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Preview: Bill's TN Paradise

Bill's TN Paradise

What's on Bill's mind, under his fingers, or beneath his feet. Living a life less ordinary.

Updated: 2018-03-02T10:30:33.707-06:00


Fall party '17 at Sky Castle


Great party, biggest yet... about 30 people showed.  Happy to have hosted some of the Sewanee music faculty -  Jessica, Stephen, Peter and to have had such great music.  Performers for the night included the Hendley / Bevers duo, many guitar students playing solo, Joe playing blues, Linda playing her own cool tunes, and Peter and I playing Piazzolla.

Weather was great, nice sunset.  About 10 people came from Murfreesboro, and most of the rest from the mountain.  The mulled wine and pasta turned out great.

Old guys from the 'Boro at sunset - Will, Bill, Jan, and Andrew

My phone ran out of memory, was hoping to get more video but here's a few brief clips.  I got Peter and I playing the entire "Cafe 1930" by Piazzolla.  Jan got some too.

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Jacob and Michael played great...

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Since the audio didn't come out on this video, here's their performance from the concert a few days ago at MTSU.  I just love this piece...

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It was good to play with Peter and there was a discussion about us playing at the Sewanee faculty Christmas party - which would be a very high visibility gig on campus, much bigger than a concert since virtually all Sewanee faculty attend this event. I was there 2 yr ago and there must have been at least 200 - 300 people there. Happy to have Stephen over and with my upcoming Guitar Festival, I feel quite a bit more integrated into the college scene. Also, I had a discussion and interest expressed in starting a guitar program in 2019 at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.   Hilary, the Asst. Director of SSMF, seems quite interested in helping me develop it.

5 years on the mountain


Five years ago I bought this house.  I remember very clearly the first time I visited.  It was a Sunday afternoon in early Sept '12, there had been severe weather that day and I had to wait until the tornadic storms passed.   I arrived and saw the realtor's car as she was waiting inside.  I immediately walked to the edge of the bluff and took this photo on my old cheap phone.  This was the first thing I saw of this place:After being blown away by the view and the setting,  walked to the edge of the round stone house and looked at the exterior.  Immediately I thought of 'castle' ... a little one.  Later I'd name this place 'Sky Castle' ... as a friend later told me that this perch was on the 'edge of an ocean of air.'I closed the deal on Oct. 17, 2012 and the next weekend, loaded up the trailer with a few basic things, including a futon and some lumber to build a woodshed.It was beautiful that weekend.  It was sunny, the leaves were turning, the wind was blowing in from the cove.  It was a challenge to hold up the lumber to frame the woodshed.  But I got it done.  I had no TV or internet, just the radio station from AL A&M University in Huntsville.   I cut enough wood for the evening fire and set up my futon in front of the fireplace. I made some oak tables, a bed, and a kitchen island.  It was fun making the furniture.   I then decided the exterior needed my signature, so ... as my first venture into visual art,  I created the sky symbol 'sun' and the Sky Castle sign.Over the years, I added a weather station, a large woodshed and wood splitter, a spa with porch roof, some plants, and a covered porch complete with wood stove, futon, TV ... and this piece of copper wind art: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> This is the house I'll likely live in the rest of my life.  Being in nature surrounded by never-to-be developed Land Trust Wilderness and the protected Franklin Forest is the place I want to be. Future plans are to build a guest house.[...]

I'm back ... Sewanee summer 2017


It's been a while since I've posted here.  Life has been very good the past few years.  2015 and 2016 were great years for me.  2017 has been pretty awesome too.  Winning another USATF National Masters indoor track championship and a WMACi World Championship in Korea. Traveling to France, Australia, and Korea as an athlete; my 2015 sabbatical concert tour, and more time in Sewanee as this place remains as magical to me as the day I first saw it.

This time of year, when the dewpoint gets high and daily summer thundershowers form, Lost Cove in Sewanee becomes a kaleidoscope of fog and light.  Mornings and evenings are particularly spectacular.  The past week leading up to the 4th of July, it has been cool, a high of 81º for the whole week, with most days in the 70ºs.

It's a view I see from my bed when I wake up.   Can't imagine living here and not being in this location.  The town is nice, but the town is not why I moved here.

I moved here for this....

