My effort to cook dinner this week became a scary, potentially hazardous event, reminding me that something that has been a big bother could also be deadly. I’ve been dealing with the lack of a sense of smell — anosmia — for about six years now. Because the two are so interconnected, typically with the loss of smell comes a loss of taste.
What’s left of the oven mitt.
Yes, not being able to taste makes for a lot of dissatisfaction in life, especially living in Nashville, with all of its Southern food and home to many premiere chefs. It’s sad when a burger from Top Chef Winner Richard Blais’ Flip Burger is no more satisfying than a thickburger from Hardee’s. Textures become really important — mushy meals don’t cut it for me, I need crunch.
Since I can’t taste most things, I’m using my recent move to Nashville as an opportunity to break some bad habits, to save money and eat more healthfully by cooking more meals. The house I’m renting has little kitchen counter space so the flat surface stove (my first) often doubles as a counter.
On Tuesday I was cooking chicken with rice and beans. With the chicken cooking I threw on some water to boil then turned around to the sink to wash some dishes. A few minutes later I turned to check to see if the water was boiling. I have no idea if it was because all I could see was a huge cloud of smoke — I had turned on the wrong burner and an oven mitt was about to burst into flames.
Fortunately one side of the mitt was made of some sort of fire retardant or heat resistant material. Any other type of material would have caught fire much sooner. Instead this one smoldered longer.
Well, those are the facts, here’s the emotion — I was scared to death. I hadn’t smelled any of the smoke that was billowing from the mitt, and that’s pretty scary. The smoke detector didn’t go off. That’s really scary. What if I hadn’t turned around when I did? What if there’s ever a fire somewhere else in the house and I can’t smell or see it? That’s the scariest. So this weekend I’ll be buying a few more detectors and placing them within a couple of feet of the stove. That’s a $20 investment in the lives of me, Frankie, Alvie.
I’m not one for museums. That’s odd for an artist, don’t you think? I don’t know what it is but I just don’t gravitate toward them. You have to drag me almost kicking and screaming to go to one.
This week a new friend I met at a training session wanted to go to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, and she asked me to join her. I didn’t have an excuse not to go other than just not wanting to. And when I thought to myself, “I don’t want to” it sounded pretty lame. So I went.
This post is about a painting and an experience that should forever remind me Continue reading
I have joked about the weather weenies here in Nashville, but I overlooked just how dangerous these conditions can be — and have been — when they occur as rarely as they do in Nashville.
Good samaritans Kristi Clark and her son, Carter Oakley, 10, were killed Monday night as she tried to help passengers of an SUV involved in a crash on I-65 in Franklin. (Photo: Courtesy Chelsea Mattocks)
According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency 18 people have lost their lives in the past five days. As of this writing the entire state is in a Level III state of emergency, with severe cold, snow, freezing rain and rain in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow.
I’m a native Iowan who has dealt with snow and sub-zero temperatures my entire life. So to hear that 18 people have died this week is a bit hard to understand. So I went in search of Continue reading
Posted in Nashville
Tagged 2015 winter, Carter Oakley, deaths, Good Samaritan, hypothermia, icy roads, inexperienced drivers, Kristi Clark, snow, Tennessee, traffic fatalities
Icicles hang from a railing over a highway overpass in the metro Nashville area on Tuesday. (Photo by Jae Lee/The Tennessean)
Nashville is in the middle of an historic winter storm. Now, having said that you might think it’s something of Boston proportions.
You’d be wrong. Continue reading
Posted in Nashville, Photography
Tagged cold weather, driving on ice, driving on snow, Good Samaritan, ice storm, Jae Lee, Nashville, Nashville Tennessean, scraping ice, Snow storm
There’s no easing into my job here at The Tennessean. After a relatively slow day of training on Monday, the past three days have been hectic, filled with news and lots of meetings.
It’s only been four days and we’ve already had a stimulating ethics conversation about a photograph of a grieving widow.
