march 27, 2016

posted in: photography | 2

“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” ~ Cherokee Proverb

 

#1
#1

 

#1 - 1
#1 – 1

 

I decided to do something different for Easter. My friend Gail Kennedy told me about the Easter sunrise services held at Lexington Cemetery. Years ago it was a single, non-denominational service. This morning, there were four separate services, at three times, in four locations. I managed to go to three of the services (only because two were held at the same time or I would have done all four). The first service was in the Floral Garden held by Main Street Baptist. It was fantastically beautiful. It was six a.m. and the sun wasn’t even close to coming up. The tiki torches were lit. Everyone was silent save for the preachers. It was moving.

 

#2
#2

 

#2-2
#2-2

 

The second service was with the Salvation Army at the Sunken Garden. It was seven a.m. The sun began to rise during the service. The crowd was larger. The classic Salvation Army brass was on hand, off key, but well meaning. If I had to do it over again, I would have made a break halfway through their service and gone to the Lower Lake where First Baptist Church was holding their sunrise service. I’m sure the light was lovely in the pool’s reflection.

 

#3
#3

 

The third and final sunrise service was at the mausoleum with Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church. It was eight a.m. The sun was fully up. It was a stone’s throw from the graves of my uncles Galen Wilson and Roger Vest. The latter, you may recall, just died in January. To be honest, I spent most of the service at their graves instead; considering their gifts in this life.

 

#3-2
#3-2

 

At the end of the third and final service, when we headed back to our cars, back to our lives, the Lenten season at a close, a ray of sun shone on this little patch of Daffodils. Mamaw called them Easter Lilies (though she knew exactly what they were called). There was one significant Easter I recall when I was young. There was a house at Index where Bank of the Mountains now sits. It was surrounded by so many Daffodils that on this extraordinarily sunny Easter morning, as mom drove us to church, I was completely spellbound by the sight. The house looked as if it had been dropped in the middle of a daffodil field. The sun lit the delicate blooms afire casting a deep golden hue over everything. Daffodils will always remind me of the Easter when time stood still as Heaven sat at the forks of a country road. And they will always be Easter Lilies to me.

january 30, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” ~ Paulo Coelho

 

major
major

 

Today, we buried my uncle Roger Vest. His service was held at Grace Baptist Church in Winchester. The funeral procession then made it’s way to Lexington Cemetery. The Fayette County Sheriff did an incredible job getting us through downtown; no easy task on a busy Saturday. It was a beautiful day, with a stiff, warm breeze. A real change from last weekend’s massive snow. The graveside service was short. Roger’s nephews carried his casket to the grave. Mom and dad lead the family in Amazing Grace. The preacher said a few words. Each of Roger’s nieces placed a pink rose on his casket as we made our exit from the tent. I, of course, then went straight to the car for my camera as my Aunt Charlene said her final goodbye.

 

out with a bang
out with a bang

 

Someone drew my attention to the billowing black smoke. We all knew right away it was no ordinary fire. In ten minutes time the sky turned black. There were sirens and explosions. Soon, the directors urged us to leave as no one yet knew what was on fire and we were directly under the smoke. It wasn’t until we got to my cousin’s church on Ashland Avenue to share a meal that we learned it was the Blue Grass Stockyards. The seven-acre, seventy year old facility the size of a city block went up quickly. The wind whipped three-alarm fire caught six nearby businesses on fire as well.  Slim’s Towing, with a hundred cars in the lot, was the source of the explosions. Despite 120 firefighters, all of it was a total loss. No human lives were lost, but at least twenty cows in the stockyard died. We were sad to see Roger go so suddenly. We were sad to see so many businesses go up in flames, but it sure made for a memorable funeral. Godspeed Roger. Godspeed cattle.

 

miles away
miles away

august 28, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.
The amount of work is the same.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

 

a royal heart
a royal heart

 

In 1833 Lexington suffered a great cholera epidemic. Of the city’s 6,000 residents, over 500 died in just two months, many of them within hours of contracting the infectious disease. Back then no one knew what caused cholera or how to cure it. No one understood why some in a single household would die while others lived. People were terrified of everything around them including each other. Half the city fled to the countryside most especially the wealthy. There was a town drunk named William Solomon. He eked out a living digging cisterns, privies, ditches, and sometimes graves. But when the epidemic hit, the city’s gravediggers fled with everyone else. But not Solomon. He stayed, as did Aunt Charlotte, a freed slave who made a living selling pies. Her friendship with Solomon went back to their time in Virginia, and it was unbreakable. At one point, before the epidemic, Solomon was such a nuisance to the city that they sold him as a slave. Aunt Charlotte bought him for eighteen cents, then set him free. What a remarkable story! Not only did a former slave buy a slave, she bought a white slave in William Solomon (white slaves are usually referred to as indentured servants). When the epidemic hit she begged Solomon to leave the city with her. When he refused, she, too, stayed in Lexington. You can read more about them on the Notable Kentucky African Americans database, the brainchild of BFF Reinette Jones. Aunt Charlotte helped feed the people that remained in the city while Solomon alone buried every person that died of the disease. They say he worked day and night, even sleeping in the cemetery. When the danger had passed, a city previously miffed at the drunkard instead declared him a hero, nicknaming him “King” Solomon. His hard work didn’t keep him from dying in the Poor House years later, but the city did bury him in Lexington Cemetery and erect a generous tombstone in his honor. Naturally, they didn’t do the same for Aunt Charlotte. When I was at Lexington Cemetery with Wendy and Stacy last Sunday I happened upon King Solomon’s grave by accident. It served to remind me that we all have important parts to play in this life. We should not discount someone’s worth because they don’t fit into our ideal of decent or law-abiding. There’s a reason Jesus hung out with the drunks and the prostitutes. This was a teaching moment.

