All over the woodland landscape various orchid and other flowers were in place. Laurie loves orchids, and I have to admit they are beautiful. I took many photos of them as we walked about. I am not very knowledgeable on tropical species so these pics are here to enjoy.








Photo from the boat.

While we visited the Nashville area we stayed in the well-known, Opryland Hotel. This hotel site is huge featuring acres of lush vegetations, waterfalls, beautiful brick trails among this all. One area has an island. Anyone who knows anything about an island should realize by now that this island was surrounded by a quarter of a mile river. Laurie and I took a boat tour of this island area.

The mazing aspect of these forest sites within the hotel is the fact they are all enclosed under glass and maintained at certain temperatures and humidity levels. I heard there are about nine acres of these woodland, trails, waterfalls and flowering sites.

The interior, as well as, the exterior of the hotel lands were decorated with many, many Christmas lights. Poinsettias and decorated Christmas trees could be found throughout the hotel. I will do a separate entry with the flowers and orchids of these sites.

A handful of photos below. (Just a few of the many photos I took.)

Inside gazebo






Our room was on other side of this waterfall.




Ralphie didn’t like this Christmas present.

On of the sites we saw were the many ice sculptures near the Opryland Hotel. The theme for the sculptures was from the movie called, THE CHRISTMAS STORY. Most everyone seems to have had seen this movie sometime in their lives.

Laurie and I were in awe at the sight of these life-size works of art. The craftsmanship was superb and we didn’t realize the colors would be included within the ice until we saw the work. I am not sure if the colors were placed onto the ice or if the water was colored before being frozen. The temperature within this building is maintained at nine degrees.

Also, there were scenes from the Bible of Christ’s birth. All of these, too, were done in ice and lighting.

This ice angel is around twenty feet or more.


Santa just pushed Ralphie down the slide.


THE SLIDE. We actually slid on this slide. It was fun!


A team of ice sculptors from China completed this work.

It’s a major prize.




The Nativity


Headin’ for our seats.

Even as a boy, country music influence was all about. I have faint memories of my parents listening to the Grand ole Opry on Saturday evening while driving. My mother bought a lot of those long playing vinyl and 45 RPM records. I heard the likes of Buck Owens as a boy along with old Hank Williams and other singers of those times and before.  So getting to finally go to the old Ryman Auditorium or the Grand Ole Opry was an exciting time for Laurie and I.

This past Friday evening we were privileged to see a lot of the big names of country music. We heard what is often labeled mountain music, modern country music and even some bluegrass music. The performers were excellent within those hallowed walls.

Ricky Skaggs

Some History Of the Ryman

The original building was erected in the latter eighteen hundreds as a faith-based building known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. This was in 1892. The man most responsible was one Thomas G. Ryman. His money allowed for the construction to help Christianity in the area. Ministries were being held in huge tents in Nashville prior to this building. The name became the Ryman Auditorium after Thomas Ryman’s passing.

Many entertainers eventually began having time within the building. In these early years the names utilizing the building are many. Some names are: Charlie Chaplin;  Mae West, Will Rogers; Harry Houdini; Bob Hope and many others.  At this time many music genres used the hall.

Laurie and Bill Monroe

In 1925, the radio station of WSM was broadcasted at the Ryman.

Bluegrass legends Bill Monroe and earl Scruggs began here at the Ryman.


In 1963 the Ryman became the Grand Ole Opry. They had live TV and radio shows. In the later years of the Opry were names such as appeared here including: Elvis Presley; Hank Williams; Johnny Cash; Merle Haggard; Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff; Patsy Cline; Neil Diamond; Doris Day and the Byrds… To see the many features visit: http://www.ryman.com

The building fell in hard times in the 1970 era and was repaired, but by 1974 the Grand Ole Opry was closed. It was an end of an era…sorta! Other events continued working here., but in 11999 the Grand Ole Opry returned becoming the Mother Church of Country Music.

Today, as we just witnessed, the Grand Ole Opry is back and strong.



Connie Smith


Riders In The Sky. These gentlemen do comedy and cowboy-style music.


John Conlee and his lead guitar player.




Kelsea Ballenni


Old Crow Medicine Show



Legendary stage and studio guitarist Jimmy Capps inn back. Gary Carter is on steel guitar. Bass player is unknown.

Luke Combs


The Whites. Sharon White on left is Ricky Skaggs’ wife.


Buck White still at it at 89.



A Decision To Shoot

Deer hunting for me this year didn’t happen the first week of the 2019 Pennsylvania buck season. My step-father spent three days in the hospital and I felt I should be there for moral support to him and my mother. I attended two funerals of dear people to me. Five friends and acquaintances passed away in less than two weeks ago. This just “ain’t” right. Also, the family has been going through some difficult issues as of late, as well. regardless, I just either couldn’t hunt or simply I lacked the hunting mode mentality.

Today, I had a day to hunt and this was the only day to hunt this week. I could have hunted Monday, but the all-day rains kept me from the woods. I have commitments for the rest of the week.

I had planned to carry my flintlock “Old Jacob” this morning, but rain was seemingly going to hold on for a time. I wasn’t confident with the forecast.  I carried my Remington Gamemaster in a 30:06 caliber.

I set some ground rules for this day’s hunt. One was that I wasn’t going to shoot any buck unless the rack was big enough to meet my brain’s criteria.  A second plan was to just shoot a doe. I didn’t rule out taking a smaller deer because, as stated above, this would be the only day to hunt.

I spotted a bedded deer and soon realized the deer had a rack. The “horns” weren’t very big and I didn’t try to count the points to see if it was legal. I soon spotted a second deer . It was a doe, but I didn’t like the shot. It ended up five or six deer were bedded around the brush. I would see other deer off and on, but none offered any shots and many just couldn’t be positively identified. I still-hunted the entire morning. The light rains quit around ten, but the winds had been roaring at times. The temperatures dropped fast as well and by mid-morning I was feeling the chill.

Eventually I was approaching a hill’s flat top area and I decided to continue still hunting over the other side and whenever I reached the road and jeep I would call the hunt and stop and see how Mom and Bob are doing.

About forty yards out I saw a deer’s ear moving. This deer was feeding and moving from right to left. The deer worked into a slightly more open area and I prepared to shoot. Once I realized the deer wasn’t a big doe I hesitated. Thoughts began flowing across my brain waves. Should I shoot? I remembered thinking of the recent summons for the federal court in Pittsburgh for the first two weeks of the flintlock season. The decision was true at this point. I placed the crosshairs on the deer and BOOOOOM. The deer dropped immediately. A short prayer of thanks was offered for the clean and humane kill.

The deer will add some meat for the following year t help nourish our bodies.


Ruth “Smail” Miller

The years have flown away at a quick pace.  My mother, Ruth “Smail” Miller turned ninety years old on December 6th.  She was born on December 6, 1929 to my grandparents,: James Edward Yount and Mary Elizabeth Leightley. She was the third of a family of five children.

My mother was born on a farm. grandad always had cattle. Chickens weren’t uncommon either as chicken dinners were common as I grew up. Roast beef was, also, common.

My mother married, Allen Kenneth Smail on November 14th, 1953. I came along in 1955 and my sister, Ruthie in 1968. Another sister died in 1962. Her name was Glenna Mae.

Mom was always completely devoted to her family. She still is!

Bob Miller

My father died on June 2oth, 1999. That day was Father’s Day. Mom remarried in 2009 to Robert Lee Miller. He has been very good to the family and we certainly appreciate his presence. Currently, Bob is fighting a very aggressive cancer. We spent three days at the hospital this past week in regard to his condition and a surgery adding more quality of life.

On my mother’s birthday we celebrated in a simple manner with cake and ice cream and pizza at her home.

I know reality , but I am hoping for another ten years or more of birthdays for mom.







Sister Ruthi and mom



Not sure what this is???



From A Proud Son

Allen K. Smail -Uniform

Allen Kenneth Smail (June 4, 1923 to June 20, 1999)

My dad was in a car setting at a gasoline pump at what was then Reedy’s Store just east of the Cherry Run intersection. He heard that the Japanese had attacked Pearl harbor. In 1942 he was off to basic training and England. He was D-Day 13 if I remember correctly.  he would be in France, Belgium, Bavaria, and finally Germany. He returned to Kittanning in the fall of 1945 after riding a train out of Pittsburgh. He began the long walk home to Cherry Run, probably around eleven miles. However, by chance a family from nearby his home would pick him up.

My father took care of his mother for a long time as his father had asthma and was having a rough time. (He died in 1950 at 65 years of age.) He worked his entire life at the Schenley Distillery near Leechburg, Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year I came to an important decision. I believe it was time to donate my father’s World War 2 uniform and other things I had in possession from his time in Europe. This was a difficult action on my part, but I deemed it for the best. I have no children or grandchildren and I feared this precious, to me, uniform would simply be tossed out after my time.

Currently, the uniform is hanging within the Armstrong County Historical and genealogical Society Museum in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. I supplied a box of much paraphernalia. This box had documents and medals and books of his time in the European theater of the war. One such book with a map of Europe found pencil marks showing my father’s travels within the continent. All of such items are historical and deserve to be on display. I, also, donated a German 8mm Mauser action rifle that my dad had managed to send home.

I am so very proud of my father and his role in the Great War. This is my humble attempt on my part to honor him.

My father’s 1941 valedictorian speech from Elderton High School