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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Early October Through Columbus Day--Part II

October 17, 2013 Colder and rainy on and off. A good day to blog. 2:44PM CST Townhouse Office Nashville, Tn October 5 dawned sunny and warm and we made our way to Columbia, Tn to visit the only remaining home of the 11th President of the United States, James Knox Polk. The only remaining residence, that is, but for The White House. Greta Garmin acquired her satellites and led us a familiar path to Old Hickory Blvd to Franklin Pike which we expected her to continue to follow into Columbia but she diverted us to the East and so into Columbia only blocks from his home without taking us through the heart of the city. I like that Greta, sometimes. The homes in Brentwood continue to amaze me by their size for single families, though in comparison to Belle Meade this are shacks. Upon arrival in front of the Polk residence we were directed to the home beside it, known as the Sisters' House. It is so called because one of his elder sisters and her husband lived in it until they were expecting their ninth child. At that point, they decided the home was too small so they removed to a larger house and another of James' sisters moved in with her husband and two children. The Sisters' House has had the downstairs converted into a theatre in which a short film is shown about the Polk family history and James' early life before his marriage and eventual entry into politics. Another room houses a modest gift shop and several other rooms house a small museum with a timeline of Polk's history and some of the smaller items he possessed. It is sad to think that the Polk Place in Nashville, which was his final home and site of his final resting place, as well as the home in which he widow dwelt until her death, was torn down in 1901 in order for a hotel to be built. His grave was then moved to the Capital Building grounds. One of the portraits in the film room that particularly appealed to me was of a very handsome red-haired fellow. Turns out he was George M. Dallas, for whom the city in Texas is named and who ran with Polk as the vice - presidential candidate. I found several items and several comments particularly interesting. Loved the fun of campaigns that existed even as far back as the mid 19th century:" One for the ropes, the other for the gallows" ! Also the restraint in accepting gifts as President and First Lady: and ink pot, a cast of an extremely miniature foot, a beaded bag. In the house were a few larger gifts but, in general, when having seen the collections of more recent Presidents it is so modest. This fellow Polk was a definite man of the opinion that we had a Manifest destiny to own all the land to the Pacific Coast and eliminate any European holdings at least in the North American hemisphere and that he did. This attitude probably stemmed from the personal acquisition of land by his grandfather and father before him on behalf of the Polk family. His great-grandfather was an early settler of Mecklenburg, NC, the family having immigrated from Scotland in 1680 to Maryland. The West was very attractive to his grandfather, Ezekiel and his father, Samuel because of the available land. Through his job as surveyor, Ezekiel was able to acquire large tracts in what was to become Tennessee and he moved to it in 1790 but had to return to NC when his wife became ill. In 1803 he returned with other members of his family and, at first settled slightly south of Franklin. Samuel and his family arrived in 1806 when James was 11. At this point there were five children in the family, with James the eldest son. They established a farm north of what is now Columbia but as the area grew a new county, Maury ( pronounced Murray around here ) was organized, Columbia was designated the county seat and the first courthouse was built in 1809-1810. Samuel continued farming, bought or acquired lots in town and went into business with is eldest daughter's husband. Through all this activity it became evident that James was frail and not able to follow into the business. Before his 17th birthday his father had to take him to a specialist in Ky for major, for the time, urinary bladder surgery. It is supposed that this surgery had the unintended result by which James and his wife were unable to have children. Recognizing this lack of stamina it was decided that James would be educated as well as possible and proved to be an outstanding scholar at the University of NC at Chapel Hill. He had first honors in math and the classics and delivered the salutatory address in Latin--not particularly unusual in those days when Latin and Greek were both essential elements of a well-rounded education. Not once in his three years had James returned home and after graduation needed a week's rest before he could return home. While he was away much had happened. His eldest sister now had three children and was living in the Sisters' House next door to a new home his father had built in 1816. His second sister was now married to a doctor and lived with him and their child nearby as well. In the new home he joined his parents and seven younger siblings--two sisters and five brothers, ranging in age from a one year old to the eldest at 16! He was now 23 and stayed home for only a short time before heading off to Nashville to study law under the tutelage of a Mr. Felix Grundy, whose home would many years later after some renovation become Polk Place. During this time, James stuck his toe into politics and was chosen clerk of the State Senate, which was located in the then capital city of Murfreesboro. He was admitted to the bar in 1820 and returned to the family home in Columbia, practicing law out of a log cabin not far away. In 1823 he was elected to the State Legislature, began courting Sarah Childress, the daughter of a wealthy family and a highly educated young woman and married her on Jan 1, 1824. Then in 1825, with the support of Andrew Jackson, he ran for and was elected to the US House of Representatives. He served seven terms in Congress, and in 1835 was chosen Speaker of the House--only one ever to become President. His alliance with Andrew Jackson put him at odds with Henry Clay and led to the humorous exchanges mentioned earlier when they