Thursday, February 28, 2013


She springs. She hops. It looks like one move when all the muscles receive a single impulse and if you blink you miss it. Bam. Bing. From back flat on floor to upright midair action shot. I need to be a better photographer or at least have my camera with me.

I heard you got a new car or truck or Tahoe.


You love it?

More and more and more nods.

So I haven't seen you in a while. What's been happening?

Head tilted. Big grin.

Did you go to school?

Again with rapid fire nods.

What didja do in school?


It turns out after some prompting from Grammie that everybody in the class had been bad except her and they had to cut out recess and return to the room to do some work and she was so glad that Grammie had checked her out because that was totally no fun.

Let's face it, people. We learned in the eighties that girls just wanted to have fun.

Take it, Cindy. (Click on the link and hopefully the Justin Bieber headshot will appear and he'll be all, Why are you dancing like that, old woman? and you'll be all, Watch this move, Justin. And then you'll pull a muscle but that's okay 'cause that muscle went down to show Justin how it was done. Yeah)

Today I am grateful to take a few days from the normal routine. Ya' know, to have fun.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

a bad day

The man now predicts a bad day.
My assignment is to prove him wrong.

He used to tell me and now I often remember, Don't bet on another man's game.
He always said that right after he beat me in a game of horse.

Surely something resides within us which says, There is light.

There is one bright spot.

Gambling before breakfast can be a good thing.

What I have greedily snatched from yesterday and brought with me today is a laugh we had about Kim, about how we were going to turn her over to those people who produce the show called Animal Hoarders 'cause we watched that yesterday and that was scary and a possum came out that nobody even knew lived there amongst the bajillion cats who had taken over the house and I don't      


There is mental illness in this world. I know that. It's not a laughing matter.

It's just that the one bright spot of our day was the laugh we shared about Kim, the three cats and a dog named Harley.

Today I am grateful to spend time with the man now, to have another laugh, to see him smile in what was sure to be a bad day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Grand Oak Bluegrass Gospel Hall

I keep going back to this one night. The place was packed. Food everywhere. Dad saw another friend every time his head turned. A deep contrast to our first visit when Dad asked, Shea, do you know where you're going?

You know the story. He thought I was taking him to some wild hooligan shindig where guns would be loaded and people shooting in the air. He was going for my protection after I told him I didn't need it. Though I must admit I wasn't so sure.

I mean. It was a Saturday night and it was off in the woods and people had been less than forthcoming on telling me how to get there or when they had the party. This was one of those things that Google failed to mention.

To be honest with you I don't know if I had to find it because it was so hard to find or because it was music. Right now I have to admit to both.

The first time I saw that place lit up the Black Keys were playing Junior Kimbrough. When I stood outside that building with those lights and those people and a world which allowed me to peek inside and photograph it I felt as close as I had felt since being at The Rendezvous meeting Little Joe Ayers.

Today I am grateful to find the commonality of love in music.

Monday, February 25, 2013

indulgent bash

I am forty-three years here. Today.

He once said that he planned for his fortieth, two years away. For forty days he would wake for the sole purpose of doing something he loved.

What a great idea, I said. So I took it and used it. Forty days. It was great to wake up and feel anticipation for that day's gift. Like Christmas two months later with a touch of groundhog day but the groundhog came out of his hole to find it was already Spring. So he danced. Forty days three years ago.

What he and his idea taught me and now I know three years later is there is no reason to wait for a reason since it is our choice to do what we love every day.

In my forty-three years here.
I vow to do forty-three things I love.
Can I do it? Of course I can.
Forty things in forty days is old school.

Here we go.

Number one. Wake up in my bed next to the coolest dog ever.

Number two. Say, Seriously? Billy Sue? Butt in the face? What about nuzzle a neck with a nose? You know some dogs do that.

Number three. Heat up coffee.

Number four. Turn on the new music.

Number five. Breathe.

Number six. Drink coffee.

Number seven. Light the candle.

Number eight. Check email.

Number nine. Look at blog.

Number ten. Look at facebook.

Number eleven. Check email.

Number twelve. Check twitter.

Number thirteen. Face off with the cats.

Side note*Don't know if I mentioned I now have two cats. Silly and Two. When I wake up they are hungry and they climb all over me and plead and I give in.

Number fourteen. Feed cats.

Number fifteen. Listen as Billy Sue finally gets out of bed.

Number sixteen. Take Billy Sue out.

Number seventeen. Feed Billy Sue.

Number eighteen. Sit down and start singing with the music.

Number nineteen. Walk outside.

Number twenty. Watch the rain.

Number twenty-one. Write.

Number twenty-two. Think.

Number twenty-three. Edit.

Number twenty-four. Remember the story last night Dad told me. About him and Mom and forty-three years ago.

Number twenty-five. Remember seeing Marlee.

Number twenty-six. Remember how Slater wrote only one word and that word was LOVE.

Number twenty-seven. Feel satisfaction.