Thankfully these conversations don’t come along often and I’m grateful that my years at the Missouri School of Journalism gave me chances to practice these Continue reading
Moving sucks. That’s a no-brainer.
Moving 11 years of stuff — some of which I never even unpacked — sucks even more.
I think I’ve always been the only African American photographer on a photo staff. As such, I took pride in covering that community, to give them a much needed voice.
Some of the stuff was pretty easy to let go of, like a closet full of clothes I haven’t worn since I moved to Columbia. Other stuff is much tougher. A good friend here told me to purge my old things from my life.
“Remember with affection the part of you that used and even loved those things and those times in your life, and release her, too. I’ll be the first to agree it’s not easy. But you are on to new things, and you need to cut out the dead wood to make room in your life for fresh growth.”
But there’s something I have that I’m not sure I can part with, but not sure if I should keep, and I need your suggestions:
What do you do with more than 14 years of newspaper clips? (I’ve been in journalism since I was 19, so this includes my college years with the Drake Times-Delphic and about 10 years at Continue reading
Posted in African American, Journalism industry, Photography
Tagged career memories, clutter, collecting, film negatives, hoarding, junk, letting go, memories, moving, new job, newspaper clippings, photojournalist, Starting over
This is what I wore for my interview. I always wear earrings for important things.
I imagine that headline may have shocked you a little bit.
Shocked that I would leave the teaching job I have loved.
Shocked that I would go back into a newsroom.
Shocked that I would go to a Gannett newsroom.
I get it. Here’s the short answer: I have a great job, unfortunately it’s in Columbia, Missouri. I’m not quitting the Missouri School of Journalism — I’m quitting Columbia. It’s been 11 years here and I have learned and grown a lot. But mostly at the professional level. My personal life has not progressed and it’s time for a little more balance in my life, balance I haven’t been able to find in Columbia. I wasn’t looking to move on at this time, but an interesting job came along in a much bigger city: Continue reading
Mizzou students at the Great Wall near Beijing. From left are Jake Lutes, Jason Steimer, Jason Bredehoeft, Andrew Kauffman, Paxton DiBlasi and Daniel Shapiro.
People leave offerings of food at Buddha idols at the Wall.
It took me a while, but I’ve finally put together a selection of photos from China. Getting back home is an exhausting 24 hours of travel, getting in late on a Monday night. I was able to take Tuesday off but right back into the thick of it on Wednesday. Getting back is the hardest part of the trip.
In my photography I tried not to duplicate what I’ve shot before but I was sick several days this year and didn’t get to do as much. (I went to the Great Wall again but was too weak to climb very far.)
For those who don’t know, the University of Missouri (where I teach) has a journalism class that covers the China Open tennis tournament, held in the Olympic tennis park in Beijing. The students write stories which are used on the English-language side of the China Open website. We also have several days available for touring, shopping, getting lost, etc. This is like the third time I’ve gone.
The tournament wasn’t as good this year for me because Serena Williams dropped out with an injury and Venus Williams dropped out due to illness. Djokovic won again, which was nice to see. He’s a really nice guy and is much loved in China.
I hope you find something here that causes you to smile or to wonder or the react. I try to create moments to share with others, not just memories that have no meaning beyond me. You can see other images from China in my posts from 2012 and 2011. Use keyword “china” to search for them.
The Missouri students and Amber, one of the Chinese volunteers, shooting a selfie on the way to The Great Wall.
Chinese bugs of some sort. They are pesky and everywhere at the wall.
Rests are common and frequent on this steep part of the wall.
One characteristic of the steps at The Great Wall is that they aren’t uniform in height. It makes it hard to get a good climbing rhythm.
He was having his picture taken by his parents. And me.
I don’t know exactly what the material for the steps is, but there are animal tracks in some of them.
A decorative soldier stands watch in a courtyard. The walls are lined with good luck offerings.