ran against each other for President. Before that unexpected event, however, Polk almost destroyed his political career by leaving a successful career in Washington to run for the Governorship of Tennessee, which he won for one term. He ran two more times and was defeated each time. He felt quite depressed by this but kept his eye on events in Washington and decided to seek the Democratic nomination for vice president in 1844. The Party had so many factions and could not agree on a Presidential candidate that it came as a total surprise that Polk was elected as the candidate on the 9th ballot when the original compromise choice, Silas Wright of New York, whose VP running mate was to be Polk, refused the nomination. Elected by the smallest margin of any President, Polk reduced the tariff, established an independent treasury, settled the boundary of Oregon, acquired California and New Mexico by winning the Mexican War, annexed Texas, negotiated a treaty with Britain about rights on the High Seas, established Annapolis as the Naval Academy and established the Smithsonian. He served four years, never intending to seek re-election, went home to Tennessee badly aged and weakened, contracted Cholera and died three months after leaving office. As I mentioned before Polk Place in Nashville was razed and a great-niece of Sarah Polk, whom she and James had adopted as their daughter, and the niece's daughter proposed that the Polk possessions be housed in the War Memorial being built in Nashville. Before the building was finished, however, the adopted daughter died and her daughter organized the JKP Memorial Association and with funds from various governmental and private donations the house in Columbia was purchased in 1924 and has become the museum we toured today. Its furnishings are all from the original family of Samuel Polk's time, from the Polk White House and from Polk Place. In 1937, the original Polk property housing the Sisters' House was acquired, the original foundations of the kitchen and adjourning room were found and the buildings reconstructed. The gardens are original and the fountain is the Polk fountain. Having absorbed much of this history from both the film and the museum ( where we saw a image of the original plan for the Washington monument, the cornerstone of which was laid by Polk ) we proceeded to the adjacent home. A lovely young woman named Lydia was our guide. To the left of the entrance hall is the formal parlor dominated by a beautiful mosaic Egyptian marble topped table given to Polk upon his retirement from the Presidency. It depicts the American eagle surrounded by 30 stars, representing the states of the Union in 1848. In one corner also stands the pianoforte which Sarah's father bought her and which cost the same as an acre of land! Hanging on two walls on one corner of the room, a painting of Polk when he assumed the Presidency with another painted at his retirement. They spoke more than words how those four years aged the man. Through the archway in one wall could be glimpsed the dining room. In pride of place opposite the entry from the hall, a painting of James' mother and to the right of that, a horrible painting of Sarah that Lydia and I agreed she probably never had hanging anywhere where it could be seen! Sarah's choice for White House china was a different Tennessee wildflower on each piece. Upstairs, a small room served as James' bedroom when he was a single man--a sleeping couch a bookcase and a desk-chair that I really loved. He probably shared it with the next oldest son. Next came the girl's bedroom which was light and airy as we entered. Painted white with bright green accents the case windows walls and trim are a beautiful peach. When the sun shone that peach just illuminated to whole place. Unfortunately, the sun went behind a cloud when the room was emptied and I could photograph it. Across the hall, Sarah and James' room but the portrait came after his death, hence she is in black widow's weeds which she never gave up, though, after a year, mauve and pearl gray were socially acceptable colors of a widow's garments. At the top of the stairs a portrait of Cortez, sent to Polk at the end of the Mexican War by General Pillow, who also gave Mrs Polk that heavy gold fan. A note included said that Cortez had been the first to defeat Mexico and that Polk was the second. Finally, another bedroom with a sitting area and a fire guard positioned beside one of the chairs. Ladies' make-up of the time contained wax and it would begin to melt in the warm from the flames. This shield which could be adjusted up and down protected the woman's face sitting in the chair close to the hearth. Lydia led us to the back door and we explored the kitchen area and then she rejoined us and led us rapidly through the garden to..... An adjacent Church has been purchased and renovated and serves at the Polk Presidential Hall in which exhibits are staged that relate to the period of James Polk's life. When we were there the exhibit was Keeping Time: Clocks from 1795-1850. It was during the later part of this period that American clock making was reaching its peak--a period when clocks made in New England were actually being used in our country and also being exported to Europe rather than English and French clocks being imported for American use. After exploring the various styles and periods of clocks we were free to wander the gardens at leisure. I sat in the shade on a elevated bench and just enjoyed the quiet and beauty of the surroundings as Bill strolled about looking at the various trees and shrubs. By this time it was almost 3 and we headed west toward Hohenwald and entry to the Natchez Trace--one of my favorite roads in America. We drove leisurely north, took the detour to the old Trace and stopped at a couple of memorials that were not there the last time we'd driven the Trace--one marking the Tennessee Valley Divide and another commemorating Jackson's march to and from New Orleans where he made a name for himself during the War of 1812--though the battle occurred in 1814 after the Peace Treaty had been signed in Paris--darned that mail service! Soon we were off the Trace on Tn route 100 and headed once more to Old Hickory Blvd and home--another full and interesting day gone by. Until the next installment --enjoy ! BandK

