Friday, July 31, 2015

the real kicker

is that Friday night is science class.

Today I am grateful for explorers, for two guys, and so many other people.
I am grateful for people who put all they love on the table.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

because Wes makes us feel better

well hello, reality

It's not devastating news. It's actually rather common. All you have to do is take a pill for it but only after you confront the fact that you didn't take care of yourself.

You don't take great care of yourself.

She asked, "Who's your family practitioner?"

"Um.   You."

It's that whole health thing. You know. You were born with cells which at least up to this point have functioned rather well in the not devastating news category. And still obviously those great warriors are out there on some battlefront doing everything they can to make you live longer.

"Do you want to do the lab work today?"

"Lab work?"

She has mastered the straight face.

And they have kicked ass. No doubt. Standing ovation and grand applause for those who battled you for the survival of your own body. (ridiculous)

Moving forward because that is what you have to do.

Tonight you will take your blood pressure before you fall asleep. You'll chart it.
Tomorrow it will be the first thing you do after you go to the bathroom and brush your teeth. Scribble it on the back of the form for the physical.
And you'll be grateful for not devastating news that you can control with only a pill.
You better be grateful 'cause those cells are performing what looks like a miracle in your body.

Today I am grateful for a nurse practitioner who put up with my insistence that we pretend I don't have high blood pressure, and then with as much restraint as it takes to not slap a person like me, said, "I'll see you back here next Tuesday."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sowashee making me think

Have you ever seen something that you knew would most likely not make sense to anyone else and that didn't matter?

Today I am grateful for a Sowashee assignment, for a guy who found R.L. Burnside. For a lunch, cherries, grapes, lemons and peaches. For such kindness that at one point it made me whisper, "I'm so in love. This is amazing."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


"And this thing, which as I say was only rather peculiar, soon caused a second thing to happen which was very peculiar. And the very peculiar thing, in its own turn, caused a really fantastically peculiar thing to occur."
Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

Can't you see him telling his kids this story?

Recommended by page 5 obviously.

what if

at the end of the day we let tomorrow decide for itself what it will do?
if closing the back door and turning on music was some type of ritual everything else is out there,

but everything in here is good.

I don't think I was always great at that, but it sounds like something that should have been simple to do.

Maybe I have to start somewhere.

Today I am grateful to close the door, turn on some music, take a shower, brush my teeth, put clothes in the laundry and start my read of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.

Monday, July 27, 2015

a book that makes you stop

I never researched a time period though I did talk with people about Texas Rangers and Gus.

Have you ever loved a book so much that you refused to watch the movie?

I mean, I tried.


The way McMurtry etched that man in my mind nobody ever could have created.

So today the assignment was to find a book which made you research, and instead I thought of my top five who made me stop reading and start saying, "You have to read this book," and it has to be just because of why you would read it.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

You'd read it for Gus.

Today I am grateful for a writer who created a man that made me go, oh, Gus.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

not on a list

Somedays, if I'm feeling really lucky, a two year old wants to dance with me.

Today I am grateful for a dance.

Saturday, July 25, 2015



five things off the list

There is a list which hardly ever makes it.

1. Sweep.
2. Put handles on cabinet doors.
3. Be real about a budget.
4. Create a calendar for her.
5. Give her a blanket, an ice cold coke, a straw, and music.
6. Watch something with my brother.
7. Eat carrots.
8. Drink water.
9. Think of interview questions.

(1. What is the risk of Find the Starlight?

2. What do you need in order to go forward with it?

3. You recite Taylor Swift and speak of great power which can sound evil. Are you? Or are you the guy who we many times see as a loving, caring, thoughtful, intelligent, and creative person?)

Today I am grateful for the image of a pencil diagonal on a piece of paper and the realization that lists never end so I have to keep making them.

10. Start tomorrow with the ones you left off today.

'cause I'm just here urging you to give your money to Netflix

Friday, July 24, 2015


Friday's gift came from my kid.

(total truth)

versions of truth

It's on the bottom floor. Twenty-four single chair sized columns within two large ones.
Thirty-three rows.

The name of the seminar appealed to me but not as much as the job title of the guy speaking.
He's a journalist turned this, and I want some insight into how he sees it while I watch him from a back row which allows a chair or two between people.

Someone asks him about confidantes in the press, and he says he only has one.
One person with whom he's willing to spill all the beans.

