Daily Photo Challenge: Dialogue

In most hotels, a dialogue with the housekeeper you never see begins with a hang tag on your door. But at Courtyard Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, you converse via these little handmade dolls. What a charming way to let your wishes be known!


For more dialogue ideas, go to Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue.

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Remembering the Gray Man: Foggy morning walk at Pawleys

IMG_2584Usually I’m up early at the beach.  I walk along the shore at Pawleys Island, South Carolina where we rent a house each summer.  Or follow Myrtle Avenue near the creek where I can see both the marsh and the remaining homes in what’s known as the Pawleys Historic District. But this morning was different.  A fog settled in unexpectedly — a low, gray sort of fog that blanketed the homes facing the beach and turned the sun into a fuzzy cream ball veiled by clouds.

Few people were out.  Just the usual ones who love to greet the sun each morning from their low-slung beach chairs.  Or those hoping to catch whatever will bite and hold long enough to be flung ashore.


It was the eeriness that got me.  I rushed back to our house to grab my camera, and by that time, most of the fog had lifted.


But even that brief encounter brought back memories of an old Pawleys legend — the Legend of The Gray Man.

Gray manFor more than a hundred years now, residents and visitors vow that they’ve seen the Gray Man.  He appears right before a big storm warning residents of impending danger.  According to legend, a young woman first encountered the Gray Man as she strolled along the windswept beach at Pawleys Island after the funeral of her fiance.  And she had reason to be so despondent.  Her childhood sweetheart had returned to the island after a long absence at sea, but eager to see the one he loved, he took a shortcut across the marsh. With his manservant behind him, the young man and his horse sank quickly into the mire, suffering tragic deaths.  After his funeral, the woman walked the beach sorrowfully pondering the sad state of affairs.  But one foggy day, a man resembling her fiance appeared on the beach and warned her:  Leave the island at once.  You are in danger. Then the man disappeared.  She ran to tell her parents who believed their usually sensible daughter, and they packed up that night to leave the next morning.  On the day of the departure a forceful hurricane pounded Pawleys Island, leaving destruction in its wake.  But the woman and her family were spared.

Foggy day at the beach

And so it is that on foggy days, I watch for the Gray Man.  It just may be that he’ll warn us all of another storm brewing at Pawleys. On just such a day as this.

For more information and other accounts of the Gray Man, check out these sources:

For more about what’s happening in Pawleys Island, check out Life in Pi on Facebook.

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Travel theme: Orange

If you’re searching for that magic fall color for this week’s Travel theme: Orange (from Where’s My Backpack), look no further than Knoxville, Tennessee, where Big Orange tradition brings out some of the biggest, bestest, party-goin’ fans in the SEC.  Orange isn’t just a color here . . . it’s a way of life.  When you hear My blood runs orange, you can be sure a dyed-in-the-wool Tennessee fan is rarin’ to go.  It’s great . . . to be . . . a Tennessee Vol!

First, set up your tailgate near frat row and add one giant blow-up Smokey Dog.

Tennessee Tailgate

Tennessee Tailgate

Then, gather your friends around you, pose for a picture, and get ready to sing Rocky Top.

Football time in Tennessee

It’s cowgirl boots or flip-flops and cute orange dresses for these Vol fans!

Next, sit yourself down in Circle Park and rally the troops.  It’s almost Football Time in Tennessee.

So where are you exactly?

So where are you exactly?

And right before the Pride of the Southland band kicks off the pre-game, board that bus near the Volunteer statue and head to Neyland Stadium.  Go, Big Orange!

The Smokey Bus

The Smokey Bus

For more (but not better, mind you) photos suitable for this theme, get on board with Ailsa’s Travel theme: Orange.

And for more on UT Sports, go to www.utsports.com.  You’ll find lots more Big Orange to shout about!



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Weekly Word Challenge: Fray

This week’s WordPress Weekly Word Challenge: Fray brought to mind a phrase familiar to anyone following fashion trends for the past decade or so:  frayed jeans. So I searched Pinterest (It’s easy, you know) for examples of these deliberately tattered, unabashedly fashionable, and what my mom would have called “ratty” examples of frayed denim wearables to meet this week’s photo challenge.

From the board of Melissa Dodge are these jeans from Anthropologie listed as Mother Looker Ankle Fray Jeanshttp://www.pinterest.com/pin/110408628339155623/ (Not sure what your mom might have said, but mine would have looked at these and said, Don’t you dare wear these.  I’ll get them patched this week, and then, and only then, can you be seen in them.)

Frayed jeans from Anthropologie

Today’s desirable fraying isn’t just confined to knees, as Amy Walden‘s pin reveals.  Fraying moves to pockets, thighs, shins, etc., in these jeans from rstyle.me:  http://www.pinterest.com/pin/418342252858462693/


And even though we once worried that fraying might destroy our clothing to the point that there would be little left to wear, fear not.  Ladies now pay up for short, short shorts even though the fray would lead one to believe the purchases might not be around after several washings!  From Karen Osterman‘s board Fashion are these Mystery Shorts/ Vintage Levi’s 501 Button Cut Off Distressed Frayed Jeanshttp://www.pinterest.com/pin/185703184609734403/ that you can purchase on etsy.com


Want more examples of fashionable fraying?  Just head to Pinterest and search frayed jeans. Infinite possibilities!

