Holiday Lights at Cheekwood

I recently visited Cheekwood Estates and Gardens for their Holiday Lights display.  Cheekwood is a beautiful 1930s estate, and once the former home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek (for its history, click on the above link).  It has 55 acres of cultivated gardens and today the public can visit its botanical gardens, arboretum, and museum.

In late November through early January, they have Holiday Lights At Cheekwood, which consists of a million lights on a one mile path outside.  The estate has a few Christmas decorations as well.  My sister had free tickets as Cheekwood is one of the many places she volunteers, so again, she invited me to see the lights.

It was a cold night when we went so we made sure we dressed warmly in coats, hats and gloves.  I’m including some photos, because after all, don’t we all enjoy looking at Christmas lights this time of year?

Dancing Lights of Trains

Someone spent a lot of time on these train displays which were really spectacular.  It was hard getting a good photo of the trains as they moved quite fast!

On The Walk to the Mansion

The Estate

When I was a young girl in Girl scouts, my troop used to visit Cheekwood every year.  For many years, Cheekwood displayed their Christmas trees from around the world and it was a very popular place to visit at the holidays.  They stopped doing the Christmas tree display many years ago.  The mansion did have a few Christmas decorations.  I was glad the mansion was requiring masks (and grateful they were very strict about it and asking unmasked people to leave) and I was also thankful it was not crowded inside when we were there, otherwise I would have skipped the indoor part).

My sister

This was a 20 ft. live orchid tree!

 On the Grounds of the Estate

A lovely fountain

How did they get lights under the water?

The moon between the branches

Outside the horse stables

This year they added a Holiday Marketplace

Inside the Holiday marketplace

Behind the mansion, they had several s’more fire pits

Peppermint path

The photo did not do this justice. It was a shimmering, sparkling array of fall colors. So beautiful!

I hope you enjoyed the lights.  Merry Christmas to you and your family!


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Nashville Zoo Visit

Tis the season to be busy and busy it has been!  I’m finally getting around to posting about my trip to the Nashville Zoo which was way back on November 8th.  My oldest sister, who is retired now, volunteers there and had some free passes so invited me to come along for a day at the zoo.  It was a really nice day to take a zoo stroll (it was a particularly warm November day and was about 71 degrees).

The Nashville zoo is located six miles south of downtown Nashville.  It is an AZA- accredited facility.  The zoo has developed only about 90 of its 188 acres of land and is involved with international conservation and research efforts to save threatened species.

Enjoy the photos!  These are just a few!

Hyacinth Macaw

Hyacinth Macaws

Stanley Cranes

White-cheeked Gibbons

White-cheeked Gibbons


Southern White Rhinoceros

Southern White Rhinoceros. This guy was massive.

Red River Hog

We had a late fall in Middle TN and for a while, I thought the leaves were going to fall off the trees before they turned colors.  But they finally did turn and I have to say, it was very much worth the wait.  These maple trees at the zoo were stunningly gorgeous!!  They took my breath away.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Adults usually reach lengths of 4-5 feet and weigh 4-5 pounds!

Same rattlesnake from another zoo visit in April 2018.  Check out that rattle!

Short-tailed, Leaf-nosed Bat. I wish my photography skills were better as I couldn’t figure out how to get a good pic of these bats… my most favorite animals at the entire zoo. I could watch them for hours. So interesting!

Caiman Lizard. The Nashville Zoo is one of the most successful breeding institutions for the caiman lizard. Caiman lizards are threatened in the wild due to illegal trade for their skins, therefore there is a strong need for their conservation and protection.

Piranha.  I think these fish are so pretty.  They sparkle!

Galapagos Tortoise (I believe)

I loved the coat coloration pattern of these goats!




Clouded Leopard.

Clouded Leopard

Red Pandas

My sister and I ate lunch at the zoo at outdoor tables. We had the pleasure of dining with this beautiful onlooker. I was told the peacocks had all just came through a molt.

I don’t remember what the name of this tree was but it was a beautiful golden color. It was a member of the yew family.

I believe this is a Rhinoceros Iguana.

Mexican Beaded Lizard

Kangaroo with Joey in pouch

The Joey was restless and clearly wanted out to explore.  It did come out but mom was nervous and I could tell she really wanted her baby back in the safety of her pouch.  She turned it around and was encouraging it to get back in.  It did climb back in so wasn’t out long.

This is Matilda, an older female Kangaroo. Matilda only had one front leg. I don’t know the story on how she lost her leg


Meerkats checking out the intruders

I was a little disappointed that despite it being a beautiful and warm day, that the giraffe exhibit was closed.  No explanation except signage saying the exhibit was closed, but we later found out they had received a new giraffe to the zoo so the giraffes were in quarantine.

I’m including some giraffe photos from another visit in April of 2018.

It was a nice day and I enjoyed the visit to the zoo.  Do you enjoy visiting the zoo?  If so, what is your favorite animal to see?


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October Ramblings

I’m loving this autumn season despite our lack of color here in the southeast.  It was just two days ago that I first noticed a hint of red color in some of the maple trees in the neighborhood.  It just hasn’t been cool enough here to see much of a change in the leaves.  It’s another thing  I’ve noticed that’s different since my childhood days of growing up in the southeast.  We used to get lots of snow.  We very rarely do now.  We used to have vibrant, colorful autumns here.  We don’t now.  I’m hoping this year won’t be like years past where the leaves just turn brown and drop to the ground before any appreciable colors appear, but it’s looking like it might do just that.  I’ve been meaning to get out to the local state park for a fall walk, but between hubby taking a bad fall on the driveway a few days ago which caused a trip to the ER and a CT of his head (all was fine but it put quite a damper on the last few days of his vacation) and the rainy weather the past few days, I haven’t made it to that park.  I’m recovering from a back injury as well.

I visited both my sons in Alabama recently.  I was missing them a lot.  My husband and oldest son did some work around his house like pressure washing and staining his deck, pressure washing the vinyl siding on his house and the sidewalk, and some tree and bush trimming.  I baked pumpkin muffins, did some cleaning inside, and caught up on some reading.  Son #2 came by with his wife the first night we were there and we had dinner together and visited.  We also had dinner at their house the night before we left.  It was good seeing everybody.

I’ve been reading  After All, which is Mary Tyler Moore’s first autobiography.  She wrote it in 1995.  The older I get, the more I seem to enjoy reading memoirs and I really enjoyed reading this book.  It was a page turner with short chapters which I liked.

I grew up watching her on The Dick Van Dyke Show (which ran five seasons from 1961-1966) and The Mary Tyler Moore show (which ran seven seasons from 1970-1977).  I’ve recently been binge watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show and I had forgotten just how much I loved that show.  While some of it is dated, it’s still good to watch a good clean comedy sitcom with fantastic actors/actresses.  It has made me realize how “raunchy” TV shows are today.

Watching it had me wondering about Mary Tyler Moore so I decided to read her first memoir.  I’ll confess that after reading some of the one star reviews, I almost didn’t read the book, but decided to anyway and am very glad that I did.  A lot of the readers who gave the book a bad review commented that it was depressing and that MTM was a negative person who whined a lot.  I really didn’t see it that way at all!  She told it like it was and didn’t hold anything back.  She told about the good and the bad.  She did not have an easy childhood and grew up with an alcoholic mother and a very distant father whose approval she was always trying to win, even in her adulthood.  Perhaps people who didn’t grow up in an alcoholic household don’t know how that affects a child and the dysfunction it causes.  She battled alcohol addiction and lost a younger sister to a drug and alcohol overdose, and a couple of years later, lost her son to an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  She also lost a brother to kidney cancer.  Mary Tyler Moore sought treatment for her alcohol addiction at the Betty Ford Center and later also gave up her smoking habit.  She overcame a lot in her life.  She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in her early thirties and suffered the side effects from that later in life.  Anyway, I loved this book and especially the last chapter, which was just so beautiful (I won’t give it away but she told the story of a horse she once owned that she named after her brother and she used the story as a metaphor for her entire life).  It was so touching that I read it twice and I must say, it made me tearful.  That last chapter is what made me give it a five star rating.

I think I’ll read Mary Tyler Moore’s second autobiography now,  Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes, which focuses more on her life with Type 1 diabetes.   She wrote it in 2009.

I have been remembering Halloween and how much I love this day.  I have so many happy memories of Halloween when I was growing up and we had such  a great neighborhood for celebrating.  I fondly remember Halloween parties, my father always carving a jack-o-lantern the night before Halloween with my sisters and I gathered around him.  My mother would always display it on the mantle top table in the living room picture window or on the front porch.  My father always took my sisters and me and a few neighborhood kids trick-or-treating after my mother fed us a dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade chili.   One year there was a neighborhood hay ride.  Halloween always brings back a tinge of the sadness of the empty nest though, as our family had so much fun decorating, coming up with costumes, trick-or-treating, Halloween parties, and reading Halloween books.  I do miss those days.  We also had fun traditions of going to pumpkin farms every year, where we would go on a hay ride, visit a pumpkin patch and take on a challenging corn maze.  We live very close to The Hermitage (home of Andrew Jackson) and a few times we went to Hauntings at the Hermitage which had a lot of fun Halloween activities – trick or treating, picking a pumpkin from a large pumpkin patch and picking cotton out in the cotton field.  A tour of the mansion was also part of the evening where the tour guides told ghost stories of the Hermitage.  The evening ended with a haunted hay ride through the woods.  You haven’t lived until you’ve zoomed through the woods with an intoxicated hay ride driver who decides it would be fun to turn the lights of the tractor out!

