Friday, October 31, 2014

the infinite argument

It would be a ridiculous job. What would you even call it? Someone who everyday vows to find and share a good story for the rest of his/her life. At least some part of every parent has to want to be able to prove that this world has plenty of good in it. Right?

This world will be good to you, my child, we at least hope to say.

So we set out to prove it and we find there are all of these people who do amazing work and there are so many incredible stories and we feel like it’s almost a secret.

Because who’s got that kind of time? Seriously. And if people knew the enormity and scope of all the good they would surely flock to it. 

Would there be enough good for everyone?

Would we lack?
Or does energy create more energy?

This is when I would again (the infinite argument) ask Slater, Is it infinite? The energy.

No, Mom. It’s finite. There is only a certain amount.

But, baby. I do love physics and science is absolutely beautiful. It’s just that I don’t think they’ve discovered it all yet. Just look at how good creates more good. I think that is how it happens. Surely it’s the same with the energy of this world.

Then he would just look at me this way.

Then I would be all, Look at what I found.

Today I am grateful for beautiful conversations with my kid.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Alton Fairley & Dawn Early

It's happening. 
Artists are joining forces, collaborating.

It makes me want to visit downtown just to see what is becoming of the place.
Because really great things are happening. 
And I just love that.

Today I am grateful to watch and listen and attest to the beauty of our little town.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Not here. Here is in Hattiesburg.
Hattiesburg has a beautiful downtown area with that creative energy Jaime found in Memphis.

Barbara owns the space we'll be using for our art show. She bought it to create a restaurant, one she hopes to have serving food by the end of the year. I have photographed it before when it was selling furniture a couple of years ago, but it dates back to 1905 when it was built as a mercantile store.

Just as place can be a character in a book or a movie, this space surely serves as a character in our show. I keep thinking how exciting it is going to be to open those huge doors that evening as our local school's jazz band plays in the right, rear corner. Mr. Roger Bounds sitting at a table, surrounded by students who created his book, smiles, and that insanely large space lights up with all kinds of love and community and sharing and incredible food and sweet reunions and at this point in our history, no matter if it is remembered or not,

at this time this was us.

Today I am grateful to be here now.


Today I am grateful for the knowledge that in order to move forward we may need to be still for a moment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jaime Phillips Winton (the phone call)

finding voice in the second grade (2014)

Jaime was (is) good at math and science. Those subjects were reasonable to her. She was so proficient in those two areas that in 1994 she was invited to attend the Mississippi Math and Science School in Columbus. It wasn't like everyone at our local high school was invited to attend. It was a big deal, and, of course, her parents were elated. Sure their only child would be leaving home early, but the opportunity Jaime had to be challenged by a school in subject areas with surefire means of getting a solid career one day in engineering or the medical field had to be something for which they responded, Where do we sign up?

She agrees. It was a great school. I have to give it to them. she says. They had this incredible humanities program where we got to study many different mediums. There is this excitement in her voice that conjures sunlight coming through windows and long tables and easels and the coolest art teacher with a Guess what we're gonna do today! class theme. This is much like we now have in our local school, but when Jaime was a kid art class was an extra bonus type thing where your parents had to have surplus money to send you to camp or class outside of a government sponsored public education system. In the mid to late eighties and early nineties core subjects (STEM as they are called now) were accompanied by typing and home economics and athletics and band. Jaime was taught art by a lady named Margaret Evans.

Here we'll interject.

In the discovery process of this art show Margaret Evans' name has been mentioned many times. That lady's ears must be burning. She did not only inspire Jaime, Mrs. Evans was instrumental in teaching art to most any child in the county at that time. A local inspiration, we'll say, and she's still at it.

I'm sure Jaime's Mom spent at least one moment thinking, Why in the world did I send that kid to Margaret Evans' art camp that summer between third and fourth grade? when Jaime would call home and say, You should see what we're doing in art class. This teacher….This canvas….We screen printed…

I'm almost just as certain that Jaime's Mom would smile as I type

No matter what Jaime followed her heart.

Her degree from the University of Mississippi in 2000 is titled "Art with Design Journalism".

I love that title and ask Jaime, What advice would you give today's art students?

I would tell them everyone has a voice and that the pulpit is not the only place to have a mission. It took me a long time to trust what it was I wanted to create. What I know is that there are many ways to minister, honor God's creation and friends and family and you can do it through art.

