if rain could be coming! We need the rain.

As I touch the marker, behind the parking lot and picnic area, the time is 2:05 PM. The clouds had rolled in, as we were riding to the parking lot. It's completely cloudy now. Since it's later in the afternoon and looks like rain, let's just hike these lower loop trails.

At 2:14 PM, I pause, to take the photograph, below. It's the sign, farthest along the entrance trail, to the west loop trail. We'd already hiked that short and easy loop. I had to go back, to take the photograph!

Let's head east, to hike the slightly more challenging east loop trail! I need more exercise. Don't you? We start off to the north (our left) and hike up the trail. We are noticing the usual markers that indicate the type of trees that we are seeing. Interestingly, some of those trees have fallen, but their markers are still there!

We hike all the way east, to the lower parking lot. Let's hike back, along the lower (or south) side of the loop now. Aren't the leaves pleasant to see, as we crunch along in them? I enjoy hikes in the fall. The foliage is down. The poison oak and ivy are gone. Ticks aren't around. The views are better. I like seeing all the leaves on the ground.

Thanks for pausing, so that I can take the following photograph. The time is 2:48 PM.

The sign points to where we have just hiked, on that east loop trail. The west loop trail, which we'd hiked first, is just behind the fancy outhouse and picnic area, in the image.

Seconds later, I turn, to photograph my 2006 Frontier. He likes to have his picture taken!

A few other vehicles are in the parking lot, but we didn't meet an other hikers. Well, as we were leaving, we did converse with the lady and her dog, in the parking lot. Molly would have liked that dog.

Let's say that our hike ended, at 2:50 PM. That was only forty-five minutes in the woods, just on those loop trails. Any day, even if only a few minutes, in the woods is better than not!

It never did rain. The clouds are not dark enough for rain. We need rain! I'll take us back to the house, but let's first run an errand, to the Tractor Supply. I need to buy Molly some food and snacks. What do you know! A handful of rain drops hit the windshield, as we are heading to the Tractor Supply. That's all? A few drops of rain are better than none.

Hike #185 (11/16/2023): All Trails & Bluffs!

Well, howdy, again, fellow hiker! It's Thursday now. Are you ready for another hike on House Mountain? I thought so. Molly sees the carrier, still in my truck bed, and the tailgate down. Do you want to hike with us, Molly? She doesn't jump her front paws, onto the tailgate. She'd rather play in the front yard and get a snack. Okay, Molly, after we do that, then my hiking buddy and I are going hiking. Are you sure that you don't want to come along? Apparently, the answer is no, not today.

I hope, fellow hiker, that your hiking shoes are cinched up tightly! This is going to be a real hiking workout! Let's go! The weather is back to warm and sunny.

I note that the time is 1:12 PM, as we begin our hike. We're going up the west trail. Just as we start, we meet a young man, hiking out alone. He complains that he wore the wrong pair of shoes. We notice that his shoes look good enough. I told him that I hope that he doesn't get blisters.

The four lower switchbacks are easy enough. We're kicking up trail dust, due to the drought. I comment on several areas that are usually damp or muddy, depending on the rainfall. Those are all bone dry. We are only pausing, a few seconds at a time, to sip water from our canteens.

The challenge is on! The six upper switchbacks await us. Let's continue up! I'm glad that you are keeping up with me! My “bionic” right foot and knee are still slowing me down, but not too much. How quickly will we get to the west bluff?

Wiping off brow sweat along the way, we are at the sixth and final upper switchback! The time is 1:37 PM. It took us only 25 minutes to get here. I'd rather be at the west bluff, in 25 minutes, but we still have to hike father west, below the ridgeline, to get there.

We made it! The time is 1:42 PM. Thirty minutes, from the parking lot, to the west bluff is good enough, for this “bionic” hiker. If my foot and knee didn't cause me to be a lame mountain goat, then we could have made it in 25 minutes easily.

After enjoying the view a while and cooling off, I'm taking the photograph, below, at 1:58 PM.

The west bluff is behind me. That's my shadow. We're looking east, along the ridgeline. The two signs point directions and distances. The sign on the left directs down the west trail, up which we'd hiked. The sign to the right directs east, along the ridge trail. That's where we're going.

