Thursday, February 22, 2024

Big Ridge State Park, 2-21-2023: A Real Hike This Time (published 2-22-2024; article #457)


I had an itch. I had to scratch it.” That's what I'd told Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, when I'd called her, at 4:32 PM, yesterday. We'd need to have baked taters, not mashed taters, with our supper. My truck and I were fixin' to head home, from Big Ridge State Park. Normally, about 4:30 PM, I start peeling taters, for my wife to mash, once she's home.

Tuesday's article -- with the embedded Appalachian Irishman - Podcast (YouTube) episode -- was about my walk down memory lane, last Sunday afternoon, at Big Ridge State Park. I'd picked up a paper copy of the the “Park Map Brochure,” which shows the various trails and the distance, of each trail. That started the itch. I wanted to explore those trails! Yesterday, I scratched that itch! I explored trails!

This article, as the 64th entry, in the “hiking” topic section, encapsulates yesterday's real hike, at Big Ridge State Park! My 2006 Frontier and I took the longer route (Highway 441 north, to Norris, then east, on Highway 61). The last five miles, on Highway 61, in Union County, are curvy. It's far less curvy than the shorter route, mentioned in Tuesday's article. Having left the house, at 12:30 PM, we arrived at the park, at 1:13 PM.

The hike in and up, including four photographs, is followed by the hike out and down, with four photographs. The total time, hiking, was three hours and eight minutes, from 1:20 to 4:28 PM. I hiked at least 7.8 total miles. The weather was mostly sunny, with a light breeze. The temperature rose, from the mid 50's Fahrenheit, to the mid 60s. I'm glad that my upper layers were only a T-shirt and a short-sleeve shirt.

The Hike In & Up, with Four Photographs

After parking my truck, I started hiking in, at 1:20 PM, on the Lake Trail. (It begins, just off a paved road, behind the visitor center, and heads north.) I hiked the first six-tenths of a mile, which led to a foot bridge that spans a lake inlet. That segment was fairly easy, with gentle ups, downs, and curves. Much of the trail offers views of Norris Lake.

Having crossed the foot bridge, I turned left (or west), onto the Dark Hollow Trail West, for a two-mile hike. (From that trail intersection, the Lake Trail continues east, about 1.2 miles, and comes out, near the Group Camp, on a paved road.) The first part of the Dark Hollow Trail West winds northwest, offering views of Norris Lake. I met one couple, about my age, as they were hiking out. We conversed briefly and pleasantly. Later, the main part of the trail turns northeast, just below several ridge lines. The trail is fairly level. I stepped across a few narrow mountain streams.

On October 4, 2008, my wife, our niece (age 20, at the time), our niece's female friend, and I overnight camped, at a backwoods campsite, on the Dark Hollow Trail West. The next two photographs show that campsite. I found it. A foot bridge crosses a creek, just before the campsite.

I took the above photograph, looking northwest, at 2:11 PM. Two minutes later, the next photograph shows the campsite, from the opposite direction.

Back in 2008, we'd pitched two tents, behind that fire pit area. I'd fixed camp stew, as I call it. We ate well, and we enjoyed a wonderful camping experience! I wouldn't mind camping there again.

Shortly after taking the two previous photographs, I met a younger man, who was hiking out. We conversed briefly. I didn't meet any other hikers, during the rest of the hike.

Along the trail, I saw where a few homesteads had stood, a century or more ago. The rock foundations, of houses, were still visible. This trail is long but relatively easy. I enjoyed the few instances, where the uphill climb increased my heart rate a little! I saw some human and canine tracks, in the few muddy areas.

The last section of the trail is steeper, leading north and up the ridge. At 2:45 PM, I took the following photograph.

The two-mile Dark Hollow Trail West was behind and below me. I turned left, or northwest, to continue onto the Big Valley Trail, which is 0.45 miles long, at this segment. The trail is steeper, as it heads up, to the ridgeline. I enjoyed the workout!

Having reached the intersection, I turned left, continuing northwest, onto the Indian Rock Trail. It's a 2.4-mile loop trail. I hiked up the 1.3-mile west section, which turns northeast, to reach the ridge top. At 3:03 PM, I took the following photograph, while on that ridge top.

I enjoyed the view, of Norris Lake, in the background. Due to the time of day, I decided to hike down and out.

