Changes and constants

White shoes on Veterans Day

White shoes on Veterans Day

It was warm today when we watched the Veterans Day parade; we took our coats off and stood in the sunshine. And tomorrow it will be cold; optimistic kids are calling for a Snow Day.

The seasons change in fits and starts, and probably there will be one more day when we go without leggings before we pull out the gloves, which we will wear until one day in the middle of winter when it feels like spring but isn’t.

For several years in a row, I left work early on New Year’s Day to go hiking or for a run. That was when I always worked on New Years.

I don’t do that anymore if I can avoid it. I’d rather be with my family, or my friends who are like my family.

If we do it right, the way we live our lives evolves. Continue reading

Bicycling in Nashville: Stones River Greenway


Yesterday’s early morning rains cancelled plans to ride with friends, and – long story short – this weekend I ended up riding alone for the first time in years. I chose the Stones River Greenway, via the Shelby Bottoms Greenway. This means:

  1. I rode my bike 32 miles from East Nashville to the Percy Priest dam and back without ever really venturing onto an actual trafficked road. (Nashville people: Do you realize how wonderful the city’s greenway system is? I know a lot of you do, because it required some skill and concentration not to run you over yesterday.)
  2. Because I was alone (and not constantly conversing, which is normally what I do when exercising, and thus one of the reasons my regular cycling partner and I are so close), I rode about 50% faster than I normally do.

Here are some things you will encounter if you ride the Stones River Greenway in Nashville.

Continue reading

Bicycling in East Nashville: Night Ride

Today’s ride was short – 13 miles – because today’s ride was actually tonight’s ride.

My riding partner Andrew Duthie and I much prefer day rides. It isn’t the dark we mind so much; Andrew has rigged blinking tail lights onto both our bikes, so we feel safe-ish. It’s the gnats.

We call these GNAT RIDES.

Tonight, Andrew swallowed several calories worth of them. Without shield of sunglasses, the gnats seemed to prefer my eyes, crashing there before finding their way to the great gnat beyond.


Anyway, we kept it short, and I have just one pic. Here it is:


Know what this is behind me?

This is an old airplane runway.

As far as we can tell (from previous non-gnat rides), we are among a very small handful of people who have figured out you can ride on the old Cornelia Fort Airpark runway in East Nashville.

It’s a little over a mile loop, and it is very flat and very fast. Super long straightaways. Obviously, I mean – you can land a plane there. You can crank a road bike into high gear and feel like those guys with the full-on bike gear. It’s amazing.

I almost hesitate to write about it on the Internet, in kind of the same way I won’t (yet) write about Andrew’s most recent favorite beer bar discovery north of Gallatin Road.

We almost ventured to said beer bar tonight, but it’s cash only and we didn’t plan for that. Plus, we were hungry. So we opted for Fat Bottom, where Andrew had a very nice caprese salad with chicken, and I had chicken tacos with a spicy chipotle sauce. Outside, a smokeless tobacco company was hosting a cornhole tournament. We did not participate.

Then we headed back to Woodland, trying not to be run over in the dark, and returned our bikes to the Duthies’ garage. I said hello to Andrew’s lovely wife, Peg, and goodbye to their chow mix Abby, and then drove home to Franklin where I sat in my driveway listening to The Features and blogging about loving Nashville by bike.

Happy riding, y’all.

Bicycling in North Nashville: The Fox Tour

Sometimes when I tell people how I spend most Saturdays – on my bicycle, riding 25, 30, 40 miles or more – they ask things about the bike: How fast, how many calories is that, do I like riding as much as I love running? That sort of thing.

But everyone, without exception, asks “Where?”

So I thought I’d start a blog series about my rides. Or, I should say, about OUR rides. (I can’t remember the last time I rode without my dear friend and enthusiast-of-all-things-on-wheels cycling partner Andrew Duthie.)

Continue reading

How not to feel (too) guilty about taking Trader Joe’s on a camping trip


The guitar case-induced injury sustained during Saturday night’s impromptu dance party appears to be in the getting-uglier-before-it-gets-better phase.

