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February 2008

Houses I have lived in: the house by the graveyard

the house by the graveyard

I think that the house by the graveyard was the second house we lived in when we moved down South from DC, but I have no memory of the first. When we moved into this house I was wearing plaster casts on my legs from surgery on my feet to reset the bones so I wouldn't walk (so) pigeon-toed. My father would carry me outside and sit me on the bench in the yard. This is where I met Wayne and Wendell, the boys next door who were always fighting. The first time I met them, Wendell had an eyepatch and Wayne was chasing him around the yard. Wayne finally caught him, threw him on the ground and bent his legs in unusual ways to hurt him.

My brother would wiggle loose during diaper changes and escape to the yard, running around so very free. One day we went to Dipper Dan's and when we got home, B licked his ice cream and the scoop fell to the ground. He picked it up but it was covered in dirt and pine needles.

I started first grade in this house. My hair was very long and wavy with bangs. We had a succession of small plastic boxes of Mexican jumping beans. I hid my potatoes in my napkin. The floors were wood. My parents had a waterbed.

Another neighbor boy from down the block used to pee on our porch. Whenever I would find him there he'd run home, always faster than I. One day, his mom had the screen door locked. She stood in the kitchen, laughing at him as I beat him on the back with my balled-up fists and he cried. "Serves you right!" she said.

My bedroom window looked out on the church's graveyard. Wayne told me that when it thundered, it was the Devil beating his wife. I never slept easily there and sometimes I'd wake to my door closed and be afraid to get up and open it again. When I'd ask my parents, they'd swear they hadn't touched it.

My brother had a coconut cake for his second birthday. I hated coconut and didn't eat any. We had a poster of Richard Nixon in the kitchen. His head took up most of the poster, his face bright red, his body tiny and unnecessary. I studied this poster hard the night my father told me to take an adult vitamin I couldn't swallow. Finally, I hid it under my tongue and spit it down the sink drain when he walked out of the room to check on my brother.

In this house by the graveyard, I had a really great umbrella. It was clear with accents of red, white and blue. For my birthday, I got a Barrel of Monkeys and pink soap on a rope. My mother worked during the day at a drugstore. My father worked at night, but I don't know where. He slept in the morning and I played with my brother, trying to keep him quiet. Then my father would get up and get ready. We'd walk to my grandparents' house and then he'd walk to work. When I would get thirsty along the way, he'd tell me to put a pebble under my tongue.

I'd put on my full slip on Saturday mornings and play Isis while we watched cartoons. My brother would play Hercules. We'd jump around from sofa to chairs and save the universe.

In the house by the graveyard, I used to lie in the yard under the big tree. One day I was laying there, looking up at the sky through the branches, and I felt the curve of the earth. I felt the earth turn, just for the shortest, smallest moment.

...a shocking bit of work

Right out of college, I worked for a typesetter. I used to cut out quotes that caught my eye from the books I worked on. This one I saved comes from a book called Architecture and Modernity: A Critique by Hilde Heynen. And it's a quote of a quote - Hilde is quoting Adolf Loos. Why yes, I did love that job (just not the working environment - right Shelli?).

I did not grow up, thank God, in a stylish home. At that time no one knew what it was yet. Now unfortunately, everything is different in my family too. But in those days! Here was the table, a totally crazy and intricate piece of furniture, an extension table with a shocking bit of work as a lock. But it was our table, ours! Can you understand what that means? Do you know what wonderful times we had there? ... Every piece of furniture, every thing, every object had a story to tell, a family history. The house was never finished; it grew along with us and we grew within it.

Oliver Springs

I actually went to see Oak Ridge, TN, but didn't find any sort of downtown area. That doesn't mean it's not there, it very well may be (note to self: look these things up before you head out!), I just couldn't find it. But then I saw a sign that said "Oliver Springs 5 miles," so I forged ahead. Then there was a little exit marked "Downtown." I'm so glad I went. Oliver Springs has an amazing old downtown.