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Early October through Columbus Day

October 13 2013 4PM CST Townhouse Office in Nashville, Tn Hello gang! This will be a serial account of excursion days and domestic days here in the lovely Nashville Townhouse and environs. I must say we are truly familiar with all of the major roads in and out of town and their names are now as familiar as any road in Post Mills, New York City, Burlington or any of the places with which I am most familiar. Amalie, Old Hickory, Nolensville Pike, Edmonson Pike, Harding Pl, Rt 100, Franklin Pike etc and I even know how to get to them and The Trace without a map! When I look up directions to anywhere on MapQuest or dear Greta, I can skip about the first five to six steps. BTW, I was referring to the Gamin the other evening while discussing the sights with the Applebee's manager, Lloyd McDonald, a young man who hails from Knoxville. It was he who told me that Greta can be programmed to ignore Interstates, toll roads and dirt roads ( which I've done ). He also said that he and his family find Greta's voice quite seductive so they call her the Gamin Hussy! Love it! As always one day runs into the next and we are never quite sure what day it is. For some reason the first two days of October were not very active; indeed, I slept until 11 am on the 2nd. I shouldn't say that any of our days are " unproductive " but though we've made several lists of places we want to explore and annotated them with info from google etc, we find that, since we are actual residents of Nashville, we don't feel the need to be on the go every day in order to see everything before moving on. This, of course, may mean that some places will not be explored but that is always the case even when we are traveling. The Government shut down could have had a truly disappointing impact on our stay but the historical sites associated with the Civil War, such as Stony Creek Battlefield and others in the immediate area, we had visited already the year that quite without planning became our Year of The War Between the States. Other sites are under the aegis of the State of Tennessee and remain open. In addition, that beautiful road, The Trace, though Federal, remains open and we have been out checking foliage several times. My plan then is to cover the highlights of our explorations and try to cover just one day's excursion per chapter. It is hoped that by breaking the story into little bites you will be able, as we have been, to more easily enjoy them without being overwhelmed and without the sometimes hot and sweaty experiences they may have been. Also I won't be boring you with the laundry, cooking, exhausting dodging of the Roomba, and draining loading and running of the dishwasher that unfortunately occupy the once in awhile day we spend sunning on the deck and reading or the Sundays watching football on TV! So, all that being said, come on to Grassmere and the Nashville Zoo. There are hysterical signs all over this area but most are located on the aforementioned Pikes and Roads on which traffic is heavy and the drivers are nuts. If ever you drive around here do as one of the regulars at Applebee's told us. Stop when the light turns YELLO but watch your rear end when you do and DO NOT go on green until you've counted to 50, because no one else stops on RED! We laughed but will tell you each time we came to an accident and the condition of the cars and people when we did. At any rate, we did not stop to read the hysterical sign at the entrance of Zoo Road ( which we discovered quite by accident when Greta got us to Aldi's a few days earlier ) which is right off Nolensville Pike and the intersection of which has a traffic signal including a turn arrow--all good! I had read an article in The Tennessean before Bill arrived back from Vermont which talked about a new exhibit of red kangaroos through which one could walk and where one could PET A KANGAROO!!! Well, you can bet that went right to the top of my MUST DO things while in Nashville. Bill is very anti-zoo but some of my happiest memories growing up was excursions to the Bronx Zoo and when I lived in Burlington I made several trips to Granby Zoo and Parc Safari in Quebec. Not having been since Betsy was little and NEVER having pet a roo I was determined to go. After all, he won't fly to Australia ( or anyplace else, for that matter ) and I don't think I'm going to get to the Serengeti anytime soon to see any of these other beasts in their natural habitat, my wish became his command. The history of the land on which the Zoo is located is really interesting although I didn't have the stamina in the heat and humidity to explore the historic home which is off to one end of the grounds. Tennessee was originally part of North Carolina and in 1786, NC granted 640 acres to Wm Simpson in gratitude for his service during the Revolution. His son sold 272.5 acres to Michael Dunn of Virginia in 1810. Dunn built a Federal style brick home which he sold along with the land to his son-in-law, Lee Shute for $10,000. Shute acquired more land over several years and in 1859 sold the house and the now 346 acres to his son Wm for $5. This Wm named the Estate Grassmere after Wordsworth's poetry. Though pillaged by Union troops, the home and family survived the War and became prosperous once more. In time, the farm was inherited by William's four daughters, one of whom with her husband and two children resided there until moving to Cuba. In 1931, these two children returned to live at Grassmere with their Aunt Leila who left the farm to these two unmarried women in 1952. They lived there and ran the farm until the last one died in 1985. Margaret and Elise felt the land was more important than its monetary value and in 1964 they donated it to the Children's Museum of Nashville. In 1985, at Elise's death, the museum developed the 200 acre area into