Be sure to check out more great entries in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray.

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A Blast with the Past: East Tennessee History Fair 2014

Sharing costumes with kids - just for fun

Everyone loves wearing a costume at the East Tennessee History Fair

If the term “jam-packed” ever defined a one-day festival, it would be most appropriate at the Eighth Annual East Tennessee History Fair sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society on August 16th! And you might wonder if anyone in our modern tech age would be interested.  But with record numbers in attendance (probably beating last year’s 13,000) and a grand slate of events, there was no way any one person could see it all . . .  but thousands tried. We hung out mainly in Krutch Park in the center of downtown Knoxville since there were reenactors, authors, and history groups galore.  And our position had a little to do with the proximity right next to the food trucks and Market Square Farmers Market, famous in its own right!  (See bottom of this post for a listing of other events that day.)

East Tennessee Historical Society, sponsor of the East Tennessee History Fair

East Tennessee Historical Society, sponsor of the East Tennessee History Fair

Krutch Park was a-buzz with all the history folks.  Like the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable offering special commemorative items.  Since the Civil War Sesquicentennial is just around the corner, they know folks are watching web sites for updates so they can “do it up right.” They were happy to fill us in on what’ll be happening in East Tennessee.

Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth at East Tennessee History Fair

Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth at East Tennessee History Fair

You could find commemorative mugs and license plats at the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth.

Commemorative mugs and license plates at the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth.

Authors like Gordon T. Belt sat under tents and autographed books. Some even posed for pictures and told why they did all that research and published a book.  (No small feat, of course.)

Gordon T. Belt

Author of John Sevier: Tennessee’s First Hero, Gordon T. Belt, takes a break from autographing copies.

In another booth, Laura Still described her Knoxville Walking Tours.  You can have your choice of packaged tours — Civil War, Ghosts, Early Years, Gunslingers, Literary Heritage — and more.  And if you take one of the 90-minute jaunts, you’ll learn a little Knoxville history and add steps to your FitBit, too!

Laura Still of Knoxville Walking Tours

Laura Still of Knoxville Walking Tours

But most impressive (especially in the summer heat) were the many reenactors in the Living History Timeline representing Colonial days to WWII.  Several, like Kelly Ford in an authentic WWI uniform, told how he made everything using remnants from original clothing.

We were especially honored to meet Abe and Mary Lincoln (Tom and Susan Wright) and their son Tad (grandson Kyle Wright) behind The Holston.

Tom & Sue Wright with grandson Kyle Wright pose as Mary, Tad, and Abe Lincoln

Tom & Sue Wright with grandson Kyle Wright pose as Mary, Tad, and Abe Lincoln

Near the side entrance to the East Tennessee Historical Society Museum, onlookers were fascinated that a blacksmith (Bill Rose) was plying his trade and sharing his techniques right on a city street . . .

Mike Rose demonstrates blacksmithing techniques in Krutch Park

Mike Rose demonstrates blacksmithing techniques in Krutch Park

while some young festival attendees fashioned dolls out of cloth scraps with the help of volunteer seamstresses — much as children would have done in days gone by.

A representative from The Society of Civil War Surgeons portrayed Col. Bill Walker as he shared how surgeries were performed using many of the instruments he had carefully displayed. (See those silver prongs?  They had something to do with “bustin’ up” kidney stones, but I wince even as I post this!)

Col. Bill Walker, Civil War Surgeon

Col. Bill Walker, Civil War Surgeon

David Dinwiddie shared the story and pictures of his great great uncle William Dinwiddie, a Knoxville policeman fatally shot by the infamous outlaw Kid Curry in 1902. The constable hat?  Yep, authentic.  Owned by William Dinwiddie and well preserved, don’t you think?

David Dinwiddie portrays a 1902 constable with original hat worn by great great uncle William Dinwiddie

David Dinwiddie portrays a 1902 constable with original hat worn by great great uncle William Dinwiddie

In another tent, long-time friend Bill Alexander charmed us as only he can do with his poetry and “gen-u-wine” mountain humor.  Dubbed the Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack’s, Bill makes mountain berry baskets and writes poetry, much of which he recites when he performs for crowds who appreciate a true Appalachian humorist and lover of “the good life.”

Bill Alexander, Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack's

Bill Alexander, Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack’s

Talented folks inside the East Tennessee History Center shared their knowledge and crafts  — like Dale Liles and Carolyn Rogers  – the art of spinning; Anne Freels  – how to make cornhusk dolls; and Edward Bardill and others who moved handmade miniature soldiers to replicate the Battle of Campbell’s Station.

By all accounts, the East Tennessee History Fair was one for . . . well, the history books:  record crowd, long list of events, and kids (and grownups) listening while those in the know shared what they came to share.  Better check this one out next year.  It really is a Blast from the Past.

Jeremy Hall, Union soldier, shows Zoe his Civil War firearm.

Jeremy Hall, Union soldier, shows Zoe his Civil War firearm.

