{Friday Foto Friends} Thanksgiving Hangover

Time for another Friday Foto Friends hosted by Deb at Breathing in Grace.  As I said last week, I use this as an opportunity to summarize my week and events that are going on in the Small Town.
Sunday between Masses, our parish held a "Harvest of Blessings" in the Parish Hall. Different ministries set up tables to give parishioners information and a chance to donate to the different ministries. So, yeah; it's a fundraiser. The Council of Catholic Women (CCW) did a table with Cookies and baked goods, Crafts, and What-nots. The baked goods sold very well; the other things were a bit iffy. 
The firefighters are continuing to get the fires near my mountain school under control. There has been no school there since last Thursday; the whole system had Wednesday off for the Thanksgiving Holiday. On Tuesday, I was blowing the driveway off when I heard a helicopter. I didn't think to take my phone out of my pocket to snap a picture, which was really too bad because the one that flew over had a bucket hanging from it and it would have been a great picture! I snapped this one flying over (minus the bucket) on Wednesday. All of us who have anything to do with that community will be forever grateful to the firefighters...no structures were lost.
Wednesday, I had a haircut & pedi scheduled. This is my girl, Charity. She does an amazing job with my giant "peasant" feet! We have a good time during that hour catching up and chatting. 💕 her!
I finished my pie-making and was very pleased with how my pies turned out. They were both new recipes, and were absolutely amazing!
 Mass on Thanksgiving: There were quite a few people there, which is great for that day to not be a Holy Day of Obligation (a day when it is required for us to attend Mass). The picture above is a blanket that was blessed by the Priest. This will go to someone who is ill. Father does this during a Weekday Mass as needed. As we go to receive the Eucharist in Communion, we are invited to lay our hand on the blanket and say a short prayer for the person receiving it.
I didn't get to this table in time, but this table was directly behind the blanket table. People brought their Thanksgiving Bread in and put it on the table to be blessed during Mass. A couple of youth baked small loaves of bread to be given away. The table was completely full (and overflowing) during Mass. I love this tradition that our current Priest started a few years ago.
Last picture! This was our Thanksgiving Table. I completely forgot to get a picture of the "food table" before everyone dug in. On the menu: turkey (duh!), ham, Tipsy Sweet Potatoes (using Tennessee Honey...delish!), Dressing (another new recipe because I couldn't find the one I usually use...CH thought it was his granny's recipe, so I'd say it turned out well!), garlic green beans, Holy Bread (see bread picture above!), orange cranberry salad (thank you, Publix!), deviled eggs, and a couple of fruit/cool whip salads. Oh, and pies for dessert, which no one ate until much later. 2 of the 3 boys were here; MS is too far away to justify coming home for a long weekend. My dad and 1 of YS' friends also joined us.
It was nice to have Thanksgiving at my own house, and to cook the whole dinner by myself. YS helped out by clearing the dishes & loading the dishwasher for me. OS left for his house after a few hours; his roommates aren't home, so I think he was looking forward to some peace & quiet for a while. 
I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

{Thankful Thursday} Thanksgiving Edition

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving...I'll try to keep it to just a few things!

🏈 1 more Thanksgiving with my daddy. 

🏈 Firefighters that saved the school and many houses.
🏈 Not only firefighters, but the forestry service. And the National Guard.

🏈 Friends who allow me to use their pictures (see above).

🏈 A husband who didn't ask me to fix the usual banana pudding for the office Thanksgiving Dinner because he thought I was too busy. (Since I didn't have to go to school on Tuesday because of the fire, I went to the store, bought the ingredients, made it, and had it to him about 30 minutes before they ate.)

I hope you have a very wonderful Thanksgiving!

I'm linking up with Rebecca Jo  at Knit by God's Hand for Thankful Thursday.

