Sunday, September 30, 2007

TACA Arts & Crafts Fair

This weekend is the Annual Fall TACA (Tennessee Association of Craft Artisans) Fair in Centennial Park. Artists from around the country apply to show and sell their artwork at the two TACA fairs every year. The items sold at the TACA shows include everything from weaving, stone, wood and metal sculpture to jewelry, ceramics, photography and mixed media. In addition, TACA has a tent where visitors can watch artisans at work and learn about different crafts as well as a tent where kids can try their hand at art. And, no fair of any kind would be complete without the requisite food booths. . .fudge (Pumpkin fudge was on the tasting menu today.), kettle korn, gyros, lemonade, sausage, funnel cakes, and more. . . .(Luckily, I don't do white sugar, so I'm not too tempted!)

Since 1965, TACA has encouraged and promoted all types of crafts in the state. TACA is not a state agency and depends solely on support from donors and volunteers.

As I noted above, TACA holds two fairs a year, in the autumn and in the spring. The SE Bureau of Tourism has consistently ranked the fairs in the top 20 things to do in the southeastern USA.

I should note that the fairs are usually packed with people. The reason it looks so quiet above is that I happened by about an hour before the fair opened.
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Legends Bar

Another famous Nashville honky tonk is Legends Corner Bar which is neighbor to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Popular with locals and tourists, Legends has live music, a dance floor (although it can get quite crowded!), and cold drinks on hot nights. :-) Old-fashioned records and photos cover the walls of the place, and there's a huge, fiberglass guitar out front (above). The faces of many country music "legends" grace the guitar. If you look hard, you can see Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and a host of other stars.

A note about the guitar: A few years ago, Nashville had the huge, fiberglass guitars in the same vein that Chicago had the cows. Area artists decorated the guitars, and area businesses purchased them and put them on display. After the city-wide exhibition was over, most of the guitars went to their owners and not many are on display any longer. The one in front of Legends is one of the few still around.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Country Music Hall of Fame

In the early 60s, the Country Music Association (CMA) inducted its first three honorees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. However, until 1967, the plaques were on display at the Tennessee State Museum awaiting the building of the Hall of Fame on Music Row. Due to growth of the museum, the original Hall of Fame closed in December, 2000 while exhibits were moved to the new building in downtown Nashville (above).

The new museum, which cost about $37 million to build, opened in May, 2001. Note that the windows and stone of the building are set in such a way that they mimic a piano keyboard. The antenna on top of the rotunda on the left is a replica of the WSM (host of the Grand Ol' Opry) radio tower. The discs under the tower represent the records and CDs, and the corner of the building on the right represent the fins of cars of the late 50s. Supposedly, from the air, the building is shaped like a bass clef. (You can get the idea from the curve of the building.)

Hanging in the museum's rotunda are the brass plaques of the inductees. There are travelling as well as permanent exhibits, and the museum strives to tell the two-century history of country music through the exhibits, video clips, recordings, and more.

Even if you aren't a fan of country music, the museum is worth the trip if you ever get to Nashville.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The other day, I showed you some of the buildings on a block on First Avenue in downtown Nashville. One of the buildings has these great vines climbing up the side of the buildling. The vines give such character to the builldings (or stone fences) on which they grow. I just love the look and feel. . .

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is one of Nashville's most famous honky tonks. Originally called "Mom's," Tootsie Bess bought it in 1960 and when a painter mistakenly painted it orchid, place became "Tootsie's Orchid Lounge." There are two levels to the lounge - lower and upper, and each has its own stage.

Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Waylong Jennings, Patsy Cline and others performed at Tootsie's before they hit it big, and continued to patronize it afterwards. One rumor is that Roger Miller wrote "Dang Me" while at the club. Willie Nelson supposedly got his first songwriting job after someone heard him singing at Tootsie's.

Hattie Louise Bess, aka "Tootsie," was a singer with Big Jeff and the Radio Boys before she bought the lounge. After she passed in 1978, the lounge had its ups and downs, and city officials almost tore it down to build a park. Current owners, Steve Smith and John Taylor, renovated the place and it remains popular today. Smith was able to get it registered as a historic landmark, so Tootsie's is safe from the wrecking ball.