Good luck offerings.
A roof line silhouetted with the Wall in the background. No, that’s not fog, it’s pollution.
Some of the buildings that dot areas of the Wall.
Some of the buildings that dot areas of the Wall.
Old cannons decorate this section of The Great Wall.
They do replaces the stairs at The Great Wall, here’s a worn section.
A statue for the year of the rat, one of 12 such pieces of art in this courtyard at the Wall.
A gentleman came up to this blackboard and drew the cat that was sleeping nearby.
Even the Chinese know how to do donuts in the parking lot!
The grocery store has buses (against the wall) and free rides for its patrons.
And rare clear day allowed me to get this shot with the Birds Nest on the left.
The Olympic Water Tube. The Olympics were in Beijing in 2008.
This grill was an unusual sight, especially since it’s in English but with a Chinese license plate.
The postcard I sent myself. More than a week later it still hasn’t arrived.
Americans are not that numerous so people would come up and want to be photographed with us. We always said yes.
A street vendor and his partner riding to their next location. Bikes are a transportation mainstay.
This street vendor, the woman on the right, is selling full sunflower heads.
A street vendor, selling walnuts.
A bunch of nut crackers on the vendor’s cart.
Serena Williams tossing the ball for a serve.
Andrew Kauffman ready to go to work on Brad Court. The settings are very intimate, the fans are very close to the players.
Brad Court in the foreground, being prepped for a ceremony, with Diamond Court in the background.
At night, Brad Court in the foreground and Diamond Court in the background.
Climbing the stairs at Diamond Court can feel like climbing the Great Wall.
The people in China are wonderful and kids in any country are precious.
Jason Bredehoeft eats his first meal as a volunteer for the China Open.
Heather Watson, against the beautiful blue surface of Diamond Court.
Jake Lutes, left, interviewing some fans at the Open.
At the end of the tournament Sunday night, while trying to take a group shot of us, this photographer was nearly hit by this guy playing tennis on Diamond Court.
Paxton DiBlasi getting ready to cover the ATP Draw Ceremony.
After two or three matches the photos get really redundant, so I tried to look for different things — like Petra Kvitova’s personalized sneaks.
There are two huge video boards for Diamond Court.
By the second or third day of the tournament we’re all happy to get the pseudo American food at the concession stand. The quesadilla is a favorite.
Getting a ball is the best souvenir of the tournament. Paxton DiBlasi scored one.
This is half of the work area of the Media Center.
Glad I got to see Serena Williams play before she had to pull out.
One of the things our students did was clean up the Chinese-to-English translation of the media guide.
Andrew Kauffman (left) and Daniel Shapiro seated in the media section for Diamond Court.
Lots and lots of rice is available at the store.
Cows! I found this site to be incredibly funny. I tried to get a better shot but they pulled back into the truck by the time we got up next to it.
These cooked ducks are available at the deli. The head, by the way, is considered a delicacy.
The delicatessen carries all sorts of foods — including prepared chicken wings. I hit the deli several times while there.
Found at the CVS: pre mixed and bottle Jack and cola.
Maria Sharapova has her own candy business now and it was sold in the souvenir shop. As you might guess, it was a bit expensive, about 40¥ for a bag.
Thank you, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola for the water we were supplied in the hotel.
The grocery store is an amazing place to me, so many things to see, including this eel and other fish. One yuan (1¥) is about 16 cents.
Who was the first person to decide that these bugs were good food? Their still alive, by the way.
Another interesting dish we had was “pork with gristle.” I didn’t eat it.
This was labeled “wax gourd” and looked a lot like cabbage in a gelatinous sauce.
There are a lot of bulk items available at the grocery store, including this selection of various beans.
Posted in China, China Open, Photography
Tagged ATP, Beijing, Birds Nest, China, Diamond Court, eel, Great Wall, Heather Watson, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams, street vendors, Sugarpova, tennis, Water Tube, WTA