“This world may never understand you. That is not your fault. That is your gift.” ~ CWPoet
Today I finally got caught up with work produced since November. Yes, I’ve been that far behind. It has been an extraordinarily busy fall; unexpected, fun, hectic, enlightening, inspiring. It’s been a time of uncertainty, confusion, and all the isms that come with real growth. After a fabulous Christmas, working on these last photos from the Silent Night Opera jarred my senses about just how spectacular this year has been. Not in terms of big wows, but in those little things that far outweigh the big things. Things like health and family and friendship; safe travels, warm hugs, sweet smiles, kind words, and bottomless compassion. I have a good job. I have good insurance. I have good health. I have a house with “good bones,” as the contractors like to say. I have a dependable car, two cats, one dog, and loads of books. I’ve even got a band to play with! I’ve been surrounded by all of this and more. And then there’s Terry Keys in a 100% wool WWI uniform singing like a bird and looking like a million bucks. If that doesn’t make 2018 epic, nothing can.
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” ~ Roy T. Bennett
I love the layers I saw from this opera. There was so much going on all over the stage even when it seemed as if there wasn’t. I’m also having a great time processing the photos, learning new things as I go. The closest thing I’ve photographed to this are musical acts, but there aren’t as many people (generally) and there aren’t a host of scenes all at once. I’d love to do more theater shoots. I’m fascinated and totally hooked.
“What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?” ~ George Eliot
I’ve finally gotten enough off my plate to go back to the photos from UK Opera’s production of Silent Night. I caught a nice series of shots around Terry Keys during the first battle scene.I didn’t realize at the time the role he was playing portrayed the anguish many soldiers must feel during battle. I still marvel at how awesome Terry is and how exciting his first opera showing must have been for him. I’m just so glad I could be there for the dress rehearsal to cheer him on.
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” ~ Neil Gaiman
I was granted a rare privilege this evening of photographing dress rehearsal of UK’s latest opera production Silent Night. The opera “recounts a miraculous moment of peace…as Christmas Eve falls on a battle field near Belgium, soldiers in French, German, and Scottish trenches begin recalling songs of home, stepping into no-man’s-land for a spontaneous truce.” My man Terry Keys, above, has a part in the Scottish Army. It’s his operatic debut. He has done a lot of musical productions over the years but he hasn’t done opera until now. The show opens tomorrow (and runs through Sunday) at the Singletary Center for the Arts but I can’t be there. That’s basically how I came to shoot the dress rehearsal. Terry reached out to Everett McCorvey on my behalf, who immediately said yes, and I can’t thank them enough for letting me practice on them. It was great experience for me and it’s a truly beautiful production. I loved it and the audience smart enough to go is going to love it, too. Even if you’re not a fan of opera, this production transcends the stereotype. Terry is a gifted performer and Everett is a brilliant producer so you can bet anything with his fingerprint is spectacular. Silent Night is just further proof of that. If you’re in the Bluegrass region this weekend I encourage you to go. Maybe Terry will even turn his handsome face toward you, too.
“You got to look at things with the eye of your heart, not the eye in your head.” ~ Unknown
Terry Keys told me a story many years ago that I will never get out of my head, and I don’t want to. It’s his story to tell, but it has to do with the pronunciation of his name, where Terry is pronounced as Turry. I can’t hear the name without hearing Terry (Turry) Keys. That includes when I say my own last name. It’s Turry’s voice I hear in my head. While we were waiting in line to meet Sid Davis he offered me his glasses since I was clearly struggling to see the camera settings and refusing to wear my own. I could see better out of his glasses than I can my own. That Turry sure is a keeper.
“Let me be content with what I can create from my faithful heart and the simplest of tools.” Pixie Lighthorse
I went to the best lecture today. It was the inaugural event of the Earle C. Clements Lecture Series. I was enraptured from the word go, and by the time it was over, I felt I was in the company of an American treasure. We often think of heroes as only being soldiers or first responders or someone who saves another’s life. Yet there are people who serve the citizenry in a civilian capacity whose work makes them every bit a hero. One such man is journalist Sid Davis, above with BFF Terry Keys.
You’ve likely never heard of Sid Davis though his work is part of the American canon. He’s covered nine presidents as part of the White House Press pool. He was Washington Bureau chief and White House correspondent for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company (you have to be a certain age to remember that ever existed) and vice president and Washington Bureau chief for NBC News. Titles aside, he was foremost an ethically conscious, sincerely devoted reporter who covered some of the most crucial events in our nation’s history during the 20th Century. In particular was his coverage of John F. Kennedy’s death in Dallas followed by the oath of office of Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One. (read more about it here) Davis was one of only three reporters aboard Air Force One when Johnson took the oath with Jackie standing by his side covered in blood, bone, and brains. His telling of Kennedy’s death and its aftermath were detailed in a way that only first hand experience could tell. I knew Davis was special when he told the story of stepping out to catch a ride to Kennedy’s funeral. On the street he ran into a woman who struck up a conversation.”I’m a Republican,” the woman said. Davis’ eyes filled with tears. He stopped momentarily to collect himself. With shaky voice, he continued, “I’m a Republican, but I didn’t know how much I loved him.” That was the first of two tear-filled stories he shared, and it’s a prime example of the depth and breadth of Davis’ understanding of our times and the conviction that propelled him to become one of the most respected journalists in the country.
