“Simply knowing that God loves all people is not enough – it is the first step in allowing deeds of compassion, mercy and justice to flow from our hands.” ~ Rev. Katherine Redmond
I stepped outside the office to view the eclipse and ran into lots of people I know like Catherine Brereton (above) and Deirdre Scaggs and Reinette Jones (below). The first time I saw the sun through the eclipse glasses (thanks to Stacy Yelton) it was totally amazing. I mean totally amazing. With the naked eye, and with my phone’s camera (carefully shielded by the eclipse glasses), there’s still a lot of light even at 95% totality. So, the glasses were a crucial part of the experience. It didn’t get nearly as dark as I expected, and the temp also didn’t fall as much as I thought it would. But none of that matters because watching the moon blot out the sun was seriously incredible. I feel like this was my warm up for the next eclipse due in 2024 north of here. I am so taking the day off (or I’ll be retired by then), getting an eclipse filter for the camera, and taking a road trip to the path of totality. What a glorious experience to watch the heavens work.
“The older I get the more I realize that some situations do not need my reaction.
I can decide where my attention and energy flow.” ~ Unknown
If you want to throw a party, call Shell Dunn. Today, we had our Special Collections Christmas “Taco Extravaganza” and Shell pretty much designed it all. From cooking all the meat (and there was a lot of it) to table decorations to fabulous door prizes, Shell ran the show and really outdid herself this time. Of course others chipped in with food, game design, and general prep, but Shell is the undisputed party visionary of Special Collections.
One of the most popular games Shell has come up with over the years is Jeopardy. All the questions are designed around things familiar to the SCRC staff. In fact, under the “Staff” category one question was, “This person only takes the pictures.” This is Crystal’s motto, and she was amused to be a Jeopardy answer (see above). Though she was not on a Jeopardy team, she was the only person to answer one of the $500 questions. Not bad for a non-competitor.
The most active game of the day was the pepper piñata (tiny self portrait in the glasses). I lost count the number of people that took a swing. It was one tough pepper.
Our people weren’t blindfolded. That would be too ordinary. Instead, they wore welders goggles as modeled here by Lewis Warden, who I should mention, didn’t break the piñata. Instead, he ripped it from its hanger causing a stop in the action for repairs. He got an A for effort, however.
Even Associate Dean, Deirdre Scaggs, took a swing at the pepper piñata. We were beginning to think it was as rigged as the election until Sarah Dorpinghaus finally cracked it open (below). Candy, fake teeth, rubber balls, wooden airplanes, plastic back scratchers, and a host of other trinkets littered the floor, dropping even the oldest among us to the floor in childhood curiosity. The piñata was a hit, so to speak. Jeopardy was a hit. The fabulous door prizes were a hit. The food was exceptional. Our unusual Christmas party was the most festive way to end our year and usher in 2017. Thanks to everyone who helped bring us together for some real fellowship. Your efforts never go unappreciated.
“What is grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.” ~ Lao Tzu
I was honored to photograph tonight’s reception welcoming the Reel World String Band’s archives to the UK collection. I’ll post shots from their performance later, but this moment right here; this moment when Deirdre Scaggs hauled an upright bass bigger than she is down a huge flight of marble stairs made me laugh out loud. Not only does she run the place, she doubles as roadie. Who knew? Why she didn’t take the elevator I’m not sure, except that it wouldn’t have been nearly as funny for me. The next time I saw her, she was lugging an amp like a pro through a crowded lobby of appetizer eating Reel World fans. Still, she earned my respect with that double bass on the stairs business. I’m going to hire her as a roadie for my next gig.
“The path isn’t a straight line. It’s a spiral.
You continually come back to the things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.”
Kate Black’s Row by Row: Talking with Kentucky Gardeners was recently published. Tonight, she did a reading and book signing at Morris Books. I missed the reading (work sure gets in the way sometimes) but I got there just in time to buy the last copy. It’s pretty awesome to have a sell-out crowd. Kate is reluctant to be photographed, but she quite willingly smiled for this one. That’s a sure sign of happiness.
Kate and I were co-workers until she retired in 2013. Two weeks ago, she gave an impressive presentation on Row by Row at the Oral History Association conference in Tampa. The following day, she and I took the river walk to a local eatery for some lunch. I got to know more about Kate in that hour than I had in the whole twelve years we worked together (to be fair, our work paths didn’t cross often). Our talk was a highlight of the conference for me, and I was honored to get to know Kate outside the confines of work. I feel like I made a friend.
And then there’s Deirdre Scaggs, current co-worker and Row by Row’s photographer. Deirdre has become so accustomed – aggravated, annoyed, and other adjectives – to my camera that this is now her normal reaction when she sees me. What you don’t see is the warm smile and giggle that follows. She’s a big kidder, so I take her stuck out tongue as a sign of friendship and trust. After I post this, however, the latter may no longer apply. (takes one to know one, as they say) It was a fun evening and I’m so proud of these women for their good works. I feel fortunate to be among them.