Here are some photos from right outside the downtown area. Perhaps one of the coolest things about Oliver Springs is that the historic houses and buildings are marked with signs. The picture I took of the sign from this house is blurry, but I believe it says Spotwood & Naomi Henley Home 1904.

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This house didn't have an historic marker, but I don't love it any less. Maybe I'm the only one, but I adore this house. I would love to see it restored. But that roof! I want to put it in my pocket and save it for later.

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The people who live in Oliver Springs really seem to know they have something special. Like with most downtown areas of this sort, there are the shops and then there is a neighborhood of old houses around the shops. We can't go this weekend, but I am definitely dragging R to this antique shop ASAP. The building was built in 1901-02 and was used in the movie October Sky. I haven't seen that movie yet but we're definitely renting it now.

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It looks like someone is restoring this building, at least a bit. Thank God. I say that in all seriousness. I love to see that old brick and those windows and the shape of the facade.

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This is another one that just breaks my heart, it's so lovely.

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Here's a shot of the neighborhood surrounding the downtown area. The houses are something else. The white house in this picture was built in the 1890s; the church was built around the same time, but then it was replaced with this brick building in 1920. The beautiful windows are from the original building.

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And this house. THIS HOUSE is for sale. For $169,900. It has been restored. The inside is so beautiful, words fail me. I want it. I want it bad.

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There are many more detail shots on my flickr. If you have a minute, check them out and let me know what you think. As for me, I'm in love.


I wanted to participate in the prompt from Shutter Sisters this morning, but it's taken me all day to think of "something precious to [me]—something unexpected, discovered and clung to as an artifact of some fabulous epic or episode."

This picture is of my dresser. I've had it since I was 4. I know my parents got it when we lived in DC and that it came from an antique store. It has dovetailing and wooden pegs driven into the top of it, but the back is a piece just flimsy wood, so I have no idea if it's actually old or what. The drawers are difficult to open and the front of the bottom drawer comes off easily.

But I love it.


King snake, garden snake

One day, I was probably about 7 or 8, I found my grandfather sitting in the garden. When I asked him what he was doing, he pointed to the ground and told me he was watching the snakes.

There were two snakes there - what my grandfather called a king snake, which was just a plain black snake, and what he called a garden snake, which was a bright green. I would like to be a good blogger and look them up for you, but I can't handle looking at pictures of snakes. But at that time they didn't bother me.

So there were these two snakes there, black and green, in the dirt under the pine tree, hugging. No, they weren't hugging, he told me, they were fighting. I wanted to know why he didn't stop them. Well, you don't stop snakes from fighting. They'll kill each other and then you don't have to do it.

I had seen my grandmother chop the head off a snake with a hoe - just like chopping the head off a chicken, she said. I'd never seen her chop the head off of anything before that day, since Bell's carried chickens already chopped up for you, but it made me feel safe that she was prepared to do just that if need be. You never leave a snake in the yard or you'll get a mess of snake babies in the house, so chop it she did. Because God forbid.

So I stood there beside him and watched the snakes writhe together. It was a slow process - apparently they'd been at it a while and were tuckered out with the dying. Eventually I got bored.

A few days later, I saw them again. They were dead. And flat. Weeks later, they were flatter still. I never understood why he didn't move them, toss them somewhere out of the way. Eventually, they were gone. Into the dirt, I imagine. Into the peas or corn, growing in the tomatoes or watermelon.

Years ago I had the idea that I would paint this scene of the two snakes intertwined under the pine tree. It will be a folk art-type painting (the only way I'd know how to do it), with a crown on the black snake's head. I don't have any paints, though, so it'll have to wait.

