Monday, September 26, 2011

Rediscovering Tennessee

LC and a donkey at the Lincoln County Fair that we dubbed Hank.
He was a beautiful and very friendly donkey, about 11 months old and with all kinds of ears that he still has to grow in to...........

My Mountain Boy and to a lesser extent myself are starting to climb the walls a bit.
Although the cabin we rented this month is lovely and quiet, with little extra money to spend and a house we own that we have not be able to live in, we are beyond eager to get settled again.
We have spent time almost every day at the house working on the yard and fence and porch (and generally making a pain in the ass of ourselves with the dead-beats) and are pleased with what has been accomplished in both of those regards.
Yesterday we reattached both gates that accessed the privacy fence and the back yard, and then let Jamie loose in the yard.
LC and I smiled and laughed as we watched our dog act like a small child - wandering away from us to explore for a short while and then soon coming back to us for reassurance over and over again.
When we were ready to leave Jamie surprisingly ran up to the porch, climbed the four steps, walked over to the back door and looked up at it, fully expecting us to open the door for her so she could go inside.
LC and I looked at each other in surprise.  She remembers the house.
We have dragged our pup all over hell and back over the past couple of years both literally and figuratively and she remembers this house.
I was surprised when my youngest son visited us in Alaska because Jamie remembered him after not seeing him for years.  Same with my oldest boy when we visited in Nashville a couple of weeks ago.
We feel good about being here.
We feel good about being able to bring our dog home................

Runs are going well although it is still too warm and humid in Tennessee and although I am developing an aggravating hip problem.
Running on black top is probably not helping.
I have not run on roads in a good number of years and my tired and tiring body has appreciated that.
Once we move back into the house I can move the runs back out to the base.
And put my bike back together and dig out my bike gear and bike out at the base.
And then dig out my paddling gear and paddle out at the base.
But in the meantime these are pictures of the countryside around the area of the cabin...................
A water pump at a quiet country church.
There is a sign outside the church saying that hunters are welcome and to come as they are.
As with most of rural Tennessee the area we are currently staying in is a contradiction in terms.
A sometimes eclectic and sometimes disconcerting combination of educated and uneducated, redneck and white collar, law abiding and low brow trash of all races and colors, religious and not ..............
As I approached this fence keeping a herd of goats in the field I saw this very very beautiful Great Pyrenees dog.
This breed of dog is used extensively to guard herds and farm houses in middle Tennessee.
They are everywhere.
Beautiful, large, generally friendly but territorial, and wonderful guard dogs.
When I first saw this dog he was sleeping in the dirt underneath a large tree.
As I quietly approached and then crossed in front of the fence he instantly woke, stood up and began to bark at me, watching me intently.
As I continued walking he moved in my direction.
And then suddenly the small goat herd as one realized that I was there.
Startled they quickly hurried away from the fence line. 
And as he is supposed to, the dog protectively moved in front of them, very wary of this human who may cause his herd harm.
He watched me until I was long past his fence...................
That day was a long and very hot run.
I had forgotten how hilly back roads in Tennessee always are.
And I had forgotten how windy back roads in Tennessee always are.
Although it was hot I was enjoying my run greatly.
Enjoying the quiet, and the new sights, and the reminders of hilly and winding roads.
After being out for a little over an hour I ran down to the bottom of a long and steep hill, came to an intersection with unfamiliar roads veering off in different directions and decided to turn back.
This was not Wyoming where so many roads are straight and you can see for miles in every direction.
I was low on water and had no idea where the roads led.
Reluctantly I turned around and looked up the steep hill I had enjoyed coming down so much.
Deep sigh, deep breathe and I headed up and then headed for home..................
Goldenrod in full bloom in early Fall..............
Hardly any straight roads at all in south eastern Tennessee, and no straight roads at all in the eastern part of the state...............
Two cute dogs I came across while running.
They were simply friendly barkers and no threat, although I have run into a couple during runs that were near misses.
Their owners got a hold of them before they bit me or before I pepper sprayed them - whichever came first.
Country dogs are always plentiful and many times are undisciplined animals, and I am always wary...............
Still abundant wild flowers in the undeveloped pastures surrounding the area.
By the end of next month the flowers will be gone and the leaves will be turned.
And sometime in November we will be knee deep in leaves in our yard.
I cannot wait for the humidity to disappear and for the temperatures to begin cooling in earnest...............
This home is perched high on top of the hill in the picture above.
I am still getting used to the differences between Wyoming and Tennessee.
Night and day.
I am in "Rediscovering Tennessee" mode.
Viewing it all with new eyes after having been away from it for the better part of two years.
Familiar.  Unfamiliar...................
On Saturday a lady I used to work with and who has stayed in touch with me through all of my ups and downs since leaving Tennessee in January 2010 (can sometime live an entire lifetime in 21 months?) dropped by the cabin to visit.
As we sat informally on the front porch talking about everything and about nothing I found myself wondering if I had ever felt so relaxed and so informal while in Juneau.
The answer is no.
One of my supervisors, who is no longer in Juneau, told me at the time that there are some good people in Juneau.
I had no doubt that that was true, but when I pointed out that I didn't deal with any, he with resignation had to acknowledge that what I was saying was correct.
Regardless, that was then and this is now, and on Saturday I sat relaxed and happy on the front porch with my friend.
I used to ride my bike past this small stream all the time.
The other day LC and I stopped to take a picture of it.
Because of money and because of yard work we have been staying close to home since arriving back in Tennessee.
Once we get settled there are so many places up "on the mountain" that I want to visit.................
One of a plentiful supply of gun stores locally.............
As we were driving down a steep hill towards the cabin we saw this little guy standing on the side of the road.
LC stepped on the brake hard so that we could stop in the middle of the narrow and steep downhill and take a picture of him.
After snapping pictures we both sat looking at him and wondering when he was going to run off.
We stayed like that for another minute before LC finally let off the brakes just enough to inch forward.
That brief but sudden movement was enough.  The ground hog instantly turned and ran full speed up the embankment, underneath the fence and then disappeared into the woods............
Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. ........Stanley Horowitz

