Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Chi Is Fine, Thanks

Here's a sunset over Happy Hollow that I snapped as I was leaving my tai chi class. My fellow tai chi'ers think it's funny that I always have my camera with me, but I never know what I'll see that takes my fancy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Avast, Mateys

I was just astonished to find out that you can purchase Pirate's Booty at the grocery store. 
I hope they use only organic free range pirates with that aged white cheddar, or I'm not buying it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


The Hola! Festival, an annual celebration of Hispanic culture, came to Market Square yesterday. I arrived too late to see the traditional costumes and dances during the Parade of Nations. But I made up for it by eating my way around Central and South America (carne asada ... mmm).
And then there was the music and dancing. The top photo shows a mariachi singing traditional Mexican ballads. The woman standing next to me was singing along. When the DJ began playing Latino music from the stage, everyone cut loose. What a joyful crowd!
Where was I? Shaking my tailfeather behind the camera, of course. No hay ritmo, but nevermind, that's never stopped me before.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We Really Mean It

This little sign along Neyland Drive by the stadium still has me laughing. I guess there must be some football fans who think the parking rules are suspended during the game.
It's an away game today at Auburn University, and Virginia at Birmingham Daily Photo can dodge the traffic while I'm running errands unfettered by game day. (and happy 100th post, V, you absolutely rock!)

Friday, September 26, 2008


I'm going all abstract art on you today. Here's a graceful horsetail swooshing across the sky, not sponsored by Nike.
Sky Watch Friday has hundreds of styles and colors of skies. Go pay them a visit.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


You really don't need that big old gas guzzling air polluting riding mower to keep your backyard in shape. Just get a couple of llamas and your yard maintenance problems will be solved. I spied this clever green solution during my walk along a greenway.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I showed you the facade of this building on Jackson Avenue a week ago. Here's the inside ... which is now really part of the great outdoors. Skeletal remains call out for a forensic architect.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rate of Deflation

Since I've introduced you all to the Sunsphere now, you'll be seeing more of it from time to time. I won't be doing a weekly series like Strangetaste's wonderful Thursday Arch series at St. Louis Daily Photo. But I will be checking in whenever I see something interesting. Like this. 
Looks like someone's opened the wrong valve up there, and the Sunsphere is about to deflate.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Volunteer Spirit

Last Thursday, Julie at Sydney Eye asked me how the UT Volunteers got their name. She can tell a story in one elegant haiku. Warning: I'm a lot more wordy.
Tennessee Volunteers are much bigger than just a college football team.
Every state in the US has its official nickname. These names reveal something unique and significant about the land, people, or history of the state.  Tennessee is the Volunteer State. According to the Tennessee Blue Book, the state's publication of information about Tennessee, the nickname began during the War of 1812, when thousands of Tennesseans volunteered to serve their country at the request of Governor Blount.  Tennessee volunteers showed exceptional bravery during the Battle of New Orleans. 
Tennesseans have shown that volunteer spirit ever since, in many ways. Community service and helping others in need are a hallmark of the spirit I've found here. The Volunteer Ministry Center downtown, which helps the homeless, is a prime example. 
So, the next time you see the word "Vols," think about all the different ways Tennesseans volunteer to make a positive difference in their world.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Young Anachronists

There's been some discussion around the CDP community about needing to explore other areas of our towns so as not to fall into a rut. I took that advice to heart, and decided to investigate Victor Ashe Park in Northwest Knoxville, one of the city's newest parks. I was not disappointed.
The city purchased 115 acres in the heart of the Northwest neighborhood to create this beautiful community space, and named it after Victor Ashe, former mayor of Knoxville, who is currently serving as US ambassador to Poland. Love him or hate him (and there are folks in both camps there), Ashe left the city a strong legacy of parks and a network of greenways that are still growing. 
I decided to show you the very first thing I saw as I pulled into the parking lot. These young people came to the park to joust. Their swords and staffs are covered with foam rubber, so no one gets hurt. Here, like the Fellowship of the Ring, they are on the road to adventure.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In the Navy

In the Navy, you can sail the seven seas. Or so the Village People proclaimed in their 1970s hit song. But in the Vol Navy, you can sail right up the Tennessee River and dock near the stadium.
The flotilla of orange and white rests peacefully at anchor in the early morning before the game, framed by the arch of the Henley Street bridge. 
And so as not to deprive you of all that orange-and-whiteness, here's a close-up of some UT football fans and their boats:
I'm telling you, this stuff just boggles my mind.

Addendum: a gracious thank you to Leedra, who gave me a blog award. I'd pass it on to five other blogs that I enjoy, except that there are many more than five!

Friday, September 19, 2008


I learn all kinds of things about the world from CDP bloggers. Mary Beth at Small City Scenes of Stanwood clued me in to sundogs with one of her photos. I had never heard of or seen a sundog in my life. And let me tell you, I'm no spring chicken.

