Friday, February 24, 2017

Early even for the Redbuds, Bud.

Of all the plants and flowers you find in the South, none is as noticeable than the Redbud. Yeah, I know, catchy name, especially when you find out that the RedBud has - get this - RED BUDS. It's mind boggling, isn't it? Though not specifically Southern in origin or locale, the Redbud is a rather iconic tree due to the fact that it is one of the first trees to show its buds - its 'red buds' come springtime. The Redbud or Cercis canadensis is a large deciduous shrub or small tree, native to eastern North America from southern Ontario, Canada south to northern Florida but which can thrive as far west as California. It is the state tree of Oklahoma.

They are found all over the south and like Dogwoods, show up as the snows melt and the rains lessen and spring arrives. Which brings me to my topic of the day. Spring and Redbuds. You see, the weather this year has been so unpredictable that meteorologists are keeping a 'go bag' in the trunk of their car. More than unpredictable, the weather has been so unseasonable as to be almost unbelievable. Record highs even in places such as Denver, to places like Nashville, where usually we'd have had at least one if not two light snows by this time each year. This year, no snow at all!

And that means the trees are a-buddin and the Redbud heralds this weather change by popping out in all its glory. The Redbud you see up there is right across the street from my house.  The color is glorious and all I can do is wonder what's going to happen should Mother Nature wake up and bring us our usual sow and ice storms. Pink Snow is my guess.  

I suppose I should be more worried about the number of spiders and bugs under the house.  Time for a trip to the big hardware store. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

What's A Fella To Do?

This is a story that happened just the other day.  I write about it to help ease my frustration as well as to prove that things happen here in the South like they happen all over.
Amazing lifelike simulation!

It was early Wednesday morning and I was getting off the bus.  It's dark out, but downtown has it's own lights and stores waking up help throw light on the near deserted sidewalks.  I walked in the predawn light down one street and turned the corner into another, passing by the crazy old homeless lady that usually curses at me and was just about to the building where I work when I heard a noise. There are lots of noises downtown usually what with traffic and delivery trucks unloading, but in this early morning hour it was just me and the homeless lady so I stopped and turned around wondering what it was that had caught my attention.  

When I found when I turn around was a couple across the street and down a ways beside TPAC. You can see my amazingly lifelike simulation above. . The woman had her back to the wall and the man was standing in front of her and he had his face in front of her and he was really angry, getting loud and then soft.  I really didn't catch the gist of the conversation, but suffice to say that he was angry and she was getting more than her share of the outcome of that anger. 

He kept yelling at her and keeping her from going anywhere by putting his arms up and his hands on the wall on either side of her. I stood there for what seemed like a long time but was probably only about five minutes watching, unsure of what to do, or whether I should do anything.  He would yell at her and move around a bit, yell at her and then move a bit, getting more and more agitated.  I glanced down the street at one point and caught the eye of the crazy homeless lady and she lifted her arms in a 'what-can-you-do' sort of gesture. I gestured the same in return.  What do you know, me and the crazy old homeless lady actually having a conversation...

I'm not sure what caused the end of the conversation, which from where I was standing, was pretty much one-sided, but they finally picked up their stuff and moved on and I went on into work, still unsure if I should have called the cops or not. 

So, morning in the South, just like most places only with entertainment. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

What's a Little Change Between Friends


As I wander around the vast Southern Landscape (yes, I'm poetic today - get over it.) there are so many things that I do so love and love to spout off about, but this week, I'm going to delve into a little offhand something that sort of peaks my interest.

Backstory [no popcorn needed]:  I ride the bus to work.  Regular readers know this, but it's important to the story so I thought I'd reiterate it yet again. Now, I use a bus pass provided by the state (thanks, governor!) It's hard plastic like a credit card and allows me two uses a day, on days I work of course.  Most other people either pay with cash or they buy electronic cards like the ones you see above. They are printed on card stock paper and you can buy a package of rides, or just one or two and have them all on one card.  People who pay cash and don't have exact change, receive their change on one of these cards.

There's where this all comes together.

Just the other day, as I got on the bus to go home, I looked to my left and there on the seat beside me were TWO of these change cards.  30 cents each. I find these every so often, and each time I do, I wonder at our current state of affairs in which 30 cents can be so casually tossed away.  I mean, if these folks had a quarter and a nickel in their hand, would they toss it out so easily?   Probably not. But a card with 30 cents, spend- able only on a bus ride?  Yeah, toss it aside.  But wait...suppose you ride the bus regularly, and may need that 30 cents?  Now we're talking oddness of the highest order. 

