Icepocalypse in Nashville – 5 things to do when the Mayor says “stay put!”

This week, Nashville got a good layer of ice, followed by an inch or two of snow, followed by bitterly cold temperatures and biting winds. Our mayor cautioned everyone to stay home if possible. Here are five fresh suggestions for sheltering-in-place during Nashville’s 2015 Icepocalypse!

It’s no joke that Nashville doesn’t excel at Winter. Each year around November, when the night time temperatures dip slightly below freezing, the local news airs warnings on how to keep pipes from freezing and protect your pets in cold weather. With the slightest hint of oncoming winter weather, schools close and grocery stores supplies of milk and bread are depleted. But Nashville hasn’t really had any measurable snowfall for four years. Until this week. This week, Nashville got a good layer of ice, followed by an inch or two of snow, followed by bitterly cold temperatures and biting winds. Our mayor cautioned everyone to stay home if possible…and, since many events are canceled and schools are closed, a lot of people are heeding that advice! Here are five fresh suggestions for sheltering-in-place during Nashville’s 2015 Icepocalypse!

  1. READ BOOKS – On days like these, I’m especially grateful for my Kindle. As long as my WiFi is working, I can get new books without ever leaving the house! Here are three books about (or set in) Nashville that you can find on Amazon.com. Hidden History of Nashville by George R. Zepp  (2007) In this unique collection of columns, longtime journalist and Tennessee native George Zepp illuminates a less familiar side of the city. Learn the secrets of Timothy Demonbreun, one of the city’s first residents, who lived with his family in a cliff-top cave; Cortelia Clark, the blind bluesman who continued to perform on street corners after winning a Grammy award; and Nashville’s own Cinderella story, which involved legendary radio personality Edgar Bergen and his ventriloquist protegee. Cleverly rendered, using questions from readers across the nation, these little-known tales abound with Music City mystery and charm. All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison (2012)  When a local girl falls prey to a sadistic serial killer, Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her lover, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, find themselves in a joint investigation pursuing a vicious murderer. The Southern Strangler is slaughtering his way through the Southeast, leaving a gruesome memento at each crime scene–the prior victim’s severed hand. Ambitious TV reporter Whitney Connolly is certain the Southern Strangler is her ticket out of Nashville; she’s got a scoop that could break the case. She has no idea how close to this story she really is–or what it will cost her. Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne (2012) Welcome to 603 Bowling Avenue, a lush, empty Colonial Revival house tucked away in a leafy Nashville neighborhood. Who’s that in the ratty attic bedroom, holed up like a squirrel, writing real estate ads as fast as she can? Delia Ballenger, former Nashvillian. She’s back in town to sell the house that her tender-hearted big sister inexplicably left her after dying in a car crash. Delia needs to get back to Chicago as fast as possible. But uninvited people keep showing up at the front door. Delia finds herself up to her eyeballs in a flood of mysteries, secrets, and the sort of love that sneaks up on you. For everyone who has muttered “You can’t go home again,” here’s what happens when you go anyway.
  2. WATCH MOVIES – Whether you have a Netflix account or some other way to download, here are a couple of Nashville-centric movies you might enjoy. Robert Altman’s NASHVILLE (R rated – 1975) is a seriously-good movie with a star-studded cast and a story that remains relevant 40 years after its release date. If you’re in the mood for something more contemporary, and you enjoy the Nashville TV show, you might like Country Strong (PG-13 rated – 2010), starring Garrett Hedlund, Gwynneth Paltrow and Tim McGuire. This drama is centered on a rising country-music songwriter (Hedlund) who sparks with a fallen star (Paltrow). Together, they mount his ascent and her comeback, which leads to romantic complications involving her husband/manager (McGraw) and a beauty queen-turned-singer.
  3. LISTEN TO OLD MUSIC – My appreciation of Nashville music doesn’t date back to my collection of vinyl records, but I do have some pretty old CDs that date back to the Columbia Record Club days, and I’ll bet you do, too! As I write this, I’m listening to Randy Travis‘s “old 8 x 10” CD, and I’ve got K.T. Oslin‘s “80’s Ladies” and Clint Black‘s “Killin’ Time” up next. It’s surprising how much I enjoy these old albums that I haven’t listened to in at least 20 years!
  4. COOK HOT CHICKEN – Sooner or later, I will write a critique of the Nashville Hot Chicken Joints. I have tried most, but don’t feel qualified to give my opinion until I have tried the hot chicken at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack…which is just far enough out of my way that I still haven’t been there. (Speaking of old country music and hot chicken – anyone else remember when Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw had that restaurant hotchickens.com on Old Hickory Blvd. off of I-24 West? It was my first exquisitely painful taste of a now-favorite treat!) I always have chicken in the freezer, and I found the Hattie B’s recipe this morning on epicurious.com. So, I’m thinking that I’ll just work on my own Nashville Hot Chicken recipe.
  5. TRY SOME THE THINGS YOU’VE PINNED ON PINTEREST – This doesn’t necessarily relate to Nashville, but it certainly could. You know all those neat ideas on Pinterest that you’ve wanted to try? Mine include recipes, ways to get stains out of (whatever) and craft projects. I think that, in honor of the Icepocalypse, I am going to rid my white shirts of underarm yellowing, and create a unique hairpin out of playing cards. (Neither of these projects requires a trip to the store!)