The first time Jaime ever showed her work publicly was because her church in Memphis wanted to know if there was anything she would donate for the youth fundraiser. She was going out of town, escaping having to publicly stand by her work. She gave them some of her art and ran away.

Then they liked it.

Then a whole community of creativity opened up to her.

In 2006 D'Edge Art & Unique Treasures featured her work in a show.

It was awful, she admits then laughs. I mean in retrospect it was great because people had actually driven miles and there were people there that I didn't know and didn't know my Mom and they came to see my work. I had my make-up done that day and I never did that and I looked like a raccoon and I sweated and thought I would have a heart attack and I needed it. There is something about the confidence booster you receive from having people publicly like your work.

She won't say she's an old hand at it now, but since 2006 she has been featured again and again at D'Edge and through her church and at Memphis Botanic Gardens while also finding time to work with other artists in the Memphis Empty Bowls Project. Though much of her time now is consumed by her two daughters (don't get me started about those two and how they are one of my favorite things about the internet) and being a partner to her husband (the two have been best friends since the days of Math and Science School), her work (mostly commissioned) is being done in a studio upstairs when the kids are asleep.

And yes, there are still times (some of her favorite) when she begins with the typeface of a thought, a saying, a focus and from there come the acrylics and modeling paste and pumice stone and so much more to now be featured in the place she first discovered art next to the works of the woman who first inspired her.

Well. Not now.
It's going to happen on November 8th.

Today I am grateful for art education.
Today I am grateful for Jaime's work.

Monday, October 27, 2014

people are crazy, especially me

Just as kind as his brother. Even in a hostage situation.

Hindsight is incredibly helpful at times if looking back helps you learn something. That is if you and me agree we are here to learn because we don't know everything and everyone we meet knows something we don't. As evidenced by the medium I choose to write our yearning for knowledge is seemingly insatiable.

For me education is good.

The photo above was taken a little over two weeks ago when I went to pick up Jaime Phillips Winton's work. She left it at her Papaw's who was my Papaw's brother and who has a particular resemblance to my childhood best friend. When I told Jess we were going and that she would get to help with Jaime's work and who Jaime was and the importance of seeing the man who was the closest person I knew remaining who could show her who my best friend was….(reference the title here)

Her response was, So she's my cousin and she's an artist. Do you think it runs in the family?

Well heck yeah. Of course, I said.

My favorite Christmas present last year. Jaime's work hangs on my wall as a daily to do list.

Anyway, the photograph up top. When I saw it I realized what I did and yesterday when I talked to Jaime on the phone I had to confess, I have a photo of your Papaw trapped in this weird situation where I was trying to make him my Papaw and Jess was playing me and I should've just furnished them with a script because obviously they had no idea they were in my movie.

She laughed and Uncle Jack had not told on me though I would not blame him for moving without leaving a forwarding address. He's just so kind like my Papaw was.

Dear Jess,

Lucky for you kindness runs in the family as well. Know that about yourself. Practice daily.


Tomorrow I hope to get to the conversation with Jaime.
Now that the confession is out of the way.

Today I am grateful for what this art show is teaching me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

the trees, the forest

Alton Fairley

Once upon a time a town began painting itself.

Today I am grateful for the first sentence of a story I plan to tell my grandchildren one day.
(no hurry on that)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Yellow Dog Printing

Inspection station

He says, You know if you want to while I am away you can come over here and clean screens this weekend.

Do you know, reader, what is so messed up?

I consider it an honor and a privilege. 

Little Bird counts how many t-shirts it will take for her to go to college but then runs out of fingers.

Today I am grateful for purpose and printing and having the opportunity to take part in creating not only a t-shirt but a future as well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


You should've just come tomorrow. How long have you been in line?

I don't know. I don't have a watch, but please allow me to complain.

Today I am grateful for ceremony and for family.

Monday, October 20, 2014

living the dream

The weather and Little Bird's laugh.
Josie's tongue hanging out of her mouth.

Today I am grateful to witness and feel joy.

Friday, October 17, 2014

this. read this.

Because we give a damn.

Today I am grateful for the American farmer and the journalists out there willing to share their story.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

brewed in Mississippi

Brickhouse Bar & Grill
He talks fast and believes hard. I respect that but can hardly keep up typing it. The notes I am gathering are scattered, but what I know is he graduated from Enterprise High School in 1976. During those years he worked the yearbook as a photographer and an editor. He played football as well. Back then most every male did.

