may 27, 2018

posted in: photography | 2

“It’s okay to not be okay all the time.” ~ Unknown




It’s not just that I have ancestors buried at South Fork in Malone, it’s also that the land surrounding the hillside cemetery used to belong to my great, great grandparents, Patrick H. and Rebecca Patrick Risner. I talked about them just last year. Their house sat near the curve at the far end of the straight stretch in the photo below. None of those other buildings existed then. It was all farmland and the railroad would have still been running. The house remained standing until sometime in the 1990’s (I think). The Risner’s came to Malone from Magoffin County around 1900 and settled this large stretch of land. One of their four daughters, Minnie, married Douglas Adams. They were my great grandparents. Their house sat very close to the basketball goal in the photo above. I don’t remember that house at all and they both died before I was born. Another daughter, Ada, married Elbert Sparks, and they lived in a house where the white house now sits in the photo above. Unlike my great-grandmother, I knew Ada very well, except I called her Nannie. No one knows why. She taught me to play piano and baked the best apple pies you ever tasted and heated her house with coal and kept my ponies in her barn. She and Elbert never had children, and he died a fairly young man. She didn’t remarry and remained in the house until long after she should have. She died in 1984 at age 86. Her house and property was sold in the 1990’s as well. It was torn down, along with her barn, her garden, and the maple trees along the road, and replaced with the house sitting there now. The valley saw a lot of change in less than 100 years as the Risner’s came and went.


home place


Sitting opposite Nannie’s house is Larry and Ella Ray Evans’ home place. Larry’s parents are buried right behind my grandparents in the South Fork Cemetery (you can see their headstone in a photo from yesterday’s post). I grew up with Larry and Ella Ray’s two sons Larry Scott and Barry. Larry Scott and I are the same age. We’re also really good friends, and have been since before we started first grade together. Facebook has allowed us to stay in near-daily contact with each other, but even before social media, we somehow managed to keep up with one another as we both travelled the world then settled in different states. Even now, I can almost see the huge paper maché Statue of Liberty Larry Scott built beside their house. It was probably 8-9 feet tall. He was always gifted and he was always kind. He helped Nannie a lot when she got too old to do some things for herself. One of my favorite Larry stories was the time a bunch of us high schoolers went to the cemetery at night for a seance by the now dead tree. I think Larry conducted it, not that he could ever get a bunch of high school kids to cooperate, but he tried. He’s nothing if not patient. Despite his best efforts, we didn’t see the dead, talk to the dead, or even hear a hoot owl as I recall, but we had a lot of laughs and some good clean fun. I’ve got more stories about Larry than I’ve got time to write, but suffice it to say, he is an integral part of my life. I am more thankful for him than I can say.


memory in black and white



may 28, 2017

posted in: photography | 5

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” ~ Maya Angelou


American spelling


Like most Americans, I am descended from a melting pot of immigrants. Take, for example, this line of German ancestors buried at South Fork, Malone, Morgan County, Kentucky. Rebecca (Patrick) and Patrick H. Risner are my great-great grandparents. They raised my grandfather Adams. He was born in Magoffin County, where they also lived (on Puncheon Creek probably). In the early 1900’s, they bought and moved to a farm at Malone very near the cemetery at South Fork. Mom remembers being at their house when she was a little girl. The house is no longer standing, but you could have seen it from the cemetery. I’ve traced Patrick Risner’s line back to Joachim Reissner, born 1620 in Germany. His great-grandson, Hans Michael Reisner, of Gemmingen Germany, came to the U.S. in 1732 aboard the ship Dragon. He landed in Pennsylvania then moved on to Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee.  He died in 1805 presumably in Knox County, Kentucky. It’s suspected that he came to Kentucky because he was moving west to fight Indians after losing all his land and money to supplying Braddock’s failed campaign during the French and Indian War of 1755. Fitting then that one of his grandsons should marry a full-blood Cherokee in Letty “Hatchet Grey” Durham; my 7x great-grandmother. I get a real kick out of genealogy, and this line of ancestors continues to prove interesting. 


respecting the ancestors

april 19, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“No one is going to stand up at your funeral and say, “She had a really expensive couch and great shoes.” Don’t make life about stuff.” ~ Unknown


country roads
country roads


On Sunday, when I was taking the scenic road back to Lexington, I decided to check out a road I hadn’t driven in 30 years. It’s a short road that runs beside Caney Creek, parallel to HWY 191. In fact, it might actually be the old railroad bed. In any case, today it’s called Steele Road. I always knew it as the road to the fairgrounds. Maybe it was called Steele Road back then, too, I don’t know. They long ago moved the fairgrounds to an old strip mine closer to town, and the Licking Valley RECC took over the old fairgrounds space. Apart from that, the road is exactly the same, save for Merle McGuire’s country store being closed and his sorghum mill no longer in operation (that’s essentially the direction this photo is facing). Most of the land around the road is still farmed by the Steele family, and I’m glad of that. This little valley carved out by Caney Creek known as Malone is where I spent my most formative years. It is as much a part of my DNA as my ancestors. It’s still as beautiful in the spring as it ever was, and I very much enjoyed the ride.

april 17, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“I feel that we should attempt to experience life in all possible ways. The good and the bad, the bitter and sweet, the dark and light, the summer and winter; and everything else in between… because the more experience you have, the more you develop a sensitivity and understanding with everything you come into contact with, and the more mature you become.” ~ Daniel Bilog


little brother
beloved brother


There’s a lot going on, major change is in the air. I was in West Liberty seeing my folks, and on my way out, I stopped at Mark’s grave. I depended on him to always be there, to remember all the glorious things we did together as children. Our childhoods are as intertwined as if we were siblings. I stopped to tell him I miss him, and talk over a few things. I drove up 191 and stopped at two family graveyards. I stopped to tell them I miss them, and talk over a few things. It was a beautiful spring day to take stock of one’s blessings, and blessings never die.