february 26, 2017

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“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” ~ Neil Gaiman


founded 1784


I only had a moment to step inside the Pisgah Presbyterian chapel yesterday after the Pisgah Academy. Marcie had arranged the shoot, but little did we know that the church was having a new PA system installed at the same time. Still, I popped off one or two, and met the extremely kind church secretary, Lynn, who invited me back. I’ve been hoping to see the inside of the church for some time. I photographed the adjoining grounds back in 2013, and in 2014 I got a distant shot of the outside from the cemetery. It’s a very, very small chapel that seats 174 if they’re packed in just so. Like most churches on the Western frontier, the original log chapel burned. This chapel was erected in 1812. It was remodeled in 1868 and remains pretty much as it was since that time. It’s an adorable place steeped in Bluegrass history just the way I like ’em. I look forward to going back.

february 25, 2017

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“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” ~ Denis Waitley


on being


Today was… Sensational? Inspired? Fantastic? Enlightened? They’re all deficient in describing the hour-long talk by Father Joe Mitchell (above) at the annual Pisgah Academy. I attended with Marcie Christiansen and one of her three sisters, Jeanne. Now in its fifth year, Pisgah Academy is an event held at Pisgah Presbyterian Church to help nurture a more compassionate society. As this year’s keynote, Fr. Joe was tasked with comparing Christianity and Buddhism and how they, at their cores, are designed to guide us on the path of compassionate living. Fr. Joe delivered one of the most brilliant talks I’ve ever heard. Period. But what he said went far beyond doctrine. He provided clarity and direction; from basic morality to caring for the planet. Neither Jesus nor Buddha talked about caring for the Earth. They talked about compassion for ourselves, for our neighbors, friends, strangers, refugees, the sick, the elderly, the least among us, and so on, but they never said anything about the planet we live on because there wasn’t an issue to talk about. The human race remained connected to the planet, our food sources, the water that sustains us, the animals, and so forth. Like many political and social issues that have arisen over the millenniums since Jesus and Buddha lived, our religious doctrines have been challenged to evolve accordingly. If the planet was facing rising CO2 emissions when Jesus was alive he would have addressed it. It wasn’t, so he didn’t. But we face it now. Doctrinal evolution addressing such emerging issues is necessary in keeping with a compassionate way of living that both Christianity and Buddhism prescribe.  As a spiritual community we must evolve, and so must our doctrines. It was a pivotal day for me in some ways. I had many, many lightbulb moments. I hope whatever you did today turned on your lightbulbs, too.



february 24, 2017

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“Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne


spring…in February


It was an unseasonably warm day in The Bluegrass. The students, employees, birds, bees and pollen galore was out as if it was full-blown spring. I even went to a meeting outside. Campus feels so alive when these first warm days come along. Students are tucked neatly into their perfect places, laptops, notebooks, cool drinks in hand. Hammocks have become popular at UK. It started three or four years ago with a single hammock (we called him….Hammock Guy). Now they spring up like daffodils. With all the trees around campus, there’s no shortage of swinging spaces. It was sure hard to stay inside today, but it made for gorgeous walks when I could get out. Plus, I think all meetings ought to be outside on pretty days….in hammocks. Let’s make that mandatory. 


just a’swingin’

february 23, 2017

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“This week: Stop stressing over shitty people.” ~ Unknown


out of focus


The lunch ladies had special treats today. Mama Heis (Elaine) was in town and wanted to have lunch with the lunch ladies. She drove by campus to pick up Crystal, Marie and I, and we met Stacy at Ramsey’s. We enjoyed a few laughs, lots of hugs, good talks, and we all walked out without having pie in solidarity with my diet. I love my lunch ladies, and we all love Mama Heis. A good time – and full bellies – was had by all.


a gaggle of gals

february 22, 2017

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“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ” ~ Unknown




In front of the main building sits a cannon nicknamed Federalista, as I learned this evening. I hardly notice it, actually. It’s sort of dwarfed by the building and the open field it overlooks. The same field where the ROTC do their drills; where the Student Activities Board held Holi: Festival of Color. There’s an inscription on the stone pedestal that’s nearly illegible save for a word or two, just enough for me to find an old picture and description that reads, “Cannon, captured by the United States forces from Spain during the Spanish – American War, the city of Lexington, Kentucky gave the cannon to the university in 1903, historically the cannon has been the object of numerous pranks.” I did some more digging. A fair amount of old cannons were brought to the U.S. from Cuba after the war in 1898. They were distributed throughout the country as spoils of war. It’s not clear why, or even how exactly, Lexington ended up with this circa 1795 Spanish cannon. As for the pranks, it’s a college campus. Everything is subject to prankdom. If the cannon was pointed at the main building and filled with manure, as suggested by one story… that’s pretty funny stuff. You’ve got to give college kids credit for originality if nothing else. Federalista – outstanding in her field (and cemented shut just in case any more original ideas pop up).

