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.