Today the sun is out for the first time in days.  I’m baking some pumpkin bread and making a pumpkin pie.  I’ll make a pot of chili for dinner since that was always a Halloween tradition when I was growing up.  I’m not expecting any trick-or-treaters as we live in a hilly neighborhood that isn’t real trick-or-treat friendly.  Besides, all the kids on this street have grown up.  But my candles and jack-0-lanterns will all be lit, and I have candy ready should any little spooks come by!

I wish you all a very Happy Halloween!


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Sunday Glory

Photo by Valiphotos from Pexels

“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'” 

                                                                          Isaiah 41:13   



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Spiders, Spiders, Everywhere!

This has been the year for spiders.  Lately, I have noticed these sheets of thick webs on everything.  We find their webs all over now…. on our front porch, on our screened-in porch and most recently, even on our shutters on the front of the house.  That was a first.  The spiders are nowhere to be seen, just the sheets of webbing which are white and very thick.  We knock them down but by the next day, they’re there again.  I pointed out the webbing on the front of the shutters to my husband.   I told hubby it looks like the Munsters or the Addams family lives here.  After he looked and was amazed as I was, he commented that he would go retrieve the long handled cobweb duster (Webster) and remove the webs.  I told him we could always just leave them up for Halloween decorations.  🙂

So he went to work knocking down the webs.  There was a garden spider who had built her very large web at one end of the porch. “DON’T KNOCK HER DOWN,” I warned.  “She will be my fall entertainment,”  I said with a grin.  Hubby just rolled his eyes.  That day, the garden spider, who I aptly named “Morticia,” caught a katydid.  She hugged it close for 48 hours, then finally cut it out of her web, where it now lays among a pile of other shells of bugs she’s feasted on.  Last night she caught a rather large moth.  She zapped it and then spun it in her silk.  I guess she was saving it for breakfast today.  How I love to watch these eight legged creatures… they are just fascinating to me.

Meet Morticia, enjoying her katydid

We just got a new Sony camera and I am still learning to use it.  This was the first picture I took with it. 

The other day on the news, I heard that it is not unusual to start seeing spiders in your house this time of year.  I always do find a few spiders in the fall and always just assumed they were coming in the house since our nights are starting to get cooler.  According to the news reporter on TV, that is a misconception, and he said this is the time spiders breed and these spiders we see coming into the house are just about always males who are on the move in search of female spiders to mate with.  It wasn’t 24 hours after seeing that on TV that a rather large brown spider was scurrying down my hallway up against the baseboard.  My cats will just about always hunt them down and terrorize them before I can even find a shoe to do the dirty deed myself.  Sorry spiders, but you best take your breeding business outside.


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Sunday Glory

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Fight All Your Battles on Your Knees and You Win Every Time

~Charles Stanley

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A little Fall Humor

Alas, my favorite season has arrived and today, the weather even reeks of autumn.  The temperature took a pretty drastic dive and it’s been a windy, blustery day.  Fall is definitely in the air.

Wishing you all many happy fall blessings!


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Things I’m Loving These Days

Though the fall season won’t officially be here until September 22nd, (6 days away!) it seems everyone has already entered into pumpkin spice mode and I know several family members who started decorating weeks ago.  I have to say after our brutally hot and humid Tennessee summers, I’m usually quite ready for fall, my favorite season.  The only “hint” of fall I’ve seen here is I’ve noticed the deer who come traipsing through our yard are losing their red summer coats and getting their gray winter coats already.  And THAT is the ONLY sign I’ve seen.  We did have a few days and nights a week or so ago where our humidity let up some, but IT’S BACCCKKKK!!!!  I just can’t decorate for fall when it’s still so hot out and until the calendar tells me it’s officially fall!   I’ve been browsing fall catalogs like a wild woman!  I usually just browse, though, as there is nothing in this world I need in the way of anymore fall decorations.  In fact, I told my husband and sisters if they so much as see me looking at anymore pumpkins or scarecrows to bonk me over the head!!  But I do love looking through fall catalogs.  It gets me in an autumn mood.  I saw a sign today that said, “Autumn is My Favorite Color” and I thought yeah, mine too!

Here’s a few things I’m loving these days.

1.  Pumpkin Biscotti, Pumpkin Bread, and Pumpkin Butter

My sister was on a recent trip to visit her daughter and brought me home these pumpkin goodies from Trader Joe’s.  Oh, how she knows how to make her pumpkin-loving baby sister happy!  🙂

I’ve been having the pumpkin biscotti with either hot lemon tea or a cup of coffee in the morning and it is delicious!  I absolutely love this stuff!