A well-known Tootsie's tradition is the "hollar and swollar." The performer will ask patrons to hold their drinks in the air and "Hollar." After they scream for a few seconds, the performer commands, "Swollar!" and everyone takes a drink.

Monday, September 24, 2007

1st Avenue

I love First Avenue in Nashville even though the buildings are mostly the backsides of businesses that are on Second Avenue. As you can see in the photo, there are no business signs, doors or window displays visible on this historic street. Instead, you see some beautiful stone and brick work. Since First Avenue fronts the Cumberland River and is where Nashville got its start, the area is quite historic. I like to wonder what kind of businesses were here originally. I'm guessing, although I haven't been able to find out for sure, that businesses actually operated out of the buildings on this street.

I should point out that the top floors of some of the buildings are apartments. I've not been in any, but the views are great!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

bicentennial wall

When I posted a photo of Bicentennial Mall last month, I mentioned that there are a number of highlights to the area. One of my favorites is the 1400-foot granite wall inscribed with historical facts about Tennessee. Tall posts opposite the wall and flanking the sidewalk on the other side mark the different centuries that the facts on that part of the wall cover. There is a gap in the wall signifiying the Civil War.

One interesting fact is that the carvings contained several grammatical and spelling errors when the wall debuted. As a former English teacher, I was a little disgusted that officials let that happen, but was very pleased when the errors were corrected quickly!

Please note: My posting should be back to its regular pace once I arrive back in the States tomorrow evening. Thanks for your patience!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quilted Squares

I thought I'd add a little color to the blog today and show you a beautiful quilt I saw at the State Fair recently. Those of you who quilt will know what the pattern is, but unfortunately, I don't know too much about fabric arts as I'm more a paper artist. Nonetheless, it is beautiful, isn't it?
Please note: I am on vacation for a few more days, and while I am back on land and not dependent on satellite for internet connection, I still have limited computer access, so my posting may be sporadic for another day or so. So sorry! Please check back!

Friday, September 21, 2007


When the Ryman Auditorium opened in 1892, the music flowing from the stage was quite different than what one hears there now. Originally called the Union Gosple Tabernacle, it was built by Captain Thomas Ryman to hold revivals for the city. The original building held about 3700 people on wooden pews supplied by the Indiana Church Finishing Company. When Ryman died in 1904, Samuel Jones, the evangelical preacher who converted Ryman, took a vote to rename the tabernacle in Ryman's honor and received a unanimous vote to do so, although the charter wasn't changed until 1944.
Over the years, the Ryman hosted a number of events in addition to the revivals, including lectures, concerts and performances. In 1943, the Grand Ole Opry moved to the Ryman, and the building gained the nickname of the "Mother Church of Country Music." Unfortunately, the Opry moved into its own building in 1974, although there were performances at the Ryman off and on. In the 90s, Gaylord Entertainment spent more than $8 million to renovate the Ryman, and the "Mother Church" is once again hosting concerts and performances. . . .and still using those old, wooden pews!
This is the back view of the Ryman, which is now the main entrance. If you make it to Nashville, be sure to take tour of the Ryman!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Column Graveyard

When building the Tennessee State Capitol Building, the contractor originally used limestone from Indiana for the columns. Some years later, the columns started to crack, crumble and erode, so they were replaced with columns made from *Tennessee* limestone. Someone had the foresight to save the Indiana-limestone columns, however, and they repose in part of Bicentennial Mall in the shadow of their original home.

Please note: I am on vacation for another week, so my posting times may be eratic. Yesterday we couldn't get a good satellite connection, so I couldn't sign on. Sorry! Please keep checking back.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

prix de solde

We found this great mural painted on the side of a building in downtown Nashville. From what I can tell, the business that occupies the building is an interior design/staging studio.

What amazed us most about the mural, besides the fact that it is pretty, is that there is no graffiti on it. My husband's theory is that graffiti artists want a blank canvas so that their art is the focus. I think he's right about that.

Looking at this today as I get ready to post it, we both also thought that if you didn't see the top of the building in the photo, you wouldn't know that the mural was painted on concrete block, would you?

PLEASE NOTE: I'm on vacation for two weeks, so my posting times may be a little eratic. Please check back.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Athens of the South

Built as the fine arts pavilion and centerpiece for Tennessee's 100th birthday, the Parthenon still occupies the place of honor in Centennial Park. A full-scale replica of the original Greek Parthenon, the one built in 1897 for the centennial celebration was made of wood, brick and plaster. Between 1921 and 1931, the city re-built its Parthenon of concrete. Inside the building is a full-size replica of the statue of Athena. Today, the Parthenon is the city's art museum.

A couple of notes: The committee planning the centennial celebration supposedly chose to build the Parthenon because Nashville has long been called "Athens of the South." Just like the Greek Parthenon, the Nashville Parthenon faces east.
Please note: I am on vacation for a few weeks, so my posting times may be a little sporadic. Please check back!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Did You Get My Best Side?

As you probably know, there are a lot of different breeds of horses. What I didn't know is that there are also a lot of different breeds (and sizes) of mules, which makes sense since mules are the offspring of male donkeys and female horses. And, depending on their breeding, the mules can be riding mules, draft mules, or jumping mules. From what I can tell by my limited research, the mule above is a "mammoth" riding mule. The mammoths are over 56" in height and calmer than other mules.

Two interesting notes: The offspring of a male horse and female donkey is a hinny. And, mules are normally infertile.

Question: What is the origin of the expression, "stubborn as a mule?"

Please note: I am on vacation for a few weeks, so my posting may be sporadic. Please keep checking back for new posts!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How Many Pies?

County fairs started as a gathering place for people to show and sell produce and livestock as well as other products. The entertainment venues provided a respite from the work of the day. Today's fairs are still a place for people to showcase not only produce and livestock, but also creative arts. Highlights vary from fair to fair depending a lot on local crops and livestock.

While we were looking at produce, we noticed these huge pumpkins. I overheard a mother ask her child how many pies he thought she could make with that pumpkin. He guessed about 5. She said about 30. What do you think?

The winning pumpkin weighs 1065.5 pounds, which is not bad considering the horrible weather we've had this year. The second heaviest was still over 1000 pounds.

On a different note: Today is the 6th anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy. Let us never forget those who died, those who lost someone, those who were affected in any way, and those who helped in the rescue and or recovery efforts. God bless America.

PLEASE NOTE: I am on vacation for a few weeks, so my posting times may be a little off. Sorry!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vomit Comet

I thought that the ride I showed yesterday was bad until we stopped to watch this one. Just watching it and listening to the screams over that blaring music made me nauseous! Please allow me to try to describe this ride's tortuous "fun."

When the ride is at rest, the long arm is parallel to the ground, as are the six "spokes" off of that center "wheel." There are four seats hanging from the end of each spoke, two facing forward, and two facing backward. As the ride starts, the spokes start spinning, and the four seats spin with it. The arm then starts to move into a vertical position - while the the wheel and spokes are spinning - and the seats twist and turn with the movement. At times, the riders are completely upside down and spinning. This is *not* a ride for the weak of heart or stomach (or for me!).

We didn't see anyone who seemed to be over the age of 18 on this ride or in line for it (and the line was long!). Oh, the wisdom of age!

By the way, one had to pay $5 (four tickets at $1.25/ticket) for this stomach-turner.

To view photos from a fair in Pennsylvania, go to:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

State Fair-E-Go-Round

The 2007 Tennessee State Fair opened this weekend at the fairgrounds in Nashville. In addition to the rides and midway attractions, fair attractions include a petting zoo, stunt and thrill shows, a tiger exhibit, and fair food such as corndogs on a stick, french fries, funnel cakes, cotton candy and more. There are competitions in a variety of categories, including livestock (pigs, goats, cattle, etc), creative arts (quilting, photography, painting, etc.), and agriculture (vegetables, fruits, gourds, etc.). Because I owned a rubberstamp and scrapbooking store until a few months ago, fair officials asked me to judge the paper arts competition this year.