{Friday Foto Friends} Leaves, Smoke, & Just What I Needed

Foto with Friends is my way of summarizing what's going on in the Small Town during the week through pictures. Deb at Breathing in Grace is gracious enough to host this every week!
The leaves are still pretty spectacular.  This was taken during our camping trip last weekend.
Another picture from last weekend. Love the leaves against the blue sky!
Leaves in the creek near the campground. Pretty cool reflections, too!
CH snapped this picture as we were finishing up a hike.
Fast forward to Thursday: Around 1:00, there was an announcement over the school intercom for everyone to come inside. I thought maybe there was a bear-sighting (I was at my mountain school), so I looked outside. I saw the SRO (School Resource Officer) walking toward the gym, so I knew it wasn't a bear. Then, the fire alarm went off. We all went out to our normal spots, but then we were evacuated to the ballfield across the street.  The mountain in back of the school caught fire. We've had virtually no rain in a long time, so it's extremely dry. This was taken when we were walking down to the field:
The church is next to the school.
The buses came and took the kids home, and some parents came to get their kids. All of the teachers stayed calm and calmed down the students who needed it. This is what the fire looked like after about 90 minutes:
We were allowed 3 minutes to grab what we needed out of our rooms, get our cars, and leave. When I got home, 13 miles away, I saw this:
It was an exhausting day, and I wasn't even one of the ones in charge! I just checked on kids and did what someone told me to do. When I got home and checked the mail, this was in it:
My Blessed is She Advent Journal! I wasn't sure if I was going to get it in time for Sunday (1st Sunday of Advent) because I never received a confirmation email, but there it was! It was exactly what I needed at that specific time!
Please pray for the community where the school is, as well as for the firefighters. The fire has spread to 500 acres, and we're expecting winds tonight. There may be some rain, but it's not going to be the amount we need. As I write this, no homes have been lost, and the school is okay. 
There was no school there today, but since I split Fridays with my mountain school and my other school, I went on to school this morning. There was a hint of smoke in the building all day; they're about 10 miles apart from each other. Here's what it looked like outside of my window:

You hear about fires in Colorado all the time. Then there are the fires in NC, which is close, but this hits home. The fire chief said "we've been living on the edge, and we know that, and every day we wake up and thank the good Lord that it didn't happen, but today it happened." 
Probably the dumbest question was when a newscaster asked the chief what it looked like in the fire. He just kind of looked at her, and said, "It looks like a mountain is on fire. It's smoky." Wow. 
Hopefully we'll get the rain and it will be more than expected. And hopefully things will get back to normal soon. The beautiful mountain behind the school won't look the same for a long time, but, eventually it will. And this will be something we'll all be talking about for a long time to come.

{Weekend Wrap-up} Some Chilly Camping

 I hadn't been camping since July. JULY! We decided to go back to a State Park that we hadn't been to in a couple of years. The last time, renovations were just about to start. One of the things we like about this campground is the trails that are all around. This kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?
We walked, relaxed, and got away from some craziness. It was a little chilly, so I built my first fire:
At one point when I was sitting around the fire, I looked down & saw my boot smoking. I like my fires blazing! Check out this picture:
Doesn't it look like there's a face in the coals? (You may have to click on the picture to enlarge to see it.)
While we were sitting around the fire, I kept hearing leaves crunching. It was a raccoon...at first. Then, we saw a skunk. I'm okay with raccoons...you can make a lot of noise and they'll go away, but a skunk!  I may have hid behind CH & told him I wasn't okay with a skunk! Luckily, Laika was already in the trailer since it was dark. That could have been all kinds of bad! The skunk didn't hang around, so we were able to go on about our evening.
The moon was big and beautiful. It was a perfect night for moon-watching.
Surprisingly, the leaves are still very pretty. Since it's been so dry, I thought they would already be off of the trees. Some pictures from one of our walks:

These leaves were incredibly yellow:
I thought these trees were interesting how one of them wraps around the other:
It was a little cold when we got up on Sunday:
On the way home, a deer ran out in front of the truck that was in front of us. It appeared to just clip it; the deer jumped a couple of times and then laid in the median. It just made me sick to my stomach. The truck pulled over, and when we passed it I took a quick look back but didn't see any damage. CH said it's possible that the deer was just stunned and may have gotten up, but I think he was saying that to make me feel better!
We spent the rest of the day relaxing (after showers) and went to our favorite Mexican place for dinner.
1 full week of school, then a 2-day week...I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! Don't you just love this time of year?

{Friday Foto Friends} Chips, Hazy Skies, and Dolly

Deb at Breathing in Grace hosts Friday Foto Friends every Friday. I haven't been very faithful about joining in...life gets in the way. I shared most of my favorite pictures of the week in this post, but I think I have a couple more to share!
During our sightseeing trip on Sunday, we grabbed a bag of these. Dark vs. milk chocolate...it was a tough decision, but I decided on dark because of the health factor! I was a little disappointed; I thought there was just a little too much chocolate on them.
Finally on Wednesday, the hazy skies from wildfires dissipated and we had some beautiful blue skies. 
One last picture from last Sunday: our selfie with Dolly. We didn't really think it looked a whole lot like her, but it was something I'd wanted to see and never took the time to stop.
If you'd like to see some of the "off the beaten path" sites we visited last Sunday, click here.

