Monday, November 30, 2015

Stay weird, Austin.

It's been decades since I've seen her which makes it especially nice to see how happy she is.

Today I am grateful to see an old friend.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

my internet boyfriend sent me something

Have you ever hoped that you inspired just one red card? No? Okay. Me either. I was just checking.

Perk: Fiercely loyal
Red Flag: Is related to you

Perk: Won the medal of honor
Red Flag: Refuses to look up from the phone

Perk: Can multiply themselves
Red Flag: Is a hobbit

Who said that was a red flag?

Perk: Same favorite music
Red Flag: Literally can't make decisions

Perk: Animal shelter volunteer
Red Flag: Farts every time they kiss you

Perk: Same favorite foods
Red Flag: Greets you with a headbutt

My review of this game? It's quite fitting and sad and hilarious that this game can be played alone. It's good and funny and a great break from an article. Thank you, Darin Ross.

(I'm going with the hobbit)

Today I am grateful for a good laugh and a great game. So grateful I made up my own two cards.

Perk: Loves to cook while listening to music
Red Flag: Has an internet boyfriend

Friday, November 27, 2015

it's everywhere

Yellow Dog at Love Music Festival circa ohgoodgoshwhatyearwasthat?

Ken gave the hardest assignment. Mississippi: America's Birthplace of Music, two photos due tomorrow. Charlie said, "Two photos. That should be easy for you."

To which I grunted and said, "Hm. Huh."

Yellow Dog at Possum Holla

Yellow Dog at The Fillin' Station

Today I am grateful for all the music around here.

'o day of gratitude

Today I am grateful for the people who take care of things, who chase me away, who say, "Not a great idea. Really. Work on it or walk away. Now's your chance."

I am grateful for the food and the people around two tables.
I am grateful for rules of living, for how walking barefoot can still be done in November. I am grateful for the sound of crickets and water dripping. I am grateful for the middle of the night. I am grateful for the birthday girl and the anniversary one. I am grateful for doctors who perform surgeries and ultrasound technicians who still scan and plumbers who stop the water from running into the basements and that you can still have peanut m&ms on Thanksgiving Day. I am grateful the child was found and for the people who run out to do that sort of thing on Thanksgiving Day. I am grateful for the lives saved, the people helped, the naps took, how the lights work on 'o day of gratitude.

I am grateful for a podcast. I am grateful for two calls, two kids. I am grateful for a day of working when I wasn't supposed to, how Thanksgiving can be a day of ideas and a day of rest. I am grateful for the time to talk politics and getting lost in music.

Dear Saturday Night Live writers,

You rock.


I am grateful for the guy who sent it to me.

I think he wanted me to send it to you. So. Here.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

when two became more

We'll call this an episode in chairs.

Karen came by this morning. And, well, we both talked so fast because we had so much to tell each other and what about you and how 'bout this and before long we're returning to Moon Hollow Farms.

But not before we leave the Courtyard.

Dear #hotelbedsofamerica, I miss you when you are gone.

Before anything else happens I have to write the story.

We'll start it here.

Kay emailed. I called the CEO. He asked, "You already made the deal?"

"Of course. It's Kay, the courtyard."

Then I remembered Sowashee so I emailed Charlie. Charlie emailed back. You saw that. Then a whirlwind of a tornado splat everybody but Garry landed there.

Here is where the story begins because the CEO came with his date and two young men showed up with their two gorgeous perfectly fitting soul mates and they brought their guitars and we set up some chairs. Then Hannah and her family walked in and we were set.

Let's break here for some music.

I don't remember what they were listening to around the time I took this technically wrong but incredibly right photograph (as close as I could be to Junior at the time), but there is a story here. A story of two white boys on the back of a flatbed truck playing R.L. Burnside's music. That's when Garry walked up. Maybe that's where the story begins.

Today I am grateful she said, "Yes," when he asked. I am grateful that the CEO continues to teach me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

leaving you

The only way you can leave Como is to know that one day you'll return.

it's insane here

Como Sessions

There's a light in the window.
We take a walk.
And she tells me about a sickness and a peg tube and months of thirty-five radiations.
And she tells me about his visits. How he would ask, 'How is your spiritual life?'

There are lights everywhere.

'You ask me that now?' 

And he pauses. Listens.

'You should have asked me before when I was healthy. That's when my spiritual life could have been questionable. Now it's me and God (no matter what you call something greater than you because you couldn't handle all this.)

And this is the origin of music. The first cry was a cry. That's why I think North Mississippi Hill Country Blues started it. And it doesn't matter who started it.

