Monday, May 31, 2010

Hey Sista, Go Sista, Soul Sista, Flow Sista

Just a couple of pictures from this weekend that I like. ***
Liza Turner, who died five years ago at age 102 [and with keen sensibilities and stellar physical condition in tact…], was born in south central Kentucky, and there she stayed. That’s not to say she never left. She went away to college, first to Danville, and then to Lexington. She lived for a time in Somerset. She visited Europe. She famously traveled the South taking pictures, embracing the sights and enticing smells of locally-owned, eclectic culinary establishments, and writing for the critically-acclaimed blog, Pillowbook. But, after her gallivanting lost its luster, she went home to be with her family, and it was there, in the house at 9127 Glasgow Road, that she did her work and lived her life.

When you’ve had the opportunity both to read her dissertation (which she finished at age 86) and to walk through her home, it becomes clear how the two are connected. She was a writer who believed there was plenty that was interesting about small-town life, and she tried to fill her Kentucky characters with passionate convictions and dazzling intensity. The dark-haired postmaster who smiled, quietly said “have a blessed day,” and continued vacuuming the rug resting below the “Welcome Friends” plaque; the singing Dollar Store employee who without explanation, non-verbally convinced her that she did in fact need the vegetable-embroidered potholders he was stocking; her neighbor who still checked on her every other day, bringing both watermelon and election analysis, even after Willie put a hole in the knee of his pants – all are recorded with Berryian sensibilities and Austenian desires. And although Turner may have been working from home, she was no Emily Dickinson. Her life was full of friends dropping by for conversation, the exchange of books and recipes and jams, and the occasional glass of red wine. One imagines the laughter was so loud, the most glamorous of the New York literati had to wonder whether the lush life wasn’t actually farther south.
Bet you’ve lost sleep waiting for my answers to the Welty-inspired questions...
1. “Daring” implies risk, a most elementary understanding that suggests writing is unequivocally an act thereof. Even if no one ever sees what so hesitatingly flows from mind to paper, the release of otherwise hidden intellectual and creative potential carries some chance of exposure, maybe even an unwelcomed battle with emotions or thoughts the artist wants to ignore. The writer becomes more accountable to herself. The person she genuinely, and maybe without explanation, wants to become and the things she loves or finds interesting are suddenly “more real” and a whole hell of a lot scarier than they seem in the world of her imagination. Therefore, while the more obvious fear of “I don’t know how others will respond” is inevitable, it seems an equally daunting act of daring is simply the self-reflection that writing necessitates.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize the unimportance of this silly little blog – with its collection of cereal poems, pastry recipes, and rooster commentary – in relation to noble physical feats and admirable, though heart-wrenching, choices, but my short answer is, “yes, writing is an act of daring.":)

2. I could go into some philosophical discussion about my life being interesting because I am choosing it, but you’ve heard all of my random nonsense on that before. So, here are a few non-philosophical reasons why I think I’m not a total bore at least part of the time:
- I try new recipes, ranging from gingerbread biscotti to Frutti Pebble treats.
- My backyard is slowly becoming a gathering place for a variety of neighborhood animals, all of which apparently like dog food.
- I will read Tolstoy on the same day that I watch a cowboy-centered, one-star rated, romantic comedy on Netflix.
- I will risk embarrassment and the blinding of others in order to save my adopted dog, Buster. …don’t ask.
- I try to do at least one thing every day that would be worth talking about on here. Granted, the bar for “Pillowbook-worthy” is admittedly low.:)
- I truly have some of the most thoughtful and articulate friends anyone could hope for. Speaking of which, check out Lindsey’s new blog, “Chez-Soi”: (The only thing that bothers me about her incredibly thoughtful and interesting blog is that I always want to sing Lady Marmalade, and be Lil' Kim, when reading)
- I see beauty in the often overlooked and seemingly mundane. I try to capture it with my digital camera that is the probably the technological equivalent of the bag phone that weighed down the console area of my high school-era Ford Ranger.
- I am genuinely happy when I have a really delicious meal, read a witty quote or article excerpt, have an unexpected, but interesting conversation, and/or hear a new song that I like. It doesn’t take much.

3. Ordinary, but inspiring; streamlined, but meaningful; the closest to “the person I would like to think I am” as I have been in a long time

4. The “dazzling intensity” that exists in my life is not of my own doing. Instead, I have the good fortune of having friends and family around me who share bits and pieces with me: Caroline’s mandolin lessons, Lindsey’s aesthetic eye, Melissa and Dan’s fearlessness, Leigh Ann’s devotion to motherhood, Andy’s ability to both build a chicken coop and enjoy Nietzsche, Mom’s white sunglasses that “look like her,” Dad laughing in the face of the chemo and choosing to go ahead and eat pintos and cornbread, cooked cabbage, sausage, and macaroni on Saturday night. They all make my life better.

It is here I want to live my life.


  1. LIza, I'm delighted that we have an incredibly excited life ahead of us. Where we are doesn't matter, but the people we share our everyday life with, the books we read (write in your case), the occasional glass of red wine, is why someone will in fact write novel obituaries for each of us. I love you and your relentlessness to make "home" the best kept secret in the entire world. You make me homesick:)

  2. I really loved reading this (as I always do). And I love love love the pictures. Do you think I could steal the one of the flowers? I have some black and white photos I took hanging in my room, but I only have three that I really like. I desperately need a fourth to even things out and that picture would fit just perfectly. I would give you all the credit, of course :)

  3. Melissa - It is you my friend who needs to write a book (in addition to starting and running your own business)---I've never said anything so poetic and moving. Thank you so much for that thoughtful comment and for being such a wonderful friend. I want to come visit soon - what days/times work best for you?

    Alexus - Well, shucks, thank you:) Even though the (as I always do)was probably just included to butter me up for picture stealing, the compliment was appreciated:)
    Sure! I'll email you a few that you might like.
    And yes, I fully expect an engraved plaque of devotion hung below it.

  4. 102?? I have dibs on 106!! I plan on moving to Marrowbone in 2079 and I would love for us to be roomies or at least I would be dropping by everyday for conversation and wine!! I love this entry and wish I could articulate my many thoughts on the questions and your answers to the questions, however to manage my last day of school- my mind has gone to some oddly numb state. Today, feelings and thoughts are hard to retrieve and I'm not going to push it-not today. I do want to say, however, to keep going and flowing soul sister- I love you and am thankful for you and my friends and family that add dazzle and love to my life everyday. :)

  5. As Mom would "say" Lindsey, LOL soul sista.
    I love the thought of us sitting in rocking chairs at 100, drinking wine and talking nonsense:)

  6. Do I need to add this to make a copy of this blog and add it to my important papers? I will put it in the same envelope you gave me a couple of years ago. By the way, I plan on being in a rocking chair drinking wine, talking foolishness, and raising the roof with you and Lindsey. I will only be about 124 yrs old.

  7. HA! You are hilarious, Mom. I love the idea of us sitting around drinking the wine we bought because we loved the label, confidently wearing our white plastic sunglasses, and entertaining ourselves with a few early 90s dance moves. LOL.