Snippets: very brave and very strong

Fifteen minutes trying to convince V that she must have her hair washed this week. She's screaming, BABY IS VERY VERY BRAVE AND VERY VERY STRONG! Once it's finished and the bubble bath comes out, it's as though nothing ever happened. A bubble bath cures all, even at 2. Even at 38.
We nurse to sleep at nap. In the evening, we nurse again. She pulls her shirt up and presses her baby belly to mine. After a while, she sits up and hugs me. You love your mommy, you love your mommy! she says as I get up and put her in the crib. It's taken 28 months for her to be able to sleep in the crib for the 1-3 hours she's there every night, for that time so far away from me not to damage her psyche. I tell her, Here's your Tinkerbell pillow, here's your Tasha, here's your supersoft purple blankie. Good night, my sweet girl. You are very, very brave and very, very strong. Mommy loves you. Get some good sleep. Then I walk out the door, free for a little while before I have to start work.
At her art class, everyone is playing with Play-doh. Bored of the Play-doh after 10 minutes, she's in the other room sitting on the floor by herself, reading their books. They have some of the same ones we have: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? and Guess How Much I Love You? She tells herself the stories while I walk back and forth between the rooms, making sure we don't miss the cue to start the activities. Later, when they bring out instruments, V finagles the triangle for herself (Baby have the triangle?!) and I know that I'm going to have to get her one as soon as I can. She loves it so and hits it in pretty decent time to Mary Had a Little Lamb, which the teacher sings way too fast for these two year olds to keep up.

Graffiti hunting

I kept seeing this graffiti from the highway and decided that I needed to go take a picture of it today. I thought it was down a simple access road that ran along the highway, but it actually leads to a very large building site. I drove a little way past the access road and then turned around where there were two picketers sitting outside one of the entrances to the site. Labor dispute. They're sitting behind the sign.

Shame on Leopardo

It was eerie driving down the road to get the shot I wanted, but at some point you just can't turn back. There were busted up rocks and garbage and abandoned building materials everywhere. I saw a mattress and other things that should be in people's houses. I guess folks have started using it to dump their stuff. That's a dead-of-night activity, I suppose.

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I got the shot, turned around, and got the hell out of there.

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After being so bold, I had leftover courage to stop and take a picture of one of the units at the 11-70 Motor Court. I've taken a photo of the sign before, but always wimped out at taking anything other than a rushed (rushed=blurry) shot of the building itself. People live there, so I guess they're more like apartments now. I would love to see what they look like inside. I guess I could've gone and knocked on one of the doors - most of the people seemed to be at home - but I'm not that bold.

11-70 Motor Court

Back to Dandy Lions

This past Saturday, R and I took V back to Maryville. I was curious to see the inside of Dandy Lions and it was too cold for the picnic I was planning. It did not disappoint. It's a sweet little gift shop in a beautiful building. You would have to love going to work there every day.

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This is the floor of the front porch!

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I am still in awe of this building. It is uniquely beautiful.

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Here's V enjoying one of the two lions that sit out front. I'm sure we shouldn't have let her sit on the lions like that, but once she saw them, she was in love. It's hard to say no - she was so happy sitting on that lion!

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Inside was stunning as well. They've got some great paint color combinations in there and the woodwork is beautiful; this shop is mighty fine.

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I really can't say enough about Maryville. From the few times I've been there, it's exactly what you want in a small town.

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Houses I have lived in: the brown house

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When I think of the brown house, I think of a book called Life Without Water which, while not an exact mirror, is a book that comes close to giving me the feeling of my childhood. We lived in the brown house when I was 6 and 7 - I know this because my mom cut off all my hair the night before I started second grade and I remember being in that living room, pretending that all my classmates were admiring my new 'do.

The brown house sits in the woods, a yard full of cactus. Around that house, my little brother was attacked by a swarm of bees and a man put tobacco "juice" on the welts, my father found the tail of a rattlesnake, my kitten got stuck in a tree and my mom parked the car under it, climbed on the roof, and got her down. In that house, I used to dance with a fairy wand to Tubular Bells (before it was used in the soundtrack to The Exorcist, ruining it for me forever), my brother broke the head off his Scooby-Doo-shaped soap and cried, and my parents decided to divorce. "Decided" being a really polite word for how it actually went down.