It's ok for me, though.  Now, I know what you're thinking, if I have a bus pass, why pick these up?  The bus driver goes through the bus every day and is mandated to pick up anything left and either a) toss it in the trash or b) take to lost and found.  Cards such as those above fall into the 'A' category.  So, I collect them up and keep them handy for when some one gets on the bus one day and is just a few cents short. I just pass them one of these cards.  

It's a win/win for all involved,. They get on the bus, I feel good, and the driver doesn't have to toss it out. 
All in a day work - no wait, a days RIDE - here in the South.



Friday, December 30, 2016

Crane Watch 2017

Now that the Not-So-Everlasting Living Room Project is completed, I've been able to open  my eyes a bit more and see Nashville.  My Home. And in looking out there, I see that Nashville is in the midst of a huge building boom.  Major buildings and complexes with big loading cranes have sprouted all over town in the last couple of years.  Just this morning, I took these pictures and highlighted all the cranes from just one window in our building, getting only 180 degrees.  (Red Arrows point out the cranes, in case you were wondering what I was up to. 
 In all, I counted 10 big cranes already at work as the sun was coming up, but that's not all.  Back in 2015, the public radio station listed these and even more. 
Here is their list with descriptions. 
Demonbreun and 12th Ave. S:
This entryway into the Gulch is the home of the 1201 Demonbreun project, a 15-story; 300,000 square foot office and retail space. Many of these spaces have already been leased by prominent organizations such as CapStar Bank and Eakin Partners.

9th and Clark Street:
This space, near the Korean Veterans traffic circle and Cummins Station, is the site of construction for the Westin Nashville Hotel, a 27-story hotel with 452 rooms and a pool and bar on the roof. The hotel is set to open in 2016.

Music Row Traffic Circle:
Among a slew of other just-finished apartment buildings in this area is the continuing construction on the 18-story Element Music Row Apartments. Its website describes these apartments as "palatial," "unparalleled," and very technology-friendly.

Divison and 21st:
This site is home to the Aertson Midtown apartments and retail space, across 21st Avenue from the Vanderbilt law school. The building will compare to the visible semi-circle Adelicia apartments in height and luxury, making it only the second high-rise building in the Midtown area - for now.

Demonbreun and 3rd:
This site is going to be the SoBro apartment tower, just one of Tony Giarratana's massive Nashville developments. The building will have 32 stories, topped with a rooftop pool and fitness center, as well as a public parking garage.

The Gulch, between 11th and 12th:
This lot, surrounded by 11th, 12th, and Pine Sreet, is the site for the Thompson Hotel, set to open in 2016. This hotel will be 12 stories high with underground parking. The Thompson will be only the third hotel in the Gulch, along with the boutique 404 Hotel and the Fairfield Suites.

Suites 35, 37, 39, and 41 Music Square East:
This will be the last large-scale construction project on Music Row for the next year, due to protest by local preservationists. The four sites will be consolidated as the SESAC offices, which currently has two buildings on Music Row.

Charlotte and 11th:
This terminal section of the Gulch is set to be a mixed-use project called Capitol View, which includes a 5-story apartment building, retail, and a grocery store. The full area of the project is around 30 acres, and could take over 5 years to complete.

Charlotte and 28th:
In this location, the beginnings of the OneC1ty project lie within the construction site that will eventually become over one million square feet of multi-use property. The project's goal is to create a cohesive community that brings retail, medicine, and living spaces all into one easily-accessible sphere.

Charlotte and 40th: This is yet another site on Charlotte Pike. Although relatively inconspicuous now, this site will become the Hill Center at Sylvan Heights, built by H.G. Hill Realty Co. The project is expected to be done by 2016, covering eight acres with residential apartments and 26,000 square feet of retail.

Vanderbilt University, 25th Ave.: Although not for commercial development, even Vanderbilt is bringing in the heavy guns for construction. This site is to become a new Engineering and Science building, and will partially cover Olin Hall - the archaic seventies-style engineering building behind it.

5th Ave. and Jefferson:
Just north of the new Sounds stadium, the Carillon apartments, set to be opening in early 2016, have begun construction. The property will ultimately contain 360 high-end apartments within the 3.9-acre parcel of land in between these two streets.