The Hike Out & Down, with Four Photographs

I hiked back down (southwest and south), on the same 1.3-mile section, of the Indian Rock Trail, and then the 0.45 segment, of the Big Valley Trail. I stayed on the Big Valley Trail and passed where it intersects, with the Dark Hollow Trail West (up which I'd hiked).

I took the following photograph, at 3:45 PM. I'd already hiked down the first, 0.75-mile segment, of the Big Valley Trail.

At that juncture, the trail intersects, with the 1.25-mile Ghost House Loop Trail. I didn't see or hear any ghosts, in that area! I only saw and stepped around a few muddy spots, on the trail. The smell of the nearby pine trees was pleasant.

Having hiked down the final 0.70 miles, of the Big Valley Trail, I took the following photograph, at 4:04 PM.

A paved park road, which isn't visible, is behind me. I'd returned to modern civilization. During my hike, I'd speculated how folks, who'd lived in the area, a century or so ago, must have lived. I wondered why they'd chosen such remote locations. Old cemeteries mark the passing, of some of those people.

After a brief visit, to an outdoor urinal (behind where a large pine tree had fallen), I took the next photograph, as proof of civilization, at 4:09 PM. The view looks southwest.

The mailbox is for the park ranger's house, which is up that paved driveway. The Norton Gristmill is visible, at the distance, in the left of the image.

Wanting a closer shot of that mill, I trekked the distance. Four minutes, after the previous image, I took the following close up photograph, of the mill.

This is a replica of the Norton Gristmill. As the 2/20/2024 article states, “The original mill was built in 1825 and operated until 1930, three years before TVA started construction, on the nearby Norris Dam.” Before taking the photograph, I asked a man, who had been standing at the entrance, if anyone was inside, selling corn meal. He laughed and said no.

I decided to hike, back to my truck, on the Old Mill Trail, which starts beside the mill. It's a 0.25-mile trail that winds below the paved road. Leaving that trail, I still had to walk past the cabins and the beach area, to reach my truck.


Just after my truck and I had crossed the Anderson County line, back into Knox County, the odometer reached 190,000 miles exactly! Arriving back home, at 5:27 PM, supper was almost ready. The smell of baked taters welcomed me, into the kitchen.

Early into the hike, I felt my “bionic” (surgically repaired) right foot, as it “talked to me.” I think that the left side of that foot, around the ankle, must be undergoing further recovery. Early this morning, once out of bed, standing, with that foot on the floor, was a “wonderful” experience. As the day continued, the repaired right foot step began to return to it's “normal.”

I'm thankful, to the Good Lord, that I am still able to hike. Hiking at least 7.8 miles, on five trails, was a real hike, at Big Ridge State Park!

Today, the clouds and strong wind should bring rain, sometime this evening. Yesterday, I'd noticed the light clouds forming and felt the light to moderate wind. I'd figured that rain was coming, in a day or two.

My feet still need to discover a few other trails, or sections of trails. Who wants to hike Big Ridge State Park, with me, the next time? I'm awaiting at least one reply.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Big Ridge State Park, 2-18-2024: a Walk Down Memory Lane (published 2-20-2024; article #456)


Greetings, to all national and international readers! To national readers, did you enjoy Presidents' Day, yesterday? George Washington, the first President of the United States, was born, on February 22, 1732. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President, was born, on February 12, 1809. The celebration of their birthdays, close together, in February, was combined into Presidents' Day, in 1971, by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established more three-day weekends, for American workers.

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman didn't have to work, in her teaching profession, but she did work, by helping me, with chores, in the house and garage. She also helped detail our 2012 Sentra, after I'd returned, from a nearby car wash. At 4:30 PM, having endured a 30 minute wait, in the lobby, she had a six-month dental cleaning. The dentist's office doesn't need to overbook patients.

On Presidents' Day, ironically, a door-to-door campaigner visited. She was taking a political survey and advocating for Nikki Haley. She asked which candidate will get my vote, in the upcoming Presidential election. I assured her that the current President will not garner my vote, certainly. The former President, who has too much baggage, will not. Nikki Haley could win my vote, but polls don't seem to indicate that she has a chance, in the primary election, against the former President. I am frustrated, not undecided. I'll vote for myself, if I have to do so. As the article, of 1/26/2024, concluded, “Where is the truly Christian constitutional conservative, who can get my vote, in the next presidential election? Could someone please stand up!”

Don't you wish that a candidate, a true states person, in the tradition of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, would run for office? With apology for these personal and political sidetracks, let's walk down memory lane!


On Sunday afternoon, my 2006 Frontier and I went to Big Ridge State Park, in Union County, Tennessee. I didn't take time, for a long hike, but I enjoyed a walk down memory lane, remembering my childhood, in Appalachia. (This article is the 28th entry, under the topic section “Appalachia - Northeast Tennessee,” and the 63rd, under the “hiking” topic section.)

Earlier this month, a young man, Jonah, with whom I've become acquainted recently, had told me that his brother and he planned to participate in an eleven-mile trail race, at the park. The race, hosted by the Knoxville Track Club, started, at 2 PM. I'd told Jonah that I planned to meet his brother and him, to talk a while and to encourage them, before the race started. I'd arrived about 20 minutes early. I looked for Jonah. He wasn't there. I, however, did enjoy watching several runners gather, at the starting line. The signal was given, and off they ran! Jonah and his brother must have changed their plans.

Update, 2/23/2024, Friday: Earlier today, I saw Jonah. His brother and he were there! He was looking for me. They were in the group of runners, who started on a grassy area, near the starting line. Previously, I had walked to that area, but the two men weren't there yet. Jonah told me that his brother and he finished the race. We both regretted that we'd missed each other.

Big Ridge State Park

Big Ridge State Park is a nice park, with magnificent scenery and several good trails. From the house, the shortest route (on Highway 33 north, to a left turn, onto Highway 61) is about 35 minutes. Nearing the park, on Highway 61, the road curves and winds up and down several hills. That's why I don't often hike, at Big Ridge State Park. The road is so curvy, at a couple of turns, that the rear end of my truck met the front end, as we turned! Hiking Big Ridge State Park is encouraged, just be aware of the curvy road that takes you there, if you drive in, from the east! From the house, a longer route, driving Highway 441 north, to Norris, then turning east, onto Highway 61, is less curvy, but it's about an extra 15-minute drive. You reach the park, driving from the west, and avoid the hairpin curves.

Opening and enlarging the “Park Map Brochure,” in a web browser, identifies the Norris Lake area, camping and boating areas, fishing, swimming, the hiking trails, and several other features. About fifteen miles, in eleven trails, which range from easy to rugged, provide good hiking options. Old cemeteries and remnants of old home sites are along some trails. Three, of the 50, campsites are for backwoods camping (with no water or electric hook ups).

A replica of the Norton Gristmill, once used for milling corn, is in the park. The original mill was built in 1825 and operated until 1930, three years before TVA started construction, on the nearby Norris Dam. A photograph of the gristmill, at a distance, is included, in the next section.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I've been keeping a hiking log, since 4/23/2000. The hike, on Sunday afternoon, was my 244th, in total. It was only my fifth, at Big Ridge State Park. The four previous hikes were on 11/12/2005 (alone), 7/26/2008 (when my wife and our niece, age 20, at the time, joined me), 10/4/2008 (when my wife, our niece, our niece's female friend, and I overnight camped), and 1/5/2012.

I didn't realize, at the time, that I'd not hiked, at Big Ridge State Park, in just over twelve years! During the hike, in January, 2012, I'd found the cabin, which I'd recalled, from my childhood years. I photographed it. I also saw and photographed the deer that were grazing, nearby.

I didn't see any deer, on this hike, but I did find, again, the cabin, in which I'd stayed, back in the late 1960s. I'd taken the photograph, below, at 2:55 PM. The view looks southwest.

The cafetorium, in the distance, is being remodeled. Several cabins are behind me, and several are to the right (north) of and behind the cafetorium. During my grade school years -- in the late 1960s, or possibly in the early 1970s, before 1974 -- a group of us young'uns, boys and girls, from the West View Baptist Church, in Rogersville, Tennessee, attended a church camp, at this location.

I recalled fond memories, of that experience. Several godly adult counselors and the director oversaw our activities, which included meals, devotionals, singing, arts and crafts, skits, sports, and swimming. In an evening devotional, around a camp fire, we sang “Pass It On.” I'd not heard or sung the song before. A choral version is “Pass it On (It Only Takes a Spark), on Frederick Lau (YouTube), 11/12/2018. We sang a capella. The young boy that I was and the older man that I am now were and are inspired, by the deep meaning of the lyrics.