We get off the trail, slightly, so that I can take the following photograph. The time is 2:16 PM.

The view looks east. Do you see why I call the “dinosaur rock?” I thought so. I see the head, left eye, and the snout.

Hiking farther east, we pause, for the following photograph. It's now 2:23 PM.

I've photographed the “picnic rock” several times. It looks like a fine place for a picnic! Oh, yes, I'll mention the young couple, whom we meet. They came from behind us. I tell them the name of this rock, and they seem to agree. The are slower than us, so we hike on ahead of them.

We think about hiking to the foundation, where the fire tower used to be, just above the old two-seater outhouse, but we don't. We are getting close to the trailhead, for the east trail.

At 2:32 PM, as we approach that trailhead, I take the following photograph.

The bench and the two signs provide rest and instruction, to hikers, who need them. Of course, I know the trails quite well. The view looks east.

Two minutes later, I take the following photograph, with the view looking north.

The crisp blue sky is inspiring. The fallen leaves are nice to see. We wish that the temperature were cooler.

Let's hike about five minutes, farther east, to the upper middle bluff! We see blue, so someone is at the bluff. Yes, a lady, wearing a blue shirt, somewhat younger than me, is there. We converse for quite a while, about the forest fires, in areas around us. Thankfully, they are being managed and put out. We notice the smoke, far off, to the northeast of us. It looks like a fire, in or near Maynardville, in Union County.

We can return to the middle bluff, on our hike out and down. For now, let's hike to the east bluff!

Well, that was easy enough. I like the trail. Step carefully, however! A wrong step could result in a deadly fall, down into the ravine, to our north! Having arrived at the east bluff, I take the following photograph, at 3:21 PM. The view looks southeast.

Far off in the distance are the Smoky Mountains. The haze must be from the forest fires that are burning far away from us.

Two minutes later, as we are starting our hike back out and down, I pause, to take the following photograph. The view is northwest.

This must be a new sign. The posts are still seasoning. It indicates the ridgeline trail distance back to the west bluff. I'd rather call it the ridgeline trail, instead of the crest trail.

Will you remember how I taught you to tell time, by the location of the sun? I hope so. If the sun is to the west, hold your right arm straight up, fingers extended. Don't bend your elbow. That marks 12 PM. Twist your wrist inward, so that your hand is horizontal to the ground. Keep your thumb by your index finger. Your thumb should be the closest finger to the ground. With arm still fully extended, move your hand down, one hand width, thumb to pinkie, at a time. Count each hand width, until your hand covers the sun or the sun is just below your hand. Each hand width is 30 minutes. If the sun is behind your hand, then that's about 15 minutes. If the sun is just below your hand, then that's a full 30 minutes. Total up the minutes that you counted and figure the time, after 12 PM. When I did it, I guessed 3:30 PM. My watch showed the time to be 3:32 PM.

You can use the same technique, to know when the sun will set. Advance your hand width, from just below where the sun is, to where the sky meets the ground. Count the minutes. You can approximate how much more daylight is left.

Hiking Theology Podcast (11/16/2023): Evolutionary Hogwash

We are back on the upper middle bluff again! This time, no one else is here. At about 3:35 PM, we are enjoying the panoramic view! The setting sun is casting long shadows. Daylight will fade to dusk, in a couple of hours or so. The following photograph is a glimpse of the inspiring scenery.

The smoke, in the distance, is from the Satterfield Road fire, in Union County. (That evening, I learned that the fire had been put out.)

I hadn't planned to record a video, on this hike. As we are observing the magnificent views, even with the smoke-filled haze, I am inspired to record the following video. It will be on Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts, my YouTube channel.

The episode -- the first in the “Hiking Theology” section -- is: House Mt. Hiking Theology, on 11-16-2023: Evolutionary Hogwash (published 11-19-2023; episode 23). In just over six minutes, I reason that the unproven theory of macroevolution is hogwash. That's my brief sermon, for the day.

