december 31, 2017

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“The best things in life are the people you love, the places you go, and the memories you make.”
~ Tiny Buddha

goodbye 2017


This post concludes year six of the “one-year-project” outhouse. I thought little could compare to the roller coaster that was 2012, what with the tornado and all, but I was oh so wrong. Regardless of the trials, the losses, the let-downs, and the setbacks in 2017, I’m more grateful than ever today. If my nearly 53 years have taught me nothing else it’s that new beginnings, better things, golden opportunities are born out of such times. They don’t generally show up at your door on a sunny day, or if they do, you probably won’t appreciate them. So it’s with great optimism that I throw open the doors to 2018. I just received news that an album (I’m showing my age) I recorded when I was just 16 years old is being repackaged by a Swedish distributor because, lo and behold, Europe loves it… after all these years. The liner notes even call me a prodigy, and I’ve never been called that before (I wouldn’t call me that). Wonders never cease. Call it coincidence, but I had just said to a friend earlier today that I really want to play music in 2018, and then – BOOM – news about music. But even better than that I was able to wish my parents a Happy New Year. I sure never thought I’d have that chance. 2018 is already showing promise! 2017 was a really challenging time, and painfully sad with the loss of my brother-from-another-mother Rick Hayes, but I hold to the idea that the world is still my oyster as long as I draw breath. For that optimism, and the many great fortunes that have come to me this year, I remain truly grateful. Here’s to year seven of the “one-year-project.” May we all recognize our blessings no matter the mess. 

december 30, 2017

posted in: photography | 3

“For true happiness to arise, compassion is necessary.” ~ Dzogchen Ponlop R.

angel #1


You first met AJ back in 2014 albeit briefly. To recap (for those keeping a family score card), AJ is the oldest son of my first cousin, Renee, and the oldest grandson of her dad, my Uncle Phillip, dad’s brother. AJ is 16 years old now and he’s starting to drive. Renee and husband, Aaron, bought mom’s cool Corolla S back in September and I suspect AJ will be driving it more than his parents shortly. In fact, last night at the Cousin Christmas hootenanny, he was gifted a bucket full of car care products. That’s also where I snapped these shots. AJ is beautiful, but he doesn’t think so. How wrong could he be, I ask you? Whether he likes it or not, he’s one of my muses. The photo I did of him in 2014 is still one of my favorites. 


angel #2


AJ has always been gifted. He enjoys the arts and music. He’s dabbled in drawing, singing, guitars, drums, and acting (he did a great Elvis impersonation when he was little). The last time I saw him, he was looking at going into architecture. Last night, it was welding. That, to me, screams “sculptor,” though they don’t make nearly the money welders make. Whatever AJ does I know he’ll be good at it. My hope is that he’ll be happy doing it. It’s far too easy as a gifted child to acquiesce to being normal for the sake of fitting in. (trust me on this one) It can dampen the creative spirit if not careful. AJ’s a kind soul, gentle and compassionate, like a poet. There’s just something extraordinary about him. What a blessing he is.

december 29, 2017

posted in: photography | 3

“The best things in life aren’t things.” ~ Unknown

a few of my favorite things


Due to illness, we delayed our cousin Christmas party until tonight. We ate, we exchanged gifts, we laughed, we watched the end of the UK Bowl Game, and we managed to take this family photo. The older I get, the more I love this bunch. They’ve raised great kids and they’re a pleasure to be with. “The best things in life aren’t things.” #Truth

december 28, 2017

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“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson




I did some Christmas shopping at the Bread Box. It’s a section of the old Rainbow Bread factory where artists now have studios. The other section is West Sixth Brewery. A couple of weeks before Christmas the Bread Box held an artist’s market and invited artists who don’t have studios in the building to join in. It was a gorgeous day, so I took pictures outside the building instead. I don’t know the artist of this piece, but I really love its fluidity. I especially appreciate the scale. And, of course, I love the Little Free Library at the corner. It was a very successful shopping day; brewery, artist studios, art, and free books. What’s not to love?