Other events in the East Tennessee Historical Society History Fair:

  • Free admission to the Museum of East Tennessee History
  • Davy Crockett’s Birthday celebration
  • “History Hound” Dog Costume Contest
  • WDVX Radio & Clayton Country Music Stage
  • Friends of the Library Book Sale
  • Meet the Authors & Book Signing (Gordon T. Belt, Natalie Sweet, Martha Wiley, Jack Neely, Bill Landry)
  • Raku Pottery activity
  • Living History Timeline
  • Demonstrating Artists
  • Historic Home Tours
  • Civil War Bus Tour
  • Tennessee Theatre Tours
  • Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia and Office Tours
  • Vintage Base Ball Doubleheader
  • East Tennesseans on Film (Bijou Theatre)
  • Civil War Commemoration Event
  • Live Music

For more information:

East Tennessee Historical Society:


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Staging a silhouette takes patience and good background lighting.  But sometimes a silhouette appears unexpectedly.  Like when we toured the Taj at sundown, right before closing time.

Taj Mahal, sundown

We snapped a photo of the long lines waiting to snake around and up and around again on the plaza level, despairing as we noted the time remaining for our visit and how long it would take for a view from above.  Then we made the inevitable decision based upon a statement we say frequently:  Oh, well.  Can’t do it all.  And, camera in hand, we snapped away at those fortunate enough to view the setting sun from one of the world’s most famous structures.  The result for us down below?  A couple of unexpected silhouettes and great memories of an oh-too-short-but-fabulous-anyway visit.

Silhouette of Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal at sundown

People at sundown, Taj Mahal, India

Silhouette at sunset, Taj Mahal, India

For more entries into the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette, click here.

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Travel theme: Endearing

Early morning at Colorado ranchIt could be said, I suppose, that travel to any locale is endearing.  And, to tell the truth, it is if you just love seeing something new. So on a recent trip to a friend’s ranch in Livermore, Colorado, with a group of women I’ve known since college days, I woke to watch the sky turn pink at sunrise only to find that the most endearing thing about those alone times was the chance to watch the hummingbirds.

Hummers at feeder in ColoradoOh, sure, we’ve all seen hummers.  But for some reason, these birds swarmed — not just visited — two feeders — a blue Mason jar and a round red one — as if these sips/slurps were their last. And the birds were undaunted by my presence.  Their colloquy continued whether I was inside the kitchen window or standing on the porch beside the hammock, camera in hand.  I can only guess what social dynamics were at play among this “hummingest” group of not-always friendly flappers engaged in a feeding frenzy.

Mornings became show time for the guests at the ranch as these endearing Rocky Mountain hummingbirds (both new and repeat diners) dipped into the nectar. You never know what your favorite take-back from a travel adventure will be, do you?

For more entries into Ailsa’s Travel theme: Endearing from her blog “Where’s My Backpack,” be sure to click here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag

It wasn’t what I would call intentional.  Looking for zigzags, that is.  But nature has a way of showing off in an exquisite setting like Rocky Mountain National Park, offering magnificent examples for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag.

At the Alpine Visitor Centerzigzag fencing outside the front door directs your eyes to the vista ahead . . .

Jack Fence: Alpine Visitor Ctr

where the zigzag of mountains hovers above layers of land below.

Rocky Mountain National Park vista

Tourists like us zigged and zagged along the winding highway.  Slowly, of course.  We didn’t want to miss a photo op left or right or front or back.

Winding road, Rocky Mtn. Nat. Park

And then when we spied a line of cars parked alongside the road. We, too, pulled over for a closer look.  Sure enough, those ahead had spotted the prize we were seeking:  elk grazing at eventide backed by a zigzag of mountain color.

Elk at eventide: Rocky Mtn. National Park

For more information on Rocky Mountain National Park, click here.

For more entries into the Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag, click here.




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Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

Adventures sometimes just happen.  Unexpectedly even.  And so it was on the last day of a trip to a friend’s ranch in Livermore, Colorado.  My friend, the owner of the ranch and an ATV, said, Let’s take a ride,  and in no time at all, I grabbed my camera and hopped in.  We headed to Prairie Divide where textured landscapes lay on either side of rutted dirt roads — great country for ATVing and pointing at vistas filled with tundra, rocks, pine trees, and the occasional farmhouse.

Dirt road to Prairie Divide

We found an old limb that my friend vowed to return and pick up with the aid of stronger arms than I had.  This is gonna look great in my yard, she said.  (She has a good eye.)

Detail of old limb

We marveled at a budding pine cone so green and soft in its infancy.

New pine cone on branch

And then we found what we came for:  more rocks covered in greenish gray lichen to add to the framework of her curved bed garden back at the ranch.

Rock covered in lichen

Altogether — the ride, the finds, the textures and friendship — formed a memory: a perfect day in Colorado.

For more entries into the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture, click here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

One of the joys of being a grandparent:  showing off the city you love with your granddaughter who still loves wherever you take her!!!

View from the Sunsphere, Knoxville, TN

Summer in the City of Knoxville from the Sunsphere’s Observation Deck!  Our version of summer lovin’!

Want to see more of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’ ?  Click here!



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