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As you grow older, Christmas loses some of its charm and excitement. There's no restless sleep on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa to arrive, or creation of long wish lists for items to be delivered down the chimney by a jolly fat man with a beard. I believe you call him Ded Moroz, but no matter the name, most of us likely believed this imaginary character to be real at one point in our lives.

As long as you're surrounded by children, the spirt of the holiday can easily be recaptured and brought to life at a moment's notice. The same is true each December in most American cities, but particularly in small town USA, where there's always a more intimate and cozy feeling. Many have commented that in America we like a "show" - big parades, concerts, etc. and it's true. Perhaps the greatest time to witness this spectacle is at Christmas, when almost every town and a lot of individual homes are decorated with festive lights, wreaths and other symbols of the holiday. In America, these symbols include Santas, snowmen, elves, reindeer, doves and, for the religous and churches throughout the USA, manger scenes. Some of the mangers even have live animals and humans, particularly on Christmas Eve.

I already showed you Moscow, Tennessee, a sleepy little Tennessee town. On the same day, I visited Paris, which inhabits about 10,000 residents. Maybe these photos will put you in the holiday mood, if your enthusiasm for the season has not yet been ignited...Read more... )
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I planned on boarding a plane to France on Wednesday, but unfortunately the trip will have to be postponed for health reasons. I'm suffering with a severe form of sciatica and a slipped disc, which makes it almost impossible to walk. :( Because I'm in a bit of a depressive mood, it seems like a good day to tell you about Moscow. Not Moscow, Russia but a small town with the same name in rural Tennessee. I visited this remote village last December, and in some ways it would fit in perfectly with the overall landscape of Central Russia. A lot of abandoned buildings, small houses in disrepair and the overall feeling of a ghost town. Despite all of this, we encountered some friendly Americans who somehow manage to survive just fine in the gloomy little town.Read more... )
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Ah, the South! My travels in this region have been limited, but I like what I've seen. At times, it feels like you're in an entirely different country. Southerners speak slower, have a distinct accent and even their own words! For instance, they say "fixin" instead of "to do", and use the term "ya'll" to refer to more than one person. After eating some Southern grub (food), you may hear the question - "Ya'll fixin to come back?" It's a way to determine whether you liked the food and customer service. Seems fitting because Southerners are extremely hospitable. They really care that you're well fed, happy and feel at home. There's a unique spirit here that you can't find in other parts of America, and I felt it most strongly in Memphis, Tennessee's largest city. I can't say Memphis is beautiful, in fact parts of the city are very dirty and run down. However, the city has played an important role in both America's history and culture, serving as the home base for the civil rights movement, the blues and a wonderful trolley system. Let's take a closer look...Read more... )
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I sometimes see it on the streets, in the office and in stores. People merely walking through life with no passion or purpose, simply going through the daily motions. You can see it in their eyes - completely dead and tired. I promised myself when I became a lawyer that I would never become a corporate slave or desk drone, and I can honestly say that after twelve years I haven't. For most, finding your purpose or passion in life is a long journey but for one man it came instantaneously. It was in Crossville, Tennessee that I met Horace Burgess, builder of the world's largest tree house. It all began in 1993 when Horace had a vision from God telling him to build a tree house. In the vision, God promised Horace he would never run out of materials if he followed God's will. So, Horace embarked on the project and began construction with the goal of making the structure open to everyone. The "people's house," as he calls it. I've said many times that I'm not a religious person, but Horace's story really touched me. Let's continue...Read more... )
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If you like the fast-paced life and rhythm of big cities, you should probably avoid most of Tennessee. With the exception of a few big cities, the State primarily consists of small, rural towns. To me, the true heart of America. You will not see many fancy people walking the streets but instead ordinary, common folk like the man in this photo. A simple, middle-class, hard-working American. He passed me on a quaint street in Bristol, said "howdy" and I asked to take his photo. "Sure, ma'am." In this part of the country, people will commonly call you by a lot of names - "ma'am," "sir," "sweetie," "honey,"....true Southern dialect.

Right before Christmas, I spent five days driving through Tennessee. We'll start the series of reports today with a short post about Bristol, the first stop on the journey.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (bear)

The mind is often engaged in trickery, particularly when it comes to human relations. We create illusions and fantasies about others, mentally molding them into the person we wish them to be rather than letting actual words and actions be the guide. In relationships, this is usually a very dangerous game. Women, as overly emotional creatures, are probably more susceptible to this phenomenon than men. In my younger years, I was a master at twisting the actions and words of others, conforming them to my particular needs at the moment. But with age comes wisdom and I think I'm now a good judge of character, though human and certainly capable of being deceived. Usually I'm only close with a few people at any given moment and these people I know extremely well, so well that I can almost read their minds and anticipate their actions and responses in most situations. People still disappoint and surprise me on occasion, but it's now much easier to weed out toxic people and conserve my time and energy for those worthy of it.

Sometimes this game of illusions can be fun, particularly in travels. In every city, I photograph people from afar and occasionally in close proximity with permission. Certain faces, smiles or behavior attract my attention and then my mind begins to wander. Who is this person? From where do they come? What's their life story? Has it been an easy or hard road for them? During a recent trip to Tennessee we encountered a lot of colorful people. A joy to photograph them and many wanted to take time to chat. Something recently where everyone on the street wants to speak with me. I have no idea why, but it's a good thing for travel stories.

I know most of my readers are intelligent, but how creative are you? Let's play a game and focus on the people in the following portraits and cover photo.Read more... )


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