Friday, April 27, 2012

behind the scenes

One of those rare moments caught on set where we see the director and the production designer in an intense back and forth.

This is not easy, people.

Today I am grateful for Fridays and weekend plans and fun with the family.

Be back Tuesday.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

hold on

Just in case you, like me, needed to hear this today.

lashon harah

Right here would be a photo of a synagogue but we don't have any in this neighborhood.

In my defense I didn't even realize the word was spelled that way. I never thought to write it. It was simply an act practiced religiously by my grandmother better known as Granny. She never paid full price for anything and knew where all the best yard sales could be found. Granny was a master of the word, which meant if you called me doing that I considered it a compliment.

Never. Not once did anyone mention how we described something my Granny did was a derogatory term. I don't know how I can be blamed for something I didn't even know though I've often heard ignorance is no excuse. It's just that I considered it a positive trait, something that took some chutzpah.

You know me. Etgar Kerat is one of my favorite writers. I listen to Jonathan Goldstein's podcast every Saturday morning. Jerry Seinfeld makes me laugh. What would I do without Jon Stewart?

I am not anti semitic. Though it sure looked like I was, sounded that way for a moment before I got to explain how much I loved Granny and felt what she was doing was a good thing. Maybe if I had better vocabulary,  used words like barter, deal, dicker, negotiate, trade then they wouldn't think less of me. My only excuse, nobody had ever said any different.

Then I grew up, became an adult, a mother, a professional sitting at a table in a room with colleagues.
A medical director, a renowned child psychiatrist, a Yehudi I respected and loved was sitting at the far end of that same table.
It was the end of the year, an annual celebration.
He planned to take us out to eat for lunch.
We had to go to this one restaurant because he had some coupons.
You're just like my Granny, I noted out loud in front of everyone.
He looked at me as if I needed to explain so I did much more southern than the south would like.
Granny never paid full price for anything. She was always jewing somebody down.

The silence that followed was thick and heavy and I had no idea what I had done until it occurred to me what I may have just said. He waited for that moment to start laughing, which in turn brought the room down and for which I can't thank him enough.

I made sure to tell Slater.

Today I am grateful for nasa.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


In a thick accent she wonders how much she'll owe for the photographs. I am confused by the words coming out of her mouth. It's not a question many people ask and I can't help but laugh. No, no this is just to help you.

I don't owe you anything?


I'll be right back. She runs off to take care of some customers so I wait.

This gives us both time to consider the situation. She has just been confronted with a stranger off the street. Even if she asked for a business card I couldn't present her with one. Like running a restaurant is not enough now she has some random woman wanting to help(?). How often does someone come to you without needing something in return? She is justified in her suspicion.

I know it is her second restaurant, her first being an obvious success. This is not as busy as I had hoped and without the crowds a camera is more noticed. Just enough thought leads me to wonder what the hell am I doing. I've heard of this before. Some guy wants to be a surgeon so he gets some scrubs, sneaks into an operating room and performs. Or was that just a made for television movie?

She returns, Now. What are you doing?

I am taking some photos for a magazine. It's an article about nightlife. This could help you with business, and blah, blah, on and on until I finally have her nodding.

Now with you I ask, Does the fact I believe in what I am doing and what I am saying make me any more of a photographer when all I am truly doing is hoping and praying for a good shot?

Today I am grateful for momentary lapses into delusions of grandeur.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Como, part three

The Spring Show, Main Street Art Gallery
Como, MS

I will admit the camera is my crutch. When I enter the gallery my brain is already putting up a fight. There is so much here and lots o' people and I think I'll never be able to get it all on the blog for you. The camera is the best way I have found to focus.

Three Boys, Photo on Board 24" x 36" (Reverse Framed)
Kris Robinson

There is a 36" x 48" reversed frame photo on board by Kris Robinson called Jenny and Earl. It draws me in and I love it and it is the sweetest, most precious scene and I didn't get the shot. Either I'll have to go back or you'll have to go see it. I'm being totally judgmental when I say, Amazing photographer with some of the most peaceful, endearing scenes. I think if I lived in a high rise somewhere among busy city streets with concrete and constant then I would need one of her pieces on my wall if for no other reason but to help me remember what this place is.

