10 mile Creek Greenway mural


Crawdad
Crawdad, 10 Mile Creek Greenway, mural. No, I’m not calling it a crayfish. It’s not a fish. Crawdad is the scientifically accurate term.

So after crossing a tunnel, visitors to 10 Mile Creek Greenway in Knoxville are greeted by this mural.

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Green heron on the 10 Mile Creek Greenway mural.

Pictures don’t really convey the mural by artist Curtis Glover accurately, as part of its charm is looking for the individual creatures, some of them obvious, others hiding in details. A sign gives all of their species.

What I applaud this mural for doing is getting people to see what lives in the 10 Mile Creek area. Runners, cyclists and people using 10 mile Creek Greenway to get from point A to point B have no time to dig through the creek and find crawdads, but the mural lets them see just how full of life 10 Mile Creek really is.

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Last Boomsday and Continuing Tennessee Valley Fair


This year marked the last Boomsday. For those who don’t know, that’s Knoxville’s Labor Day fireworks show. It’s been a tradition for years now. Because this was its last year, I figured that I’d go.

Short version: I ended up on top of the roof of a full garage, jammed between cars going opposite directions, and seeing fireworks behind a tree. When the booming started, I assumed that someone was pounding on our car out of anger actually, until I saw sparks behind said tree.

Knoxville Mercury columnist Jack Neely, ever the contrarian pointed out that even if it was the last Boomsday, plenty of other festivals continue, such as the Tennessee Valley Agricultural and Industrial Fair, which, incidentally, has fireworks. Plenty of people complain that it’s not as good as it used to be, particularly in terms of rides. As someone who grew up going to the much smaller Anderson County Fair, I can’t judge. What I do know is that the Tennessee Valley Fair is still going, which I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for the bunnies and sheep, for the feather-footed chickens, and unicorn looking geese, for the slow moving but scenic observation tower, for introducing my girlfriend to bumper cars and slamming her a few times, for the Space Roller which I enjoyed as it twisted me through the breeze but my girlfriend avoided and compared to a medieval torture device, for the Cherokee flute playing and clothing demonstrations, for the fair lights at dusk, for the trapeze act that we almost didn’t see but wound up catching just above the bleachers of the small circus area and for the fireworks above the lake. I even enjoyed myself puzzling at displays of condiments that weren’t supposed to be eaten, just looked at, because they won awards. There’s plenty more to say, but I’ll leave this post saying I’m thankful for what Knoxville still has.

Cuernavaca: City of Ravines


Cuernavaca: a city of ravines.¨Upper¨ and ¨lower¨ class is literal. Well, not always, but mostly.

Walk up certain hills, and you´ll see mansions and flowering trees.¨The city of eternal spring¨ is Cuernavaca´s motto, and there is nearly always some kind of flower in bloom.

The people in these fancy houses are often people who left Mexico City for bigger houses and courtyards, some imitating the tiled domes of Spain. Unlike Mexico City, we have enough water for some people to have swimming pools.The modern convent of the Guadalupanas del Cristo el Rey is here at the top as are some language schools.

It´s good ground to avoid earthquakes like the one that ripped Mexico City apart in the 80s. Granted, land at the very top of some of these hills is looser and cheaper judging from what my host mother Alicia told me.

Okay, time to go down to the middle ground where I am now. Here you find small-shopkeepers with painted signs, good for if you need anything.

Walk down a flight of stairs into a ravine. Available space, if it´s there, often gets used for chickens. People come here from the countryside. Many will wind up in the U.S. eventually. The ravines actually look kind of picturesque from a distance because of their greenery and general wildness compared to the rest of the city.

At far bottom you hit the rivers that carved out the ravines. The ravine-bottom is nice and shady, but you´ll get a headache if you stand down there for too long. Black rivers carry sewage that washes down from all the layers above. Usually the rivers flow with suds. Just imagine the combined fecal and garbage smell. I can´t show it. The worst of these ravines don´t even have roads at the bottom, meaning that the people who live there have to climb stairs.

Foreigners (except for me) avoid the ravines with the exception of the San Anton waterfall, which is awesome despite not being clean. It´s a bit different from other ravines in that it´s more or less one of the nicer parts of town.

The city as it stands now grew in a jumbled way out of Cuanahuac the pyramid site of the Tlahuica (meaning ¨They who work the land”). The Tlahuica were among Moctezuma´s loyal taxpayers. They built their temples near Cuernavaca’s modern center. Cortez had slaves rip them apart to build a castle for himself. His castle still stands at the city’s center.

The Palacio de Cortez as it’s called has a mural by Diego Rivera inside of it. The mural shows Cortez invading, destroying the Aztec Empire, and installing himself and the Spaniards on top. It’s beautiful in spite of showing the divides of wealth and race. Cuernavaca itself is much the same way.

Palm Weaving


My relationship with the summer program is a little different from other students.I do go with them sometimes, but only when it´s something that I hadn´t done during the spring program, usually. One of our excursions last week was just down the street to visit some women from an indigenous village who were staying there to sell baskets and other woven goods in Cuernavaca. They taught us how to weave their style of palm baskets as well.

They talked about life in their town and relationships with their husbands. I won´t go into that too much because I hate to be the white man criticizing the norms of indigenous society. I will say that they thought the location of houses in Cuernavaca next to the cemetery was problematic due to their own belief in ghosts.

For them, their artisan work is very much an art, because it requires time and effort, just as much in their opinion as painting or engraving (which we discussed) particularly with the harvesting of plants.