Sunday, August 31, 2014

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 photo

This 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.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

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

Friday, August 22, 2014


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 isolated examples of individuals.  Like the 100 yr old Greek who smokes a pack a day for 70 yrs and never sick a day in his life!  But suffice it to say, there is a lot of evidence that negates just about any dogma, especially the myth that meat eaters are inherently unhealthy and vegans are immune to disease.   Instead of citing a million studies... I'm curious about what the longest living people on earth eat.

There are 4 places on earth where people often live to be 90 - 100+ yrs old.  What's common with all these places is that they are all near the sea:  Okinawa - Japan, Sardinia - Italy, Ikaria - Greece, and Nicoya - Costa Rica.

What's common in all these diets?  Fish, locally grown vegetables, nuts and fruits, and a generally lower calorie diet.  None of these diets are vegetarian.  Another commonality is that these people generally are active and walk daily as a form of transportation in their villages or as a part of their livelihood.   In many of these coastal communities, there are lots of hills and stairs to climb.

There are regional differences.  In addition to fish -

  • Okinawans eat soy, pickled vegetables, rice, a little pork, and green tea.
  • Mediterraneans in Italy and Greece eat wild greens, tomatoes, garlic, cheese, olives, fava beans, and wine.
  • Nicoyans eat corn, beans, rice, chicken, and tropical fruits.

There are also undoubtedly links to other factors besides diet.   Genetics and physical activity play a role.  In most of these places, you'll find active people, locally produced food, and a lack of processed Americanized junk food.   Obesity is very low.   Stress levels and lifestyle are generally relaxed.

Interesting stuff.

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

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 sunset

Dawn on the TN River
Fontana Dam
Roya in the creek
Roya on the Shuckstack tower
Appalachian Trail
View from the Shuckstack tower

Friday's tornado in Sewanee - 8/8

The boat's first trip to Sewanee