If I were to review his work, which sounds strangely like a judgment and I am obviously in constant review of things, I would say that my favorite thing was his honesty. And of all the seminars I went to this is the one where everyone stayed till completion.

Of course he could have been lying but I don't think he was. Because why would you admit to a large room that sometimes (heck, it sounds like most of the time) you are trimming the truth.

Which makes sense, I think, because if you've lived a certain number of years (whatever number that is for you) then you realize you only carry around your tiniest sliver of a speck of truth. And you're really only going to save all the absurd notions for those people who know how ridiculous you are because sometimes they actually agree with you.

Because sometimes it's funny. Sometimes it's not. But always, always.
We have to find something to help us or someone else smile.

Because that's like yoga for the face. And that's supposed to be good for us. And good is good. And obviously I've now run out of words.

Today I am grateful for a journalist who shared a secret with a roomful of people.

come on, baby girl

I think I'll let Brittany handle Friday.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I tell him that I have to read the words aloud, and he refuses to applaud when I am finished.
When I get home I realize the words were not the problem. It was who was reading them.

Oh, Sir Patrick Stewart, I love the way you recite Taylor Swift's lyrics.

Today I am grateful for humor.

The Staves - The Motherlode (Official Video)

Dear Seth,

When that guy started dancing on that hill it was not for credibility. It was because he felt the music.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I want to photograph him

but I don't dare ask because seriously, who am I? I could not afford to bring him here or go where he is but the photograph would be

black and white,
t-shirt and jeans.
He's on the floor leaned up against a door.
The look on his face is serious or soft. I don't know, but I do know there is something deep.

It's the thought behind what he sees which is so intriguing and which makes me think he should most likely ignore me. (the clear battle of I love men and I love men at a distance)

I have a friend who likes to joke that we met on a hilarious dating site of which I will not name because it makes me laugh and I can't type while I'm laughing. What I do love is that he established that connection. I will always laugh when I see him or think about how he says we met.

music grown in the soil

I think of something I want to give somebody. It's The Black Keys rendition of Junior Kimbrough's work. It's called Chulahoma.

It is how I was introduced to Junior Kimbrough's work. But that was only after I went to the place he and R.L. Burnside built. That night I was there I didn't know where I was. I just knew that it was fantastic. The air around me was praise and worship. It was a church, but not like any church I'd ever seen before. This was concrete floor with a little bar on the back left. Usually I'd get a beer but only as to what I saw as an admission price. I wasn't interested in drinking it. It was my tithe you could say. Same thing I do when I catch a local gospel hall.

Though I don't go out much, music is where I lay my head.
It's as close to I can be to connected beyond those I consider close.

Chulahoma and Thickfreakness are two of the best albums I've ever heard in my life.

They'll go down in history.

Because they are studied in the blues of legends. It was Duwayne Burnside with the charisma of Elvis Presley. Garry Burnside, like his nephew Cedric, is one of the sweetest guys you will ever meet. And all you'll be able to say is, "Ohmygosh, I loved what your Dad did. This is such an honor," while you shake his hand and then run away because it's Garry Burnside. (Charlie introduced me to Garry, but I never had the nerve to walk up to Cedric.)

It was Little Joe Ayers and Willie Wilkinson who first showed me that photography and writing was where I wanted to be. It was Tom McDougald, Paul, Sanders, Charlie, Connor. It was the Rendezvous, the Love Music Festival, Memphis in May. It was the first time I saw the origin of music within me.  It was the story of Robert Johnson and Como and Clarksdale and Holly Springs where I found homes outside of ones I had known.

And every time I see that welcome sign I have an argument in my head. "Hey, (challenge thyself). Was music born here?"

"No." I'm at an advantage because I already know how the other side of me feels.

Music has no origin. As far as a human can remember sound existed. And even if you turn all the music off the crickets are still chirping. There is a thunder rumbling in the distance.

And even in those who supposedly can't "hear" as well as me there is an awareness of music.
There is solid proof out there that music is within us. Every last one of us.

Today I am grateful that she played her music for an audience. I am grateful to be a roadie who carries her guitar case.  I am grateful to sit and talk with a guy who says, "You should tell them to take advantage of opportunities." I am grateful to hear stories about people who volunteer their time because that's who they are and that's who they've always been.