Downtown on Jackson St.:
First Tennessee Park is the new home to the Nashville Sounds, whose stadium was previously located along Chestnut Street. The stadium returns to the area where the Sulpher Dell Park once stood. The cranes are constructing a parking garage to accommodate large influxes of people to the area during game times.

Germantown, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue:
Broadstone Germantown is a new five-story apartment complex being constructed between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and Madison and Jefferson Streets. This view displays the parking garage, and there is also space for a restaurant on the first floor. It is located only a short walk from First Tennessee Park. Not one, not two, but six cranes dot the horizon.

By my figuring most of these are not visible in the photos I took this morning. Either the projects were completed, or they are farther north, south or east and as such,  out of view.

I'm not really sure what this means for the future, but I know it makes getting around in my 58' limo a study in patience. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Southern Christmas Traditions


There’s nothing like Christmas in Dixie, and the roots of Southern Christmas celebrations run deep. The American South was making merry long before it became the standard practice in other areas of the country. Alabama was the first state to declare it a legal holiday in 1836, with Louisiana and Arkansas following a couple of years later. Christmas wasn’t recognized as a federal holiday until 1870.

While some facets of Southern Christmas have been adopted outside of the South, many traditions and customs have remained unique to the South. If looking at a few of these fun Southern Yuletide customs doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, you might need to check your pulse:
  • Citrus Fruit- When I was a kid, we always found oranges in our Christmas stockings. I would never have guessed that this is a long-standing Southern Christmas custom. This gift finds its origins in the previous rarity of citrus fruit and the expense of such a luxurious gift. The Southern Christmastime craving for the flavor of oranges influenced the popularity Christmastime recipe staple known as Ambrosia, and for many it’s just not Christmas without that citrus infused wonder.  Citrus also appears frequently in Southern holiday décor in the form of slices for fragrant potpourri or as whole oranges in garlands.
  • Pecan Pie- Due to the harvest season falling between September and December, pecans are a readily-available, favorite flavor for the Christmas season in the South. Folklore has it that the French settlers in Louisiana developed this holiday dessert staple. Divinity and Pralines are two other pecan-based treats of Southern origin that have become treasured holiday items as well.
  • Poinsettias– This beautiful plant with red blooms has become synonymous with Christmas cheer. Originally the poinsettia was a popular decoration for the Christmas season in Mexico, and the botany-loving U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett brought back clippings of the plant to his South Carolina home. The shape is said to be evocative of the Star of Bethlehem, and it’s popularity spread throughout the nation, especially after Congress declared Dec. 12 National Poinsettia Day. It’s just not Christmas without a cheerful poinsettia blooms.*
  • Magnolia and Pine Décor– We have the settlers that landed at Jamestown, Virginia to thank for this tradition. After they noticed pine was an evergreen, they began using it as a symbol of good fortune and hope in décor. First popularized in the South, it can now be seen in holiday swags, wreaths, and garlands nationally. Many widely-read styling magazines have also featured stories on how to best use magnolia leaves to achieve a rustic, country feel. It’s common to see wreaths out of these gorgeous, dark-green, shiny leaves than any kind of fir tree branches.
  • Deep-Fried Turkey- In the South we love to fry anything and everything, so why not fry the most delicious piece of poultry we can find? It leaves a delicious crunchy texture outside while keeping the meat flavorful and juicy. This tradition is starting to catch on in other parts of the nation, naturally.

The myriad of wonderful Southern Christmas traditions is long and varied, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Just like every other holiday event in our culture, Christmas in the South is full of beauty, fun, and delicious food.

===================================
 *Note to Cat Owners: Poinsettia leaves are poisonous to cats.  Best to buy fake Poinsettia plants if you have felines in the home. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

End of the Everlasting Living Room Project.

For just a few minutes, I'm going to be a bit insufferable as I brag on myself.  Two and a half years ago, I started a project - correction, I was FORCED to begin a project - my living room. For those new readers who have not read my trials and tribulations: back in May of 2014 we had major infestation of termites come marching across our living room rug.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth and not a few tears. We ended up cutting out, in total, a 12 x 12 section of our house down to the foundations, spraying termite killer the entire time. We couldn't afford to hire professionals to do either part of the job, so it was my wife and I for the entire time.