A minute later, I turned around and took the photograph, below. The view looks northeast.

The closest cabin, centered in the image, is the one, in which eight of us boys stayed, back in our grade school days. Several other cabins and a bathhouse are nearby. The cabins are being renovated. I smelled fresh paint. The doors and window screens were not replaced yet.

Shall we walk inside that cabin? Let's do! Walk along with me, as Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts (YouTube) presents the third episode, under the “Appalachian Heritage” section, titled “Big Ridge State Park, 2-18-2024: a Walk Down Memory Lane (published 2-19-2024; episode 26).” Near the end, of the three-minute and thirty second video, I point out the bunk, where I'd slept. Competition for the cleanest cabin motivated us boys, to pull weeds and sweep grass and dirt, off the entrance steps! I remember it well.

After a fairly brief trek, I took the following two photographs, at 3:17 PM. The first image, facing northwest, shows a walking path sign, with trail directions and distances, the parking area, and my 2006 Frontier.

This was my new, ol' truck's first venture, into the park. He enjoyed the day, despite the hairpin curves.

The next photograph, looking southeast, shows, at a distance, the replica of the Norton Gristmill (mentioned in the previous section). After taking the photograph, I crossed the field, to the mill and walked inside.

I wondered what it was like, when the mill was still in operation, a hundred years ago. I imagined farmers, in their bib overalls, swapping tales, knives, and family stories. Several probably spit tobacco.


My truck and I may decide to take the longer route, to return to Big Ridge State Park! There are still trails to explore! I wonder if Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, our niece, any other family, or any friends will want to join us. An overnight backwoods camping experience would even be nice.

The lyrics, in verse two, of the song “Pass It On,” are:

What a wondrous time is spring,
When all the trees are budding.
The birds begin to sing;
The flowers start their blooming.
That's how it is with God's love,
Once you've experienced it.
You want to sing; it's fresh like spring;
You want to pass it on.

Signs of early spring are noticeable. The freshness of spring is coming. I hope, dear reader, that you know the freshness of God's love! I do. If you don't, then I want to pass it on! Please use the “Contact Form,” to email me, if you would like me to pass it on, to you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Valentine's Day, Truck Visits Car: My Wife was Surprised Too! (published 2-14-2024, article #455)

“Truck Visits Car,” photograph by M. Fearghail, on 2/14/2024, at 12:21 PM


Happy Valentine's Day greetings, dear reader! Today's warm and sunny weather was excellent, for a day trip! My 2006 Frontier wanted to visit Mrs. Appalachian Irishman's 2012 Sentra. I went along, for the ride.

Welcome to the 120th article, under the “family” topic section. Last Saturday's article concluded, by stating:

By the way, I heard recently that, if you cook a raw, unpeeled potato, with soup beans, the potato draws out what causes gas, from eating soup beans. You throw away the potato, afterward, and by no means eat it. I may have to try that, unless my “long-suffering” wife decides to do so. I know how to cook soup beans.

In the freezer, for well over a year, have been an unopened bag and a half empty bag of frozen breaded okra (or okry, as we say, around here). In the pantry, for about the same duration, has been an unopened bag of soup beans (which some folks call pinto beans). I'd been deviling my “long-suffering” wife, about not having fried okry or soup beans, in over a year.

Last Sunday, for supper, my wife made soup beans, mashed taters, and fried okry! Adding a few slices of red onions and a glass of buttermilk, that's been my favorite meal, since childhood. I was raised, on soup beans and mashed taters. By the way, a raw, unpeeled potato, cooked with the soup beans, does draw out what causes gas!

I had to return the expression of love. My truck also wanted to visit our car.

Truck Visits Car

My truck hadn't been anywhere, since last Thursday -- when he took me, to haul garbage, give him a good hand washing, shop at the Tractor Supply, and fill his tank with gas. Today, he insisted on getting out of the “barn” (garage)!

My truck really wanted to go all the way to Sevierville, Tennessee, to see our car. He'd last visited her, in Sevierville, on 8/24/2023 (as the 8/25/2023 article recounts). More recently, he'd taken my wife and me, to that area, last Christmas Eve (as mentioned, in the 1/5/2024 article), when we had an enjoyable visit, with family, who were vacationing in a cabin.