“Don’t try to win over the haters. You are not the Jackass Whisperer.” ~ Mary Englebriet
The hospital’s wireless signal is so slow, and the outhouse is so big, that the two couldn’t play together nicely causing me to miss making this post on time.
Friday the 13th saw myself and archival colleagues Deirdre Scaggs, Ruth Bryan, and Megan Mummy visiting Miles Hoskins at the Montgomery County Historical Society. It was raining cats and dogs, too, which made for a slow ride. Once there, however, a good time was had by all. Miles, as you’ve seen before in the outhouse, is quite the character. Today, his Marlboro Man looks came with longer hair, which just tickled me, and him, too, I think. It was the colleagues’ first time meeting Miles. They lived to tell the tale. I wish every county had someone as dedicated as Miles to the preservation of history. His enthusiasm is so refreshing. He makes the world a better place.
“It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world.
Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.”
~ Joseph Conrad
Tonight was the premier party for Kentucky Bourbon Tales at the Kentucky State Theater. It’s a documentary on Kentucky Bourbon as told from a family perspective through a series of master distillers. The Nunn Center archives the oral histories used to create the film, and the whole of Special Collections was invited to the party. Yours truly happened to go along the day they were filming six of the master distillers, and of course, I had my camera. Eleven of my shots made it into the documentary which aired simultaneously tonight on Kentucky Educational television (KET). I was awfully proud to see them on the big screen. I don’t often like what I shoot, but these photos fit perfectly in the context of the documentary. I was surprised at how much I liked them. That never happens to me. Better than that were my co-workers enjoying themselves outside the confines of our building. I work with a great group of people, truly, and every once in a while I get to do something fun like photograph master distillers. Plus, Shawn Livingston is my hero, so any day with him is a good day in my book.
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you even when you don’t see it yourself.”
You might recall that archivist Ruth Bryan has been a media darling of late because of the silver plated tea set discovered in Keeneland Hall. Kentucky Educational Television’s (KET) answer to Antiques Roadshow, Kentucky Collectibles, did a feature on the tea set. It was expected to air today.
In her research, Ruth became intimate with Emily Post’s book, Etiquette. Post describes in great detail the art of high tea for which, one assumes, the Keeneland Hall tea set was used. Last week, Ruth asked if any of us would be interested in a Post style high tea while viewing the KET episode. Any excuse for a party, right? A different kind of party at that.
Becky Ryder and Gordon Hogg opened their home to the gathering. Ruth, Kazuko Hioki, Judy Sackett (supplies from Gail Kennedy in tow), Deirdre Scaggs, Stacy Yelton, and myself chipped in finger foods and other tea appropriate treats, in addition to a variety of delicious teas and beautiful tea pots.
Having closely read Post’s chapter on high tea etiquette, Ruth guided us through protocols for dress, serving, hosting, timing; virtually every aspect of what it was like decades ago when social teas were common.
The bad news was KET did not air Ruth’s segment, so we didn’t get to see it (yet). The good news was we learned a lot about how ladies (and select gentlemen) used to entertain. We sampled delicious teas and foods. We had an opportunity to appreciate fine china: both Deirdre and Ruth brought pieces once belonging to their grandmothers. Most importantly, at least for me, I had the chance to spend time with people who are very smart and eager to learn new things. They’re also kind and funny and generous and, after today, highly caffeinated. Who knew high tea could be so entertaining. Any day with these bright women (and Gordon) is a great day for me.
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”
I had the best Halloween this year that I’ve had since Kevin Edmondson’s party 20 years ago. Kevin had a casket in his living room with a (mostly) naked friend inside wrapped in cellophane, meat and cheese and other Hors d’oeuvres draped over him. That’s but one detail of the night. Trust me when I say it was a Halloween to remember. This Halloween wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it was fun just the same. My co-workers dressed up. Our students dressed up. I dressed up. The boss, Doug Boyd, dressed up as Slash from Guns and Roses (above). I won a door prize at the faculty club (I never win door prizes), and then I got to hand out candy at Stacy Yelton’s house while she took pictures of the kids who were so stinkin’ cute this year it hurt. It was a fun, fun day.
Slash and Freddie Mercury (Jaime Burton) rock it out in The Nunn Center while, below, we get a look at the many wondrous costumes of Special Collections Research Center.
(Above – Left to right, top to bottom): Dean Terry Birdwhistell (he claimed to be Inspector Gadget), Maggie Salisbury (a most awesome snail costume), Ruth Bryan (as Ruth Bryan with a pumpkin shirt), Felipe Vogel (see him? He came as a ghost), JD Carruthers (Edward Gorey inspired), John Young (‘ol Punkin’ Head), Ida Sell (she’s always understated, that’s what we love about her), Associate Dean Deirdre Scaggs (jury’s out on who made the best devil, her or Marie), Gordon Hogg (he pulls out his The Scream tie just once a year).
