Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

post #50
    I have been gratified that, for whatever reasons, so many of you have been interested in the funeral photos by John Flavell and myself in last week's post, #49.  Thanks too for the comments.  As we get riveted by such out-sized things, like hurricanes and earthquakes and national financial quandaries, it helps to be reminded how sharing and caring with our neighbors, friends and family keep our lives grounded even or perhaps especially in times that hurt.
     Yesterday I was in another situation where the strength comes from helping one other -- I was part of  the 30th birthday event of a statewide organization I am very proud of, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.  KFTC got its start working to stop the abuses of the broad-form deed.  It took many people all over the state to change the law in the early 80s to keep coal companies from taking the top of the land when landowners signed over their mineral rights, for which they were paid very little and the surface of their land was stripped.
     Some of the issues KFTC works on now are preserving streams so our water is not ruined by mountaintop removal mining ("We all live downstream"), establishing voting rights similar to all the other states for felons who have done their time, and identifying local issues that affect the health and safety of ordinary people living there.  Developing local leadership is key.  Here is their website,; their main mission is to build a new balance of power and a just society.
     Soon after I arrived, the light on the porch where some of us were gathered was right for photos, so I just couldn't help it.  Had to take some photos, even though none were needed.  (Also, I like it when I can be fairly unobtrusive.)  Therefore here are a few photos taken mostly during the afternoon session called Sharing Stories -- of which there were some from each of KFTC's three decades.

I call this "Three of the Greats", early and persistent advocates for change: Daymon, Patty, and Ruth.
John Rosenberg from Prestonsburg, present at the very first gathering which identified the need and the possibility of a statewide social justice organization, named at first "Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition".

Ray Tucker, with Teri Blanton in the blur (Sorry, Teri!)
effective poster for the broad form deed constitutional amendment, which passed!  Thank goodness!  And thank you everyone who stuck with 1986's enormous effort statewide.
Ada Smith, an active long-term advocate for social justice, i.e. since childhood!
Kristi, now on the KFTC staff, shares her story.  Thank you, Kristi.
Burt, commenting on Daymon's wardrobe preferences....

Doug Doerrfeld and K.A. Owens, two other former chairpersons, during the part of the late afternoon general gathering that honored all nine of them.
Now, last, a view along Route 213 in Powell County, on my way home.  I love Kentucky.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

sharing photos by John Flavell, from a funeral

post #49
       My friend, photographer John Flavell, was interested when I told him in June that my neighbors were planning an unusual tribute for Dempsey, their father and grandfather.  They had hired a wagon, pulled by Betsy and Chester, and driven by Terry, to cover the last two miles of taking the casket from his funeral to the family cemetery, located on the old home place.   John agreed to join me there, and he was able to use a couple of his photos in the newspaper he works for -- one on the front page.  He has recently sent me a few additional ones, which I am putting on this blog so that the family members can see them as well. 
     The day before, a Sunday, I had shown John the route the wagon would take.  Then on that Monday the weather ended up being cloudy, with some sprinkles, which makes for good light as long as it is not raining too hard, which is what it did during the funeral.  In fact, we weren't sure the wagon pull was going to be possible.  I also took some photos that day, so John's images here tell his story.  It is what he saw and how he saw it.

arriving at the cemetery


       I too enjoy the part of photography that leads to stories told.  The trick is to blend the photo-journalism impulse with making more than a snapshot.  Making art.  Allowing the viewer to see something in a fresh way.  In addition, this time, there was a personal connection, permission given, appreciation expressed, a quiet, steady two miles over a back road on a drizzly day, and a family pulling together.
     I thank Dempsey's family for asking me to take photos and for their willingness to share this tribute in a public way.  So this last photo is by me, and it is the one I had in mind to try to make:   

Sunday, August 14, 2011

more web words and a tribute to Norway

post #48
      After posting my spider poem last week, I received two wonderful "connected" poems.  So, with thanks to Maureen, I would like to share the one by E. B. White:

The Spider's Web
The spider, dropping down from twig,
 Unfolds a plan of her devising,
 A thin premeditated rig
 To use in rising.