Life is stories and lists.
Life is music.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I'm obviously running a con now

$20 for lunch
And artist sponsorships.

I remember sitting on the outside patio of the cafe on the coast. I had a tape recorder on the table. It was one of my first "official" interviews as a self proclaimed journalist. I didn't know what I was doing.

Maybe I was just trying to find out something.

Ken Murphy was kind and talked about gear and the books and he gave me all three. Signed them even. I never got the article done for a magazine. I always said I would till the day I didn't even say it anymore.


Super nice guy like the kind of guy who photographed his own daughter's wedding and a love he felt for a place. Truly incredible, his work.

I remember sitting at that table and him telling me that I should not put hot sauce in the gumbo while the chef is standing beside the table watching me take the first spoonful.

"But if he made it hot enough for me nobody else would want it," I said.

Ken did his kindest and most gentle long breath out. He leaned back, nodded and said, "Okay."

And I started in, "Would you say art is a hustle?"

"Yes. Of course, yes. I sold my book to people who could sell it. I have sold my ideas. I am a hustler. Of course photography is a hustle."

And I think about that. How intimate and honest and incredibly revealing art can be. That somehow in your heart there is a hustler selling what you love and for that  you can sometimes feel shame and guilt. Because hey, that stuff is not for sale.

Or I can feel that way.
Then I obviously try to sell it.

Today I am grateful to be accepted into the Meridian Museum of Art's Bi-State Annual Art Competition. I don't care if it was a pity vote or if it was a mistake and the person before or after me was supposed to get it. It feels good to at least be accidentally chosen.

Two works.

I Will Be Blessed, 20 x 30 Ready to Hang Mounted Print   $114.95
Sowashee's Early Morning Light, 20 x 30 Ready to Hang Mounted Print, Metallic  $124.95

(do you ever feel like life is all about numbers and you were always looking for a place where it didn't feel that way?)

Monday, July 20, 2015

lay low

It is her advice, the woman of all wisdom, the origin of life.

"Lay low."

I laugh, "Mom, I don't know how much lower I can go, and I don't even want to ask that question."

She gives me that look.

"Yes m'am."

Then I watch a video of two kids who are becoming adults who can vote. She is going into her second year of college and is working in sports medicine. He's from Starkville. They are singing into microphones attached to wires attached to speakers which push their voices into a massive room. The phone is in that room. Days later I listen to the audio and watch two kids who met five minutes earlier come together to sing a song which makes me sing that song for the rest of the day.

I think this is proof that magic happens when people are doing what they love.

Today I am grateful for a couple of people who reminded me that life is not about job titles or thinking you're in charge of something. It is about doing what you love.

Dang kids. Always teaching us something.

perfect world

proof that I am doing nothing

Here and here and here and everywhere, all around, people are doing amazing things for themselves and each other.

coming off four days off

There is a list.

Isn't there always a list?

Life is made of stories and lists.

And Monday could look ominous.

Or it could be bright.

There is huge news sat up in a back room. A secret like Christmas. Like you can't sleep half the night thinking of how this is so huge, but you can't write about it because you know nothing, not even a little bit though you have been speculating.

Speculating in gold.

Speculating and wiping down cabinets till your arm became numb. And you received a book of photos and newspaper clippings of an all male beauty review and how a community built something in the middle of it. There was homemade chili and soup with crackers and cornbread for only a dollar fifty a bowl. Also cakes for sale back in 1990. They greeted a fire truck, and she wrote with ellipses and green magic marker.

Rummage sales and the frying of fish. A man doing wood carving. 
My brother remembers going to see those old relics and how it felt to be a part of a community.

Today I am grateful for old photos a very kind man brought me in the form of a scrapbook. Gold cursive on red that glistens. A string to tie it off.

And a week, a future of paint on cabinets and walls. Organization and lists. A contract to be sent. It's funny how I complain to be tired in a world where I can go to a market and buy crisp, cold vegetables. How a can of soup can be a meal. And water. Clean water is cheap. 

And ice. Ice is downright beautiful.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

not every night is movie night

I do not glisten. I sweat. (profusely)

So when I see you in a bathroom mirror I smile, and that's ridiculous.
And ridiculous is when you call your friend.



"You know how I screamed and said I had to go earlier."

"Yeah. Somebody was there. You had to put a bra on."

