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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Falls Mill

Started this weekend out by going to a little craft fair down at the local park that wasn’t much to see. At least not for a guy. Emily didn’t find too much to her liking either. We left there and did a little grocery shopping at the local Wal-Mart and then tripped over to Tullahoma to a Kroger’s. That was 30 miles away. Long story but the jest of it is they ordered her some Walden Farms 0 calorie 0 sugar products. They hadn’t come in, so it ended up being a lunch at Red Lobster.

After lunch we took a little trip over to Falls Mills. Its a private non-profit venture that is trying to save a little piece of American industrial and agricultural history on the banks of Factory Creek near Belvidere, Tennessee.

“This attraction holds great appeal for those interested in the antique machinery and process used in both the printing of early documents and the grinding of agricultural products. Built in 1873 as a cotton woolen factory, the mill was later converted – first for use as a cotton gin and then as a woodworking shop. Today, a 32 foot steel water wheel (over 100 years old) powers millstones the grind cornmeal, flour and grits (which can be purchased on site). The building containing the mill also houses a two story museum where you can see a printing press, hand looms, power looms, spinning wheels, and wool-carding machinery. Adjacent to the mill is a bed and breakfast log cabin for overnight guests.”*

It is a quite picturesque place. The really cool thing about it is it is an excellent example of privatized hydro power. In this case it turns a huge water wheel and powers grinding wheels. But the same concept could be used for electrical power if you happen to have this kind of water resource around. Not a lot of us will ever have it, but still it’s a cool idea for pollution free energy.

The area around the mill is very pleasant and it’s worth a visit. The owners are nice and when you see their home -pictured here - you kind of turn green with envy.

The mill itself is a fun place to explore and the owners let you have the run of the place for $4 a head and after watching a 5 minute video history presentation. Kind of serene too.

You’ll find lots of fun stuff here and there.

Oh, yea! Their overnight cabin is cute.

* This description came from Charles and Daniel Frew's (father and son) book 52 Weekends in the Tennessee Valley. ISBN 0-9777415-0-8

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sometimes I create art - but mostly I just take snapshots

Over the years I run into many people with different ideas on “Art”. Most understand that, like any subject, there is room for debate and disagreement. But, all too often I find that people can’t distinguish between skill and creativity. Folks who lived before the 1850s considered art as a way to document what was around them. Today, I’d agree with Sculptor Henry Moore who said, “Art is the expression of imagination, not the duplication of reality."

As an amateur photographer, who leans toward finding new ways of seeing reality (I also just like to record what I see), I bump into photographer friends who think they create art because they have a spiffy camera and a few lens and know how to read a light meter. What rubs them raw is when I tell them they just take snap shots. That is all they do. Yes, they read the meter and may have a little skill with a few filters, but they never try to go beyond recording the object they are taking a picture of. They never attempt to manipulate the environment of their subject. They never stage a shot. They never create what is in their head. They attempt to make the scene look like what they see with their eyes. This is OK and requires a good deal of skill, since the camera and medium (film or digital) do not record light the way our eyes do. But it is not Art. There is no imagination to it, no creativity. They never think of a picture they want to make then precede to make it. They see something – sometimes interesting - and record it. An artist can make a great picture from cheap, even defective, cameras because they understand visualization, composition and lighting. They have a command of light and color. They can do it with a brush, knife, paper mache or a camera.

There is nothing wrong with making pictures. Recording events – historical or personal – is an important application that photography is good for. Doing it well and mastering the demands of the subject are worth while goals. Technical mastery helps the creative process, but it doesn’t make the process creative.

Have a look see here.

One Exposure

Clinton Smith

Chema Mandoz

David Chapelle

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My return to Tennessee after 37 years.

I’ve pretty much completed my move to Tennessee. I’m not all that far from Huntsville, but I’ll be sporting Tennessee tags on my truck soon and my mug is already decorating a Tennessee State driver’s license (which in getting also made me a registered voter).

