“Though no one can go back & make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now & make a brand new ending.”
~ Carl Bard
You haven’t met Mary Vance for no other reason than she hates to have her picture taken. Hates it. Throws a fit about it sometimes. I don’t know why since she’s a beautiful person inside and out. This picture, however, is so full of joy that you just have to meet Mary because I love her so much and I love this picture. Mary is married to one of dad’s first cousins, Vernon. We moved next door to them at Malone when I was only three, and we stayed there until we moved to Arizona when I was ten. It was the best childhood I could have ever asked for. Mary already had three kids, her youngest is three years older than me, but she fed me more times than I can remember, and treated me like one of her own. You can tell she and my mother are still the best of friends nearly 50 years later. To say Mary Dryman Vance was hugely influential in my life would be an understatement. I will be forever grateful to her for all she did for me and my family. She is one of the brightest stars in my world.
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.
~ Nido Qubein
Today was the much anticipated Kentucky Field Trip with our IFLA guests. We wanted to give them a good overview of how beautiful and awesome The Bluegrass State can be. What better way than Keeneland and Buffalo Trace Distillery? Bright and early we loaded up the UK bus (with our awesome driver, Sarah) and off to Keeneland we went. Becky Ryder, Director of the Keeneland Library and local committee member, met us there (as did Ruth Bryan, Kazuko Hioki, and Michael Lütgen who drove themselves). She treated our guests to a delicious Kentucky style breakfast. Judy Sackett even tried gravy and biscuits for the first time…and she liked it! Our guests were then treated to a tour of the track, the grounds, and the sales pavilion. It was a beautiful thing to see their eyes light up watching the horses train, and the excitement when one of the outriders stopped by for a chat was just so special. My heart swelled with pride. Except for the oppressive humidity, it was as close to perfect weather as we could ever hope for.
We could have spent a lot more time at Keeneland. The tour guides were incredibly engaging and the ladies especially loved the gift shop, but Buffalo Trace was waiting on us, so we loaded up the bus and off we went again. This is where the story gets good. My contacts up to this point were not the people who met me at the visitor center as expected. Instead, the Distillery Archivist (whose name I have sadly forgotten) and a man named Art met me at the door. When I asked for my contacts, Art simply said, “I’ll be doing your tour.” It was a bit odd, but I was okay with it because I could tell right away he was a cool dude. We soon found out how lucky we were that Art was our tour guide. He was the most entertaining tour guide I’ve ever had. We had a ton of laughs – and that was before the samples – but we learned a great deal, too, not just about bourbon but the general history of the area. I might also add that the now-forgotten-named archivist was great as well.
Art really showed off our Kentuckian sense of humor to our guests (a point of personal pride for me). Truly, he was a load of fun, and when it came time for the samples, he shared with us their White Dog brand. It’s essentially alcohol (something ridiculous like 170 proof) before it’s aged to become bourbon. He poured some in their hands mostly to smell, although a few did taste it. Their reactions ranged from “that’s not so bad,” to, “Oh my God, I tasted it!” followed by a contorted face. In any case, a gentle rubbing of the hands produced the smell of bread caused by a chemical reaction of the alcohol on skin and oxygen (I think). Everyone then had a chance to sample a couple of their more popular brands, as well as root beer and bourbon chocolate made by Ruth Hunt Candies, another Kentucky staple. By the time we left Buffalo Trace, everyone was tired but completely happy. We could not have planned a better representation of the Commonwealth. My heart was bursting with pride and joy.
That brings me back to where the story gets good. This is Art with IFLA participant and US Government Docs librarian Cynthia Etkin from Virginia. I had the pleasure of getting to know Cindy yesterday when we lunched with Reinette Jones. She’s a warm hearted, open soul who was so happy to be with us and learn about all the good – and troubling – things going on in the world of news media preservation. She had lived and worked in Kentucky for many years some time ago, both at WKU and EKU. It was at the latter where she met Art. Oh yes, they knew each other before today. On the way back to the hotel we learned that she not only knew him, but she dated him… for thirteen years! They never married (at least not each other), but you could tell they remained close after all this time. Cindy had told Art she was coming to Kentucky and would be on the tour. Art, in turn, insisted he be our tour guide. It all made sense why my contacts did not meet me when we arrived. Theirs was one of the sweetest stories I’ve heard, and learning their history together was the perfect way to wrap up our shared adventures. Every second of this week as been worth the sweat and sleeplessness. I made new friends, connected with old friends, shared time with mentors, and smart men and women from all over the world. We might solve this preservation dilemma yet. I continue to be the luckiest woman alive.
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” ~ Mother Teresa
You first met Robin Dalton back in May 2014. We don’t get to see one another very often, but ours is the kind of friendship that doesn’t suffer because of distance. When Robin found out I was going to be at Market in the Park she made it a point to come see me. She spent hours with me, and she talked with more people looking at my work than I did. She pretty much held court with Frankie Adkins and her daughter, Amanda, below. I just love her. At one point mom (who also braved the heat to come out) turned to me and said, “Right there’s your PR (pointing at Robin). Let her do the talking. You take the pictures.” HA! Robin’s exceptional PR skills cleverly disguise her talent as a writer. Always a voracious reader, it wasn’t until much later in her life that Robin began to explore writing. She doesn’t do nearly enough of it – because she’s a work-a-holic – but she knows what she’s doing. She’s lived a dozen lives already, so I’m looking forward to her retirement when she can really put pen to paper and show the world what she’s made of. I’m going to do her PR.
“Listen to the wind. It talks. Listen to the silence. It speaks.
Listen to your heart. It knows.” ~ Unknown
This afternoon Marie and Robert Dale threw a high school graduation party for their oldest grandchild, Alexis (left). This young woman has endured a lot in her young life, and yet she has graduated with a scholarship to Campbellsville University. She’ll start in the fall. She’s pictured here with Marie, her brother Isaiah, and her first cousin/sister Skyla.
Isaiah smashed cake on Alexis’ face, and someone repaid the favor. The last time I saw Isaiah he was a short, chubby little guy. Now his voice has dropped, he’s grown at least six inches, and he’s on the high school wrestling team. Marie and Robert gained custody of all three kids several years ago. The five of them act as a singular family unit so that you’d never know they weren’t parent and child. And they’re happy – all of them! Becky Ryder, Crystal Heis, and I carpooled to Paris for the party. They were a joy to be with of course. Seeing Marie with her family was a joy, but most of all, I was so proud of Alexis. She’s a beautiful, kind young woman who is going to do great things. Doggone it, I love a happy ending, and today was one. I was honored to be part of it.
I got so lucky the day I met Pam Thurman and Barbara Plested. Lance introduced us, and frankly, as much as he bragged on them, he didn’t come close to just how incredible they are. I got lucky again today when Angie and I managed to hook up with them for dinner as they were passing through Tahlequah on their way to their home in Grove.
Barb and Pam make me laugh. Every time I see them we have big belly laughs. Today was no different, and throw Angie Bliss Fanning into the mix? Lordy! I just ask myself how I ever got so lucky at times like these. Pam is always plotting to get me back out here (to Oklahoma) permanently so I can join a band with the über-talented Scott Eastman. If she only knew how much I want to. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy Pam, Barb, and Angie at every opportunity. They’re my favorite.
“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.
“You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger.” ~ Buddhist Proverb
You’ve met friend and colleague Judy Sackett many times. Here she’s pictured with her fantastic son, Michael. I’ve heard about Michael for 15 years, but only had the chance to talk with him to and from the Library Gala. He was our chauffeur for the evening. He was the perfect gentleman for the job. Having just completed his stint with AmeriCorps, Michael was home and a willing participant for Gala-ing. He really is one of the finest young men I’ve ever met. Judy did real good raising him, and I know his future will be full of greatness.
Remember I said Judi Jennings and Anne Ritchie were the best of friends? Do you need further proof than this mile wide smile-O-gram? Judi was the first person I saw when I got out of the car (because Michael, being totally awesome, drove Judy and I to the door). I knew it was going to be a great night the second I saw her. As ever, she did not let me down. Apparently, there’s something pretty cool in the name “Judy/Judi” no matter how you spell it.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” ~ Prince
Yesterday, my mother sent to me a copy of her local telephone company’s newsletter/magazine. On the cover was my old friend and classmate Jill Cline Salyer (pictured above at our 30 year high school reunion in September 2013).
From the article I learned some things about Jill’s struggles that I hadn’t known. Diagnosed in 2009 with breast cancer, by the time we had our reunion in 2013 she’d undergone a double mastectomy, radiation for tumors on her brain in 2010, and in 2011, learned to walk again after radiation on a spinal tumor left her paralyzed from the waist down. She walked into our party with a smile that never left her face. I don’t have a single picture of her without it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of Jill over the last 50 years when she wasn’t smiling come to think of it. I’ve seen her several times since 2009 but never once have I heard her complain. The article confirmed that she doesn’t complain, not even to God. By all accounts, she should not have survived the very aggressive breast cancer, let alone the two other times it has reared its ugly head. And yet, here she is, seven years later telling her story. I think of Jill every time I feel down or ill, reminded that, in the big picture, my struggles are small, and I should be grateful for every blessed moment I have. She is no less than an angel walking among us in strength and kindness. I’m honored to call her friend.
Jill pictured above (top to bottom) with Tim Gevedon when they were crowned King and Queen of the 30th reunion (I think that’s what the award was for), her husband John Salyer, and her two best friends Lisa Clevenger Fannin and Alisa Marshall Burnett.