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The spa project


Having a spa is not only a luxury that I've always enjoyed, but is a real boon to an athlete.  I use hot baths to loosen up pre workout and to unwind afterward.   Often, just to get warm in the cold months.A number of challenges to get a spa at Sky Castle, the Sewanee house.  #1 was getting it on a 12' high deck near the edge of a cliff. First, I chose a spa.  Decided to buy from a Chattanooga dealer instead of from the Nashville area.  Tri-state Pools had a good reputation and BBB A+ rating and had been in business 25 yrs.  They seem to have a good service dept. as well.   I looked at many spas, Vikings, Artisans, Hot Spots, etc... and noticed a big difference 'under the hood' with the Hot Springs Spas.   While most other spas like the Viking, were constructed on the inside of raw unpainted framing lumber, the Hot Springs Spas were all painted and well insulated.  They also carried a 5 yr parts and service warranty, best in the business.  The drawback was they were more expensive, almost double that of a budget spa. I went with the 3 person Hot Springs 'Jettsetter' model.   It's dimensions 5'5 x 7' fit the dimensions of my deck perfectly.  It had three unique hydro therapy seats, and just the right amount of jets.  It really could fit 4 people, but is perfect for one or two.  You can select any of several color lights for under water or the top of the spa with a selector button.  Pretty cool.  It has a silent flow pump and heater that work really well... which I found out when I left the top open by mistake all night, and it stayed right at 105º. I made a cash deal and got the Jettsetter about $1000 less than asking price (which was $7K + tax) and I was responsible for picking it up, which I did without incident.The deckI used intuition to upgrade the load capacity of the deck.   The main beam under the spa would be a 2x2x10 glued and bolted.  It was heavy and I needed help hanging it before getting the vertical supports under it.  I also put 4x4s under the wall plate and used 2x2x8 support beams under each end of the joists... which, with a few new added joists, were 11" apart.  In addition to lag bolting these joist support beams, I bolted 4x4 blocks under them for additional support.  Clayton, my architect friend looked at it and said it was ok but near capacity so I overkilled it by putting a 6x6 vertical support under the weight center of the main beam, and X braced it on 3 sides.  It is way more than I need.  But... with friends warning me that I'd go flying over the bluff as my deck tore away from my house, a little extra support wasn't going to hurt.  It's totally solid.  It would hold a truck.The liftMy neighbor Larry has a big 4x4 John Deere tractor and he put forks on it for the lift.   The main issue was that the approach to the deck was off camber.  When he approached the deck, we had to level the tractor by putting 6x6 lumber under the downhill tires.  The tractor didn't have quite enough lift and the right angle to just set it down, so we had to yank it off the pallet.  What a relief when we got it - undamaged.  It was scary. The wiringWas going to go with a big company but I took Geoff's recommendation and hired Mark.  He scoped it out and said it would take about 3 hrs.   He quoted me a good price and I helped where I could.  He did a good job but the 3 hrs turned into almost a week.  The wiring was neat, and the placement good, the box well placed and the inspection approved.  Good that I had one circuit in the panel to use for the 50amp 230v breaker.  None to spare without sacrificing something. The roofSince the spa sits below the great chestnut oak which my house was built around, I decided that it needed protection from falling branches and things, so I put up a stout little metal roof.   Turned out well. Now.. I'm enjoying the hell ou[...]

Les Alps


After winning 6 of 8 races and finishing third in two World Championship Finals at the Lyon 2015 World Masters Athletic Championships, my dad and I did a little touring. I wanted to see the Alps so I arbitrarily picked a town off the map... Tignes, France. What seemed like about a 3 hr drive from Lyon. It was centrally located in the heart of the French Alps near the ski town, Val d'Isère - home of legendary alpine skier, Jean-Claude Killy. The trip took way longer than we expected, driving almost 5 hrs, never completely sure where we were on the map, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant with a mountain view just as it got dark. After eating a spartan diet for weeks if not months, my dinner of fried fish was incredible. Finger-sized pieces of boneless perch. My dad got a huge meaty cheesy pizza... didn't look so good to me.We finally got to Tignes around midnight or so in a thick fog. Driving through tunnels and mountains, we were deprived of the scenery in the dark. The Montana Hotel apparently has many hostels and apartments for skiers that were closed for the season and when arriving, the GPS was not real accurate and we were trying doors that were not open. Was worried we would not find a bed for the night. Finally, we found the hotel proper and checked in. I booked an extra large room, actually a room with two sections, one large bed for the adults and a set of bunks for kids. Of course my dad took the big bed and was very happy with the accommodations ... and that we even made it at all. I was very happy with the hotel and our room. The next day, the view of the nearby ski hill from our large sliding door was awesome ... but that was just a tiny foothill among the giant Alps. We checked out the hotel breakfast, which unlike other places, was complimentary... it was awesome. Great bread, super bean to cup coffee, pastries, potatoes, eggs, everything. Dad approved. We set out to explore and stopped at cafes and made it all the way into Italy over a mountain pass. I managed to find some apple pastries, and enjoyed a caprese salad with french fires and a beer. It was pretty idyllic. Interesting to see the farmers and their sheep, the ancient looking stone barns with stone roofs. The only problem was that dad is acrophobic and found the mountain roads unsettling. On the way back he just put his seat back so he wouldn't get scared. This place was awesome. I decided I needed to cancel my next night reservation in Paris despite the fact that I'd be charged, to stay another day and night in Tignes. It was that awesome.  The next day, more exploring and a ride up the ski gondola which was free.Driving back to Lyon to return the car, the GPS led us onto a beautiful small road in the mountains. Turned out it was closed for paving. Wasted a lot of time, but it was a nice drive. Somewhere I got a speeding ticket, by automated devise, a camera. They sent me the ticket at home in the US... couldn't read it, it was in French. Oh well. I definitely want to return to Tignes. It's a hiker and mountain bikers paradise. [...]

