“Do everything with so much love in your heart that you would never want to do it any other way.” ~ Unknown
I had the honor of celebrating Erin Chandler’s trip around the sun with her and some of the most interesting women I know. Seriously: every woman at the table had an inspiring story of life. Erin, being one of these women, made her own birthday dinner and had party gifts for her guests which included a book she personally chose for each of us. I was really touched by these acts of kindness. It’s a very cool thing to do to entertain people you love on your birthday. We laughed, we talked, we ate hearty, and most importantly, we spent quality time with Erin who looked more beautiful than I’ve seen her in a long time. She inspires me every day and I’m incredibly proud of the work she’s doing these days. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for her because her light continues to shine brightly in our world. Happy Birthday, Erin. I love you from the bottom of my heart and I’m proud to be your friend.
“Never trust someone who isn’t kind to animals.” ~ Unknown
1. Annie Bassoni and sweet, sweet artist friend Katie Swartz from Mason, Ohio.
2. Artist and BFF Deb Chenault selling her wares as Annie and Jeanne Marie Hibberd (and my forehead) look on
3. The totally awesome maker of the coolest crows ever, artist Steve Heartsill
4. Longtime BFFs and artists David and Rebecca Miller Campbell were surprised that I didn’t have the large camera. I like to keep them guessing!
5. The Morgan County Corner of Kentucky Market was more than well represented with photographer Dean Hill next door to David and Rebecca. They make Morgan County proud.
6. Mary Barber, whom I had not seen in easily 40+ years, recognized my name as Annie yelled “Kopana, I’m going to the restroom.” I grew up and went through school with Mary’s youngest sisters, and graduated with the baby of the Barber Clan, Cynthia. It was absolutely wonderful to catch up with her.
7. Yours truly entered these photos in the KY Arts Council’s Veterans traveling exhibit. This is the second time I’ve had work in an exhibit that ended up at The Market. #proud
8. Annie and an adorable cup made by Katie. It was a gorgeous day in the Bluegrass, a perfect day to see beautiful art and wonderful friends. I call this day a win.
“Start by doing 1 pushup.
Start by drinking 1 cup of water.
Start by paying toward 1 debt.
Start by reading 1 page.
Start by making 1 sale.
Start by deleting 1 old contact.
Start by walking 1 lap.
Start by attending 1 event.
Start by writing 1 paragraph.
Start today. Repeat tomorrow.”
“The life in front of you is way more important than the life behind you.” ~ Unknown
Some of the Happiness troupe met at Brier Books for Silas House’s reading of his latest novel, Southernmost. There were so many people that the event was moved outside. Because a few of us have issues with direct sun for long(ish) periods, we opted out of the reading, and instead went to dinner where we proceeded to spend two glorious hours clucking like the hens we are. The food was good, too. Annie was on a mission to photograph Silas with Limbourghini while we were still at the bookstore. Sadly, it was not to be. Way too many people demanding his time. Plan B was to photoshop him into the photo. But really, now that I think about it, I think they were holding a space for me. If I had a picture of myself standing up I would have photoshopped myself in. Since I don’t, you’ll just have to imagine that I did, and that’s almost as funny. Like so many times before, I had the best time with these women. We always have great talks and lots of laughter. They get me. Balm for my soul.
“In a world full of people who couldn’t care less, be someone who couldn’t care more.” ~ Unknown
Queen Sandy Davis was in town from Boston and I was lucky enough to catch her for dinner. In fact, a bunch of us had the pleasure of dining with Sandy this evening, and I feel safe in saying ‘a good time was had by all.’ Her hugs are just as kind and long as they’ve ever been; her smile lights up the room, and her spirit brings us all together in a way few others can. My life got better the day I met Sandy Davis. I’m very fortunate to call her friend. In fact, every one of these people enrich me every day. I couldn’t love them more.