february 21, 2017

posted in: art, photography | 0

“Life: It’s about using every crayon in the box.” ~ Unknown


a real treasure (snapseed)


You could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened the package today. Inside was this gorgeous hardcover coffee table book put together over many months by my soul friend Pam Thurman and her colleague Shawna Cain. It’s stunningly beautiful – seriously. Cherokee National Treasures highlights “Cherokee Nation citizens with exceptional knowledge of Cherokee art forms and cultural practices…” A book devoted to these gifted folks is not only an honor for them (bestowed by The Nation), but it gives the rest of the world the opportunity to enjoy and honor them, too. It’s vitally important that cultures cherish their torch bearers like this, but it’s especially important for U.S. indigenous cultures to do it because, historically, the country has committed unspeakable atrocities to destroy every last one of them. Modern U.S. politics has a long way to go to convince me that they’re not still trying, what with the North Dakota pipeline being just one of the more recent tragic examples. That’s why I’m especially proud that the Cherokee Nation formally embraces the people keeping the culture alive through the arts. They could have picked no one better to put this book together than Pam. When she’s not busy flying all over the world making it better and being a kick-ass academic, she’s busy being an artist and musician. As someone who has devoted her life to her native heritage, I suspect Pam will be a Cherokee National Treasure before long herself. One thing is certain: she’s a treasure to everyone who knows her, and I am deeply honored to call her my friend. I’m sure Lance is beaming right now.


Lance’s Red Queen (snapseed)

february 20, 2017

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“Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.” ~ Buddha


blossom (snapseed)


It’s the 20th of February. February! This ornamental cheery tree was blossoming today. Have I mentioned that it’s February? Here’s hoping a cold snap don’t take out all this budding beauty because it’s shaping up to be a gorgeous spring, though it’s extremely early. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

february 19, 2017

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“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone’s highlight reels.” ~ Steven Furtick


Sunday morning


Stacy Yelton and I have had breakfast together at Frisch’s for the past two Sundays. I can maintain my diet while enjoying good service, good company, and delicious scrambled eggs. I find their coffee is good, too. A few years ago one of my aunts asked, “Why do you go to Frisch’s? Only old people go there.” That was before I was even 50. So, I’m not as grey as most of clients. I don’t need a walker to get in the door. The waiter doesn’t have to scream for me to hear him. And I wouldn’t trade it. It’s like an old friend, this Frisch’s, and I’m really glad it’s close to my house (and that Stacy likes it, too). It’s a wonderful way to start a Sunday.

february 18, 2017

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“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness, and just be happy.”
~ Guillaume Apollinaire


march to the west


UK’s Army ROTC outstanding in their field at sunset. I sure hope these young men and women never see combat. I enjoy their evening maneuvers. They;re good kids. 

february 17, 2017

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“There is no destination that can guarantee happiness.” ~ Dr. Terry A. Gordon




This is former UK President James Patterson. Well, you know, it’s not him, it’s his likeness. That’s not what I want to talk about anyway. I’ve been listening to Elton John a lot lately. Stacy gave me Blue Moves last month, and last week she gave me Goodbye Yellow Brick Road… on vinyl! In between, I’ve been listening to Captain Fantastic, Honkey Chateau, Madman Across the Water, with some Rainbow (yes, the metal band), and Miles Davis (yes, jazz) thrown in for good measure. There’s a reason I love all this stuff beyond musical tastes. It’s not perfect. None of it. It breathes. You can feel it breathing like the players breathed when they made it. There’s so little new music that captures my attention because it’s… well, it’s perfect. Every beat is where it should be, the tempo never wavers; vocals are perfect; the production is so clean you can eat off of it. And for all that, it bores me to death. Occasionally an artist will tap into something of what the old folks knew (old folks – funny), but even they have a kind of sterility about them. Modernity demands it; perfect pitch, perfect sound; metronomic. Once Donald Fagan had success with that first fully digital record, it was over. And hey, I loved it as much as anybody. The clarity was truly astounding. Everything sounded “better.” I didn’t see what was coming. A few short years later, when we made the first Stealin Horses record (1987/88), much of the industry had moved to digital tape. But it was still tape. Today it’s all software. It seems with every step away from moving parts and magnetic disturbance, some humanness got lost. Better clarity demanded better precision from the players and producers. That unforgiving structure weeded out a lot of talent (and it’s made some seriously untalented people a lot of money along the way). Talent isn’t always perfect. It breathes like the imperfect human that possesses it. I guess I’m old because I miss the humanness of music. Give me great songs with warts and all. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with the perfectly imperfect Nigel Olsson

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