Sunday, June 29, 2008

Just after a rain shower, the air clears, the
clouds begin to break up, and for a few
moments a decaying city recaptures its
aura of days long gone.


The trees with the yellow flowers will soon be gone; the few merchants claim they block the facades of their businesses, and falling leaves in the autumn are unsightly on the sidewalks. These trees do exactly what they were supposed to do; beautify the streets. Still few businesses came to set up shop. Millions of tax dollars have been poured into this area for many years, and the root problems still remain. Lack of parking, flooding (back when we had rain), one-way main streets such as the one pictured, and no ongoing initiative to draw people to the heart of the old town. The brilliantly done mural on the side of the Kress building depicting the railroad heritage of the town is obscured by trees.

They hire consultants, and the consultants are ignored unless it plays into the hands of the Johnson City Development Authority which has been "revitalizing" downtown for so many years. Now they are building a bike trail from ETSU to downtown. I can't see it ever paying for itself unless the root problems are addressed instead of ignored.

JCDA had the old and magnificent Arcade building torn down; it had become a place of refuge for the homeless, addicts, and pushers. Save the building and get rid of its problems never once entered their minds. It would have been a great place to develop into shops or even a city museum. Same thing with the once majestic Majestic theatre. That building could have been saved and used to attract people downtown. Yet like blind sheep the downtown merchants and the city citizens allow the JCDA to do just about anything it wants. Its biggest accomplishment was building a new city library. Yes, it is a beauty. But it isn't downtown where it needs to be to draw its users to the offerings of local merchants and service businesses.

Everthing that was the old downtown of my youth has dissapeared. No more Christmas parades on Main Street, and no more super-delicious cheeseburgers at Guy's Cafe. No more Fields' Men's Store, no more five-and-dimes like Kress, Powell's, and Woolworth's. No more little boy walking with his mom and looking up at the big buildings and bumping into parking meters. No more scent of fresh Honey Krust bread from the nearby bakery. Sterchi's furniture store is long gone, as is Wallace Shoes and Hamilton Bank, and JC Penny is in the mall with Sears.

The city castrated itself with the coming of K-mart in the cow pastures of North Johnson City, then the "Miracle Mall" killed the few remaining hanger-oners downtown.

For god's sake, either fix it right or allow it to die in peace.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Nothing of note to report this day. Had my visit with the doctor, and got my shot. Nothing of particular interest wrong with me. Just old and tired. Been a little queasy in the stomach for some reason this afternoon. Tenseness, I suppose.
I should be happy, but I find I am not most of the time. Life always has its mistakes waiting for each of us to fall into, but mine have been coming fast and furious the past few weeks. Reacting without thinking has plagued me all my life, but I thought I had mellowed some over the past few years and was seeing things a little differently than when I was younger. Trust me; I don't believe in fate or any other deities, but I do believe the setup of our genes and DNA predisposes us to do certain things in life. Of course these biological things make us look the way we do, and to a certain extent to act the way we do by compensating for how we perceive our own looks and persona. But do they control the thing we sometimes call "luck" (another deity) to any extent? Do they cause a normally intelligent person to be stupid in certain ways? Another thing I've always pondered is the fact that I was a "blue baby". Did going without breathing or having a heartbeat for many minutes after birth affect whom I am? I will probably never know, and if I did receive a revelation, it would make little difference. I may have lost the blue pallor of the skin, but the "blues" went all the way to my heart and have never left. I guess I'm just feeling philosophical today, and with any luck, it will pass.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In June 1968, I did something stupid and swore that I would never do it again. While attending the Spring National drag races at Bristol's Thunder Valley, I managed to get the top of my feet sunburned ... severely! I had to miss two day's work due to blistering and skin loss. My feet have had a brown and white mottled look ever since. Today, I took my shoes and socks off while I was lying on the chaise lounge. It was only for a few minutes to soak some heat into my sore and aching feet, or so I thought. Of course, I snoozed. Well, not exactly snoozed; I went sound asleep. Thirty minutes later when I awoke to the smell of roasting meat, it was too late. Although not as bad as the '68 crisis, I will still be very sore tomorrow and probably shed some skin.
Other than that lovely time, I did nothing again today. I'm beginning to like this retirement thing. Nothing to do and you can do as much as you like whenever you want. Actually, I ain't excatly retired. Things are just slow in the business of janitoring, so I get some unusual down time.
Back tomorrow, if I can walk this far!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rhododendron in Dennis Cove