"Shouldn't it be a rule that people call before they come?"


"Glad we got that out of the way. Anyway, I have a gift for you."


"So I was at the paint store today. Right?"


"And I sat down on one of the little stools 'cause the two guys there were taking out the garbage. It was a quarter to noon and they close at noon so I had my piece of paper with all the specifications 'cause there were a lot. But I had them all. I knew every one. I was real proud of myself. One of those pat yourself on the back. Eat a cookie. Aren't you just special? Plop down on a stool, sit and wait kinda deals. They had air conditioning, an important commodity these days. Some may consider it oppressive outside."

"It is hot."

"Yeah. That's what one of those guys and I talked about. About how for the next three days it's gonna feel like a hundred and ten outside. I asked him, 'Do you think it was like this when we were kids?'"

"'You know,' he said, 'I ask that question a lot. What are you? Fifty? I'm sixty.'"

She laughed.

Today I am grateful for bathrooms of America and the dreamer in me. (she makes up the funniest of stories and someone once said the world is made up of those) I am grateful to hear a friend laugh. I am grateful that my Aunt Dottie called me a little piece of shit right before I sat on her bed. I am grateful for a conversation with Willie and a couple of guys at the Benjamin Moore store. I am grateful to have seen Clara and John and Mary and to talk with Mom and that kid of mine. I am grateful that my brother, in the middle of what could have been considered an oppressive heat, cut up and picked up a limb the size of a fifteen year old oak. I am grateful for the opportunity to put Wyatt to bed, sit on a porch and type on a computer.

Latest selling point on this state:
no. you can't have it, New Orleans

Come to Mississippi in July and August for a natural sauna. Toxinsschmoxins. Melt away, friends.
(photo of a porch, two chairs, two lights. one from up above, the other from a laptop. a writer uses both chairs. her feet propped up in one.)


the sweetest couple I ever loved

The CEO is the guy who you tried to force Dr. Seuss on. He wanted to read that book about the farm equipment every night but you so loved Horton Hatches the Egg.

Poor guy suffered through more than a couple of nights, but I don't know that he'll ever read Seuss to a child.


It seems fitting that when considering how to pay for auto repair, house repair, life repair that one would consider the best person for the job would be the one I was always trying to entertain and somehow we made it. I mean, he didn't starve.

And he grew up with this incredible common sense, one that skipped a generation but if it had to you're glad that it skipped you.

So tonight I upload photos to his site, and I can't show it to you yet. And because it is my photos I can't tell you that you'll be wowed or impressed. You've seen it all before.


Because you've seen it all before you will know how important it feels for me to be able to still do something for/with him.

I plan on being his first customer.

What I am going to purchase is as much as I can of a gift for him and her.

My apologies for all the missing nineteen dollars, world. Next month he gets it.

Today I am grateful for pure intention and purpose. I am grateful that you can never retire from being a parent, that once you're there you're never not.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Brockway, McCarthy, Thoreau and Disney mean it's time to go to bed

I tell myself, You should not read Brockway's book before writing.

But I do. I give myself to horror before climbing.

By chapter sixteen he has disappointed me, drawn me, invested me, simplified me and made me wonder what is it exactly he said to you know.

That clincher, that line, the Cormac McCarthy of I've got to call someone and repeat that. Or type it.


Then I realize that Brockway has constructed a book. Those last few lines of that last chapter force you to read until you see those characters again. Then he engrosses you with the next until you get back and think, oh yeah, this was the reason I kept reading. That's elementary. Of course he would do that. But more nuanced is how he raises the question, Should I continue? What is happening?

Because you can feel what these characters feel and they will reason with you. It's horror and metaphor and paranoia and I remember Thoreau at Walden and being repulsed by his anger.

Then understanding it.
Then being repulsed by my understanding.

I will say that as of this moment I doubt you'll find anyone ridiculous enough to put Brockway, McCarthy and Thoreau all in some type of weird I have made it halfway through Brockway's new book note.

This could be a unique moment.

Anyway. It is brilliant to the point of genius and dare I make another reference.

The story makes me cheer for heroes and hope that there is a way to overcome and remember that a call came today. Of all the calls of disappointment, of investment in time and recording and do you have anymore to give


(you're supposed to never say that word)

But sometimes a ringing phone defaults to being conned into believing another story.

