Catherine Hamrick, Sundial Rose Garden, Morehead Planetarium, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Today we document our lives in hundreds of digital images and store them in a “cloud.” Like the wonder of the telegraph in the 1800s, we send words, billions every second, via a void called the Internet and instruments cleverly branded Android and iPhone.
Ah, branding. As a savvy New York writer/agent told me at a recent book conference, “You must become a brand, or you won’t make it.” To which I retorted, “I am a person, not a brand.”
Ironic. Perhaps hypocritical: I “storytell” things and people as brands for a buck—in a staccato burst.
The brain is beautiful mystery. Streaming images run in and out of our heads, faster than the race wrought by digital engineers.
For some reason, I have not yet perched pictures on a “cloud.” But I will likely upload in the near future.
Images of Dad flow through my mind. A bevy of pics and the 350-word limit of a blog post cannot keep up. This is my personal expression, for I cannot speak to the recollections of my brother and sisters. One image appears repeatedly in milliseconds: his hands.
They were short, with square palms and thick fingers. Unremarkable. Except for what they did:
Pulling on worn overalls and snapping the suspenders. Milking the cow at sunrise. Hauling sheaves of wheat and husked corn to Jim Dean’s mill, where a paddlewheel steadily lapped up a sliver of creek so ancient stones could grind out flour.
Preparing cornbread (unsweetened, thank you) and keeping watch over an iron skillet as it browned in a wood-burning stove, committing to memory his mother’s recipe handed down over generations.
Clutching a college catalog and crying to sleep because there was no money to supplement a partial scholarship.
Thumbing from Appalachia down to Atlanta for a job as an office boy and waiting for his 17th birthday so he could enlist.
Pulling the wounded and dead off Utah beach.
Mixing chemical recipes in a lab and awakening to the miracle of science.
Painting dorm rooms and supervising a frat house kitchen to bolster his GI bill education.
Exchanging love letters with my next-door college-coed mother—on scraps of paper pinned to a clothesline rigged between their bedroom windows.
Signing into a cheap motel on their first honeymoon night—with telltale wedding rice falling from his thick, black hair as my mother laughed.
Enduring 100-hour work weeks during his internship and residency—and loving the touch of life-giving moments.
Treating any patient of any color ever since his first days at Atlanta’s Grady Hospital in the early 1950s.
Hitting the backyard brick steps with a “Humph,” signaling his return home to fork down fast bites of supper (“inhaling” his food, as Mom phrased it).
Greeting each of us after work with a lift over his shoulder and a slide down his back as we giggled in delight.
Flash-cleaning and frying just caught fish on camping trips, at the lake, and in the kitchen of a rambling beach house at solitary Four Mile Village in Florida.
Yanking the bow of my straw sunbonnet to rouse me from a sunrise doze just as my fishing pole almost slipped out of my hands (fisher king and failed fisher girl).
Pacing the dock, with five fishing rods lined at the edge, to reel in a catfish feast (he tossed them backwards over his shoulder into a homemade holding tank—a hole sawed into the boards, with an underwater “cage”).
Frying cornmeal-battered hush puppies—golden, crisp, and light.
Furtively building my Christmas dollhouse in the basement and carefully measuring the height of the doorways to fit my Barbies (Santa Claus was a genius carpenter).
Carting home my first art history books—Raphael, da Vinci, and Michelangelo— “just because.”
Drying sage on the pool table, lending special flavor and aroma to Thanksgiving dinner.
Plowing his suburban “back 40″ so we could savor “real” vegetables year-round.
Stirring up skillet after skillet of golden-brown peanut brittle and packing it in gaily ribboned split-oak baskets, along with homemade jams and pepper jelly—gifts for neighbors, patients, and preachers.
Making hog’s head cheese in the laundry room while my boy friend stared in shock.
Writing a rare letter, telling me to choose my major and career, indeed life, with no need for his approval.
Signing check after check to ease my way through college and sending me to Europe to study long before he set foot on the Continent (excluding a few feet of Normandy).