Number twenty-eight. Heat up second cup of coffee.

Number twenty-nine. Edit again.

Number thirty. Think of title.

Number thirty-one. Start sipping coffee.

Number thirty-two. Think of other people and hearsay. Hope Kim is feeling better.

Number thirty-three. Listen to the lyrics.

Number thirty-four. Listen to the snores coming from behind me on the loveseat.

Number thirty-five. Remember how Slater wrote only one word and that word was LOVE.

Number thirty-six. Think about Slater.

Number thirty-seven. Breathe.

Number thirty-eight. Again feel satisfaction.

Number thirty-nine. Consider all the possibilities of people and laughs and decades of knowledge already planned and not already planned in this coming week.

Number forty. Laugh at a conversation Tempa and I had on our trip. Smile when I consider the fact she stills talk to me is a miracle.

Number forty-one. Wonder if Rick is awake.

Number forty-two. Start thinking about family and friends and what I can do.

Number forty-three. Decide that my gratitude is a decision and that today, the day that marks the forty-third year of a life, is a day I make a choice. Today I am grateful for the opportunity to make a choice.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

for the love of music

I'm searching to find love where I work, work where I love. This assignment, music and community.

Photography. Videography. Writing. Social Media. Socializing. Driving. Riding. Emailing. Calling. Karen says people get paid for this but I still don't know how. Right now it just seems the right thing to do.

But still, this is hard. This assignment, because of the love.
Music feels like one of the most personal choices I make.
I either love it or I don't.

Can you force yourself to love?
Can you force yourself out of it?

Tempa Fleming is writing a series of articles about being the last woman to listen to country. Friends had tried to urge her. She was adamant. She'd be the last person so I think many of them had given up. She had them convinced after at least thirty years of saying, No.

Now a woman who fell in love with the blues at a juke joint called The Rendezvous and the last woman who would listen to country but adored a stand up bass from her Dad's jazz bands are sitting in an auditorium in Roosevelt State Park in Morton.

Tempa and I are on this journey together. She is writing her way through it and I'm talking and she's talking and it's honest dialogue about a banjo, a flat top guitar, a stand up bass, a mandolin and a fiddle.

And Woodie. Woodie of The Bluegrass Cartel.

A few weeks ago I looked at Woodie in a meeting. I pointed at him. Woodie, I said, you're next.

Woodie looked at me as any man who had just been confronted with their new stalker would. He ran from the room. Just yesterday I was able to find him at Roosevelt State Park in Morton.

Tempa was with me. We were trying to find the love in bluegrass music. Read the Clarke County Tribune. Tempa is writing a new article each week.

Will she fall in love with bluegrass music?
I don't know.
I think that is why we have to read.

Today I am grateful to open my heart and see what room could be left for something as personal as music.

Friday, February 22, 2013

the man now

Insert photo here.
Photo is of a room in the back right hand corner of a house. A home which raised two and a half kids. The half actually possessing her own family but putting herself in foster care and picking her foster family and they never even had to call DHS.

Insert photo here.
Photo is of a hospital bed and a man. His half child scurrying around a bed, making sure she's doing alright and doubting. What time did they turn? She should've written it down.

Insert photo here.
Photo is focused on a photo of a man. The photo is found on a bookshelf in the living room of the house. It is of the man who was the man before the man in the room. The same man is small in frame and tight in muscle. He is smiling.

Insert photo here.
Photo is focused on the face of the man in the hospital bed in the room. Light is coming from a window to the right. He is different now but still he smiles and laughs and there still is that same knowing in his eyes.

Insert photo here.
Photo is of half child kissing the man on the forehead and him her on the cheek and her hoping she can please come do this again because it was an honor and she always loved that man. She always will.

Today I am grateful for those people who open their lives to our children.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Today I am grateful for little notes we leave ourselves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Dad falls asleep in the waiting area. His legs are stretched out in front of him. Mr. Ronnie takes over a wheelchair by the nurses' station. Madalyn, Mom, Josh and Mrs. Sarah Jane rally around Priscilla in the birthing room. I move my car, walk halfway to it with a man Josh later proposes was a serial killer.

There is a wind, the threat of a storm.
Mr. Ronnie shows me his cell phone.

I stand beside my car, look up into a night dotted with lights, feel the strong wind and think, How fitting. Marlee's soul is blowing in tonight.

 Everything felt right.

Today I am grateful to witness joy and love and happiness and how we can shine when we come together to celebrate new life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

day o' birth

Today I am grateful for a healthy, beautiful baby and her Mama and Daddy.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Beach at Trouville, Claude Monet (1870)
Image provided by Mississippi Museum of Art

Monet was thirty years old when he stood on this beach and produced five paintings. He was there with Camille and their three year old son. He married Camille that summer. Not long after that the two of them, as well as their son, fled to London. Months later Paris fell to the German forces.

That day Monet worked as the sand blew and stuck onto the canvas.
It didn't stop him.
The sand remains in that painting today.


