something good from something bad


Knoxville is the home of wonderful historic buildings and
neighborhoods, but many historic properties are rapidly disappearing.
As they vanish, we're losing an important part of our heritage and the
economic benefits these properties could bring.

Knox Heritage has worked for 30 years to save dozens of threatened
historic homes and buildings in Knox County that might otherwise have
been destroyed. However, we need a new and more powerful tool in order
to truly be effective and protect the most fragile and valuable
legacies of our community's rich history. It will be the single most
important program Knox Heritage has ever implemented.

Knox Heritage's J. Allen Smith Endangered Properties Fund will provide
effective alternatives to demolition or neglect of
architecturally and historically significant properties by promoting
their rehabilitation and enabling endangered historic properties to
connect with buyers who will rehabilitate them. Contributions from
across the community have already been received, and we are asking
anyone interested in protecting Knoxville's important historic places
to contribute whatever they can as a sign of support for
preservation in our community. Whether it be $1 or $100,000, every
contribution* will make a difference for the future of our past.

The fund will allow Knox Heritage to accept property donations,
purchase endangered historic properties or purchase options on those
properties. The properties will then be marketed to locate buyers who
agree to preserve and maintain the structures. Protective covenants
will be attached to the deeds to ensure the historic integrity of each
property is retained, and purchasers will be required to sign
rehabilitation agreements based on the work to be performed on the

This has been an effective tool in many other communities. For example,
in the 1990s, Historic Savannah Foundation, with an initial
investment of $170,000 in eight dilapidated structures, generated the
redevelopment of more than $3 million worth of property in the Beach
Institute neighborhood. This neighborhood, which is a mixed income,
multi-cultural area on the eastern edge of the Landmark District, has
now seen the rehabilitation of approximately 60 buildings and is an
attractive place to live once again. Through its award-winning
endangered properties program, Preservation North Carolina has saved
more than 450 endangered historic properties, generating an estimated
$100,000,000 in private investment.

The same things can happen in Knoxville with this exciting new
preservation tool.

# # #

Knox Heritage is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation
of architecturally and/or historically significant
buildings, open spaces and parks in Knoxville and Knox County,

Learn more at

*All contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law.

For more information:
Kim Trent, Executive Director, (865) 523-8008 or
Kristina Shands, Program Director, (865) 523-8008 or



I tend to avoid electronic toys and computer games for my kids. We don't have cable TV and they rarely get on the computer. And until recently, we had no video games at home.

Their father, with whom they live about 1/3 time, doesn't mind this stuff, so they get plenty of electric-video-computer play at his house. This is fine with me. I just don't want it at mine.

At our house, I try to keep this stuff at bay. I find that my kids read more, talk to each other and me more, play with the dogs more, and play with their non-electronic toys more without the distraction of video and computer games.

But this Christmas, they all got oodles of electronic toys from various people. The two youngest each got a Gameboy, and Henry got an X-box (which isn't here) and a few other electronic things.

So for the past few days, the sounds of those Gameboys and other electric things have been the soundtrack of the holidays around our house, and it's making me insane. I also notice that the children haven't so much as looked at any of the books they received this year, and they are more short tempered with each other.

I wish I could chuck 'em (the games, not the children), but second best, I'm going to encourage them to keep them at their dad's house.

bad santa

How did I manage to NOT see this movie when it was released two years ago? It's my new holiday favorite (by the way: totally, beyond unsuitable for children).


happy christmukkah

My children basically had three Christmases in one day: first they woke up at their dad's, then they went to their Granju grandparents' and then they came home. Here are some photos from Christmas Day evening.

We'll have a wonderful week together; I'm off for seven days and on Wednesday we'll head to Bell Buckle, Nashville & Murfreesboro to spend some time with all the Allison and Anderson grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins.

My favorite Christmas gift '04

Picture 005
Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Isn't it cool?



How cool is my baby sister?

Tonight is Christmas Eve and for the first time since I became a mother at age 23, my children aren't with me because this is the first year they are spending Christmas Eve/morning with their Dad.

I went over to my sister and bro-in-law's house to eat and enjoy how excited my niece and nephew are about Santa's impending arrival, but after a while I started feeling really sad because I miss my children so much, so I told my sis I was going to head home.

So she suddenly produces this Christmas-Eve-without-your-kids care package she had put together for me, complete with several gossipy taloids, adult beverages, chocolate, and other yummy stuff.

And tomorrow my children come home :-) Can't wait. Can't wait. Can't wait.


howdy halliburton

It's always interesting to look at the traffic stats for my blog and see who reads it, and lately I've had people from computers within Halliburton visiting. So hey there. Leave a comment and tell me what brought you. I'm curious.

good dog

I live in a neighborhood near downtown. I love my neighborhood, but it has some of the problems many urban neighborhoods deal with.

Lately I had been hearing from other neighbors that panhandlers had been knocking on their doors at night and last night it happened to me.

At about 10:00 pm, someone knocked on my front door. I opened the door without looking because I was expecting someone, and was surprised to see a stranger standing on the porch. He started to ask me to use the phone, at which point my large, male Great Pyrenees dog, who was standing next to me, informed him quite emphatically that the phone was unavailable.