There is more “evidence” that Дед Мороз (in Russian, or Father Frost, in English) exists! Macroevolution wants us to believe -- irrationally, without proof -- that absolute nothingness exploded and creating a very dense something, about the size of an acorn. Over eons, that something from nothing expanded, into the known complexity of the universe. During eons, galaxies, solar systems, planets, and moons formed. Over further eons, non-life evolved, somehow, into life. Over uncountable eons, that life, somehow, evolved upward. You and I, as the fake theory claims, evolved from nothing, which became lifeless matter, which became life -- somehow. It's hogwash!

Genesis 1:1, in the NIV, states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The article of 11/16/2022, the third in the ongoing “Christian Evidences” series, contains the complete teleological argument, for the existence of God. That is rational faith, based on solid evidence.

It's getting late, so we'd better hike out and down the east trail, to the parking lot! We manage the first switchback, which I call “treacherous.” We are continuing, carefully, down, until we reach the final, or seventh from the top, switchback. That was a little easier than it used to be, for me.

At 5 PM, on the dot, I call Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, to tell her that I'll be a little late, coming home. That marks the conclusion of our hike.

Our total time, in the woods, was three hours and 48 minutes! Now, that's what I call a good day in the woods!


Thank you, fellow hiker, for hiking House Mountain with me, for three days last week. Are you stiff and sore? My “bionic” right foot talked to me, last Friday, but it returned quickly to its “bionic” normal. I'm publishing this article on Sunday afternoon. Looking out my home office windows, the sky is mostly clear and blue. I see the trees, on the ridge to our north. Leaves are scattered about. The woods are calling me, but I know that the parking lot, at House Mountain, will be full. Many hikers are enjoying the trails. Hiking during the week days is better, since fewer cars and hikers are around.

The anniversary of Papaw Ferrell's passing, in 1970, is Tuesday. Thursday is Thanksgiving. Friday marks my Mom's birthday, in 1932. Mom would be 91, if she were still with us. Depending on the weather, this Appalachian Irishman may hike My Mountain this week.

We did get light rain that started last Friday evening and continued through the night. Yesterday, the mostly sunny weather returned. We need more rain, dear Lord! I'd rather have rain this week, instead of hiking. I can't believe that I just wrote that!

Y'all enjoy Thanksgiving and the true reasons for the day! I'm signing off, for now. May God bless you, as you follow His will!

Monday, November 13, 2023

Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care: Recommended (published 11-13-2023; article #441)


Hello, dear reader, and thanks for dropping by, to read a while! I trust, in the Lord, that you are well. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I are okay. The conclusion will explain why the car window hand crank, in the above image, is used in this article.

Welcome to the 99th article, under the “life (such as it is)” topic section! This article -- of special interest to local Knox County, Tennessee, readers -- recommends highly Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care. The business is listed, as “Auto Service,” under the section “Business Recommendations: northeast Knox County, TN.” If you scroll about all the way down, on the right of the screen, you'll find that section. Nine businesses are recommended.

Local readers may have heard the Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care radio commercials. Phil Williams, on Newstalk 98.7, has been recommending these good folks. That's how I heard about them. I hope that they were able to fix up Phil's old truck!

The Left Window Trouble

Previously this year, our 2012 Nissan Sentra had three outpatient visits, at Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care. Our Sentra received new tires and a couple of important repairs -- which our previously recommended auto service had missed. They showed me the problems. I'm glad that they found them. I don't know how that our previous auto service or I had missed them. Our 2006 Nissan Frontier had only visited, until his left window trouble started.

The article of 10/26/2023 is about my 182nd hike on House Mountain, on the day before. Driving, I'd rolled down both windows a little, to let in fresh air. The left window went down and up, as usual, but I'd noticed an abnormal sound.

That Friday, while hauling trash and recycling and buying groceries, I'd tried those newfangled electric window buttons, to crack the windows a little, as usual. The right side worked, but my side didn't. At least the window was up, and it was not raining or cold!

Left Window Fixed & Right Window Trouble

It was time for my 2006 Nissan Frontier to have an outpatient visit. Last Wednesday, the good folks, at Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care, replaced the left window motor and regulator assembly. The left window rolls down and up quickly and smoothly now! My ol' truck also got an oil change.

