A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Hole

Knoxville millstone

A millstone found in a Knoxville garden becomes a focal point for two criss-cross pathways.

During Knoxville’s Open Gardens day, a Dogwood Arts Festival event, local homeowners voluntarily push open their gates and let those of us in love with flora and fauna roam the grounds freely.

One formal garden held something quite unique — seventeen antique millstones — integrated in various ways throughout the beautifully manicured grounds. According to the homeowner, most of the millstones were discovered onsite as old vines and overgrown shrubbery were cleared to restore the gardens to their original glory.   What a find!

Three old millstones

Three old millstones form a pathway in a lovely, traditional Knoxville garden.

For more interpretations of the Word a Week Photo Challenge: Hole, click here.

Posted in A Word a Week Challenge, Festivals, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

An interesting marriage — art and motorcyles — at KMA Art Fair!

Modern Art and Impressionism

Modern Art as interpreted by Alicia and Impressionism portrayed by Hannah — two fanciful greeters at KMA~

It’s not every day that you see a line-up of vintage motorcycles AND tents filled with fine art at Knoxville’s Museum of Art.  But there they were.  Together.  Art on the lower level. Cycles upstairs and on the street.  With patrons mingling, looking, and commenting on the fun of having both at KMA on a crisp fall September day, gathered for Art Fair KMA.

If first impressions count for anything, we were blown away by our first two greeters —   Modern Art (Alicia) and Impressionism (Hannah) — who directed us to the lower floor and the outside gardens where members of Foothills Craft Guild and other area artists shared their finest.

First stop: A visit with Sandy and Kelly (art teacher at Sterchi Elementary) manning the tables where “Plates with a Purpose” (hand-painted by area art students) were ready for purchase.  All proceeds go to the museum, said Sandy, and the plates are sooo cute! (Couldn’t argue with that.)

Plates with a Purpose

Showing off Plates with a Purpose, a fundraiser created by area art students, are Sandy and Kelly.

We moved through the crowd, examining the wares and watching artists ply their crafts.  Like Harriet Schneider of Loudon, TN who makes interesting lamps from gourds.  Yes, gourds!

Lisa Kurtz, whose pottery we always admire, said she had personally called many of these artists and invited them to set up at the show — mainly because they were known for quality work.  (She was right!)

Lisa Kurtz

Lisa Kurtz always has great pottery!

Bob Ballard stayed busy weaving baskets of rattan.  These classic workhorse carriers have an appeal all their own — utilitarian yet artsy, too.

Bobby Crews posed with one of her signature paintings of cars.  Crews is known for capturing familiar styles, details, and reflections in her colorful renditions of favorite autos.

Bobby Crews

Bobby Crews with one of her automobile paintings.

Pat Clapsaddle (Facebook – Pat Clapsaddle Pottery) was busy painting a tray with colors that looked pale.  But, according to what Pat told us and what we saw in her finished pieces, those pale colors would come to life after firing. A new line of mugs sported birds, butterflies, and interesting faces, but, in the end, I chose one with colorful fruit to hold my morning coffee.

Lynn Hash tried to describe how needle felting works, but I just sorta stood there awed by this piece.  Not only is it stunningly colorful — it’s also a bit translucent and was absolutely aglow in her garden booth.

Needle felting by Lynn Hash

This large needle felted flower by Lynn Hash caught the sun in her booth in the garden.

Also set up in the garden, Cindy Marshall seemed to enjoy the tedium (Well, it looked tedious to us.) of stringing the tiniest of beads onto thread and then fashioning the strands into jewelry.  From earrings to bracelets to pendants, Cindy’s beadwork took center stage as people gathered round just to watch her at work.

For fanciful pottery, we turned to the booth of Shauna Stevens (facebook.com/shaunaPottery).  Solid colored mugs each bore a tiny animal — from kittens to bunnies and other critters in between.  Her best seller?  She said it’s the little kitty who seems to be falling off the side of the mug.  And all I could think of was the old saying, Hang in there, baby.  Friday’s comin’!

Ryan Blair (ryanblair.com) wowed us with his folksy bottle cap art. Someone asked him where he got all those bottle caps, and he just shrugged and said, Well, mostly people just bring ‘em to me.

Ryan Blair

Ryan Blair pauses a moment fro creating bottle cap art for a picture.

If you’re from Knoxville, you probably remember the old JFG coffee sign — an iconic beacon, especially when it’s lighted in the city at night.  This bottle cap version, by Ryan Blair, is a fun interpretation.

JFG sign

Knoxville’s iconic JFG sign done in bottle caps by Ryan Blair

We hoped we’d win a door prize just so we could shake hands with Team Kirkwood, this quirky pair whose animated voices and colorful get-up turned heads.  They introduced themselves as Denise and Ken, and we liked them instantly, but really we were fascinated by Keni, the young member of Team Kirkwood in polka dots.  Her coy, adorable smile made me want to keep snapping pics of her.

Time Warp Vintage MotorcyclesWith shopping for art behind us, we turned to looking at something we admired but knew nothing about — motorcyles. As we understand it, the exhibit has been in place from September 14 to 20 under the name of CHOICE: An Exhibit of Vintage Motorcycles. Putting the show together was Time Warp Vintage Motorcycles, the club who determined which cycles should be on display inside and which ones outside.  Glad the responsibility didn’t fall on us.  All looked great to us — clean, shiny, vintage, and restored to perfection.

Even in the heat, folks walked around, examining engines, chrome, and leather seats.  And then they voted for the BEST in various categories — European, Japanese, etc. — as well as Best in Show.  I really liked a little yellow number — not for all its merits (which I didn’t know or understand.)  I liked it simply because it was yellow!  And cute.

But we cast our votes for this 1986 Yamaha Fazer mostly because its owner, Danny Hughes, took the time to explain to us why it was a star and what he had done to restore it. (We’ll have to check the Knoxville News-Sentinel to see if our votes made a difference!)

Danny Hughes

Danny Hughes shows off his 1986 Yamaha Fazer.

So there you have it.  Art.  Motorcycles.  And a whole lotta fun.  Who says museums are stuffy old places?  Let’s rev this event up again next year!

Art and motorcycles

Art and motorcycles at Knoxville’s Museum of Art: Art Fair 2014


For more information: 

Knoxville Museum of Art:  http://knoxart.org/

Foothills Craft Guildhttp://foothillscraftguild.org/

Time Warp Vintage Motorcycle Clubhttp://www.timewarpvmc.org/

Posted in Art Show | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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.

Posted in Travel | 13 Comments

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.

Posted in Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

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!



Posted in Photography, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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.

Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

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:


Posted in Antiques, Crafts, Festivals, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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.

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

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.

Posted in Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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.




Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments