Category Archives: knoxville

Around Knoxville: Three Rivers Rambler

Song Lyric of the Day:

Come on, ride the train, it’s the Choo Choo train

Quad City DJ’s / “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)

Knoxville has a short-line passenger train. Did you know this? Because I only discovered this recently. I’ve heard rumors the last couple of years, and then a few weeks ago my friend Meghan and her husband took their babies on the train, the Three Rivers Rambler. Meghan told me about the trip, which I then told Rich about, and we agreed that it would be fun to take Coraline on a train ride.

Coraline has wanted to ride a real train forever. It’s basically one of her lifelong dreams. (Did you know toddlers could have lifelong dreams? They can.) Thanks to my parents, Coraline’s ridden the little train at our local mall enough times to qualify as a part owner, so when we told her about REAL trains, her mind was blown.

Last Sunday, agendaless and looking to enjoy some quality family time, we told Coraline that we were going to take her on a REAL train ride. In typical fashion, she jumped up and down yelling “Yay!” which she manages to draw out like you would not believe. We packed her little backpack with snacks, Rich and I grabbed our cameras, and we headed down to Volunteer Landing to board the train.

Lindy, the Washington & Lincolnton #203 steam engine for the Three Rivers Rambler.

Lindy, the Washington & Lincolnton #203 steam engine for the Three Rivers Rambler.

We quickly found seats facing each other, so we had a cozy seating arrangement. The seats also allowed me to keep my gimpy foot elevated during the 2-hour ride. (The website and conductor say 90 minutes, but ours took two hours including a couple of short stops.)

The atmosphere on the train was very friendly, festive thanks to some holiday decorations, and very family friendly — there were tons of families riding with us that day. Coraline loved everything about it, especially the fact that we could walk out onto the following open-air car while the train was moving (it goes really slow).

Coraline holds up her train ticket.

Coraline holds up her train ticket.

I of course took tons of pictures, with Rich handling Coraline-escorting duties; my foot was still pretty tender so hobbling around a(n albeit slowly) moving train with an excited 3-year-old was not on my slate for the day.

I did manage to hobble outside with Rich and Coraline a few times, with the beautiful views totally worth the effort. Not to mention Coraline’s sheer delight at BEING ON A REAL TRAIN. Sorry for the caps, but toddler enthusiasm is contagious. And awesome.

Crossing over the Holston River.

Crossing over the Holston River. Note the train’s shadow on the water.

We heard rumblings throughout the ride that a certain magical jolly fellow was going to be making an appearance. Just when Rich and I had given up hope that the big man would show, there he was. Coraline was giddy waiting for him to make his way back to us (we were in the next-to-last row on the last car). And even though she met Santa outside of the mall, she still told Rich that we needed to go see Santa again at the mall so she could tell him what she wants for Christmas. She is a true believer, after all.


Coraline with Santa Claus on the train, the perfect ending to our first family train ride.

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Filed under around knoxville, coraline, family, family time, knoxville, personal

Photoblogging: A Tree Grows at Lakeshore

I love the barrenness of this tree and the surroundings — they really epitomize how harsh this winter was. Taken during a family walk at Lakeshore Park in Knoxville, TN, 2/23/11.

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Photoblogging: More Snow

We finally got some real snow here on Monday. And by real snow I mean about 4″ here at my house. This is the most snow I’ve seen in the 5 1/2 years we’ve been back in Knoxville.
Snowy backyard 1
Snowy backyard 2
The dogs’ pawprints were almost immediately covered up again by snow.
Birds on the snowy sunroom skylight — I thought Buster’s head was going to explode watching them.
Neighborhood kid running down our street
Snow-covered branches
Next to the driveway

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Photoblogging: Snowy Day in Knoxville

Troubadour plays rope keepaway with Caleb.
Troubadour corners on a dime.
Standoff between the boys
Happy wonders why her little brothers are such dorks.
My little boy
Snow-covered trees
Snowy branches
Watching the snow from the screened-in porch.

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Photoblogging: Cemetery/Flowers

View of the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery taken on April 24, 2010, from the State Street Garage across the street.
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Monday Snowy Monday

Song Lyric of the Day:

Because when I arrive / I, I’ll bring the fire / Make you come alive / I can take you higher

Kevin Rudolf
(featuring Lil Wayne) / “Let It Rock

Despite having early dentist appointments this morning, today was a relaxing day off spent at home. Since we got up earlier for the appointments than we do even on workdays, we crawled back into bed as soon as we got home. By then, it was snowing pretty steadily, a lazy, wet snow. Even though we know there’s hardly ever any chance of having a genuine snow day that gets work canceled, we let our inner kids hope, especially since this is the most snow we’ve seen since moving back to Knoxville. Rich ended up giving up on napping in order to let the puppy out to play. Me, I popped in earplugs, did my best to tune out the sound of running, yapping dogs playing right above my bedroom, and slept until about noon.

