Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cade's Cove

My parents came to visit last weekend, and wanted to go to the Smokies. I took them to the park last year when they came, but we kind of just drove around and pulled off at a few of the scenic view turnoffs, without really having a plan or going to see something specific. This year, we had a whole day to kill, so at the advice of some friends I took them to Cade's Cove last Sunday. I've never been to that part of the park, either, so it was fun for us all.

For those unfamiliar with the park, Cade's Cove is a large valley deep in the park. A number of historic buildings have been preserved there, although several were relocated from other areas. To visit, you drive on a one-way scenic loop, which means that a lot of your visit looks like this:

driving in cade's cove

Since a lot of the view also looks like this, though:

cade's cove meadows (1)

cade's cove meadows (2)

cade's cove meadows (3)

cade's cove meadows (4)

cade's cove meadows (5)

it's a nice tradeoff.

We skipped a few buildings, because there were just too many cars and people, but we did pull off at the Primitive Baptist Church for a few minutes:

Primitive Baptist Church (1)

Primitive Baptist Church (2)

inside window

outside window

and then stopped at the Methodist Church:

Cade's Cove Methodist Church

but after that we decided we'd seen enough churches and enough unruly children running around the churches. This couple in the Methodist Church was letting their kids bang on the piano and they actually threw a Bible from the pulpit and laughed. I was disgusted, especially when the mom was trying to explain to the kids about preservation while not stopping them from taking part in destruction.

We saw a few deer, and there was a long traffic jam when people said they could see bears, but we didn't see them. It's possible that all of the people getting out of their cars and stomping across the field to get closer (Seriously, people? It's not a zoo. Have fun getting mauled.) scared the bears away by the time our car got to the right spot, but it's equally likely that they just wandered off on their own.

We stopped for the longest time at the Cable Mill Historic Area, where a number of buildings are preserved together around the Cable sawmill and gristmill. They have a visitors center:

Cable Mill Visitor Center

and a lot of buildings:


cantilever barn

cantilever barn interior

Cable Mill

Smokehouse and Gregg-Cable House


Gregg-Cable House porch

and Cade's Cove is just, overall, a really pretty place to spend a sunny day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Koi, Kitchens, Pinhole

My parents are on their way here, and in preparation for their visit I scheduled a few days off to clean and tidy my apartment. And then this happened:

my kitchen disaster

That's my kitchen.

That's the water heater on the left (you may remember the water heater from the time they cut open my cabinet to repair it), and the stove should be to the left of that. The sink should be where that bucket is, and the dishwasher should be to the right of that. Instead I have a slow leak, a broken pipe, and a distinct lack of cabinetry.

So, yeah, this kind of blew my plans for cleaning, but I've still tried to make the best of it and squeeze in some relaxing. I've eaten out a few times, and favorite places and at new places, like Bella Luna, where I had lunch yesterday:

fried ravioli

I thought they were a new place, since they're right in the middle of Market Square and I've somehow never noticed them, but when I asked the hostess she gave me a weird look and answered that they've been there for over a year. Oooops.

I also squeezed in some photography time at the university gardens, where they have planted gorgeous beds of poppies this year:


The poppies are all in bloom and pretty:

extreme poppy

and it reminds me so much of the ones that grew in Alaska when I was little.

I wandered around for a while, snapping regular pictures:

gone to seed

and taking the pinhole camera for a walk:


and I think the pinhole was magical:

water lily

pink roses

yellow rose and red

falling water

The ones with the falling water are at the koi ponds in the rose garden, where I stared at the fish for a while:

yellow koi (1)

yellow koi (2)

orange and yellow koi

yellow koi (3)

That last one, with the flower in it, I think is just fantastic.

My favorite picture for the day, though, is this one:


That's a puddle. Just a plain old puddle in the middle of the grass.

Like I said, that pinhole is magical sometimes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Delicious Bigotry

Every tent in this picture belongs to someone who supports bigotry and prejudice:

tents in the parking lot

They all belong to people who are camping out at the new Chik-fil-A, which opens tomorrow. If they camp out for 24 hours and then they are the first 100 people through the door, they will receive a free meal from the restaurant for a year.

They will also willingly support and patronize a business that openly gives money to hate groups.