By the way, I'd searched online, to find instructions, to do the job myself. For example, I watched “How to Diagnose and replace a 2004 - 2009 Nissan Frontier Power Window Motor.” On Poorboys' Little HomeStead / Papaw's Place (YouTube), 3/22/2021. It's about 22 minutes in length. The feller -- who looks about my age, wearing overalls and a cowboy hat -- got the job done. I'd say that it took him longer than 22 minutes! I decided that I'd rather pay the labor cost, to let someone else have all the “fun.”

The owner of Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care has a Bigfoot crossing sign, at the door to his office! I stopped by, to comment on the sign. He invited me in, to see his Bigfoot collection. He shared his story, of years ago, when some guys and he had gone camping. Local readers will have to stop by, to see if he will share “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say. I shared my Bigfoot story. It's written, in the 10/18/2023 article, and spoken, in the podcast of the same date.

Driving to the appointment, the right window rolled down and up, as always. It was a bit slow, but it's been that way, ever since I got my new ol' truck, the day after Thanksgiving, in 2016.

Before fixing the left side, Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care has suggested that I also replace the right window motor, since it was slow. I'd declined, reasoning that “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” The technician had even checked the right window, after he'd replaced the left motor. It had rolled down and up slowly for him.

After I'd cranked my truck, to leave, why did the right window motor decide to stop working? It's Murphy's Law and the luck of this Appalachian Irishman! Who says that God doesn't have a sarcastic sense of humor? Before walking out to my truck to leave, I'd told the folks, at Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care, that I'd be back -- hopefully in several months -- to have them fix the right window motor, if and when it quits. A man can always live in hope.

Well, moments -- not several months -- later, I walked back into the business, to share my luck of the Irish! The joke was that the right side decided to quit working, once it knew that I was ready to leave. The next appointment was two days later.

Right Window Fixed

Well, last Friday, my ol' truck and I returned to Knox Horizon Compete Auto Care. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman drove our Sentra, since our car was needing an oil change.

Have you even taken your wife on a date, to Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care? That's what my wife and I might just call it. We waited, in the spacious waiting area. I even changed the TV channel, to an old western movie! The free snacks and bottled water eased our hunger and thirst. The popcorn popper, enclosed in glass, reminds me of a movie theatre. A coffee maker is handy. They could add a soft drink machine, for those who want a Coke with their popcorn.

The wait time wasn't too long. We watched the misting rain fall, as we glanced out the large windows. I enjoyed conversing with the employees. Several of them and I share the same sense of humor. I even joked about getting a discount, for setting the time on one of their clocks!

Leaving, our Sentra felt better, after the oil change. Our Frontier was glad that the right window rolled up and down. It's as fast as the left window now, not slow as it had been. That right window motor must have been about to go out, for a long time.


This articles does recommend highly Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care. Vehicle maintenance and repair costs are not what they used to be. Everything is higher. Given that reality, their costs are reasonable, in this “new normal” economic reality. They do quality work. These are honest and trustworthy folks. They want to serve customers, as they would want to be served. That's a good Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12).

So, why is the image of a car window hand crank in this article? I'm glad that you asked. Is it that much harder to hand crank a window up or down? It's not my truck's fault that he has those newfangled electric window buttons! That's how most all vehicles are being made.

Give me an old-timey truck window hand crank any day! Well, I do like the air conditioning. I'll keep that. I'd rather drive a straight shift, but I'm used to the automatic transmission. Why do vehicles have tire pressure sensors? I can check the tire pressure with a gauge!

Thanks, Knox Horizon Complete Auto Care. We'll be seeing y'all again, hopefully for only regular oil changes, every 3,000 miles. (Yes, I know that this new oil can last 5,000 miles, but I'm old school!)

Y'all take it easy. Thanks for stopping by to read a while. This is the Appalachian Irishman, signing off for now!