Josh asks, Do you even know what impressionism is?

No. I take it literally. I just figure it was his impression at the time.

It's about painting light.



Monet had decided not to pursue a career in groceries like his father. Instead, at eleven years old, he entered art school. Five years later his mother died, and he went to live with his aunt.


I think I am overcompensating for what little I know about art.

Josh nods his head, Get rid of the first four paragraphs. It's confusing.

That's what I thought. I just needed you to say it.

I like what you did on Monet though.



His seven year commitment to the military of Algeria ended within two years as a result of his own battle with typhoid fever.

Here in this painting we see decadence on a beach. Men in suits, women in dresses all at a distance. To the right monstrosities of buildings, flags waving in the wind. There is a boardwalk, an expanse of water to the left.

To my modern day eyes, now that I know what I know, now that I studied Monet's history this painting means so much more to me. It is a day at the beach with his love and their son and a war coming. It is Claude Monet working with the elements as the sand blew into his oils. Now it is not just a day at a beach though it still is. Now it is also frustration and worry and how Monet conveyed it so perfectly.

Today I am grateful for those that took the time and the effort and what was surely at least some frustration to let us know what they saw.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

the last Sunday

It's the Sunday before. We had breakfast this morning. The last batch of biscuits before you made your appearance. Before you showed us your eyes and your hair and your head and your little fingers and your feet and your toes.

This was your room. Your clothes, ribbons, bows.

Your bed, where you would soon sleep.

The patterns you will see.

You had a room with a view, Marlee. 

And that view, it contained the people who were the cause of those muffled noises you had been hearing.

Today I am grateful to know that this Sunday was the last Sunday we spent without you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

the circle unbroken

East Quitman Fire Department

I love a mandolin, how it doesn't look like an adult instrument. How you could see it laying on a table and think, Awwwww, I wonder what kid around here plays guitar. That's so cute. I'll have to get pictures of it.

Then a man picks it up.

And. well.
This was one of Slater's favorite songs growing up.

The first time we had ever heard mandolin and took notice was when Dan Tyminski picked it up. When considering the origin of bluegrass some may take it all the way back to the continent of Africa. Italy. Some will connect it to the blues. Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs. Kentucky. Virginia. Tennessee. Mississippi.

Slater was in North Mississippi when he first heard Dan Tyminski play the mandolin and sing one of his favorite songs.

Here he is playing acoustic and singing. Don't get me started on the dobro.

Yes, you caught me. Not only do I love when Dan plays there is just something about his voice.    

Oh. I don't know but I think you understand.

Today I am grateful to return to a sound I heard at least a decade ago and how I find I love it just as much if not more now.

Friday, February 15, 2013

gratitude, simply

Today I am grateful for a new friend and how it seems we started laughing from the very first moment. For dinner with family and the songs I got to sing with Jess.

And a good night's sleep. I am grateful for that as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


For me, when I hear a piece of music   umm   that     I love I stop thinking about myself and what I'm worried about and stop thinking about what people think about me. All these things that just compromise us as human beings. I think great art lifts us above that.
Chris Thile of Punch Brothers

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

let me count the ways

I love the way you smile. the way I can hear it when you talk.

I love that noise you make. You know. when we're joking around.

I love when you declare something lifting that one finger in front of you and slightly above your head and stating with pure confidence, absolute surety that you have it worked out and how you smile when I kiss you on the forehead.

I love your favorite hoody and how sometimes you forget to shave and when your hair is not so neatly combed.

I love how we can be suggestive with intimate details of us and how if we then walk away to think about those details we return with more suggestions.

I love not only that you know how to build a fire but that you do sometimes for us as if it just seemed time to have a party.

I love when we are apart because then I know what it is to miss you, miss our love.

Today I am grateful to know love, to not give up on love and how you helped me realize it. Thank you.

wretch like me


Great Grandmother loved the song Amazing Grace.
Someone, I can't remember who, sang it at her funeral.
When Andy Linton and the rest of the band sing it out at Wilson's I can't help but get chills. It is a beautiful song.

Then I remember years ago standing room only at a concert in Tunica, MS.
Aaron Lewis was alone on stage when he began singing this.

I had heard the song before but never live in the middle of a crowd who in unison raised their arms, their lighters and their voices in a common anthem. I looked around and saw tears coming down people's faces. My friend, my sister, standing next to me caught up in a chant of ugly inside.

Then I punched Kim and yelled, Do you see this?
She nodded.
Seriously. All these people think they're ugly inside.
Again she nodded but it was one of those okay, shut up, we're not going to get into one of your philosophical discussions here in the middle of a concert nods.
Still I had to have the last word in the form of a charade, hands raised, fingers spread. what tha fuck?

Then I remembered.
Save a wretch like me.

Today I am grateful to question what I tell myself and those around me.
If we are what we believe ourselves to be then can we leave that one out. No? Okay.