(though I still know that there were and still are cries around the world)

Today I am grateful again for my powerlessness, for the quiet I can feel here. For how consuming a music can be when listened to like this.

Woodstomp took a request.

Kay loves the music, and if I ever were to dedicate a work it would be to her but then that makes me conceited so I'll just say that Kay of this place was the first person who said, "You have a good eye."

It doesn't matter if it was true. It doesn't matter if it matters anymore.

What it did was give me the freedom to attempt to repay someone who I could never repay.

There are at least angels who walk on this earth. To which I figure Kay would reply, "Oh, Shea. Hush. Let me change your sheets."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Como Sessions


Today I am grateful for the guy to my left, the water fountain ahead of me. The lights hanging on the now blue trellis. She says, "I hate that those leaves are on the ground."

"Yeah, but I love them."

"Okay. Okay," she thinks fast like she walks. "But don't think about a website or photos I may need. I want you to get in there and do something artsy. Outside in the courtyard."


He holds a bird in his left hand, the right one is over his heart. His shadow is behind the gate.

We're supposed to say all those things we weren't gonna say, but I tell her this story I heard on Radiolab last week. "It was this neurologist who had a stroke and lost the part of her brain in charge of language. Words, it was called and it was all about how when she lost words or language her life became about experience. She was in a hospital with the sun coming through the window and to hear her now speak of it I knew. I knew as much as I could I had to get away from the words in my head. Just experience it. That's what I knew I needed to do here."

Then the internal dialogue began, "Don't stroke, chic."

Then, "Don't fail, girl."



I don't know how to thank you but to do my best.

Como Sessions

Today I am grateful for the thrill of returning to a place I love.

Monday, November 23, 2015

it's all good

When forces combine for the good of mankind.


You can't sing the blues until you walk in the shoes.
Only One Connor


Per his instructions, you listen.

"Albums to listen to:
Too Bad Jim by R.L. Burnside- changed my life and includes most of his staples. An electric album but we will play the acoustic versions of these songs the same way he played them electrically...too much?

All Night Long by Junior Kimbrough- changed my life and will immediately slap her into the dirtiest, sexiest, funkiest and musically wrong/perfectly right version of the Mississippi Hill Country Blues. (She could listen to Juniors off key and powerful voice phrasings and make it her own)

Possible songs:
1. Poor Black Mattie- R.L. (Key of G)
2. Goin Down South- R.L. (Key of G)
3. *The Thrill is Gone- (BB King version in the key of B..she could def do this if she sings Etta James)
4. Red House- Jimi Hendrix (I will sing in the key of A but she could also probably sing this)
5. I Feel Alright- Junior Kimbrough (Connor will sing. Very powerful song. She may be able to chime in on this one too)
6. Skinny Woman- R.L. (She may not be in on this one)
7. Probably do an instrumental here so Connor and Garry can show off their chops. She could improvise
8. Peaches (or Mellow Peaches)- R.L.
9. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)- Jimi Hendrix
10. Have Garry do one of his originals
11. We do one of our originals
12. See what happens

And so on and so forth...I'm sure this will shift and change but the above is a good representation of what she can expect


people and place and music

These people and this place. It's one of those things that if you say something you might jinx it. Today I tried to clean and organize my brain out of it. Don't think about it. Think about sizes and colors and cottons and where does this go and where does that go physical labor. And it was good.

But tonight I am thinking about it.

Thinking about opening a door. Seeing my kid. If ever you had a last thing to do it was this.

There will be coffee and water and whatever anybody drinks.

And music.

And the question is do I have a question for the band. And I know I will. And maybe I'll ask them in an email later but at this time with these people in this place I just want to selfishly experience it.

So I will. (though I do plan to bring you back a souvenir from the trip)

1. Call your brother. Get the other camera and lens.
2. Pick up the key.
3. Turn on the Kelly Joe Phelps CD.
4. Wait for him.
5. Relax into some photos.
6. Listen.

Today I am grateful for people and place and music.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Today I am grateful for a kind invitation and to witness how much this kid has grown.

(though I did tell her to stop and she did appease me by saying she would always stay a kid at heart)


I know eating peanut m&m's for breakfast while baking a fresh apple cake is not necessarily recommended for a long life, but you do what you gotta do in this hedonistic world.

Today I am grateful for taste and pleasure and sugar.

(must go for a hike)

Thursday, November 19, 2015


What I plan to tell her is that I've seen the cheerleader. Now give me the coach.

What I said today was, "It felt like everything was falling apart."

"Come. See."

So I did and it wasn't falling apart. It was coming together.

He talks about the next big project, and I want to breathe on the last night of this one because forest for the trees I couldn't see how we would all survive what we were doing. But he came to the rescue tonight. And I feel shame for needing such a hero in my life.

