Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Endings and Beginnings

I took this shot on a recent December hike at Ijams Nature Center, the beautiful park and wildlife sanctuary in South Knoxville, and one of my favorite places in East Tennessee.

This captures my mood at the close of 2008: some light and some shadow, the brown of winter surrounding a late-falling leaf, a tentative shoot of new green life pushing up through the old muck of the trail.

Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve, everyone. I'll see you tomorrow in 2009, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Clever Moggy

Yes, kitty, I'll never see you hiding behind that twig in the wilds of South Knoxville!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fire In the Hole

I've finally downloaded all the photos that have been sitting comfortably in my camera for the past couple of months (!), so I have a bit of catching up to do. Think of it as a year's end retrospective. These are shots from November, when some friends and I helped local potter Peter Rose with his semi-annual kiln firing. Basically, I shoved wood into the kiln at timed intervals for six hours. Except when I was taking photos. Ahem. You can see some of the future pots in the inferno here:

This was the first time I've had anything to do with pottery apart from buying the finished product. And no, I didn't have any pots in there. We had a very big breakfast at Cracker Barrel when our shift was over. I think I smelled as wood-smoky as the bacon.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Heavenly Peace

An archived image, but still lovely and peaceful: sunset and moonrise over Old North Knoxville.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Private Entrance

Kendrick Place, a block of elegant old townhouses downtown, keeps the peace with a discreet sign.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Here's my parting shot of holiday lights, post-Christmas, dashing through the Old City as a passenger in a moving vehicle.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Comfort and Joy

To all my CDP friends around the world, my friends in Knoxville and Tennessee, and my family scattered across the US, I wish you and your loved ones peace and the blessings of the season, no matter where you are or what you celebrate.

Happy Holidays from Knoxville Girl!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And To All a Good Night

It's a silent night in the Old City on Christmas Eve. But for the first time since the downtown has become popular and prosperous again, the city has decorated this part of town by cleverly transforming the lamp posts into candy canes. I showed you some in monochrome on Monday, which were atmospheric, but lost their context. Business owners and residents in the Old City have felt like the neglected step-children of downtown for the last few years, so I'm glad the sparkly lights have come here at last.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Goose 2

The life-sized porcelain goose that resides in the window of the Crown and Goose pub is decorated for the season. A Christmas goose indeed.
I'll be away from the Internet for the next couple of days, but I'll have some timed posts to share with you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Goose

I'm easing back into a few more holiday shots because, you know, the holidays won't last forever. But I'm still on the monochrome train. The Crown and Goose pub in the Old City is looking mighty festive these days, although the black and white gives it a bit of an Alfred Hitchcock twist.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Still in the Old City section of downtown, still in black and white, it's time to look up toward the skies. Not to spot Santa's flying reindeer, or to take note of the winter solstice, but to see the biggest cup of coffee in Knoxville.

This huge painting still graces the side of the Atelier Building on Jackson Avenue which used to host the JFG Coffeehouse. The coffee house has closed, replaced by a design studio, but the artwork lives on.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

White Lily

We interrupt our holiday schedule for some gritty realism. Because, honestly, as much as I love sparkly lights, I need a refreshing dose of black and white to cleanse my photographer's palate.

So here's a closeup of the industrial end of the Old City. The White Lily Food Company's flour mill and plant has been in Knoxville since 1883. This was its most recent incarnation.

Did you notice that I used the past tense? Sigh.

The J.M. Smucker company bought out the White Lily brand and closed the venerable Knoxville plant in June of 2008, laying off all the plant employees.

What's a Southern baker to do? White Lily Flour was the secret to those lighter-than-air Southern biscuits. Sold almost exclusively in the South, White Lily's secret was in the wheat: a lighter, low-protein, low-gluten red winter wheat grown in the South. The softness of the flour was perfect for biscuits, cakes, and pie crusts, but less effective for yeast breads which need higher protein content to succeed. Low protein flours absorb less liquid, resulting in lighter biscuits. Biscuits made with higher protein flours, which absorb lots of liquid, will have the density of hockey pucks. Hockey is popular in the North, but hockey puck biscuits less so.

Smucker swears that the process to make White Lily at its Midwestern plants will be the same, but some local bakers contend that the wheat was milled to a finer consistency at the Knoxville plant. We still have Martha White Flour made from Southern wheat, but many long time bakers still think White Lily was the top of the line and lament its passing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Volmania Never Sleeps

Football season may be over (thank goodness!) but basketball season has begun, and the University of Tennessee Volunteers mens and womens basketball teams are starting their seasons. So Volmania, that peculiar affliction and affection for UT sports, is never far away. Even the holiday banners on Gay Street have been known to sport the Big Orange "Power T" on occasion. And here's a case in point: look what's floating through a snowy sky banner against the black nighttime sky. For more skies that probably aren't painted or dark, head on over to Sky Watch.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sparkly Park

I just can't get enough of those sparkly holiday lights in Krutch Park.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Better Watch Out

Yeah, and you better not cry either if you don't like your seats. Santa is taking tickets at the outside box office of the Tennessee Theatre. Here's the long view:

