Thursday, May 31, 2012


Represent, yo!
I spied this sign this evening during my inaugural visit to Central Flats and Taps, a new restaurant/bar on Central Street in North Knoxville near downtown. It made me happy.

37917. That's my zip code. This sign (the restaurant's motto) embodies everything I love about my little slice of heaven: namely the, ah, fascinating characters who can be found in this reemerging section of town. (Ever heard of the Fellini Kroger?)

Great food at Central Flats and Taps, by the way. Fantastic service and neat atmosphere. (Read a review here.)

Tonight's visit was a farewell dinner in honor of my friend Sara who is moving to Seattle for a new gig. We've gotten into many adventures together since she moved to Knoxville two-plus years ago. (See here, here and here.) It was only fitting that we celebrated the conclusion of her time here with one last food adventure.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Meeting Kevin Bacon

This is Kevin Bacon. And he likes marshmallows. I met the pot-bellied pig for the first time today while visiting the farm of my friends Jim and Kim. He's a recent addition to their animal family.
Gardening with Kim was today's goal. Before we started, Kim added some ingredients into the ice cream maker so we would have a treat waiting for us at the end of our toil.

I also got reacquainted with animal friends including Cesar the Parakeet and several horses.

Then Kim and I got to work planting corn, eggplant, tomatoes, sunflowers and marigolds. When we were done, I took time to admire Kim's flowers and I got into the strawberry patch :)

After gardening, Jim, Kim and I went inside to cool off with homemade vanilla ice cream with peanut butter M&Ms. We spent some time catching up and before we knew it, the dinner hour snuck up on us. Not to worry, Kim prepared paella, a mouthwatering dish of rice, seafood, sausage and vegetables. There was a happy face on my tummy when I was done eating.

I wasn't the only one having a fun time. I took Plucky Alapo with me and he made friends with Jim and Kim's five pooches. (Plucky is the one closest to the cabinet doors.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spotting a gray hair

I was combing out my hair this morning when I spotted what I thought was a piece of lint. I pulled on it and my scalp tingled. Hmm. I peered into the mirror and I pulled again. Same thing. "Ack!" was my first reaction and I got the urge to pluck it out. But I've decided to leave it.

They say wisdom comes with age. Bring it on!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Katie + Brad

This picture sums up Katie and Brad's story perfectly. It wasn't love at first sight, as they both will tell you. (Is such a thing even real?) Rather, it was a growing into love -- with a lot of stumbling, missteps and growth along the way -- which culminated into yesterday's beautiful wedding ceremony and the start of their life together. Read more about their story here.

The ceremony took place at Katie's parents' horse farm. Brad and Katie spent months working the farm and planting things to get it ready for the big day. The result was phenomenal.

West Breedlove, the director of music ministries at our church, officiated the ceremony. He had us laughing and crying and then laughing again.

Some poignant thoughts from West during the ceremony (Yes, I whipped out my pen and paper):

"Your spouse may bring out the worst in you. The problem is not your spouse. The problem is the sin within you."

"Freely forgive. Jesus is not stingy with his grace. Do not be with yours."

"'You complete me' may sound romantic. That's Jerry Maguire. That's not Jesus," West said, noting that spouses are not to seek fulfillment solely in one another but should be pushing one another toward a Godward affection.

Other scenes from the wedding:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Colliding worlds

One Thursday last month, I was heading to the Thompson-Boling Arena on UT campus to grab lunch when I ran into this guy. He looked familiar but I just couldn't place him. Then he said my name. I gave him a quizzical look and he responded: "Andy." It clicked and I yelled "Vinson," completing his sentence.

Andy Vinson was the high school freshman I shadowed in August 2006 as part of my back-to-school feature for the Knoxville News Sentinel.
How neat that I was able to reconnect with him six years later. He's all grown up now.

At the time of the story, I was new to the education beat. Photographer Michael Patrick and I arrived at Andy's home before sunrise so we could get a glimpse into the first day of high school for a freshman. From breakfast at home through classes at South-Doyle High School and then lunch time, we captured Andy's every move. I bet it must have been a bit weird to have us tagging along but he was a good sport.

The subsequent story and pictures turned out well and we received great feedback on the article and pictures. The second picture in this post is from the story package. According to the caption, Andy, then 14, called shotgun and went to the front of the family van for the ride to his first day of high school. His mom Carol drove him and his sister to their respective schools. (Hat tip to my friend Jigsha for helping me track down this photo.)

I hadn't seen Andy since then -- until last month on campus. I was so thrilled that I gave him a big hug. Talk about my worlds colliding! When I got back to the office, I told four different coworkers about my encounter.

Andy just wrapped up his sophomore year at UT. He's studying journalism and is particularly interested in the entertainment industry. He also works at the campus radio station. I gave him my contact info and I look forward to staying in touch. I'm excited to see where life's adventures take Andy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

B+ in statistics

Happy dance, anyone? Yes, please!
I checked my grade this afternoon and I got a B+ in statistics. YAY! This is huge, considering that for a while I thought I was going to fail the class. So, going from a perceived F to a B+ is pretty sweet.

