august 28, 2017

posted in: photography | 0

“Relish everything that’s inside of you, the imperfections, the darkness, the richness and light and everything. And that makes for a full life.” ~ Anthony Hopkins

 

the new elders

 

This is my oldest cousin, Michael. He’s a teacher and minister in Aiken, SC. He’s also a drummer. That’s not why I love him. I love him because he has deep faith and compassion. Plus he has super cool white eyebrows. I’ve been thinking a lot about the people around Houston suffering from Hurricane Harvey. My cousin Larry Evans and his family are there. My childhood friend Shane Manning and his family are there. My friend Andrea Trusty is there and made the evening news. They’re all okay, but so many are not. My dear friend Bev Howell, in Ennis, Texas, offered shelter to her daughter Amanda living in Houston. Amanda got away with a few clothes and her dogs, but lost everything else with her apartment complex now underwater. I don’t have any digitized photos of Larry, Shane, Andrea, or Bev right now, but the plight of their worlds put me in mind of Michael and the lengths he would go to help those in need. Without question he would open his church for shelter, feed those who are hungry, counsel those with heavy hearts, buoy those without hope. Larry, Shane, Andrea, and Bev will do the same because they’re like Michael that way. I’ve been surrounded by some of the best people on the planet. No wonder my life has been so blessed.

april 25, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“I’m not interested if you’ve stood with the great.
I’m interested in whether you’ve sat with the broken.”
~ Unknown

 

burning sycamore
burning sycamore

 

Saturday’s family soiree ended with a weenie roast, smores, and bonfire out by the sycamore tree. The boys had brought old wooden pallets and fine chopped wood. There was a chill in the air all day, so when it came time to roast marshmallows (or rather ‘mar-shell-ohs’ as Ray called them), they kept the fire stoked like the flames of Hades.

 

Mike's are on fire
Mike’s are on fire

 

smore talk
smore talk

 

For the first time Cousin Mike was able to be with us at the soiree. Living in Akin, South Carolina working as pastor and school teacher doesn’t allow for much travel. That also means not a lot of time with the family. He had to do a lot of driving to get to us, but he did it. He even did some skeet shooting (just as the battery in the camera died – sorry Mike). But what I noticed most of all from Mike is how he made the rounds talking quietly to each and every one as he went, pictured here with our Aunt Mabel. He’s such a gentle soul.

 

and then there's Shirley
The flame!

 

And then there’s my mom. No matter how bad she feels I guarantee she will do something funny before the day is over…like pretending to fart on the flames. As you can see much amusement was had at her display. She’s a hoot. I tell you, we have the best times at Harold and Phyllis’ farm. If we can’t be at Mamaw and Papaw’s anymore, this is pretty close (literally and figuratively). It’s all such a blessing.

march 4, 2016

posted in: art, photography | 6

“Death, as tragic and difficult as it is to accept, has a way of helping us put things into perspective. Relationships that have been taken for granted suddenly take on greater significance. Even our words become more meaningful. Things that were only thought before, are now said. We take more stock of our limited time and we begin to make better use of our time by connecting more consistently and in deeper ways. The challenge, of course, is to maintain this perspective beyond the days that follow our shared tragedy. At the end of life, the only thing that will really matter won’t be our material possessions or professional accolades. It will be the tender memories of family and friends that we have stored in the treasure room of our hearts and minds. Perhaps our greatest memories occur when our individual stories somehow connect and merge with another’s story to form a new path that we walk on together. I am thankful to be a part of the Terry family story, the shared paths of the past, and I look forward to new chapters being written in the future. Thank you Kopana for setting forth our shared journey in pictures and words for reflection and posterity sake. You are the best! And, as Tiny Tim would say, “God bless us all – everyone!”’ ~ Michael Terry

 

recognition (snapseed)
recognition (snapseed)

 

If you’ve followed the outhouse over time you know that I choose the daily quotes up to two weeks ahead of their publish date. Today’s quote is no different. It came from cousin Michael as a comment on a post nearly two weeks ago. I was so moved by his eloquence that I wanted to share it, because it spoke to me on so many levels, and it was positive in its message which is, of course, what I strive for. As so often happens, to me anyway, today brought more life affirming messages my way. The first came as a private facebook message from my old friend and colleague, Ann Howington. It’s been several years since we last saw one another, and many months since we last corresponded. Suddenly, there she was: “I gotta tell you, I am making a list of people who inspire me the most and you are at the top of my list. You have that “spark” that everyone else wants. You also make me laugh so much – whether in person, on FB or in the outhouse! Love you, Ko. Shine on!” My heart melted. When you think you aren’t making a difference along comes someone who says, “You make a big difference!” It was one of the finest compliments anyone has ever paid me. It was timely, too, as I’ve been pondering what I should do next for work. Then, I came home to find a rather official envelope in my mailbox from the state capital. I thought I was being audited or something horrid like that. Instead, I found this letter from State Representative Jeff Donohue. “Thank you for sharing your talent with the Commonwealth,” it said. Well, I must say, when God and the Universe want my attention, they certainly know how to get it. I’m beyond grateful that Michael, Ann, and Jeff Donohue (whom I’ve never met) chose to tell me what they thought. After all this I don’t believe I need to ponder anything. I reckon I’m on the right track. Here’s to making more art and being thankful for every moment.

