My Nashville

My Nashville

My Nashville
My Nashville (from top left) Union Station by the Frist, Cheekwood’s Fall Festival, Chukkers for Charity, Boots on 2nd Avenue, Fido in Hillsboro Village, Conexion America’s Cooking Classes (row 1) Parthenon, Titans Stadium, Nashville Ballet, Bellcourt Theater, Radnor Lake, Batman Building (row 3) Hispanic Heritage Month, Percy Priest Lake, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Italian Lights, Stones River Greenway, CMA Fest, (row 4) Southern Festival of Books, Nashville Film Fest, Suzy Wong’s House of Yum, McNamara’s, Jackson’s, Pangea in Hillsboro Village

Roots and wings. Nashville has and is (for me) both. This progressive place with a legendary past is the 7th fastest growing city in the US. Friends told me of new restaurants and music venues, of more traffic in the year I was away, but I was still surprised by all the change.

Growing up in Kentucky, I romanticized Nashville and its icons.  As a six-year-old in the ‘60s my “imaginary friend” was an imaginary husband—Elvis—and I still remember watching the Johnny Cash Show with my dad on Friday nights long before I’d go to concerts at The Ryman where it was taped. Walk the Line is one of my favorite movies—a love story of a Bad Boy reformed by a woman, her family, and faith. When asked for his definition of Paradise, Johnny said of June Carter Cash, “This morning, with her, having coffee.”


If you are fans of Elvis and Johnny, too, local artist Cindy David’s guitar pick earrings are my pick for cool souvenirs/ gifts. She sells them at festivals and gift shops (Nashville Airport, Frist Center, Omni Hotel, Nashville Symphony, and Cheekwood), or you can contact her at  I brought back a pair for Johnny.

When writing in Nashville for Examiner and Hispanic , I highlighted local events that defy Music City being put in a box—


performances at the Nashville Symphony, TPAC, Nashville Ballet, Vanderbilt Presents, and Nashville Film Fest. I also appreciate all that once defined Nashville–putting the town on the map–like live music on stages at the Ryman, the Bluebird, Grand Ole Opry, Bridgestone, BB King’s…in bars on Broadway, Demonbreun, and Nolensville Road…and at outdoor events from Ascend Amphitheater to Chukkers for Charity.  Today Nashvegas, Buckle of the Bible Belt, a community as diverse as sweet tea and Jack Daniel whiskey, brims with tradition and progression; local, global, and local-gone-global happenings receiving Presidential recognition.  Nashville is a place offering something for everyone explaining its popularity as a tourist destination and place to live.

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Legend-upon-legend, Hatch Print, Nashville

Moviemaker Alberto Fuguet was also drawn to Music City. While Artist-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, he wrote and filmed Musica Campesina. The film explores the immigrant experience of Tazo, a Chilean who comes to Nashville seeking a career in country music. In a scene with the lead (played by Pablo Cerda) I’m a desperate housewife who offers him iced tea but serves Jack Daniel.  Fuguet described Tazo as a “fish out of water” which I better understand now living in a different culture.  Many days I feel like a mermaid in Marrakesh.

My month at home went too fast to see all the new places I wanted to explore and visit all my old haunts. Below Taylor, Cole, and I played tourist downtown on 2nd Avenue and Broadway.  Acme Feed and Seed has live music, reasonably priced food and a rooftop for taking photos.

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Johnny Cash and Billy Graham, most famous preacher of my time. I still remember my Mama Lou watching his Crusades.
Johnny Cash and Billy Graham, most famous preacher of my time. I still remember my Mama Lou watching his Crusades.

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Also on Broad is the Frist Center.   We celebrated a Big Birthday of my friend, Cheryl, there where The Long Players had people dancing in the grass under the light of a big, blue moon.


Union Station


Emily, far right, is our pro photographer and grabbed great shots and footage of that night. Today is HER birthday. Happy Birthday, Em!
Loved the Birthday Dinner at Cheryl’s pick, Adele’s–fun new restaurant in the Gulch.

Below is the video Emily made celebrating Cheryl’s 60th Birthday and what a “Young American” looks and acts like.  Also check out travel videos from Emily’s adventures on her Vimeo station, My Open Road.

