“If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.”
~ John R. Wooden
My old friend and colleague Louisa Trott Reeves (bottom left) came to UK from UT Knoxville for some spiffy training today. We were lucky to have a nice lunch with friends and catch up. Our chat was much better than this cobbled picture of us squinting into the noonday sun. I’m very grateful to be in a profession that has allowed me to make good, lasting friends like Louisa. I hope it’s not so many years before we have a chance to catch up again.
“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.
“The older I get the more I realize that some situations do not need my reaction.
I can decide where my attention and energy flow.” ~ Unknown
If you want to throw a party, call Shell Dunn. Today, we had our Special Collections Christmas “Taco Extravaganza” and Shell pretty much designed it all. From cooking all the meat (and there was a lot of it) to table decorations to fabulous door prizes, Shell ran the show and really outdid herself this time. Of course others chipped in with food, game design, and general prep, but Shell is the undisputed party visionary of Special Collections.
One of the most popular games Shell has come up with over the years is Jeopardy. All the questions are designed around things familiar to the SCRC staff. In fact, under the “Staff” category one question was, “This person only takes the pictures.” This is Crystal’s motto, and she was amused to be a Jeopardy answer (see above). Though she was not on a Jeopardy team, she was the only person to answer one of the $500 questions. Not bad for a non-competitor.
The most active game of the day was the pepper piñata (tiny self portrait in the glasses). I lost count the number of people that took a swing. It was one tough pepper.
Our people weren’t blindfolded. That would be too ordinary. Instead, they wore welders goggles as modeled here by Lewis Warden, who I should mention, didn’t break the piñata. Instead, he ripped it from its hanger causing a stop in the action for repairs. He got an A for effort, however.
Even Associate Dean, Deirdre Scaggs, took a swing at the pepper piñata. We were beginning to think it was as rigged as the election until Sarah Dorpinghaus finally cracked it open (below). Candy, fake teeth, rubber balls, wooden airplanes, plastic back scratchers, and a host of other trinkets littered the floor, dropping even the oldest among us to the floor in childhood curiosity. The piñata was a hit, so to speak. Jeopardy was a hit. The fabulous door prizes were a hit. The food was exceptional. Our unusual Christmas party was the most festive way to end our year and usher in 2017. Thanks to everyone who helped bring us together for some real fellowship. Your efforts never go unappreciated.
“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
~ James Allen
I had a guest register available at the reception. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until I went to bed Friday night. I attended All Saints Day service this morning and picked it up afterward. Sixty people attended Friday’s reception. Sixty people took time out of their lives to come see my work. Some I’d never met before Friday. Some sneaked in and out without my seeing them though they were kind enough to leave their signature. Some drove nearly two hours to be there. Some took off work. Some were recovering from major surgery. Some couldn’t stay long, and others stayed the whole time. Someone pointed out how many segments of my life were assembled in that room: family, close friends, old friends, new friends, co-workers, writers, actors, artists, musicians, librarians, bankers, software developers, railroad men, professors, social workers, therapists, pathologists, nutritionists, the list goes on. They’re not all represented in this collage, but I couldn’t think of a better way to have a group hug in the outhouse. Sixty people. I may be speechless for a week I’m so overcome with gratitude.
“I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve missed, I’ve hurt, I’ve trusted, I’ve made mistakes,
but most of all, I’ve learned.” ~ Unknown
Today was co-worker Angela Pulley’s last day. We had a nice lunch before she left us for greater things. She brought along her Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards as an after lunch treat. Her’s were unlike any Tarot-like deck I’d seen, not that I’ve seen many. Each card had four partial images. When laid in a five-card by five-card square, two halves making a whole would appear multiple times, and it was from these pairings the reading was drawn. Some of us had more positive readings than others, but the laughter that rolled out of us was worth all the bad debt and lost love fortunes that turned up. It was great fun, and I’m really going to miss Angela. One of my favorite things in life is meeting new and interesting people. Angela gave me that and her friendship in the brief time she’s been with us. There’s no bad fortune in that.
“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.” ~ attributed to John Wesley
Today, on this rainy, cold day, Stacy celebrated her fifty-second birthday. It was, she says, not at all like the day she was born. That day was sunny and 74. (I’m sure she got that information from her mom <insert smile>.) Sarah Dorpinghaus, Marie Dale, and I took her Bangkok House for a celebratory Thai lunch. We were so full that we skipped the celebratory dinner. In between were celebratory cookies, pumpkin roll, and a homemade birthday card filled with cute kittehs made by sweet co-workers Sarah, Shell Dunn, and Angela Pulley respectively. On the way back from lunch, we ambled through The Singletary Center for the Arts hoping to stop in the museum. They’re not open on Monday, in case you’re thinking of going. Nevertheless, we took advantage of the dry indoors for a few quick, albeit super dark, photos. Happy Birthday, Stacy! I sure am thankful for you (and please don’t hate me because the photos aren’t good).