Maybe I just needed to LOOK UP more. Because when I LOOKED UP last week at World's Fair Park around sunset there it was. A sundog! A parhelion par excellence! A celestial phenomenon! With many exclamation points!

I ran around in little circles shouting, "Look! Look! A sundog!" The man sitting on the bench by the fountain probably thought I was barking mad; he gave me a worried look and sidled away to the other side of his bench as I snapped away.

But as I took a deep, calming breath and walked away to find more photo opportunities, don't think I didn't notice him pulling out his pocket point-and-shoot camera and aiming it at the heavens too.

Look up Sky Watch Friday and see what other folks around the globe saw when they LOOKED UP.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Volunteer Autumn

You know autumn is on the way in my town by observing what's blooming in the decorative planters along Volunteer Landing on the waterfront. Orange and white are the primary fall colors in Knoxville, and mums take center stage.
This photo was inspired by Marley at Cheltenham Daily Photo, who has done some fantastic work with floral photographs.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sunlight and Shadow

Jackson Avenue is deserted in the midday sun, except for shadows and photographers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grackle Redux

The sunrise gently colors the sky over Knoxville to reveal ... more grackles. What a surprise.

Work is crazy busy so I'm leaving you with few words and more birds.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chaos Theory

Large flocks of grackles are moving through town right now. They come every year at about this time, stay for about a month or so, and then disperse to parts unknown. Every evening, large flocks circle the tall buildings downtown looking for places to roost for the night. They dive into the trees in Krutch Park and Market Square until the branches are seething with birds jostling for a perch. I love to watch this chaos theory in action as the flocks swoop and dive in their ancient aerial ballet. 
Many people are concerned about the mess all these birds leave on the sidewalks under the trees. I agree, don't walk under those trees without at least an open umbrella protecting your head from droppings.
But you know, it could be worse. They could be flying monkeys instead.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Scruffy Little City

Every community has its stories, its history. Just like in families, these bits and pieces come together to define the essence and character of a place. We tell these stories to new generations to strengthen that sense of belonging. We share these stories with others to give them a sense of what we're all about.
I often show you the details of this place that I call home, but today I'm pulling back to the bigger picture to tell you the story of the Scruffy Little City and the 1982 World's Fair.
In 1974, the president of the Downtown Knoxville Association proposed the idea of hosting a World's Fair in Knoxville. At first the idea was met with skepticism - after all, how could a small city in the Mid-South achieve such a huge goal?  But the idea caught on, and city movers and shakers of the time lined up financing and exhibitors. The city secured an abandoned railway switching yard along Second Creek to transform from an eyesore into a beautiful fair site.
Of course there were critics, the biggest being the Wall Street Journal. The Journal published an article calling Knoxville "a scruffy little city on the banks of the Tennessee River" and opined that this fair would never see the light of day. They might as well have thrown rocks at a hornet's nest. East Tennessseans got riled up, as they say around here, and went on to create a successful fair.
Twenty-six years later, we still call our town the "scruffy little city," mostly with affection. The Sunsphere, one of the few remaining structures from the fair, is often lampooned, most notably in the Simpson's episode "Bart on the Road." We have World's Fair Park, with large lawns and a new interactive fountain that attracts parents and kids in the summer months. You can see the fountain (with kids) and the Sunsphere in the photo I took there this past Thursday.
All in all, the fair created a good legacy for new generations to enjoy. Not bad for a scruffy little city.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Go Vols

It's football time in Tennessee. That means the University of Tennessee Volunteers have started their season.
What do you mean, you don't know what port-a-potties have to do with football? You're obviously not from around here. That bright orange with the white T are the university colors. And the enthusiasm for showing those colors is called Volmania. You'll see orange and white on everything from clothing to cars to ... well, port-a- potties like these.
East Tennesseans are passionate UT football fans, and football is big business. Well, those forty thousand people crammed into Neyland Stadium have to eat. And buy more orange and white souvenirs. Did you know that that particular shade of bright orange is trademarked by the University, and you must be licensed by them to sell anything colored with that orange? 
I'll admit, I'm not a football fan, and I often roll my eyes when I know I'll have to plan my comings and goings around game day traffic. On the other hand, it's fun to watch the absolute Spectacle of it all.
So, good luck Vols and Vol fans. All I ask of you is to let me through to get my grocery shopping done.

Friday, September 12, 2008


These cloud formations just don't quit! We're looking south through the trees of Krutch Park. The sunset colors are reflected on this massive cloud by the Holston Building. I've shown this view before by moonlight. The bird swooping by is a grackle. They are migrating through town by the hundreds right now.