Sooner or later, you’re going to have to escape the house and risk a trip to the store. It’s supposed to get above freezing and rain on Saturday – a combination which will make leaving the house safe again. Until then – enjoy!

The Athens of the South – 5 ways to expand your mind in Nashville this winter

Nashville has lots to offer in the way of educational opportunities – we earned our nickname “Athens of the South” well before the Parthenon replica was built.

At this time of year, lots of folks are thinking about how to improve their lives in the year ahead. In my opinion, one of the most enjoyable ways to improve your life is to learn about new things. Fortunately, Nashville has lots to offer in the way of educational opportunities – we earned our nickname “Athens of the South” well before the Parthenon replica was built for the 1897 state Centennial celebration. Here are five ways I’m planning to expand my mind in coming months:

Nashville Parks and Recreation offers a variety of wintertime classes and activities at facilities in our area. The activities at Warner Parks Nature Center are generally free, have an outdoorsy focus, and offer a good excuse to get some light exercise in one of Nashville’s most beautiful parks. This year, I’m signing up to learn about invasive plant species while volunteering to help eradicate these interlopers in our natural forests. (Later, I’ll put the knowledge to good use in our own backyard!) You can find a class or activity to suit your style on the Nashville Parks & Recreation website.

University School of Nashville (formerly Peabody Demonstration School) is a private, co-educational, K-12 day school located adjacent to the Vanderbilt campus on Edgehill Avenue. Each winter, they put together an eclectic catalog of Evening Classes targeted toward adult learners. In past years, I’ve learned the basics of using a digital SLR camera and explored the ins and outs of keeping backyard chickens. This year I’m going to learn about blogging (cart-before-the-horse moment) and how to bake a baguette like a pro. Prices vary – see the attached catalog for more information.

We’re just weeks past the 150th anniversaries of the Civil War battles in Franklin and Nashville. In November, I saw my first-ever battle reenactment at the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, and was able to learn more in that day than I recall ever learning in school. I care little and less about antique firearms or battle strategies, but I’m fascinated by the heroism and touched by the monumental sacrifice of area families during the war. I’ve recently started reading Robert Hicks’ bestseller, The Widow of the South, and plan to revisit the historic Carter House and Carnton Plantation one weekend soon.

Speaking of books – each year I value the serious readers of my Book Club more. If you don’t currently belong to a REAL book club, I heartily recommend you find one. (But for heaven’s sake, don’t quit your fun book club!) You can join a book club at Parnassus Books in Green Hills, or ask at your local Metro Nashville Public Library branch.

Wintertime is also a great time to spend a few hours in a museum. Like many Nashville natives, I don’t take full advantage of the attractions our city has to offer. Before Spring, I’ll make a point of visiting The Upper Room to see the nearly life-sized woodcarving of The Last Supper and tour the Christian Art Museum there. I also want to check out The Musicians Hall of Fame in its new location at the Municipal Auditorium.

At first glance, that may seem like an ambitious agenda, but remember that these mind-expanding activities are meant to be spread out over the entire season – there will be plenty of time for Nashville’s other diversions!