Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12


The auspicious day has arrived--The Maya Prophecy! As the magnet above states so perfectly--The End? or The Beginning?

Fall 2009. Wednesday night often found Mom, Jim, and me at the weekly church dinner. It ensured that we would see each other at least weekly and eat a delicious, hot meal prepared by the one and only Laura Estes. The round tables seat eight people to promote friendship and fellowship.

That Wednesday night Mom brought up my impending trip to Guatemala later that winter. I can hear her now, “Do you know that they KILL Americans down there?” Someone at the table piped in “Do you know they kill Americans in Columbia, Mo.?” She moved on. “And who are you going with?” she asked. By myself, I replied. “WHY would you want to go THERE?” Jim was cracking up, watching the common disconnect between the style and ways of Mom and me.

“Ann’s going to get things set for December 12, 2012,” Jim told Mom. “WHAT?” Jim continued, explaining to Mom that the day was the end of the Maya calendar and likely the end of the world. He playfully held out his hand and told Mom she should turn over her cash to him as it would be worthless in just two years. Later Jim told me that the Mayas were a special interest of his--progressive, highly intelligent people, way ahead of their time.

When I was in Guatemala, I saw the magnet pictured and bought one for me and one for Jim. It was on his refrigerator until the day he died. Tears streamed as I took it down when my siblings and I worked to clear his house following his death. I put the magnet in my pocket.

Today, I want to find Jim’s good friend Dan Riepe and give him the magnet. I don’t need two, I don’t want two magnets. 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Missing Jim

Jim Rogers (Nov 18, 1976-Nov 5, 2010)

Two years ago today my baby brother was called home. The loving and missing are still fresh but not raw. My hope is to never get “over it” but rather to move through it at all stages of my life with grace and hope and a dignity that honors Jim.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Trading Post

Ann Rogers, John Rogers, and Hartley Rogers on their way to
collect goods for the annual Trading Post in Columbia, Mo., on
Halloween evening, mid-1970s.


The only Halloween picture in my cache of photos works well for the story I want to share about a Halloween past. Last year I told the granddaddy of them all--receiving a bowl of guppies as a Halloween treat and the trick it played on my siblings and me. See http://annie-allthingsimportant.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html for the true tale.

This year’s story remembers the annual “Trading Post” with my brothers. Hartley, John, and me would come home from hours of trick-or-treating and pour our bags of candy into individual mountains and carefully divide the loot into categories (think chocolate, bubble gum, taffy, suckers, caramelized apples, nuts, non-edible toys, and on), creating foothills to each mountain of candy. 

When finished, the Cowgirl (me), the Indian (John), and the Patriot (Hartley) would spend a couple of hours bartering wares so that our arsenal best suited individual taste buds. I can’t imagine the amount of chocolate I sacrificed to obtain as much bubble gum as possible. See, gum was contraband in the home according to Mom and anything banned topped my list. My brothers tended to go for pure sugar and chocolate did the trick. I think all three of us would agree that we have as many memories surrounding the annual Trading Post as the actual trick-or-treat collecting itself. It’s when the game got serious and the stakes became high.

As much as my Mom disliked Halloween, I think my Dad secretly loved it as this memory reveals. One Halloween, perhaps later in the evening in the picture above, the Trading Post conducted its final deals and closed shop. We all took our goods to place in hiding from each other--and as it turns out, most importantly Dad. That night, in the wee hours, when brother John was too pepped on sugar to fall asleep my father tiptoed into his room to swindle a sample from his hidden stash in the closet. Before Dad could make the steal, John shot up in bed and declared “Don’t take my candy!” Dad was so startled by the command that he allowed an eight-year-old Indian to stop him in his tracks. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Employed Again!

My Dad encouraged me always to be my best in any situation.

My Dad always said......“You need to have a job to get a job!”

Stephens College threw me a curve ball in Summer 2011 when they laid me off from my professional position at the college. I became a part of one of the most feared national statistics--the unemployed. 

Though many experiences over the 14 months felt like vignettes out of a B-movie plot, I learned so much about myself, values, faith, and determination while experiencing joys and opportunities that I might never had otherwise. Unemployment benefits, freelance writing, babysitting, and book selling kept me from borrowing money or losing my home. Still, unemployment is hard, hard stuff. It can get to one’s head and it certainly did mine. Certain X factors made it difficult for me to find employment: my stubborn desire to stay in Columbia; a professional background of many years in director-level jobs in a specialized field; and a resume that made me appear unaffordable and “overqualified” for jobs that I would have given my all to if hired. I was the bargain that no one would hire.

I realized after a year that it was time to take up my brother’s offer to work at the Dairy Queen franchise he owns. Starting my fast food career at the age of 46 was humbling to say the least but I soon learned life lessons that I will treasure forever. 