I think at that time (and still today) Ken Flynt thought he could do just about anything. Maybe that's why he was thinking that being a walk-on to a junior college football team was feasible though he soon found out his size made him more of a punching bag. Still he stuck with it.

Until one day he ran off the field after practice and there was this man standing there in a suit. In a very Mississippi blues way I like to think of this scene as Robert Johnson at the crossroads. Anyway, it wasn't the devil. It was a man who asked, Are you Ken Flynt?

"Yes sir," Ken said and tried to quickly think back on what he might have done the night before or the previous week.

Now all one can imagine is that Ken Flynt had made sure his name was known. Today we know that suited man offered him a full scholarship and forty hours worth of work not as a football player but as a guy that would take over the newspaper and yearbook. Back in those days Ken was shooting in black and white and printing the photos in his darkroom. Photography was what paid for him to go to college but not something in which he was majoring.

Taking photographs for Ken was a hobby and how he could make money but not earn a livelihood. His focus at university was science and he thought he'd go into dentistry. Outside of class he tended a bar at a discotheque called Cash McCool's and took photographs at the High Hat Club during an era affectionately termed "The Chitlin' Circuit". At one time before a house burning Flynt had in his possession photographs he took of Ike and Tina Turner, BB King and Otis Redding among others.

Today as we sit outside a bar he partly owns Ken Flynt has finally come to terms with the fact he was always supposed to be doing this. Life has taken him all over the country and living out of a suitcase was how he did it. That is until he returned to Mississippi and began working on a legendary magazine called Legends, a recipient two years running of the Governor's Award.

What Ken says about the magazine is, "The photographs you'll find in Legends typically have a musician standing with a guitar in one hand and a Grammy in the other. Or a paintbrush. It celebrates the reason people come to Mississippi. It is for our music and our culture. That is what is so great about this state."

In the upcoming art show Flynt will exhibit two works revealing to us what he considers to be great about Mississippi. Both are, of course, exceptional but I first fell in love with the one he says he took driving back from a blues festival in Helena. It only looks black and white. The photograph was taken and processed in color and he says it is accurate to what he saw that day.

It was sleeting when he noticed the barn, pulled off the long stretch of highway and took the photograph from his truck.

Today I am grateful that Ken Flynt is out there with a camera.

Anyone from this part of the world would look at his work and say, I think I've been there before.

Simply beautiful, I think.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Lin Carruth

Forget the miracle of breathing, of just that we're here, of when we get up in the morning everything still works. Like I can see and remember and hear and now's my chance to be better than I was the day before. My greatest competition is me, which is good since some people have an overachiever with whom to compete.

I am lucky in that there is a true slacker taunting me.

oh just close your eyes. fifteen more minutes. you'll wake up. no, you don't need an alarm clock. just go back to sleep.

Yesterday I met with Kate Cherry from the Meridian Museum of Art because sometimes there are miracles beyond just breathing. And sometimes you have a group of incredible women standing together in a gargantuan room. So miracle on top of miracle and it keeps going until your heart may burst.

Then I guess I'm dead so I'll enjoy all those miracles while I can.

What I knew and what I will tell you is to not only listen but to feel the creative energy around you.
Those people and that feeling will lead you.

Or that's how I'm rolling these days.

Today I am grateful for Kate's stories, for the generosity of Barbara. That Mom and Aunt Wanda and Granny all came to check out the venue. And Dr. Hawley. It feels good to have her approval.

Blessed. Yep.

More to come. Uh huh.

out there

Your Dad is doing art for the show.
Jess and I picked up Jaime's work.
She got to meet the closest person to Papaw.
It was strange

It was so close to him but it wasn't
and I felt like I was forcing some
I don't know.

It's weird.
Out there some days will be just weird, I think.

But never, never, ever, never let it end by singing a song on the phone to a boy.
Because that would be ridiculous.
(especially if it's Chicago's Hard Habit to Break)

Use some self control, chic.

Today I am grateful that the world won't end before I get to write about what Jaime did.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Dear Superman,

Without you there'd be less of me. Thank you for that.

Lex Luther

P.S. Please don't show anyone this letter. Not even Lois. You know I have a reputation to uphold.

