“I hope there are days when your coffee tastes like magic, your playlist makes you dance, strangers make you smile, and the night sky touches your soul. I hope there are days when you fall in love with being alive.” ~ Brooke Hampton
The most beautiful part of a sunset may not always be the sunset itself but the glorious colors cast to the east. The 2-Pony Ranch is beautiful all the time and I find it especially beautiful bathed in long shadows of golden light. Plus, long shadows are slimming and I’m all for that.
“Limit your “always” and your “nevers.” ~ Amy Poehler
I’ve been enamored of night photography for some time now, but living in a city with a lot of light pollution doesn’t lend itself to much experimentation. I was itching to give it a go at the 2-Pony Ranch, and last night, I finally did. There are some significant kinks to work out yet, but I’m happy to start where I am. Nothing can capture the reality of what it’s like to look up into that flawless Oklahoma sky, but I’m willing to try. Plus, nothing in the world smells like Oklahoma at night. The scent of fresh wood on the breeze is unreal. I never fail to leave Oklahoma with a full heart, and now I can’t wait to return for more night photo practice.
“People who wonder whether the glass is half full or half empty are missing the point.
The glass is refillable.” ~ Unknown
The last two days have been filled with music and food and a host of friends old and new. Today, Angie and I spent a long overdue whole day of quality time together. Our extended morning with coffee and bagels set the stage for a beautiful day capped by a gorgeous Oklahoma sunset. I don’t get sunsets like this in the Lexington suburb, which just makes it that much sweeter when I get to see one. The truth is that every sunset, no matter how much or little of you see of it, is a blessing. I love my people and I love Oklahoma sunsets.
“Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.” ~ Sir Edmund Hillary
The Fall Ball brought so many beautiful people to the 2-Pony Ranch that I hardly sat down for snapping and talking and snapping some more. But one of the highlights of the night for me was the reuniting of Angie Bliss and Mark Sweeney. They played for several years as Coyote. Their vocals were crazy tight and they sang a fair mix of covers and originals. In fact, they do my favorite version of L&N. So when I requested it tonight, they obliged, and my heart swelled with love. It’s been many years since they played together, but they still sounded good. I could have listened to Mark and Angie all night. I love them so much.
“There are two ways of being rich: one is to have all you want, the other is to be satisfied with what you have.” ~ Unknown
Several months ago I bought an incredible piece of art by VL Cox. Lynette (VL) and I have been friends for a couple of decades now (courtesy Angie Bliss Fanning), and her career as an artist has skyrocketed in that time. In fact, right now, she’s riding a shooting star, getting noticed in NYC and DC and Lord knows where else. She’s doing really great, important work. So when I had a chance to buy a piece, I took it. Today, I drove out to Oklahoma and made a pit stop in Little Rock, Lynette’s home base, and picked up the painting entitled “Castile.” I met her sweet partner, Sherrie Shepherd herself an accomplished artist (see syndicated cartoon ‘Francie’), who helped facilitate the drive by art deal. You know, some people do drug deals. I do art deals. I think it’s a habit worth keeping, and if I ever have the means to buy another VL Cox, I’m doing it. A photo does not do this painting justice. It’s absolutely stunning. I win Friday.
“Never be afraid of change. You may lose something good, but you may gain something better.” ~ Unknown
Mom and Aunt Mabel have been friends for decades, even before mom married dad. They shared an apartment together in Louisville after mom got out of the Army. She went to work for Blue Cross & Blue Shield while she dated dad when he was stationed nearby at Fort Knox. I think Mabel was waiting tables, but I could be wrong about that. The point is you can tell the two of them had a good time back then. They both loved to dance and cut up. Mom can’t cut up like she used to, but I believe in a pinch she could still cut a rug. I don’t think Mabel’s ever stopped cutting a rug. It sure makes mom happy to see Mabel. It makes me happy to see her, too.
“Stay kind. It makes you beautiful.” ~ Najwa Zebian
At the recent family gathering I finally had the chance to meet Mike Neal, a cousin I’d never met before, photographed here with his wife Tammy and their kids Jonah and Jovannah. I’d met Tammy and the kids last year at Charlene and Tony’s wedding. They were, and are, simply delightful. As the day wore on I kept running into Jonah, and by the end of the day, we’d had several great conversations. This young man is not only as sweet as the day is long but he’s really smart and compassionate. In our talks we learned that England is a favorite for both of us, and that led to a wonderful conversation about seminary and study at Oxford. Like AJ, I predict great things from Jonah, and like AJ, I share in his family’s pride of his awesomeness. They’ve raised a great guy.
“Quit letting other people decide who you are.” ~ Bob Goff
AJ Watkins has been an expressive boy from the very beginning. The day he regaled us with Elvis songs dressed as The King himself is one of my favorite memories. He might have been seven then. The fact that he’s now driving and working has not changed his ability to emote as you can see. But no matter what kind of face he makes there’s one thing that’s always true about AJ; he’s a good guy. He’s smart and funny and cute and sweet and talented. He’s going to do great things and I share in the pride his papaw Phillip, mama Renee, and brother Adam have for him. The whole family loves him, rightfully so.
“You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.” ~ Unknown
I pulled up to the house and saw a package sitting on my porch. I hadn’t ordered anything. I looked at the label but didn’t recognize the sender. I took it inside, looking at it over and over to be sure it was my name and my address. I hadn’t ordered anything. I opened it and knew immediately who sent it. Santa Stacy nailed this year’s Christmas gift and it’s only October. And look at the gorgeous gold vinyl of this two-disc set! I invited her down for a listen after supper. This recording is so disgusting beautiful that I now need new speakers because I can hear their flaws. Jason Isbell is one of the most gifted songwriters America has ever produced. This live recording shows off the incredible tightness of his band, and the feel of the Mother Church, The Ryman, is deep in the grooves of every single song. I feel like I won the lottery. Thank you, Santa!