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

No TN Sales Tax on Food, August - October, 2023: My Analysis & Commentary (published 11-1-2022; article #440)

Photograph by M. Fearghail, 10/28/2023, 3:00 PM -- before the 3:30 PM Georgia-Florida game and the 7 PM Tennessee-Kentucky game. Georgia and Tennessee both won!

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, in particular, and I may have to stop eating so much peanut butter. The analysis and conclusion will explain!

Greetings, fellow diners, and welcome to the 109th article, under the “humor” topic section! Are you hungry for another article? Well, here it is! I'd thought about creating a new topic section, called “economy” or “money tree,” but let's just stick with “humor.” Peanut butter is sticky, after all!

This article recalls one that I'd published last year. You may wish to go back, through the mists of time, to read “August 2022 - No TN Sales Tax on Food Month (published 9-2-2022; article #352).” This year, the Tennessee government granted another sales tax holiday on food. It was from August through October.

This article jells together our August through October record, on food cost and sales tax saved. It then smooths the “butter and jelly” together, in my analysis. The conclusion looks for something cheaper than peanut butter!

I hope that you enjoy this “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” article! You may need some milk, at $4.99 a gallon, to wash it down!

Our August - October Record

How did my wife and I fair, for the three months, this year? Let's see. The following is my record. I recorded by month, date, location, grocery cost, sales tax saved, and number of grocery items purchased.


Date/location                               Cost         Saved   # Items
08/02/2023: IGA, Knox                $13.65      $0.85        3
08/04/2023: IGA, Knox                $78.22      $4.89      19
08/11/2023: IGA, Knox               $112.40      $7.03      21
08/17/2023: IGA, Knox              $104.84      $6.55      25
08/24/2023: Food City, Kodak     $11.68      $0.32        2
08/25/2023: IGA, Knox              $115.18      $7.20      24
August total:                            $435.97    $26.84      94


Date/location                               Cost         Saved   # Items
09/01/2023: IGA, Knox              $117.41      $7.34      24
09/02/2023: IGA, Knox                $11.15      $0.70        4
09/04/2023: IGA, Knox                $36.97      $2.31      11
09/08/2023: IGA, Knox              $102.92      $6.43      25
09/15/2023: IGA, Knox              $124.10      $7.76      25
09/22/2023: IGA, Knox              $120.41      $7.53      26
09/29/2023: IGA, Knox              $110.64      $6.92      25
09/29/2023: IGA, Knox                $20.84      $1.30        6
September total:                      $644.44    $40.29    146


Date/location                               Cost         Saved   # Items
10/06/2023: IGA, Knox              $123.65      $7.73     27
10/13/2023: IGA, Knox                $73.61      $4.60     14
10/19/2023: IGA, Knox              $105.30      $6.58     21
10/27/2023: IGA, Knox              $115.00      $7.19     28
October total:                           $417.56    $26.10     90

For the three months, we spent $1,497.97 on groceries. We saved $93.23 in sales tax. We bought 330 food items.


The previous section “spread the peanut butter on the bread.” This section “adds the jelly,” by my analysis. Let's check the state budget then our household budget.

Tennessee Budget

So, how much sales tax revenue did Tennessee lose? It's uncertain. I decided, for fun, to tell and then ask Microsoft's “Bing” (so-called artificial intelligence) the following: “The TN sales tax on food is 4%. TN county sales taxes vary, from 1.5% to 2.75%. Factoring those, from 8/1/2023 to 10/31/2023, how much sales tax revenue did TN lose, during the 8/1/2023 to 10/31/2023 TN sales tax holiday?” Bing's answer stated, in part, “. . . we can estimate the amount of sales tax revenue that Tennessee lost during the holiday period . . . $330 million.” (I don't know who the “we” are, in Bing's answer, unless that robot has a multiple personality disorder! You may get a different answer, if you ask “Bing” the same question.)

From “The Budget, Fiscal Year 2023-2024,” on TN Department of Finance & Administration (a 571-page online PDF document), I see that the 2024 fiscal year budget is $55.6 billion. The budget is balanced, unlike the USSA budget, unfortunately.

Bing's estimated sales tax loss, during the August through October tax holiday on food, divided by the 2024 fiscal budget is a loss of only about 0.5935%. That's a chump loss of revenue.

