Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Renaissance Center - Dickson, TN

A title for this photo might be "Call for a medical doctor MUSHROOMS into something much bigger!" The small white sphere in the foreground is the mushroom, and the gigantic black sphere in the background is the "something much bigger"! The following is how the website ( for the big black sphere (aka The Renaissance Center) explains what happened: It all started over 50 years ago when the town of Dickson, TN, sent out a call for a medical doctor to serve the health care needs of the community. Answering the ad was a young, newly licensed doctor from South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, by the name of L.C. Jackson. He opened a one-room medical clinic on the second floor of a retail business on Dickson's Main Street. He soon realized he would need help taking care of the ever-increasing patient load. He solicited the help of his physician brothers, Drs. William and Jimmy Jackson, who joined him in taking care of the medical needs of the Dickson community, as well as neighboring Hickman and Humphreys county residents. In 1958, the Jackson brothers built Goodlark Hospital, which grew to become one of the finest medical facilities in the mid-state area. In 1995, the hospital sold to Columbia/HCA. In a great spirit of philanthropy, The Jackson Foundation, Inc., was established from the proceeds of the sale of the hospital. The three physicians have since died, but the son of Dr. Jimmy Jackson serves as the President/Executive Director of the foundation. The Renaissance Center was built as the cornerstone project of The Jackson Foundation, and opened its doors in 1999.
From a one-room clinic on Main Street to a 176-bed hospital to a fine arts and technology learning center unlike any other in the country, the Jackson brothers' commitment to helping others continues to have a lasting impact for generations to come.
I came across the Renaissance Center quite by accident very early one morning when I was driving along Tennessee Highway 46 on my way to an event in Nashville. The gigantic black sphere caught my eye, grabbed my curiosity, told me to turn the car around,and insisted that I get my camera out to take its picture. It was so early in the morning that nobody else was around, so I was having a great time with an improv photo seminar on architectural photography. I tarried so long, that the hours of the facility's opening ticked around, and I was able to tour the inside, as well. My son, who once went with the University of Arkansas Architecture Department on an overseas architecture study program, told me that the way to impress architecture professionals, is to say "what a great space this is" when bragging on a building's interior. So let me tell you, the inside of the Renaissance Center is a GREAT SPACE! And to think, it all started with one tiny little ad for a doctor. What a great example it is of doing what the Bible verse says in I Timothy 6:18. "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." It's enough to make me ponder what the legacy is that I will leave behind. Miles of smiles! Tricia
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Silver Dollar City Expedition

This group of bundled-up expeditioners braved the chilly temperatures yesterday, to be present for the first operating day of the gigantic Silver Dollar City entertainment complex near Branson, Missouri. The top photo shows Thomas Cochran, Ryan Cochran, Jacob Ragsdale, Kaitlyn Ragsdale, and Tricia Turner. The bottom photo shows (left to right) Jennifer Turner Ragsdale, Jim Ragsdale, Kristin Turner Cochran, and Dave Cochran. The traffic getting into the park was heavier and more backed up than I had seen it in years, with "old- timers" there saying it was because they were trying out new parking lots for the first time that day, as well as new roads, new traffic patterns, new trams, and new employees. The heavy attendance seemed to defy any notions of there being a bad economy, or the fact that it was unseasonably cold! One of the newer attractions at the park that I am delighted to see, is the beautiful new Culinary and Craft School that has been built across from Red Gold Heritage Hall. The public lobby of the building has a two-story fireplace (with a welcome fire going yesterday to warm up attendees!), surrounded by comfortable seating to enjoy the cozy atmosphere. The state-of-the-art cooking demonstration area is a large room, set up with plenty of tables/work spaces for those folks who sign up to take classes offered there. You can go to to sign up for a class. Classes offered will change out with each festival. Another feature worth checking out, especially if you are planning a visit with your children, is the "Moms Blog" at Also, as a Registered Dietitian familiar with the problems of meeting the demands of quantity food preparation vs. the need for individualization due to special dietary restrictions, I was impressed to read that allergen-free menu options are now available. By calling in advance, (800-251-5576), such meals can even be delivered to the restaurant of your choice! With the many types of rides available in the park, the numerous theaters showcasing all kinds of entertainment, the shopping, the dining, the Marvel Cave Tour, I would recommend including a visit to Silver Dollar City on your "Vision Board" of future expeditions. Miles of smiles! Tricia
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