The real problem came in that I'm not retired, so the whole amount of time I could devote to the project on a weekly basis was one to one and a half days - and those days usually were less than 6 hours due to my own stamina - or lack thereof. Couple that with my total lack of skills in such things as laying a floor, tiles and drywall and you have quite a learning curve. (I lost count of the number of bandaids used and the number of times I hit my thumb instead of a nail.) Separate projects included creating a affordable chimney cap and building a mantle from existing parts saved from the demolition.  

What you see above is the near completed living room. To keep the house dust free (and to keep the cats out of the project) we erected a temporary wall between the living area and the 'Everlasting Living Room Project.'  The weekend before Thanksgiving, the wall came down.  It was a momentous occasion and I'm very disappointed in the city for not having marching bands, ribbon cutting, and long-winded speeches for the unveiling.  

My readers also need thanks, for putting up with my constant crying, wailing and self promotion in relation to the Everlasting Living Room Project - which I guess now needs to be renamed the Not-So-Everlasting Living Room Project.  

Anyone wanting pictures can message me direct. 



Friday, November 11, 2016

Shock and Aw in the Election of 2016

The US Election of 2016 is over and I don't know whether to be sad or elated.  Sad that such a man was elected and scared for the future of both the US and the world. Elated to be glad that the Election Ads are now over (for 4 years anyway.) 

At the heart of the debate over what the election results mean is the feeling that we, as a country have taken a large step (or maybe a huge leap) backward.  Where PC - politically correct - were the words of the day, we now have a man  who says what he wants.  People are afraid this means violence is just around the corner.  In fact, we've already seen demonstrations and calls for both impeachment (he's not even sworn in yet!) and succession from the Union by more than just a couple of states.  

It is really too soon to tell.  But for the life of me, I can't see things spiraling down to such a degree and to where things become too ugly to go on.  Perhaps I was raised differently.  We were taught to smile at adversity, tolerate differences and support our elected officials.  My mother grew up in the age of FDR. To her, he was more King than President.  The only president to be re-elected twice (this means three full terms, or 12 years.) In my life I've seen 11 different presidents, now 12, and there will be more.  Perhaps that's what we need to keep in mind here, that the man elected today may not really be in office 5 years from now.  I take solace in that, I really do.  

There is also something else.  At its heart, America isn't that type.  We're not all misogynistic, intolerant, haters.  We really do want everyone to be happy, live a good life, be prosperous.  We are a melting pot and there is little one man can do to upset that pot.  

As you know, I ride the bus.  Riders come and riders go.  A couple of weeks ago, I took note of a woman getting off the bus right behind me.  She had a toddler in tow and a baby carriage with another riding in it. she had her purse, a diaper bag and her lunch on one arm and was working the carriage out onto the sidewalk, about a foot drop.  I'm carrying my briefcase and a bag with my lunch and a few things.  Even without much thought I reached back and with a 'Here let me help you with that..." I  took the carriage front in my hand and lifted it down.  She smiled, I smiled and we went on with our day. 

As it turns out, she and her two little ones got on the bus at the same bus stop I did early in the morning.  Each  time I saw the little group, I smiled, she smiled and her oldest gave me a wave.  We were merely riders on the same bus. A couple of times when she had the buggy folded, I'd help her get it off the bus. I knew she needed help and I was willing to give a hand where I had it.

Then, without warning, one morning she came up to me in the pre-dawn light, to say that she was not going to be riding the bus anymore, at least not from here.  She was moving and wanted to say goodbye on her last day.  I wished her well, asked a few questions about her move and future and we parted ways.  The little ones gave me a smile, too.We didn't even exchange names.

Why do I  bring this up? Not to toot my own horn, but to mention how this interaction was so dissimilar to what our new president would represent. Me, an older man, riding the bus and taking just a moment out of my day to help a young woman with her two little ones whom she had to take with her every morning to get to day care and then to work.  Why so dissimilar?  As I said, I'm older, employed in a white collar job and she younger working a more menial job.  Oh and if it matters to the president, I'm white and she's black.  

Tolerance is really what's missing in our new president; but I feel that the country can continue as we were without becoming what we fear he is or wants. We can continue to grow and be tolerant of each-other's differences in spite of what we see in our leaders. 

This is not to say that hate and intolerance don't exist, I'm sure they do. It's up to each and everyone  of us to keep this next four years as we have striven to be: tolerant. Color, sexual orientation, religion.  It's all such an arbitrary distinguishing factor; but regardless of these factors, we all deserve respect. We all deserve happiness. We're all humans. We should continue to act like it.  I know I will.