It’s about a two-inch (or inch-and-a-half… however long a guitar case snap typically is) slice across the top of my left knee, surrounded on all sides by a bruised knot.

I don’t know if this will heal before Thursday, when my calendar says I am to dress in cocktail attire and hang out with Prince Edward.

And I don’t know what I more enjoy discussing: My guitar case injury, or my date with Prince Edward.

That may be a polite embellishment (including the identification of this event as a “date”, which in fact it is a work engagement), but allow me to begin with the guitar injury.

Continue reading

Butterflies: A short pictorial on love and biology

Have you ever seen a group of butterflies coalescing en masse, like this?

Ok, that’s an extreme example, taken – oddly enough – from an NPR story about Vladimir Nabokov. You know him as the author of “Lolita”, but he was also a renowned student of the butterfly.

Many of you, I suspect, are renowned students of the butterfly as well. Continue reading

Winter Break

My aunt and daughter, Christmas morning 2011. Warm enough to walk to the river in our PJs.

My aunt and daughter, Christmas morning 2011. Warm enough to walk to the river in our PJs.

One of the things I love most about Tennessee is that sometimes the seasons get confused.

It’s 70 degrees for a stretch in December, 50 for a snap in May.

We drink Jack and Diets on a patio while the Christmas traffic whorls around us. We eat chili among spring flowers.

On these days, it is easier to set aside worrisome things.

Forget about that trouble at the office because today is more beautiful than that situation is dire.

Change the oil tomorrow because today we’re not leaving the fireside.

Keep her home from school because she’ll learn more in the garden.

How many songs are written, how many babies made on a warm day in winter, a cold one in late spring?

Nature has shrugged her shoulders; we can, too.

This was not a mound of algae


Things I saw when I walked along the beach this morning: a retired couple collecting shells, an old lady with a metal detector, two handsome men fishing, baby poop, a sand crab, and a whole bunch of seaweed-looking sea slugs.

I was walking alone with a cup of coffee while my friends slept late in our rented condo.

With my empty mug, I scooped up one of the sea slugs (once I realized they were animals…and breathing…not mounds of vegetation swept in by the tide), and carried it back to the group. We named it Marty and I texted a photo to my daughter in Tennessee, whom I miss a great deal and won’t see for several more days, and we exchanged a conversation about how gross and weird and cool it is.

This is Day Four of a lovely, overdue vacation.

Work had been incredibly busy lately, and before we left was very nearly closer to exhausting than rewarding. My weekends were verging on the same, with plans and hobbies beginning to feel like obligations instead of pleasure or relaxation.

Like so many things, a good vacation is about timing.

I was thinking as I walked past the baby poop this morning that if I just kept walking for long enough, I’d come across something interesting and not disgusting.

Say what you will about an animal with “slug” in its name, but Marty works for me.

Life happens when it’s supposed to happen. We see things when we’re looking for them. We’ve just got to hold on, keep walking.

Why we plant in Fall

Fall gardening could very well be the perfect object lesson in faith.

Also – patience, love and … what’s the word for when you need to let go and just give it to God, Nature or Happenstance?

I asked my mother to help me put my finger on it.

“Trust, surrender, submit, release,” she said.

Ah, yes.

Fall gardening is about deep roots. Continue reading

Home school

Pruning echinacea

Lily and I have needed some time for just the two of us.

So I took the day off work, and she took the day off fifth-grade, and the two of us took to the garden.

We planted 275 tulip bulbs, divided purple irises, pruned the echinacea and pulled up a bunch of weeds.

Here is what she learned, in her own words:

Three Things Learned About Gardening

1. With gardening, you have to have more topsoil to put atop the bulbs.

2. Inside a bulb, there is a smaller version (of the flower) that grows larger.

3. You must cut off parts of certain plants to make them grow back.

Three Things Learned From Gardening that Relate To Life

1. You have to have hope and faith that the flowers will grow along with (resolution to) many other sticky situations.

2. We are sort of like bulbs when it comes to being a small one and growing larger.

3. You should separate Lilys and irises and give them to friends as well as many other things in life.

Awesome kid. Beautiful day. Wonderful life.