Fall concert tour '15


It's been an awesome year.  Memorable.  A title-winning athletic season, and a sabbatical concert tour.After a whole summer of barely touching my guitar in the midst of 2 athletic championship events including a trip to France, I embarked on a sabbatical concert tour in late October.  The tour included University concert series events, a guitar society, school visits, masterclasses, and ending with a "Live in Studio C" performance on Nashville NPR.  I played solo classical guitar, and a short lute set. The programRenaissance set: 2 spanish vihuela pieces on guitar, Elizabethan lute music on lute - including Monsieur's Almaine by D. Batchelor.  Handel Suite (HWV 441), and 4 Brazilian pieces - 2 by Reis and Brasilerhino which I arranged.  Intermission.  Farruca - flamenco, Merlin's Dream by Koshkin, Frevo by Gismonti and a set of fingerstyle pieces by Hudson (Delta), J. Reed (Drive-in, Jerry's Breakdown), and S. Salz (Bluetude). It was a really comfortable program... a mixture of a brand new piece - Merlin's Dream, and pieces I've played on and off over the years.  The big choice was whether I wanted to include Frevo or Mallorca by Albeniz, I chose Frevo because it was the faster and more lively piece. PerformancesFirst, I played some 'warm up gigs' at church service at Otey Parish, Adams Place retirement home, MTSU performance classes, IONA art gallery, and some late night sessions at All-Saints in Sewanee.My last 'informal' gig was a performance at the Belmont School of Music for the Guitar Seminar class.  My colleague Robbie actually got me paid an honorarium for the gig.  It went really well.  Probably because I was relaxed and talking with the students. Springfield, ILThen, the tour started... thanks to MTSU for the nice new Ford Taurus motorpool car that I used for 2 weeks.  Off to Boone, NC and to see my colleague Doug at Appalachian St. University.   Concert went well, just a few brief memory slips but not bad for a first full concert.  It rained constantly and was cold in the mountains, mid 40s all day.   I left that night for Greensboro and visited Patrick Lui's at the Weaver Academy. I played for his students, (to be interrupted by a fire drill) and it went well.   This has to be the best high school guitar program I've ever visited.  Patrick has done amazing things with these students.  Some of the 16 yr olds were playing better than my college sophomores.  Before going to an excellent Vietnamese restaurant, Patrick snapped this photo of his students and me.Masterclass at Weaver Academy - Greensboro, NCContinuing on toward Greenville, NC to East Carolina University and to see my colleague Elliot.  Before my concert he asked me if I wanted to stream it live on line, I said, "sure, WTH."  With very little notice, I notified my parents so they were able to watch it.  I also got an audio recording.   After listening to it, the performance seemed ok, about 98% accurate, good tempos, and some energy. The response on FB was good, in fact one of the local people - Drew, who regularly attends guitar concerts said, "One of the best guitar recitals I've seen at Fletcher Recital Hall, and I've seen many over the past 15 years!!!!!!"  Definitely an overstatement, but nice to hear.  I had a nice hang with Elliot that night, pizza and ice cream.  And the next day I gave a masterclass.   His students played great and I met a guy I'd love to recruit as a grad student. East Carolina MasterclassBack to Sewanee for weekend of practice and teaching my students at the University of the South.   Then, off to Chattanooga to visit the McCallie School where Chip Evans runs possibly the best guitar program in the state.  I played my whole program pretty much for his 2 classes and it went well.   I answered a lot of questions but didn't hear his kids play. [...]