(Below – Left to right, top to bottom): Marie Dale (the Devil’s right arm), Kopana and Marie at VP Alben Barkley’s desk (I couldn’t decide if I was a cowgirl or a farmer), Jaime Burton (dressed as Freddie Mercury, she was scared by how much she looked like her dad), Deirdre and Doug, Sarah Dorpinghaus (as a French Archivist) and Matt Harris (as Sarah in negative), Doug and Jaime.
“Seek to do brave and lovely things which are left undone by the majority of people. Give gifts of love and peace to those whom others pass by.” ~ Paramhansa Yogananda
Meet UK Provost Christine Riordan. We met taking this picture. Actually, we were never formally introduced, but I suspect she’ll remember me after today, or at least she’ll remember her visit. She was scheduled to come by Special Collections for a tour. Yesterday, we scurried about prettying up the place. Housekeeping buffed the marble floors while the rest of us dusted places that hadn’t been dusted in years. There was a feeling of excitement in the air, as if The Queen herself was coming. We were told to meet in the lobby this afternoon to greet Provost Riordan before the tour. Associate Dean, Deirdre Scaggs, made a very brief announcement, and then we were adjourned, but we didn’t really move. So, camera in hand (of course), I walked over to Provost Riordan and “snap.” Laughter.
I had seen provost Riordan speak once before today. I felt something familiar about her, not in appearance so much as her tone and the manner in which she carries herself. I had a feeling she would be okay with such a spontaneous moment. Plus, we needed a little something to break the ice. Not only was she okay with it, she upped the ante. Without missing a beat, she grabbed her phone and said something like, “If Ellen can do it….” It was a truly fabulous moment. Much laughter ensued.
How well my assertion played out depended solely on Provost Riordan’s reaction. It could have gone very badly. Instead, she was not only gracious about my invading her personal space, she was downright fun about it. The smartest people I know have the same ability as she to laugh, go with the flow, and be kind in unexpected situations. Thank you, Provost Riordan, for being cool, and sharing the peace and love with us. You made for a great day.
[Ellen selfie: Christine Riordan, Deirdre Scaggs, Marie Dale, Shell Dunn, Crystal Heis, Kopana Terry, Stacy Yelton, Ed Brown (with his head cut off), Michael Slone, Robert Holland, Judy Sackett, Gail Kennedy, Sarah Dorpinghaus, Megan Mummy, Justin Student, Lewis Warden, and the top of Jaime Burton’s head with lots of unidentified hands, probably Seth Newell and Jason Flahardy]
[Botton photo: Dean of Libraries Terry Birdwhistell being the first to find the tweet; Deirdre Scaggs and Megan Mummy also admiring the tweet]
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller
I had one of the best days ever! It was the day of the library retreat. In the past, this was reserved for faculty and professional staff only. This year, they rightly included staff. It started with a fantastic breakfast with Marie Dale and Stacy Yelton at Frische’s. We laughed so hard I was snorting like a big pig. We dried our eyes, and made our way to the retreat where Tag Heister (above right) approached me. She is a UK Chandler Medical Center librarian, pictured here with Rick Brewer and Robert Shapiro, also med center librarians. She learned about the outhouse from my good friend Dr. Greg Davis. Tag could not have been more generous with her kindness. I can’t tell you how much it means to know the outhouse is appreciated. It was made all the sweeter by meeting Tag in person – you see, with 14 branch libraries and nearly 200 staff, it’s not unusual to know someone’s name yet never meet them. Anyway, that was soon followed by one of my proudest moments. As new employees were being introduced, Deirdre Scaggs introduced me as not a new employee but one who was coming home to Special Collections. I gave her a hug for that; it made me just that happy (because I don’t hug anybody very often)!
One of the highlights of the day was the Edible Book Contest. I had absolutely no interest in participating, but Crystal Heis was insistent that I make the title I thought I was recommending for her. Little did I know her nefarious plan to coax me into the contest. It worked, of course, and I produced The Glutenberg Bible. I’m thrilled to say we both came out winners. Both of her entries took awards ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tofu” and “Ketchup in the Rye”, and the Glutenberg Bible won for “Most book-like”. Gordon Hogg liked my book so much that he took it home as a door prize when he found out every part of it was, in fact, edible. I hope he doesn’t get food poisoning. Everyone’s entries were so clever, and to my surprise, I had a blast!
And then there was Deirdre chasing the geese, or as Stacy called it “equal parts ‘The Ten Commandments’ and ‘The Sound of Music’.” There are enough shots of her trying to get those geese riled up that I’m pretty sure there’s a gif laying in wait. Meanwhile, she managed to not get goose poop between her toes. That’s talent right there, folks. It was a sight to behold, let me tell ya. The day started with laughter, and ended with laughter. Somebody tell me how I got so lucky to find such a wonderful bunch of people who actually want to keep me around? One of the best days ever!