This time the phone rings and it's him and he is establishing business.
And I will work for him because he's absolutely brilliant.

The icing on the cake was a jar of blueberry jam prepared and delivered by a lady who is grinding her own grain into flour so she can make bread.

Tonight I am grateful for a writer who makes me do some sort of tally or toast to the goodness in this world so I can sleep after reading to chapter sixteen of his book.

Long live Walt Disney, people.

General Tso


The conversation I have to have in my head before I have the one out loud goes something like this.

"Is there a relief?"

I don't know if she is going to know what I mean, but part of me says she will and that part of her would respond.


And I am scared that sometimes I understand her.

Snake in the Tacks, Oil by Phillip R. Jackson
Meridian Museum of Art 39th Annual Bi-State Art Competition

but then.

I think about how I just spent the past four days in heat and on roads and in only two barbecue joints and the Natchez Trace and Buford Pusser in Tennessee and air conditioning and how if you watch TV you suddenly realize that every part of the world can be saved for only $19 a month.

And if I learned anything in a conference it would be about networking. And that people should be good at meetings because meetings are where connections either happen or don't happen and so much of me just loved being in a car on a road with trees and deer and mounds and wow this place is beautiful. No music, no podcasts. Just directions and the wind coming through our open windows.

Today I am grateful for that kid, that car, that job, that barbecue sandwich. (thank you, Tupelo)

I am grateful that when asked the question, "How was your Dad's surgery?"

I could write, "Phenomenally well." (and I never use that word. but now. yeah.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Not the place you come for barbecue, but the architecture is amazing.

Today I am grateful to explore this city with my kid.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Today I am grateful for the river and how he ran to the edge to get his photo (shown below).

Saturday, July 11, 2015

flash fiction or not

Everything is Alright, Digital Photograph by Milly West
39th Annual Bi-State Art Competition at Meridian Museum of Art
(my photo of her photo)

Though the story of Hemingway's winning of a bet with the table over a six word novel is most likely fabricated, I still love the story. Tonight I can imagine sitting next to West at that table as she pulled a photograph from her purse.

Hemingway would look in disgust. West would pause and allow for the time it took for him to take a huge swig, huff and holler, "Nuther."

I imagine he would cut his eyes toward the guy on his right and mumble some choice words in regards to a photographer being a part of a writer's group.

West would wait as the print was passed around the table. She'd chuckle as he refused to even glance and the group laughed.

I would only smile and pat her on the back as West looked directly at Hemingway and said, "Everything is alright."

Then as even Hemingway had to pay up I would think, "Yes. I have a story tonight."

Today I am grateful for stories.

Today I purchased Brockway's latest.

Me to the sweet lady at the counter, "Do you have any titles by Robert Brockway?"

She typed and mentioned my first read. They had one.

"Yeah. He has a newer release. You may not have it."

Again she types. Then says the name, "It looks like we have three. Let's go check. They'll either be in science fiction or horror."

It was in horror. She and I agreed that neither of us tend to gravitate toward the genre. But it's Brockway so I explained, "He's an incredible writer. One of those writers who make you jealous with their talent."

"I can't believe it's so small," she opens the book and reads the inside flap. "Wow. You're going to have to tell me what you think."

"He packs a punch. Wish me luck. There's no telling where he'll take me."

From the inside flap:

There are angels and they are not beneficent or loving. But they do watch over us. They watch our lives unfold, analyzing us for repeating patterns and redundancies. When they find them, the angels simplify those patterns and remove the redundancies, and the problem that is "you" gets solved.

Dear girl who parties on a Friday night

There will always be this great photograph you missed because you were not ready. It's the one photograph explaining you met some really cool people last night. There was, of course, a list of fears following a lovely invitation.

1. You're meeting them at a bar.

Fear: You suck at drinking and you suck at social situations. You're too loud and obnoxious and why are you such a freak?

Reality: The Brickhaus has ice water with lemon and a patty melt which reminds you of the Delta, but where oh where did they find those potatoes? The people at this table are kind and funny and love light and photos and are as self critical and personally invested in capturing some piece of something from this meeting.

A remember when we went into that building in downtown Meridian. It was beautiful. The only thing missing was your most recent obsession.

2. You will abandon routine of time and place and Friday evening is go home and sleep.

Fear: You will be exhausted and ill and he even said, "I feel sorry for them."