Now be good girls and boys and enjoy the show.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Rain

Cold winter rain drums a staccato beat on the roofs of cars as they hiss and splash through leaf-choked puddles. They disappear down the street, and I'm left with sodden trousers and a beautiful shot of holiday gold.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Center Stage

The decorated Christmas tree on the Market Square stage is a thing of beauty, but I like the array of red and green stage lights even better.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Look at those festive ribs - I mean decorative metalwork over the entrance to Krutch Park - all decked out for the holidays. And bonus - there's the horse and carriage waiting to take some riders on a short sightseeing trip around downtown. The lighted tents in the background are part of the ice rink on Market Square.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Ribs festooned with festive lights always put me in a holiday mood. How about you?
Is it a dinosaur on a pedestal? Maybe. I'll show you the big picture tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I'm not Sky Watching today because I'm too busy watching this inflatable Santa at the ice rink on Market Square. He looks more like Yukon Cornelius to me. Bet he has a pick ax behind his back too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Skating Away

For the past few years, the businesses on Market Square have sponsored a huge ice rink for the holidays. It's quite popular with families and teens. I am content to remain an obesrver, as I spend most of my time on the rink either clinging to the wall or dusting ice shavings off my rump after another fall. I'm just impressed that an outdoor skating rink exists in the Mid-South, where temperatures often remain above freezing during the winter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Am a Camera

All right, I'm ready to stop the humbuggery and post a holiday snap or two. Unfortunately, the ones I just took are still sitting all cozy and pixilated in my camera, so until I can get them downloaded, I'm digging out some from last year's archive.
And to start it off, here's a self portrait from a cooperative ornament on last year's tree in the Krutch Park extention downtown. You can see Gay Street in the background. Yes, I am so photogenic, as long as I have that Fuji in front of my face.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Peeking

I peeked through a hole in one of the boarded up doors of the Cal Johnson Building and this is what I saw. There's an upright piano, a huge bank safe, an old radio, ladderbacked chairs, a pinball machine, a bed frame, and tons of other deteriorating stuff. Dust motes danced in the shafts of light streaming through broken windows.
I can see the potential through all the rubbish - this would make a great commercial space, but it would take a lot of work and money. In our downturned economy, I don't see much hope for any takers right now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cal Johnson Building

This is the Cal Johnson building on State Street downtown. It looks pretty sad with boarded up doors and raggedy broken windows, but underneath all that neglect is a vital part of Knoxville's history. The structure, originally a clothing factory, was built in the 1880s by Cal Johnson, a former slave who became a successful businessman. In fact, he was Knoxville's first millionaire of African American descent. And a million dollars had a lot more value in the 1880s than it does today.
Cal Johnson made his fortune through owning several saloons, a racetrack, and real estate. He also served as a city alderman and donated property in 1906 for the city's first black YMCA. This building is a part of his legacy to Knoxville, a physical reminder of the many contributions made to this city by the African American community. It's a shame to let it crumble.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Iguana in the Mist

All kinds of creatures live at the University of Tennessee School of Veterinary Medicine. This is an archive shot of an iguana doing his level best to ignore me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crane Co.

This shot is a close up of part of the McClung warehouses on Jackson Avenue. A significant part of the structure had been damamged by a huge fire a couple of years ago - it was a scary, horrible thing to watch. The parts that remain are locked in a limbo of litigation between the owner and the city.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Drink Down the Moon

We'll drink up the sun,
We'll drink down the moon.
Let the people say little or all.
- traditional folk song

For more skies, visit Sky Watch. It's become a Friday tradition.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Century's Portal

The stained glass doors and transom of the L&N depot sparkle again, whispering of another turn-of-the-century time. Step through the portal, if you will, from 20th to 21st.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Miles of Tiles

This is a detail of the tile floor that is found throughout the L&N depot's old passenger area. This one is in what was once the Ladies Waiting Area. They sure don't make floors like this anymore. I'm glad these tiles have been so well preserved.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Midnight Train To Knoxville

The Louisville & Nashville passenger depot, built in 1905, is still standing despite road construction and downtown development. This is a detail of the neon sign that hangs outside of the building.

The L&N was a grand station in its heyday, with stained glass windows, tiled floors, and a separate Ladies Waiting Room. But everything changes, time moves on, and the last passenger train rolled out of the station in 1968.

Salvation came with the 1982 Worlds Fair, which was built on the site of the old railways, and used the depot as one of the focal points of the fair, full of shops and restaurants.