Joy in Any Language, Oil on Canvas 16" x 20"
Helen Christie Argo

Katsumi: Victorious Beauty, Mixed Media on Canvas 30" x 40"
Helen Christie Argo

Again many artists, much talent. Accepting that I have failed in bringing it all back to you is the only way I can return. Giving up, letting go. I begin doing just all I know to do and find a safety here in these works. Even in this place with all of these people I am thinking about our conversation.

Square Books Double Decker, 11" x 14" (Framed 16" x 20")
Molly Hawkins

Sunflowers in Orange Pot, Photographic Print 11" x 14" (Framed  16" x 20")
Molly Hawkins

Sycamore Street, Acrylic on Canvas 16" x 20"
Molly Hawkins

Turquoise Flower, Acrylic on Canvas 16" x 20"
Molly Hawkins

Molly is the only new artist I meet. She is standing in the back left corner by her work. This is great because I've been wanting to have a conversation with her. It is also a problem because like my Dad I have entire paragraphs of conversations with people in my mind which means when I finally get to talk to them they're usually a bit stunned by the summary sentence that comes out of my mouth. In my defense if they heard the whole paragraph it might make more sense. or not.

The only thing I want to ask Molly is a question about happiness. You see I already know Molly is the mother to one son who is now in his senior year in high school. I think I remember she is about my age, teaches second/third grade, performs whatever duties it takes to be married to a man (I'm totally clueless but remember this as one of the hardest things I ever tried to do). She paints, shows at galleries and has a line of note cards and t-shirts featuring her work.

The crazy thing? It's some of the most optimistic work I've seen. Bright colors, images of beautiful days. Happy scenes like what you would expect a child to paint but better because it is done by a trained adult. And yes, when I meet her she is just as glass is half full, beaming as you would expect. Thus, I have to ask her 'cause I know you want to know. I sure did. It is the question any good art connoisseur would ask an established artist,

Molly, do you ever find yourself in the fetal position sobbing? (like she'd have time) 

I quickly rephrase the question, I mean, have you ever  painted a dark cloud?

Her immediate answer, No. Then, I love self help books. I read them all the time.

I think to myself.
she makes a choice.
could it be that simple?
hm. yeah. maybe so.

Spring Bouquet, Oil on Canvas 11" x 14"
Janice Kennedy

I hear the one above sold. Janice Kennedy has four pieces, and I find myself coming back to her work like that one song playing over and over.

Light, Oil on Canvas 8" x 10"
Janice Kennedy

Sunflower Field, Acrylic on Canvas 24" x 20" Gallery Wrap
Ernie Kelly

Great Blue Heron at Rest, Pastels on Paper 18" x 24"  (Framed 24" x 30")
Signed Limited Edition Prints Available
Terri Massey

Terri just picked this back up after an accident, an exercise in keeping her hands and mind busy. Some things just blow my mind.

There is not enough room here to tell you everything, to show you all the work they are displaying. The Spring Show is running through May 26th on Friday and Saturday nights. If you can't get there but would like to see more of the work or ask about pricing you can email David Marsh at or check out their facebook page.

Today I am grateful for the ways in which people share.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Como, part two

Como Steakhouse

By five on Friday evening there came a thunderstorm. I had sat out on the porch in the courtyard and listened as the thunder neared. Though I am no fan of lightning, I have always considered Mississippi to be a grand place to observe a hard rain. This, I thought, must be a good omen. Yes, I was reaching. Reaching for something to tell me it was going to be okay. That night I was going to take good pictures, I was not going to make a fool of myself. Even if I did or didn't there was this, a good hard Mississippi rain.

Kay had an umbrella by the door which was nice since I don't think I even own one and the rain had become a gullywasher, a term I first heard years ago from my Dad. So again I smiled, made sure my camera was tucked in neat and headed down the sidewalk. Not only did I need to go to The Spring Show I had received an assignment, nightlife in Como.

It's funny to consider now safe in my home that I am creating a job which goes against my most natural state of burrowing up alone. The Como Steakhouse was certainly going to be my first stop. It has at least four dining areas, each with their own appeal (my favorite being the bar in the back). One of the owners, Rick, says he has rarely paid for advertisement. All he has to do is provide a good meal and he's right. That night was a crazy rain but it was Friday and people came because they knew a good meal is what the place is about.

This is me hiding in a staircase.