The brown house is there still, abandoned.

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I pass it on the way to my mother's house. The water heater did not work. My mom would boil a couple of pots of water, and my brother and I would take a bath together in water three inches deep. Clawfoot tub. Tiles were coming loose in the bathroom and mushrooms grew in the squares left behind.

In this house I learned how to pop my knuckles. Around this house a boy first told me the things people do when they have sex. It was in this house that I listened to the rain as it hit the metal roof. In this house I wrapped up against the chill in a quilt handmade by my grandmother, and listened to the arguments as I fell asleep.

I played in the neighbor's yard a lot - no cactus there, and she was a kind, elderly woman who insisted I call her Mamaw. She had these really tall pine trees that looked to me like they were arranged to mark off the rooms of a house. So I played house there, without any actual walls, doors, windows. But they were there; I could see them.

The brown house had a double fireplace - one side in the kitchen, one side in the living room, where I would play the record player and dance around the room with my wand. I had a pretty brown velvet skirt that was too big. Someone had given it to me, a hand-me-down. It was too big and then summer came and I put it in the closet. When winter came again I thought about that skirt and couldn't wait to wear it. When I tried to put it on, it was too small.

The floors were wood. The ceilings were high. The walls were bumpy plaster. There was a window over my parents' bedroom door. I threw balls through it. One day, my brother hit his head on the corner of the china cabinet that came with the house. My mom was at work. My father worked at night. He cleaned my brother's wound and told me to clean up the blood that had dripped on the floor.

Things came with the house. The china cabinet, a kitchen table, a cat we called Goldie. We took Goldie with us when we left, but she ran away.

When it was warm/cool enough, my family would walk down the dirt road to watch the sunset. I remember being happy. We would walk past the old graves scattered through the woods and the big house that was slowly being consumed by kudzu. The bats would come out and my brother and I would run around screaming, confusing them terribly. I remember the river there at the end of the dirt road. I remember a fiery orange and raspberry sky.

Anything like a writer

My good friend Shelli has tagged me for a meme. The subject is "3 writing tips."

First of all, I don't consider myself anything like a writer. Just so you know. Shelli also suggested 3 photography tips, since that's what I'm into. I thought I'd try both.

Writing tips are up first:

  1. Edit, edit, edit. And then edit again, and ok, once more. Whether it seems like it or not, when I write I try to get all unnecessary words out of there. If you could see the junk I'm going to cut out of this post, you'd laugh.
  2. Learn how to turn a phrase and develop your style. I like unusual phrases. I like to make up words ("heavywet" comes to mind - this is what we say at my house when V has a wet diaper). I like words and phrases and situations that are uniquely Southern. This is my thing. I try to use it to my advantage. I used to be better at it before I lost my funny. Yeah, I lost my funny when I had a baby. More on that another day (See? Editing! This bit was a lot longer before I hit it with my backspace key). Anyway, what is it about words that you love? Figure it out and develop your talent for it.
  3. Write what comes easy. I'll tell ya, I don't have a lot of readers, but I have had a couple of comments saying that people have enjoyed my writing. I have no explanation for this because I hate writing. I actually have an article I should have written three months ago for a website I love. I'm planning on finally finishing it this week (I think). While I feel really blessed to have this opportunity, I never should have suggested it because I'm a born procrastinator. But writing about my grandparents and my family? Love it. It's easy for me. The only thing that takes a long time is the editing, but that's only because I want it to be perfect.

I can't think of anyone I want to tag on this but if you want to join in, consider yourself tagged. I'll post the photography tips soon...

The scent is green tea

Green tea soap

I was reading this yesterday.

I really identify with Yvonne's feelings about her body and her weight. Almost everything she's ever written about it, I could've written at one point or another (me and a lot of other women - I don't even have to read the comments to know that they are there). Presently, I am kicking myself for regaining a significant amount of weight between November and today. About 25 pounds. Or so. It's hard for me to think about, really. I was so close. Not to being "thin," but to achieving the goal I'd set for myself before getting pregnant again.