My truck and I left, about 10:40 AM, and returned, about 1:30 PM. As the caption, above, states, I'd taken the photograph, at 12:21 PM. My ol' truck had a good visit, with our car. Both vehicles appear to be smiling, in the image. Don't you think so?

My Wife was Surprised Too!

I'd already made a stealth call, to the secretary, at the school, where my wife teaches. My truck and I arrived, at the school building, just before noon.

Beforehand, I'd tried to find the florist shop -- where I've ordered delivery flowers, to my wife, at her job, over the years, for Valentine's Day and our anniversary -- but I never found it. The shop wasn't answering calls. They must have been busy, preparing and delivering several floral arrangements!

A local store offered better and tastier options! As noon was approaching, I bought my dear wife two boxes of SweeTARTS and two Hershey's chocolate bars. She can't eat roses, but she does enjoy those two types of sweets!

Having arrived, at the school building, I made another stealth call, to the secretary, who planned to tell my wife that a visitor was awaiting her, outside the front door. The new principal, however, met me and invited me, into his office. Yes, I went to the principal's office!

He fetched my wife and brought her to me! I wish that I'd had a camera with me. Her surprised look is etched in my memory!


This article wishes a happy Valentine's Day, to every reader. Personally, it's a happy Valentine's Day entry, for my dear wife. Happy Valentine's Day, dear! Thanks for finally fixing soup beans and fried okry, for supper, last Sunday! This Valentine's Day is better than last year!

On Valentine's Day, last year, my “long-suffering” wife drove me, in our car, for my “roto-rooter” appointment. The article, of 2/15/2023, is about my Valentine's Day “Roto-Rooter.” The 8/15/2023 article placed that “roto-rooter,” in my rear view mirror! Please pardon the pun!

Yesterday, the folks, who “roto-rootered” me, last year, left voice mail, in an attempt to schedule an appointment. I did not and will not call them back. My exhaust system works quite well. No sale this year!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Memories: House Mountain Hike #78, on 2-6-2011, & Target Practice, on 2-7-2015 (published 2-10-2024; article #454)


Greetings, dear reader. Thanks for stopping by. I trust that you are well. Around these parts, we are into our second day of rain. Temperatures have been seasonably mild or warm, since January 23rd, when our eight days of winter ended. (The 1/23/2024 article describes those eight days.)

This article remembers a hike, on House Mountain, and target practice, at the homeplace. It's included, under three topic sections: “family” (119th entry), “heritage” (100th entry), and “hiking” (62nd entry).

Visiting the homeplace, on Wednesday, 2/7/2024, inspired me to write. I didn't take any photographs, but I found all to be in sufficient order. The sunny and seasonably warm weather made an enjoyable day trip. I got to wondering what I'd done, without publishing any articles, about it, in Februaries gone by. I recalled at least two memorable experiences, about which I'd not written, before now. Here they are!

House Mountain Hike #78, on 2/6/2011

Thirteen years ago, on 2/6/2011, I was age 50, turning 51, in July. Our niece, the daughter of Mrs. Appalachian Irishman's younger sister, was age 23. On House Mountain, it was her eighth hike with me. It was my 78th hike. I reckon that, before or after the hike, I'd called my lifelong friend, Steve, to wish him a happy 51st birthday.

I wish that I'd published an article, about the hike. (The only article that I published, in February 2011, was "Norris Dam Park 2/26/2011 (published 2-27-2011)". It is about one of my two solo hikes, at the park, that month.) My hiking log indicates that three of us hiked together, on 2/6/2011. We hiked up the west trail, in 28 minutes, to reach the west bluff. We hiked across the ridge, heading east, to the middle bluffs and then to the east bluff. We must have hiked down and out, on the east trail. The weather was sunny. The temperature was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The following photograph, the only one that was taken, shows our niece and me, standing at the lower middle bluff. The view looks north. The sun was setting, to the west, of course.

That's a nice view! Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I are quite proud of our niece, who is now 36 years young and doing very well. She and I still enjoy exchanging witticisms, to the chagrin of other family members.