Friday, September 23, 2011

The House

The shingles along the edges of the roof are coming loose in places.
The lawn especially in the back but also in the front needs to be mowed.
The landscaping in front is full of weeds and the trees need trimming.
The shutters need to be replaced.
The privacy fence in back needs some work.
And so does the back porch.
Much of the inside needs to be repainted.
Some is a big deal and some is quick and easy to take care of, but the house overall is in pretty good shape..............

Right after my divorce and as I was beginning to think about where I was going to live, I had planned on simply renting a place.
I was still living under the same roof as my ex-husband which was not only fraught with stress but was also unfairly expensive.  I had signed off on the home we had shared and I really needed out.
On the spur of the moment I visited a bank to see if I could qualify for a home loan.
It was not that I had bad credit - it was that I had very little credit so I did not hold out much hope.
But the credit I had was good, I had been employed continuously for many years and it was still during the time of the housing bubble so credit was being given out easily. 
Too easily as it turned out but I did not know that at the time.
Not long after I applied I received a phone call from the bank telling me that I was pre-qualified for $120,000.
My first reaction when I got off the phone was GREAT!!
My second reaction was "Are they crazy????  I can't afford a $120,000 house!".
And so I called the bank back and asked them how much house I could buy for $600 a month.
They told me about $85,000.
With that max in mind I began looking at homes and about 30 houses later I walked into this one...........

My realtor told me that the house had just gone on the market and was not even listed yet.
I walked into the house, looked around inside, walked into the back yard and knew that this was the house that I had been looking for.
I was looking for something around 1000 square feet since it was just me and Jamie, and this house at 1400 square feet was bigger than I needed but that was OK.
It would accommodate my kayak and my canoe and my road bike and my mountain bike and my untold boxes of adventure racing clothes and gear.
It had a big back yard and a privacy fence for James.
A spare bedroom if one of the boys visited.  A place for a home office. 
A car port and a garage-converted-into-a-den. 
It was five minutes from my work.
It was close to the base where I ran and rode and paddled.
Lots of older and well maintained ranch style homes with mature trees in the area.
I was definitely interested.
I called a friend of mine who worked in maintenance and asked if she would come look at the place and tell me what she thought.  She was used to that drill because I had asked her to do that before.
To look at the wiring and the plumbing and the roof and all those other things that were far more important than the paint colors and the carpet colors, but which were also things I knew very little about.
She provided me with invaluable information for which I was so grateful and which helped reinforce my decision that I liked this house.
It was not big or fancy but I liked it.
I went back to the house one more time the next day just to be certain and it just felt......right.
As the realtor was locking up the doors and turning out the lights I stood in the living room absently looking at the many photographs that were still on the wall.
Cute kids.  Nice looking lady - must be the wife.  Obviously the grandparents.
And then one picture caught my attention.
It was a picture of a guy on a mountain bike.  The bike looked to be a serious bike and the guy was geared out like a serious rider.
He wore sunglasses and a helmet so I could not really see his face but now curious I scanned the photographs for more pictures of him.
And then I found a family picture of him, the wife and the two small children.
I think I may have laughed out loud when I saw it because I knew the guy.
He was my bike mechanic - the guy who for years had fixed up my mountain bike when it was bent and broken after so many crazy trips into the mountains during adventure races.
.The guy who liked to listen to my crazy stories as he good naturedly handed back my straight and repaired mountain bike, but who was such a better rider than me it was not even funny.
I did not let on to my realtor that I knew the home owner but did find out that he wanted to buy a larger home to accommodate his growing family, and that purchase was contingent on him selling his current home.
He was asking $79,000, I countered with $72,000.
A few more back and forths and I ended up getting the house for 73.
From the time I first saw the house to the time we agreed on a price took all of three days.
Built in the 1950's the mountain bikers wife's parents had owned the house originally, then sold it to the daughter, and then I bought it.................

