may 6, 2018

posted in: photography | 0

“Scientists warn that constant fear and anger are bad for our health, while being compassionate and warm-hearted contributes to our physical and mental well-being. Therefore, just as we observe physical hygiene to stay well, we need to cultivate a kind of emotional hygiene too.” ~ Dalai Lama


back to the nest


I understand that, by 11 last night, South Lexington, where I live, had accumulated nearly two inches of rain with the heaviest to come. I drove through pouring rain all the way home from West Liberty. Wally and I immediately checked on Edgar. We found him soaked to the bone, slow, and shaking. I considered wrapping him in a towel and bringing him inside, but I figured Edgar’s plight was not uncommon in the wild. Sure, that much rain at once is a lot, but it’s not necessarily uncommon. Who am I to know better than Mother Nature? But I did want to help knowing that more rain was on the way. I found the top of a cat litter box with a doorway. I put it on his stick mound, then placed him inside. I was feeling very guilty for not doing it sooner because he was distressed. In fact, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a bird that wet that was also alive. The forecast I’d heard before leaving for West Liberty did not call for a deluge, only scattered showers, and Edgar was in the yard practicing. I couldn’t interfere with that, and he would have just come out of the shelter anyway. But perhaps I was wrong to not bring him inside because he did not survive the night. Wally and I found him this morning right where I left him; still soaked to the bone. I was, I am, heartbroken. I buried him beside my sweet cat, Jack, under the pine tree where I first saw him, placing a stone riddled with coral fossils that look like crows feet as a monument atop his grave. I trust he’s now warm and flying. Godspeed, Edgar, and thank you for your magic.


where the loved ones rest

october 7, 2017

posted in: photography | 5

“We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages: that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival.”
~ Joan Halifax


least among them


Uncle Greg’s funeral was chock full of symbolism and a truck load of humor. You see, he had his coffin custom built. It’s been sitting in his cabin up Railroad Fork for the last six years. The utility company came through to clear the lines, and fell a walnut tree on his property. Rather than let it rot, he sawed it into planks, then hired a local Mennonite carpenter to build the coffin. He needed someplace to keep it until it was needed, so he put it in his cabin. Some might find that morbid, but for me, it was one of the most creative things to do. Why would you pay thousands for a coffin when you could have one built from a piece of wood off the land that’s been in our family for generations? It wasn’t just practical, it was meaningful. It was very Uncle Greg.




Greg had worked thirty years at General Motors in Ohio. Between that and his farm(s) in Brown County, he’d made quite a few friends in Ohio. The family held visitation in Ohio the night before the funeral in Eastern Kentucky. The following morning, Richard loaded Uncle Greg (in his coffin) into his pick-up truck, and followed by the family assembled in Ohio, they started a journey to Eastern Kentucky for Greg’s final resting place. Dad and Uncle Phillip fell in with the caravan at Index (that’s in Morgan County) as they escorted Greg up Highway 191 through Cannel City for the last time. I was told the whole journey was a spectacular thing to see. Greg in his coffin riding in a pick-up truck up Highway 191. It was very Uncle Greg. 


always with purpose


Uncle Greg had four children; the most of any of dad’s brothers and sisters. Those children gave he and Aunt Virginia nine grandchildren, and it was they who acted as pallbearers. The youngest is Pierce. While he was too small to bear the full weight of the coffin (top photo), he was more than big enough to bury his grandfather (last photo). I think he would have buried the coffin single-handedly if the other men hadn’t stepped in. He was being very Uncle Greg about it, actually; completely determined to do the job. It was a long day, but it was an extraordinary day from start to finish, just like Uncle Greg. 


doing his part