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.


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.

Pollen and other bad news

I live in East Tennessee, but I don’t complain about pollen and allergies. And here’s why: I wasn’t affected until this week. Sneezing and headaches. Check. Sore throat. Yep. Itchy, watery eyes. Uh-huh.

It hit me this week after a long weekend of mowing and brush clearing. So, I’m wondering if this year is different from previous years.

I got some insight from Science Daily.

One last winter wail

It’s not yet 7 a.m. and I’m sitting in the dinning room looking out the window at the snow. A heap of it. I have no idea how much fell, only that it started yesterday afternoon and kept going until late evening. It’s gorgeous and everything is closed today.

The best part about a snow day, this one in particular, is the early morning coffee and the time I’m getting with my newborn daughter. She’s snoozing right now, and the world outside is quiet.

I’ve turned on the TV a couple of times (been up since 4 a.m.), but I always get the same thing. Weather maps and forecasters, and reporters who put their boots in the snow to show you how deep it is. They say it’ll clear up by Friday and then spring will probably be on its way. I suppose it’s time, but I do enjoy the winter. I miss it, especially in August.

When I get some daylight, I’m going to walk the dogs. Or they’re going to walk me. People love to slow down and say that to me as my dogs, both about 50 pounds each and powerful, yank me along Tapoco Avenue. “Are you walking those dogs, or are they walking you?” As if my poor dog training needs underscoring. But I won’t see many of those ride side hecklers today. Not if I get out there before noon.