National Clock and Watch Museum

I recently had the opportunity to tour The National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania ( Although to some people, a tour of a clock museum may seem like a complete "waste of time", I was interested in learning about it so I could pass on the information to my son. That is because my son's maternal grandfather, whose hobby was woodworking, made numerous clocks. He fashioned Arkansas-shaped clocks, large wall-hanging clocks with pendulums, and numerous tall case clocks (commonly called Grandfather clocks). Furthermore, my son's paternal grandfather was professionally-trained in the science of watch and clock repair, and founded a business for this purpose that is still in operation . The museum shows the complete history of timekeepers from the first non-mechanical devices such as the hour-glasses shown in the first photograph, to the atomic clock and mass-produced wristwatches of the present.
Most of the greatest and most important clocks ever made have been preserved and exhibited for centuries in museums around the world, and the Pennsylvania museum has more than its share of such priceless treasures. However, I have to admit, I was more intrigued by the whimsical, and unusual clocks on display, such as the one made from glass bottles above, or the one with shoes that really walk on a surface, and cause the timepiece to move forward. It is pictured below.
And I couldn't resist taking a photograph of the "Out of Order" sign for one of the timepiece exhibits (See photo below). Just because a place is the foremost authority in the nation on timekeeping, does not mean it is free of "snags" that cause an important artifact to quit working properly. Fortunately, the "School of Horology" is housed in a building adjacent to the museum. As I mentioned in the blog I wrote about the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California, "horology" is defined as the history, science, and art of timekeeping, as well as, timekeepers. The National Watch and Clock Museum had numerous examples of timekeepers built on the principle of a sundial, including "pocket sundials" for ancient travelers who were not able to stay in one place for hours on end, waiting for the sun to come out, to tell them what time it was! If this subject of unusual timekeeping devices fascinates you, maybe you will want to plan an expedition to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis ( Between May and October, they will be showcasing a 20-foot-diameter working clock, created entirely of plant material. It even has a cuckoo bird popping from his home every quarter-hour! They are using such an unusual clock to mark the time of the 150Th anniversary of the founding of the Missouri Botanical Garden. But, getting back to the original subject of The Watch and Clock Museum, I need to point out that they also display data and exhibits on prehistoric timekeeping at Stonehenge. Although I have never been to Stonehenge, I had the privilege of viewing a built-to-scale replica of Stonehenge, that can be found in Washington State along the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway.
This visit to The National Watch and Clock Museum, served as a reminder to me, that man will always be measuring time in one way or another. The important thing I need to remember---no matter what the number on the clock says---is what the Bible says in Hosea 10:12 " is time to seek the Lord..." Here's wishing you miles (and minutes and hours) of smiles! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Friday, March 13, 2009


The change last weekend to Daylight Savings Time, brought to mind a visit my son and I made to the incredible Sundial Bridge in Redding, California. (The large photo above shows us standing atop the bridge passageway). Since the sun is not obliged to follow guidelines required by the U.S. Government, my imagination drifted along the lines of a banner flying in the air at the bridge location, with a disclaimer, proclaiming that the bridge was following what my granny referred to as "God's Time", and not "DLT"! In fact, in the extensive article I found about the bridge on Wikipedia, there is a disclaimer that the time, silently announced moment by moment as a sunny day proceeds, is exactly accurate on only one day in a year - the summer solstice, June 21. But unless you are a student of horology (my expedition to the Museum of Horology in Pennsylvania will be explained in a future blog), the discrepency in minute by minute time accuracy is not as important as enjoying the visual delight and physical exercise that the bridge provides. This unusual pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Sacramento River was completed in 2004, at a cost of 23 million dollars (US), and was designed by Santiago Calatrava. The fact that it uses some rather non-traditional construction techniques is what makes its architectural statement so dramatic. More traditional bridges are built using a symmetrical arrangement of cable forces on each side of towers that a bridge rests on. However, in Calatrava's design, there is only one tower, which is loaded by cable stays on only one side. and the tower is tilted away from the river in order to resit bending and torsional forces at its foundation. (I am giving the "Victory Salute" in front of the foundation, in upper left-hand photo). Also unusal, is the fact that the 700 foot bridge crosses the Sacramento River, without ever touching the water. The photo above in the lower center provides some prospective on the size of the gnomon of the world's largest sundial. (I had to look up that word---it means the "indicator pin" of a sundial). In the case of the Sundial Bridge, the gnomon is also the spar (i.e. tower or pole) that contains the cable stays (supports) that hold up the span of the bridge. The hour by hour time indicators are large spheres, covered with a mosaic pattern, and a bronze plaque on top, telling the hour. To get some size perspective, you can see my son's shoe resting on the 2:00 sphere in the lower right-hand photo above. Although we visited in the daytime, the literature says that the translucent structural glass that forms the surface of the bridge is illuminated from beneath and glows aquamarine at night. Seeing "eye candy" such as that is one reason I would like to make a return visit to Redding, as well as touring the many other attractions at Turtle Bay Exploration Park where the bridge provides pedestrian access to the north and south areas of the huge complex that contains environmental, art, and history museums, an arboretum/gardens, and the Sacratmento River Trail. Only "time will tell" if that wish turns into a reality! Of course, that brings to mind the melody made famous in the folk-music generation of the last century (which is based on a book in the Old Testment of the Bible). The song starts with with words "To everything, (time, time, time), there is a season (time, time, time), and a time to every purpose under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1). I am praying I have time for lots more fun expeditions with my son like this one! Miles of smiles! Tricia
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