2023 2024

Happy New Year! Are you over it yet?

Bah humbug to that, I say. This is going to be a great year! For a time. We’re in control of our perceptions about things from there. So, I say to you, have a great 2023 2024. Happy new year. Peace on earth, good will toward man. Additionally, here’s to food in your belly, spare items when and where you need them, and minimal downtime of your internet connectivity.

Let’s look at some photos I took last week, which will be the official wrap up of last year, here, on the official keeper of such things.

(kennysmith.org, the official keeper of such things — since 2004.)

I’ve come to think of this as the daily commute of the Canada geese. I don’t know why they’re still around here. Shouldn’t they be flying south? Instead, it’s just to the southwest in the morning, and the northeast each evening. Maybe they’re doing test flights or getting in the base miles.

So there I was in a Mexican restaurant, washing my hands, and I saw this by the door. At first, I was amused by the name of the product. And then, I chuckled at the location of the can. That gave way to appreciating the accidental photo composition, which was quickly replaced by wondering why I was doing all of that before dinner.

I went to the bank, a branch, or possibly just a company itself, that never gets visited. The one teller was surprised to see a person walk through the front door. It was all solid and old and quiet and vacant. But I liked this chair.

Same seat, from the other side, just so we can admire the craftmanship of the upholstery.

The branch manager was a young woman, swift and certain and equally surprised by seeing a human being in her workplace. It struck me as a nice place to spend a part of a career.

I wonder if the chair was comfortable.

In my life, I have traveled some, I have not seen every place and every thing. So this is probably in error, but: I’ve never seen these colors of winter anywhere but in the ancestral haunts. They’re limping through a severe drought just now, and so the clover is a mystery, but the grass is always like this in the winter, and the leaves are always like that this time of year, curled, desiccated and showing no hint of their previous beauty. Here, though, it always just feels like a pause between seasons rather than an end of one. I don’t know why that is.

I saw this house one night. I don’t know the story of that pig, but you get the sense it must be important to someone inside. There’s just the one, and they carefully spotlit the thing.

I believe this one was taken the same night. We were standing in the driveway talking to the neighbors when I looked up.

I haven’t done a lot of running this year because, well, I’d rather ride my bike. Or swim laps. Or do most any other thing I can think of. And so the running has been minimal. I did a two-mile run in the neighborhood, and late in the week we did the dam run. My lovely bride likes the dam run, an out-and-back that we do on most every trip back to the valley. You park in a park’s parking lot, run a mile over a long bridge, then up a hill for three-tenths of a mile, and then work your way along some beautifully maintained TVA trails, until you get to the Wilson Dam. We run halfway across the dam, and then turn back. Here you’re looking back at the bridge, the Singing River Bridge, from the dam.

That route gives you a 10K. I haven’t run a 10K since last December, in Savannah, because see above. With that in mind, given the cool air, the late hour, and the unambitious mist that couldn’t turn itself into a real rain, I told my lovely bride that I would run with her until I couldn’t. And then I would trail along, and double back when she met me again. So there we were, still together at the dam.

And there she went, back across the dam and back toward the car. So I just … kept on running. Caught her, passed her and then we wound up finishing the run together, victorious yawp and all.

That night, I believe it was, my mother suggested Chinese takeout food. We went to pick it up and, there on the counter next to the register, were these two boxes. For some reason, the idea of buying fortune cookies by the batch amused me.

When we got back, I passed out the food and my lovely bride quickly pronounced the little soup chips to be the good ones. I’m not sure how she knew that while they were all still in the baggie, but she was correct. And they were better, and less expensive, than the cookies.

We saw this in the airport on Saturday night in Nashville. Sunday morning, after weather elsewhere delayed our plane, we got back home long after 2 a.m. But we got back. The night before last, then, I made it to bed at about 3:30 a.m. After a week of almost getting on a regular sleep schedule, establishing a routine that would approach a normal person’s sleep schedule, I am immediately back to this.

But the art dangling from the ceiling was cool. We looked at that wondering what it was made of, and how many different sorts of places you could install that. (Not many.)

Last night, we did a thing we weren’t able to do before Christmas. We went to one of the charming nearby small towns and walked among the lights and looked at the store fronts along a half-mile stretch on Main Street. We drive through it from time to time and, daylight or at night, it is perfectly charming. But, finally, we walked and lingered and enjoyed. Lots of antiques, two book stores, three chiropractors, boutique clothing, rental spaces, restaurants and so on. Perfectly charming. It only took us six months to explore it a bit.

This was on one end of our little walk.

I know this fire company traces its roots back to 1704. (The oldest formal unit in the country is found in Boston. It is only 25 years older.) Given the age, and the prominent placement, there’s a great story behind that bell you can see upstairs. I’ll have to ask around about that.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you what was on the other end of our walk. And, probably, talk about riding bikes and whatever else comes up.

Happy 2024!

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