The overachiever in me protested a little bit but like my friend Sara has often reminded me, I have to give myself some grace. I did the straight A thing in undergrad. On this side of adulthood, good grades still do matter but I'm not going to beat myself up if I get the occasional B.

Onward to summer school!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Learning to say no

"There will never be an end to the requests upon your time.
It's your place to tell the world you've got to rest a while.
And everything is important, and everything is not.
At the end of your life, your relationships are all you've got."

--Sara Groves, Just One More Thing

This is one lesson I'm continually learning. It hit home in a tough way today. Gosh, how hard it is to say no, particularly when it has to do with family, friends or a good opportunity. Being the people lover (and people pleaser?) that I am, I hate to disappoint. But as one friend said, "sometimes, it can be really freeing to say no."

Hat tip to my friend Jessica for bringing the Sara Groves song to mind.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The "just because" post

It's been a while since I've done just because writing.
Living life kind of gets in the way, you know? But I've been missing it so I gave up going to the gym this evening in exchange for a date with my laptop. So many odds and ends running around in my head. Today's post will be somewhat of a catch-all. Here's a glimpse into my world/mind in no particular order:

Happy Mother's Day to me

I called that sweet mother o' mine today to thank her for being my mummy. As is the tradition of Yoruba people, she spoke blessings over me, particularly regarding my future role as a mother -- to human children, that is.

I am currently a mom to this four-legged creature with a hairy back. Make that a hairy everything. Speaking of Plucky Alapo, I got home this evening from an out of town trip and found a note from him waiting for me on the kitchen counter. (Don't tell anyone but I think he had a little help from my dog sitter Nicole in writing it.)

Plucky Alapo is almost 8 years old and is still a spry guy -- but with mild arthritis and a limp every now and then. eek! At times, I've thought about getting him another buddy to keep him young. As a puppy and adolescent dog, Plucky tormented Elmo the geriatric poodle. (Maybe it's payback time?) Hmm, but for now, I think I'll remain a one-dog woman. It makes life a little simpler.

Reading, thinking

I recently read an article entitled, "The Satanic Ideology of Photoshop." How's that for an attention grabber? (Hat tip to my friend Trillia for a heads up on the piece.) Here's an excerpt:

"Of course, we can read over-the-top hyperbole on the covers of Vogue or Cosmo and reason that they're absurd. We can look at images like Blanchett's on Harper's Bazaar and know, rationally, that this isn't the real world. But it isn't reason that these magazines are after...we aren't fundamentally rational creatures; we're desiring creatures, and though the promises of Hollywood and consumerism may be irrational, their picture of the ideal human life has captured our hearts."
The full article here.

 Taking the GRE

I must be a glutton for punishment. I'm planning to take the Graduate Record Examinations, also known as the GRE, sometime this summer. (It's as if I didn't suffer enough in statistics or something.)

Truth be told, I get excited as I study for it. I've been doing well on the English/reading sections in my practices. The math sections, on the other hand, have been a bear.

I'm particularly thrilled that I'll be starting graduate classes this summer. I'm planning to go in a different direction from what I initially thought I wanted to study. More on that later.

Tennessee, sweet Tennessee

My heart leaped this evening when I saw the "Tennessee Welcomes You" sign as I drove back into the state after a weekend visiting friends in Greensboro, N.C.

I laughed at myself because I now officially claim Knoxville as home. But it took some time. For years when people asked about my home state, I would say: "I'm from New York. I live in Tennessee."

Now, I say I'm from New York and Tennessee...and I'm proud of it.

Gosh, so many other things to say but I'll stop here tonight. I won't even get into the fact that I purchased gas for $3.27/gal this evening in Greene County on my way back to Knoxville...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Frances + Jeremy

"For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol."

That was an excerpt from Psalm 86. The entire chapter was one of two Bible readings at Frances and Jeremy's wedding this afternoon. I must say, my heart was greatly warmed and encouraged as I sat through the service. There was a sweet affirmation of the love of God through Christ for each person there, no matter their stage of life -- single, married and everything in between.

Frances and Jeremy's wedding was No. 2 of the four I'll be attending this summer. How neat it was to celebrate with them and reconnect with friends and acquaintances.

The ceremony took place at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church and then it was on to the Orangery for eating and dancing.

How was the food, you ask? I overheard one friend say this: "Any wedding with bacon is a-ok in my book."

It was pretty phenomenal and included southern favorites like shrimp and grits. Dessert? An assortment of cakes and an ice cream bar courtesy of Bruster's. Score!

Some other fun scenes from the day:

Frances and Jeremy's first dance

Brad and Katie; they're responsible for wedding No. 3 that's coming up in a few weeks :)

Cheesing it up with Gov. Bill Haslam

Hamming it up with my sweet friend Rachel and her hubby Jon -- before Jon stuck his finger in my ear. Boys!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Arbor Place

I took the pooch for a walk yesterday evening and came across this lovely vine snaking up the sign post.

Arbor Place is one of my favorite streets in the neighborhood. The houses remind me of pictures from my childhood story books.

It's a short, quiet, dead end street with lush trees and fragrant flowers.

A great place to think.

Arbor Place. What an appropriate name for a storybook street.