The guy pretty much ran/jumped off my porch and scurried up the street. I called the police to let them know that a guy was knocking on doors at 10:00 pm, asking to use the phone, but for obvious reasons, they didn't seem that interested.

Once again, I am reminded that for those willing to deal with the work and responsibility of a dog, they are the best crime deterrent that exists.


when the party's over

I really love my friend Jeannie's writing. Her column in this month's issue of The Rake is, as usual, evocative and so well-drawn. And I can completely identify with how she feels both happy and sad about one day having no children at home.

quote of the day

"He's gone, and who knows how may he report Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?"
--John Milton - Samson Agonistes


body count

According to Scripps, more than 900 American children have now lost a parent in Iraq.

Sixty American children lost a parent last month alone.

Forty American children have been born to soldier-parents who never had the chance to meet them.

Ten American children have lost their mothers in combat in Iraq, a historic first, but not the blow for women's rights I'd like to see.
Jane and me Posted by Hello
Henry and me Posted by Hello



I see that "General" Augusto Pinochet has suffered a stroke.

Just goes to show you that overseeing the torture and murder of thousands, as well as the dicey job of suppressing democracy can be really stressful on a guy...

words to live by

Hooking up with old boyfriends is rarely a good idea, especially if you run into the old boyfriend at an afternoon Christmas party where he has been slamming heavily spiked eggnog.

I learned today that drunk, 36 year old frustrated novelists -- no matter how good looking -- are far less fun than one might imagine. In fact, they tend to be a little bitter and clingy.

So keep that in mind should you have a similar experience this holiday season. Just turn and walk away and pretend you didn't see the other person before it's too late.



I had a reader e-mail me to ask what kind of horses I ride.

Well, I ride hunter-jumpers. Basically, I like to gallop fast and jump. Today, I rode a new (to me) horse for the first time. I was warned he could be a bit spooky and "hot," but he was wonderful for me, so long as I let him have his head. I had to keep very light contact with his mouth or he wouldn't stay collected for me.

I have been riding a rather slow mare lately, so it was nice to be on a horse with more of an engine. Jumping him was great fun and after the storm/arctic temperatures we are expected to get tomorrow, I want to try some higher jumps with him.

I like horses with a bit of an edge, just like I tend to be drawn to people with a bit of an edge. I get bored easily, so horses and people who keep you thinking one step ahead are just more fun. Of course, the flip side is that when they -- "hot" horses and people -- are bad, they tend to be very, very bad. Still, I would rather deal with that then boredom.

Off to a holiday soiree...


spike gillespie

I have known Spike Gillespie since we both worked as waitresses at Ella Guru's in Knoxville, TN. She was a much better waitress than I was.

She's a wonderful person, an amazing writer and a kick-ass mama. I am so furious on her behalf that she has been uninvited from leading a writing workshop for kids (something she does a lot) because some of the parents don't like either her politics or her more-adult writing (which was not, of course, going to be read to or discussed with the kids.)

This is a lot like the teachers who are getting in trouble all over the country for mentioning in class that they oppose the war in Iraq, and the others who have been censured for showing Michael Moore's movies in class (in the context of larger discussions on issues like political propaganda).


I will be the keynote speaker at La Leche League of Georgia's convention in Atlanta in the spring.

I'll be giving three talks:

The Politics of Breastfeeding: How government and big business impact the very personal decision as to whether a woman will nurse her child, and how everyday mothers can advocate for breastfeeding in their communities, nationally, and around the world.

Roots & Wings: A discussion of why babies need babying, bigger kids need the opportunity to learn independence, and why modern American parents seem to get this backwards.

Why Breastfeeding Matters: A factual breakdown of the latest research into how breastfeeding benefits babies, women, and public health.

If you are interested in attending, contact Laura Chisholm at:

reality check

My children left yesterday to spend the week before Christmas, including Christmas Eve and much of Christmas Day, with their father, to whom I am no longer married. Last year was the first year since we split and they spent the first half of the vacation with me, so this year is his turn.

And it sucks. I can't really even allow myself to think about not having my children home to tuck into bed Christmas Eve. Christmas morning will be worse.

In fact, the next time your spouse bugs the heck out of you and you have some sort of divorce fantasy, think about this -- if you get a divorce, every other year, you will not be with your children when they pop put of bed Christmas morning. Maybe that will give you the extra whatever you need to try a little harder with the old life-partner.

I'm not saying divorce is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, in many, many cases, it's the only reasonable or even safe option. But in other cases, it's preventable and it's important that people wavering on the fence to understand really clearly what it will mean for their lives and their kids' lives -- good, bad, and really bad.


air travel

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
I was talking to someone about his airplanes yesterday, which got me to thinking about all the funky, cool airplanes my grandfather has built over the years.

My grandfather, Ray Anderson, is a rather fascinating person with a wide variety of unusual talents. When my then-20-year old grandmother met him, she had just graduated from the University of Missouri College of Journalism and had taken the only Depression-era journalism job she could find -- selling ads for a small newspaper in Kannapolis, N.C. (She went on to become a widely published entertainment journalist, with a long-running syndicated column with Copley News Service and as an editor of Photoplay magazine... but I digress).

