“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
I wasn’t the photographer for Corinne and Connor’s wedding, so what did I do? I took the worst possible lens along and then kicked myself for it the entire night because all I wanted to do was take pictures. But it didn’t matter what lens I had because nothing was going to be as good as the selfie the officiant snapped after the nuptials. The father of the groom posted a copy of the selfie today and it’s pretty funny. It sure set the tone for the rest of the evening, too. Lots of laughter. Lots of dancing. Lots and lots of love. Sounds like the perfect wedding to me. It was.
You know how they say you never appreciate what’s in your own back yard? Guilty! I grew up close to the Red River Gorge, just 35 miles to the east in fact. I never gave it a second thought. I saw it all the time. But somehow I never saw the Nada Tunnel on Highway 77, or at least I don’t ever recall driving that section of 77. In any case, I don’t remember it. So, last week, when something came across my desk about Nada Tunnel, I decided I needed to see it. “Enough of this not paying attention to your own backyard business,” I said. Nada Tunnel was built in the early 1900’s for a small gauge lumber railroad to a Clay City mill. When the train went out, the road took its place, but it’s only one lane wide. Even walking through the tunnel is dangerous if a car comes along. It’s really not very wide, but there’s plenty of room outside for good shots.
My good fortune brought exquisite weather to Kentucky today. I enlisted Stacy to be my adventure companion, and off we went. She, being a native of Ohio, had been though the tunnel many times. I know that sounds odd, but it’s a well known fact that the Red River Gorge is a popular destination for our neighbors to the north.
I wanted to snap a few pix of the tunnel while there were a few leaves left on the trees, then come back home. Quick adventure. That’s pretty much what we did, though there was a couple of memorable moments along the way. Stacy stayed in the car while I got out to explore the space (use your inner Austin Powers voice for that line). It wasn’t ten minutes before a gang of bikers pulled up and parked behind us. They didn’t realize that I could see their reflections in the backing of the camera. I didn’t let on when one woman mooned her companions (presumably for a photo op). Or when the more macho bikers circled the car like wolves. Poor Stacy. It was not her favorite moment of the day. They were harmless, of course, and certainly less so when two carloads of teenagers showed up.
The kids made my day. They were climbing all over the hills, taking pictures of one another. The juxtaposition between the kids and the bikers was very interesting. The bikers (not all of them, to be fair) were raucous. The kids were calm. The bikers were cursers. The kids asked me politely to take their picture above the tunnel, then said ‘thank you.’ The bikers continued to circle poor Stacy in the car while the kids quietly scouted the hillsides. It was all entertaining (Stacy didn’t think so), and I felt really blessed to have run into those kids. Not because of the bikers. To be clear, I don’t find bikers scary, not even the loud ones that cuss a lot. No, it was because the kids trusted me enough with their phones to take their picture. I could have gotten in the car and driven away before they ever got off that cliff, but they trusted me not to do that. I guess I look matronly enough to be trustworthy. And I’m alright with that. The world needs trustworthy people no matter what we look like. It was a stellar day in my world.
“Think good thoughts. Say nice things. Do good for others. Everything comes back.” ~ Unknown
I popped off a few selfies at Tuesday’s Library Spring Gala. The colors were garish, the exposures wrong, and paired with the completely wrong lens, I didn’t care for any of them. But I love the people with me, so I took a page from one of them; excellent photographer and Special Collections Associate Dean Deirdre Scaggs (above). Her work is warm, rich in texture, always with a hint of mystery. It’s very compelling. While these selfies are much more abstract, and not nearly as intriguing or even as fun as her work, they were nevertheless inspired by Deirdre. If you’re going to be inspired by someone, make it someone good. Deirdre fills that bill.
I would not have gotten the Dean’s Award without Danielle Gabbard, plain and simple. I depend on her every day. She has never shied away from a task, and even asks for more work. She’s shy, soft spoken, extremely kind, and a hard, conscientious worker. I got lucky the day she walked into the Nunn Center which was about six months before I did!
It’s a Jen sandwich: Jen Martin (top) and Jen Bartlett were both dressed to the nines in their sexy black dresses on Tuesday. It’s tough to be a dumpy middle aged chick between two beauties like them. What’s not tough is being in the company of such incredibly gifted women who share their knowledge and kindness at every turn. That’s the Jens, and I’m one lucky gal to know them.
“Your job in this world is to be the very best person that you can be, with no excuses and no complaints.”
I’m getting to know Kyle Macy a little more every time I see him. Today, I learned we have a mutual friend in Andrea Sayer-Brook. Apparently, I’ve been living in a cave because I didn’t realize they did a morning show together some years ago (props to Stacy Yelton for telling me). So, when I said to Kyle that we should do a silly face selfie for Andrea, he gladly obliged. It makes me laugh! I’m going to remember this day and this funny man who helped make it a lot better. God bless people with a sense of humor. They’re my kind of people. Kyle is my kind of people.
“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.
“Responsibility: the ability to choose your response.
How other people behave is their karma; how you react is yours.”
~ Timber Hawkeye
If you’re in Central Kentucky and you own a Toyota, you owe it to yourself, and to the car, to take it to Lowell’s for service. They never charge for stuff I don’t need. They sometimes find problems I didn’t know I had, like a brake light that was out. Best of all, they leave chocolate with a thank you note in the car.
This morning, I took my car to Lowell’s for regular service. Stacy Yelton went with me. We walked to Lexington Diner at the corner of Upper and Short for a fantastic breakfast. Along the way we strolled streets and alleys breathing in the wonderful old and new, mostly old, downtown. a la lucie wins for best window dressing. It was a fantastic Christmas Eve Eve filled with delicious food, super kind people, and a letter from the city saying my jury duty for January has been cancelled. It’s not even 2015 and already it’s shaping up to be a great year.
“I stand before you tonight to represent the people who do not count: The poor, the poets, and monks. As long as there are people who are trying to realize the divine in themselves, there shall be hope in the world.” ~ Thomas Merton
I got the best, and funniest, Christmas present in the mail today. BFF Angie Bliss Fanning saw a picture of this outhouse and knew I had to have it. She thought it would look awesome on my desk. Turns out it’s two feet tall – not exactly desk size, or what she had in mind. It has a function, too, though not what you’d expect. That’s where the second problem comes in. We don’t know what function it has. You see, the lid opens, but only half of it is on hinges, meaning only half of the lid actually opens. Inside the lid is a compartment with a dow rod that could maybe hold toilet paper, but the rod has a square board screwed into it so it can’t actually roll. Then, there’s a thin piece of white metal in the compartment that makes a ramp of sorts. I have no idea what that could be. There’s an opening from the compartment to the outside, as if something inside should be accessible from the outside….like toilet paper, except we’ve established that’s not possible. So, does anybody have a clue what this outhouse is supposed to do? I don’t care because it’s one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever gotten. I will spend my evening laughing. I will wake up tomorrow laughing. I will laugh every time I see it, or even think about it. It is awesome, just like Angie. She insisted on a selfie with it, so that’s included below for continued hilarity. Did I mention it came with an Oklahoma spider, too? I can’t make this stuff up. My life is totally awesome in so many ways.
“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]
“Each day brings its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.” ~ Ruth Ann Schabacker
“I saw it hanging in the window and I just had to have it.” Props to Carol Burnett. That woman, one of the funniest human beings ever, made a significant impression on me and my sense of humor. If only I could do physical comedy without breaking my neck. Alas, it’s best I stay upright, and be thankful to see myself in the ornaments-hung-way-too-early.