Today I am grateful for a college class (teacher) which has my kid ecstatic about learning, a phone call (two even) and further proof that our children come to teach us.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

notes from a former college football junkie

I fell in love with a Virginia Tech Hokie and as a consequence fell in love with an entire football team. Remember that year the little team from Northwestern kind of replayed the movie Rudy for us but in real life? When was that? '97 -'98?

It doesn't much matter anymore.

Other than I am from Mississippi, a resident of the Southeastern Conference. I went to two of the universities here. My son will graduate from another one this December. If you haven't heard then you should know there is some exceptional Mississippi football being played now. The kind we don't typically see around here, but among friends, has never stopped anyone from saying, Go Rebs. Hail State. War Damn Eagle. Roll Tide Roll.

Now as a former college football junkie these teams represent friends to me, just like the Hokies represented the crazy love I had.


Don't tell anyone. Now the reason I go is to watch people watch the game.

Go, Ellen and Sarah and Donnie. 
Go, Rick, Rusty and Ronnie. 
Go, Debbie and Sam and all their children. Robert, Cathy and Mallory. Angie and her bunch. Nana.
Go, Dad, my brother Jason, Kaye, Renee, Belinda, Jeff, Anna and Nicole.

Go, Angie and Dooby.


Sorry for your loss, but I'll always love you no matter what.

Today I am grateful to be there to watch Angie dance around the room, for the ribs and the spinach dip. For the place they built. To see old friends and make new. 

And Mrs. Betty. 
I finally got to meet Mrs. Betty, and she was better than I ever imagined.

Football feels like home.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I am looking into the sweetest face in the history of the universe until I see the next one when I say, Did you see your photo?

He looks at his teacher almost as if he is trying to find the right answer to the question.
She tells him she saw it, and again he smiles at me or for me or I could never ask for anything more.

So I tell him, That's it. That's the photo. When I see your smile I smile. Thank you for that.

Then he smiles more and I smile more until the universe becomes one big smiley face and everything is not just okay. Here in this moment it is what he tells me.

I am grateful for this little guy. I'd pretty much do anything for his smile.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I spy

It's the guy in the left rear corner of the room. the barstools. all the tiny lights. the menu. the license plates. The Flavor of New Orleans. It's all the color. the music playing. Beads hanging.

This is where I will tell you the story, Jess. We'll go there and eat. Maybe invite Grammie.

Last night Pop came home.
I guess he had come home early that morning, but last night we had family dinner.
And I hope it feels good to be around family again. Like all of a sudden in a however long drive from a kind of foreign land (foreign means they don't love you like we do).  All of a sudden we're all together eating gumbo your Daddy made.

And last night Pop told me a story about two people who said he sounded like a preacher. One man, one woman, two different incidents. One in the ammunition section, one when he was getting his toothpicks. He has never considered a preacher to be any better than anyone else. We're all just people here, he and I think.

We're all doing the best we can with what we know and what we have and the world is becoming a better place. We have to believe it.

And in the art show notes you were drawing a picture to possibly go on a wall in a show of ohmygosh we have a date.

And our first professional artist dropped off her paintings today.
Traveling from Memphis to the beach.

I'm so excited about seeing them.

 I just dropped off a couple of pieces at my PawPaw's house. We're driving through en route to the beach for a quick trip. I hope they're helpful! One is actually an abstract triptych, but the pieces don't go in any particular order. Whenever you're done with them, feel free to drop them off with Pawpaw or he can pick them up sometime. If by chance you do happen to know of someone who might be traveling between Memphis and there between now and the show, let me know, because I've got a different piece I'd rather send to the exhibit, which you can trade out with one of my other pieces if there's no room for all 3. Does that make sense? Anyway, if not, totally no problem. Go with what I left at Pawpaw's.
Anyway, love and blessings to you and yours! 

Jess, I had to look it up. What a triptych is.

If you would like I want you to put them in order.
How exciting is that. (exclamation point)

Today I am grateful for the anticipation I feel to see Jaime's work.
Not only that but to see her Papaw who reminds me of my Papaw and well.
That guy was amazing so, of course, his brother is. I get to talk to him.

The show. the name. yeah.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Blue Fish, Watercolor & Ink ~ Joe MacGown      Meridian Museum of Art Annual Bi State Art Competition

You don't have an art show without consulting someone who has done an art show.
I think there's a rule about that somewhere.
If not, maybe there should be.