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”
I had the best Halloween this year that I’ve had since Kevin Edmondson’s party 20 years ago. Kevin had a casket in his living room with a (mostly) naked friend inside wrapped in cellophane, meat and cheese and other Hors d’oeuvres draped over him. That’s but one detail of the night. Trust me when I say it was a Halloween to remember. This Halloween wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it was fun just the same. My co-workers dressed up. Our students dressed up. I dressed up. The boss, Doug Boyd, dressed up as Slash from Guns and Roses (above). I won a door prize at the faculty club (I never win door prizes), and then I got to hand out candy at Stacy Yelton’s house while she took pictures of the kids who were so stinkin’ cute this year it hurt. It was a fun, fun day.
Slash and Freddie Mercury (Jaime Burton) rock it out in The Nunn Center while, below, we get a look at the many wondrous costumes of Special Collections Research Center.
(Above – Left to right, top to bottom): Dean Terry Birdwhistell (he claimed to be Inspector Gadget), Maggie Salisbury (a most awesome snail costume), Ruth Bryan (as Ruth Bryan with a pumpkin shirt), Felipe Vogel (see him? He came as a ghost), JD Carruthers (Edward Gorey inspired), John Young (‘ol Punkin’ Head), Ida Sell (she’s always understated, that’s what we love about her), Associate Dean Deirdre Scaggs (jury’s out on who made the best devil, her or Marie), Gordon Hogg (he pulls out his The Scream tie just once a year).
(Below – Left to right, top to bottom): Marie Dale (the Devil’s right arm), Kopana and Marie at VP Alben Barkley’s desk (I couldn’t decide if I was a cowgirl or a farmer), Jaime Burton (dressed as Freddie Mercury, she was scared by how much she looked like her dad), Deirdre and Doug, Sarah Dorpinghaus (as a French Archivist) and Matt Harris (as Sarah in negative), Doug and Jaime.
“Seek to do brave and lovely things which are left undone by the majority of people. Give gifts of love and peace to those whom others pass by.” ~ Paramhansa Yogananda
Meet UK Provost Christine Riordan. We met taking this picture. Actually, we were never formally introduced, but I suspect she’ll remember me after today, or at least she’ll remember her visit. She was scheduled to come by Special Collections for a tour. Yesterday, we scurried about prettying up the place. Housekeeping buffed the marble floors while the rest of us dusted places that hadn’t been dusted in years. There was a feeling of excitement in the air, as if The Queen herself was coming. We were told to meet in the lobby this afternoon to greet Provost Riordan before the tour. Associate Dean, Deirdre Scaggs, made a very brief announcement, and then we were adjourned, but we didn’t really move. So, camera in hand (of course), I walked over to Provost Riordan and “snap.” Laughter.
I had seen provost Riordan speak once before today. I felt something familiar about her, not in appearance so much as her tone and the manner in which she carries herself. I had a feeling she would be okay with such a spontaneous moment. Plus, we needed a little something to break the ice. Not only was she okay with it, she upped the ante. Without missing a beat, she grabbed her phone and said something like, “If Ellen can do it….” It was a truly fabulous moment. Much laughter ensued.
How well my assertion played out depended solely on Provost Riordan’s reaction. It could have gone very badly. Instead, she was not only gracious about my invading her personal space, she was downright fun about it. The smartest people I know have the same ability as she to laugh, go with the flow, and be kind in unexpected situations. Thank you, Provost Riordan, for being cool, and sharing the peace and love with us. You made for a great day.
[Ellen selfie: Christine Riordan, Deirdre Scaggs, Marie Dale, Shell Dunn, Crystal Heis, Kopana Terry, Stacy Yelton, Ed Brown (with his head cut off), Michael Slone, Robert Holland, Judy Sackett, Gail Kennedy, Sarah Dorpinghaus, Megan Mummy, Justin Student, Lewis Warden, and the top of Jaime Burton’s head with lots of unidentified hands, probably Seth Newell and Jason Flahardy]
[Botton photo: Dean of Libraries Terry Birdwhistell being the first to find the tweet; Deirdre Scaggs and Megan Mummy also admiring the tweet]