Sold my house in an unbelievable two days. At least that was as long as it was publicized. Emily treated me to a week in Gatlinburg during my birthday week. The week before I interviewed three Realtors. Two where recommended by my out of state bank, USAA. They have a program for helping sellers. However, as I inquired, I realized that they just get a commission for every bank customer that takes up one of their recommended Realtors and they really haven’t done any checking on the Realtor’s capabilities. Of course I could have gotten cash at closing for using one of them, but the amount of money wasn’t really an incentive after I got past the initial marketing effort.

I also called on Dave Ramsey. For you who don’t know about him, he is a “Christian” financial adviser with a radio show. Yea I know what you are thinking. Chet!!!! Have you found religion!!!! No, I haven’t. But, Ramsey gives out excellent financial advice for those who will not face the reality of debt. I use to go out for lunch buying a sack meal and finding a tree shaded area off the road there on Redstone. His station was the only one what would come in static free. He was followed by Rush Limbaugh, so I made sure my lunch was finished by the end of Ramsey’s show. His religiosity isn’t a big part of his show although he does try to insure his ticket to heaven is good with a few scripture readings and a smattering of JC is Lord. But 90% of the show is excellent hard hitting financial advice. Call him the Dr. Phil of Finance. I’m not a fan of Dr. Phil. I see a big difference in rough, honest, straightforward financial advice and deeply emotional beatings.

One of the side issues Ramsey makes money from is advertising from companies that he claims he has researched and interviewed and tested. So, I left an email on his site saying I was looking for a Realtor in my area. Both his and USAA’s recommended realtor’s called within 24 hours. They all had great presentations and handled my questions pretty well. But one had one thing the others didn’t. Yea, she was cute and full of energy and she had a great personality and most definitely knew the company line since she leads it here. But in addition to all the others offered, she also offered free use of a truck to move with. Just fill up the tank and bring it back when you’re done. Not only that, but once I use her services, the use of the truck is a life long offer. Yep, if in a few months I want to haul a big group of illegal aliens to Chicago, I can call her up and reserve the truck. Now how is that for an incentive? Well, maybe for some of you, hauling your own stuff is the last thing you want to do in such a transition, but I’ve done it all my life so this was a real cost savings.

Who is this master of the Realtor business? Amanda Howard, Ring the Team, of Weichert Realtors.

So, having chosen Howard to handle the sale of my house, Emily and I took off for Gatlinburg. Howard’s team came out to the house and took pictures for a visual-tour. If you want to see how well they did, click here. Yea I cleaned the place up. They got the sale posted to the web on Wednesday and on the drive back from Gatlinburg that Friday I got a call that I had four offers and one was in excess of my asking price. Wow, I never thought it would go that fast. When I bought it four years earlier it has been on the market for months. Needless to say I was pleased - more money than I asked and no repairs or home improvements necessary. Two weeks latter I moved out and closed.

Now, living in Fayetteville, TN isn’t like living in the big city. It is a lot like my Dad’s home town, Noblesville, IN, use to be. (I say “use to be” because Noblesville has been consumed by the urban sprawl of Indianapolis.) There is a town square filled by the county courthouse. Fayetteville is the county seat of Lincoln County which is not named after Abraham Lincoln. Fayetteville is named after the city of Fayetteville, NC – a place I use to live as well. Seems some North Carolinians from Fayetteville came west and settled in Tennessee. But you can read all that if you are interested on Wikipedia.

It took a week for me to settle in here and get myself back on the Internet in the privacy of my own place, although, it isn’t my place, its Emily’s. The 29 mile commute is a pain but coming home to a significant other is worth it. I have changed my morning habits to miss the bulk of the traffic going to Huntsville. Seems a lot of Tennesseans commute to either Huntsville or Redstone Arsenal to work. No longer do I while away the morning hours doing whatever my over active mind desires then rush to work in 10 minutes. I miss that. But life in a small town is suiting me at this stage of my life. I’m still looking for a few acres to build my final house on and this area has just the kind of picturesque landscape I’m interested in. Click these links for a few snap shots I’ve taken driving around the county.

Stable on a Foggy Morning





I am scouting out best places and times to photograph this area. Even got me a new GPS to help me get back to some of these really back woods locations. I’m looking forward to recording Lincoln County for these times. Landscape photography isn’t my biggest photographic interest but I’ll strive to do the county justice.

Expect more to come now that my transition back to a Tennessean is nearly complete.