A couple of notes: You couldn't get me near most of the rides because they all seem to involve some kind of spinning wheel. The ride pictured above consists of the wheel (shown) and a number of steel harnesses that hang from it. Riders lay stomach down on a the harness and are locked in. The wheel spins around as LOUD music blares from speakers. Yuck.

I could not believe the number of foods-on-a-stick available at the fair. In addition to the corndogs, one could buy sausage, chicken, apples, frozen bananas, and FRIED SNICKERS or MILKY WAY CANDY BARS on a stick. YIKES!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

21st fire

The second oldest fire station still in use in Metro Nashville, the 21st Avenue Fire Hall was built in 1930. The building's Tudor Revival style mirrors the style of houses in neighboring Hillsborough Village. The city government has designated the fire hall an Individual Historic Landmark.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Do You Like Barbecue?

Most people like barbecue, no matter where they grew up. However, what a person considers barbecue may depend on where he or she grew up as different countries, states/provinces, regions all have different types of barbecue. Some differences are in the meat used, while others are in the sauces and spices used.
But, the one factor that is the same all over is the fact that to make truly good barbecue, one must cook the meat slowly over a low heat. Of course, smokers come in all sizes and shapes, and the fuel they use varies, too. When we go to festivals or art fairs or outdoor events around Middle Tennessee, we usually see restaurants or caterers pulling smokers like the one shown above. The smell of the cooking meat is so intoxicating.
A couple of notes: I grew up on barbecue smothered in tomato-based sauce. In this area of the south, the sauce is vinegar-based. If you do a search of barbecue and barbecue sauce recipes, you'll find that there are *thousands* of them.
Note: I took this photo at Riverfront Park the day of the Dragon Races. In the background, you can see the Hard Rock Cafe. There's a mural painted on the southside of the restaurant's building.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Autumn Leaves

Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.
- Albert Camus

Labor Day signals the end of summer, although the first day of autumn technically isn't until September 21. However, the trees in Nashville have already started to change color and drop. We think that this is due, in part, to this summer's drought. The lack of rain this year probably means we'll see mostly brown leaves instead of the usual crimson, gold and bittersweet leaves that blanket the area in late September and October.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Homeless in Nashville

Whether we, as Americans, want to face it or not, homelessness is a problem in this country. A 2006 report places the number of homeless in the US at 744,000, and the fastest-growing segment of homeless are children and families. Nashville is no exception, and the morning I shot this photo, there were about 15 men and women sitting or sleeping under a pedestrian bridge south of downtown.

Nashville has joined with 170 other cities nationwide to tackle this problem. In 2004, our current mayor established a task force dedicated to eradicating homelessness in our city. The plan is to offer better health care, housing and job-training options to the homeless, as well as better cooperation between social and non-profit agencies that currently serve the homeless population. With help from both state and federal programs aimed at fighting homelessness, the task force wants to eliminate homelessness by 2015.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Berger Building

I mentioned the other day that no matter how many times we drive around Nashville, which we try to do every weekend, we see something new. I can't tell you how many times I've driven by the Berger Building (above) and never noticed what a beautiful building it is.

Built in 1926, it is single, remaining, completely intact commercial building in downtown Nashville. While it was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1984, I can find little about the building except that it originally held specialty stores. In recent years, the Nashville Toy Museum occupied the Berger, but it is now home to the Standard Cafe and Mad Mod, a furniture and accessory store.

Monday, September 3, 2007

End of Summer Labor Day Blast

To celebrate Labor Day, Metro Nashville Parks is sponsoring End of Summer Labor Day Blast at Centennial Park today. In addition to food and beverages, a few art booths and activities for children, the event also features two stages with performances by a number of country artists including Pam Tillis, Whiskey Run, Luke Bryan and Diamond Rio. Pictured above are Buffalo K (left) and Frenchy of Cowboy Envy. Along with the group's third member, Too Short, these gals write and perform western(cowboy?) music.

