Saturday, August 31, 2013

in reference to point B

Hey, you.
I want to tell you a secret but I think you will laugh because I think you came here to tell me.
You hold the world in your sweet little hands.

You are the potential, all the dreams we could have ever dreamed for ourselves but more and better and whatever we will do because this is you.

There will be bad days and good. Broken hearts and the kind of victories your Mama never even conceived. Until now, of course.

If you don't already know. You'll see.

Today I am grateful for reminders.

Friday, August 30, 2013


three years ago this October

I start teaching a photography class next week but today I have a shoot at 8am so it only seems reasonable that I would make a list of how to mentally prepare yourself for a photography shoot.

Here goes.

1. Fully embrace the potential of everything falling apart: weather, light, battery, memory card, brain injury, earthquake, tidal wave, birds.
2. Look back at old photos you once thought were some of your best work. Judge yourself harshly. The word idiot comes in handy here.
3. Focus on those people who have snubbed your work. Pretend like their opinion is very, very important to the point it should be considered fact.
4. Toy with the potential of a career change. This was just a hobby, right? Seriously, why were you even doing this?
5. Stumble on a memory. The first wedding you did, with a borrowed camera at that.
6. Remember what holding the camera was like.
7. Smile.
8. Think, Maybe. Just maybe this could be okay. Or better than that.
9. Think, Oh no. I just jinxed myself.
10. Know, no matter what, you're not giving up now.
11. Breathe.
12. Relax.
13. Repeat steps one through twelve until forever I guess.

Today I am grateful for opportunity, for the chance.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

welcome home

The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.
William James

Today I am grateful for purpose.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Josh's Madonna

The photo was black and white and taken between 1974 and 1975. The woman was twenty-two or twenty-three years old. It was her second child.

Three years later she would give birth to the artist, her third and last child.

Today he turns thirty-six years old. 
I was always curious to see what life would do to his art, but this past year it has been much more fun to watch what life did to him.

This, of course, has to come with a disclaimer. As someone who claims to be a photographer I have to note that I was testing light here and wasn't ready for what this was, and yes, I do realize that we are never supposed to put anything less than our best work out there.

But as this guy's sister I absolutely love this photo and what and who has happened to my baby brother this year. What a sweet birthday this is for him.

Today I am grateful for the smiles and the laughs and ohgoodgosh how much fun this is.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


If I was fundamentalist Mormon and they were all cool with the women having brother husbands then yeah. Eddie.


Today I am grateful to feel the frustration of an unfulfilled desire. It reminds me I am still alive.

Monday, August 26, 2013


John Roberts, page 56.

The grand design of Woodstock called for me to supervise all ticket-selling operations as well as handle the general administrative duties I incurred as president of the corporation. I was well qualified for this chore, because I had once spent a full morning hawking raffle tickets for one of my girl friend's favorite charities.


He starts the second semester of his junior year in college today but only after working the night shift last night.

Do you need anything, baby?

No. I'm fine, Mom.

On my knees with gratitude.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

partying like the rock star I am

Home by 9:30, I never even saw anyone step on that stage.

Today I am grateful for my home, my bed, a good book and rest.
Obviously at forty-three I am holding out for the senior citizen discount.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

the Grace within

Today I am grateful to know some of the most hilarious friends a girl could have.

Friday, August 23, 2013

the magic of I need you

There are no selfless acts.

Today I am grateful to be needed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Photograph of Sam Chatmon by Steve Gardner. Cover of Legends.

You know me. I find legends everywhere I look though some keep popping up.
Like how I went to see Monet and found Mitchell, how I moved from hill country to the home of Jimmy Rogers and now see Cedric Burnside is playing Friday night.

Locally. (funny note from the webmaster on that site)

Today I am grateful to know I wasn't born to play music, paint, build houses, make great speeches, or do any craft project whatsoever. It has to be that I am only supposed to explain and show what I see.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

nothing but love, my people. nothing but love.

This is no blues hall. This is no juke joint. Many times I have felt uncomfortable when we clean up the blues to the point nobody is dancing on dirt or concrete.

But here.

I hold back tears for what this means. Silly, huh?