I have been terribly lazy this week, and enjoyed every minute of it. My accomplishments for today were sit on the porch and soak up some sun. First time this year I metaphorically let it all hang out by rolling my shorts legs up high as they would go and removing my shirt. Just sat and soaked. Felt much better and relaxed afterward. In fact, I liked it so well, I went back to the same perch just as the sun was setting and welcomed the twilight and finally, darkness. I'll do it all again tomorrow if the weather permits it. Friday I have to go to the arthritis doc for my quarterly checkup.
Carolyn has to work Saturday, and we are talking about going to Bay's Mountain Park on Sunday for another picnic. Neither of us have ever been there, but I hear it is an enjoyable place. That's another thing I like about living in East Tennessee: There are so many places to go and get away from home for awhile.
This will be the last weekend this year before summer sets in heavy and hot. It appears our drought is back in full force and no real relief in sight. With the weather patterns not changing dramatically to where we can get sufficient precipitation, I look for this area to become at least semi-arid. Yes, that means a desert. Will our magnificent forests be replaced by scrub thickets? Maybe it won't be a Sahara or Death Valley, but it may get bad.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not much accomplished today. We had the oil changed in the Chevy van, and while that was going on I dropped Carolyn off at Lowe's and I went in search of photo ops. I went back to the little marsh on Brethren Church Road, There was a fairly good sized snapping turtle sunning on a rock, but when I started to roll down the car window for a shot, he slid into the water. I waited around for about a half hour, but he never resurfaced. Sooner or later, I'll get a chance at him. Did get a decent thistle shot and a butterfly.
Carolyn bought a piece of trim to finish off the floor and carpet JoJo installed.
Tomorrow will be the last Wednesday we have in the first half of this year. Try to enjoy it...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Another of my heroes and a true American Patriot has died. George Carlin passed yesterday of apparent heart related problems.
Yesterday while waiting on Carolyn to finish cleaning the building in Elizabethton, I saw three Bald Eagles playing around over Doe River. They were only about 200 yards away from me, left as quickly as they came and before I could get the camera ready. Two were adults, and the other I took to be a juvenile. That is the closest I've ever been to the magnificent birds, and only the second time in my life that I've seen such a critter.
Today has been slow. I've accomplished exactly squat that is important to anyone but myself. I still want to visit The Roan one day this week before the blooms all turn brown. Maybe Thursday.
Have a special evening, everyone... you know you deserve it!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

We went picnicking to Dennis Cove this afternoon, I tried to relax and enjoy the beauty of the forest and creek, but for some reason I was too tense to be happy. It was just one of those blah feelings people sometimes have, I suppose.

Carolyn bought a small and portable table-top charcoal grill for the occasion, and she thought it was something that just snapped together. Oh, man! It had a sackful of screws and nuts and the assembly directions were so small neither of us could see to how to put it together. At one time, I would have figured it out just by looking at the parts, but I don't have the patience or hands to allow it anymore. We ended up setting it on a fire pit that was at the camp site. All worked out and was fine.

The folks up two spots from us had a hunk of watermelon left and offered it to us, which I accepted with as glee.

I took a whole bunch of photos, but my heart wasn't in it. I may have one or two that is salvageable

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Not much happening today around the homestead. Played with the squirrels for a while and then went to doc's office for my weekly fix.
Supposed to rain this weekend, so I don't know what I'll do to pass the time. Unlike most digital SLR cameras, mine will stand to get a little wet, so that is no excuse for me not to get out and about. The question is, can I stand to get a little wet? No where near summer bath time yet, and I don't really feel very dirty, but my hair is a little matted and difficult to comb. Maybe a 'first day of summer' rain and a little soap on my head won't be too bad. If I go that far, I may as well change my bloomers as the one's I'm now wearing look yellowish in front and brownish in back, and are beginning to emit that odor that we whom at one time used outside toilets know and love so well.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The new monitor isn't such a dog after all. I had to buy a new video card because I couldn't get near to the resolution of the new screen. I installed the card and it took care of the majority of the grayscale problem, along with allowing full resolution. I am much happier today.

After nearly three months, I've finally about figured out how to get some decent photos from the new Pentax.
Went over to the church in my old home community this afternoon and took photos, and for some reason, I always get one or two decent shots. Besides, it gives me a chance to talk to my long-gone relatives while there. They always give good advice when I ask for it, and hardly ever tell me what a sorry jackass I am. They probably talk about me behind my back, though.
Blackberries will be ripe in another week or so, and raspberries are ready to pick right now. Another year without enough knee stability to allow me to go picking. I sure miss it, along with the cobblers and dumplings Carolyn used to make.
The Rhododendron Festival is happening on and around the Roan this weekend. I may try to drive up there Monday after the weekend crowds have departed. I'd love to get some pictures in the gardens. The Roan is a fickle place, with any kind of weather one can imagine liable to happen there at anytime.
Happy evening everyone!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not much happening today. I've come to the realization the monitor I've had for two days is a dog. There is just no way I can get it to go to true grayscale. I've been working with it since I got it, and I can get it close, but close isn't good enough for photographs. Even with the color turned to zero, there is still a slight reddish tint. So, sometime in the next day or so, it is going back to Office Depot. I will probably exchange it for the same model, as it is the only 24" they have in the store. I expect the new one will be no better. If so, I will return it and ask for a refund and go elsewhere.

Good, big monitors are difficult to find in my price range, which is cheap minus $50. Samsung has one I like, but it is $150 more than the Acer I just bought. Besides, I have a Samsung tv that is only two years old and it stays tore up.

As long as this crap comes crawling out of China at cut rate prices, we smart, thrifty thinking Americans will buy it by the shiploads. If it were up to me, I'd tariff the hell out of that junk.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I think I have everything in order and running. Hard drives are driving and the monitor is monitoring. I am worn to a frazzle. Very little sleep time, and what I did have wasn't wisely used. If the world was all about me, I would complain, but instead I am getting a pretty good chuckle about my lot.
I have been able to look at some of my friends and contacts photos today for the first time since Friday. I am forever amazed at the creativity of these folk. The things I see and dismiss as plain objects become photo opportunities for them. I'll be the first to admit my own photos aren't much, either technically or aesthetically, but anything half-way decent I do produce is thanks to my Flickr contacts. I've learned so much about photography from them, but mostly, I've relearned that most people are good people and just want to be accepted and respected for whom they are.
Ah, but there was a nice wedding to interrupt and soothe the weekends maladies.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I've gotten just about everything in the office working properly again. One network hard drive is giving me problems, but I hope to figure it out by tomorrow.
If anyone in this entire world needs a vacation, it is Carolyn and I. She is burned out from work pressures and other things, and I'm burned out from pain and aggravation. I see nothing but more of the same in the future for us, so I may as well quit complaining about it.
C. got me a new 24" wide screen monitor so I can work on photos without as much eye strain. It refuses to tone down to black and white, but instead the b&w photos have a reddish tint. I cannot adjust it out. I'tii go back to the store tomorrow. Just something else to aggravate the crap out of us.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In the looking glass you shall see
Your father's face smiling at thee

This morning, beautiful Vanessa Gregory Guinn became beautiful Mrs. Greg Cantor at a lovely outdoor wedding ceremony. Congratulations to the newly weds, and hope for much happiness to them and the families.
Carolyn is in the process of slowly evicting my and my stuff from the office. If you don't hear from me for several days, I will probably be in hospital suffering from technology withdrawal symptoms. I hope to get the modem and router moved so I can at least use the laptop.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Today has been bittersweet, with some good things happening and some not so good. It is days like this which define our characters, and old characters like myself sometimes need some redefining and, even more, refining. Virtual world put-downs can be as traumatic as real world slaps. C'est la vie.
Tomorrow is my sweet friend Vanessa's wedding day. I hope the bride and groom will have many long and happy years together. Well, at least long years together; they are both too old to have many years together. I've known Vanessa since she wasn't much more than a baby, and she has always had a beautiful, easy smile. We are all proud of you, girl!
Carolyn has most of the office emptied except for my little piece of paradise. I didn't dread knee replacement surgery as much as I do dismantling my stuff. Que sera sera!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

-----------Ol' Squirt!--------

This has been a wearisome week, one where the laws of the land are superseded by the Laws of Murphy. Monday was... well, it was Monday! Enough said.

On Tuesday, we ordered a take-out meal from the Cottage, and just as soon as Carolyn put the phone down, it rang. It was Chris, stranded on Millard Street with a flat front tire while on her way to the used tire place to get a replacement for a back tire that was worn through to the air. Carolyn called and canceled the food order, and I went to help Chris. She was only two blocks from her destination on Fairview Avenue, and had money for only one tire. I took her to the used tire dealer, and they went out and removed the flat, brought it back, and put a new tire on the wheel. I loaned her my credit card so she could get another tire. She is flat broke and can't find any work except for a cleaning company an hour each night. It just barely pays for her gasoline.* While I was gone to help Chris, Carolyn was cleaning raccoon poop off the bedroom deck and the chairs on the patio below. The old boy (or girl) had the squirts. Just after getting back home, a thunderstorm hit Kingsport and knocked out my dsl internet service. They used to have a dial-up number we could use in emergency, but I quickly found they had discontinued it. The high speed line didn't come back on until Tuesday night.

