Friday, May 31, 2013


If I say. you don't get it.
I am not saying anything about you.
I am saying, right now I feel misunderstood.
what I said was important.
Or not.

it wasn't.

Thank you. I get it.

Today I am grateful to know we don't all think or feel or act or do anything exactly alike because our differences teach me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

but Marlee

I don't know how to say this 'cause it's not supposed to be about works and maybe it's not but sometimes it seems when God speaks it works in a way I know it is supposed to.

Just because.

I don't know.

But you'll know just like I do.

I met Dolly Parton's biggest fan. Well. She was when she was eight years old. She listened to everything Dolly Parton ever sang and she decided she would write Dolly one day to let her know.

She did, Marlee. She wrote Dolly. I never saw the letter but knowing this girl the way I do I would say the words were pleasant and encouraging and full of exclamation points. I'm sure she mentioned love. Surely she did, Marlee, because Dolly wrote her back a letter announcing she was now a member of the Dolly Parton Fan Club.

Being a member of the Dolly Parton Fan Club meant the little girl received newsletters and photos and she felt important, felt listened to.

All was fine until Dolly stopped putting out new music. Maybe she was going through a tough time. Dolly was forty-one and who knows what could be confronting a woman who was confronting a world. Being ten years old the girl decided again she would write. This time the letter was more instructive, possibly utilizing the word lazy and telling Dolly Parton that she needed to get to work.

Dolly didn't write back. There were no more newsletters from the fan club of which the little girl had been an avid member. And that's it.



That little girl became an adult. In her mid thirties. Her life was good. She loved her husband, had two beautiful children, a nice house, a good job and she found herself maybe a little bored. So one morning she got ready for work, got in her car, closed the door, looked up and said, God. I need something to do, give me something please.

Then she started the car to hear Dolly singing on the radio. That's when she knew God wanted her to go find Dolly again. So she did. She went to work and pulled up Dolly's website. And she looked and looked until she finally saw it.

Imagination Library.

Marlee, that's how that program came to your school.

That girl, her story, the way I felt when she told it was how I knew God was speaking to me.

Today I am grateful for how God speaks to me through people like her.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Marlee, God struck me once. Well. maybe more than once, but this story is about a time I worked on an adult mental health ward. Yes, Marlee. worked. Don't let your Dad tell you I was a patient though I'm sure I could've passed as such.

Anyway. Back to God, Marlee.

I got struck by a man who was wanting to get in a woman's room. The woman, she needed protecting so I stood between the man and her room and said as nicely as I possibly could, Mister. She doesn't want to see you right now.

That's when, Marlee, he lifted his fist and started chanting, In the name of God, in the name of the Father, in His Son, Tell me what to do. Tell me what to do. Take it now.

Because I had been trained to handle those patients whose psychosis had a violent nature and because I thought I knew what I was doing, I reached for that man's fisted hand. Ya' know, not knowing what he was planning on taking.

He got me with the other one, Marlee. His other hand flattened in a slap came from below and against my cheek. Don't worry. I didn't go down. I took it and immediately five other men confined as patients to that unit were holding him.

The woman was safe. I was safe. The man got some medicine.

What was confirmed for me that day, Marlee, is that not everybody who speaks in the name of their God, says what I hear God is saying. Still, never doubt, they believe it.


Just be careful is what I'm saying.

Today I am grateful for a healthy skepticism which makes me question everything.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

that one

Yes, Jess. There are people in this world who make bad choices and sometimes we don't understand why and then we can think bad about ourselves because those people tell us we are bad. They either show through their words or their actions or neglect that we are sometimes less. But, Jess, that has nothing to do with you. That has nothing to do with you, child. Your value is not measured by them.

What you learn from them, Jess.
Is what it feels like to be put down, to be disliked, to be unloved.

And then you turn to them and say thank you for the message.

And you continue to love as you feel is right because, Jess, that is what you are here for.

Grammie, how did you get so smart?

I had a Grandmother. Her name was Mamaw Moore, and she taught me that.

Today I am grateful for that one. That one person in our lives who taught us what to do.

For me, now it is my niece.

Monday, May 27, 2013

guest post

Today's photographs and gratitude are brought to you by Jesse.

Today I am grateful for the soldiers for being able to fight for our country.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


This turns it on.
This protects the lens. Take it off.

This is your ISO.
This is your shutter speed.
If the camera is not focusing on what you want, flip this switch.
Focus using this.

How do I see?

Through here.

Jess, I want us to remember this. This day at nine years old when you started using manual mode. When we planned our restaurant in that old building. When you asked me if I was proud to be white and I told you that pride is a dangerous thing but especially pride in something of which you have no control.

Your questions amaze me, make me laugh and then grateful you asked.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

wall art

I hereby declare art in the form of a dry erase board we never erased.

incomplete works of nobody in particular


It's the book I have to write, says Dolly's biggest fan. Again, There's this book. Ya' know the one I'm working on, the one I'm not working on. I don't know.

I smile. The book is To Kill a Mockingbird in character but with suspense and the girls are older and industrial mystery and boys. I'm hooked. I want her to write the book too but I know it will either come or not so it's not my place to pressure her.

What about you? I've never heard you say you have a book.

Ten thousand hours.


I have to get ten thousand hours before I write the book.

Ten thousand hours of what?

Ya' know. Practice.

Practice what?

Writing. I figure I average about three hours per post.

Per post?

Ya' know, editing photographs, deciding photographs, figuring out what the hell I'm going to write, writing it.