ahhh ... spring '15


Spring on the mountain.  The weather has been just awesome.  Quite dry for late April and early May.   Only a few humid days and generally cooler to seasonable.   In the past month (4/24-5/24), the high temperature was 82º and the low 41º with only 2.44" of rain.  Last Thursday, a return to fireplace weather.  Only 53º as a daytime high and 43º over night.  I had the patio fireplace going all day, and a fire inside at night.   The temperature has been so generally moderate that I haven't used my central heat or A/C for at least a month, and have slept with the windows open every night.   This last several days in Sewanee has been so beautiful.  The air smells sweet as it blows cool across my bed, all night and in the morning.  Nothing but the sound of wind and birds.  I can't imagine a better sleeping experience.  The wildflowers of April didn't disappoint.April stormRoya under Morgan's Steep"Tunnel of mountain laurel" - Otey View, Perimeter trailBig leaf magnolia blossom width="853" height="480" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="" width="853">[...]

St. Pete


Mom and Dad under the giant kapok tree - Museum of Fine Arts, St. Pete, FL.

Mazzaro's Italian Market

Amazing place....  smelled like 'grandma's grilled chicken at the lake' as soon as I got out of the car.  The workers were speaking Italian.  It was the real deal

Fish sandwiches, cannoli, espresso!

fresh lasagna and pasta dishes - on the way to the oven

The winter storms of '15


Anyone who knows me knows I love weather, winter storms are no exception.  I never remember MTSU being closed 4 days in one week.  I had an unexpected week vacation in Sewanee, and the weather was beautiful ... in it's own way. Ice storm #1 was really hard on my Murfreesboro neighborhood.   Trees and branches down everywhere but my property did ok.  Arriving in Sewanee on Friday night brought a blast of beautiful big snow flakes just around dusk in storm #2.  I'm happy that I brought my truck because driving conditions required a 4x4, especially off the main road.  After putting a new starter and battery in my truck, I'm really happy to have it.These first three photos were taken during the magic hour of dusk during the advent of the 2/20 snow/ice storm #2  It eventually turned to sleet and rain.  The flash produced an interesting effect, reflecting off of the big flakes.  One photo was taken at my Murfreesboro house after ice storm #1. UPDATE:  The big Sewanee snow of 2/25-26 I wasn't about to miss out on so I rescheduled some students to Friday and enjoyed some 4x4 touring in the 5" of snow we got.  Murfreesboro only got an inch.  The town of Sewanee got 3-4", less on the north side of the mountain, more on the SW facing slopes like at my place.   I got up early on Thursday and hiked around by the Sewanee Cross and plowed through virgin snow all the way to the end of Brakefield road.   So glad to have a 4x4 that takes me into these wonderful wintry scenes.  My road was still snow covered on Sat. 2/28 while the roads around the Domain of the University were mostly dry. Another winter storm looks likely for Wednesday night!!!!  It's your birthday present, John P. View at dusk from Sky CastleSky Castle during the stormthe blufficy beautyhappy to have lots of well seasoned firewood leftice storm #1 in Murfreesborovirgin snow - Brakefield Rd.Greens View RdVirginia Ave [...]

Florida holiday


Some photos from my trip to Florida to visit my parents in the Villages and the Rezvanis in St. Pete.Ft. Desoto beachRoya and YeseniaWith mom and Roya Xmas dinnerDad in his chairDali Museum at nightSt. PeteRezvani SistersStrolling in St. Pete ... dolphin[...]

The sound of roaring creeks


2.93 inches of rain Dec. 22-24 recorded at the Sky Castle weather station, this Christmas eve.  

The sound of the roaring creeks here is tremendous.   It's like living by the sea, except it is doesn't ebb and flow, it's constant.   It's particularly awesome at night, even a little scary.  The weather change abruptly today with the cold front.   It was 55º last night, and I had a window open to hear the sound of rushing water to sleep to.    Now, it's 41º with rain and fog.  Was planning on going to the track to train, but I think I'll take 2 days off and enjoy my last few hours of the year here in Sewanee before I travel.

Unlike a lot of my nature and weather videos, this has sound.   Have a listen to the awesomeness of nature - there is no greater church.

I'm off to FL. Merry Xmas, 2014.

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Panforte is a traditional Italian fruit and nut cake.  Literally meaning, 'strong bread', it is a very dense and chewy dessert that is actually low carb since it is flourless.

The version I made has hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, dried tart cherries, golden raisins, dried apricots, figs, and dates.  It's topped with a chocolate glaze.