Today I am grateful for heroes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Sometimes you may feel like you don't deserve it. There were people today who needed you to be a better friend, a better person and you try to save yourself by thinking of those things that made you good. You held the door open for a family, you smiled, you said good morning and joked around with some people. You saw friends smile and you knew in your heart that they would be fine or not. But that wasn't up to you. Because you just let go of some things.

And maybe you don't deserve it.

Maybe you failed a million times today and maybe you were selfish and took time to think of only your existence even among what felt like millions. And maybe you don't deserve what you felt tonight but somehow, someway you were graced with a place, a space, an hour, some people who reassured you that you could never return such a gift.

Saying I'm just grateful for that feels ridiculous.

speaking of collaboration


When in doubt ask a kid. 

Today I am grateful for people who show up and show out, for how a conversation can turn things around, for two incredible naps, and a little extra time to consider all that we're given.

Monday, November 16, 2015

take a shower, listen to some music

I hear a scuffle and run towards it, but I don't want to fight and I am running as if I'm hoping it will stop before I get there. Nothing in me wants to intervene other than the people for whom I care. Those people are in there.

But I'm scared.

I turn the knob but she's turning it on the other side and I back up and then follow her until I don't see her anymore. Then I drive away.

It's the one bad thing I did today. I drove away. The girl who is CPI trained to deal with hostility did not walk into a fight. I did understand that it was handled by people more courageous than me. People who are much better at the what.

But a question still haunts me.


Why did a boy attack his sister?

He doesn't get to say. I won't ask him, but I'll listen to her any day of the week.


Someone needs attention so they come to my porch.
The fight is brought to my home.
And I don't want to fight 'cause I don't like to fight but I will and my voice and hands will become shaky and I'll feel out of control and I'll say, "This is not how adults talk."

She doesn't care what I say. I just need to shut up.

So I do.

I don't even say bye and I'm not one to hardly ever neglect common courtesies.


Then George.
Sweet, little George played the mandolin and there was a revival. And she sat between us and we made whut? eyes and lovely. Just. It was lovely. The whole thing.

Today I am grateful for family outside of family and for a renewed understanding that nobody wins a fight. I am grateful for a guitar lesson that came as a gift and to listen to some kids tell me about history.

Tonight we'll go with some Woodstomp.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Today I am grateful for time to listen.


Thank you to Karen for reminding me when to listen.

stay close

I go somewhere first thing because as soon as you think you fear you tag it.

"there you are," you say.

"Don't," you say.

Then you decide there are obviously some things out of your control. Then you decide that somehow someway some place some I don't know. I don't understand why. Then you decide that it is not for me to know. Not if you say it that way.

Today I am grateful that there's always another way to say a thing.

Friday, November 13, 2015


Some of us drink the coffee. Some of us are the coffee.

in the studio


I tell him, "It's the potential for everyone."

And then I wonder who I think I am to think I know what's best for anyone.

Today I am grateful for a woman, women who do phenomenal work and who let me invade their space for two hours today.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


It's the orange light, the twigs growing from the roof. The lines, the color, the simplicity, how bare and stark and interesting. The worn cover of a vintage book with a character you can't help but follow. Of course I'm a fan of his work.

she shouldn't have to teach me

What she taught me today is something she should never have to say. She doesn't because I don't complain around her. I don't ever talk to her. I just hear. And it seems that sometimes when I hear it can be something that makes me lose my breath because of the way he says her name.

What she taught me today is that if nothing else I have to believe that she's going to be okay. That her kids are good. That her husband and her Mama and her brother and his family and if nothing else she now has some extra accessories.

What she taught me today is that getting the kids to school is most important.

What she taught me today is that you never give up getting everything done.

What she taught me today is that what I really want is some type of miraculous recovery, the full on in a decade that chic is running and driving and didn't someone once tell me, "Anything is possible, child."

(if that's true I want to see that dream)

Today I am grateful for a dream, for a teacher who never stops teaching. Now that I've learned everything it would be great to see her back with some younger students.


He was a woeful and outcast son.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

this and there and that

This guy.

If five years ago someone would have said, "One day in the next five years you will walk into one of your favorite places in the world to take photos. You will pick up the key from a secret location. A place she chooses. You'll hold your breath as you turn that key and open the door.

That's when the beat will start.

You'll use two cameras, two lenses and you will bring your last five years of photography there. There was a concern you wouldn't be ready but then you will hear from one of the three musicians who will be meeting you. It's a message you are supposed to relay to the singer who will be coming as well.

There in that place on that evening you will take out the camera again.