the Grassmere Wildlife Park which opened in 1990 but it closed due to lack of funds. In 1997, The Nashville Zoo took over management at the instigation of Nashville's then mayor. Today, in addition to the Zoo visitors can go to the farm and its various buildings, including at certain times of year, a tour of the home. Perhaps, before we leave we will go back to do just that. A lady who we often see at Applebee's--our very own Cheers--told me this story and encouraged us to go see the Roos which she said were great fun. The Zoo is beautifully laid out in two very large loops, exclusive of the loop to the Farm. We arrived shortly after it opens at around 9, since it is only minutes from our home. There are a few slight rises and many of the walk areas are boardwalk type under the canopy of large trees. The Zoo has not gone overboard in the number or types of animals they have and the areas in which the animals are located are open and the animals, free. There is a short introductory loop that brings you to a main plaza like area in which there are rest rooms, a restaurant and small gift shop. It is from this area that one chooses which way they want to go for their first major loop. Since the Kangaroo Kickabout was my main goal we headed out the Jungle loop. But not before encountering the park's greeters, Hyacinth Macaws. Since Blue is my favorite color this was a thrill since their blue was so stunning and they were so pleased to pose and preen for these curious creatures passing them by. Each of the exhibits has a marker giving various tidbits of info such as habitat and scientific name etc for the creatures contained within. I had just discovered Earth Flight on PBS a few nights earlier and the particular episode I'd watched included the red headed crane--so sacred in Asia and I was really excited to see that the very next area contained two of them, one of which chose to remain hidden and its partner to ignore us. Nevertheless, to see them and realize their true size and the beauty of the plumage was wonderful. As we rounded the corner we encountered the white cheeked gibbon and another, which I don't remember. What a pair! The yellow fellow was quite laid back and indifferent to both us and his island mate. They were separated from us only by a narrow moat and seemed perfectly content. The white cheeked fellow was very active and seemed very anxious to get the other guy to join him in play but noooooo. I had mentioned to our lady friend that as a kid I always stayed out of the monkey house--I found it horribly nauseating and monkeys, except for few--like the marmosets--really obnoxious. I do like the Silver Back Gorillas in Quebec, though. She told me that Grassmere had only a few primates and no gorillas, they didn't feel they had the facilities for them. That made me happy that the management was realistic and concerned about the animals enough to limit their numbers and size. On the next Island was a bit larger fellow with whom I was not familiar, the Siamang of Malaysia and Sumatra. I would have loved to have seen them inflate their throats and call out but apparently they had nothing to talk about that particular morning. Over the hill and around the bend we came to some of natures clowns--they aren't, of course, but they do seem to amuse us. The meercats. One group of three were particularly noticeable and amusing. Using the trunk and roots of a tree in the corner they rolled backward on their butts as if in hammock chairs and exposed their little bellies to the warm morning sun! A young man not much bigger than they enjoyed watching them watch him. One of the neatest things about a zoo is watching little kids --they so love the animals and their glee is contagious. There were many young mothers with infants and toddlers chatting away with each other as their children excitedly took it all in. One young woman had a two year old in a stroller with a set of twins in another. She said there was a 4 year old at playschool. She and a friend, with one toddler were enjoying the early morning visit. I told them their children were adorable and how happy I was they had such a lovely place to bring them. Then the toddlers and I talked to the meerkats as they stared back at us. Next we came to the broad banded beak stork--at first no birds were in evidence and then one sort of sauntered out from behind the shrubs, followed more slowly by another who walked out and then back and then around the shrub. All of a sudden the first turned back and stood tall as he lifted his wings wide. Again, I was seeing what had been shown in Earth Flight--a mating dance! He ran away from her and piroueted gracefully, jeted and leapt--it was a true ballet worthy of any Edward Villella. I could not believe my eyes, the grace, speed and strength of the performance was breath-taking---so much more impressive in real life. I could have watched forever but soon they started back to the bushes and I felt that perhaps privacy was important to birds, too. After passing through another plaza area containing an amphitheatre and exhibition hall of spiders, snakes and amphibians of various types, in which I had no interest, we came upon another sign for the roo enclosure and then, there they were. We were instructed to stay on the path and allow them to come to us. Unfortunately, there is plenty to eat and though very close to us, the animals had absolutely no interest in getting petted. Except for Irma, that is. Irma was lying right on the path and was very interested in having her back petted. She allowed the keeper to rub her tummy but we were told to only approach her from behind and pet her back but not her head. That was fine with me--these are, after all, wild animals and as such can feel threatened by what seems the most innocuous behavior but these dumb upright creatures. For one thing, that pouch is pretty special and I would imagine even