Tuesday, November 24, 2015

2015 Thanksgiving

About a year ago, I was in south Florida bouncing between Homestead and Key Largo over a long weekend with a few buddies. I can't believe with a blink and a snap another year has passed. The 365+ days from then until now have rewarded me with several good times as well as a healthy dose of challenging moments. Taken as a whole, however, I continue to look up and forward as I recall a few of the many things for which I'm grateful.


I grew up as a city kid though I was born in the country, the home of my folks. Growing up in the burbs, it was always fun riding in the back seat and counting silos and barns on the way to Granny's house. (Near riots broke out as my sister, brother and I fought over who spied a certain silo first.)

My Great Uncle lived near his sister, and we often made the walk through the pasture from Granny's to his barn to pull a few hay bales. The place felt so cavernous regardless of how many trips we made to it. It's been decades since I've stepped foot in that barn yet it still stands. I have a few vivid mental images of it but no photos. The only pic I have is a screen cap from Google Maps.

Over the years, I've almost come to believe that all barns are built in a dilapidated condition. I'm not sure I've actually seen a brand spanking new barn - and frequently doubt they ever existed.

From the mid 1990s through the early 2000s, I lived about 45 minutes northeast of Nashville and traveled Long Hollow Pike on my way to work. Each morning, I'd spot the same 2 or 3 barns as part of my commute

  • Some mornings, the sun glinted off their rusty red metal roofs. 
  • Other days, the gray of the aged wood blended seamlessly with the rain that made my commute a living hell as I approached Nashville's city limits. 
  • Yet other days, the base of the barns floated on a cloud of fog.

Regardless of the weather, the sight of the barns from my peripheral vision was tranquil. They gave me a daily, split-second moment to reflect on my childhood before traffic snapped me back to the realities of today. Occasionally, I'd work through a never-begun plan in my mind to craft a coffee table book: The Barns of Long Hollow.

As a parent, my son grew up in a barn so to speak. Though I've continued to live in the safe confines of a planned subdivision, my son and I experienced several life forming moments in a 150+ year-old, barn as the meeting place for his Boy Scouts troop.

Over the past year, many of these memories have been rekindled through the photography of Chad Cochran (web | Twitter). He regularly tweets photos of barns from across the state of Ohio and elsewhere. Though they aren't pics of my barns, I smile with a connected memory each time I see one of his works of art.


♫ All we need is just a little patience ♫

So goes the line following soon after the whistling in the Guns N Roses song. Whatever. With his rep, it was always clear to me that Axl Rose's singing of the lyric had little in common what he could actually offer. But hey, I'm right there with Axl. Patience is not one of my inherent traits - never has been. I have, however, worked on developing it over the years. A lot. Over the past year, I've needed to draw frequently on the limited patience I've got. Surprisingly, I've generally been able to rally an abundant supply when needed. It's genuinely been a relief when those moments happen.

Otis Gibbs.

I've listened to the music of Otis Gibbs some. I've met Otis Gibbs once. And I've listened to Otis Gibbs' podcasts frequently.

Otis  (web | Twitter), an Indiana transplant to East Nashville, is a talented musician and songwriter. He is also passionate about the history of music. It's too convenient to say he is mainly interested in the history of country music - though he is. His regular podcast Thanks For Giving A Damn touches on a wide variety of music history - traditional country, Dylan, Americana, the East Nashville songwriting scene, Nashville's rock history, Texas outlaws, etc.

Otis' format is about as simple but effective as you can get. He sits down with a guest, sets up a mic, presses record, and lets the stories unfold. No polish, no filters. Just an enjoyable trip through history. I've learned more than one piece of trivia during my listening of every single podcast.

I simply can't recommend his podcast (or his music) enough. You can get it through his website, iTunes or Soundcloud.


I'm not sure if it's a man vs. woman thing, an introvert vs. extrovert thing, an age-based thing , or something else. But my approach over the years has been to have a lot of friendships. Many, yes. Shallow, yes. Many are fleeting as they ebb and flow. Some continue for a few years. Few have been life long. Generally speaking, if we can share a beer together, it's highly probable we can become friends.

Of late, however, I've re-thought that model. I've developed a deeper relationship with a handful of buds - and you know who you are. You've been there when needed. I remain grateful for those genuine friendships. As for everyone else, I'll still share that beer and a laugh with you. But I'm pretty sure it's your turn to buy.


Growing up, Donelson was my world. Donelson was and remains an unincorporated 'burb of Nashville. The boundaries stretch roughly from the Percy Priest Lake dam to the airport to Briley Parkway/I-40 to what is now known as the "Opryland complex" to the Stones River bridge on Lebanon Rd. Nashville was the big city.

For ages, I thought Nashville should be in the same convo as the big playahs of the US. I seethed when folks didn't know where it was. "Tennessee? Oh yeah! Isn't that where Memphis is? Where Elvis lived?"

As the years have flown by, I grew to accept Nashville for what it is - or for what I thought it was. Instead, folks now tell me how much they dig my hometown.

  • We vacationed there!
  • I'm taking a job there!
  • We're touring there!

Nashville now seems far larger than I think of it. I suppose traffic is the first indicator of that reality. The cool thing for me, however, is that I still find it home and as comfortable as a pair of well-worn shoes. I make my living there. I occasionally drive into town to take advantage of an incredibly vibrant music scene. And I can still easily find my way to see my folks in Donelson.

Despite the explosive growth, I often take the long way around to visit them. I enjoy cranking some music, lowering the windows, and taking a tour from the dam to the airport to McGavock Pike to the Hermitage breakpoint and back to my folks' house for a cup of coffee and sump'n sump'n homemade sweet made by my mother.

May each of you reading this enjoy your Thanksgiving - with your immediate and/or extended family. And regardless of how you roll, please pause - even for just a moment - and consciously reflect on a few things for which you are genuinely thankful.

If you've read any of my posts this year (here or my racing-related ones at my other blog) or follow me on Twitter, I can only say in the words of Otis Gibbs, thanks for giving a damn.