The main section of the depot doesn't have a restaurant in it currently, but the space can be rented out for special occasions. I have a couple of shots that I'll share with you in the next few days of some interior details.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Theme Day: Circles and Spheres

I didn't officially sign up for Theme Day today because I wasn't sure I'd be back from the Land That Internet Access Forgot. But here I am with another last minute entry, all full of Zen and solitude. It is what it is : an arch, a reflection, an illusion, a circle at last.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Deus Ex Machina

Yes, this is an inferior plot device designed to get me through Sunday - an archive shot of a wonderful machine in all its chrome-and-pipe glory from this summer on Market Square.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Water Lights

Here's an abstract for you: lights from the Henley Street Bridge reflected in the Tennessee River. I'm listening to Handel's Water Music. But not from a barge on the Thames.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ice Cube Clouds

I love reflections. This one really made me smile, first, because it looks like clouds are frozen in a tower of ice cubes, and second, because the sky around the building looks cloudless - but wait, how did those clouds appear in the reflection? No, they were not photoshopped. It's all au naturel. Happy Sky Watch Friday!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Thankful

It's Thanksgiving Day in the US today, and I'll bet this photo was the last thing you expected to see - it's not a parade, or food, and definitely not turkeys in any sense of the word. I've been reflecting on the things in my life for which I give thanks. And although I'm thankful for having food on my table, and for the ability to watch a parade, and even for turkeys, I am also extremely thankful today that I could exercise my right to vote in the national and local elections this month.

That came to mind as I passed the monument to our Tennessee suffragists on Market Square one evening. It was only 88 years ago that the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, giving women in this country the right to vote. And that was made possible in part by the women memorialized here in bronze. Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify the amendment, which cast the deciding vote to pass the amendment into law. Out in front you see Lizzie Crozier French who founded a suffrage society in Knoxville, and behind her are Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville, and Elizabeth Avery Meriwether of Memphis. I'm thankful to them for giving me the gift of a voice in my government.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Neon Calling

The signs call to me, seductive sirens of neon. Alas, it's too late in the evening to get a cheese steak at Lenny's, so I'll opt for some jazz at 4620 nightclub.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rainy Night in Knoxville

Cold November rain has descended on the city. But rain can make things beautiful. Here's an archive shot of the Tennessee Theatre to prove my point. No, I wasn't out wandering about in the rain last night - I was at work.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Not bagpipes. Weird, scary open ended pipes sticking out of a wall. What do you think they're all about? I haven't a clue. Any guesses?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


A few months ago I posted some photos of the Treble Clef sculpture downtown. And now just look at it. Someone left a Clef out in the rain. Or maybe I just found another odd angle that made me giggle.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Green and Gold

Here's one more look at autumn. The colors this year were spectacular. But all things come to an end. The leaves are dropping to the ground now, and frosty mornings are upon us.

Friday, November 21, 2008


There's nothing like a beautiful sunrise to life one's spirits.
And if this doesn't cure what ails you, check out Sky Watch for a big dose of beautiful.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Would you be caught dead in this outfit? I would, but only if it included the lamppost reflection above the skull.
This is Reruns consignment boutique downtown, and it always has the best window displays.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Still Life With Cork

This is how you open a bottle of wine, at least when you belong to one of the book clubs I'm in:
1. Put corkscrew into cork.
2. Pull gently.
3. Watch nothing move.
4. Curse creatively at whoever invented plastic corks.
5. Pull harder.
6. Repeat steps 3 and 4.
7. Get a pipe wrench and pull top of cork.
8. Hooray! Movement!
9. Rats. It stopped.
10. Repeat step 4.
11. Get a pair of pliers and a hack saw just in case.
12. Pull cork with pliers.
13. Hooray! The cork came out!
14. Repeat step 4 for good measure.
15. Take a photo - it makes such a charming still life tableau.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Half and Half

I do love geometric designs. Funny, I wasn't very good at geometry in school. But I like to say "hypotenuse." And "dodecahedron."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Towers and Clouds

The towers of downtown are stretching up to touch the clouds. Perhaps they need to be a wee bit taller.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Patrick Sullivan's Saloon is a landmark building in the Old City at the corner of Jackson and Central Avenues. It's been there since 1888. The original saloon was closed down in 1907 by a local anti-saloon movement; I guess the upright citizens of Knoxville were pretty well fed up with all the trouble these saloons had been causing.
After the saloon was shut down, rumor has it that some enterprising entrepreneur established a brothel on the second floor, but no one has been able to prove this yet. Still, it makes a good story.
The building was bought in the 1970s by Kristopher Kendrick, a local businessman who saw the potential for historic preservation at a time when the status quo was "tear it down."
Today it's a restaurant with a music venue upstairs.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Saw the Light

Yes I did see the light: the reflection of the sun on the windows of the John H. Daniel Co. clothing manufacturing factory and warehouse. This is one of the few working warehouses left in the Old City. Most of the other buildings have been rehabbed into condos or turned into shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. And that's OK by me, because I've lived here long enough to remember when it was a pretty desolate and kind of dangerous place. Historically, the Old City was yet another area full of saloons and brothels and used to be known as the Bowery. Tomorrow I'll post a survivor from that era.
Oh, and the moon is just a little lagniappe for y'all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lower the Curtain

Here's a recent archive shot of the clouds moving in over the city for Sky Watch. You might recognize the Sunsphere, the pedestrian bridge, and the shiny red bricks of the UT Convention Center from some recent entries this week. I took this while waiting for the elevator in the Locust Street parking garage. I especially like the faint reflection of the overhead light in the window - a stealth flourescent spaceship hovering over the Sunsphere.