Our Budget

As stated previously, the bottom line, for August through October, is that my wife and I spent $1,497.97 on groceries. We bought 330 grocery items. We saved $93.23 in sales tax. That's an average sales tax savings of 6.22%.

So, how did we do, on average? From “Tennessee General Assembly Passes Tennessee Works Tax Act: Legislation Among Largest Tax Cuts in Tennessee History,” on TN Department of Revenue, 4/27/2023, I read the following: “From August through October 2023, Tennesseans will not pay tax on food and food ingredients sold in grocery stores. On average, each Tennessee family will save over $100 in taxes.” (The tax act, aside from the sales tax holiday on food, includes reductions on franchise and excise tax and on business tax.) We saved $6.77 less than the base estimate. We tried! Of course, I don't fall for the sales gimmick fallacy of “the more you spend, the more you save!”

The article of 9/2/2022, cited previously, states that our two-person annual food cost, in 2001, was $2,387.60, or $198.96 a month. In 2010, it was $3,149.59, or $261.80 monthly. Last year, in August, the cost, as stated in that article, was:

Total 08/2022 human food items: 123.
Total 08/2022 human food cost: $459.87. ($3.74 / human food item.)
Total 08/2022 TN sales tax not charged/”saved:” $29.38 (6.38%).

For all of 2022, our grocery cost totaled $5,825.36. That's $485.44 each month.

Calculations, from this August through October, indicate the following. The grocery cost, for my wife and me, averaged $499.32 a month. We were not charged a monthly average of $31.07 in sales tax. On a monthly basis, we bought 110 grocery items. The mean cost, of each grocery item, was $4.54.

A reader asks, “Are y'all buying too much of that costly and overly processed junk food?” My reply is: “Thanks for the question. We buy fruit, vegetables, lean meat, juice, bread, and so forth. We buy very little, if any, overly processed or junk food. It's not healthy.”

If you can enlarge the following photograph, it shows the IGA receipt, on 10/27/2023, when I got the groceries. The receipt includes two items, $8.57 total, for Molly, our ol' puppy, and three household items, $21.26 total. (We paid $2.76 sales tax, on those items.) The cost, for 28 human food items, was $115.00. We did not pay $7.19 in sales tax.

Aside from the eight-pack of 12-ounce bottled Cokes, at $6.50, I don't see any junk. I drink about a half bottle of Coke every day. Eight bottles lasts me a while. A 12-ounce bottle of Coke costs about 81 cents? Really? I can remember when a 12-ounce bottle of Coke costed 15 cents!

Can you see, on the receipt, the cost of the Jif peanut butter? I highlighted around it, in yellow. Two pounds and eight ounces (40 ounces) of peanut butter cost $8.99! That's about 22 cents an ounce! How could an ounce of peanut butter cost almost a quarter?

If a tablespoon is half an ounce, then two tablespoons are one ounce. If I use two tablespoons of peanut butter, to make a sandwich, then I've spent almost 25 cents! I didn't realize it, before writing this article!


A reader asks, “Yes, your annual cost of groceries has been increasing, but hasn't your household income increased, to match that?” The answer is, “Yes, it has, fortunately, by God's blessings and our hard work. I've done the math, however. I know that our annual cost of groceries has been increasing faster than our income.”

Based on analysis of our financial records, from 2001 through October 2023, I know how much our household income has increased. I also know how much our grocery bill has increased. I did the calculations. From 2001 through October 2023, our grocery bill has increased 19.39% faster than our income. That's an increasingly larger slice of the budget.

Groceries are only one example of inflation. I haven't even calculated the increases in, for example, gasoline, electricity, propane, all other utilities, insurance (automobile, health, homeowners), medical care, and major purchases (e.g., deck replacement, automobile, appliances, etc.). All these expenses continue to take bigger bites out of our total income.

What could we do with the $93.23 that we didn't spend, on sales tax? Should we stock up on peanut butter? No! My wife and I need to stop eating so much peanut butter! It's too expensive!

What could we stock up on that's cheaper than peanut butter? Do you have any suggestions?