Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Farm living is the life for me.

My sweet friend Lora and I had a nice little afternoon yesterday. I pretended we were doing a little Town and Country shoot with some of her menagerie.

I had been imagining her wearing a ballgown and holding a baby sheep or some of her crazy fancypants roosters. Was a little too mucky for the John Singer Sargent “Madame X” formal portrait (with critter). And maybe I’m not really that slick anyway. The roosters don’t exactly co-operate with the being held at this point in their career, they just strut around and hope nobody shows up with a cleaver.

Lora improvised brilliantly with a lovely vintage fur and fancy muck boots. The little grey donkey, Jack, is super sweet, and kind of like a dog. The bully ram just wants to have his head scratched or he’ll butt you and knock you over. The little sheep are so squatty that apparently if they fall over they have a hard time righting themselves, and flail around beetle-wise.

I resisted a serious urge to try a little sheep-tipping. Then we kicked off the muck boots and had some hot chocolate and a nice chat.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Parading down Main Street.

Never been big for the Holiday festivities mania. Have been trying for years to get my family to stop giving each other presents for Christmas once and for all. It’s not that my heart is three sizes too small, it’s just not my best thing.

On the other hand, my mother, Miss Anne, is a crazy person about Christmas, so I invited her and my sister Natalie to come visit me over the weekend when the big Christmas in New Harmony festivities were going on.

We had several really beautiful Winter days, mostly sunny and nice. Started raining the day they left and didn’t stop for a minute for several days. We had a big old time ( big a time as can be had here in Bedford Falls). Sat around the wood-stove at night. Got buzzed one night on White Russians at the Yellow Tavern. Did a lot of touring around. Took a carriage ride.

We didn’t get up early enough to make it to Pancakes with Santa, but one of the highlights of the weekend was the big parade down Main Street later Saturday morning. I think I’ve always been out of town or something. Didn’t know what I was missing! Cute kids! Tractors! Candy throwing! Santa! Ponies! Mickey Grimm as the Little Drummer Boy! The sweetest three-legged dog ever! A firetruck with my name on it! A giant rooster! Truly a beautiful small-town thing. Probably the last time the kids from the school will march, as it looks like the New Harmony school is sadly closing at the end of the year. Super Boo.

And yet, It’s a Wonderful Life. Mary! Kids! I’m home!

Roofless roofing.

Philip Johnson’s 1960 “Roofless Church ” is getting a new roof. Sort of. Part of it is getting re-roofed. The old shingles on the “Inverted Rose” structure—which houses Jacque Lipschitz’ bronze “Peace on Earth”*—were starting to show the ravages of decades of weather.

Local boys, Koester Construction, are doing a fine, artful job of redoing the wooden roof.

*“Three casts were made, and are located at Notre Dame de Liese in Assy, the abbey of St. Columba on the island of Iona in the Hebrides, and the Roofless Church in New Harmony, Indiana.”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Christine! Rigby!

Last Wednesday was a stellar day. Tuesday, not so much. The difference was the lovely Christine Rigby, who is a force of nature. Appropriately enough, my introduction to Christine was (indirectly) through Sally Roth—a naturalist friend—who is also a force of, friend of, and writer about...nature.

The two had struck up a conversation on Sally was looking for someone to put this young woman up as she came through New Harmony on a leg of a cross-country bike trip.

Wasn’t really in a putting-someone-up mode, so it rather slipped my mind, but the next day (or the day after, maybe) I noticed a young woman on a bike with packs, helmet, etc., riding past me on my way to the Main Café for late (usual) breakfast. We smiled and nodded to each other. Besides noticing she had a really nice smile, it didn’t click ’til she had pedaled out of sight that this was probably Sally’s rumored bike traveler. Dang.

Thought I’d ride my bike past the usual tourist sites after breakfast looking for her, and sure enough, bumped into her right out of the gate at the Roofless Church. There was such a nice overcast light and as we stood there talking I felt overwhelmingly compelled to do a portrait of her. I’m trying to be better about seizing obvious opportunites. Raced my bike back home, grabbed my camera and came back in the car—still a little out of breath.