My grandfather had grown up in this little mill town and so he and my grandmother hit it off and ended up marrying. My grandmother claims the only reason he married her was because he wanted to borrow $200 to buy a hot air balloon, which he promptly did when they were married. Then the two of them tried to make a go of it by doing hot air balloon demos around the southeast. Needless to say, this didn't pan out.

Eventually, my grandfather ended up as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft, where he played a significant role in developing and launching the earliest communications satellite..

He also became a Biblical archaeology buff, and has climbed Mt. Ararat many times (with astronaut Jim Irwin, among others), plus he loves to design, build and fly small airplanes.

He's 86 now and working on a new kit airplane. Everyone keeps telling him he's going to kill himself with this one, but he says that's okay with him -- if that's how he's gonna go, so be it.

But anyway, I asked him to show me some pictures of various small planes he has built and flown over the years and here are some of them.

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

Originally uploaded by kgranju.


Originally uploaded by kgranju.
I actually remember watching him fly this one when I was a little girl.


marrit ingman, media darling

Check out the story in today's NYTimes about my friend Marritt and how she got her book deal as a result of her way cool blog.


quote o' the day

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed... or buy anything sold or processed... or process anything sold, bought or processed... or repair anything sold, bought or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."

-- Lloyd Dobler

new baby day

Today I'm happy for my friend, Cee, whose daughter gave birth to baby Jenna last night.


My friend Rich Hailey responded to my recounting of dating woes with a brief guide to the whole thing from a guy perspective. It's very funny. You should go read it.

dating sucks, redux

In my post on dating (below), I wrote:

"There has got to be at least one reasonably clever, funny, politically progressive, and nice person out there...."

Last night I had a conversation with someone who, on first reading, appears to generally fit this description, so maybe I'm not deluded after all ;-).


happy birthday to ann

Happy Birthday to my friend, the mother of all prolific writers, Ann Douglas


eavesdropping on someone else's life

The thing about personal blogs is that they are like serial radio shows from the 40s...or really good soap operas. This is one soap opera I've been following. I wish I could take this poor guy a big plate of cookies or something.

quote of the day

"What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness god has given us in this world..."

--Robert E. Lee

dating sucks

Before I got married, in 1990, dating was fun. Now that I'm single again, in my 30s and the mother of three, it has thus far been a huge pain the ass. I've had a number of first dates, none of which were that great and some of which were truly awful.

The worst:

-The man who told me all about his major organ transplant -in EXTREMELY graphic detail - before the food came.

-The guy who told me that he would kill his ex-wife if he thought he could get away with it without getting caught.

-The date-from-hell who asked me if my breasts were real, after he had two beers (they are)

-The photographer who brought a flip-album of his work - consisting entirely of dozens of nude women and bizarre (and not very good) goth scenes and insisted I look at the entire thing and comment on each photo during our first meeting, which was supposed to be just casually getting together for drinks.

-The guy who told me he believes children -- especially boys -- NEED to be smacked around to "toughen them up"

-The creepiest of all: the blind-date set up via an acquaintance who lost all interest in getting together when I told him I would not be bringing my children. After he pressed me on the point,insisting he really wanted to meet my kids, I told him it was unlikely I would let ANYONE I went out with meet my children for many, many, many months -- until I knew that person really well. He never called again.

beyond soccer

Other parents have kids who play soccer, baseball...maybe tennis. All three of my children have had the chance to play all the "normal" sports, but the two oldest just weren't interested.

What did mine choose? Only what I think may be the two most expensive, messy, inconvenient sports on the planet. Jane, age 9, rides and shows hunter-jumper ponies. Henry, age 13, is extremely active in an organized youth paintball league.

I complain, but actually I'm sort of glad that they both do something interesting. And I bear a lot of the responsibility for Jane getting into riding. I am a horse nut and rode growing up, so I encouraged her to take that first riding lesson when she was 5. Now she's equine obsessed (and a really, really good rider to boot). She says she wants to ride in the Olympics.

The paintball thing came out of the blue. Henry discovered it, tracked down places to play and gets himself organized to do it. I am learning more about it and enjoying watching it a lot more now that the painball league has moved to an indoor field. I can now sort of figure out what's going on.

What I do not understand is all the equipment. I cannot figure out how his paintball gun works or the role of the CO2, or any of that. But Henry does. And although he's not generally a very mechanical person, he is very handy at setting up and repairing his mechanical equipment.

Elliot, who is 6, appears to be my traditional team-sports kid. He played a season of baseball and liked it okay. He has played two seasons of soccer and liked that a lot too. But he also likes to ride horses and play paintball. He has ridden in a couple of horse shows and takes a lesson every week. He's not really old enough yet to play paintball, but it seems like he will want to when he is bigger.


sad day

It's a sad day for historic preservation efforts in East Tennessee. Check out these disturbing photos of a historic home being ripped down. The exclusive country club doing the demolition didn't even make an effort to remove the beautiful old fixtures, like the antique Italian tile roof before setting the wrecking crew loose.

moving day

Welcome to my new blog. You can still visit my original blog with all its archived material at: