march 2, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

The Man
The Man

 

Do you know someone who is balm for your soul? Someone that makes you glad to be alive every time you see them? Gurney Norman is one of those people for me. I’ve never been around him that he didn’t make me smile. I was tickled to run into him today at a lecture given by his good friend, folklorist, oral historian, musicologist, and all-around awesome Italian dude Alessandro Portelli. If you’re not familiar with ‘Sandro,’ as Gurney and other close friends call him, check him out. His lecture concerned immigrants and emigrants of present-day Europe. If you’ve followed the news you’re probably most aware of the enormous wave of Syrian immigrants flooding Europe, but there are many, many others. The closest land for most North African immigrants is a small Italian island. There’s also large Romanian and Kurdish immigrant populations in Rome. This diverse influx into Italy has provided Portelli with unprecedented access to the songs and stories these people bring with them. He played for us a number of folksongs sung by some of these immigrants, and it was fascinating to hear how the lyrics changed. A song by one person about parents missing their children might be sung by another about children leaving their parents behind. The song starts the same, but the inner verses change with the circumstance of the singer. As Portelli described these shifting populations and the evolution of their folkways, I was reminded that today marks the forth anniversary of the F3 tornado that hit West Liberty. It left hundreds homeless, and out of necessity, they emigrated out of the county. Many never came back. And like the notable migration out of Appalachia in the 1940’s and 50’s, those natives took with them songs and stories that now, three or four generations later, have no doubt been altered to fit the times and circumstances. In this way, we are all emigrants, even Native Americans. Locations, circumstances – everything really – has changed and continues to change, so that the stories and songs we pass on are inevitably altered to reflect those changes, or fill our needs. I had not considered this detailed aspect of historical evolution until today. I love Gurney and his friends. They bring so much enlightenment and joy to my life.

 

old friends
old friends

october 11, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“Remember when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received only what you have given: a heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi

 

happy, shiny people
happy, shiny people

 

Deb Chenault (right) is responsible for a lot of happiness in my life. She included me in her Happiness Project gang years ago that has since shaped my social calendar quite joyfully. More importantly, however, are the women Deb brought into the group who have shown support of my work, and me personally, in a way that’s nearly indescribable. My love and appreciation for Deb’s friendship, artistry, and heart have only grown over time. She shared with Stacy and I tickets to attend this weekend’s art fair in Berea where I met her kind friend whose name I no longer remember (it’s a problem I’ve always had). Deb has many friends, and many loyal customers. Her work is beautiful like their maker. It seems one can never say ‘thank you’ enough to friends like Deb. She’s a keeper.

 

reflections of
reflections of

july 12, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.” ~ Betty White

 

still standing
still standing

 

If I haven’t told you much about Bruce McCain, let me rectify that right now. Bruce McCain is truly one of the finest human beings you will ever meet. But let’s start with the fact that he’s eat up with talent: one of the finest songwriters America has. He’s whip smart, quick witted, and sweet as the day is long. He is accepting of everyone, and would never shove his thoughts or beliefs in another’s face. He’s compassionate that way.

 

a woman and her (other) man
a woman and her (other) man

 

It was a year ago today that Angie’s husband, Jerry, died in an accident. A few days later, Bruce and I (and many other close friends) sat by her side watching a funny video about his life, listening to sweet songs he loved, and bidding him Godspeed. Bruce was not only Angie’s partner in music for many years, but her friend for life; a true companion, someone she has always counted on in a time of need. He hasn’t let her down, and when it was time to be seated for that last goodbye, it was Bruce who sat by her side (Larry Ash was on the other).

 

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha

 

Bruce isn’t just about his friends, but his family as well. He cares for his aging mother, Marsha, in their family home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He’s patient with her, and does so with the quintessential quirky Bruce sense of humor. We should all be so lucky to live out our last years with a cute funny man looking after us.

 

takin' care of business
takin’ care of business

If I haven’t mentioned that I love and adore Bruce McCain, let me clear that up, too. I have always admired him; appreciated his steadfastness; adored his rejection of corporate America in favor of a simpler, more fulfilling life full of art and music and friends. The worst thing I can say about Bruce McCain is that he’s a smoker, and that’s only because it cuts into our visitation time because I quit smoking. I hope someday to be as fine a friend and caregiver as Bruce. I wouldn’t trade him for all the money in the world.

june 30, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“The true heart of a person lies in their character.” ~ Bill Bliss, Sr.

 

whole earth man
whole earth man

 

Gurney dropped by my office for a casual discussion about our working together on more oral histories. I sat mostly in stunned silence at how incredible his life has been. In case you’re unaware, before he was a creative writing professor, he was an editor and contributor on the Whole Earth Catalogue. And if you’re unfamiliar with that, it was, essentially, Amazon and Google before there was Amazon and Google. Gurney was in the middle of it all. His bestselling book, Divine Right’s Trip, was written specifically for the last issue of The Catalogue. It’s found on the lower right hand corner of the right hand pages throughout the catalogue. The final chapter, laid out around two dragons (symbolic of the Greek Ouroboros: the recreating of something such as the self), was also the final page. What may be the most amazing thing about this to me, besides the fact that he wrote the novel in pieces for The Catalogue, is that when it was gathered into a novel format, he never changed a word. Meaning, the book is first draft beginning to end. It wasn’t edited for The Catalogue, and he didn’t edit it for further publication. That, my friends, is totally awesome and just one reason why I love Gurney so much.

 

For Dear Kopana
For Dear Kopana

may 30, 2014

posted in: photography | 0

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
~ Maya Angelou

 

rockin robin
rockin robin

 

Robin Dalton is one of my oldest friends. Our families go way back. We’ve lived more lives together than you can imagine: from combing ditch lines for aluminum cans (for money), to rock and roll bands playing backwoods honky tonks. There’s no one whose word is more straight and true. You’ll never wonder where you stand with her or what she means. And in a world that’s eat up with passive aggressive behavior, she’s a breath of fresh air. She is a champion of the downtrodden human and helpless animal alike. When I was young and struggling, she fed me. When I floundered in direction, she supported me. When I worried about useless things, she grounded me. In her spare time, of which she has little, she has taken in, cared for, and suffered along with more dogs and cats than I can count. This is her calling, her passion; she is a caregiver and teacher, plain and simple. My life has been made infinitely richer because of Robin, and I’m eternally grateful to her and for her. I’m sure I speak for the countless animals she has saved, too.

october 3, 2013

posted in: photography | 0

With our thoughts we make our world.” ~ Buddha

by the dawn's early light
by the dawn’s early light

Last night Greg Gross came to see me. Over the years I’ve lost several men, like Lance, with whom I was extremely close, but thankfully I haven’t lost Greg. If ever the Universe made a brother for me, it’s him, and little coincidence that he calls me sis. We really bonded in High School. It doesn’t matter how many years apart we go without seeing one another, absolutely nothing would change how much I love and respect him. He speaks his mind and, frighteningly, he’s almost always right in his summations. Plus, he’s smart as a whip and handsome as all get out. I wouldn’t be half the woman I am without his friendship, and I hope I never walk a day on this planet without him. Grateful doesn’t begin to touch this.

30 year date
30 year date

september 14, 2012

posted in: photography | 0

We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason.”
~ Unknown

bestie (snapseed)

Marie Dale trained me like she trained the billion students and staff that had come through her door before me with that same kind of polite but “God, I have done this so many times…” tone. She warmed to me mighty quick though, I think when she figured out I wasn’t average. And that’s what I liked about her, too. Marie is not average. We have been great friends since 2001. She is one of the finest people I have ever met. Ever. We will always be great friends.

july 25, 2012

posted in: photography | 0

At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.” ~ Christine Mason Miller

beginner’s luck, beginner’s mind, beginner’s knees (snapseed)

When I suffer a migraine, everything I think is clouded. But a gift from J. Wendel Cox arrived on my ibuprofen hazed doorstep and whisked those clouds away. Wendel is a trusted colleague; a confidant; a kindred spirit on many, many levels – more than he knows, probably. In the time since I stepped in to fill his shoes at work I have learned a lot of truth about the both of us. Thanks for forgiving my insecurities, JWC, and thanks for being a true friend. I’ll meet you in a marathon soon where we rejoice and be glad in this most awesome friendship.