Othar Turner, Ada Mae Anderson, Jessie Mae Hemphill, R.L. Burnside, Fred McDowell, William Diamond, Rosa Lee Hill, Robert Diggs, Joe Callicot and so many others did not need this to do what they did. 

Standing there then, sitting here now, I wish they could see what I see.

How a large group of people walked past Monet and van Gogh into a room where what they did, who they were, are put on a brilliant display. That back in 1967 welcoming a stranger with a camera into their homes meant they would be documented as legends for generations to come.

And Cedric Burnside knew it. He knew who and what he represented and all those, especially his Granddaddy, who came before him would surely, most definitely be proud.

It was obvious George Mitchell was when he watched Cedric play.

So here's the deal. 
I got to say thank you in person.

My heartfelt gratitude goes out to those who played the blues then and those who play them now, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Mississippi Humanities Council and George Mitchell. 

I drove home last night thinking it's a good time to be in Mississippi. There is so much love here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

what I was told

Assume the whole world is offering you clues and listen closely.

Ford's Well, notes

Hello, grasshopper.

Goodbye, grasshopper.

In 1898 Hawaii was annexed, Will Kellogg invented Corn Flakes, the city of New York was established, a peace protocol was signed which ended the Spanish-American War and W.B. Ford found the well he dug was no good for his livestock.

Mr. Ford dug that well by hand using a pick, a shovel and some buckets. Now I think to ask, How deep was that well, how long did it take. Was it in the heat of a Mississippi summer, what was a winter then like? What I have been told is that he just dug until it was complete. That is when he became certain, though he must have suspected, the water was unfit to drink. Reddish in color with a particular odor, the taste was then reported to have been intolerable. He tried to add a detergent, but the story is the water then curdled as did the many hopes of Mr. Ford and his family.

At some point in this disappointment Mr. Ford travelled to a bank in Water Valley, MS, a trip I can only at this point assume was to talk to a lender who helped him purchase land which could not even provide water for his cattle. He took a bottle of what he must have considered poison with him and handed it to a man by the name of Blackmur. Mr. Blackmur held the jar of water, smelled it, examined it while he listened to the farmer's plight. Then he helped.

It was him who gave a last little bit of hope by suggesting they send that sample of water to William and Mary College in Virginia. They could tell the two men what was in it and if anything could be done. Take it, send it, Ford said. Why not? What other choices did he have?

How long did it take, I wonder, for that report to come back. What was that wait like? Did Ford have to listen to his wife cry at night? However long it took, however agonizing that must have been I doubt he or his wife could imagine what the analysis from William and Mary could have meant.

The water was high in mineral content and more importantly the report actually stated that what Mr. Ford had found in the bottom of the well had curative properties. Even if you and I don't believe that well contained a liquid which could remedy ailments it was soon claiming, we can say without a doubt that the Ford family fully recovered from despair. It did cure that.

The ad for the water read:

Ford’s Mineral Water

Will Cure Torpid Liver, Chills, Fever,
Biliousness, Jaundice, Dysentery,
Diarrhea, Constipation, Malaria,
Hematuria, and Dropsy
An absolute Cure for All Stomach Troubles.  
For Indigestion there is Nothing Better.

Two train depots, one in Water Valley and one in Oakland, began shipping crates of Ford's Mineral Water throughout the southeastern United States. It wasn't long before a community was built around W.B. Ford's Well. Tourists were coming to bathe in the water and stay in a boarding house Ford built where his wife prepared the meals. The town of Leggo was born and a post office was added. A church, a school, apartments all built around a well which couldn't provide water for cattle.

Leggo no longer exists. Years later the Ford family sold that land. Now it is under the management of the US Army Corps of Engineers, but visitors can still go see that well, ride horses, camp, explore. I hear it is beautiful.

Road trip, you think?

Today I am grateful for how stories unfold and those who continue to tell them. A special thank you goes out to Michael Robinson from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

because. Astray Films.



This sounds like a great way for Jess and me to have a day.

Source: Elisa Mayo


We drive home on country roads because when you're given the option those are the ones you want to take. I turn the radio station to country music because you seem to know the words to every song. When we get close to home you say, Aunt Shea.

Yes, baby.

Tomorrow when you say thank you I want you to say thank you for a Shea day.