I had read this diet book that made a lot of sense to me and I followed the plan very well and lost a lot of weight very easily and everything was extremely rosy. Then my brother came to visit. And with one simple brunch I started back down the path I'm on today. Then with the Christmas cookies. And some really good Thai food.

But I had an idea yesterday while I was grocery shopping. Because I am so very tired of it all. I don't want to go on another diet. I don't want to count calories or eat all salads, all the time. I don't want to spend hours at the gym. I just want to live. My life. Now. And be happy. Considering all my other blessings, this is not too lofty a goal.

So my plan is to put into place the good habits I want in my life, to create that "no-fail environment." Eat good and healthy food. Exercise. I'm going to lift some weights. None of this is revolutionary. But I also want to start taking care of myself now, as I am. For example, I have one pair of workout pants that I've been wearing whenever I go out. I need some clothes that fit and that I don't hate. That's quite the feat, I'll tell you, but it can be done. And it doesn't have to happen all at once. None of this has to happen all at once.

Yesterday I bought a pretty soap. I know that doesn't sound like much, but right now it means a lot to me. Right now I'm not even washing my face and putting on lotion every night. If the me from three years ago could look ahead and see me doing that now, she would not even be able to wrap her head around the concept of not caring about going to bed with a dirty face. Yes, things have slid. Lots of things.

But I don't just want to say I'm going to love myself as I am and use that as an excuse not to get healthier. Goals are good. What I want is to see things straight enough to live in the moment and not feel embarrassed by my weight, no matter what it is. If I can't weigh 50 pounds less rightnowthissecond, then I can dress like I care what I look like, like I deserve to be here. I can put bottles of lotion around the house for my hands. I can shave my legs more than once a month. I can wear some earrings once in a while. I feel rough; I don't like it. I don't feel like me.

So while I was picking out my pretty soap I had the idea that if I start taking care of myself in a few small ways, that will give me the strength to keep reaching for my goals. One action will lead to another and I will pull myself out of this rut.

I have this recurring dream that I am walking in a circle and I can't stop. The wind is blowing and books and papers and rocks are flying around the room in their own mini-tornado, as I walk endlessly around and around and around. Until just this moment I always wondered what that dream could mean and why I would have it repeatedly; I couldn't even venture a guess. My issues aren't magically solved by this revelation, of course, but I am feeling more peaceful. And hopeful.

It's all a work in progress, this life.

List of ten: foods we ate when I was a kid

Here are some of the foods we ate very often when I was a kid.

  1. Fried green tomatoes
  2. Chickenbread (make biscuit dough, only thin it out, then fry it into cakes in the leftover oil from the whole chicken you just fried up crispy for Sunday dinner)
  3. Fatback
  4. Cathead biscuits
  5. Pickled peaches
  6. Fried okra
  7. Day-old cornbread in a glass of buttermilk (I didn't eat this one)
  8. Homemade plum juice from the plums that fell into my grandparents' yard from their neighbor's tree
  9. Green beans boiled flat with ham and a potato or two
  10. Homemade fig preserves

Lenoir City, Pt. 2

Lenoir City looks like the kind of town I dream of living in. The area around the downtown section is really hilly and the houses are just so pleasing to look at.

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They are in varying states of renovation/disrepair, but I find all of them beautiful.

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The wrap-around porches are always stunning, and I especially love the tradition of painting the ceiling of the front porch a calming blue or turquoise color.

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It also makes me happy to see yards decorated with unusual baubles. I'd love to stop and look at everything up close.

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This last house is my favorite - all green and red with ironworks. Just beautiful. This would be a wonderful place to call home.

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If you're interested, I have several more pictures of homes up at flickr.