Then your heart will explode.

No, you'll be fine. All you will need is two good photos. You will be able to do it,"

I would have replied, "Um. I don't know how to even say thank you for that."

Today I am grateful for things I never knew, for plans I didn't know to make, for people I had never met. For how some of the best things seem to be out there waiting for us to be ready.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

a love letter

Dear John,

It's not that I don't want you to accomplish everything you set out to. I do. In fact I most likely sleep better at night with some type of internal peace that I take for granted to the point I may not think of you. For this I should be ashamed, but I'm going with grateful. Grateful to know how absolutely powerful you are. That those things for which you are passionate you can do.

And I know this is going to sound completely selfish and limiting and how could I not be honored to be asked to help you. I am. I am honored to be asked but every piece of me is now devoted to the work at my door. It feels all encompassing and heavy in importance to the point I just got insanely dramatic and we'll break here for you to roll your eyes. I don't blame you.

It's just that I don't want to come to meetings and listen to proposals and understand zoning and whatever else it was I was supposed to be doing. I just trust you and your group to know what is best for the city.

I respectfully decline your most generous invitation. (maybe I should have just written that)


Today I am grateful for the question and the freedom I have to answer it.

Monday, November 9, 2015

winter dreaming

There is fresh blueberry jam in the fridge. A neighbor made it. Locally jarred sweet pickles, her recipe. Someone complains of the clouds and the third weekend in a row of missing light. She doesn't deal well with this weather, but I tell her she seems fine to me. I doubt that makes anyone better. Me telling them they are.

"Think of Perdido in the spring and summer. The beach. Spending a day in the sand."

She smiles.

"Plus, you can't have the whole year. Some of us love the long nights and the cold air and the quiet that comes with it."

"Not me."

Today I am grateful for the seasons.

job's way

It's Sunday night.

I tell her, "This isn't like all the others. I'm just going to do what I can do. I'm not going to stress about it."

She says, "Right."

And the thought does occur to me that this is no different than anything or anywhere else.

He talks about the old days. We nod in the romantic notion that they were all good. Then he says something about now and moving and here, right here, this is what it was building up to. And here I thought there would be fireworks or confetti being thrown around, but nope.

It's just quiet relief that this is what it always was.

Today I am grateful for Wednesday nights when I was a kid, for Sunday nights now. I am grateful for the perfect hiking weather, how she said that buzzards are airplanes and how we could both just listen as she explained the entire plot to a movie. I am grateful for the table where we all sat.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

writing and music

This was the best of the evening.

Today I am grateful for a chill in the air, two dogs, and cats that dart across the concrete. A porch with three painted pumpkins, light coming from the kitchen. A beer in a wine glass, some honey something. I am grateful to stock up for the month, ride home, sit and listen.

Friday, November 6, 2015

that's what's so great playlist

back in the old days 

Three years of photography and another camera and lens since I photographed this place. Maybe I'm better now. Maybe I've learned to make a list.

1. Music. This and this and she'll have internet there.
2. What about Woodstomp and Garry? Contact Charlie. Tell him the dates. Show him this month's assignment. What about Hannah and her family?
3. Don't think too much about it. Part of the beauty is how it surprises you.
4. What you know is that you're returning to North Mississippi Hill Country Blues.

ohgoodgosh. no pressure there.

Dear me,

You have forty-eight hours to capture the essence of a place and you'll never be able to do it. You will fail but not miserably. You'll never be able to give it everything it gives you but you know to drive away giving it everything you had.

So there,
The one person who knows you better than anyone else.

Today I am grateful for what it means to return to a place you left not because you didn't love it.
You did. That's what's so great.

people are always suggesting things

I'm still not finished with the last suggested book. It's on the list of things to get to, but recently another friend recommended one. And here we are in between books and behind on a writing commitment which is beginning to look like a writing failure and I may be okay with that.

But. Before I do anything I have to return to hiking. And water. Goodgosh, I'm thirsty.

Here's why I want to read The Ragamuffin Gospel and thus, must add it to the list of things to get done.

1. She has never recommended another book to me though she did mention all his others.
2. "Start with this one." I think she said.
3. I love the title and wish I had chosen it for this blog.
4. An Amazon customer wrote, "the message is greater than the aesthetics of language."
5. I already have questions for the author, and I'm thinking that maybe he'll get to them.

Oh, the suspense of it.

screenshot and aunt shea, did you know

Today I am grateful for there could be no better temperature. Hopscotch, a swing and a slide. I am grateful for a short walk. That our chosen restaurant was closed which led us to a patio and the strangest conversation about the periodic table. She showed me her scientific work, all the answers written in pencil. I came in with comedy and she mentioned a worry.

