I fell off the NaBloPoMo wagon in a big way, even failing to participate in my usual linkups.  So I missed Sunday Snippets last week, and will make up for it by listing two weeks’ worth of posts this week.

Sunday Snippets is a gathering of Catholic bloggers sharing their posts with each other and with their readers.  Please check my posts for anything you may have missed, and visit RAnn’s blog for the rest of the links!

First up is another post in my South Knoxville Urban Wilderness Hiking series.

Next I wrote about starting to write letters again!

Then I did a post about a very disturbing trend in assisted reproductive technology.

I wrote about a great new online shopping find.

Then I wrote about the May/Murray Cemetery.

Last night I wrote about a strenuous hike in Mead’s Quarry.

This afternoon I posted another short cemetery story.

And finally, I just added a picture to the My Sunday Photo linkup.

Thanks for reading!

My Sunday Photo: Narnia


My big kids all attended Knoxville Catholic High School, and when I showed Emily this photo, which I took a couple of weeks ago while Lorelei and I were walking on the trails near the school after morning Mass at All Saints, she recognized “Narnia” immediately.  You’d have to ask the kids at KCHS why they call the path and clearing in the woods by that name; all I know is that they are really not supposed to go there.  It does look a little magical though, doesn’t it?  And it’s a good picture to post today, the day after the anniversary of C.S. Lewis’s death.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis


Stanton 1


So you chose to walk around Mead’s Quarry and took the Tharp Trace Trail starting at the harder end.  Don’t feel bad because you are going to come upon a nice place to slow down and catch your breath not far from the end of the trail.  Stanton Cemetery is now maintained by Ijams, so not only is it in good shape, the answers to many would-be mysteries, like the one below, are explained on the information sign above.

Stanton 13

Stanton 12

You can’t tell by looking at my pictures, but these two stones, while side by side as you would expect for a husband and wife, are facing the opposite directions.  Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey, therefore, are not really lying next to each other.  They sleep separately in death as they did in life, because they were divorced!

The day I visited this cemetery the leaves were just perfect for pictures.

Stanton 17


I imagine these folks are the ones whose name the cemetery bears:

Stanton 5

Stanton 6

There were many sweet and touching baby headstones in here.  This hand-lettered one tugged at my heartstrings:

Stanton 19


This little girl’s old-fashioned names are back in style today:

Stanton 18

More babies:

Stanton 20

Stanton 7

Stanton 8

Stanton 14


From graves marked only with rocks to others with unusual decorations and creative inscriptions, there is a lot of variety here.  Notice particularly the name and the date on the stone below–apparently the Simpsons had strong feelings about the coming Civil War.

Stanton 11

Stanton 9

Stanton 3


Something about this place–perhaps the secluded location–gives it an especially peaceful feeling.  Luckily, you don’t have to walk to hard part of Tharp Trace to get to it.  Mead’s Quarry is a hopping place these days, but you can reach this oasis of calm with only a few minutes’ walk.

Meads 24

Stanton 2

Stanton 15

Stanton 24

Stanton 23

Stanton 22

Stanton 21



Meads 24

I have walked the trails at Mead’s Quarry once before and I probably won’t again, unless I REALLY feel the need to take someone there.  Y’all, that Tharp Trace Trail is JUST THAT HARD.

Meads 25

That’s one of the reasons Emily and I waited until October to tackle this set of trails.  We wanted no part of climbing and climbing and CLIMBING when it was hot.  There are other good reasons for doing this hike in the fall or winter.  Mead’s Quarry has become an extremely popular destination and it was crowded all summer.  On the chilly and cloudy day we were there, we had it all to ourselves.  And if you are going to do all that climbing, you don’t want a lot of leaves obscuring your view, something that is not so much a problem this time of year.

Meads 22

Meads 21

Meads 20

Meads 19

Meads 18

Meads 17


We started on the lower trail which takes you nearer to the water.  There’s even a stairway to walk down to get really close.  The first part of the trail is full of reminders that the activity here used to be of a very different kind, back when Meads was supplying stone for buildings in our Nation’s Capital.

Meads 1

Mead 2


The first time I ever saw a quarry lake (at Fort Dickerson), I was absolutely amazed.  They don/t get much less amazing no matter how often I see them.

Meads 3

Meads 4

Meads 5

Meads 7


Now I want you to look closely at the following picture.  At that sheer ridiculously high wall.  And I don’t know whether you can see that there is actually a semblance of a path, presumably for people who do not value their lives.

Meads 8

We did NOT take that path.  We took this one, which was safer but still plenty challenging:

Meads 9

Well, we knew when we were standing at the bottom of that wall that we were going to be climbing because we could tell from our South Knox Trail App that the trail ran right along the top of it.  So when we got to that point we thought we were finished climbing.

