Wednesday, December 31, 2008
No words today, just pictures of a recent get together when, thanks to our friend Kim, we were fortunate enough to discover glass slippers, an accessory that flows seamlessly from wine to chocolatini and back to wine again. My Ibuprophen bottle will back me up on this. I was hoping to produce an end-of-year wrap-up post but, really? That thought was just too overwhelming. WAY too overwhelming.
Suffice it to say it's been an amazing year. I thank you for being here with me.
Also, as far as the photos go, it's getting to be a lot of work to be a blogger and not on Facebook all at the same time. Not to worry, though, I plan to continue to muddle through somehow.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Uncle Tom opening a present. When I was little, probably five, he sat me on his knee and we had a very serious discussion about the fact that I had a regular uncle Tom and also, a great (him) uncle Tom. He explained that it's like he was an uncle twice over and suggested I could differentiate him from my regular uncle by referring to him "Uncle-Uncle Tom". I did. For about thirty years and he never got tired of it. That I know of.
I snapped this photo just as my Mom walked over, placed a hand on Grandmama's beautiful snowy white hair, and told her she has been the best mother anyone could ever hope for. I kid myself that this exact same image isn't right now sitting on fourteen other digital photo sticks.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
I have a penchant for history that I think feeds into my "live in my head" tendency. It would be so easy for me to begin to devote myself to the study of this or that era and spend my time in a dreamy reverie of imagining life in a different time and place. I nearly plotzed with delight upon discovering the PBS series based on the premise of taking ordinary modern families and, to the greatest extent possible, stripping them of every modern convenience, placing them in another historic time (right down to replacing their underpants with their historic counterpart), equipping them with nothing but the tools and resources of the time, and then filming their experience. The resulting series: 1880's House, Frontier House, Colonial House, 1940's House, Manor House is some of the most fascinating programming I've ever watched in my whole entire life. Ken Burn's famous documentary series "The Civil War" is something, given half a chance, to which I could devote days and days. I own and have read, of my own free will, the Diary of Mary Chestnut. I've read countless biographies: Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, Ben Franklin to name a few.
All that is to say, then, that it may be a little dangerous to put me in a college history course.
That is, however, where I found myself this semester past, due to the fact that one cannot get their paper without: Kentucky History.
Ya'll. We are nuts in Kentucky. You only have to live here a little while to know it and you only have to take one semester of Kentucky History to come to a certain realization: we come by it honestly.
In a state built on the production of whiskey, horseflesh, and tobacco, it's not real hard to figure out why your average Kentuckian of yore is some drunk pissed off somebody riding a too fast horse, sucking on a corncob pipe, and looking for some ass to kick (in other words, native Kentuckians: your (and my) great-great grandpappy). This is how the Bluegrass state lost more soldiers than any other in the War of 1812. And why when Aaron Burr, the Vice President shot Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury in a duel...where did Burr run to and hide out? Why Kentucky, of course! Come on down, have a drink and a smoke, we know how to keep a secret down here (and our pie is divine)! Ever wonder why the Kentucky state line takes a nonsensical jog at the southwest corner? It's because when the surveyors showed up, and plotted the line, a certain farm owner's land ended up on the Tennessee side. And this farmer didn't want to live in Tennessee, see, he was a Kentuckian, he said, and, by the way, he had a vast store of whiskey. And surveyors + food + whiskey = the state line gets moved.
Which brings us to, God help us, Kentucky politics. I'm not going to comment on current KY politics, although, the mess in Frankfort is pretty legendary and continues. But I will say, on a note closer to home, I'm fond of recounting the story of a certain newly elected official's first meeting with his staff. This official, once everyone was seated a the conference table, took a deep breath and said to the assemblage, "Okay, let's start here (gesturing to the employee nearest him) and go around the table and ya'll tell me who's your mama and who's your daddy." Not, mind you, their credentials, or their history of working for the organization, or professional accomplishments, or a little something about their department but, more importantly, who's yer daddy?
Now, this particular elected official had been around a while and his objective was actually friendly, in that we play a little game down here in the south sort of like the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon. And that is, we figure we know a lots of people, and upon meeting someone new, we'll sorta go 'round and 'round each other's friends and kinfolk until--we happen upon a mutual acquaintance--thus getting a fix on who this person is. The conversation will go a little like:
So, are you one of the Huckleberrys from Fancy Farm?
No, I'm from Possum Trot
OH! A Possum Trot Huckleberry. Didn't one of ya'll marry that girl that used to sing at Tater Day?