Suzanne Hawley
Eddie Fulton
Roger Bounds
Debra Martin
Pam Myrick
Sondra Fleming
Tanya Irby
Randy Pierce
Patsy Miller
Josh Miller
Ken Flynt
Dawn Early
Judy Smith
Jaime Phillips Winton
Ruth Mason
Alton Fairley
Cindy Conner
John Korzenko
Matt Champion
Kristen Schrimpshire
James Bounds
Michael McDonald
Mark Hudson
Elisa Mayo
Dana Mayo

It's amazing how many people you need to do something.
Lots of people taking their part.
Each part a piece of a puzzle.

(I am awful at puzzles. I keep trying to see the big picture, but the people above see the crucial parts. That's why they are crucial parts to something bigger than all of us. I'm sure there must be a lesson in there somewhere.)

Today I saw Kate Cherry, a run in run out take a photo get a photo visit to Meridian Museum of Art. You know what that kind lady said?

Yes, I love that town. I can be there Tuesday.

Sometimes you feel like you had the right name for the show.
All the time.

Today I am grateful for long days and even longer nights. For people. For what is bigger than ourselves.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

this. read this.

nottheshot is the shot

Stop what you are doing and read this.
Your day will be better than it already is.

Today I am grateful for people who share their stories.

Monday, October 6, 2014

incomplete works of nobody in particular

It's not a shot I've ever taken before or one I took today, but maybe it's important in a nottheshot kinda way. Maybe.

Maybe somewhere in the deep recesses of this blog (I can't imagine actually reading it so I wouldn't suggest you do either). But maybe this will show up somewhere, one day in the deep recesses of this blog. Way off in the future. Maybe that day a forty year old woman will uncover a futuristic capsule on the banks of a creek bed.

And maybe she will somehow come upon this post.
And maybe she will think, That worked.
And maybe she'll read the only secret I ever held was I met someone with the truest of intentions.
And the world seemed a better place when I worked with some of the greatest people to give him an art show.
And she thinks of someone in her life who has the truest of intentions.
And maybe she decides to mimic him because she wants to be like him when she grows up.

Anyway, the art show.

He is the center of it.

The name.        Blessed.      but in a really cool font kinda way.

So far.
We have a book about him.
We have students who have created art around his language.

That sweet potato is so good it's like a bulldog hugging a hound.
This is clearly my favorite.

And here's what I have discovered…

The big damn secret. (Mr. Roger will hopefully forgive me for talking like that)

It is.

the secret.

That when you meet someone with pure intentions you want to be like them. I swear.

Like him. (the nottheshot)

I definitely want my son to meet this guy one day.

Today I am grateful for those who become not strangers. Those people I am honored to call my friend.


Today I am grateful for location, for that Field of Dreams movie, for instinct, for how believing in ourselves can be the hardest but most rewarding part, and for a particular man who just wouldn't stop.

We're going to have an art show.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


She breaks past the fence or just notices it open. I never catch what happens immediately before I see her coming at me. Just there she is and if it wasn't quiet it would take me longer to become aware of her. Of that dance she does. Like a Charleston with a hop forward.




offering her head.

the quiet helps me see her for the dog she is. or soul. the soul she is.
I have to say that is soul, something inside where I can't deny belief. where the music is.

in the quiet I take my thumb and run it up the bridge of her nose, in between those eyes and my entire hand takes her head in a massage.

in the quiet she looks at me with the most pleading of eyes and she knows I can't stop what I'm doing because I'm typing or researching or reading or solving a puzzle or listening to music or thinking or locking myself out of the house in the greatest accident ever. if there are no accidents then something is trying to make me survive. but then I do. I stop to rub her head. in the quiet.

what she says is. I love to be loved. love me.

and I do because I can't help myself.
I can't help but love her.
because love is the only help anyone ever needed when they were born. just loved.

that's what we are here for.

or that's what Josie says.

Today I am grateful for the leaves falling into the pool, that the frog was still alive. the pizza. the football games. the key. a day with no plans. 'cause I can love a day as well.

Also. I love the way Leonard thinks.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Second Line Pottery

I have fallen in love with the quiet.

Today I am grateful for a porch.

Friday, October 3, 2014


There's this scale, he says. Zero to a thousand. That guy is a 180.

So I ask him if he's not just reading about another way to judge someone. To label.

No. I don't understand, and I would have to read the book. The book explains everything, he says.

Today I am grateful for a hard rain and a long bath and a morning with enough of a pause to consider all this randomness.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Today I am grateful for what first appeared to be obstacles.