This is so easy to make. Simply mix your favorite dried fruits and nuts with some spices and almond flour. Heat 2 tbsp butter with 3/4 c honey and 1/2 c sugar, mix thoroughly, put in spring-form pan lined with buttered parchment, bake at 300º for 55 min, cool overnight. That's it. Make a chocolate topping by melting chocolate chips with a halfcup of milk or cream and pour over.

Here's what I use. All nuts and fruits are roasted and coarsely chopped. Amounts are approximate.

1 c. - hazelnuts
1 c. - almonds
1 c. - pecans
1/2 c. - figs
1/2 c. - dates
1 c. - dried tart cherries
1/2 c. - gold raisins
1/2 c. - dried apricots
2/3 c. - almond flour (or 1/2 c all purpose flour)
cinnamon, cloves or allspice, nutmeg to taste
2 tsp finely ground coffee

mix thoroughly in large bowl

heat 2 tbsp butter (I use butter - canola blend), 3/4 c. honey, 1/2 c. raw sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture bubbles.

Pour over fruits and nuts and mix thoroughly in large bowl.
Add a few squirts of chocolate syrup while mixing

Line spring-form pan with parchment paper and butter the paper

push mixture into pan, compress mixture with wet fingers or spatula

Bake at 300º for 55 min.

let cool over night

remove from pan and paper

make chocolate topping and coat:
boil 1/2 c milk or cream, reduce heat, add chocolate chips (semi sweet) until melted

coat and cool

Fall concerts...


My fall concert season went very well...My program included the new Handel Suite, 4 Brazilian cafe pieces (including Brasileririnho, my new transcription), Mallorca by Albeniz, and some American fingersyle pieces including 2 Jerry Reed pieces... (Drive In, Jerry's Breakdown).   After hearing Yo-yo Ma and Paco D'Rivera play Brasileririnho, I had to find a way to play it, and I did!  The piece ended my first half.  I also played some old stuff ... my lute set, a flamenco piece, Delta, Bluetude, and Frevo. In addition to my guest artist concerts at Mississippi State University and Wofford College, I also did a lot of public service events.   These included numerous classes at MTSU - including a 150 member intor to music class, a church service at Otey Chapel in Sewanee, a concert for Adams Place retirement community, and 2 school performances - Centennial High School in Franklin, and Evergreen Charter School in Asheville, NC.   I absolutely love playing for kids and answering their questions, and listening to their stories!Both college trips were awesome, long drives in the University car.   First, down to Mississippi St. on the Natchez Trace, and then to Spartanburg, SC through the mountains and Asheville, NC.   Wofford College's Leonard Auditorium was quite a grand venue and a decent crowd.  Happy to receive a standing ovation.   The Evergreen Charter School was so cool, a funky young faculty, everyone wore jeans and was comfortable, laid back, and cool.  The kids were polite and smart.  They were very nice and appreciative.  Thanks to Karen and the staff. A nice fall tour.  Here are some photos...Wofford College - Troubadour Series Wofford College - Leonard AuditoriumOn the road through AshevilleEvergreen Charter School - 6th gradeMississippi State University - after concert [...]



On the wings of ...


Lucky shot from the Sky Castle web cam on Sunday morning, 12/14. A still from the cloud video.

Fall '14 color and toward winter


It's been a whirlwind of fall guitar concerts, travel, and now winter vacation.  Finally, I am on vacation and will update here with some photos....It was a beautiful fall ... an unexpected early cold snap on Halloween with snow on the mountain, a great fall party, and goodbye to the leaves as we come upon the winter solstice within a fortnight from now.Here's a chronological set of photos of the fall color season -  earth, sky, and home ....Oct. 26, MoonsetOct. 26 - leaves beginning to fallOct. 26 sunsetOct. 28 - near peak colorOctober freeze - the plants come inSnow on Nov. 1 morningNov. 11 - the last of the leaves[...]

Sept. 5 evening - Lost Cove


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New cam


I really wish I had this new Dropcam - a high resolution streaming IP camera with web based recording - back during those epic August storms.

My Sewanee Dropcam has a few challenges as it is operating at the edge of my internet capabilities ... with only slow DSL available here and quite a distance to the router.   Nevertheless, it's seems to be working at about 98%, with only occasional screen freezes.

The Dropcam is in addition to the low resolution IP cam integrated with the weather station.  The feed is irregularly updated as it is controlled by the Weather Underground network of webcams, which really has some serious inconsistency issues.  You can view this at any time by clicking the link/photo on the sidebar of this blog.   The Dropcam has a much wider angle view than the Ambientcam weather camera.