That was my uncle, Rufus Huckleberry.
Rufus Huckleberry is your UNCLE?! I'll be darned! Why Rufus and I go way back...
And, etcetera. So, essentially, this official was trying to be neighborly and play a round of Seven Degrees of Kentucky Bacon with his new staff, thereby gaining an immediate understanding of who they are and where they come from. Trouble was? Not everyone at the table was a native Kentuckian.
Which can only mean one thing.
Those people? The people not from Kentucky?
Aren't from around here.
Which means? Ain't no amout of bacon chewin' gonna acquaint you with this person. And that casts those that aren't from around here in a certain suspicious light. Oh, you'll still get an extra hushpuppy with your catfish and a big slice of Derby pie for dessert. It's not that they don't like you, but more like maybe they might just step lightly around you until they gets to know you a little better. In fifteen years or so. This phrase is also sometimes used by way of explanation.
What's he doing?
Is he putting ketchup on his biscuits?
He ain't from around here.
[To Be Continued...]
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Older than the Parthenon.
Not so long ago, it was believed the unexplored redwood forest canopy was a kind of desert environment, which makes no sense even to me even as uneducated as I am about these things. Once some brave soul finally shimmied up there, a very different picture emerged. It was one of a whole other world teeming with undiscovered species busily living out their life cycles as many as 38 stories off the ground. This discovery lead to further study and a still growing body of knowledge about these California giants.
Richard Preston, a biologist and expert in such things as the Ebola virus, developed an interest in the redwoods when he began tree climbing as an activity to share with his children. I'm posting below his TED Talk which is a full twenty minutes long, but packed with amazing, thought provoking and fascinating facts about the redwood forest and an alarming (and unreported) environmental situation at the end.
I'm going to run away and join the TED. You should totally come with.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
The facebook photo that started it all posted by the friend behind the camera in this case. That's me at the back at about 13.
Those years of my schooling were a bit unusual because I attended a fundamental Baptist school during that time. A school that forbade much of what we consider normal coming-of-age stuff. Like, for instance, rock-n-roll. Short skirts. Dancing (think Footloose without the breakthrough). Also there was no saying of bad words. Like, for instance, "Gosh".
Ran across this one in the yearbook and it barely scanned. I'm about 14 here. It's notable for two things (choir robe aside): first, there it is, my Dorothy Hamil 'do in all it's glory! I've often reminisced about it, but never realized or had forgotten that there was this photo evidence of it. Secondly? Those shoes. They were Mary Janes! They were wedges! They were Mary Jane wedges! I never tired of them. Still wish I had them, in fact.
Eventually, a series of circumstances would cause me to leave the school and the church all together. My last year there was my freshman year of high school. I made the decision not to go back during the summer. I entered the public school, for the first time since the third grade, as a sophomore wearing jeans to school for the first time ever.
Was the public school a shock for me? I have to say, not really. It was more like a relief. It was where I needed to be.
Synchronistically, I ran across my box of yearbooks while digging out Christmas decorations last week right around the time I started corresponding with these old friends. As I flipped through the pages and looked at the old pictures I was struck by how many people from that conservative place that signed my yearbooks called me "strange". A typical entry by a fellow classmate would read something like, To a strange person but a great cheerleader, keep God in your life! Or sometimes they would sign off with a bible verse citation. Apparently? Darn near everybody considered me "strange" as the word appears over and over written in careful school kid script and applied to me. At the time? This struck me as not the least bit, well, strange. Looking at it as an adult, however, I have to wonder...was I strange? Or was I a "normal" (if there is such a thing) kid in a strange place?
I suspect a little bit of both.
Ultimately, this lead to asking myself, maybe for the first time, am I a liberal because of that very close and prolonged encounter with narrow-mindedness? Or, was I by nature, a budding lefty predestined by nature to inevitably clash with that conservative lifestyle. The whole chicken or egg thing. I suppose I could have developed my philosophy completely aside from that experience. But it seems unlikely, doesn't it?
And anyway, it doesn't much matter how I got here. I'm here. That's the thing.
My twelfth birthday slumber party. Milk and cookies. I'm the wildly happy one with the mouth open smile.
But it was hard back then, very hard, to leave all the friends I'd had for so long and strike out, all alone, to a new (huge) school. Fourteen is not exactly the age one dreams of being a maverick loner. Fourteen is the age when your friends are...everything. It makes me think of the last lines in Stand by Me:
I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?