february 21, 2016

posted in: photography | 1

“The heart that truly loves has no room for grudges.” ~ Ghanaian Proverb

 

good men
good men

 

Funerals are strange things really. Overwhelming grief in the midst of boundless gratitude. Between the tears are laughter, stories, and heartfelt hugs. I will not lie and say today was a bundle of fun. It was one of the saddest days I’ve ever had. Still, despite bone deep sadness, I stand in awe of just how spectacular my family is. We are a strong, hearty hillbilly bunch, and we’re more alike than probably most of us care to admit. But it’s true. We were made from salt of the Earth stock and it shows on days like this. How perfect cousin Michael’s graveside service was, urging us to be glad of the time we had with James; to be thankful in the memories we share, and not just with James, but with each other; to continue to love and accept love. Ultimately, I think grief is meant to make us grateful. And if we’re not grateful for what we have, and for those whom we love, then we’ve lost the lesson entirely. Therein lies the real tragedy. I know I’m grateful for every single member of my family. For all they are, and for all they are not, but mostly for loving each other enough to show up when it really matters: Mamaw, Papaw, Randolph, Lucille, dad, mom, Greg, Virginia, Phillip, Linda Gail, Mabel, Ralph, Linda (even somehow ‘ol crazy Vernon), Barbara, Bill, Lois, Galen, Harold, Phyllis, Darrel, Judy, Ralph Paul, Nila, Danny, Sherry, Charlene, Roger, James Trent, Marcie, Michael, Rhonda, Ann, Danny, Tamara, Curt, Jeff, Kelly, Richard, Christine, Mark, Eddie, Daphne, Missy, Mike, Renee, Aaron, Lanelle, Brian, Jessica, Eric, Evyian, Robyn, Kevin, Misty, Tina, Brittany, Robby, Kevin, Lisa, Steven, Ryan, Michelle, Jordan, Cayleigh, Codi, Austin, Dylan, Amanda, Allison, Joey, Pierce, Katy, Samantha, Ava, Sophia, Sydnie, McKenzie, Macie, AJ, Adam, Logan, Lynsey, Austin, Ashtyn, Carter, Ray, Gryffin, Gunnar, and #52 (still in the oven), plus all of Mamaw and Papaw’s nieces and nephews some of whom came to the funeral or visitation last night. My life has more blessings than stars in the sky.

 

the original good men
good men II

february 13, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“Stuff is just stuff. Don’t hold onto material objects, hold onto time and experiences instead.” ~ Unknown

 

the family that eats together...
the family that eats together…

 

The family adores my cousin Michael. He’s the oldest of the Terry grandchildren, son of the oldest Terry child, my late uncle Randolph (1937-2010). Like me, Michael is a drummer, and a very fine one at that. He turned down a chance to tour professionally, and went on to become a preacher and school teacher (middle schoolers, God bless him). A native of Bethel, Ohio, he now heads a church in Akin, South Carolina where he and wife, Rhonda, raised two children. He’s pictured here with our aunt Charlene who insisted that he split a Frisch’s Hot Fudge Cake with her after dinner. I had just finished telling him about the outhouse, and we joked that this would be tonight’s picture. It had to be! He had no idea what a blog was, let alone what the outhouse is.

 

the long walk home
the long walk home

 

Michael drove from South Carolina to see our Uncle James today. He and James were born barely a year apart (that’s right, my grandmother’s first born was about 23 years older than her last born). James and Michael are as close as brothers. Growing up they spent their summers together, and the miles between them have never dampened their fondness for one another. Michael’s presence brought James around for, basically, the first time since Monday. He opened first one eye, eventually the other, and he tried his best to say “Mike,” though he could make no sound. It brought a sense of comfort. Michael has that effect on people. He is one of the most kind-hearted men you’ll ever meet. Soft spoken, gentle, thoughtful; qualities that would naturally make he and James the best of friends. I’ve been grateful for Michael my whole life, but with every passing year I appreciate him all the more. He is who he has always been: A good man. Plus, he has our grandfather Terry’s Oompa Loompa white eyebrows, and what’s not to love about that?

 

the oldest
the oldest