Election Hangover Randoms

The views listed here are my own. I'm not looking to debate, pick a fight, or get anyone riled up. I'm just getting some things off my chest. I can, because this is my blog! If you don't like it, don't read it!!!
No Hodgepodge today since Joyce is swimming in a sea of boxes while waiting for her furniture to arrive! Oh, and apparently is without internet. 😒

So...this is unusual for me, but, with the current events in our nation's history, here are some thoughts about the election:

🗽A couple of people had this in their Facebook statuses: Hate won. No, hate did NOT win. I think morality won. I'm not saying our President-Elect is the epitome of morality...he's far from it. If he stands by his platforms, this country will be back on track to gain back some of her morals.

🗽Women voting for Hillary because she's a woman and they want to see a woman in the White House is just wrong. To say so on national tv is just embarrassing. 

🗽I don't like change. There, I said it. Any time a new president is elected, there's going to be change. The older I get, the scarier it is. But, you know what? The USA survived Carter, Clinton, and the Obamas (why is it always plural and not just him? Hmmmm) ...we'll continue to survive. Our country isn't perfect, but it's still the best there is!

🗽As a Catholic, Hillary scares the ever-loving crap out of me. Her anti-Catholic rhetoric and ideals are just frightening to me. 

🗽Best post I saw this morning (from 1 of my Kindergarten teachers...thanks, Hailey!): "You get what you get and don't pitch a fit." Be an adult, be proud of our country, be thankful you live in a country where you can vote and not be afraid of being persecuted because of it.

🗽Four & eight years ago, I had to endure co-workers boasting. I sincerely hope there will be no boasting (or fit-throwing). As a friend of mine posted on FB: "One thing I know; it is not the responsibility of ONE president to make sure I'm OK. It is MY hard work, effort, the love of my family and the everlasting love of my God that will carry me through." (Thanks, Maria!!!) 

🗽Best picture on FB this morning:
🗽Last May, when I heard Father Leo Patalinghug talk, the race was just in it's early stages of being frantic. He said that in the end, this nation will still be 1 nation under God. Continue to pray for our country; don't stop just because the election is over. She needs as many prayers as she can get!

🗽Finally, I saw this youtube clip yesterday. Nice to see our northern neighbors reminding us how great this country really is!

Exploring East Tennessee: New Fall Sights!

This weekend, CH & I stayed a little closer to home. I saw a segment on a local tv channel a couple of weeks ago that highlighted a few places in Sevier County that I didn't know about. It took some time on the internet (they didn't have the maps linked like they said they would), but I found maps for each place.
The tour started at the statue of Tennessee's favorite (and arguably most famous) daughter, Dolly Parton:
I didn't think it looked very much like her, but I can cross that off the list! The statue is just outside of Sevier County's Courthouse; I had never been to it but had seen it many times from the road next to it. It's an absolutely beautiful building on the outside.
Next, we went to a community college to see a plaque commemorating a civil war battle not far from that spot. Fair Garden is considered a "minor battle", but a couple of people who were involved in it are interesting: Colonel Eli Lilly (founder of the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company) and General Sturgis (Sturgis, SD is named after him). 
The next stop was Harrisburg Covered Bridge. I had no idea there was a covered bridge so close to me; I love covered bridges!

Harrisburg Covered Bridge is one of 4 covered bridges in Tennessee.
In 1975 the Daughters of the American Revolution raised the funds to renovate the bridge.

Here is another covered bridge that I saw a few years ago when I visited OS & we went hiking:
Next on the list was the Fox Cemetery. The first person buried here was Mark Fox, who was scalped by Indians. I walked around but couldn't find his grave. I told CH that it's too bad they don't have it marked, but maybe they aren't sure which one is his. 

Some of the headstones were interesting.
English Mountain provides the backdrop:

Civil War Veterans rest here:
I thought maybe he was killed during the Fair Ground Battle, but he passed away 2 years after the battle took place.

Our last stop was Blowing Cave Mill:
 It's currently under renovation, and it looks as though there's quite a bit of work to be done.
The brothers who built the mill also built the Harrisburg Covered Bridge. (per http://www.fitzwaterwheel.com/FitzMills.html)
I snapped a couple of pictures along the way. This just screams "FALL", doesn't it?
 And, purple rocking chairs, because this is the South and we love our rockers!
Have you found some places in your area that you are just now discovering?

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