2.  Goat Milk Lotion from Syman Says Farms 

I mentioned this goat farm in my last Things I’m Loving These Days post.  They are in Connecticut and I’ve been buying their products since the winter.  I’ve been using both the Oatmeal Milk & Honey Lotion and soap and I just love the scent.  The lotion is so creamy and smooth and the scent is very pleasing and yet, not real strong or overpowering.  Hubby even loves it too and I’ve caught him using it a few times.  I gifted some of the oatmeal milk & honey soap and lotion to my mother-in-law and my father-in-law told me he is using it.  He told me he really likes it and it was helping the dry skin on his arms.

Photo from

Recently I ordered a couple of bottles of the pumpkin Goat Milk Lotion.  I can’t wait to try it!   These lotions might be a tad pricey but they are worth every penny!  Goat milk lotion is supposedly good for dry itchy skin, eczema and psoriasis, acne, and other skin conditions.  Hubby swears it’s making the little crusty keratotic lesion on the side of his face disappear.  I think he’s right.

Photo credit:

If I ever travel to Connecticut, Syman Says Farms is definitely a place I would love to visit.  I admire the love these people have for their goats and the wonderful care they give to them.  It warms my heart.  Watching their YouTube channels calms my soul, makes me laugh out loud, and educates this goat loving gal.  Goats are just hilarious!  I can’t tell you how much I have laughed watching this channel and their videos.  Hubby will holler and ask from the other room, “What in the world is so funny now?”  I’ll answer, “Just the goats again, honey.”

3.  These Food Storage Containers from Anchor Hocking

I came across these food storage containers at our Publix grocery store.  I love the mineral blue color of the soft lids.  They seal airtight and are easy to open.  Anchor Hocking has never let me down and these are no exception.  Last night I had to laugh when a girlfriend messaged me with a picture of these and told me to check them out at Publix, that she and her mother just loved them.  Her mother is 87 and very arthritic and has trouble opening containers but could easily open these.  So my friend bought a set of them on Amazon.  I laughed while telling her I had already discovered these and purchased some.  I took some banana pudding to my mother-in-law in one and she really liked the container, so I bought her one too.

4.  Velvet Pumpkins

photo from

photo from

photo from

I’ve been seeing these in the stores for the past three years or so and I think they are so pretty!  They seem to be very popular.  My sister is trying to find some pastel colored velvet pumpkins and I’ve been helping her look and we’ve learned these are very pricey!  Most are made with real dried harvested pumpkin stems.  Aren’t they beautiful?

5.  French Country Rooster Mason Jar Lamp 

photo from

I have this little lamp on a table in my living room.  I’ve used it all summer and it will be perfect for fall too.  My sisters don’t know it yet (they don’t read my blog), but I got one for each of them too.  Our mother collected chickens and roosters and had a chicken/rooster kitchen so rooster decor is a little sentimental to all three of us.  This LED lamp is so pretty and colorful at night with the lights out.  They must have been pretty popular as they sold out.

I know I’m 6 days early, but happy fall season to all!

Gail ♥ 

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Sunday Glory

Here’s a little humor meme for Sunday’s Glory post this week.  I thought it was quite funny myself…. and true!


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Remembering the Unity on 9/11/01

I was thinking back on where I was twenty years ago today when the terrorists attacks on our nation occurred.  Who doesn’t remember where they were and what they were doing that morning?  I posted previously about that day here.  It was a scary day, an unprecedented day, and one filled with so many different emotions.

I think what I remember most about that day was how strongly my urge was to just get home.  I was in downtown Nashville when the bombings occurred and I just wanted to go home.  I also remember that once I got home, I wanted badly to go yank my children out of school.  I just wanted them home, safe in my arms.  My husband and I discussed whether it would be best to go get them or leave them in school, and we chose to leave them since by that time, they were interviewing psychologists on TV who said it was best NOT to get them out.  So we reluctantly left our children in school.  Our youngest was 8 and our oldest had turned 12 just 2 days previous, on September 9th.  I remember our talks from the events of the day and how I felt at a total loss to try to explain things to them when I didn’t understand myself how something like this could happen.  I still don’t and I don’t understand the hatred.

Another strong memory from that day is when our Congress united on the steps of the Capitol and sang “God Bless America” that evening.  I can’t help but wonder if today, that would even happen.  This country is so tragically divided, that I really don’t think it would.  I would hope, but still, I don’t think it would.

The following video gave me cold chills…. both the speech and then the singing.  How I wish our nation could stand together united like this once again.  I just hope it doesn’t take another terrorist bombing to do it.


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