 And all that journey down through space,
 In cool descent and loyal hearted,
 She spins a ladder to the place
 From where she started.

 Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
 In spider's web a truth discerning,
 Attach one silken thread to you
 For my returning.

       I googled this poem and learned that it was first published anonymously in 1929.  Since EBW happens to be one of my all-time favorite writers, I have to confess that despite the fact I can't read the end of Charlotte's Web without wet eyes I love his delicious and subtle sense of humor.   (I was somewhat mollified about my own tears when I heard the author himself, during an NPR interview, tell about how it took him many tries -- I remember "17" -- to read that ending aloud for the audio book, without choking up.)

    But this is meant to be a photography blog!  I am going first to include a few fun images, mostly recent, to celebrate some of the many facets of this profession:

     a witness to unexpected cultural shifts --
This is a small railroad station in rural England!  But who showed up needing info while we were there?  a female Japanese, on a Sunday afternoon, when the station building was closed!  No available Ladies Toilets....

and population shifts, in rural Kentucky.

Also a witness to nature's wonders, in this case trying to show by looking down from above how long these stems are --

rattlesnake plantain
and how tall the trees --
an extremely warm and humid July evening
and how to make a squirrel eating an apple look like art instead of like the pesky rodent he or she really is.  His task went on long enough for me to go downstairs to get my camera and then return to the bedroom window!  I still don't know how a squirrel gets the apple up into the maple tree.  Can anyone help me with this question?

       As for the deer, who are beautiful, they are still like rodents!  Just ask our sunflower plants and the corn we didn't bother to plant.
one of the twins, with mama doe nearby
      Photography can also give an image to accompany our deepest joys and our deepest worries.  I haven't spoken yet on this blog about the tragedy in Norway, a country where several close family friends live or are from.  I was in England when the killings took place. I was deeply distressed and saddened, especially by the deaths of the young people connected by their willingness to work for a better future for their country. I am so sorry.  
     Since I started today's post with webs, I am pulling up two more web views from our Appalachian woods, as a way of expressing the on-going need we all have to connect, to trust, to work together -- and to work hard at doing all that.  Through this effort, we can honor those fallen Norwegians, their families, and their wonderful but wounded nation.  

Each web is a sign of hope for a new day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

a writing poem

post #47
        I'm still at home, getting back into the nature dramas here, remembering that August was the month when we were transfixed by a spider who had built a web outside our window, a web that had zigzags in the middle.  It is also the month when this spider secured two sacs nearby but above the web, and, just like Charlotte in E.B.White's book Charlotte's Web, then the web builder died!  That was when I figured out that I had taken a photo of this kind of spider several years earlier, near our pond, and that one of its names is a writing spider
      Here is the photo in black and white:
     Here is the photo in its original color:

      So now the poem:
                 zigzag faith

For weeks we watch outside

the window, our spider writing,

wrapping prey, hanging

round sacs of eggs

east corner first, then one

high in the west, a mama

ever purposeful

even when at rest,

argiope aurantia.                                                [R guy oh pea/ or ranch a]

By her size we know

she is a she,

by her work she shares

her silken faith,

since we’ve no vegetation

to protect her, only glass

behind, the woven web

her shield and show.


She’s not yet gone frail,

not yet gone, leaving

us to watch both sacs

until the spring, a time

to hope, to know

her thousands plan

to float on air, as Wilbur

taught me years ago

when what I needed was

to know his love for Charlotte

and hers for him, shown

by words, in truths she told.


Now I’m taken by this steady

work, she who weaves on

and on while I stop,

go, debate, consider. 

Yet she but wafted in,

like me, her long stay

a sign of settling where

a writer needs to be.

   note:  The reason for showing both versions of the photo is to see which one shows the web design better.  I am drawn to the shapes of webs.  And I am so much a color person that I don't usually even try black and white.  I came to photography in the last 15 years and so never went through the dark room phase.  It was slides, then digital.  Also, webs are hard to get as sharp as they look since they are always in motion, responsive to every breath of air no matter how still the day.  Even the body of the photographer in the vicinity produces a quivering. 
   This is a good occasion to thank my monthly writers group for our years together and for the sharing of encouragement, help and words!