Sunday, February 26, 2012

in honor of Mike Mullins

post #74
      This past week has been tough.  One of the greats in our area up and had a fatal heart attack, and he was only 63.  Mike's main job, one he had had for the last 34 years, was as the Executive Director of the Hindman Settlement School  in small but vital Knott County, Kentucky.  A thousand people came to show their respect and love at either or both the visitation Wednesday night and then the funeral on Thursday.  Many were related to him.  Even more felt like family, either as a member of the staff or as part of the school's annual Family Folk Week, annual Appalachian Writers Workshop, or the Dyslexia Program. 
      So today's post may be more Appalachia than photography, though of course I am sharing photos, as usual, even a few designed to be informal snapshots.   Since my main connection is as a friend of Mike and Frieda's and as a participant in the writers workshop, that is where my photos come from.  Mike, we all thank you for your vital generosity of spirit and for believing in the possible.

Mike Mullins -- welcoming, waxing eloquent, cajoling, explaining, admonishing, encouraging, and enjoying

and keeping alive the memory of his friends and writers workshop greats Jim Wayne Miller and James Still

This cabin is from the earliest days of the Settlement School.

scenes from recent writers workshops: 1) crossing the bridge over Troublesome Creek, going to class, with the cabin on their right

2) writer Anne Shelby with her Elvis umbrella, which happened to be in the back of her car.  I happen to like this photo!!

3) in the Great Room, looking toward the podium
4) an extra meeting, after lunch, of George Ella Lyon's class.  Notice the framed photo in the upper right corner, which will be in a later photo.

* * * * *

for those who know Mike and were not able to be at the funeral and burial

After the funeral, many of the writers gathered briefly for music and fellowship on the porch of the HSS main building, feeling the gaping hole of Mike's not being there.  The weather turned out to be springlike, despite the February 23 date.  In fact, the electricity had been off in Hindman for the three days before, because of Sunday's wet snow storm, the day Mike died. 
I went inside that building.  In the Great Room, things were mostly empty, but the two rocking chairs were right there, in front of the fireplace.  This is when having a camera helps to center me, and now I can share that feeling I had in that moment when I was there by myself .

The dining room was also empty Thursday, except for the shadows of all the people brought together, thanks in large part to Mike's persistence over so many years.  I know the tables will fill up again with new words, anchored by our deeply rooted affection and appreciation, but it is a gift to have known the place infused with Mike.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Love Mountains Day, an annual reminder in Frankfort

post #73
     which sadly means there is still the need to increase awareness of the urgency for clean water and air for the people who live in coal areas, and to mine coal in less destructive ways.  No one is saying coal doesn't need to be mined, but let's be visionary about how to do it better and cleaner.  The truth is WE ALL LIVE DOWNSTREAM
      I did take photos again this year, grateful that it wasn't raining as hard during the afternoon rally and march as it had been all morning during the drive there!   Even so, since I was wary of getting my faithful Canon camera wet, I did resort sometimes to my newish point and shoot designed for underwater.   However, inadvertently, its light setting was inaccurate....  The Yea and Boo story of that is how I end up learning something every time I shoot!!

      So here are some photos:  rally first on the steps of the Kentucky Capitol building, several speakers, music, and then a march around the Capitol to the front of the Governor's Mansion.  The Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) estimates there were 1200 of us on this cold Valentine's Day. 

A great number of young people were there,
and older people

and families

and two ageless friends of mine, Kris and George Ella!

This speaker, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, is from the Cree First Nation in northern Alberta, Canada.  With great eloquence she shared her community's efforts to stop the devastation from the tar sands extraction going on there.  This includes sharing how tragic the building of the Keystone XL pipeline would be.  

Randy Wilson addresses the crowd, emphasizing that what we do to the land, we do to the people.

I include this photo as a tribute to Patty Wallace, in the red coat, for continually speaking up for justice in her home county in eastern Kentucky and for her years of sharing her sense of urgency with legislators in Frankfort.  She is an inspiration to us all.

marching around the Capitol


If Governor Beshear was at home, he didn't come out to speak to us, either here or during the earlier rally at his workplace.  However, Senator Kathy Stein did speak to us at the rally, giving us her full support as citizens speaking up on a crucial issue.