Wednesday brought another thunderstorm that knocked out the dsl again for several hours, and just as I was getting ready to pay bills online. Some of them now will have late charges I will have to pay. Carolyn began taking stuff off her desk so that it will be easier to remove from the room for the carpet installation this weekend. My desk is a different story. On and around it is an all-in-one printer, another scanner, my full-tower computer and monitor, a keyboard and mouse, two usb adapters, a dsl modem, a router, an external hard drive, an external network hard drive, speakers, a graphics tablet, a Palm Pilot, a phone, two lamps, three receptacle strips, and myriad flocks of tangled power cords and wires that will all have to be marked as to where they belong. Some of this stuff hasn't been moved since 2002. The desk will have to be taken apart, a four drawer file cabinet will have to be moved out, two more two-drawer file cabinets will have to be taken from the closet, along with a large cabinet where paper products, disks, etc. are stored. It will take JoJo a half day to get everything out, an hour or so to lay the carpet, and an eternity+a week for me to get my life back in order.

Yep, this is a grand week!

*These other cleaning companies only pay a little over minimum wage, and that is why they get the jobs and Carolyn doesn't. She pays well over $8 per hour. If she cut back $2 per hour, it would sure help us, but her employees and their families would suffer. She did cut out paid vacations, and is considering cutting paid holidays.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Internet was off today for about seven hours...
Maybe I can get this going by tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My internet has been down due to storms for the past 30 hours, so I will get this in fast just in case it goes again. The dsl light on the modem is still flickering...

A person can play a whole lot of Spider Solitaire in thirty hours.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Yesterday, Carolyn and I went to Limestone and the back roads around the Greene county and Washington county line. It was an interesting day, as I found some decent photo ops. We saw a raccoon, a doe, wild turkey, and a red tail hawk. Also some wild looking people. As in Limestone, the old bank and train station in Chuckey are still standing, although not being used.
For reasons I won't get into right now, Carolyn has decided not to retire yet. It is against my wishes, but then, what isn't? I suppose she will have to learn the hard way that it is time to give up some things to gain others.
Jo had three boxes of expensive laminate flooring left from a job, and he came over this morning and installed them in our hallway. We had to buy a couple more boxes to have enough, but it does look good. He is supposed to put carpet in the office next weekend, and I dread it. The computers and office equipment will all have to be unhooked and moved out, along with the furnishings. I will probably be off the air for two or three days trying to get things back in order.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Allergies are all to hell again today. I look like an old sore-eyed cat.
I'll try once more tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bo Diddley

As a lot of Americans pondered whom the new horses-ass shall be that will lead this nation on its next step into oblivion, a great man passed from us on Monday, June 2. Legendary blues-rocker Bo Diddley died at age 79. He was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, helping more than anyone to integrate the new rock-and-roll of the 1950s with original Delta blues and the more progressive style Chicago blues. Through that work, he also helped to integrate the races of this once proud nation.
Hillary Clinton probably won't be the next president of the US. That is a good thing.
Either Barack Obama or John McCain will probably become president of the US. That is a bad thing. Poop is poop, anywhere you shovel it.
Speaking of things that stink, I've decided to go to the creek tonight and have my annual spring bath. The air is plenty warm, and the creek is full of fresh, mountain water. Four times a year, I make this pilgrimage to cleanse myself of the impurities of living. Being naked in the woods, along with ritual of symbolically cleansing the spirit in nature's goodness, is invigorating and revitalizing. Come join me sometime and experience with me my personal religion.
My eyesight has improved over the past two days. The cloudy skies help a lot. These darn allergies make my eyes super-sensitive to sunlight. Grass pollen is the worst culprit at the present, I suppose.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I can't get anything going! Stomach virus over the weekend; now allergies are keeping me indoors. Went out for a while this morning, and the sunlight was more than I could bear: Carolyn ended up driving. This geriatric crap is beginning to piss me off.

Hope to be back tomorrow...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I've been ill with s stomach virus for the past few days. Was better yesterday, but became sick again last evening. Feeling better today, but afraid to eat.

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