Grabbing the wheel of a rented Passat, manhandling the Paris Périphérique, and then gunning 145 kilometers on the open road while my mother crawled into the backseat and never crawled out (he hid years of speeding tickets from her).
Grasping the railing of Monet’s Japanese bridge at Giverny and wistfully reminiscing about the only art history class permitted in his crowded undergraduate schedule (the museum guards finally threw him out at dusk).
Stashing my first essays in the top drawer of his office desk and passing them on to anyone patient enough to read (a major morale boost at age 24).
Writing his own eloquent essays and reading them aloud for a test run.
Penning the grueling medical details of the Crucifixion for a Sunday school class.
Hanging a watercolor inscribed with 1 Corinthians 13:1–13 on the wall opposite his desk—a gift from a cancer patient and the theme of his practice.
Freely treating country folk, with medicines and syringes mixed among the hooks and lures in his tackle box.
Bathing and shaving my mother’s uncle after his stroke.
Loving every relative and in-law, down to every cousin six times removed.
Vacuuming and dusting the night before my mother’s parties and luncheons—without being asked—and creating charming arrangements of zinnias that bordered his garden.
Beating a broom handle into a broken garbage disposer until 2:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day (I never could figure out that fix-it trick).
Installing four revolving fans in the bedrooms at 10:00 p.m.—drilling just as everyone was going to bed (they always spun wobbly).
Hauling home a Roto-Rooter to repair a stopped-up toilet at 10:00 p.m. (rousting us out of bed to hold long hoses in a drizzle).
Playing country cool when he listened to Johnny Cash’s beautifully cruel cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.”
Keeping close to my mother when Alzheimer’s stole her mind and voice but never her loving spirit.
Holding my sister’s hand when her husband died.
Living in a state of grace for 32,369 days.
My dad’s hands flipped through the Bible many times as he searched for a verse or two to insert into one of his talks about life (he did not call them sermons). However, a seven-book series about the world’s great religions sat on a shelf in his study. His hands held those, too.
Dad was a devoted Methodist and humanitarian. He never judged any righteous soul, whatever his or her faith.
At the end of his life, Christ said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” A poignant sentence, yet I always return to what came out of Christ’s hands during his earthly lifetime. Healing. Encouragement. Strength. Love. And I remember what came out of my father’s hands.
Latin textbook courtesy of Dr. Marcus Gossler
Clothespin courtesy of Alfred Borba
Garden vegetables courtesy of Liz West
Map courtesy of San Jose
Paris Périphérique courtesy of MD01605
Leather bag courtesy of Anna Frodesiak
Zinnias courtesy of Ahura21
The young pyramid towered,
Boughs layered spoke on spoke,
Weave-and-fan foliage cloaked,
Octaves of birdsong showered.
Now centuries furrow fibrous bark—
Peeling cinnamon raw and rust,
Knobby elbow branches thrust
Day fading, silhouette stark.
The leaning trunk and swelling base
Brown creepers scale crevice face,
And small branches sporadically
Break and sweep, late summer trace—
Palm-rubbed twigs breathe pungently.
Tall incense cedars courtesy of Daniel Mayer
Black-capped chickadee courtesy of Alan D. Wilson, http://www.naturepicsonline.com
Brown creeper courtesy of Alan Vernon
Receding then arcing
In pink-and-yellow play.
From city-center splendor
Into hazing noon,
A GTO muscled
A crotch rocket
Until it shot far
Into scorched-tar mirage.
She leaned hard,
Into the wind-rush,
Hair stringing tangled.
Her jeans tugged,
Her butterfly peeped
Of purple-green scaling
Her butternut skin.
Against a low-rumble sky,
Great with rain.
A burning white light
Split the clouds,
And God’s fingers
But he was not there.
Fountain courtesy of Christopher T. Cooper
Highway (white line fever) courtesy of http://www.tysto.com/
Bike Week courtesy of BlackBikeWeek, http://www.blackbikeweek.us/pictures
Photo Credits: Catherine Hamrick
Last night Bravo TV host Andy Cohen knelt in a selfie homage to Kardashian’s derrière.
