Saturday, May 31, 2014


If you get a chance, a day you steal for yourself, you may want to check out True Detective and Inside Llewlyn Davis.

Stellar, I think.

Today I am grateful for the stop and the friend who knew I needed it.

Friday, May 30, 2014


There is the grandmother who went fishing with her son, a man in Friendship, MS sitting alone.
The photograph of the bungee jumping is just so (if I used ellipsis) wow.

It is a collection of photos, which, I think must be seen on paper, because, with the exception of only a few, Betty has cared and created and chose to exhibit this work from the field to the print. She either shoots with a Holga,a Yashica Twin Lens Reflex or a Hasselblad on a 12 exposure roll of 120mm film. The film is then processed in Betty's darkroom.

I still can't believe I held one.

Eudora Welty wrote a short story called A Worn Path which some say she used to describe how a writer works. The path to Betty's darkroom is quite worn as well.

So here is a secret I shared with Betty, but I want to tell you too. Mississippi has long grown tired of people who search for how this state could have not changed as a result of past shame. What I tried to explain or beg in someway was please don't make this about color or race or any other tiredoldoutofdate Mississippi story which is simply wrong.

And Betty's work is anything but that.

Here we'll end the coffee shop visit with a link and a quote and some inspiration to those of us who are in Mississippi here and now.

The background of most of the stories is a small town in Mississippi, the author's native State. However, there is nothing particularly regional about them. They could in a way happen anywhere, though certainly not to any one. For the mood and atmosphere of each story form a close unity with its specific characters.

Today I am grateful for those who show us how much they love people, because their work inspires us.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Betty Press, continued

It was the first photo which caught me, pulled me in, made me grab the thick paper, pull it closer, take off my glasses.

Study the lighting.
The scene.

Where was this?

A beauty pageant at The First Annual Redneck Festival. I have several from there. They called it the First Annual but they never had another one.

What type of lighting did you use?

None. It was in the back of this gym. She was just sitting there.

Lighting like that is a gift.

Betty smiles and nods.

In the prior seven months I have been struggling with color in the yellow of gym lighting. Betty's black and white of this little girl, the illumination of that child's precious, serious, little face is remarkable. I stopped picking up photos after that. I stopped touching them though it did take restraint. One photo after the other Betty showed me what she had been doing.

Great photography, great art will elicit emotion, and in the couple of hours I sat with Betty I felt shame and defensiveness and envy and as if I was at home in a place I had been ignoring and

thankful. I am so very grateful Betty Press has chosen to photograph Mississippi.

There is more. For those interested in photography you must hear how Betty does it. Right now I have to get ready for a trip, but in the meantime you may want to check out my friend, Sharon McConnell-Dickerson's Kickstarter Page. If you are so inclined, I know Sharon would be very thankful for your support.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Betty Press: This Time, This Place

We meet at a coffee shop by the railroad tracks.
Betty has a box.
We order fancy coffee and sit upstairs alone.
Betty opens the box.
It contains her most recent portfolio and a book.

I am affected.
It is effecting, Betty's work.
So much so that we will have to take this one slow.

Today I am grateful for a call, a meeting, a revisit to Mississippi. I am grateful for Betty's patience, her courage, how photography, when treated with such care and attention, can stir something within us.

Friday, May 23, 2014

This is nothing.

Just the list of selected works in the upcoming People's Choice Awards at the Meridian Museum of Art.
That's all. No big deal.