Not only is it a good meal, it has provided one of the best steaks I've ever had and one of those places as Slater has grown into a man where we would splurge. Won the soccer championship game? Como Steakhouse. Completed another year in school? Como Steakhouse. Eagle Scout? Como Steakhouse. Graduated? Como Steakhouse. You get the picture, Como Steakhouse.

I will get to the show, I promise.

Hal's Tiffany, Pastels on Paper 18" x 24" (Framed 24" x 30")
Prints Available
Terri Massey

Today I am grateful for traditions.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Como, part one

Three Horses, Pastel 18" x 24"
Janice Kennedy
I promise to get to the show.

Hi, you. I let you down yesterday, didn't I? It's not I didn't think of you and it's not I didn't feel guilt for neglecting to take the time to sit here and tell you everything that was happening. It was just everything was happening and it's not I'm complaining because I need things to happen in order to survive. One thing I do know is I need to come here, we need to have this conversation in order for me not to lose my mind.

Oh, the drama.

It's just that Thursday night I almost died in a fight with a hot tub cover. Oh you poor thing. (This is you being sarcastic) No. Really I'm not wanting your pity. At one point right before the hot tub cover was going to throw the fatal blow I accepted my death and thought, Well if I'm gonna die it might as well be at one of the most beautiful places in the world. When I told Slater that it could have been Mrs. Kay would have found his dead mother's body under a very violent hot tub cover and that would have been my end he said, That sounds like a good Mom story. To sum up it was the movie 300 and I'm whoever lost.


Como Courtyard

Anyway, Kay told me to get in the hot tub and she told me to sleep in the bed, all authoritative like, because she knows that I don't like for her to have to change the linens so I normally sleep on the couch. She left a mint she said. It's comfortable, promise me she said. So I did and the sheets they were a million thread count and there was a mint on the pillow of which there were four pillows and three blankets and love, love, love.

I ate that York Peppermint Patty in bed. Total indulgence, total gluttony. Wonderful.

Thursday night was dinner with Kay at The Oyster Bar on a deck with temperatures dropping as our toes in flip flops froze. It didn't matter though 'cause it was awesome conversation and great food (the burgers are clearly the best deal in town). We talked about everything and laughed and Sharon was a table over and it felt great just to be there and to be outside for a moment with happy, generous people who have taken me under their arm.

Dear Bud Light, I will accept your sponsorship.

The words thank and you will never be enough. Kay said, You don't have to take pictures. To which I replied, Yes. I do. The truth is I will crumble and did under the pressure to take a photograph good enough to show you who she is and what she means to me.

New Fixtures
The very spot I almost died. Nice, isn't it?

There's something about a place with a door knob this authentically old. It reminds me of my great grandmother's house and making dolls out of old washcloths in a swing on a screened in front porch.

One of the best things you can do is bring someone here, watch their mouth drop open and then say, It's all your's. Yet another great thing is it is less than many hotel rooms where you may get a nice room but nothing, absolutely nothing, like this.

The New Fountain

This is when you say, Shea, how many photographs can you take of a fountain? and I blush,  UmDon't ask.

Although I do recommend you taking someone, I feel it is almost necessary you make one trip to Kay's place all by yourself. Whatever you planned to pay a therapist, invest it here. Another one of those best deals in town.

There it is, my friend, part one of the last three days. There is so much more, like what I saw at the show and the last minute opportunity that so wonderfully came my way. Right now though I've got to go cuddle up with my most favorite dog in the world, oh how I missed her, so glad she forgives me for leaving her, precious Billy Sue.

Tonight I am grateful for the people and places we come across.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Spring Show

Main Street Gallery in Como, MS

It is the day before The Spring Show. Tomorrow night Como will be packed with cars lined on both sides of a split road. Though I have neglected to do any studies I will go ahead and say it is one of the most thriving rural towns we have in this state. At least part of the town's charm is it's artists and how they are supported there. The floor above will be filled with heels and boots and tennis shoes.

I don't know what it is like for an artist to stand there by their work and look into people's faces as they examine what was done. Art can be so personal. Does it feel like a judgement? What draws my eye may not draw yours and vice versa. Sure I would imagine everyone would be kind but you know how it is when you see something you love, like a piece of music you play over and over. You can't help but return to it.