I've decided to not make the Dropcam stream public because it has excellent audio and I would rather not have a possible public eavesdropper in my midst... but perhaps when I'm away for more than a week, I'll stream it publicly.    The great thing about Dropcam is the ability to generate timelapse recording... which I posted my first one to Youtube (below).   It was a rainy last day in August and the clouds/fog below in the cove was really beautiful.    Unfortuately, all Dropcam recordings display the Dropcam logo in the lower right of the image.

This is the beginning of sunset season where the orb of the setting sun will rotate south on the horizon and be in my full view.

Still not tired of the view.   This was the view from my deck on the last sunset of August. (Canon Powershot A2400SI)

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Cedarcrest log house history


She just drove up.   In a new Buick, she slowly opened the door as I curiously approached the car, putting a cane on the ground, she stood up, turned around and looked at me and said, "I grew up in this house!"It was Evelyn Davidson, age 82, smiling... looking 'fit as a fiddle.' When I moved into this house just before Christmas 1997, I was given a photo of this  house by the previous owners who said they got it from woman that lived here before it was moved.  I went and got the photo and sure enough... it was written by Evelyn when she last visited this house in 1988.   Hard to believe that was 26 years ago.  She flipped over the photo and said, "Yes, that's my handwriting."This house was originally located in Deason, TN... a small crossroads several miles south of Murfreesboro on Rt. 231.   It was moved here by Charlie Farrer, of the well-known Murfreesboro construction and hardware companies.  It was moved to where it now stands ... log by log, each spray painted with a number, every cedar log had a unique dove-tail joint that fit together like a 3 dimensional puzzle.  When I bought the house, I pressure washed off the spray painted numbers and applied a fine oil based clear protectant. I researched this house when I bought it almost 17 years ago.  I believe I actually called Evelyn, who has lived in the same house in Shelbyville for 61 yrs.  She referred me to the previous owner named Clyde Barber, now deceased, who was in his 80s when I talked with him in early '98.   He said when he moved into the house in 1927, it was "about 100 years old" at that time.   He said the house didn't have electricity until 5 yrs later in 1932. The photoThis photo taken of the house in 1942, sided over with wood and with a different window and door configuration, shows Evelyn on the porch at age 10, standing third from the right, wearing a hat. With the photo, a letter to the people I bought the house from, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Roose, said that Evelyn's parents were Jasper H. and Lula B. Hayes.   She said in the letter:"you will notice this picture was taken before lawn mowers were used.   My dad would cut the yard with the mower used to cut hay, and not very often at that." Also in the letter, she diagrammed the layout of the original house. I asked Evelyn the usual questions I ask people of her age.  How do you stay so active and healthy?  She said, "well, I've always worked.  Ate food that we grew."   She was also married for 60 yrs.  Married at age 23 to a man 15 yrs older.  He passed away last year at age 96.   I also asked her how long she wanted to live?  She said, "I had a doctor that said I wouldn't live past 81... so I got another doctor."She also mentioned that when growing up, they heated with wood burning Franklin stoves and it sometimes got below freezing inside the house some mornings, freezing water basins.I asked her if she had an email so we could stay in touch.   She said, "No, but I'll take your number."  She said she'd like to return with her daughter.I hope she does. Like my neighbor Hans, and Joe T. (who passed this yr), you can't have enough octogenarians as friends.   My house as it is now.  All local cedar and probably pushing 190 yrs old.  I still find 19th c. square nails in some of the walls and beams.[...]

Another tornado?


It sure looks like one...

I kick myself for not being home for this storm.   With my high resolution camera out of order, I captured this image on my low resolution weather cam just after sunset as it was transitioning to night vision, so that's why the colors are a bit weird.

Yes, definitely some ground level rotation moving through Lost Cove.   Beautiful.
Note the radar minutes before the time of the photo ... certainly looks like tornado vortex signature poised at the top of Lost Cove moving south, although very short lived.  Goes to show that small tornados can whip up in a matter of seconds at anytime during a storm and they can completely escape detection from the National Weather Service, since they are so short lived.  This one lasted a few minutes at most.