Lenoir City, Pt. 1

As wonderful as the weather was just a few days ago, now it's colder and wetter again - we even had a couple of snowflakes this morning. They just get lost on the wet ground, though, so it's no real reason for celebration. A week ago or so, our neighbors decided they'd had enough of the rains flooding their front porch. They said they have called the office repeatedly to come and do something about it, but nothing happened. So the two of them dug a trench along the walkway to the backyard. The complex management promised to come and fill the trench with gravel, but it's been a while and so far it's just a big, muddy mess.

I felt like I just had to get out of this little box yesterday, so I put V in the car and we drove to Lenoir City, TN. The downtown area seems to be smaller and not quite as cute as Maryville - but the houses right around the downtown area are not to be missed.

I had a hard time navigating the town at first. I didn't see any signs pointing to the downtown area, so I drove around a few winding country roads.

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Eventually I found the downtown area, but I literally gasped when I saw all those beautiful houses up on the hill. So I turned beside this building first thing to get to the houses as quickly as I could.

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Back among the houses are several churches. This one appealed to me the most. I'm not sure I've ever seen a blue church, but it is just beautiful.

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Here's a shot from downtown. This building is for rent. If it wouldn't be a complete waste of the agent's time, I'd call for a tour. The downtown area is very lively - not too much traffic, but definitely a vital community. I wish I'd known about it before we moved here; I would've worked really hard to find a rental house in Lenoir City instead of this tiny little box apartment in Knoxville (which we rented sight-unseen since we were moving from West Palm Beach, FL - a good 12+ hours away).

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V was extra well behaved on this trip. We were gone more than two hours - I brought books, stuffed animals, goldfish and "miles" (what she calls those fruit juice gummy candy things in the shape of smiley faces from Wal-Mart). Worked like a bunch of well-planned charms. I just couldn't get enough of the houses.

Here's one more building from the downtown area - love the colors on the side of this building!

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I'll have my favorite house pictures up on Friday, along with a lot of other photos on flickr.


R is on his way back from North Carolina today, where he had an interview yesterday. We should know by the end of the month if and where we're moving. I feel like I've been waiting for years. Actually, I have. I feel like wherever we go next is our destination - if we can, we're going to stay there. I'm tired of moving. I've enjoyed the places we've lived: Atlanta, West Palm Beach, Knoxville. But I want a house, I want to have a home, be part of the community, take everything out of the boxes this time.

The waiting is almost over, I can feel it.

Stay a spell...

back porch at grandmama's

The photo above shows my grandparents' house in 1961. I don't know the girl in the picture, and I wasn't yet born. They've got the materials out to lay the border of the patio, the dogs keeping watch. The house hasn't been bricked up yet, there are no awnings. You can see some of that wonderful old metal lawn furniture. To the left of those chairs is where the spearmint will grow and to the right of the walkway will be the dogwood.

The patio—I can't think of a better word for it, though this is not what we called it. I'm not sure we called it anything other than "outside." It was a little area of brick my grandfather laid outside the back porch of their house that led to the driveway, a place to "set and stay a spell." Sounds simple enough, but it was easily one of my favorite places at the house. There was a 1-foot wall at the back of it, always with something planted there. Usually a small tree or a large bush and then other smaller plants around—marigolds were a favorite, impatiens, for several years he had heather. But there was always spearmint growing. I don't remember it ever being used for cooking or tea, but it always grew. I loved it. The great thing about it was that as kids, we could be pretty rough with it—pulling leaves to crush and smell, tromping through it—it was so very hearty. This is one of the things I will plant in my own yard, when I get one.

There was always a good place to sit on the patio—you know those old gliders? Granddaddy painted the furniture a different color every other year, usually green or red. Gliders are slow, relaxing, comforting to me. I'd sit on the glider with my grandfather, my feet hanging off, and he'd glide and we'd talk. I'd ask him questions, very often when will the watermelon be ripe, Granddaddy? I'd bring him a glass of sweet tea in the heat when he'd rest after cutting the lawn. It seemed like he was always lawnmowing.