Wait. You spend three hours blogging.

On average. It's taken up to five hours before, but ya' know, like today I just linked to another writer.

Five hours?

I know. I know. I've made fun of myself, but I've had to admit I'm slow so I'm okay with it. Plus, I had a book. It was called     ohgoodgosh      what was it      it was the perfect title      ohno      surely I can remember it. I turn toward Tempa and finally shout, Incomplete Works of Nobody in Particular. It was a collection of short stories. I still have them. There was an Air Force pilot who got her pilot's license the same day she got her driver's license. A blues singer who wrote a story called Toxic Ink because that's what his Mom used to say. A writer in Detroit. Josh. Others still may do it.

So is ten thousand hours your excuse?

Ummmmmaybe. I don't know. I just hadn't thought about it in a while.

Today I am grateful for reminders and interest and the time to consider.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Last night I planned to take a photograph. A picnic table under a magnolia tree, four women in discussion. The light source would be candles. Other than that I didn't know what would happen.

What happened was I couldn't leave those women long enough to run inside and get my camera.

Today I am grateful to have found an energy so vibrant it draws me to it and lifts me with it.

A special thank you shout out to my Dad, the provider of the space and table, as well as the Final Draft Writer's Group, a phenomenal group of ladies.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

nobody's story

I am skeptical. It is my nature.
I show up to the meeting late thinking I'm in trouble. what if he's already left?

I'm not late. He's not there yet. So I sit and get to work.
Then he walks in.
Like this.

Mom said, What was he like?


Not that Jesus was white or that he had long hair or when he was twenty-one we have no documentation of what he was doing. It's just that when I think of Jesus I try not to think image because I never saw him but in my mind Jesus had a soft, sweet, loving look. Like your brother wants to give you a hug.

Nobody just got back from being homeless for a month. He went to Austin, TX and lived on the streets. For thirty days he was without the companionship he had known for twenty-one years.

When I first met his Mom. It was in these meetings. Two or three in, before I knew it was her. When I was saying, What is going on? Who is this guy? We have to find him. Is anyone following him?

I verbalized all my fears, and at the end of the meeting his Mom was there, and my heart cried 'cause why would I sit in a meeting and do that.

She told me it was for a season and no, she didn't know the length of the season, but yes, her twenty-one year old boy had decided to quit college and go be homeless in Austin, TX. He was going to witness to people about God.

There had been signs. He had new friends at junior college and whenever she would ask him, Who were you talking about? I've never heard that name.

He would respond, Oh yeah. He's my new friend. I met him in the Walmart parking lot.

Many of John Mark's new friends were homeless people who needed something. 
A meal, shoes. 
A friend, a roof over their head.

This went on for at least two years before he told his Mom, I am going to be homeless in Austin, TX.

John Mark? She said.

Mom, I have to. God is calling me.

To be homeless?




Mom. Don't cry. It's going to be okay.

But John Mark?

Everyone should do this.

Go be homeless?

Do what God tells them to do.

He sold me. He hit it hard. Where he got me?

What he missed most was family and community. The most shocking thing to him was how no other human said, Hi. Good morning. Nobody waved. He was nobody.
He left a man who called him an angel, and he saw angels too.

He is going to write a book about his experience. I hope.

Today I am grateful for the sons of our mothers.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

mandolin banjo mandolin fiddle brother

Study to show thyself approved. He would start every lesson that way.

We're all studying something, huh?

Adam said we were born with genius.
Malcolm Gladwell said we practice to it.

Someone asked me Saturday if I had a license to do this.
To do what? I asked.
To take photos?
I laughed, I have a national press pass with papers but it's silly and pretentious at the same time.
He laughed.

How dare I share this for free?

There are photographers and writers and people everywhere attempting to make a living at these things I am practicing for free. This was a volunteer job and it was a good one and all the photographs here are free to the people who line the stages or sit in the audience or visit this blog. I don't charge for digital images from volunteer work.

My experience with the publishing world is that they don't want to pay for photographs. The market is flooded. I have to write stories in order to publish my photographs for money. The stories are assignments, and a majority of the time the publishers will simply use a stock photo which they can get for pennies on the dollar.

All I have said is fine. Okay. I'll write your stories. But my blog is where I will come to love. You don't have to buy my photographs. I've already paid for them.

This is one of my two brothers.
He is an artist. Born that way.

On this project I worked with my son, my brother, four writers, countless musicians, a local potter, two other photographers, numerous community leaders, two people from a local produce market who will most likely never speak to me again, fellow music lovers, anonymous and my Mom and Dad who have so much patience with my practice.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to share freely in this world.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Little lady, you're getting out and about. First, a music festival. Now you're in the pool.

Also you're talking. It's gibberish, of course, to everyone but your Mom.
You two have conversations. Some kind of dialogue within which I understand what she is saying. She is speaking English.

But you. You are speaking babymama fluently and it is a lovely language of pitch and tone and confidence.

You say less to your Dad. 
With him you have this silent adoration where you seem to study his features.

And you smile.

And it is brilliant, this smile. It is pleased and trusting and it looks as if you do love the water.

The only part you don't seem to love about your first swim is that it had to end.

The getting out part is the worst.

Otherwise, everything seems hunky dory with you, chic.

Today I am grateful to be part of something bigger than self.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Once upon a time there was a soul who decided all she ever wanted to be 
was what she said and what she saw.

Until all she had left to say,
everything she witnessed
simply repeated
thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou over and over and over again.