Reality: Though you started your day at 2am you caught a power nap and refused to care about the toothpaste on your t-shirt. Nobody cared.

3. Group photography.

Fear: Photography is personal and intimate and you have a proven track record of being no good at meetings.

Reality: These people are good with you going anywhere you want to. They understand the need to explore and find and come in contact with some little secret.

4. What about all those other things you need to be doing? Do you really have time for fun? No. Get to work.

Fear: If you let go and get out there and enjoy yourself the world as you know it will fall completely apart. Without your worry how will anything ever make it?

Reality: Everyone lived. You are not near as crucial to the survival of the species as you pretend to be. What a relief.

Today I am grateful for a group of people, for a meeting around a table. For an abandoned building and a garden park in the middle of a city. For how the allure of the perfect photo is a never-ending journey.

Friday, July 10, 2015

once upon a time in a land close to home

There was this kid. Either in high school or newly out but nonetheless he drove to work that summer on the same route every morning. One morning he got ready for work just as he did every other morning. This was the whole groundhog day thing, but that morning when he drove south on a highway between two small towns, under an overpass construction, a steel beam came loose from the mouth of a crane and in an instant of time meet place meet momentum meet every thing that happened to everyone that day

that kid was crushed.

That kid's life should not be described by his death though it is the only thing I know about him.
I remember him for his death, and I realize how sad that is.

He was not a martyr for a cause. In my head he was a good kid. He got up, ate some cereal for breakfast while in front of a TV or a computer, said goodbye and I love you to his Mama and got in his car excited about a future. He had no idea that he only had ten more minutes when he started the car. Ten more minutes before the world literally fell apart into a vapor of physically no more.

I remember thinking no last minute suffering, no torture. No fear. No panic. That somehow that was the mercy if any could ever be found in such a situation as the losing of life.

And for whatever reason and no matter how far away we try to remove ourselves from the news, it will inevitably find us. And questions about lives and deaths will somehow plague us and I think the only way to make the screaming stop, the screaming you don't even want to think about, is to understand we don't know all there is. So in my head that kid and his Papaw recognized each other in at least an energy sense. That something more was in store for that guy.

I know people who say they've seen heaven, who dreamed it, but not really a dream it was more real than that. It happened when their young daughter was diagnosed with an illness. They actually saw it, felt it, heard it, and it was


Today I am grateful for the hope we have for each other, for how knowing can sometimes stop the screaming and we can sleep.

(but sometimes I worry about all those things our kids can see and hear)

I am grateful for children's books, for lap sitting, a pacifier, her favorite stuffed animal and how when just bathed that kid smells like heaven must. How even in the darkest moments life is waiting for us to notice.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

clogging to Katy Perry

Ken Flynt's Photography Submission to the People's Choice Art Competition at Meridian Museum of Art
(a photograph of)

She doesn't like the way I dance. I think she actually had pity on me, but whatever she felt for me was  nothing compared to the feeling of urgency she had when she told me, "The lion is sleepy."

My dance partner, the lion, couldn't handle all that shuffle ball changing and neither could she.

Tonight I finally gave up my aspirations of being a Solid Gold dancer.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to dance with Little Bird and for the knowledge that I have a few things I can still work on in my life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

tripping on a barbecue sandwich

It's a selfish, selfish trip.
Departure and destination are two of the few controls in this experiment.
Barbecue tasting with the number one barbecue connoisseur in the world (of this blog).

There will be barbecue points and deductions.

1) Does the establishment have a loose meat sandwich in the form of a chopped pork?
2) Does the sandwich include a sauce and a slaw within it?
3) The sauce. How original is it? Do we taste the vinegar? What is the sweet? Level of spice and in where in the mouth does it cling? The amount of smoke allowed through from the meat is crucial here, but not as critical as the question of is more sauce available and do we want to dip our sandwich in it?
4) How fine is the cabbage? Can you taste the onion? Is it crisp against a warm bread, lightly toasted? Give us soggy bread, and we won't complain but you've already been eliminated.
5) How likely is it that someone would call this place a dive? Dark or well lit?
6) Do you feel a history here?

I do realize that I am judging all barbecue joints against a particular one.
He calls and agrees. Most all that he has tasted is compared to what he ate growing up near Memphis.