empty Irma isn't too thrilled with strangers getting that personal. As for the canine head pat, probably not a good idea. She looked at me sideways, kept her ears turned my way and allowed me to stroke her thick wooly coat. One of the highlights of my life!!!! The rest of the Zoo was just icing on the cake. Since my knees aren't always as dependable as I'd like I chose to bend from the waist rather than squat--easier to get out of the way, should Irma decided I'd stroked enough. The resulting pictures aren't my most flattering--but I DON'T CARE--I PATTED A ' ROO!!!! I could have stayed right there all day but that isn't fair to others, not that you are asked to leave or that anyone was at the door limiting entrance, though I imagine that probably happens at times. Also, Bill wasn't as enthralled as I and didn't pat a 'roo! Continuing round the bend we came to an open grassland, which interestingly wasn't considered part of the Savannah loop, in which eland, Reba Zebra and friends and a comically curious ostrich reside. On we continued to the cats area, well some of the cats--a beautiful white tiger who was headed right toward me, and of whom I would have gotten a great close-up, but for the marauding middle school group that came to the barrier with fierce roars that sent him back to the rear of the enclosure and close to his more naturally colored next door neighbor who watched him pace unblinkingly. The same beastly brat roared equally loudly at the Eurasian lynx, who both lay unmoving doing a very good job of impersonating furry sphinxes. With a sigh I continued along my way and almost, but not totally, embarrassed to admit that I didn't tell another rambunctious unrestrained brat, who almost took me out at the knees as he rounded the downhill curve in front of the Alligator Cove sign, that the alligators were inside the building that had two doors and resembled a rest room with an entrance and exit. I allowed him to continue round the next curve without even acknowledging my existence before I casually walked in and eyeballed those living logs for a short while with a smile on my face and in my heart. I know, I know, but sometimes the lack of consideration for others supercedes my understanding of and tolerance for youthful exuberance. The Bamboo Trail actually starts prior to the gate that announces it and the pathway is imprinted with bamboo leaves --all of it very soothing. There are so many types of bamboo but I've never actually encountered the incredibly tall bamboos of Asia. This flora certainly adds to the ambience of the habitats of the fauna of this area. Hopefully, in some way it reproduces the normal habitat of these creatures. I absolutely fell in love with the Clouded Leopard and the Red Panda. I had only seen one other Red Panda, in Quebec. They are really cute and cuddly looking but those Clouded Leopards---how regal and elegant--even piled three deep in one crook of a tree--and the length of those tails! Oh, just gorgeous. Nocturnl animals are always appealing because of their huge eyes. I was actually surprised that the lemurs were as active as they were since the light was rather bright and they were outdoors. The Cassowary is far less appealing to look at, I think, but their adaptations and life-style is rather fascinating. For one, they are flightless birds, no big surprise! Their head is protected by a helmut-like covering, the wing tips are elongated to create a sort of armor and there is an elongated toe nail on the inner side of its claw so that is jumps and slashes, disemboweling attackers! The males incubate the eggs and take care of the young until about a year old. Ugly but pretty impressive. The red-ruffed lemur was even more active than the ring-tailed lemur and there were more of them for some reason. The tapirs on the other hand were not about to leave the shade or the far distant side of the enclosure. I forget who that avian creature was with them but it was a long tall drink of water, that doesn't really show up in the picture. And then we arrived at the flamingo lagoon. Oh, these were the flamingoes of my dreams. I was so disappointed in my teens to see the flamingoes in Florida--they were so pale, almost albino looking. I simply was not impressed and really haven't seen any since that impressed me. Even those on Earth Flight were kind of less than pastel--but these guys were vibrant! Coral pink orange and dazzling. Just magnificent! By this time I'd had it--the loop was finished but we needed to return to the original plaza area and I was hot and tired. Bill wanted to continue the African Savannah loop with elephants and giraffes and red river hog. I wanted something to drink, a postcard or two and a bench. Not a problem for either of us. We slowly made our way back to the gibbons--I sat in the shade on a bench and Bill went off to Africa. He was back in about 45 minutes and I chatted with Moms with toddlers and enjoyed the antics od that white-cheeked gibbon. As we departed we saw the arrival of many more school trips--each group from a different school or church group wearing a different colorful t-shirt emblazoned with whatever. Was happy to leave the grounds to them. As we left Zoo Road there was our first accident. The object resting on the front grill of the car nearest us as we went by was the door of one of the vehicles. Who knows how that happened but both cars were pretty shot. Couldn't tell is anyone was injured but purchases were strewn all over. AND this isn't downtown!!! Decided to go to Applebee's for appetizers and a beer for early dinner and something simple later at home. I decided to get my hair trimmed next door at Supercuts and then joined Bill and the locals we usually run into in late after noon. Three hours at the zoo, hair washed, trimmed and styled, chicken wings and a Yuengling. Life is good. Hope you enjoyed the day as much as we. Til next time KandB