Terry Keys (top photo) was the first person I saw when I walked into the auditorium for the lecture. Much to my chagrin, he dragged me to the front of the auditorium, and I’m so glad he did. I can’t think of anyone else I’d have rather shared such an inspirational time with. Without prompting, he snapped the photo above while I was doing a selfie with a very gracious Sid Davis.
Davis took us on a roller coaster ride through some of America’s most tumultuous years. He was gracious. He was forthright. He was honest. He was everything a good journalist should be, and I hope the many student journalists in the audience emulate him. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Mr. Davis speak, take it. Let him inspire you.
“Take your mind off the problems for a moment, and focus on the positive possibilities.
Consider how very much you are able to do.” ~ Ralph Marston
One of the things I love about Lexington is that I often run into people I know. This morning I drove to work behind Terry Keys. The only problem was he never saw me. I waved, and waved, and waved to get his attention. I even took this picture, but he didn’t once looked in his rearview mirror. I guess next time I’ll have to honk the horn and flash the lights. No matter. I smiled when I saw his little car. Just knowing Terry is out in the world spreading joy and harmony as only he can is enough to make my day. (note to self: wash the windshield)
“Don’t ever lose the fire in your soul, the paradise in your heart, and the wonder of your mind.”
~ Mark Anthony
Any day with this man is a winning day for me. What could possible make it better? Dinner with him at Windy Corner on a gorgeous Kentucky evening, that’s what. I love Terry Keys. He’s a great man through and through, and I always come away feeling like a better human being after I’ve been with him. Color me lucky.
“The Universe has been sliding me love notes in the form of people.” ~ Unknown
You know how I’ve said time and again that when a quote and a photo coincide in a simpatico way it’s purely coincidental? Today is yet another perfect example. Terry Keys and Allen Smith had a standing dinner date every Sunday. I didn’t know this until Allen died. When I saw Terry at the memorial service yesterday I told him that if he ever needed a Sunday dinner date I’d be happy to stand in. I got a text about 7pm tonight saying his dance card had an opening. Of course, I was at the grocery when I got the text, so I made haste because I wasn’t about to miss a chance to talk with Terry. For two hours we sat at the dinner table laughing, nearly crying a few times, and catching up the way old friends are supposed to. I was then told the routine for future Sunday dinners. I’ll be prepared from now on. And it will be my honor.
“Make two lists.
1. Things that make you happy.
2. Things you do everyday.
Tonight we celebrated our friend Allen Smith. As I said before, Allen’s lung cancer took him frighteningly fast. If you gotta go in such a horrendous way, better to go “mercifully quick” as Terry Keys put it. Rev. Mark Davis offered stirring words at the service. One thing that stuck out to me was this: “Allen was a great man full of love, that didn’t always receive love in return in this world.” Still, as I write, tears well up in my eyes at the thought that someone, anyone, could not love that blessed man. There is no one in this world who should ever feel shunned or unloved for any reason. Whether they’re a different color, a different gender, a different sexual orientation, a different height, weight, or eye color; we are all made in God’s image, and it is our duty as Christians – as decent human beings – to love without reservation. Period. Jesus was the embodiment of this ideal. I’m in no way perfect, but I try with all my heart to love and accept every person I meet just as they are. We don’t have to agree on anything, but agreement doesn’t constitute love. “Kindness, mercy, hope, and love,” Rev. Davis continued, are four gifts we seek and should give in return. (I’m paraphrasing, of course. He was much more articulate.)
Still, in the depths of sorrow, there was a convergence of souls who loved Allen as deeply as anyone has ever been loved. His devoted choir-mates sang in their best voices for him. His church family honored him in song, in prayer, and in the joy of just being together.
Allen liked people being together and being happy. His best friend Terry Keys (above) made sure Allen’s service was exactly the way he wanted it. That’s a huge responsibility, but there’s no one else more suited to the job than Terry. He’s a strong man, and a strong friend, able to carry his brother when he needed to. For many years Sara Holroid (above) sang with Allen and Terry in the choir. Like everyone else, she loved Allen deeply. Sara doesn’t sing in the choir anymore (I don’t know why, she’s only 92 for goodness sake), so it was a real treat to see her again: that quintessential smile a reminder to be joyful in all moments because you never know which will be your last. I hate so much that Allen has walked on, but I’m thankful for him, and for Terry, and Sara, and all my church family. I am a better person because of them, and grateful for the kindness, mercy, hope, and love they’ve shared with me.
Godspeed, Allen, and thank you for being my friend.