The call comes through with surprising clarity after a five hour hike into a national forest. The only people he saw today were a couple of guys fishing on a lake. The water filtration system is new, and he's impressed with how it works. Yes, he has thought about the business against a steady sound of frogs and crickets. Air conditioning or a fan would be nice, and, of course, he knows to stay hydrated in a swelter.

He will be fine, he assures me. I have no choice but to believe him.

Sometimes, tonight especially, I get the feeling he's so much more of a writer than I could ever want to be.

Today I am grateful to be able to hear his story and travel with him.

Monday, July 6, 2015

she says it's personal

What she wants to do is a blog that is more factual and with evidence and should she be concerned about copyright? Should she do it? Honestly.

The woman who does not normally use exclamation points, exclaims three times. Yes! Don't worry about it. Do it. Honestly!!

Later I wonder. Should I advise anyone to make a commitment to the internet?

I didn't tell her to do it everyday. I didn't even suggest that she give herself a deadline maybe once a week, 'cause I really don't know what's good for her and her audience. Though I do know I love her work. Through the years when she has asked me if she should take on a project or follow through with an idea I've always exclaimed yes.

There is this weird kinship I feel with her. Those knowing looks, the laugh, the we made it through the wringing our hands worry and look, it's been forever.

Yes, friend, you should. And I would never tell you that I am an expert on anything except grotesquely personal. Ridiculous even, but I did come here thinking I would strongly consider what I threw out here for the world to see. As time has passed I've considered it even more to the point it changes how and why and what I do.

That somehow I am not even a writer or photographer anymore. What anyone else calls me is less important now. I am just a blogger and after ten thousand hours of blogging I will have reached the Mt. Everest peak of a masterblogger which almost sounds too much like another word that may be more fitting. Maybe. Maybe we all are.

Dear friend,

You will most likely run the risk of sounding like that other thing. Good for you. Do it.


Today I am grateful for a beautiful distraction in the form of a question.


She said, “I still want to ask him questions. I keep thinking it’s going to get better, but there are still things I want to ask him.” On her face is evidence of holding back tears only makes them larger.

I want to say, Do it. Ask the air around you. Know he will answer and then search for ways he’s sending you a message.

Then I realize how psychotic I sound when I speak out loud.

Ask, I want to say but I don’t say anything. I don’t touch her hand or hug her. Though my mind is screaming at me to do all three things, I sit there in silence and feel her pain to the point it lasts another day.

Ask, I thought.
And today it rained.

And I know that the rain will remind her of things, though I don’t know what they are because if you shared what those two did me quantifying it would be impossible.

Today I am grateful to know she knows love greater than I have ever fantasized. I am grateful for my illusion that rain was the answer for all the questions she feels she can no longer ask.

(that if we look closely enough we will find our answers and those will be some type of relief in loss because somehow, someway he can still hear her ask)

Sunday, July 5, 2015


On November 17th 1954 the family spent $73.36 on Switchman dues. That next September they gave $201.51 to Pop. Mechanics. In February of the next year $223.23 went for burial insurance. They paid $228.05 on their power bill, though they got a room for $18.64 that same year.

Psychedelic Dream by Cindy McDaniel
Mixed Media
Meridian Museum of Art’s  24th Annual People’s Choice Art Competition

Today I gave away watermelons. Three went to strangers, some were left on doorsteps and others were given to friends who I wanted to hug. One even gave me a kiss. 

19 checked, rubbed, discussed but not eaten. So, you know, you hope the family who got a yellow and a red are thinking that they're good. You’re hoping that those are the best watermelons they ever put in their mouths.

Were they ready yet? was today’s question and lesson. And I still don’t know if I learned anything. What I do know is that wanting to understand rather than be understood was what I went into that watermelon patch with. 

Maybe I’m getting better at that, but I’m still not totally there yet.

Today I am grateful for a couple of family ledgers, the opportunity to hand kindness to family, friends and strangers. I am grateful to sit in a living room, shake the hands of a new family in town. I am grateful for how it felt to leave a watermelon beside a couple of doorsteps. Free food that is good for you delivered by who knows who. For how while doing my deliveries I thought of all the people I could deliver watermelons to. Now I just have to get nineteen more. 

I am grateful for the patch where I can get them.

I am grateful for my Dad’s watermelon patch and the opportunity to pick watermelons with him this morning.