“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.
“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” ~ Vince Lombardi
Today felt like Old Home Day. I ran into friends I haven’t seen and spoken with, in some cases, for close to twenty years. Meanwhile, I met and made new friends, too. As you can see from Errol’s smile above, we survived our presentations. They were sort of in the middle of my exciting day. Lots of great things happened before and after that. Here’s a brief list of what happened.
It started when I met up with Jeanne Marie (JM) Hibbard at lunch, but first, we cornered old pal and writer Robert Gipe (below in green) to say hello and have him sign my copy of his latest book titled Trampoline. I’ve known this sweet, sweet man for decades, and it was so good to reconnect. JM and I had a good, long talk over lunch during which she introduced me to her colleague, Brett Ratliff, who, as it turns out, knows all my favorite people like Pam and Jim Bob Meade. I ran into Brett a little later as I was talking to distant cousin and all around great guy Rich Kirby. Incidentally, both Rich and Brett are fantastic musicians. Then, I was off to see Jim Webb (below in hat) who regaled me with stories galore as only Jim can do. I also had him sign his book, Get In Jesus. He threw in a plastic cup and coozie (sp?) from Wiley’s Last Resort. I told him it was my lucky day and I was going to buy a lottery ticket! My night ended with new friends and colleagues Stewart Plein and Lori Hostuttler at the Ricky Skaggs show. I skipped out at the first encore to make the last three minutes of the UK/Notre Dame game. That last 30 seconds was enough to do me in. Thank goodness they won. I’m telling you, this was a most excellent day start to finish. And how lucky am I to have all these completely awesome people in my life? Pretty daggone lucky!
“Your soul doesn’t care what you do for a living, and when your life is over, neither will you. Your soul cares only about what you are being while you are doing whatever you are doing.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch
While yesterday kicked off the holiday season at home, today kicked it off with my peeps. It started with an enjoyable lunch with my Happiness Project gals at a place called Crust off Richmond Road. Stacy Yelton, Sandy Davis, Annie Bassoni, Jeanne Marie Hibbard, and Deb Chenault were as delightful as always, and it did my heart so good to laugh and talk with them. Then, it was off to party #2 with my mUsiKcare family where we played and sang and laughed and ate even more delicious food. I’ve had to miss class a lot during this semester. Fortunately for me, they’re very forgiving people, though I’ll need to practice extra hard over the Christmas break to catch up. The holiday season has begun in earnest now, and I’m as happy as I can be having spent my day with such special friends.
“Let us forget the sorrows of the past and make up our minds not to dwell on them in the New Year. With determination and unflinching will, let us renew our lives,
our good habits, and our successes. If the last year has been hopelessly bad,the New Year must be hopefully good.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
We usher in 2014 with as much hope and happiness as we can muster on a cold Kentucky night. Earlier in the day I laid out my jar of notes of thanks and took stock of the year’s joys. I noticed a few themes: the doctors that took such good care of me, finding a new job I actually like, and the support of my friends and family through it all. That made seeing many of them at Stacy Yelton’s NYE party all the sweeter. I got to meet Ruth Bryan’s dad, Bill; hug John Lumagui whom I rarely get to see anymore; rarer still was Marlon Hurst who somehow escaped my lens; celebrate Greg Davis and Vanessa who are so cute and happy together you can’t help but smile; soak up my Happiness gals Sandy Davis, Jeanne Marie Hibbard, and Annie Bassoni; admire Josh James’ intelligence; and laugh hysterically with the funniest man on the planet, Terry Keys. What more could I possibly ask for in this life but to ring in the new year in the company of such good, smart, funny people?
“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when.
You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.”
~ Joan Baez
The Happiness gals braved high winds for a much needed gathering at Jeanne Marie Hibberd’s in Berea. JM is not only one of the best cooks ever, but her home and hospitality are equally warm and comforting. There’s never a bad time with these women. The world’s problems float away, or get solved, and there’s laughter; always laughter. Even the cat gets in on the action. I wouldn’t take nothing for these times, or these friends.