The trailblazer of the “selfie movement,” Kardashian now sets her sights beyond Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to print. Her book, aptly named Selfish, practices the “art” of clicking personal self-photos—hence a highly questionable aesthetic tome with airbrush geniuses on call.
Mark your calendars! The photo-finish pub date is April 7, 2015, as announced by Universe, the pop-culture imprint of Rizzoli. Billed as a “hardcover coffee table book,” its trim size is 5 x 7 inches, hardly worthy of a diminutive side table.
What “never-before-seen” bod parts will Kardashian flash?
Has this world gone celeb ass-backwards?
Kim Kardashian by The Heart Truth (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thehearttruth/4366241448/)
Coolest selfie: Nadar autoportrait tournant courtesy of Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror (c. 1524) by Italian late Renaissance artist Parmigianino courtesy of Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
Pieter Claesz, Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball, 1625 (The artist is visible in the reflection.)
by John Clare
Now swarthy Summer, by rude health embrowned,
Precedence takes of rosy fingered Spring;
A wild and giddy thing,
And Health robust, from every care unbound,
Come on the zephyr’s wing,
And cheer the toiling clown.
Happy as holiday-enjoying face,
Loud tongued, and “merry as a marriage bell,”
Thy lightsome step sheds joy in every place;
And where the troubled dwell,
Thy witching charms wean them of half their cares;
And from thy sunny spell,
They greet joy unawares.
And mantle laced with gems of garish light,
Come as of wont; for I would fain intrude,
And in the world’s despite,
Share the rude wealth that thy own heart beguiles;
If haply so I might
Win pleasure from thy smiles.
Taking snaps of summer in Coker Arboretum (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)–one of life’s great joys.
Photo Credits: Catherine Hamrick
On August 4, 1964, the FBI unearthed the bodies of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwermer, buried 15 feet under a red clay dam. They were part of the Freedom Summer project to register blacks to vote in Mississippi.
On June 21, they had driven to Philadelphia, Neshoba County, to investigate the burning of Mount Zion Methodist Church. Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price arrested them for allegedly driving over the 30-mile speed limit. He hauled the three activists to the Neshoba County jail, booking Chaney for speeding and putting Shwermer and Goodman “under investigation.”
Chaney paid the fine. After release, they were ordered to leave the county. Price followed them to the county line, and the trio headed to Meridian. Two carloads of KKK members stopped and murdered them on an isolated rural road.
X-rays immediately taken of the bodies were later destroyed. However, some reports indicate that Goodman and Schwermer were beaten and then shot through the heart. Before slain, African American James Chaney allegedly suffered a left broken arm in one place, a right broken arm in two places, a broken jaw, a crushed shoulder, and trauma to other parts of his body.
In early December 1964, the FBI arrested 21 men in the case, including local Klansmen and several police officers. They charged them with conspiracy to violate the three activists’ civil rights. Prosecutors took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure clarification and validation of laws used in the case.
In 1967, a federal jury of Mississippians found seven of the defendants guilty. They received sentences of up to 10 years.
On June 21, 2005—the 41st anniversary of the disappearance—a Mississippi state court convicted Klansman Edgar Ray Killen of manslaughter. He had organized the conspiracy. Killen appealed. In 2007, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his sentence of three times 20 years in prison.
“I’m Gonna Sing Till The Spirit Moves In My Heart” (arr. Moses Hogan)
Abandoned Ford station wagon courtesy of Federal Bureau of Investigation Workers
President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act courtesy of The Library of Congress (American Memory Collection)
We stopped to swipe
In Chilton County.
The first quivered
And fell into my open hand,
The weight of the sun,
Russet, pink, and orange,
Hazy with down.
You bit into the cleft,
And I stole a stare,
Every summer he trekked to Chilton County to pick and pick, peach after peach, weekend after weekend, for the pleasure of putting up sweet jam to spread on fluffy biscuits. My memory still tastes the wonder.
Only two luscious weeks left—take your pick of Alabama’s finest.
Photograph courtesy of Tobias Maschler