Nashville is a dancing place.  On my 40th birthday I was doing country line dance with my sister and friends at the Wildhorse Saloon. Since my 50th I salsa.  It was so good to get back to Suzy Wong’s House of Yum to fuel up for lemon drops and Asian Wonton Nachos, then do “Free Dance Wednesday” where Tonya Miller still faithfully hosts Salsa Night weekly at Play.

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Though there are so many places to go, things to do, food to eat, I have to wrap up because I’m getting homesick. For a fix of Italy I love Bella Napoli near Belmont or Coco’s Italian Market in West Nashville.  Urban Grub on 12th South has oysters and great grits. And in my neck-of-the-woods, there’s the Hip Donelson Farmers Market for home-cooking-for real like the spread my sister and brother-in-law made for my farewell dinner.


I went to McNamara’s, named “One of the Best Irish Pubs in America,” with my friend, Theresa, then Cole while home for the corned beef and cabbage and band, Nosey Flynn.  For lighter fare there’s Phat Bites‘ Chinese Chicken Salad, Broccoli Salad, and Greek Salad and Cinco de Mayo in Hermitage and Old Hickory for a reward after a long walk on the Greenway or just because.

On a Cinco run


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Finally, events I miss most in Nashville are Fall Festivals. Hope you can make one or all!

Italian Lights Grape Stomping

Italian Lights

Wine on the River


Southern Festival of Books

Celebrate Nashville

Cheekwood Fall Festival

A music mix that’s Nashville…

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

I’ve been in school since I was five. And though in two short weeks I’ll begin my 30th year of teaching, I’m still thrilled to be as much a student as when I walked into Mrs. Monday’s Head Start Class–minus the dog ears and knee socks. As I tell my kids, the purpose of education is to learn to critically think and to discover the joy of lifelong learning. Last summer while in Barcelona I fell in love with the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. This summer on a staycation stop encore, thanks to my daughter, Taylor, I fell in love with the photography of Richard Avedon. That’s the thing about classics–whether books, movies, music, or art–they never go out of style so their appeal is cross- generational. Like a fine wine they become more valuable when vintage. And when seen, shared, discussed with others we often see something new we missed the first time through.

I wrote last month about the Golden Age of Couture exhibit which I saw with friends on a Frist Friday. Today I went again with my mom, sister, and daughter. I knew Taylor would love the clothes given she plans to study fashion marketing this fall. But because she also has a huge interest in photography, she called me over to the photographs she really adored and told me they were all by Avedon.

After stalking him on the internet, I realized I’d fallen in love with some of his work long ago…like pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller and of John Jr. and Jackie O. I discovered new photos as well. Among the favorites below, my top pics are in the collection touring this year: The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family…as well as my boy Brando. Then there’s my second imaginary boyfriend, Elvis, who I fell for at the age of six (at five my first was Ringo Starr). Enjoy…

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Staycation #9: The Golden Age of Couture

Staycation #9: The Golden Age of Couture

When my sister and I married in the 80s we didn’t appreciate our mom’s wedding gown (pictured above). Though I also opted for Chantilly Lace, I now covet the classic design of her dress. My dad teased her about her “Killdeer legs” accentuated by the layers of crenoline but I would now kill to have her wedding waist (at 98 pounds and a 5’7″ frame you do the math). Now my daughter, interested in a fashion career, is excited about the exhibit at the Frist, The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957.

I saw the exhibition last night at Frist Fridays. While the crowd grooved to Anthony David, Grammy nominated neo soul singer/songwriter outside… ladies stormed the galleries inside. Not since opening night of SATC2 have I seen so many women so excited. In fact, though I’ve seen many-an- art- enthusiast enjoying exhibits at the Frist, I’ve never been bumped along in a crowd as happy…downright jubilant…as last night. Females flocked and cooed around ballgowns and suits, hats and shoes, pictures and videos in celebration of fashion that pays tribute to femininity, class, and style. Though the exhibit lasts till September, see it soon in case you want to book a flight to London to see the icon dressed by Dior in the Grace Kelly exhibit this summer. For those of us staying put, I look forward to watching the Princess of Monaco in movies with my daughter and taking her to the Frist.