Meads 10

Meads 12

Meads 11


Y’all, we were WRONG.  We walked and walked and walked and WALKED.  (I should be saying climbed.)  This was the most strenuous hike of them all, even though it’s only one mile long.  Every time we thought we must be near the top, we were SO WRONG.

Meads 15

Meads 14

Meads 13

Meads 16


I already gave away the view pictures at the beginning of this post, so you know the climb was worth it.  And near the end there was a special delight–if hiking in the Urban Wilderness makes me happy–and surely by now you know it does–then what could make me happier?  How about an actual GRAVEYARD on an Urban Wilderness Trail?  Oh, yes, there is!  Stanton Cemetery, which will be the subject of my next post, is RIGHT THERE.  Stay tuned!

For more South Knoxville Walking Adventures, see below:

Walking in South Knoxville I

Walking in South Knoxville II

Walking in South Knoxville III

Walking in South Knoxville IV

Walking in South Knoxville V

Walking in South Knoxville VI

Walking in South Knoxville VII

Walking in South Knoxville VIII

Walking in South Knoxville IX





One Cemetery, Two Names

I love Ball Camp Pike.  Maybe someday I will write a post in its honor.  It’s a beautiful road, with a rich history and something interesting to see around every bend.  Like this cemetery.

May 29

May 1

You can call it Murray Cemetery (its official name, according to KGIS) or May Cemetery (which makes more sense, as its on property that once belonged to the May family).  Either way, it’s a charming little graveyard, especially in the fall.

May 27

May 3

My first encounter with this cemetery was exactly 30 years ago.  I wasn’t there to look at graves, though–I’d come to the DMV to take my driving test.  At that time, the little building next to the graveyard was a DMV location.  These days it’s a church, Knox County having sold it to a Methodist congregation in 1990, although it’s changed hands twice more since then.  The county acquired the site in 1930 from the Galbraith family, and judging from appearances, it started its life as a school. [UPDATE:  Lillian A. Pedigo School seems to have been its name at some point.]

May 30

Thirty years ago, the cemetery was so overgrown as to be barely visible.  It’s been nicely cleaned up since then.

May 20

May 4

The oldest stone here is dated 1820, but upon closer inspection you can see it was erected in 1856.  The next burial is 1857, so perhaps that’s closer to the time burials began to happen here.  There are many in the 1860s and later, and although the last one took place in 1942, the most active period ended in the 1920s.

May 18

Baker, May, and Murray are the most well-represented names here.  Y’all, I love taking pictures in the fall so much.  Everything is so pretty that I couldn’t crop out all the colors and make these pictures as big as I usually do!  So I have added a couple of detail shots so you can read inscriptions.

May 25 May 19

May 15

May 16

May 12

May 13

May 9

May 8

May 7

May 6

May 5

Here are a couple more interesting stones.  Note that in the first picture the footstone is also a stump to match the headstone.  I’ve never seen that before.

May 23

May 22

I haven’t forgotten about the babies, although there were not as many here.

May 24

May 11

Besides my DMV adventure, I drove by this cemetery almost every day for the first 18 years of my life.  It’s just down the street from Cumberland Estates, where I grew up.  I’m so glad I finally stopped.

May 17

May 10

May 2

May 28

So today one of my Facebook friends posted a link to an online store called Schoola.  The link promised $15 in free gently-used kids’ clothes.

I’ve been shopping consignment since before it was mainstream, so buying things used is natural to me.  And it has suddenly gotten VERY cold here, and Lorelei has almost nothing to wear for winter.  So I thought I would take a look.

Schoola has all the quality name brands like Old Navy and Hanna Andersson at about a 70% discount!  There is full disclosure about the condition of the items, and you can zoom in to get a really good look at them.  I started by buying several skirts of the type Lorelei favors, each for about $3!

Because I shopped through my friend’s link, I got $15 to spend on my next order.  So I dove right back in, and I discovered another cool thing.  See, I haven’t told you yet that Schoola’s consigners designate a school to receive 40% of the proceeds from each sale.  So you are doing something good by shopping here.  But I discovered that by creating my own custom shop–which is fun and useful anyway, I could get extra donations for any school I wanted!  This time I bought almost exactly $15 worth of leggings.  I only had to pay shipping and handling.

I did have one little problem.  After my first visit I was given a 25% discount code.  AND IT DIDN’T WORK.  I’ve fired off an indignant email and am hoping that when they fix it I’ll get another coupon or something.  Who knows?  Then I can go back for long sleeved shirts!

Anyway, if you try Schoola at that link, I’ll get $15, and you will get $15 toward your second purchase.  You will also get your own link to share with YOUR friends.  Give it a try and tell me what you think!