 KFTC's indefatigable Teri Blanton is on Sen. Stein's left, and Sylvia Ryerson, with WMMT in Whitesburg, KY, on the right.  THANK YOU ALL.

    note: Since this is a photography blog, I want to share that the only photo I changed a person's location for was the one with my favorite sign, Clean Coal is like Dry Water.  Its designer was in the march, which was moving, and I really wanted a good photo, so I asked her to step out of the march briefly, which she did.  It is too hard making a photo of a moving target while running to keep up.  (Setting up in one location and taking what comes by is equally risky.  Might miss something.)  For an occasion like Tuesday's, I prefer seeing what I can find without a lot of manipulating, but sometimes I get a strong vision of what I want to be sure to record in itself.  Then I can't resist asking.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

2011 faves, part 3 of 3

post #72
       Now that we have actually had some snow and a below freezing DAY, it is time to finish up with the 2011 photo favorites!  On Valentine's Day, this Tuesday, I plan to take photos again during the rally and march around the Kentucky Capitol building in Frankfort, for the annual I LOVE MOUNTAINS Day.   The reasons for ending the destruction from MTR becomes clearer every year.  Yet the STREAM SAVER BILL (HB231) never even makes it out of its committee.  At the very least, it deserves a hearing.  Why do our elected officials feel called to be so cowardly and short-sighted??!! 

     A few months ago, a friend on the ridge told me about the expression "Groundhogs boiling coffee."  I love it!  Eventually I talked with several other neighbors who also knew that saying.   So, in honor of our treasured Appalachian mountains, I begin with three photos of various times groundhogs have been boiling their coffee in 2011.   (Remember that clicking on a photo will bring up a larger sized version.)

groundhogs boiling coffee!

across the way from where we live

They must have been expecting a big crowd in Laurel Gorge!

This favorite photo still brings me joy.  I loved being under the late afternoon light streaking through such bright leaves.

I pass by this hillside year after year, yet it remains continually fascinating to me,

as does this corner of Jean and Gary's fields, this day complete with wild turkeys.

These woods are in Harlan County, KY, where there are steeper mountains and more coal to covet.

I don't want to leave out these majestic redwoods, which might not still be standing had they not been protected.  I am so glad to have visited them a year ago with my sister and her husband, who live in northern California.

      One final favorite photo, of a feathered friend here who joins me in saying thanks so much for visiting this blog: 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

more 2011 favorites, some with stories, part 2 of 3

post #71
      It has been a good idea for me to look through the 2011 images with the idea of sharing some of those which have brought me pleasure.  Last week's post was portraits (broadly defined) and this week's is growth and change.  Things change in nature all the time.  Sometimes very quickly.  The art is in catching it with light.  Some of these photos have stories that go with them, so today I am showing the image first, to be enjoyed without any words, and then adding some words of my own if I can't resist doing so.  Many of these images have been shown in earlier posts.

     I saw these plants in the Denver Botanical Gardens, in June, and, besides beauty, what I saw was  change, with the stages of growth in plain, dramatic view.  

      The lady's slipper, a few days later, farther on the way to glory.

      These stairs tell about both growth and change, new blooms every year for a house that once was there.

      Lettuce grown by my husband, the gardener in the family, delicious and beautiful, not yet bitter or gone to seed.  I am thankful for the fruits of this work.

      An old-fashioned horse drawn hay rake, ready to be recycled, a treasure without a home to go to, for now sharing spokes with the black-eyed susans.

      With the rain ceasing, the grandson escorting, all of us taking part in this passing during the two miles to the family cemetery, we honor Dempsey on his funeral day.

       Stories.  Deep in the woods, near a creek, this chimney remains from a family who once lived there, by all accounts a tenant farmer.  Every year the signs of daffodils tell as well of their having been there.  I make a photo when I can, knowing this monument will not be there forever.  
      This is what I strive for, some combination of art and witness.