Oh Jess. I'm glad to be living but you know I have to live with myself everyday so it doesn't seem all that spectacular. How 'bout being grateful for a Shea and Jesse day?

You smile. Nod your head in approval. 

Today I am so very grateful for those days Jesse and I claim for ourselves.
She's right. They are some of the best.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

not pulchritudinous (a word I learned from The New Yorker)

The laughing heart would have surely laughed at this.

Today I am grateful to understand it's all simply perspective.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Today I am grateful for all that we have yet to see.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Superman and Wonder what you're doing Woman

Word Face III, Mixed Media by Cindy Aune

Jacob closed his eyes but could feel his Mama pace back and forth, back and forth, stomping it seemed on the floor in front of him. He gripped the arms of his chair and pushed his head back as he held onto the thought this would end soon. He knew she was on the phone with another lawyer in Jackson.

“I'll tell you one thing, Mr. Benson. They can send me to jail. I don't give a damn. They better hope they keep me in there 'cause I'm going to sue 'em for all they got. I ain't gonna take this shit,” her voice strengthened but Jacob knew what was coming next. His Mama would cry. That was something Jacob couldn't stand.

I am Superman, Jacob thought. He opened his eyes to focus on the photo above the mantle. If only I had my cape. If only I could fly. Life is so unfair. Jacob began to feel a pained thud as if his heart was beating in his head.

Jacob’s Mama sobbed, “I don’t have that much money, Mr. Benson. You don’t understand all the bills we got. Can’t you just take it outta the final settlement? There’s no way they could win. You know what they did to my child.”

I hate them, Jacob thought. I hate them for what they do to her. The photo blurred, Jacob held his breath, the beat of the pain quickened until

“Jacob? Jacob baby, are you okay?”

Jacob heard his name, opened his eyes, blinked twice for yes.

“Okay, my little Superman. You hang in there. Mama’s gotta make some more calls.”

Jacob closed his eyes. He could feel his Mom begin to pace back and forth, back and forth, stomping it seemed on the floor in front of him.

Today I am grateful to realize so much of our children's anxieties come from how worried they can be about us. Just like we are them. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

beacon of the mongrel

I won't lie. My instinct is to say, Go away. No, you can't stay. In the giving going I sure didn't ask for this our first meeting. But. He's here and his nose and long legs and gangly and awkward and he begins to speak in a pleading high pitch low growl, Please help. I need. Food. Water. I have fleas.

No. Another mouth to feed? You have to be kidding me.

He's not. He moves closer and closer and at my shoes and soon with the steady whine of pretty, pretty please. He obviously wasn't mistreated. He knows what love looks like, knows he needs it.

The cats hide.
Billy Sue barks from inside.

Welcome, number seven. Hope that's your lucky number. The three remaining say they hope you don't make it, but me, I'm willing to see. I think I have to be.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to test my resolve, to be accepting of what this world offers me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

looks like a memory, black and white

She called me a photographer, put a name to it, gave me a label I wanted and there are people of this world who you will forever remember because their lesson was one of encouragement and their life served as an example of you can do it.

It can be done.

And if a large part of what we needed was someone to say yes and good job and here's an opportunity, you go. Then yes, we witnessed what that can do for someone so we became indebted to the world. 'Cause we know of competition and we hear all those voices and see all that talent and it's easy to become overwhelmed but we know this was no sprint. We're in for the long haul.

Which means.

Everyday we wake up and think how in the heck did we get here.
Then we remember so we keep that same giving going.

Today I am grateful for a lady, a writer, an editor, a lovely, lovely human who will probably never understand how much she gave.

Monday, August 12, 2013

not near as dramatic as it seems

One more day.
One more song.
A grouper reuben and a beer at one of my favorite restaurants.

You could possibly, potentially, yeah most likely remark that I avoided this ritual for six nights so on the seventh I would have a reason to remain.

It was nice.

Today I am grateful for another twenty-four hours.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


And then.

Wes Lee music.

You can hear him on the worldwide ohmygosh this guy is good, but if you get a chance to see him live then yes, do it.

Today I am grateful for an exquisite vacation.

Now excuse me while I go chain myself to one of the posts on the balcony.