A view down our street.................
While still looking for a house to purchase and a few weeks before I found the one I ultimately bought, I moved into a campground and set up a tent.
I was there for six weeks while I searched for, found and then closed on the house.
I made a conscious decision to live as cheaply as possible during that time in order to pay off debts incurred during the divorce, so I could start my new life as a single person in a positive way.
Many people at work thought that I was crazy for sleeping in a tent for so long, and some thought that I was enduring real hardship, but it was the middle of summer and I loved every minute of it...................

LC and I have spent some time doing work on the outside of the house recently.
Cleaning out two years worth of leaves from the gutters.
Setting in concrete two new posts on gates of the privacy fence.
Scraping down the deck so we can renail portions and then repaint the entire thing.
Repainting a storage building and light post.
Nothing major or extremely time consuming.
Just enough to make our presence known.  And then known some more.
There is a woman, three children and a man who was shot in an apparent case of mistaken identity living in the house.
We have met the woman.  The three children seem like nice kids.  We have not met the guy who claims to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On the 30th we will move back into our house..................

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moore County Jail Museum

I noticed that this Blogger site has set up a whole new function.
If you click on one of the pictures it will not only enlarge the picture but also take you to a slide show of all the pictures in the blog entry.  Very cool stuff............

One day last week LC and I explored the Moore County Jail Museum in Lynchburg Tennessee.
It was the town's active jail from 1893 all the way through until (surprisingly) 1990.
It is nothing more than an old and historic home with two rooms that have been converted to cells for female inmates downstairs and at the back of the house, and one section of the upstairs converted to two cells for male prisoners.
The cells are small and start and secure.
The curator of the museum told LC and I a couple of interesting things:
1.  That the first Sheriff of the county held that position for eight years and then his wife was elected Sheriff (at which time he was confirmed as one of her deputies)
2.  The Sheriff and his (or her) family lived in the home while the home also housed the inmates
3.  If one of the inmates was known to be a good cook he/her would cook for the other inmates and the family.
If none of the inmates could cook the lady of the house (typically the Sheriff's wife) cooked for both the family and the prisoners.
The museum tour was self-guided and LC and I wandered in and out of rooms and cells enjoying both the pictures of all the Sheriff's in Moore County since 1893 as well as old household objects.
And then LC talked for a long while with the curator who was a retired officer out of both Moore and Coffee County.
Not a bad time for a whole dollar each.................

Information from the handout I picked up at the door:

When Moore County was formed in 1872, one of the major tasks facing the newly elected Moore County government was finding quarters for the fledgling government bodies.  The county officials set up shop in churches, store buildings and houses acquired by the new county, but i was obvious that special accommodations had to be made for the housing of prisoners.  And so a jail was the first building to be designed and built especially for Moore County.................... 
The first jail used by Moore County was the Lynchburg Town Lock-up or Calaboose.  This building was a fairly basic facility being built of oak planks, but it is said to have been secure.  The heavy seasoned oak walls had nails driven at close intervals to discourage the use of axes or other cutting tools.  There is, however, a newspaper account of Sheriff Norman (1st Sheriff) discovering the wooden latch being nearly cut in two by a pair of would be escapees while the county was using this facility.  While this building was satisfactory for housing drunks and others for a day or so and was not intended for the use that a larger law enforcement agency required.
During this time, violent crime was fairly common in Moore County, and a full fledged jail was needed.  This was recognized, and the County Court appointed a committee to begin the work of acquiring a jail............
In 1893 the County Court appointed a Jail Construction Committee to acquire a lot on Main Street from W.W. Holt for $650,000 and enter into a contract with the Pauley Jail and Manufacturing Company of St Louis MO, to construct a jail and Sheriff's residence there. 
The report of the Jail Committee dated October 30 1893 states that the work was complete and satisfactory on that date, and warrants were delivered by the contractor on November 25 1893 for a total of $5,946.32 to be paid over four years.  A special Jail Tax of .20 cents per $100,000 evaluation of property was assessed for the year 1893 to cover the expected cost of construction...............
This facility operated until construction was completed on the new Moore County Jail in June 1990.
Moore County Historical and Genealogical Society obtained the old jail building in 1990 when the new jail facility was completed.
It opened as a museum in 1991 and is listed on the National Registry of Historical places.  Repairs and restoration continue today...............
Female cells.............
And family living quarters...........
There were two stair cases in the home.
The stairs in back of the house led up to the male cells.
The stairs near the front of the house led up to resident bedrooms................
Below the "No Prisoners Or Trustees" sign was an original news clipping telling of the sinking of the Titanic............
Two entire boards filled with law enforcement patches from across the country as well as from other countries.
These were collected from officers who mailed patches from their respective departments after visiting the museum and then returning to their homes.
I find museums interesting in small doses and this little place in this little town was a lot of fun to wander around
It is only open from mid-March through mid-December and I was glad that LC and I had a chance to enjoy it before Winter.............