To see more beautiful skies, migrate on over to Sky Watch. It will lift your spirits.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Seattle has its Mount Rainier. Tokyo has its Mount Fuji. Knoxville has...well, this week it had a really big cloud that looked like a mountain. We've had some truly awesome clouds sailing above Knoxville this week, so I'm getting a head start on Sky Watch. This mountainous cloud is framed by the trees in Krutch Park.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Come and Get It

This statue stands outside of the Phoenix Building on Gay Street, advertising for the Downtown Grind coffee shop. 
Don't get me wrong, I love Downtown Grind. Their coffee is fantastic, and I like the friendly staff. But there is just something about this statue that gives me the creeps. I mean, look at him, with that mysterious, self-satisfied smile. He knows things. Dark, secret things that have nothing to do with cappuccinos. 
And why does he have his hand behind his back? What's he got back there that he's not willing to share with the rest of Knoxville? 
What do you think?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Twilight Glow

It's twilight on Jennings Avenue. Moonglow and neonglow light my way. As I snap my photo, I wonder what kind of bodies Lusk actually sells. 
The city has recently designated this area Downtown North and has promised renovation. It's a mostly forgotten commercial/industrial area between downtown and the Old North Knoxville neighborhood. Not much happens there during the day, and it can be kind of dicey at night. But like many marginal areas, rents are low, and artists have discovered this and established studios there. I wonder how the planned renovation will affect them.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I keep telling you that Knoxville is a fun town. See?
Wouldn't it be interesting if the windows in the reflection were really like that, and this wasn't a distortion? Maybe Gaudi designed this building, we are really in Barcelona, and I'm an unreliable narrator.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Electric Graveyard

This is where lamp posts go to die. They find the nearest electric substation.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Keep Out

Jackson Avenue used to be a bustling warehouse district at the turn of the 20th century. Now it is part of a designated Historic Warehouse District, officially on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. There are still old warehouses here. But being designated Historic doesn't mean that all the warehouses still exist.
Case in point: see this photo. 
I imagine some sort of warehouse used to occupy this plot of land. There is certainly an old building next door to speak to the truth of the existence of warehouses. But the beautiful entropy of Nature has interjected herself to remind us that warehouses are not forever, even in the downtown area. 
The weeds are high and golden in the late summer sun. Dark indigo elderberries hang in gracefully drooping clusters, and the kudzu sea tumbles down the embankment.
Perhaps the Built World is what's being kept out at this moment in time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

On the Grid

We are not a wireless society yet. And I'm glad, or else I would never have been able to lasso the moon for you. 
There's lots more skies to be rounded up at the Sky Watch Friday website. So go on over and have some fun.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rough Seas

The spire of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church bobs on the waves of a kudzu sea. It's not going under for the last time, really. It just seems that way when I'm looking up from the bottom of the embankment on Jackson Avenue. This is another section of the kudzu zone I showed yesterday.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wild Things

Here we are at the end of summer, and I realize that I have been negligent in my CDP duties. Mea maxima culpa! I have neglected to show you at least one stunning vista of kudzu.

Now, all y'all in the southeastern US know exactly what I'm talking about, and I know some of you have posted your own local conglomerations of kudzu.

This is one of ours. And frighteningly, it's downtown. And even more frighteningly, this shot is only a small part of it, a sea of kudzu, the likes of which haven't been seen since the last Ray Harryhausen film.

I chose the black and white version, frankly, because it looks creepy, like carefully crafted topiary from a very deranged gardener.

And for your recommended daily dose of irony, I shot this from the Catholic church parking lot on Vine Avenue.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Late Summer

Summer may be winding down here in East Tennessee, but it's not gone yet. Early September is still packed full of heat and humidity and lush green growth, even in the heart of downtown. But there's a rhythm to the season as afternoon shadows grow longer and days grow shorter, birds migrate through town, and late blooming plants reveal their colors.

Here's a burst of color in a vacant lot on Jackson Avenue: thistle courts butterfly, afternoon sun glows through opaque wings and traces veins on leaves.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Army of Sisters

According to the Sister Cities International organization, Knoxville has seven sister cities. Seven. I kid you not. They are:
Chelm, Poland
Chengdu, China
Kaohsiung, Taiwan/China
Larissa, Greece
Muroran, Japan
Neuquen, Argentina
Yesan County, South Korea
I didn't sign up for theme day since I knew I wouldn't have time to search for images, track down the photographer, and get permission to post the image. But I wanted to post some kind of connection to a far-away sister city despite that. 
So, (work with me here, I'm desperate), I'm posting a shot of the Greek dinner I made last night and dedicating it to Larissa. Hello, Larissa! 
In case you're wondering, that's broiled eggplant with capers and mint, tzatziki (cucumber, garlic and yogurt dip) with pita bread, and some ouzo to make things fun. And no, I am not of Greek ancestry, I just love the food.