“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”
~ George Washington
Nifty, nifty, look who’s fifty! It’s Annie Bassoni, come to join the 50-is-the-new-30 club. There was a gathering of friends to celebrate Annie’s half-century on this planet. People I love from the bottom of my heart, and people I’d never met: my favorite kind of gathering. Happy Birthday, Annie. I’m sure glad you were born. You make the world a better place.
“In a way life itself tracks a person’s generosity, much like an airline might track frequent flyer miles. The more you give, the more you earn, the higher you fly, and the further you go.” ~ Robin Jackson
Today I did something I’ve never done. I went to a protest march; the Women’s March. I tend to keep my political views to myself. The outhouse provides me a positive, creative outlet. Politics don’t really belong here because I don’t find them particularly positive. But today I have to talk about it. I exercise my right to vote at every election, and I take that very seriously. A century ago, women were beaten and scorned and God knows what to get me that right. I refuse to dishonor them by not going to the polls. My father and his brothers, even my mother through her military service, fought to uphold this right as well. I honor them when I cast my votes. As a progressive in Kentucky I often lose, but I go to the polls anyway. You can call me a lot of things, but sore loser isn’t one of them.
I did not go to the march as an anti-president protestor. I never want our presidents to fail. I don’t want congress to fail. Nobody wins if/when these things happen. No, I went to the march because ours is a democracy admired around the world for its ability to survive whatever gets thrown at us, and that survival depends solely on people getting off their asses when they don’t like what they see and doing something about it. I went to the march because of the inexcusable behavior during the campaign that allowed America’s underbelly of racist, sexist, cruelly insensitive hypocritical culture, the level of which is nearly incomprehensible, to raise its head. It’s not the campaign tone alone that I have a problem with; it’s the culture to which that behavior gave voice. Disturbing though it is, I am not at all surprised by it. You don’t have to be a minority to know it’s there. You just have to be willing to acknowledge it.
A man did not win the American presidential election. Apathy won the election. Frankly, I think having a president who did not earn his seat by popular vote, buoyed by a single-party controlled congress that, thus far, appears perfectly alright with whatever happens regardless of the consequences, will be an excellent thing for this country. Let’s hear it for this reawakened bravado of the McCarthy-era wealthy, white patriarchy. You can’t fight what you can’t see. So, here it is, front and center. If you don’t like it, do something about it. If you do like it, enjoy it. I suspect this current Washington line-up is just the punch in the gut that Apathy needed. After what I witnessed today, the mid-term congressional elections are in 2018, and this resistance train is mighty and moving fast. Things will change.
I went to the Women’s March today expecting nothing but women. Boy, was I in for a surprise. There were just as many men. They made my heart sing. There were young people and elderly people. There were people in wheelchairs and babies in strollers, and gay people and straight people and people somewhere in between, and black and brown and white people, and people in costumes I didn’t understand at all. There were friends and colleagues and strangers all around me. This might have been called the Women’s March, but this was really The People’s March. This is what democracy looks like, and it was breathtakingly beautiful.
I’ve seen estimates for Lexington’s Women’s March between 5000-9000 people. There was an estimated 2.5 million protestors across the country today, apparently making this the largest protest in American history. I marched today for my mother, and my grandmothers, my aunts and cousins, friends and colleagues, and for all the men I know who would never condone the behavior that’s been unleashed. Jim Brown and Lance Hughes felt particularly close. I marched for my dad who loves me from the bottom of his heart and would never, ever, ever talk about me like a piece of meat. He is a decent, honorable man. We are so blessed to live in a country that gives us the right to peaceably assemble, and for our voices to be heard. God knows we’ve got our faults, but America is already great, and I reject any suggestion that it is not. I’m not a political junky or an activist. My view here is simple compared to the complexity of the situation. All I really know is that I love everybody. I don’t care what a person’s religion is, or who they sleep with, or how many sins they may – or may not have – committed, or what color their skin is. If they are kind, respectful human beings, I welcome them in my world, and I hope they would welcome me into theirs. To me, this is what being Christ-like looks like, and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It is also fundamental to my political views.
