The next destination

We need a vacation. We need to get out of town. I’m thinking it will be Black Mountain, N.C. and Centers Bed and Breakfast.


My old house

This house, my old house, is older than I realized.

Two months ago, an elderly woman pulled up while I was checking the mailbox and told me she had grown up in our house. She was in a big sedan and had driven up from Florida.

“I’m in town for a funeral,” she said.

She described the inside of the house to me, then told me it was built in 1947. I told her the real estate records showed it was built in 1958, but she waved me off.

“No, it was built in 1947,” she said.

Last week, I was riding around in a cow pasture on an ATV with a farmer who told me that my subdivision was the oldest in town, and that her father had named it in a contest held by the developer. The prize was a lot in the subdivision. The farmer turned around and sold it. He already had plenty of land.

I’m wondering who I’ll run into next that will tell me something about this house, which I guess is not so terribly old. Maybe it will be someone who can tell me how to repair cracking, plaster walls. That would be good.

Digging in the dirt

Today I worked in the community garden at Pond Gap Elementary School. I did it as part of a service-learning project through Pellissippi State.

Pond Gap Elementary is in Knoxville, not far from downtown. Our leader/teacher for the day, Annie Gray, said that Knox County Schools is looking to duplicate the project at about seven other schools.

Once we arrived, I could see why. There were rows of green beans, red romaine lettuce, and onions, for example. I didn’t survey the whole plot. Instead I took a pair of pruners and cleared out some brush and bushes nearby. I volunteered for that because I wanted to do something hard and physical. I wanted to work up a good sweat.

Did that for an hour and then started harvesting the lettuce. The skies clouded over, but we finished before the rain came. I’d like to do some more work like that, but I’m just not sure where. Maybe something closer to home in Maryville.

My poor old garden

I’d blame the weather but the truth is that I’m a terrible urban farmer.

Like so many vegetable gardens, I started this spring with such high hopes for the backyard plots. We had a resurgence of cold weather and covered the tomatoes but it didn’t help. Then we got some heat and dry weather. Same deal. Wilted plants, brown leaves, dashed hopes. Oh, and I’ve been working on other things. My lawn is tip-top, but my tomatoes and green beans have suffered.

Recently I went out to Kelmont Farms and came away with a bag of fresh Simpson lettuce, a story, and a better understanding of my agricultural fralities. The contrast between good farming (Kellers) and bad farming (me) was never clearer, not that I needed it.

At least I came away with a fresh, crisp sack of lettuce. I also learned the difference between straw and hay. Don’t laugh. A lot of city folks don’t know the answer that without trudging around on the World Wide Web.


The signs were out and candidates huddled near the parking lot of Maryville Municipal building, waving at voters.

I stopped by and cast my vote in the county’s Republican primary. Most of the races were uncontested, except for road superintendent and juvenile court judge. Having covered county government and crime for a couple of years in Blount County, I knew most of the names on the ballot.

I had to update some paperwork before I got in the voting booth, but I stuck it out and cast my vote. It’ll be interesting to see how the sales tax vote comes out.

Still working on the John Keller story.

Down on the farm with John Keller

I spent part of the morning at Kelmont Farm in Maryville. I was there to do a freelance assignment about John Keller, who was recently chosen Tennessee Farmer of the Year.


View of the Smokies from Kelmont Farms

View of the Smokies from Kelmont Farms

He and his wife, Susan, are such warm folks. I met Susan about 10 years ago when I was county government reporter for The Daily Times. It was good to catch up and know that CAPPE still holds its annual ChiliFest. I plan to make the next one, though it is months away.

Kelmont Farms cow staring me down.

Kelmont Farms cow staring me down.

The Winter Soldier and my birthday

Every blog should have a confession or two. Here’s mine: I’ve watched the trailer for the Captain America moving about six times. It’s a sad affair. These are not different versions, either. It’s the same official trailer with CA and the elusive Winter Soldier.

Anyway, all I want for my birthday is to see that movie. That and a steak. Enjoy your weekend, and best of luck with your allergies.