A side note: Almost every week, there is something going on in one or more parks in Nashville. Many have concerts, dances, festivals, craft fairs, and more. It's nice to see that the parks really are for the people of the area!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

White Trash Cafe

On Friday morning, I had to judge paper arts exhibits at the Tennessee State Fair, and as I left the fairgrounds, I saw the White Trash Cafe. A cinder block building just outside the fair's west gate, the White Trash Cafe is a lunch-only meat and three. From what I understand, the inside is full of knicknacks and kitschy "art," some of which patrons bring in to add to the decorating. I don't know anything about the food as I've never eaten there, but I do know that they offer country cooking and that the entrees change daily.

If you don't know what a "meat and three" is, don't feel bad! Before we moved to Nashville in the late 90s, I had not heard the term. You can probably guess that it is an entree and three sides or vegetables. Usually, the choices include mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, pinto beans, turnip greens, macaroni and cheese, and any other side the restaurant wants to offer. The typical meat and three always serves either biscuits or cornbread (southern style, which is NOT sweet!), and iced tea (southern style, which is VERY SWEET, unless you ask for "unsweet").

Saturday, September 1, 2007

September Theme Day-Street Signs and Street Lights

Every weekend, we drive around the area just looking at the everyday things that make up the city in which we live. And, no matter how many times we may drive down a certain street, we always see something new. This month's theme day - Street Signs and Street Lights - caused me to look at the mundane street light. Some in this city are bare white bulbs hanging from a pole. Others have large, tin shades over them. Some are round, while others are oval. Most are plain, but some are quite ornate.

We found this street light on a relatively new street in the exclusive Belle Meade area of Nashville. The developer is building a number of three-story, Federal-style homes on land across from a golf course and the historic Cheekwood mansion. The street lights are black, wrought iron, and the light reflects through oak (above) and maple trees, as well as crepe myrtles. These lights emit a soft, sepia glow to the area and add to the nostalgic feel that the homes evoke.

You can check out the street signs and street lights of photo bloggers all over the world by clicking the links below! Please note that because of the time differences, some of the blogs may not be updated to theme day when you click on them.

Seattle (WA), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Singapore, Singapore - Boston (MA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Kajang (Selangor), Malaysia - Mainz, Germany - Evry, France - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Nottingham, UK - Toulouse, France - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Manila, Philippines - Mumbai, India - Montpellier, France - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - Moscow, Russia - Paris, France - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Austin (TX), USA - Lyon, France - Stockholm, Sweden - Hyde, UK - Hong Kong, China - Joplin (MO), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Chandler (AZ), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Arlington (VA), USA - Anderson (SC), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Villigen, Switzerland - Sydney, Australia - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - San Diego (CA), USA - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Nelson, New Zealand - Quincy (MA), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Bend (OR), USA - Wellington, New Zealand - New Orleans (LA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Nashville (TN), USA - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - Detroit (MI), USA - Saigon, Vietnam - Selma (AL), USA - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Miami (FL), USA - Arradon, France - Sheki, Azerbaijan - New York City (NY), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - North Bay (ON), Canada - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Tenerife, Spain - Auckland, New Zealand - Forks (WA), USA - Rotterdam, Netherlands - Chateaubriant, France - Madison (WI), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Orlando (FL), USA - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Ajaccio, France - Baltimore (MD), USA - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Budapest, Hungary - Lyon, France - Saarbrücken, Germany - Adelaide (SA), Australia - Le Guilvinec, France - River Falls (WI), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Naples (FL), USA - London, UK - La Antigua, Guatemala - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - Paris, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Trujillo, Peru - Haninge, Sweden - Prague, Czech Republic - Oslo, Norway - Grenoble, France - Shanghai, China - Toronto (ON), Canada - Durban, South Africa - Zurich, Switzerland - Cape Town, South Africa - Singapore, Singapore - Torino, Italy - Flagstaff (AZ), USA