You may be thinking, “Who was the third person? He or she must have taken the photograph!” The third person was Dr. Antonov! He and I had met, the month before, on 1/2/2011, while we were both hiking, on House Mountain. Dr. Antonov and I had hiked House Mountain together, on the Sunday afternoon, of 1/30/2011. So, this hike was his second with me (or me with him). Dr. Antonov's home country is Bulgaria. He's a few years older than me. At the time, he was living and working, in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area.

Dr. Antonov, my Bulgarian friend, has doctorate degrees, in both philosophy and nuclear physics. He is brilliantly eccentric. On House Mountain, he and I either hiked together or met each other, while hiking separately, on eleven total occasions.

Dr. Antonov and I last met, while hiking House Mountain, on the Sunday afternoon, of 12/3/2017. That was my 141st hike, on House Mountain, and my fifth hike there, since my near death experience, on 3/29/2016. (The article “I’m Still Alive - Why? (published 8/26/2016)” bemoans that day, which still lives in infamy.)

Dr. Antonov and I had met on the ridge trail. I was heading west, as he was hiking east. I remember the location well. Dr. Antonov hadn't known about the accident that almost killed me. I encapsulated the news. We talked. I agreed, to his request, to examine me. The ridge top examination, by this outstanding doctor of philosophy and nuclear physics, concluded that it would take about ten years, of ongoing recovery, before I wouldn't notice much difference. That examination formed the paradigm, for my ongoing recovery. Various medical doctors had already predicted certain limitations that I would have. By God's grace and my determination, I have overcome their preconceived limitations! This coming March the 29th will mark year eight, of my ongoing recovery. The several muscle groups, around my surgically repaired left shoulder, right knee, and right foot, still need fine tuning. I feel and move about, almost as well as I did, before the accident. I hope that, in another couple of years, I won't be able to notice much difference, especially in my right foot step. I want both feet to feel the same, while walking or hiking!

Sadly, I've lost contact with Dr. Antonov. He may have returned to Bulgaria. I will always be grateful, for his ridgeline examination! More precise that any medical doctor, his prognosis framed the patience that I still need, as I recover. I'll know, in a couple more years, how well that I will have recovered.

Target Practice, at the Homeplace, on 2/7/2015

As the “website archive” shows, I didn't publish any articles, in 2015. I could and should have. Either life, such as it was, was quite hectic, or I'd not been interesting in writing.

Stepping back nine years ago, I was age 54, turning 55 (the double nickel) in July. The date was Saturday, 2/7/2015. My 1995 Nissan pickup and I traveled to the homeplace. My youngest brother and I cleared some brush, and we cleared out, around a cherry tree, which was still standing, at the time. My brother had even climbed up that tree!

After we had cleared the brush, I fired 50 practice rounds, target shooting, with my Ruger .380 handgun. (The information is in my target shooting log, which I'd started, on 12/31/2010.) I don't think that I had my FNP 40-caliber pistol with me. The 4/13/2019 article explains how that Ruger was replaced. The 1/1/2011 article describes the New Year's Eve shooting, which started my target shooting log.

I'd taken the following photograph, at 5:51 PM, as the sun was setting. The location is the southeast corner of the property. The view looks east.

I have a good truck now, the 2006 Frontier. I miss that 1995 Nissan. He died, while saving my life, on 3/29/2016, when the uninsured 18-year-old failed to yield, to my right of way. I'd not yet taken down the target, which is visible, to the right. A fish pond, which is still stocked, is behind my truck, in the image.

My youngest brother left, before I target practiced. Later, I joined his family and him, for supper, at the Golden Dairy. It was a good day of family and heritage.


The Wednesday day trip, to the homeplace, inspired the recollection of a couple of memories, from Februaries gone by. I wish that I'd published timely articles, about both, back then. I've done so now.

As I close, my next to youngest brother, nine years younger than me, was born in February. Earlier today, he and I enjoyed a good, long phone conversation. He's doing as well as he can. My “adoptive brother-in-law,” Mike, passed, in February, seventeen years ago. The short story, of 8/5/2023, and the article, of 10/26/2023, include loving words about and conversation with Mike.

As daylight fades into dust, I'll close. It's almost suppertime. By the way, I heard recently that, if you cook a raw, unpeeled potato, with soup beans, the potato draws out what causes gas, from eating soup beans. You throw away the potato, afterward, and by no means eat it. I may have to try that, unless my “long-suffering” wife decides to do so. I know how to cook soup beans.