“‘When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace.’ If you don’t believe it, ask Pontius Pilate!” ~ The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Ashtyn seemed to enjoy yesterday’s DeMille close-up teaser, so I thought, why not a few more? Who doesn’t love youth still willing – and able with a push – to climb aboard a roll of damp hay? Youth that wears fashionable shoes that look like skunk pelts? Youth that can be photographed from below with no double chins showing yet? We were all this young once, climbing on stuff in good clothes looking like a million bucks. May we never forget the thrill and freedoms of our youth. Here’s to Ashtyn and here’s to us.
“The only way to find the limits of the possible is by going beyond them to the impossible.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke
Cousin Brian’s daughter, Ashtyn, his youngest child, is in high school. Last weekend she wanted to practice for her senior pictures. She enlisted the help of her aunt Robyn, herself a photographer. I caught them out by the barn doing some poses. Ashtyn looks and acts a lot like her dad; quiet but highly aware. She even brought her adorable boyfriend last weekend. They were super cute, and Ashtyn was having a good time practicing for her De Mille close-up. A good time was had by all.
“If you feel like you’re losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and they still stand tall and wait for better days to come.” ~ Unknown
I spent a lot of my childhood with Mark by a creek much like this one. If we weren’t in the creek by Mamaw’s, then we were in the creek that ran beside his house at Malone. We spent hours building roads and bridges and boats and dams. The world was our oyster. The creek that runs beside Uncle Harold’s farm house is not only a few miles from that creek at Malone, but it looks eerily similar. My life is complete beside running water.
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” ~ Swedish Proverb
At mom and dad’s last Sunday, we awoke to a very dreary, foggy world. I waited too long before grabbing the camera and heading out for a few shots. Most of the fog and rain had lifted by the time I got out, leaving me with vanilla dreary. Nevertheless, vanilla dreary works in cemeteries. I stopped by the Neal Valley Cemetery where Mark is buried. For whatever reason, a large portion of it had not been tended over the summer. The grass was so high that wildflowers were taking over and deer tracks were easy to see. I thought it was beautiful. I rather like cemeteries. They’re peaceful, and the world can use a lot more peace these days.
“Most of us never stop to consider our blessings; rather, we spend the day only thinking about our problems. But since you have to be alive to have problems, be grateful for the opportunity to have them.” ~ Bernie Siegel
You’ve met Felipe Vogel several times. That’s before he was married. Today, he came by to say hello and brought along his bride, Hannah. Recently wed, Hannah had posted photos of their beautiful wedding in Colorado, which made it a bit like being there. Soon, the new couple will be off to Liberia in West Africa to continue their missionary work with the Rafiki Foundation. They want to make their way across the continent to East Africa. I have all confidence they will. Felipe can do anything he sets his mind to, and I’m sure he’s married a woman equally strong willed. Here’s to the newlyweds and their good works in the world. May they be showered in blessings along the way.
“Never give up on the things that make you smile.” ~ Unknown
Every fall uncle Harold and his boys Brian, Evyian, and Kevin hook the trailer to the tractor, throw on some hay, and take us for a ride up one holler or another. It’s fun for all of us regardless of age. I almost didn’t go this year. I just wasn’t feeling it. Until the tractor started to pull away, and then, like a five year old, I wanted to go. Lucky for me Evyian drives slow. Of course I had a fabulous time as you can see below. And yes, that’s me in a UK hat and Brian in a UofL hoodie. He takes the ribbing in good humor. He’s a keeper just like the hay rides.
“Sometimes on the way to a dream you get lost and find a better one.” ~ Unknown
We all had such a good time yesterday that I caught not one, not two, but three smiles from Tony Adkins. He’s the sweetest man ever was, but he rarely smiles even when he’s super happy. So, when I caught the first smile I thought it was an anomaly. It wasn’t. Tony was smiling throughout the day. That just tickled me to death because I love him very much and want him to be happy. I’m sure to catch more smiles as the years roll on.
“Never underestimate the power of kind words” ~ Unknown
We had our fall family gathering today at Uncle Harold and Aunt Phyllis’ farm in Morgan County (that’s Eastern Kentucky for those unfamiliar). Fall’s brisk weather finally swooped in and made the day crisp and overcast. Perfection. We ate hearty foods, drank hot coffee, had our annual hay ride, shared birthday cake for Dad and Aunt Linda, and told ghost stories. In fact, that may have been the most fun of the day, sitting in a room surrounded by the elders telling stories of visitations and haints galore; the fantastic and the believable. There was something very, very different about this gathering from the others we’ve had. I sensed a calm in the air. The bittersweet thirst for those no longer with us while reveling in their memories in unadulterated happiness. Perhaps Cousin Brian was on to something during the hayride. “We are the age our parents were when we went on hayrides,” he said as we sat sandwiched between first and third generation Terrys. It happens to every generation in every family, in slow, often imperceptible ways until one day Cousin Brian sees the culmination of time in a single moment. The realization that the changing of the guard is fully underway. This is just one blessing of this family; to have sustained multiple relationships over decades that can come together and celebrate goodness. To be truly grateful for the gifts in spite of the sadness, to me, is a mark of great faith. That is something this family has in spades.
“Never say mean words out of anger. Your anger will pass. But your mean words can scar a person for life. So use kind words or be silent.” ~ Unknown
On a steep bank overlooking the Ohio River sits an old three story house. It belonged to the Bierbower family, German immigrants in Pennsylvania who settled on the Western frontier of Maysville, Kentucky in the 1830’s. They became successful merchants. They were also against slavery. The Bierbower house gave refuge to slaves seeking freedom across the river. Beneath the floorboards of their cellar lay black men and women silent and still until they could successfully cross the Mason Dixon line. Today, the Bierbower House is called the National Underground Railroad Museum. Mom and Dad visited the museum several years ago and were blown away by the experience. The Rental Sisters and I made our way from Augusta, just nineteen miles away, to visit, too. Our tour guide, Crystal, was a wealth of information. She was enthusiastic, kind, and very generous with her time. No photos inside the museum are allowed, which is not uncommon and I was happy to abide. Crystal felt bad for me I think. At the end of the tour she took me to the third floor porch, normally closed to the public, where I snapped the photos below. It’s virtually impossible to stitch wide angle photos into a pano so I didn’t bother to try. I trust you to use your senses to understand just how expansive the view was for the Bierbower family and how daunting a journey it was for those seeking freedom. If you’re ever in Maysville, stop by the Museum and tell Crystal I sent you (and thank you for the extra special tour). It’s an inexpensive education and the message matters now as much as ever.