I am nervous. Some of these artists I have never met, only admired their work. Part of me fears there won't be enough time to browse and listen and photograph and love what has been done. Sharon secretly told me what she is showing saying, You won't tell anyone. To which I replied, I just have a blog. I can't wait to see her pieces. Her descriptions made me smile. Just the thought of seeing Avatar, you know I love that dog. Not to mention I may get to meet Hughey Burchfield and Molly Hawkins and Grace Estes Henderson. I know both David Marsh and David Dickerson will be showing. There will be others, and my mind almost can't handle thinking about what is sure to be sensory overload.

Sound like fun to you? It's from 5pm till 9pm.

Tonight I will be working on another project and will try my best to be here tomorrow but I may require your patience. It is likely I will be late to this our meeting spot.

Today I am grateful for the potential of a day, a night, a weekend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

again, love



okay with your disappointment

Something about the incomplete lines, the fade, the lack of focus. the minimalism feels more appropriate now. I am scared of overworking something, making it something it is not because for whatever reason I was dissatisfied with the way it was. I fear becoming your special interest group because I fear what special may mean to you.

sometimes what we see is enough

Today I am grateful that for today this is enough.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

wait. one last thing before you go.

It is likely some will call you a fool so they don't feel like one.
Maybe they will say you are a joke because they, for just one moment, need to laugh.
When they tell you to hush it could be nobody had ever listened to them.
After some time they may begin to ignore you 'cause they have so much on their mind.

Don't you dare fret.
It has nothing to do with you.
Just show up and do your best.

I am grateful to have your attention if only it is with a whisper. a stutter. a mumble.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Dear Slater,

I know I told you I wanted this t-shirt for Mother's Day.

Now I think maybe that's not so symbolic of our love and the journey we have taken as mother and child and, you know, the eleven hours of labor without an epidural. Just sayin' this could be the best. gift. ever.

Or yes, a candle will be fine.


P.S. You really shouldn't feel any guilt but no matter what they say there was nothing natural about that birthing process.

nose job


Do you think if dogs were not so evolved and comfortable in their own cuddly selves that Allie would be making  millions as a nose model and her snout would be plastered all over doggy plastic surgery offices everywhere?

Billy Sue

Billy Sue says, What the hell are you talking about?

Today I am grateful for my wonderful, perfect, fun loving, cuddle up next to me, thinks we're all the greatest dog Billy Sue and my very soulful, friendly, fantastic buddy Allie.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

talk, pillow

There is a piece of me who wishes I could be what you want.

Then why don't you?

'Cause it only wishes, that piece of me.

I don't understand.

I can't be something I'm not.

Today I am grateful for honesty.

Friday, April 13, 2012

internet, I love you

Coachella Live?

Why yes.
I think I will.
Thanks for asking Google+ and YouTube.
I think I love you.
I know, I know, I say that to everyone but really I do.


Como Green Grocer

Once a year you will have to, you just must, throw caution to the wind and create a sandwich which makes tomatoes bad for you. Well, all of you except Slater. He is excused since the fruit was the only thing I craved during my pregnancy. Breakfast, lunch and dinner he received his lifetime supply during gestation.

I'm pretty particular on this one.
At Thanksgiving I want Granny's cornbread dressing.
During tomato season I want my tomato sandwich.

What you (I) need.
Three quarter inch slices of a Big Boy Tomato out of the neighbor's garden
Two slices of Sunbeam white bread (toasted optional)
Enough Blue Plate mayonnaise to lather each piece of bread
Sharp cheddar cheese, grate it yourself
Zesty Italian dressing (just enough to drizzle over the tomatoes once they're on a slice of bread)
Salt & Pepper

I doubt you need directions. It's a sandwich. You got this one.
No need to thank me. Consider it a gift.

This year I may eat my tomato sandwich to music. Q suggested this, and I think it is perfect.

Now I'm thinking about okra and peas and farmers' markets and stands on the sides of the road.
And how grateful I am for the gardens being planted this time of year.


I want you to go. It has taken me over twenty-four hours to write that, and I struggle with the reasons I would. There's still a little space on the ceiling, maybe he could stack some more. People have called it a fire hazard but I pray it won't burn 'cause at some point about sixty years ago Paul went to a place and decided not to return. 

It can't all get done in a day, he said.