Caleb, being the gentle priss that he is, has gone out as little as possible today, lest his dainty paws touch cold snow. Troubadour, on the other hand, has gone out repeatedly and even ate some snow off the deck. Meanwhile, their parents have puttered around the house dressed like Eskimos and wrapping themselves in blankets whenever downstairs on the couch. What can I say? Our old souls get cold easily (okay, that, and we turned the heat down a couple of degrees to help with energy costs).

I like that President-Elect Obama declared today a day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I think it’s a great way to honor the memory of someone who helped pave the way for Obama to make history himself. As for my “day” of service, I’ve been attending Relay for Life meetings since November and am serving on the committee for the first time for the 2009 event. Raising funds to fight cancer is how I try to contribute to society; this will be my sixth year participating, my fourth as a team captain. (You can make a donation now for the 2009 Relay.)

A news clip today of a reporter interviewing locals about the snow truly brought a smile to my face. The reporter asked a little boy what he thought about the snow, and he replied that he thought since today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day that it’s a lucky thing that it’s snowing because it’s lucky to have snow on your day. What a sweet, pure thought if ever there was one.

The view from our driveway today.

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In Perfect Tune With The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

A first-time participant in the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra‘s second Bloggers’ Night last night, Rich and I were both fortunate and thrilled to be in attendance for the KSO’s performance of music by Mozart & Mendelssohn.

Braving a very chilly night, soon after arriving at the Tennessee Theatre and picking our tickets up, I quickly spotted a few of the bloggers I first met a few months ago: LissaKay, her fiance Richard, and Doug (accompanied by his son Noah). After introducing them to Rich, we were introduced to Frank Murphy, who I recognized from his blog. We talked for a while, then Rich and I excused ourselves to take our seats; it turns out we were all seated within close proximity of each other. Doug and Noah sat to my left, while Frank and his wife and LissaKay and Richard were in the row in front of us. Several minutes of theatre-gazing and people watching passed before some orchestra members filed onstage to begin warming up. Naturally, being in the Tennessee Theatre and wanting to document our first time seeing the KSO, I also passed the time taking some photos.
Around 8PM, about a dozen or so orchestra members filed onstage and took their places. Almost immediately, the first strains of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major filled the air. A classical music fan — in direct contrast to most of the music I typically listen to — I was both awed and humbled. Awed by the precision with which these gifted musicians knew and handled their instruments, and humbled to know that, had I stuck with my clarinet lessons, I, too, may have been a professional musician someday. Not very likely, but still — humbling. I knew Rich was as impressed as I was when he leaned over and whispered “Can you believe they’re making this music?”

The first Concerto came to an end and the musicians filed offstage. Mere minutes later, the entire orchestra filed onstage and took their places to begin performing Mozart’s Concerto No. 24 in C Minor. The conductor, Lucas Richman, welcomed the audience (and us bloggers — “people who blog”) and quickly got down to business. The gifted pianist Navah Perlman accompanied the KSO on Concerto No. 24. I was blown away by how fluidly she played the piano; it seemed almost as if it were a literal extension of herself, another facet to her personality. (And me being me, I also found myself coveting her brilliantly shiny silver pumps.) Of the three pieces the KSO performed last night, I think this Concerto was my favorite. Not only because of the piano accompaniment, but because the piece struck me as a bit haunting, with some dark undercurrents. In it I heard direct influences on some of my favorite modern-day movie scores, particularly The Dark Knight and countless Danny Elfman compositions.

Concerto No. 24 came to an end and a brief intermission followed. While Rich wandered off to stretch his legs, I took some more photos from my seat. After a few minutes, the lights again dimmed and the KSO returned to the stage. The final piece was Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A Major. It was another beautiful piece, as flawlessly executed and richly moving as the previous pieces played by the KSO. (But Concerto No. 24 remained my favorite for the evening.)

Rich and I and our fellow bloggers made our way down to a small banquet room for a reception immediately after the concert. We mingled a bit (and I ate more cheese cubes than I should have), enjoying meeting some other locals who share their lives online. I particularly enjoyed meeting and talking to Angie, she of the blog Caroline’s Mom; Katy, a KSO violist and their official blogger; Stephanie (a fellow writer — who got published!) of Jason. For the Love of God (and, yes, we also met Jason); and Beth, a photographer for Knoxville CityView Magazine (a fellow photographer — who makes a living at it!).

I can now honestly say that last night’s KSO concert is by far one of the best experiences I’ve enjoyed on account of simply being a blogger. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did Rich, and I hope to enjoy a return visit next year — and not just as a blogger.