 

For Had He Not A Royal Heart
For Had He Not A Royal Heart

august 25, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

carry the cross
carry the cross

 

I don’t like this shot as much as the mausoleums I posted last night, but nevertheless it’s a great example of the ornate tombstones that adorn the Lexington Cemetery. Have I mentioned that I can’t wait until the leaves turn in autumn? And bloom again in spring? I will have my camera in hand and ready for more adventure. Thank you again, Wendy Bright, for taking Stacy and I on an adventure. Such fun!

august 24, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“Passion doesn’t come from business or books or even a connection with another person. It is a connection to your own life force, the world around you and the spirit that connects us all. You are the source. Books, work, music, people, sunsets all provide sparks, but only you can light the fire.”
~ Jennifer James

 

hidden crypts
hidden crypts

 

Yesterday, Wendy Bright wanted to see Henry Clay’s tomb at the Lexington Cemetery, so off we went. Lexington Cemetery, formed in 1848, is world renown for it’s gardens, particularly in the spring when the large variety of trees are in bloom. The cemetery was primarily designed by a Scotsman named Bell who intended it to be very park-like. In any case, we’re walking at the foot of Henry’s tomb yesterday when I see a road, or what used to be a road that now trails off into the grass. On the cemetery map I looked at later, the entrance and exit of this one time road are still marked on the map in Lot L. The website’s history says Lot L was developed in 1851. From where we were standing at the foot of Henry’s tomb I could also see the top of a structure very near where the used-to-be-road takes a curve beside the hill. I convinced Wendy and Stacy to follow me. We walked the old path down into this earthen bowl. There are no obvious graves, though its crest is lined with some of the oldest tombstones, suggesting the deep pit had been a pond, though research thus far says nothing about a water source in this area. Stranger still, as we kept walking, we came upon these mausoleums that time has clearly forgotten save for the gardener’s path following the old road carved through dense brush. The vegetation was so thick that even in the photo you can’t tell it was a bright, sunshiny day. I found it fascinating. I’ve done just a bit of research and can’t find any information about these mausoleums, or about the lack of graves in Lot L. I can only suspect that this old road was at one time part of the main entrance. The current entrance, with the stone chapel/office and iron gates, came about some decades later, in the 1880’s I think. Whatever the case, it was a great adventure. I can’t wait to go back when the leaves begin to turn in Autumn, and I can’t wait to learn more about this place.

august 23, 2015

posted in: photography | 2

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.”
~ Jim Morrison

 

everyone knows it's Wendy
everyone knows it’s Wendy

 

Wendy Bright’s name is right. All I see is light when I look at her. She’s one of the most positive people I’ve ever known; a breath of fresh air to be with. Currently living in Chicago, Wendy’s in town for a historical marker ceremony that will be placed at Ashland, home of legendary Statesman Henry Clay, where she was a docent for several years. It will commemorate Ashland’s relationship with the University of Kentucky. At one time UK’s campus, then known as Kentucky University and soon after as Kentucky A&M, was part of the Ashland estate. Around 1878, UK moved its operations to the old Fairgrounds where the main campus is today.

 

Henry's garden
Henry’s garden

 

Wendy wrote her thesis around the juxtaposition of Ashland as both home and museum as it was in later years when Clay’s grand-daughters had bought back the estate from John Bowman, founder of what would become the University of Kentucky. I always find Wendy’s visits illuminating. I learn so much from her.

 

BFFs
BFFs

 

Wendy is a good egg. She has wonderful ideas with deep interest in history, and not just here in lexington, but also in her adopted home of Chicago. She has a company called Wendy City. She offers a variety of tours around the Windy City; from The Worlds Fair (what’s left of it) including nods to the very popular book Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, to Retro Weird to Art Deco and Nightlife. She’s full of knowledge and she’s eager to share it. If you’re in Chicago, or visiting soon and looking for something cool to do, you should definitely find Wendy and let her light shine for you the way it shines for me. You will love her. I do. She’s one of the finest people I know.