Sunday Snippets

mary conceived without sin

Thanks for joining me for Sunday Snippets, a weekly roundup of posts by Catholic authors from around the web, hosted by RAnn.  If any of you would care to join in, please visit the link for instructions.

Partly because of snow days and partly because I’ve been away for the weekend, I’ve been able to write every other day this week.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

I started off the week with my latest graveyard post, this one about a small family burial ground in the Smoky Mountains.

Next, I wrote a little tribute to Leonard Nimoy on the event of his death.

Finally, I wrote about lessons I learned from watching The Godfather.

I hope you like what you read and want to come back for more.  Please check out the other blogs at the link above.


John and I are spending the weekend in Dallas with my sister and brother-in-law.  They have an in-home theatre, and last night we ate Italian food and watched The Godfather.


I have only watched it start-to-finish once, I believe, and that was twenty years ago. Now that I knew what was going to happen, I was able to appreciate the nuances of the film, particularly the ground-breaking portrayal of gangsters as complex characters who love their families and look upon what they do as “just business.”

In that spirit I offer you five life lessons from The Godfather.

1.  “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

Vito Corleone backs this statement up.  He works part of the time from his home office so that he can be with his family as much as possible. Children and grandchildren overrun the family compound, sometimes even darting into his workspace.  When he comes home from the hospital, family surrounds him as he lifts a hand in blessing.  He dies playing in the backyard with his grandson.

2.  “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family.”

The family bond is sacred.  Internal disagreement is one thing,  Don Corleone encourages the input and listens to the counsel of his sons before making his decisions. But once that decision is made, a united front should be presented to outsiders at all times.

3.   “We don’t discuss business at the table.”

There’s work time, and there’s family time.  When you are with your family, you should be with them.

4.  “Leave the gun.  Take the cannoli.”

Priorities are important, and so are the promises we make to the people we love.  Don’t let work responsibilities stand in the way of family obligations.

5.  “I’ll take care of you now. I’m with you now. I’m with you.”

We owe something to the people who raised us.  Someday we may be called upon to care for them as they cared for us.

What lessons have you learned from the movies?

He Was Spock

“Are you sitting down, Dad?”

We are out of town and it was our oldest son.  Those weren’t words we wanted to hear.  But Jake knows us well enough to realize that the news of Leonard Nimoy’s death would hit hard.

Ambassador Spock

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know about Spock and Kirk and the Starship Enterprise.  Watching Trek reruns with my daddy is one of my earliest memories.  I remember trying to hide my tears when we watched Spock’s death scene in The Wrath of Khan–it was the very first time television made me cry.

I’ve cried many times today thinking about Leonard Nimoy and his impact on me and so many others who love the Star Trek Universe.  Nimoy once said: “You know, for a long time I have been of the opinion that artists don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. You don’t necessarily know what kind of universal concept you’re tapping into.”  Gene Roddenberry may have created Star Trek but it quickly took on a life of its own and for most of us the actors became inseparable from their characters.   That was something Nimoy–who famously penned a memoir entitled “I Am Not Spock”–didn’t always appreciate!

The Shollys aren’t just casual fans.  This is the first year since I have known John that he did not ask for a Star Trek calendar for Christmas (just because he has about every picture there is).  Before our house burned down we had an enviable collection of Star Trek memorabilia–decorative plates, action figures, a replica of the Enterprise, a tricorder–and over a hundred books (we still have these, although they are soot-stained).  John has met most of the actors from the original series at conventions, and we are currently watching The Next Generation episodes from beginning to end each night with the kids (and plan to rewatch the original series next–it will be a poignant exercise now).

This, by the way, is my favorite Spock moment ever:

Leonard Nimoy was gracious enough to reprise the role of Spock in The Next Generation and in the most recent movies.  Eventually he was able to say: ” Spock is definitely one of my best friends. When I put on those ears, it’s not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special.”  And it was special for all of us.  Ambassador Spock is legendary even in his own universe, and his appearance on the screen never fails to thrill.  Even just mentioning his name in an episode confers a certain gravitas.  It hurts to think there will be no new appearances to look forward to.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Smoky Mountain Graveyard

There’s nothing like stumbling upon an unexpected graveyard.  And I don’t mean that in a spooky way!  It happens more often than you’d think, as I’ve told you before:  Stanton Cemetery on the Meads Quarry Trail; the tiny graveyard at Charter E. Doyle Park; even Greenbrier Cemetery was a surprise to me when I first encountered it on a family picnic to Metcalf Bottoms.

I love hiking and I love graveyards, and when the two serendipitously collide, all is right in my little world.  So I was tremendously excited to tackle a very steep hill on our recent Smoky Mountain walk, and to be rewarded at the summit by an old family graveyard.

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Fighting Creek Cemetery is a small graveyard (more correctly called William Stinnett Cemetery according to those who ought to know) with a beautiful view, populated mostly by Stinnetts and Bohannons.

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One can hardly imagine a more beautiful place to be laid to rest, or a more challenging one for those in charge of the burying.  The most recent grave here dates from 1990, and it’s hard to imagine how a heavy modern coffin could make the trip up the hill.

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The earliest burial I saw was from 1877.  There were many stones that couldn’t be read, and probably some that were never written on at all.

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Of course there were babies.  There are always babies.