Then we remembered the note and had $21 left from our extravagant entertainment budget. So we partied down in a Dollar Tree with a buggy and spending like we owned it.

I am grateful for that kid, how much fun she is. I am grateful for a suggestion from a friend.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

and there she sits

She was waylaid by a life of worry. Will the plane crash? Is he going to be alright? Did I study enough? How did I do on that test?  Does he like me? Does she like me? Where are we going? What are we doing? Am I doing the right thing? Is everybody going to be happy?

The best thing I heard all week is, "You're not as powerful as you think."

Is it crazy that I plan to tell an eleven year old that tonight?
Should I take her to a movie or out for dinner?
Should I just back off and let her be?
Should I consider that maybe, at least partly, I gave that kid a migraine?

Maybe we just need to take a walk around a track or on some streets. Maybe I'll just tell her that someone I love said something beautiful this week. You're not as powerful as you think. You just need to be whatever you want, wherever your heart leads. Stop stressing, chic. Everyone around you is fine. And then I'll tell her about the calendar years ago, and how I still remember it.

I think it said, "You're not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulders. It will go on with or without you."

And then I thought, "Just take care of yourself, freak."

That's when she'll laugh and say, "Did anyone ever tell you that you talk too much?"

"Yep, they have. You have. I tell myself that all the time."

Today I am grateful for powerlessness. I am grateful for the woman who said it to me.

Hello, breath. I forgot about you. I forgot where we were. What's that Ben Howard song?

Monday, November 2, 2015

admission number whatever we're on

No more episodes of Bloodline for you. Stick to cartoons.

This is the part after you've heard the terms outspoken, fanatic, and for the grand finale you think your Mom hung up on you.

Two rings. What sounds like a pick up. Followed by dead air.




Did Mom just hang up on me? Wait. What? 

Your Mom just hung up on you. You titled it stupid politics and put your brother's face right under it. If somebody clicks on it, sees the title and the photo and of course they are going to become absolutely disgusted because they love your brother and you've just written stupid politics above his picture. No wonder your Mom hung up. Congratulations. The whole family hates you now.

Think. Don't freak out. What you are saying is absurd. Because you love your brother and your Mom knows that and your brother does and you haven't lost your entire family because of some silly blog post you wrote. Just call your brother. He's up.

"Hello." (barely)

"Hey. So I just wrote something about you on the internet and if there is anything wrong with it I need for you to tell me and I'll take it down. I'll delete it or edit it or whatever you say."




That was incredibly dramatic. Shocking. I can't really write the crazy that went through my brain, but hey, it had a fairy tale ending.

My brother liked it.
My mother liked it.
The dropped call earlier was just because of rain.

Today I am grateful that it's over, that tomorrow I can take my niece to vote. I am grateful for the struggle, the challenge, and the let go. I am grateful for the lesson on Sunday night and the Monday example which followed. I am grateful that tomorrow my political life is over with the push of some buttons.

It's good to exhale before the next brain explosion.

Goal: Make it through the holidays, chic.


to be as smart as you can be.

stupid politics

The last time I got political was when I was signing online petitions in some desperate plea,

Dear Leaders,

Please don't bail out the banks.

Trying to love,

Then they bailed out the banks, and I conceded that maybe I'm just not smart enough to understand the ins and outs of absolute catastrophe. That's when I decided no more politics for me until all these years later this guy said vote for me. Life is filled with irony, I think.

When we were told by our leaders that everything was falling apart he was one of the reasons I was coming home in those dreams. Crawling on my belly, dragging my kid. I didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know who my brother was. I had a lifetime of research on him.

I knew he knew the land and had a love for it like a face painting college football fan. Home, family, friends, kids, this guy, I knew, without having to read one thing, was a guy who lived with integrity. I knew where he got it from. I was very familiar with the people who raised him. I knew how smart he was, because I had spent much of my life arguing with him. Most of the time to simply get his view on an issue that concerned me.

I respected him so I listened to him, and I knew that if he told me I needed to tend to a garden because we needed to eat then that's what would be. Now, almost a decade later, he said, "Vote for me."

And I asked, "What else can I do for you?"

Because one of the best things about returning home is meeting the man my bother grew up to be. The husband, the father, the son, the brother, the teacher, the leader.

Today I am grateful for both of my brothers, for how extraordinary it is to see the grown up version of a kid who I first looked at and then looked at my parents and asked, "Didn't we have the perfect life? Wasn't it great with just us three?"

I am grateful for the realization that my brothers can be the best of us. It is an honor to be in their family. I am grateful to finally feel like I can be smart politically.