Radar at 7:46 PM - Franklin / Marion Co. TN



This post is inspired by my dad who today received a great report from a heart catheterization, an internal probe of his coronary arteries.  On the basis of an MRI, he was diagnosed with severe blockages in his heart, up to 80%.   Upon this more detailed exam, his heart arteries were not blocked 80%, but only 50% - not requiring a stent.  This was the best news possible!  My dad is making a new commitment on lifestyle and has lost 20+ lbs and taking on an exercise regime.  After 2+ decades of a terrible diet, and sedentary lifestyle, making this change at age 74 is better late than never. People with disease, especially heart disease often have a 'life revelation' that causes a sudden change in lifestyle to increase their chances of survival - one of the many reasons why 'it's better to know.'  I predicted this would happen for my dad, and I'm optimistic that it's not too late, perhaps just in time.  I'm very thankful that my dad seeks regular physical evaluations because without it, he would never have assessed his risk or made the changes.  One of the healthiest people I knew, Roland - thin, fit, a long time vegan, farmed his own food, died earlier than he should have simply because he never went to a doctor.  His disease could have been treated if caught early enough and he should be alive today.This subject of food is one that is so convoluted and controversial, it affects everyone and there is more dogmatism, information, misinformation, theories, science, and culture on this subject than just about any other topic that affects human daily life. There are so many scientific studies regarding what is 'the best' diet, but so many conflicts and contradictions in the findings.  Also, the science keeps 'changing.'People eat for different reasons, with different goals, and with different levels of importance.   I like the saying, "eat to live, don't live to eat."   Personally, I think that if food and drink takes a central preoccupation in one's daily life, you'll run the risk of abusing it ... (over eating/drinking).  If a person's first thought on waking is food/drink ... eating, shopping, cooking, restaurants ... i.e. when, what, where, how to eat, etc...  scheduling every aspect of life around meals... then I suggest such a person needs to get a more active lifestyle where food is incidental, and not central.   Of course, good choices and some thought need to be a part of daily food consumption.I think most people will agree that it is desirable to eat a diet that will promote a long life with least susceptibility to disease.  However, that's not universal.  For some, eating is so important to the pleasure centers of the brain, that they willingly eat a diet that will shorten their life.  Like smoking, heavy drinking, drugs, or any other risky behavior - it's worth it for them. Other reasons people eat certain diets are to enable a certain level of physical activity.   Whether a competitive athlete, or just an occasional hiker, diet can contribute to maintaining such abilities as we age.   However, diet alone won't do it.   There isn't any diet that will by itself help a person fight the natural effects of muscle and bone loss due to aging - sarcopenia and osteoporosis.There are so many studies, so much dogma, and so many contradictions ... it's probably better not to open that can of worms.   There are so many skinny healthy meat eaters, and as many obese vegans, it's not worth trying to cite isolate[...]

Mid-week storm


I was surprised that the chances of rain weren't higher this week.   Tremendous humidity levels with dewpoints over 80º in some parts of middle TN with temps in the mid 90ºs.   I knew there had to be some instability in the atmosphere.   Sure enough, a severe thunderstorm watch was issued and the fireworks began.   It wasn't as nearly as oppressive on the mountain, with temps 'only' in the mid 80ºs with a nice breeze.

Here are photos of the rotating storm cell, a very brief tornado that came out of the wall cloud, the beautiful aftermath of the storm, and the foggy placid following morning.

No, the view isn't getting old.

Approaching super cell thunderstorm

Wall cloud with brief tornado

Aftermath of the storm at sunset

The next morning - dawn on 8-21

Boating, hiking ... Sewanee to Chattanooga to NC


It was a great week.   Brought the boat to my house in Sewanee for the first time en route to the TN River, Chattanooga, and Fontana Lake in the GSMNP.I'd studied it for a long time and was confident I could get the boat up my driveway in Sewanee and turn it around.  No problem. Roya and I enjoyed a Monday evening workout in Sewanee's Fowler Center then left Tuesday for the TN River Gorge.  Cruising the 30 miles from Marion Co. park to Chattanooga, the old boat performed flawlessly, cruising at 32 mph.   After an IMAX movie and a trip to the Aquarium, we had dinner and left for a night on the boat in the gorge.   There is one place, just up river from the Raccoon Mtn TVA facility, that is completely wild and undeveloped, with high mountains on both sides.   We floated at sunset down river a mile or 2 in this location, my favorite part of the river.  Just beautiful.  I swear, we did not see one other boat for 12 hrs, all night long.   Highly unusual for a commercially navigated waterway. We pulled out on Wednesday and arrived at Fontana Lake late afternoon on Wed.  After dinner, swimming and watching the sunset, we took a night time walk on the dam.  Beautiful. Thursday we did the 8 mile round trip to Shuckstack from Eagle Creek up the Lost Cove Trail to the Appalachian Trail.   The climb was difficult as usual.  2500' in 4 miles.  Great weather.  Glad to see all the wood on the tower has been replaced.   Looks like they'll keep it for a while.   Unfortunately, it is not possible to get on the roof of the lookout shack like we used to.  They put a solid piece of plywood on the roof. Friday morning early, it rain and rained for 9 hrs.  Good time to watch  movies.  We got a brief respite early afternoon and took the opportunity to head back to Mufreesboro.   We encountered one brief intense storm approaching Monteagle.   The same storm seemed to spawn a tornado captured on my weather station webcam in Sewanee. Great trip. Here's the photos!Fontana Lake sunsetDawn on the TN RiverFontana DamRoya in the creekRoya on the Shuckstack towerAppalachian TrailView from the Shuckstack towerFriday's tornado in Sewanee - 8/8The boat's first trip to Sewanee[...]