I haven’t tackled a topic like this in a while.  But, y’all, I can’t write about pretty graveyards and fall hikes all the time.

Today I read this story  about an Australian woman who traveled to the United States to undergo in vitro fertilization and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to achieve her desired goal:  a baby girl.  “The process involves harvesting a woman’s eggs, injecting each one individually with sperm, then growing the embryo from a single cell to around 130 cells, at which point it’s possible to tell whether the chromosomes are XX or XY. Only embryos of the desired sex are transferred to the uterus.”

Here’s just one example of a facility in our country that provides this service.  From their website: “While the desire to choose whether a baby would be a boy or a girl has been present throughout human existence, it is only recently that the technology to do so has become clinically possible and available. With improvements in gender selection technology, demand for gender selection has also been growing steadily.” There’s that slippery slope that I’m always being told is a logical fallacy! It goes on to say, “Sometimes gender selection can be “non-medical” or “elective.” In such cases, a child of a specific gender is desired without obvious medical indications. The most frequent indication for such gender selection is “family balancing,” when one gender is already represented in the family unit and the other gender is desired.”


Y’all, please understand, after three boys in a row I was very much hoping #5 would be a girl.  I also was hoping #4 would be a girl!  Instead we got William, and unlike the lady from Down Under, I did not “[sob] with disappointment to discover I was having a second son … and then a third.”  Anyway, I understand the DESIRE for a daughter.  But most of us just suck it up and appreciate the children we have.  Maybe we accept that God knows what he is doing and set about parenting the kids we were lucky enough to get.  Maybe we realize we should be grateful for conceiving in the first place and for producing a healthy baby of any gender.  Remember when our mothers were having kids, and there was no way to know in advance what they were having, what they said when people asked if they wanted a boy or a girl? “I don’t care what it is as long as it’s healthy.”  I haven’t heard that in a long time; have you?

I know that, to a childless woman struggling with infertility, I might seem ungrateful because I already have three healthy sons. But unless you’ve experienced “gender disappointment”, you can’t understand how crippling it can be. My desire for a daughter caused me to spiral into depression and left me virtually housebound. Every time I went out, toddlers in pink seemed to taunt me.”  If “gender disappointment” was so “crippling” to her, what she needed was not a daughter, it was therapy and lots of it.  She doesn’t just SEEM ungrateful, she IS ungrateful.  One can only imagine what her sons will think of all this when they come across this article online in the future–if they don’t already sense her feelings toward them now.

And what about that little girl, who has a lot of expectations heaped upon her already?  My Facebook post on this topic has generated some indignant comments.  One person said, “I hope the little girl likes karate instead of ballet!”  Well, you know, since ALL KIDS tend to do the unexpected, and since they are, you know, INDIVIDUALS, that’s just as likely as not.  There’s no one kind of “girl” and no one kind of “boy,” which is why I always find these stories about “gender balance” so ridiculous, and why I always think it’s funny when people think one boy and one girl is the ideal complete family.  My three boys are NOTHING alike.  My girls are not much alike either, and their gender is only one part of what makes them unique and special.

There is so much about this story that is disgusting.  The fact that she paid $50,000 for this procedure.  That could have been used to send one of her boys to college.  Or to fund the adoption of a daughter. The fact that this is a for-profit venture in the first place. From an article in Slate:

“Just over a decade ago, some doctors saw the potential profits that could be made. . . They coined the phrase “family balancing” to make sex selection more palatable. They marketed their clinics by giving away free promotional DVDs and setting up slick websites.  These fertility doctors have turned a procedure originally designed to prevent genetic diseases into a luxury purchase akin to plastic surgery. Gender selection now rakes in revenues of at least $100 million every year. The average cost of a gender selection procedure at high-profile clinics is about $18,000, and an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 procedures are performed every year. Fertility doctors foresee an explosion in sex-selection procedures on the horizon, as couples become accustomed to the idea that they can pay to beget children of the gender they prefer.”

Then there is the immorality of the procedure itself.  What happened to all those little boy embryos, after all?  They were discarded.  Her own children, and she threw them away BECAUSE THEY WERE BOYS.  And where is all this headed?  Do you really believe that selecting for other desired qualities won’t be a thing in the future?  From the Slate article: “In 2009, [Dr.]Steinberg came under a worldwide media firestorm when he announced on his website that couples could also choose their baby’s eye and hair color, in addition to gender. He revoked the offer after receiving a letter from the Vatican.” Thank God for the Vatican, is all I can say.

Says the happy mother/satisfied client:  “It’s not about playing God, it’s about giving women reproductive freedom.”  Um, no.  It IS about playing God. And it’s wrong, wrong, wrong.



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