From my camera’s data, I notice we only shot from 12:39 to 12:54, kind of on the short side of what you’d hope for a decent portrait. But we got some really nice stuff. She’s such a ham for the camera... but a nice ham, a yummy prosciutto, with melon and cheese : )

Her next couchsurfing stop was outside Newburgh, IN, about a 40 mile bike east from here. Newburgh is one of my more favorite little towns in the area, so I volunteered to drive her there, as it was almost certain to rain pretty hard later in the afternoon. First a me-guided tour of my little town. Some of my favorite stops not on the standard historic tour. Christine was a totally comfortable, funny touring companion. She’s 22, but much older, wiser, and more curious than that normally implies. I am (reservedly) more encouraged about our planet’s future.

After all the touring I could muster, we packed her stuff and headed over to Newburgh, where we had a really late middle-eastern lunch at Café Arazu, one of my favorites, before heading out to the country ’burbs where her next people were.

One of those rare good traveling moments—when not exactly traveling.

I always try to be aware of daily maintaining that travel “head”—the thing that makes you think people and things elsewhere are truly fabulous. Funny thing...people all around us every day ARE truly fabulous, we just don’t always notice on “normal” days, when we’re stressed out, bogged down in work, whatever.

I got an email from Christine earlier today and her header has an exclamation mark after her first! AND last! names. Assuming that was on purpose, but if it was a typo, it’s significant, because she’s one of those people that seems to live life full-out, leaning forward, welcoming the next surprise. Exclamation! mark!

Five hours after meeting her, it made me a little sad to drop off this fabulous stranger, who had become my new friend. Maybe I’ll see her again, maybe not. She lives in Florida. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we seized a really good day. Thank you Christine! Rigby! I’m happier to be alive because of you. You’re the best.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Li’l Cardinal, Pt. 2

What is it is with me and fledgling cardinal encounters this year?

This morning as I was heading out on my bike, I noticed my rear tire was a little low. Ran in and grabbed the pump—back out no more than 10 seconds later, and this little fellow was perched on my front tire, seemingly out of nowhere.

I told him to wait while I grabbed a camera, which he clearly understood : )

Shot a dozen frames and he struck this handsome, heroic pose for me. Told him he could head back to whatever he was doing. He just sat there. Told him I needed my bike. He just kept sitting there. Clearly his understanding of English was not as good as I’d earlier thought.

Wasn’t sure if I should grab him and help find a roosting place, away from the stupid neighborhood cats, or if I should just leave him to his devices. His parents were nervously twittering around up in my trees by now, wondering what to do. (For any of you youngsters out there—this does not mean the birds were sending “tweets”—birds were twittering nervously for centuries before people took it up)

He finally made a few clumsy flying hops and wound up in some ivy on the side of the house, out of easy cat range. The cats in my neighborhood are so lazy, I doubt they would exert the effort to actually execute anything resembling a leap.

Maybe his parents helped him get up into a tree. Maybe a cat ate him as soon as I pedaled off. Ah, the drama of nature. Good luck, little buddy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Molly Monthly #1

Nope, it’s not a new magazine.

Molly Thomas is my sweet Nashville friend, room-mate...landlord...I think I’ll call her my room-lord : )

She’s a talented lady. Writer and singer of her own songs, as well as a composing strings-meister and “side-man” on fiddle, keyboards, vocals. (Matthew Ryan, Todd Snider, etc.)

I did photography and design for her new album “Make Everything Bright.” Digital here. CD and more info here.

Just figured since Molly is a handy model, I would try to shoot something simple with her every month when I’m in Nashville. May keep it up for ages, may last three months.’s off to a good start. One location (our yard). One prop (a lawn chair). No hair and makeup (OK maybe a tad of help from Mr. Photoshop). Drank a cup of coffee, moved around the yard, jumped up on the rail of the deck for an added element of danger. Done.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Davey Ukulele, May 2011

Davey Ukulele and the Gag Time Gang, rocking the socks off the kids at the Nashville Public Library. David Mead, Bill DeMain, David Henry and Paul Deakin. All super writers, musicians, and players in their own right, laying down smart, funny music for the kiddies.

My little buddy Holden REALLY wanted to meet the Super Number 1 Robot, and was a little disappointed to find out this bass-playing robot was actually a guy named David Henry, who had already ducked into the back to take off his super-sweaty metallic suit.

I must apologize for the limitations of my camera gear, which could not adequately capture Bill DeMain’s lightning dance moves.