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Happy Birthday to My Blue-Eyed Boy

Song Lyric of the Day:

Got a flamin’ heart, can’t get my fill / Eyes that shine burning red / Dreams of you all through my head

Led Zeppelin / “Black Dog


Today is Rich’s birthday. I did my best to make his big day special in that I ambushed him at work to decorate (desecrate, if you ask him) his cubicle, made dinner reservations for 15 for a family/friends celebration this weekend, and treated him to dinner at his favorite sushi restaurant, Nama. I even went as far as eating sushi tonight — something I haven’t done in several years. After a delicious appetizer of Wasabi Hummus with naan bread (Caren’s awesome recommendation), I ordered the Crunchy Shrimp rolls (Stacy’s awesome recommendation). Realizing very quickly that I don’t like seaweed, I used my chopsticks to gouge the shrimp and avocado out of the rolls, eating the filling that way and then finishing it off by eating the rice and tempura crispies on the outside of the roll. Impressive, I know. But I at least gave it a go and did in fact eat the majority of the rolls that way.

While at the restaurant, I presented Rich with his birthday present, the Led Zeppelin Complete Studio Recordings box set. I like to think he had a pretty good birthday. I certainly enjoyed helping him celebrate, and I look forward to more big days spent together. I love you, boy.


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The Soul-Sucking That Is Christmas Shopping

Christmas Song Lyric of the Day:

Bundled up against the cold / Lines wherever gifts are sold / Each shop window displays a Christmas scene

Barenaked Ladies
/ “Green Christmas

After having a fun time at my friend’s birthday party last night, which included playing
the Game of Life: The Simpsons Edition (longest game ever), eating way too many tacos, and staying up way too late, I spent most of today making lists of gifts I still have to shop for and then running all over town trying to cross everything off said lists.

What was it like, you ask? In short, I think 97% of Knoxvillians were out shopping today. The seventh circle of hell was centered around West Town Mall and the Centre at Deane Hill. I couldn’t even find a parking spot in the Turkey Creek shopping center that includes Borders, so I had to leave without getting everything crossed off my lists today. (Let me just say I never expected Best Buy to be the easiest store to get in and out of today.) Oh, and I gouged my hand open while picking up supplies at PetSmart and was basically dripping blood around the store. Good times. After hours of shopping hell, I got home late in the day and decided I just didn’t feel up to going to a Christmas party we’d planned on attending tonight. Thankfully, since Rich was also running around taking care of shopping errands today, too, he was on board with staying home and doing nothing. My nothing consisted of playing Rayman Raving Rabbids on the Wii, while Rich’s nothing consisted of playing games on his computer upstairs.

Sadly, we have to venture out again tomorrow and finish shopping and run more errands. As long as I don’t end up with another shopping-related injury, I’ll consider the day a success.

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A Tree Falls in Knoxville

Song Lyric of the Day:

The words came like a hard rain / And your smile changed like a hurricane / Your breath smells like cardamom / And the words came just like a hard rain

Shout Out Louds / “Hard Rain

If you followed my Twitter stream last night, you already know that we had a hell of a storm going on in Knoxville last night. Of course, if you actually live in Knoxville, all you had to do was look out the window to see a storm the likes of which we haven’t had in a long time. It actually reminded me of my last nor’easter when we lived in Chesapeake. I thought I was prepared: I lit candles and had a flashlight handy since I was positive the power was going to go out (thankfully, it never did). I did the best I could to get the dogs to go out, but didn’t have much luck — nothing new as they’re both scared of storms. I minimized my time on my laptop and TV watching on account of the rock concert-worthy lightning laser show going on outside. I did not, however, wrap a sling around the tree that has been precariously leaning near our driveway for some time now. Which is why when I heard the impressively loud sound of wood splintering right before 11PM last night, I was scared shitless. I went outside to see the damage, but all I could make out in the darkness of the storm was a lot of foliage all of a sudden newly located next to the Xterra.

So I went out to assess the damage first thing this morning. In the light of day, I could see that the entire tree, massive stump and root ball included, had fallen so that it was laying across the top part of our driveway, effectively blocking both vehicles in. Thankfully, neither vehicle nor the garage were damaged since gravity was on our side. The tree’s heavy base missed Rich’s truck by about eight feet, and I now have a lovely, large plant next to the driver’s side of the Xterra. And that’s why I’m working from home today (and about to eat my lunch).

Photo taken with my camera phone since our actual camera is in Chicago with Rich.

Fortunately, my awesome bro-in-law, Ken, has rounded up some coworkers who own chainsaws and large trucks. So he and said Chainsaw Posse will be coming to the house after they get off work this afternoon. They’ll be chopping up what they can and removing as much wood as they can. In return, I’ll be treating them to pizza or Quizno’s subs (the one in South Knoxville now delivers) as a thank you.

You just know this type of headache would have to happen when Rich is out of town on business.

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