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There’s a little trail at the back of the cemetery that doesn’t go anywhere anymore, but the picture I took looking back through the leaves is my favorite:

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Neither I nor most of the other folks who hike through the Smokies know the stories of those who gave up their homes so that the land they loved would be forever preserved.  But at least the presence of this graveyard and others like it lets us know they were there, and that we should appreciate their sacrifice.


Sunday Snippets

Welcome to Sunday Snippets, a roundup of Catholic bloggers from around the web hosted by RAnn of This, That, and the Other Thing.

My content is not explicitly Catholic this week (unless, of course, you consider celebrating the beauty of God’s Creation to be Catholic!), but at least I do have some content!  Being snowed in all week helped.

So, first up I did a roundup post about all the places my daughter and I walked in the fall that I had not gotten around to writing about yet!

Next, I wrote about our big success in finishing up 42 miles of trails in the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness.

Finally, I shared some of the places we have been walking since then.

That’s a lot of writing about walking in a week in which I have barely set foot off my porch.  I hope that you enjoy them and that they inspire you to get out there to do some walking yourself as soon as it’s safe to do so.  Happy Sunday and please check out the other blogs in the linkup!

mary conceived without sin

Emily and I can’t stop exercising just because we finished up the Urban Wilderness Trails.  Our weekend treks have been sporadic of late (Christmas holidays, trips out of town, and hello SNOW!) but we’ve explored a number of trails in and around Knoxville in the past few weeks.

First we took a trip to the north the walk on the Songbird Trail in Anderson County near Norris Dam State Park.  We made the mistake (big mistake) of trusting Siri for directions, and it ended up taking us way longer to drive there than it did to walk the nice, flat, paved trail.  We did discover that there are many other trails within the park that we may come back and investigate another time.

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There’s more to South Knoxville than the Urban Wilderness, y’all.  High Ground Park is a new area to explore, on Cherokee Trail near that awful water tower.  There you will find some historic information (because it’s the site of Fort Higley), a trail, and a nice place to “set for a spell.”  We ran into one obstacle in that the parking lot was chained off for no apparent reason, but we found a gravel lot nearby and we persevered.

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Going back to our car we discovered the existence of another, as yet unfinished, trail system (River Bluff Wildlife Area) that I have been reliably informed leads to some amazing bluff views.  As you can see by the picture below, this is under development, but I believe that the eventual plan is that these trails will eventually connect somehow with those of the Urban Wilderness and the ones at Fort Dickerson.

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The trails at IC King Park were another happy South Knoxville surprise.  When I thought of IC King Park at all, it conjured up thoughts of a somewhat sketchy place where brave souls might go fishing.  But it’s been cleaned up now–with even an on-site satellite Sheriff’s Office–and if you don’t mind risking your life on Alcoa Highway to get there, you’ll be rewarded with eight miles of trails.  We just scratched the surface so I’ll write more on that another time, so consider this a preview:

IC King

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Finally, we are making it a goal this year to do more hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains.  You local folks realize, I’m sure, that thousands of people travel from all over the country every year to enjoy what we have in our own backyard.  And I know growing up we took way too little advantage of that.

So we are going to try to take one Saturday a month to hike in the mountains.  I think there are 900 miles of trails all together and some of them are out of our skill level at this time, so it will be many, many years down the road before I am able to blog that we hiked them all!  We started with a couple of Quiet Walkways that are close to Gatlinburg.

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I’ve often wondered about these little trails and have longed to pull off to explore them, so this was a real treat.  It doesn’t take long before you can’t hear the traffic anymore and there is always something beautiful and surprising to see.  For example, I’ll be devoting another blog post to the graveyard we discovered (on top of a VERY steep hill) on the first walkway.

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We are so lucky, so blessed, to have so much beauty to explore just an hour’s drive away, aren’t we?  In, near, and around Knoxville–so many walks and so little time.



So we did it!  We hiked all 42 miles of the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness!  And we have badges to prove it:


We had just a few awkward pieces of trail to finish up to earn our badges, and we did it by walking the entire twelve-mile loop over three weekends, four miles at a time.  We are considering that as training for walking the whole 12 miles in one day, something we are planning to do in the near future.

We’ve seen the trails in every season now, and each has its charms.  I’ve always found something pretty to photograph–in fact sometimes my desire to take pictures has interfered with the keeping-my-heart-rate up part of walking!  I have a few more pictures to share with you from the main twelve-mile loop.

The first several pictures are from the section of the loop that runs through the Ross Marble area.  This section runs along Burnett Ridge and has some nice views of downtown.


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The next several shots were taken on the Victor Ashe Trail, which runs through Marie Myers Park and ends in the View Park neighborhood.  I wouldn’t walk on this trail again if I didn’t have to in order to do the loop.  It’s almost always muddy and just not as interesting as the other trails, although the bamboo tunnel at the end is a nice touch.

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The following pictures were taken along the Lost Chromosome Trail in the Anderson Schools/Private Land Easement area.

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And these were taken in the William Hastie Natural Area.

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Finally, here are a few final pictures of my favorite groups of trails, in the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area.

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And that’s all, folks!  When we do the 12-mile walk, I’ll write about that, of course.  But for now we are finished with the Urban Wilderness and are ready to share other hiking adventures with you.  In fact, I’m already behind in writing about those other hikes, some in South Knoxville and some further afield.

For more South Knoxville walking adventures, read the posts 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

Walking in South Knoxville X

Walking in South Knoxville XI


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