Morgan Ainsworth Not For Soup Other
Kent Allen The Red Table (Series) Mixed Media
Winki Allen Evening Out Other
Kathie Baeuerlin Rock Outcropping Oil
David Barr Doors to Our Past Photography
Linda Baxter Brindley and Roscoe Oil
Linda K.  Beasley Summer in Plaid Other
Katelyn Belcher Opaque Mixed Media
Katelyn Belcher The Woman at the Bus Stop Oil
Katelyn Belcher Summer Time Other
Cynthia Buob Objection Oil
Greg Cartmell Sunset Oil
Denise Dengler Pensive Watercolor
Anne S. Dowdle On the Edge Photography
Keith Englen Yellow Butterfly Photography
Chris Ethridge Stuck on Mississippi Other
Steven T. Eubanks Self-Portrait D/P/P
Robert  Evans Rosie the Riviter (Norman Rockwell) Mixed Media
Ken  Flynt Photography
Cooper Michael French Self Portrait Oil
Kris Gianakos Racoons Oil
Shea Goff Never Alone Photography
David Gosselin Big Game Club Oil
Robert Hale (Jimmy Smith) Dream Journey D/P/P
Robert Hale (Jimmy Smith) Altered Correspondence:  Anger Management Mixed Media
Jill Hammes Bad Moon D/P/P
Larry Harris Meridian's Own Mixed Media
Olga Hutchinson Girl in the Garden Other
Bob Jeffares After Dressing Room by Jan DeRuth Oil
Rosemary Kahlmus Poppy Watercolor
Patricia Kent Letters from Home Mixed Media
Patricia Kent Mississippi Magnolia Watercolor
Ann Kukor Sunset Acrylic
Ann Kukor You Dropped Grann's Machine Drawer Watercolor
Nancy Landrum Up in Flames - for Ste. Joan Other
Jay Long March Photography
Wanda  Luke The Farm Oil
Tara Martin Yellow Tarts Acrylic
Tara Martin Renaissance D/P/P
Doris McKinney Matty Hersee Hospital Actylic
Samuel Mingo Tree of Life Mixed Media
Samuel Mingo Cryhog in Cosplay Photography
Tonya Mott Country Charm Photography
Barbara Parish Drifting Past Forgotten Oil
Lanette Parker Baptism Mixed Media
Shara Rowley Plough The Material Landscape #2 Mixed Media
Judy Rayner Urban Pets D/P/P
Anthony Reed EYE Watercolor
Mouise T. Richards Carousel Acrylic
Michael Robinson Pluses and Zeros Acrylic
Michael Robinson Unreconstructed Life Mixed Media
Jauneth Skinner Into the Wind D/P/P
M. W. "Butch" Stuart Lakeshore View Watercolor
Breana Watkins High Heel Classic Other
Kathy Westbrook 2014 - Year of the Horse Acrylic
Kathy Westbrook Mr. Gillis's Racing Mare Watercolor
Christena Wiebe Teapot Other
Deanna Williamson Genesis Mixed Media
T. Lowry Wilson Legend of Stuckey's Bridge Photography
Sabrena  Wright Fay's Hand Photography
Sylvia Follis and Marcia Via First View of Spring Other

other people

Sometimes it's nice to read what other people write.


Today I am grateful for other people.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

not the zombie apocalypse. worse.

Yesterday, as I stood with my fellow third graders, I learned that one unspayed female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens. That's four hundred twenty thousand. Four one hundred thousands plus another twenty thousand. Eighty thousand less than half a million. A horror movie. So I guess now I have only one option.

I am going to take over the world with my cat army.

Today I am grateful for people who specialize in the prevention of me taking over the world with my cat army.

It was just a pipe dream anyway. They don't listen to a word I say.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

balance shmalance

Drastic measures must be taken.

Never do I go to the beach on a holiday weekend, but I am willing to arm wrestle someone for a place to stay this weekend. 

Today I am grateful for the possibilities.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

episode 13

He asks, Are you?
She nods because she's not interested.
He says, Oh. Sorry.

Two nights earlier in an alternate universe, a crowded dark room or was it lit, the question nor the answer was as simple as this.

Today I am grateful for how some questions can feel.

Monday, May 19, 2014

resistance is futile


Spaying and neutering are not.
Just in case you, like me, needed a public service announcement.

Today I am grateful that there are four people in this world who need a kitten in their life.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

agape love

They never lock the doors.

Today I am grateful for an example.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

little bird

Grammie's is a basket of toys, a Hug Me Elmo almost as big as you. You and Grammie, you have this special bond, which, I think, means you're some kind of intellectual. She is hilarious and you laugh and play and make her run across the room 'cause you're a climber and have a deep affection for those things you suspect are not for you. 

Because those things are obviously the tastiest.

Seriously. Everything must be tasted, like even those things not meant to be tasted. 
'Cause who made those rules? 

Not you.

The above photos were taken during a five minute span.
I plan to use the last photo in a Powerpoint intervention. 
Knee to Elmo's face? 
You've obviously gone too far, little bird.

Oh never mind. 
You're fine. 

Again, over and over, you amaze me and surprise me and make me laugh. 
I continue to be so very grateful for you.

Friday, May 16, 2014


The name of the work is Never Alone and it's just what I think when I see the photo and I send it to them because what else am I going to do while I wait for the gas man and maybe it will be judged worthy to be placed in the museum and possibly someone will like it enough to buy it but if they don't I'll hang it on my wall with a small light above it.

One night I'll play some Ben Howard, have a glass of wine and consider my good fortune.

Today, again, I am grateful for the music.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

altrusim? nah. probably not.