Perigee Full Moon


The moon is in perigee, closest orbit to the earth.  When full and near the horizon, it is large and golden.   I took this shot at dusk, about 5:30 am.   This photo - at 5x zoom, you can see the detailed features on the moon - even with this cheap pocket camera.  Of course the moon always looks bigger in real life, than in photos.

Moon over Lost Cove, Sewanee, TN - 7-12-14

Photos from the tree house


Playing with my camera again....

Weather was nice enough to sit out on the deck all night and practice.  Rarely see a mosquito.  Sometimes it doesn't occur to me to put my clothes on.

Weather has been great... cool for July.   In the last week, the daily high temperature topped out below 80º for 5 of the last 7 days.   The week's temperature range was 57º -  83º.    I have yet to see a day over 90º the entire 21 months I've been here in Sewanee, TN ... remarkable since we're in far southern TN.   I guess you could say it's the 'Deep South'.... just a dozen or so miles from the Alabama state line.  I have yet to use my air conditioning, my electric bill was $37 last month.

Found some good GA peaches today in Tracy City and on the way back, I helped a turtle and large black snake to cross the road safely.

Sunset after rain - in fairy land

moon over fog in Lost Cove  - wee hours of the morning

A brief "non-history" of the guitar at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival


I rarely bitch about anything on this blog anymore, but.... I'm naming (some) names in this one.  I thought about writing this as an editorial in the local paper, but no... I'll just put it on my blog.  Now as a resident of Sewanee, and a guitar professor of 25 years, I have some interest, history, and perspective on this issue.First, I need to make it clear that I have no interest in participating in the Sewanee Summer Music Festival as an employee, as it conflicts with my position as Director of Guitar Studies at the TN Governors School for the Arts.  At this point in my career, after 25 years as a Music Professor at MTSU, I enjoy time off in the summer to prepare for fall concerts.   So, my concern on this subject is really for the sake of my graduates, (many of whom are very qualified with Doctorates from prestigious Universities), and for the general standing of guitar in my community - because I love the guitar and I know others do as well.But, there was a time when I was interested in guitar at the SSMF ... when I first came to TN, I made an inquiry to the Director and Founder, Martha McCrory ... thus, the story begins, approximately 1990 - '91.  My conversation with McCory went something like this:  Yelverton:  I'm interested in starting a guitar program at the SSMF.   McCrory: Sorry but this is an orchestral and chamber music festival and there is no chamber music for guitar.   Yelverton (stunned):  Well, maybe I should notify my chamber ensemble of that fact. (conversation ends quickly)McCrory also mentioned that she had been asked about this repeatedly in the past. Yes, as a founding member of the MTSU Faculty Chamber ensemble, the Stones River Chamber Players, I was pretty stunned at this lack of perspective... saying it as kindly as I can - with all due respect to McCrory, whose musical contributions to this area are immense.  After 25 years of chamber performances, 2 European tours, commissions, and a few CDs, I can assure you, there is plenty of quality chamber music for guitar.  Everyone knows this.  Fast forward 15 yrs to 2006.   I just happen to have a friend of a major donor to the SSMF, and was asked if I would like to attend the 50th anniversary concert - seats up front in the VIP section.  So, we attended.  There was an emotional speech by Mr. Savage, the Managing Director of SSMF, I think a plaque was dedicated to McCrory or a conductor's podium or something.  Guess who I happened to be sitting next to?  Martha McCrory.  I politely congratulated her upon her honor and mentioned I was an MTSU Music Faculty member.  She asked me what instrument I played and I said, 'classical guitar'.  She turned her away and never looked at me or said another word to me.  Later I asked the donor if he knew Martha McCrory, he said, "yes ...  for a long time."  And  I said, "what's with her hostility toward the guitar?"  His reply was revealing.   It was suggested to her numerous times in the early years to have a guitar program and once she responded, (citing the popularity of the guitar  - paraphrasing), "If we had guitar, no one would want to play orchestral instruments."After the concert, I went backstage and talked to both James Paul, and Mark Savage, the directors of the SSMF.   Both were enthusiastic about having a [...]