looking west

december 27, 2017

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“I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong… Why not try the other way, to look into the patient and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

ppppffftttttttt (snapseed)


Sure enough, it’s magical, majestic, and merry…and it actually tastes like peppermint. Stacy Yelton finds the funniest stocking stuffers and this one might be her best yet. Get your own at They have a wide variety for all occasions. It gets a <snort>! 

december 26, 2017

posted in: photography | 2

“My to-do list for today: Count my blessings. Practice kindness. Let go of what I can’t control.
Listen to my heart. Be productive yet calm. Just breathe.” ~ Tiny Buddha

recovered (snapseed)


Back in late October, when mom was just able to get around without a walker, I took her to the outlet mall near Shelbyville where she discovered Chico’s. We had a delightful time as we bought many Christmas presents. I bought this sweater. I loved it immediately, and I wore it to work right away. It was soft and warm and contoured to make me look thin. Truly, I adored it. The next time I washed it, I threw it in with something that wasn’t done sloughing off dye so that the white of the sweater was dulled. It wasn’t ruined, it just needed a good soaking in Woolite to brighten it up again, but I was headed to California so it would have to wait until I got back. Mom was sad for me. While I was gone, she tried something she’d been led to believe would brighten the white without destroying the black. It brightened the white, that part was true, but it turned the black to sepia; blotched sepia at that. She was bereft, virtually inconsolable by the time I got home. By then she had searched two states trying to find another one. It was not to be. I put a call out to the facebook hive mind of shoppers. It became clear that the sweater was so beloved that no more existed, new or used. I resigned myself to the worn-one-time memory, and to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Then came Christmas. The first box I came to held a brand new still-with-the-tag replacement sweater. Mom had somehow managed to find the right Chico’s employee who would really help her, and help she did. They found a sweater in Arkansas, of all places. Mom won Christmas! Bless her heart, she was tickled to death, and I was tickled for her. We celebrated once more. 

december 25, 2017

posted in: photography | 1

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale

six of a kind (Snapseed)


I believe dad had one of the best Christmases he’s had in 30 years. His sisters love the game Farkle. It’s a dice game mostly of chance. He played six games and won the last four. In one game, he rolled six of a kind. My aunts have played Farkle for years, but they’d never seen anyone roll six of a kind until tonight. He had an absolute blast. He woke up singing this morning and he came home singing tonight. Between that and being with sweet family, this is one of my best Christmases, too. I’m sure mom would agree. 

december 24, 2017

posted in: photography | 4

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” ~ Colin Powell

dynamic duo


Another Christmas Eve has come to the Springridge Lodge and these two crazy kids were sporting their matching UK wear that Santa brought them. Then we ate, and cooked, and ate some more. We watched Christmas movies and watched two flakes of snow fall. That last part didn’t last long. Tomorrow, we’ll enjoy more family festivities, but for tonight, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, St Nick will get to the kiddies, and we’ll wish a goodnight to all, and to all a good night. 

december 23, 2017

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“The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change,
the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being.”
~ Lee Iacocca

Big Red


Today, I played Santa Klaus (see what I did there). I met Maggie for a little gift swap and a wonderful, long meal. When she gave me a tour of Mt. Brilliant, she took me to Man-O-War’s barn. Mt. Brilliant absorbed much of Faraway Farm where he lived out his life. His small humble barn remains unchanged, though horses are no longer kept there. It was touching to see it. That’s Maggie; always showing me the best places, introducing me to the best people. She always gives more than she gets, and she has given to me in immeasurable ways for over 20 years. One day I hope I’m as cool and kind and giving as she.

december 22, 2017

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“I always say joy is the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.” ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast



Christmas is just around the corner. So, let’s deck the halls, or the fence as the case may be, and be of good cheer as we stuff our gullets with sweets, watch our waistlines grow beyond all reckoning, and tryptophan our way into the new year. Who’s with me?

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