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Good Suspenseful Romantic Story

Bad Nights (Rockfort Security, #1)Bad Nights by Rebecca York
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a first reads giveaway and was glad to receive it since I haven't read a Rebecca York in awhile. From the first page the book kept my interest--first, wondering as Morgan does, what a naked man is doing running around loose in the mountains, then, once she had him safely indoors so he didn't freeze to death, being as frightened to death as she when the cabin is attacked by rather well armed strangers claiming to be Federal agents.
The one weakness I found was the inadvertent identification of the money man behind the militia--as soon as he was given a certain object I knew and found his subsequent actions unlikely considering his age and background. A minor weakness, however, since there was still plenty to keep me anxious and curious about how it was all going to end.

Worth the read, and it is a fast read, since I couldn't put it down and then had trouble sleeping since I live in the country and there was a militia type incident not many miles away just a few years back.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nashville vs Franklin 1864

October 9 4 PM CST Still in Office in Townhouse in Nashville September 24 found me spending the day in bed after a sleepless night during which I'd gotten sick twice. Mostly I was tired and decided to stay in bed with a book and tea since I must have eaten something that didn't agree with me. Didn't even go down for the newspaper and since the screen door was getting covered with stinkbugs by the dozens in late afternoon I decided not to go out on the deck. Emailed the Ag center to ask what could be done about the invasion and, though I received an immediate reply it was really not helpful at all. I already knew that these Asian invaders were very horribly, repulsively stenchy if squashed, I could not seem to get an info about what, if any, pesticide would kill them and whether such a chemical was available locally.I was, however assured that the infestation would get worse before getting better in mid winter. Seems the creatures were looking for places to hole up when the bad cold weather arrives. I felt truly imprisoned by their presence and could not wait for Bill's arrival and his pesticide expertise. His ETA was sometime after noon on the 26th--he spent the 24th in Batavia, NY and the 25th in Cincinnati. I, in the meantime, made up the grocery list, though I still had at least a week's worth of provisions left, lacking in variety and fresh fruit and veggies but I would not have starved. I was rather proud of how well I'd filled the larder for my retreat. Although, I had and have the use of both Becky's Saturn and Bob's Prius, I chose not to use either, unless there was a real emergency which, fortunately, did not occur. Since it was also the end of the month, I also set up the bill payments for October. Then I got out all the info on the area and started making lists and marking places in the visitors' guide that I thought would be interesting to explore. Bill arrived right on time the 27th with potatoes, squash and onions from our garden and mail and books and my new pocketbook. We decided to eat out at Applebee's--a treat for me, after five weeks, though not so much for him, since that is his go to place between here and Vt. Still we had a good time and, as usual, met some more of the locals which we always enjoy. Having been on the road for three days, Bill really wanted to just veg the next day. So, he got a taste of breakfast on the deck and life in the townhouse. I had seen an article in the Tennessean to which I subscribed about the second week, about the last baseball game of the season using 1864 rules. If you are interested both the rules and the vocabulary of the old game can be found at www.tennesseevintagebaseball.com It is quite a different game. The strikes are shown by the number of white handkerchiefs threaded through the backstop. There is only one ump--at the plate. No gloves or cleats or helmits. But a lot of fun and funny cheers and taunts between the guys. Quite a crowd attended the free game, families with picnics and pets. The brat and sauerkraut was delicious. It was fun to see the young pre-teen boy in Franklin garb run over to upgrade the score. Fun, too, to see that the out of town games were also listed for those interested. The game was held on the grounds of Carnton Plantation in Franklin. We wandered around the grounds and came to the Confederate cemetery containing the dead from the Battle of Franklin. It is a wonder there were any men left in Mississippi afterwards, so many died here. Soon the threat of rain decided us to head home. We