On the opposite side of the spearmint was a dogwood and a holly tree (hated the holly—no fun with my perpetually bare feet). The dogwood was planted in a small bed. My grandfather raked the dirt around the tree daily, his own tiny Zen garden. Around the bed he placed the smooth river rocks he painted red and white. Whenever he would cut a low-growing branch off the tree, he would paint the wound white, sometimes with a smiley face in red.

I loved the bricks and how moss would grow in the rounds. I spent a lot of time pulling perfect circles of moss out and planting them in other spots in the yard where I would forget about them until they died of thirst a few days later. I remember spending afternoons laying down with my face on the patio, petting the moss in the hot summertime, hugging the cool brick.

Maryville, Pt. 2

Yes, the houses are wonderful in Maryville—and I'm sure I only scratched the surface of what's there. In fact, I saw a neighborhood while I was driving around downtown that looked fantastic, but I never seemed to get there from here and then all of a sudden it was time to go home.

I love the old downtown areas of small towns, don't you? The buildings are, well, so sweet I just want to pop them in my mouth like candy. I really need to find out more of the history of Maryville, but there just doesn't seem to be time. It doesn't matter—I got some great photos.

It hasn't even been a year since I got my first DSLR and I'm loving it. The only thing that makes me happier than relaxing with my family is relaxing with my family with some good natural light and my camera around my neck. So far, I have two lenses. The kit lens that I almost never use and an inexpensive 50mm lens that I'm in love with. This is not the kind of lens to take photos of houses and buildings with, but I love how it gives me these great detail shots and I feel like I get more of the essence of the building than just a pictoral representation.

Case in point:

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The turquoise! The white! The brick! Red, white and blue, baby—I'm in heaven. On the building it says WATCHES AND JEWELRY. Exactly.

Here's a mural depicting "Smoky Mountain Music History" and a detail shot. The only person in the detail shot that I recognize is Minnie Pearl (because we used to watch Hee Haw when I was a kid). You can also see Dolly (adore!) on the right in the orange dress. Can't miss her!

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Then there's the Palace Theater, which has been restored and is in use. Wonderful!

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My real find was the AK Harper Memorial Library building. It's not a library anymore, but a shop called Dandy Lions. It's a tiny jewel of a building. The brick is amazing. I'm glad a shop like Dandy Lions is using it because I'm sure they're taking good care of it.

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Then there's my latest obsession; I had to put this photo in. I hadn't thought about Family Inns in forever, but I've seen four so far here in East Tennessee. For some reason, those signs just make my heart happy.

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I have these photos and a few more uploaded to the new Springtree Road flickr account. If you're interested, check them out—and leave me a comment if you like something you see!

Today, the joy

My poor little girl. I've been keeping her cooped up and I haven't even thought that much about it. She's been so good, but that's really no excuse—a growing girl needs fresh air, green grass and blue skies. Well, today I took V to the park. It's a lovely park, full of mature trees and wide open spaces. To say that V felt joy in being there would be an understatement.

I think she pretty much looked like this the whole time:

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We were there for a good 90 minutes with V alternately running around flapping her arms in glee or stopping to explore grass, trees, leaves, moss.

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Can one be both calm and exuberant? In the out-of-doors, I think so. There's a very busy street that runs right alongside the park, but V didn't even notice it—I barely did. Old trees are serene; they can't help but be so.

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V took home with her a rock, a small stick and a large piece of bark.

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We're definitely going back soon, maybe tomorrow.

List of ten: after the move

I know I've said before that we're moving, and we are. I'm just not sure when (best guess: May). It depends on a lot of things. But whether we stay in Knoxville or move to another city/state, we will rent a house next. R and I are very much looking forward to that. So here's a list of 10 things I want to get or do after we move:

  1. Take a photography class
  2. Get a new bed
  3. Find a good playgroup for V
  4. Get a real desk, instead of the potluck table I'm using now
  5. Start a flower and/or vegetable garden—even if it must all be in containers
  6. Start a fairy garden
  7. Get a miniature tangerine tree
  8. Windchimes
  9. Get a table for V's art
  10. Get preggers

I have a lot of work to catch up on (I work at home as a copyeditor for a non-profit) so I'll continue the post on Maryville either tomorrow or Thursday.

