“Never. Ever. Ever. Get rid of the desire to climb a tree or run through the sprinklers.” ~ Unknown
I can’t believe how lucky I am. Rod and Diane Rickey came to Lexington and I got to have dinner with them! I can hardly stop smiling.
Diane is opening a frame shop in Tahlequah. When the idea was bubbling to the surface I told her about master framers Mike and Letha Drury of South Hill Gallery. Last year she and Rod began to build a beautiful space for the frame shop. Then – boom – I got a phone call that they were in town to pick Mike and Letha’s brains. Diane’s dream is coming true, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. Meanwhile, Rod beams with pride.
I cannot begin to express how happy I was to see Rod and Diane. It was a big deal for them to be here, and I appreciate so much that they think enough of me to spend a couple of hours over a nice meal. Being in their presence has always brought me joy in abundance. They are two of the most creative and genuinely kind people I know. I’m eternally grateful.
“Never be ashamed of your tears. Be proud that you are still natural.
Be proud that you can express the inexpressible through your tears.” ~ Osho
When Angie and I visited with Rod and Diane Rickey a few weeks ago, Rod sent me out the door with a book he insisted I read; Jack London’s Call of the Wild. I’d heard of it of course, but knew nothing of the story. Diane quickly grabbed a copy of Viva Mexico, a short story Rod had written and she had published, and sent that out the door with me as well. Call of the Wild: It’s a story that will stick with me the rest of my life. Rod was right: it’s a must read. As soon as I set it down, I picked up Viva Mexico. It’s a short story about a real adventure Rod took with a friend when they were just teenagers to the Baja of Mexico in 1972. He didn’t write it to be published. He wrote it for his daughter, to give her a glimpse of what he was like as a young man daring to take a trip that today, in all likelihood, could not be taken because times have changed so much. I finished the story – a very well written story I might add – and thought what a lucky girl Rod’s daughter is to have a father who’s not only talented, but sensitive and caring enough to want to share his life and adventures with her. What woman wouldn’t want their father to put pen to paper for her? And what love Diane has for them both to go the extra mile and have that story so beautifully printed? What truly incredible people they both are, and how fortunate I am to have them in my life. They are gifts.
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Once again my day was filled from start to finish with people I love. Two of them are Rod and Diane Rickey. They invited Ang and I out to their place near the river for dinner. We had some big ‘ol belly laughs, and lots of great conversation about books and art and travel and music: all my favorite things. There was a lot of positive talk about life, too, and that buoyed my spirits as I prepare to go back to the real world of work. I couldn’t have asked for a better last night in my beloved Cherokee County with three finer people. I love them all so much.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.” ~ Anne Frank
Today was Angie Bliss Fanning’s 56th birthday. We started the day with breakfast with two of my favorite people; Angie’s mom, Joyce, and Diane Rickey (below). Ang and I and Diane, we’ve started a new tradition of a selfie of the three of us every time I visit. This is the second of the series (we did the first last year when Diane and I met).
Then, in the evening, Kate Michael Gibson and her beaming smile came over with a car piled high with fresh veggies she and boyfriend Ben grew on their farm. She proceeded to whip them into a truly unforgettable meal. Angie and I, we didn’t like kale or turnips or radishes. After Katie worked her culinary magic, we both now like kale and turnips and radishes, at least when Katie makes them. It was an incredible gift to Angie – and to me – to have Katie pour so much love into a home cooked meal. It was an incredible gift to Angie, and to me, to have breakfast with two gifted women. This day start to finish was a blessing for me. My BFF gets another trip around the sun, and I got to spend it with her and three other beautiful souls. I’m so proud of all of them. Their trials and tribulations are as individual as they are, and yet they forge ahead and remain sweet spirited. They inspire me.
“When the Lakota leader Sitting Bull was asked by a white reporter why his people loved and respected him, Sitting Bull replied by asking if it was not true that among white people a man is respected because he has many horses, many houses? When the reporter replied that was indeed true, Sitting Bull then said that his people respected him because he kept nothing for himself.” ~ Joseph Bruchac
Rod Rickey is a stand up guy. I met him many years ago through Angie. He was incredibly gracious, and I thought the world of him immediately. The only real difference between then and now is that he didn’t quite look as much like Sean Connery and he wasn’t married.