used the Gamin --or at least I had set it up but also had the MapQuest directions since Greta Gamin only seemed to understand the use of Interstates. We, of course, avoid them when possible. Lo and behold we found Franklin Pike!!! Leecia had taken me out that way but it didn't look familiar at all. I brought us back on Wilson Pike on which I found a railroad underpass WORSE than the ones on Rt 14 near Royalton or the one on Glen Rd. Much tighter and no visibility at all. Bill was thrilled in pouring rain. Greta kept getting very annoyed with me--she'd tell us calmly to make a U-turn when we ignored her directions--when we continued to ignore her she'd get very dictatorial as she reiterated the order to make a U-turn. When we still did not obey she'd reluctantly relent and, with exasperation in her voice, she would announce that she was recalculating! Soon, with the use of Greta and MapQuest we were back home, safe and sound and now knowing not only Old Hickory Road but also how to find the Franklin Pike!! On the 30th we refilled the larder at Krogers.

My Lovely Me Time in Nashville for a Month

October 9, 2013 3:15 PM CST TownHouse Office Yesterday I received an email from one of you saying she hadn't heard a thing from me in ages and wondered if I'd decided to forgo blogging my visit to Middle Tennessee as the locals call this neck of the woods. Well, as the three albums I just forwarded to y'all show, I've been following no particular schedule and paying no attention to time at all. I'm sorry the pictures are redundant at times and even mixed up but basically my days have been wonderfully mixed up and redundant and disorganized, too. Mostly, I've been enjoying the weather and my little hideaway. After Bill left to return to his ag and winterizing chores in Vermont I remained in what I call the tiger room. The bed is a very comfortable double and the room has a full bath attached. The window faces onto the road beside the deck and is nicely lit at night by a distant streetlight. I found it to be a really cozy nest at night and my slumbers were deep and undisturbed. We had gotten me enough provisions for the month so I never had need of leaving and so I didn't. Well, except for one day, when one of the ladies two doors down decided that I at least had to see what was around. She took me out to Belle Meade to see the houses where various rich folk live--it was the neighborhood in which the Gores resided before breaking up. We drove by Cheekwood which is a wonderful gardens which I have on my list of places to see--there is a Munro light exhibit there and we will go out one evening to enjoy it now that Bill is back. Leecia and I drove into downtown and across the Cumberland River past the Titans stadium and then back to Broadway and up past the honky tonks. We went to Centennial Park and the Parthenon and the Capital building. Over past the Frist Gallery and the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as by the Predators arena. I got a closer look at the Batman Building and a peak down the street at the Ryman. We then came back out to the outskirts of town and had a delightful lunch at the Puffy Muffin. My head was in such a whirl--having no idea where I was in relation to the townhouse and the names of the streets just blended one into another though I did notice that lots of them are called " Pikes " and the first name usually designates where you'll end up if you take it out of Nashville--such as the Nolensville or Franklin Pikes. When we returned she lent me the book by Eisenhower's driver about their " affair". I reviewed the book on my blog after I read it. I haven't seen Leecia since--she took off the next day for Charleston for three days and then was flying out to LA for a week before returning to Nashville to do laundry and then head up to Northwest Tn to visit her folks. Other than that interlude, my days were my own--sometimes Jean, another neighbor would come up to the deck if I were out there while she took her walk and Percy, the girl next door would call over on her way to work. I did the laundry and read and did my nails and read and watched the Manning Bowl and read and finished my Netflix DVD's so I could return them, dyed my hair and read , sat up and watched Leno or Letterman and Fallon when I felt like it and read some more. I must admit, that though I spoke to Bill everyday at around 10:30 and he sent me some of his jerky when he made it, I really wasn't in the bit lonely or bored. By the end of the fourth week though I finally felt as though I wanted to explore and start seeing new things. It was with pleasure that I made up the grocery list, paid the October bills and got out the travel guides, maps and brochures in preparation for Bill's return in the last days of September.

Punctuation History and How Technology Caused Some Changes

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, & Other Typographical MarksShady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


orators needed some indication of where to, at least, take a breath. So began the use of punctuation and the development of its rules.

The first two sentences of this review shows a very early form of writing, actually the all upper case primarily in the Greek because that was the only case they had ( Homer's time ) and the ox-turning style from line to line. One of the earliest developments was the use of dots between words like.this or maybe:this. In time, paragraphs were introduced and a punctuation, that I never knew had a name, the pilcrow, appeared. I'm glad to know its name and I like it--my early grade school writing had so many red pilcrows, those funny looking P's with lines through them like dollar signs, that I despaired of ever obtaining an "A" on an essay or, indeed, ever reach a point where my first submission would be accepted for a grade, without a rewrite. Oh, but the permutations that aggravating mark endured before reaching the form favored by those nuns of my training!

If, you, like me, detest that horrible car commercial with the robotic girl who sits in the driver's seat and crosses her fingers as she intones " hashtag, something or other" you will be happy to know that hashtag, which I will always call the pound sign--for the weight measurement, not the amount of pressure exerted on the keypad, has an alternate name--the octothorpe! And this will now be my new favorite word for the sign. But who developed it and who named it? Well, Bell Labs and touchtone phones played a part.

And how about Ampersand? Where did that sign come from? But isn't it a great word and what would A&P do without it?

How about an interrobang--I want one. When I call out Who finished the toilet paper, whilst sitting on the throne, it is more than a simple interrogatory remark--it is an exclamation of dismay at the same time. What better than an interrobang to express that combination of feelings?

Do you think @ was developed solely for email addresses? Think again! And where did asterisks come from--I prefer that term to star--or the dagger? How about hyphens and dashes--they are not the same thing and dashes come in many forms including en dash and em dash. Even Castle talked about fitting words to the page in a recent episode. Quotation marks as inverted commas? Doubled, of course!

But then there is the manicule--I love the manicule--it is used in rebus writing all the time. A hand with a pointing finger--maybe with a nice cuff or a ruffled flounce, perhaps with hand in a fist or index finger outlandishly enlongated. Originally, not printed in texts, handwritten and illuminated or printed on a press, but rather a device of the reader to mark out lines on which were made marginal notes. One I love is not a manicle at all but an adorable octopus whose tentacles embrace several lines, much like a bracket.

Throughout the book we meet the people who developed these devices that make reading so much easier but make writing a bit more difficult with its rules. We see how the coming of mass produced documents written by hand, copied and recopied, and eventually printed with presses of moveable type caused some of these symbols to be eliminated or changed to accommodate progress.
The advent of the typewriter and touch-tone keypads and, in time, the development of computer keyboards continue to impact punctuation and even vocabulary.

This book does not read fast--it is dry in places but for the most part is interesting and even humorous. The debate that has taken place for ages to arrive at some indication of irony and sarcasm in text is particularly fun. If language and writing interest you, this is a book you want right up there with Roget and Funk & Wagnall and Webster, among others. Looking for something new to bring up at your next cocktail party? Try the discussing the evolution of the octothorpe! Have fun!

This was a first reads giveaway that I will share with my teacher friends and that guy I met at last week's cocktail party--just kidding!

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