I'm not exaggerating, either. Chik-fil-A has a long history of donating to anti-gay groups, and they're not small donations, either. Between 2003 and 2009 Chik-fil-A gave over two million dollars to groups like Focus on the Family, Exodus International, and the National Organization for Marriage. Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage have both been classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, while Exodus International had strong ties to Uganda's 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which called for the death penalty for gay people and up to three years in prison for people who knew someone was gay and did not report it. Chik-fil-A gave money to these groups, and every time you eat there, you're helping them do it.

I had an argument with a friend about this today, after I mentioned seeing the people camped out and how disgusted I was by the idea of people fighting to support bigotry.

"Well, it's not really bigotry."

"It's not? It supports discrimination against gay people."

"Well, yeah, I guess, but..."

"But? Would you eat there if they were giving money to the Klan?"

"Well, no, but this is different."

Oh. OK. I see.

Racism is bad, but homophobia is kind of ok, and that's the real problem here. As Byrne Fone explained in Homophobia (I can't pull a page number because I donated my copy to the resource center), "Homophobia is the last socially-acceptable prejudice." If you don't believe me, think about it this way:

If you say that your religion says that women are property and shouldn't have any rights, then people tell you that your religion is sexist and outdated. Just listen to the national dialogue on women in burkas and the Taliban if you feel like arguing that.

If you say that your religion says that black people are subhuman and should be treated as such, then people tell you that your religion is racist and outdated. That's why Mormons are still defending themselves in the media over an exclusionary doctrine that was overturned in 1978.

On the other hand, if you say that your religion says that gay people are hellbound sinners who don't deserve the same rights that straight people take for granted, then people tell you that everyone has a right to their beliefs and that we should all respect that. If you want to argue that, take a look at the number of recent pushes in various state legislatures to include "religious exceptions" in anti-bullying policies.

We live in a society where it is currently acceptable to hate and discriminate against gay people. Chik-fil-A gives money to groups that want to make sure that continues. And when you buy chicken at Chik-fil-A, you're helping them do it.

Which brings us back to my friend and I, wandering around Kroger and discussing the nature of bigotry.

"I see your point, I guess, but those people in the tents aren't bigots."

"Then what are they? If you're not a bigot, but you give money to people who are, what does that make you? A fan of bigotry? A bigot supporter? A patron of bigotry? A condoner? A collaborator? Really, what word should I use?"

"I don't know, but it's not fair to call them bigots."

Fine. I won't call them bigots.

But I also won't say that eating there is ok.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pictures of April

April turned out to be a pretty busy month, and it left me with a lot of pictures that didn't fit anywhere else. Here they are, with brief captions, like I've done with every month so far this year.

1) We had a parade:

we had a parade

It's been a while since I played around with some Looking into the Past photography. I meant to play with that parade photo some time that it snowed, but we didn't really get any snow this winter, so I ended up just going out and giving it a try. Coincidentally, it ended up being the 2000th image submitted to the Looking into the Past photo pool on Flickr.

If you've never tried that style of photography, it can be fun, but challenging.

2) Pinhole Photography in April:

I took the pinhole camera for a walk two weekends in a row, using up a roll of film (and destroying quite a bit of it by being sloppy and overexposing over half the pictures) but then not being able to develop it for a week because the machine at Walgreen's was broken. After I got the pictures back I couldn't think of a way to blog about them, because all I did was walk around downtown and point my camera at things.

Those things looked like this:

pinhole old courthouse

pinhole jackson avenue

pinhole union avenue barber shop

pinhole old city business

pinhole sterchi lofts

north central avenue

I like the last one the best, but I'm disappointed in myself. There's no real creativity or inspiration there, except maybe in that last picture, and you can see the sloppy red overexposure creeping into so many of the frames. I forced myself to walk around and take pictures, but there wasn't any feeling behind it, and I think you can tell.

3) Someone agrees with me:

graffiti, art, beauty

Art saves, no matter what kind of art it is, as long as there is feeling behind it. It doesn't have to be pretty, as long as it's real.

4) Lost weekends:

The same weekends I walked around with the pinhole, I also carried around my digital camera. Gay Street, Central Avenue, and Market Square looked like this:

building head

store interior

Clayton's Wholesale Furniture

regas restaurant


public piano

5) Dinner:

pizza at the tomato head

I ate a pizza downtown at the Tomato Head one night, before going to a meeting. It was good.

And that's it for April!