Yes, I will admit he can be a little much. His humor, at times sexual in nature, is easily redirected. Just don't be faint of heart. We all walk a line of trying to pull back, trying to hold on and it seems Paul in his rambling way shows us how far we can go. We could take it as a warning but Paul is still smiling, still welcoming and still able to afford his Coca Cola habit. Who am I to say someone is wrong? I'm sure nobody any more important than Paul.

He said, I'd give my life today if only the King could live again.

He teared up when I recited the poem he gave me to read. I'll admit I did it slow, added inflection. I hoped he would feel it. We were about forty-five minutes into the tour at that point and it was too much to process, too much to handle. Maybe if I was more of an Elvis fan, and yeah, he was great but if I went back to Graceland Too it wouldn't be for him. 

It would be for Paul.

Graceland Too in Holly Springs, MS is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week though I wish there was a way we could all get together and say there was a time we'd let Paul get some sleep. Five dollar admission and after three times you never have to pay again but why not throw some money his way? The performance alone is worth that. 

I'm thinking about taking him some white bread and homegrown tomatoes.

Tonight I am grateful for the people who show us love, and I pray we are able to return it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

bend in the road

Somebody in this post has talent.

We've discussed this. You know that I know that you know that I know very little about art. I can't draw, paint, sing, play a musical instrument, sculpt or even come up with any more traditional arts at the moment so I obviously have a problem with writing as well. So why, you may ask, am I showing you a photograph of art and that would be a very good question. You would win the question of the day and I would send you a grand prize of a piece of art if I could make art.

But I can't.

What I can tell you is that yesterday I visited a little town, community, stop sign or bend in the road called Taylor, MS. Taylor is charming and quaint and old brick and weathered tin and front porches and most known for a little restaurant called Taylor Grocery. Taylor Grocery serves up a fine catfish and a very rare hushpuppy. Please understand we do not fry up our puppies even when they won't be quiet. Rather we take some flour, cornmeal, onion, egg, sugar and sometimes even diced jalapeno and we drop the mixture by spoonfulls in hot grease. When done correctly a hushpuppy is just a tad bit smaller than a golf ball, brown and crispy on the outside with a warm and fluffy middle. Not a whole lot of people can get them right. My Mama can and so can Taylor Grocery.

We grow big puppies.

A fine example of a front porch, though Ken's photograph is much, much better.

I had seen and read about Taylor Grocery in Ken Murphy's second book, Mississippi, but I had never been there until yesterday. Debi took me, and I'd like to take a moment just to thank her for that. Thank you, Debi, you're the best.

Yes. Yes. You may ask what does this have to do with art other than the art of cooking catfish or those hushpuppies and again you would win a prize. Congratulations. That's another great question.

All I can tell you is that Debi was on that porch talking to a woman from Washington D.C. who was living in California for six months and here with her husband who was giving a talk at the University of Mississippi. That's a mouthful but anyway she was just out exploring and Debi is/was the most perfect person to tell her some great places to go. While Debi was representing I was walking that porch 'cause I had seen some weathered tin and old brick and interesting windows and heads within. I was peering through those windows trying to come up with a way to photograph the heads without a glare.

Closer and closer I got till I noticed the door was open.

I did what you would do. I peeked in.

This is me falling in love with a man.

Hello, I said.

Hello, he replied.

Are you open? I began to look around. May I come in?

Yes. He was beautifully calm and soft spoken.

I introduced myself with a handshake, saw a huge incomplete Elvis in the middle of the room and asked permission to take some shots. His name was Bill, his hand had the perfect grip and yes, I could take some shots.

Ohmygosh. his. work. geez. what?

Disclaimer: I don't know what to say other than I am going to display some photographs which will never be able to do justice to his work. Sorry, Bill.

Dear Bill, I am not worthy of your love.

Obviously Bill had to kill a person to create this dog.

And I'm okay with that.

I once knew a blues musician who toured with John Lee Hooker. He was from Oakland, California and had come to Mississippi to play the blues with the greats. What he found was there was not much pay to be had here 'cause so many were playing the blues.

At one time in my life I wanted to escape, go to UCLA or the American University in Paris. My Dad said, No way. It has taken me this long to find out what I could learn here by simply being curious and walking the length of a lovely porch.

You can see more of Bill's work here.

I told him to come to Como. He and Sharon have to meet.

Tonight I am grateful for warm days spent with cool friends, long drives, rare hushpuppies and beautiful finds.