Now you have to pay close attention to something that's going to seem obvious at first. There's a difference between a great leader and a great salesman. There are also similarities, of course. A great salesman is usually charismatic and likable, and he can often get us to do things (buy things, agree to things) that we might not go for on our own, and to feel good about it. Plus, a lot of salesmen are basically decent people with plenty about them to admire. But even a truly great salesman isn't a leader. This is because a salesman's ultimate, overriding motivation is self-interest - if you buy what he's selling, the salesman profits. So even though the salesman may have a very powerful, charismatic, admirable personality, and may even persuade you that buying is in yourinterests (and it really might be) - still a little part of you always knows that what the salesman's ultimately after is something for himself. And this awareness is painful…although admittedly it's a tiny pain, more like a twinge, and often unconscious. But if you're subjected to great salesmen and sales pitches and marketing concepts for long enough - like from your earliest Saturday morning cartoons, let's say - it is only a matter of time before you start believing deep down that everything is sales and marketing, and that whenever somebody seems like they care about you or about some noble idea or cause, that person is a salesman and really ultimately doesn't give a shit about you or some cause but really just wants something for himself.
David Foster Wallace

It is one of those mornings when I consider, search for, find and then reread that Rolling Stone article Wallace wrote on McCain's campaign trail. I have used it through the years as a checkpoint of intention before I cross over into the area of devoting what could be massive amounts of time and energy and sanity into a new project. This time it struck me (it only took fourteen years) how selfish my intentions can be. Though I truly want the greater good, I am not so sure I am smart enough to know what that is. So sometimes I may just put everything I have into something so I can impress my kid.

Today I am, once again, grateful for how David Foster Wallace continues to make me think.
God rest his soul.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

last words

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
Crowfoot, 1890

Today I am grateful for what the photography students taught me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

cat lady

I stopped counting.

Today I am grateful for an evening sun and the long line of supermodels waiting to be photographed.

Monday, May 12, 2014


No questions asked.
I'm just glad someone set aside a day for a son to visit his Mom.

It's insane, the gratitude.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

you're special

Either Mom tried to burn down the house after Dad left or Dad tried to burn down the house with Mom in it or there was an accident, some old wiring, and the house didn't burn down and everything is going to be okay. Or it'll be however Dateline presents it.


When given the chance I'll have a seat in their living room, listen to my visibly shaken Mom, and then take in a Dr. Phil show. Good ole hit him hard common sense Dr. Phil is on the Oprah channel and is discussing the problem of the me generation. A woman wrote a book, not because she wants to be rich and famous but because she wants to talk about a generation of children who want to be rich and famous and how that leads to a sense of entitlement as if they deserve to have everything simply handed to them because their parents told them they were special and spoiled them.

Interestingly, I think, entitlement in Mississippi is more often than not related to a welfare system and not an MTV sweet sixteen party, but I digress because the commercial breaks for the Dr. Phil show are promos for the upcoming Oprah show with a preacher who has come to tell the audience they were born to be tall and following their instinct and information will get them where they need to be and how special and good and the audience cheers.

Tweet that, Oprah says.

I don't know, but I think a certain amount of narcism is unavoidable because all each of us have are our five senses and a brain to process experiences so the very best we can attempt to do with another person is relate. I guess that's why I would never look into a child's eyes and tell them they couldn't be anything they wanted to be.

If everybody is special then nobody is, and I'm okay with that.

Today I am grateful that Mom, Dad and the house are okay.

Friday, May 9, 2014

not the what but the why

him again

He reminds me it is important to show up, to be present, that I can't exactly pinpoint what it is but something happens. And that something has to be the why I am holding a camera.

Today I am grateful for an old photo of a little boy who still shows me why I shoot.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Toltec Wisdom

Good books resonate for years.

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

Today I am grateful for simple advice. You know, the kind we would give our kids.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Start my day with a morning swim?

Uh huh. I think I will.

We may call this the summer of pool photos.

Today I am grateful for an early morning swim.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

American dreaming

Tuesday will be here before you know it and Wednesday is hump day and Thursday is Friday eve and who doesn't love Friday because then the weekend. Do that enough times and you get a vacation.

Summer is almost here.

Today I am grateful our children get a break.
Lately all my phone conversations with mine sound like a cheer.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Today I am grateful for old friends.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


to this.

after the light is gone

I tell myself it's a marathon not a sprint.
Then I wonder what the hell am I doing making a running analogy.

Today I am grateful for a long, slow weekend.


Let's just pretend this never happened.

Today I am grateful for the morning light.

Friday, May 2, 2014


Either I'll call this the romantic period or that morning I only studied for an hour because I wanted to get back to the House episodes on Netflix.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Today I am grateful for the ability to stream a little romance into my life without, you know, having to take care of him. Sorry, guys, but as creepy as the premise of the movie Her seemed…I kinda get it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

focal point

Today I am grateful to be reminded of what brought me here.