“Fear has two meanings:
‘Forget everything and run’ or ‘Face everything and rise.’
The choice is yours.”
~ Zig Ziglar
Erin Chandler had a gathering to say goodbye to 2015, welcome 2016, and bring together a few family and friends for laughs, food, and music. Indeed, we had all of that and more. Some of us met for the first time. Others of us knew one another from various and sundry parts of our lives. And many of Erin’s closest family joined in the celebration.
Erin’s first cousin, Whit, confessed to me as we stood in the kitchen. He confessed that he attended many a Stealin Horses show at Café LMNOP during his youth. He was the guy doing the pogo. If you’ve ever seen a Stealin Horses show, you’ll know that during our take on Gloria, Kiya would pogo at some point, and always the dancers would join in. Whit was one of those Solid Gold Dancers! He made my night with that story. Plus, I realized that I hadn’t been crazy all these years by thinking I knew him from somewhere. I really did.
Whit’s mom, Erin’s Aunt Toss, was drawn to the music. She was also drawn to Silas House. She was very cute about it, too, making her way around the room quietly, weaving in and out of the crowd, until finally, she made him scoot over so she could sit beside him. She’d had her eye on him from the start. Ultimately, however, she was in it for the music. The bottom photo with Whit warms my heart so much. He is so tender with her in the way he talks with her, the way he touches her. Frankly, I think Whit hung the moon. That he’s also one of the world’s best huggers is just icing on the cake.
It was a great evening just as Erin intended. Before dinner we each said what we were grateful for in 2015 and what we hoped for in 2016. I’m blessed in so many ways and grateful for every bit of it. That’s true in 2015, and it will be true in 2016 come what may.
“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day.
And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”
Last Sunday’s gathering had Annie Bassoni trying, like a brave soul, the seaweed concoction that came as a side with Harriette Swarts’ oysters. You can see what she thought of the taste. Kudos to her for trying though. I knew I wouldn’t like it, and after I saw her reaction, I was assured I was right. Seaweed: not my favorite.
“Consider becoming the type of energy that, no matter where you go,
you always add value to the spaces and lives of those around you.”
This was a big, nervous day for me. If you’ve been following the outhouse, then you know I’ve been working on a series of photos called Sacred Spaces. The first exhibit of the work was scheduled to hang today at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Lexington. Because God and the Universe love me, it just happened to coincide with Sandy Davis’ first return to Lexington since moving to Boston. Sandy has been a big supporter of my work and she always had my back when it comes to all the things I’m horrible with, like marketing myself. I’ve leaned on her artistic senses to put this exhibit together, so it was only right that she should be there when it went up. I trust her eye, and I trust Marlon Hurst, so I stepped aside and let them hang the show. It was a huge load off my shoulders, frankly. I get too close to the work sometimes to know what’s best. I’m indebted to them forever for helping me. And while they did the heavy lifting, Harriette Swart and Stacy Yelton talked to me at length about the work itself. Their conversations were so cathartic, so soothing, that my nerves calmed and I felt more confident about the work, and most importantly, the impact of the work. It was a truly special time that I will never forget (Sandy insisted on the Kopana style selfie, and Sandy gets what she wants!).
My day wasn’t done. No, this great day was meant to be a spectacular day! We left the exhibit and met our Happiness gal pals at National Provisions for a late brunch. This was the first time we’ve all been together since Erin had moved before Sandy, Annie, and Jeanne Marie joined us. Plus, we’ve added Harriette Swart and Marcie Christensen because they are meant to be here. We’ve all had a big year, but most of us have undergone big life changes; from moving homes to changing careers to adult responsibilities, and so on. I just can’t believe how lucky I’ve gotten to find these friends. It’s mostly thanks to Deb Chenault for putting her Happiness Project out there and letting us be part of it. Every one of these women is talented, unique, big-hearted, and smart. I’m just happy and in love with all of them. And Marlon, too, because he’s cool enough to be a gal pal… if he was a gal. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.