When Angie told me she was going to build a house I hoped she would call Rod, not realizing he was in Arizona being a tour guide in the Grand Canyon. But lo and behold, he was back in Tahlequah and agreed to build her house. In that instant I knew it would be an incredible house, and that was before I met his totally awesome wife Diane who helped him build it.
Rod and Diane are both gifted people, and by gifted I mean talented like there’s no tomorrow. Everything around their house is touched with art and character; deep, deep character. Rod is especially fond of his blacksmith shop. It’s small and simple, and yet beautifully built, steeped in western feel.
Diane’s no slouch when it comes to talent. She made the chaps below. They happen to be the first pair she ever made. And look at the door! It’s an office door that just needed a door. But did the Rickey’s put up just a door? Oh, heavens no. That is a door to beat all doors. Yep, when Angie told me Rod Rickey was building her house, I knew everything would be alright, because Rod is a stand up guy. They don’t make ’em like him anymore. And boy did he marry well. I feel so special to know them and call them friends.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens” ~ Helen Keller
Yesterday I posted a picture of friends Tony Harp, his fiancé Jessica, and Angie Bliss Fanning. A friend (Esther Edwards) on facebook encouraged me to get out from behind the lens once in a while, and be in the picture with my friends. Well, every once in a while I do. The first day of my trip to Oklahoma had me in front of the lens twice, in fact. The first time with Angie and Robin Jackson (above), and again with Angie and Diane Rickey (below). I couldn’t think of a more fun way to try out my new 24mm Sigma art lens than a couple of selfies. I love how we’re all at different focal lengths, and that we’re crammed into each other like we love one another. We do love one another, and I wouldn’t trade these women for all the money in the world. I’m so glad I took these shots, even if I am in them.
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right.”
Meet Pam Kingfisher. She spent the day with me and Angie running the dirt roads of Cherokee County. We found a multitude of stunningly beautiful places; places even they had never seen before. I’ve talked to Pam at length about Native American spirituality. Long ago she made a conscious decision to embrace her Cherokee heritage, and carry on its traditions as much as possible. The sanctity of water is at the top of the list, and not just for Cherokee but many other tribes as well. All water is sacred. Prayers for the water – our life force as human beings – is one way to thank The Creator. But prayers at water’s edge aren’t always about the water itself. Prayers can be about anything one feels the need to pray for, or about, or perhaps to just give thanks. Pam allowed me to be part of such a prayer ceremony at the edge of the Illinois River; The Creator’s cathedral if ever there was one. To say I was honored would be an understatement.
Our day was filled with many a happy moment. One of those was meeting the new Cherokee Nation Principle Chief Bill John Baker at breakfast (pictured here with Diane Rickey, Pam Kingfisher, and Angie Bliss Fanning). He’s super kind, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s been to West Liberty, KY! In fact, his parents were professors at Morehead State University, so he actually lived in Morehead. It is a small, small world, and I really enjoyed talking with him.
A small world, and our spiritual connections in it, was sort of the theme of the day. Before our prayer at the Illinois, Pam told me that Gurney Norman – yes, that Gurney Norman – had said something powerful to her a long time ago that has stuck with her all these years. He said, I’m paraphrasing of course, that “we are part of the water around us. The water we come from, wherever that might be, that’s who we are.” No wonder Eastern Kentucky is such a strong pull for me. Those are the waters I come from, just as the waters of Oklahoma and Washington State helped make Pam who she is. It is, indeed, a powerful thought. One other thing that helps shape us is the company we keep. There is no finer company than the women who gave me such a hilarious, blessed, special day. My gratitude for them is endless.
“There’s nothing in this world that can trouble you as much as your own thoughts.”
~ David Wolfe
Meet Diane Rickey. Not only has she laid every tile in Angie Bliss Fanning’s new house, among many other things that have been done in the house, she unknowingly supported a woman in a time of need. These are the kinds of things that bond people for life.
Copper Money was Star Baby’s sire. Angie and I have discussed this as if I know the significance of Copper Money, the horse. I don’t, of course, but it doesn’t matter because Star Baby greets all visitors to the new Two Pony Palace. Angie’s new house is so incredibly special that words escape me. So, I’ll just leave these photos here for you to enjoy.