Maryville, Pt. 1

Though we need all the rain we can get, I was disappointed this morning to find it very moody and gray outside. I was planning to take V to the park to try to ease some of the symptoms of nature-deficit disorder we've been feeling since winter began, but since it was raining I took her on a drive to Maryville instead.

Maryville is a small town of about 26,500 or so about half an hour from Knoxville, TN. Sometimes I take V to an art class in Maryville and I've become enchanted by this small town. I took some pictures of the downtown area, which I'll share tomorrow. But for today, here are some houses that caught my eye.

These first four are from a neighborhood right outside of town. It's not so much that the houses are beautiful, it's just there's a feeling about them that is familiar to me.

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This is the Moses Gamble house, circa 1892, which is in downtown Maryville. Moses must've had a full agenda—during his lifetime he was a Member of the House, a Senator, a Professor, a Circuit Court Judge, and a US Commissioner. Now Moses's house is used for office space.

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Another house downtown. Is it Victorian? I don't know nearly as much about old houses as I would like. But I thought this one was cute as a button.

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These little trips can only last about an hour before the whining begins. I know it's not nearly as much fun for V as it is for me right now, but I hope when she gets older she'll start to appreciate our little excursions.

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Sarah Jane Studios

October So, you've heard of Sarah Jane Studios, right? I've been planning to get a print for V's bedroom after we move, but when I read her blog this morning, I moved up my timetable. She's having a sale that she's only advertising on her blog: buy two, get one free. It's a wonderful opportunity—I'm getting three for V, including the one in this post (her birthday is in October). She is sure to love them for years to come. Once we move, I'll post some pictures of the prints in her new room. You only have until Tuesday, February 5th, to get in on this deal so see all the details here.

Chicopee and snap beans

When I was three years old, my mother worked at the Estee Lauder counter downtown at Davison’s. In the morning I went to daycare. In the afternoon, Granddaddy would pick me up and take me back to his house until it was time to go get Grandmama from work at Chicopee. The back door was always open. So everyday I would run in, swinging wide and letting slam the screen door, scoop up the bottle of chocolate milk my grandfather had left on the table for me, and jump on the sofa, laying down to drink saying, “I am so tired!”


Granddaddy had a wonderful garden every year. He grew peppers, okra, beans, peas, corn, several varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers for pickling. We had a sliced, salted tomato both at dinner and supper all summer. For supper, Grandmama would get a big bowl of snap beans and I would help snap them and pull the strings. We’d either sit outside on the back patio area or inside on the sofa together and work quietly. For years of my life that was a summer afternoon.


We would leave early to pick Grandmama up. Granddaddy would park on the hill facing the building so we could see everyone walk out at quitting time. Sometimes we’d get out of the car and walk around a little bit because we’d get bored waiting. Grandmama would bring me a lemon/lime from the drink machine. It came in an opaque plastic cup. I loved drinking it and then crunching the tiny ice pebbles, still sweet from the soda. On other days, we’d stop at the Dairy Queen and I’d get a chocolate-dipped cone or those lime sherbets they used to sell in the shape of a star that I can’t remember the name of.

A hair washing good time

V loves to fingerpaint. And I love it when she fingerpaints. Except that I don't love it when she fingerpaints. It's always more messy than I'm comfortable with, which is hysterical considering the state of the rest of the joint. When we move into a house, I want to get her her own art table and have a specific, easily cleanupable area for her to explore art. Until then, I tape down some garbage bags, grin and bear it.

It always starts out innocently enough.

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But eventually she starts in on the Baby is washing her hands! part.

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Next comes Baby is washing her hair!

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Then it's definitely time for a bath!

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But the finished product is gorgeous, don't you think?

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