David Baskett Rogers and Ann Louise Rogers
Our Last Dance
Today, I want to share with you that I have accepted an offer as Manager, Research and Development Services at ChildFund International (http://www.childfund.org/). Some opportunities are worth the wait. Beginning September 4th, I will work in my specialized field (prospect research) from my home, with regular visits to the ChildFund headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, and receive the best pay and benefits package I’ve ever been offered. 

And I very well may be the only ChildFund professional that has the coveted DQ “curl” skill in their arsenal. A word to my friends--never underestimate the difficulty of that curl that tops the ice cream cone or the intelligent and hardworking staff at Dairy Queen--or any fast food restaurant. It is difficult, fast paced, and under appreciated work. I’ll forever remember Dairy Queen as the place I was reminded once again of my Dad’s great wisdom. 

“You need to have a job to get a job.”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Neon IOOF Sign Relit 40 Years Later

The Relit IOOF Sign Again in its Original Glory

The bright neon glow of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) sign once again lights up the southwest corner of Walnut and 10th Streets in downtown Columbia. After 40 years of darkness, the restored sign was remounted and lit in late spring of this year. The sign marks the historic building that currently houses Stuart Insurance and the We Always Swing Jazz Series among several other local businesses.
John Bell, owner of Stuart Insurance and treasurer of the Columbia Odd Fellows, said the lodge had long considered refurbishing the sign but in the past the extra expense always shelved the idea. The organization commissioned Bee Seen Signs for the restoration, which was originally designed and installed by Davis & Hourigan Sign Company, in the early 1950s. Coincidentally, Bee Seen Signs purchased Davis & Hourigan in 1985. Tom Hourigan, son of the original IOOF sign designer, now serves as manager of Bee Seen Signs, and was delighted to learn of the effort to relight the downtown sign that often arouses local curiosity and questions.
When work started Hourigan found the sign in remarkably good condition with no chips to the porcelain enamel. The original transformer boxes--date stamped 1948-49--still worked and as Hourigan said, “they don’t make them like they used to.” After removing dirt and tar build-up he decided to use the originals to power the neon lights.
“The sign was in great shape,” Hourigan added. “There was enough old neon left to trace a pattern of the original lettering and to replicate the original colors of the sign. It mostly needed elbow grease to restore.”
The sign runs on a timer and is now lit from 6-10 daily. Sitting on the edge of the North Village Arts District, it adds a nostalgic flavor to a section of downtown Columbia that missed the neon glow of the IOOF letters since the late 1960s and promises to keep shining bright for decades to come.

The Restored IOOF Sign Ready to be Remounted to the Odd Fellows Building

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Eating: The Good Life


Year round, Saturday mornings bring tennis, one of the ultimate joys in my life. In late March these mornings move into joy explosion as the Columbia Farmer’s Market opens the outdoor season at its quarters in central city. The scheduling of tennis and shopping for scrumptious foods becomes a juggling act that has me bouncing from bed to merge two of my life’s great passions.
For many years, I’ve pursued good eating often to more success than others. In college, I waitressed at Alfalfa Restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky, where I learned about wholegrain foods and the simplicity of good eating. I credit many meals there and incorporating what I attempted to replicate in my kitchen to countering weight that would surely have packed on by beer and the inevitable late night pizzas ordered to satisfy the “munchies.”
My post college decade brought a more intellectual approach to good eating, driven in part by my readings of the books by Helen and Scott Nearing, considered the grandparents of the “back to the land” movement. Part fascination of a lifestyle I knew little about (google their names if interested) and a dash of incorporation of their practices, the marriage of lessons learned at Alfalfa and their example of unattainable but noble ideals moved me forward in my good eating goals. Still, my love for beer and the lifestyle of an on-the-go career woman led to lots of eating out--a killer for positive food choices. My eating habits ran the spectrum and I had little middle ground. On a regular basis I either ate with conviction or moved to the other end of eating with convenience and lack of care. 

By my late 30s into my 40s, I found myself acutely aware of what goes in and what comes out is a matter of life and death. Like most indulgent Americans, my choices continued to dance across the spectrum but my inner voice spoke louder than ever. Good eating led to many rewards: beautiful skin; a figure that is long, muscular, and lean; and support of local establishments and farmers that matches my ethos in both eating and consumerism. Coupled with my joy of hitting the little yellow ball across the tennis court and fresh, unprocessed foods, my life and health maintains a balance that honors both body and spirit.
Each year the Farmer’s Market season escalates both opportunity and unbridled enthusiasm for good eating. It is also a social experience that I anticipate each week as other like-minded friends can be found among the crowd. Additionally, friendships gained with my favorite vendors add grist for my mill of obtaining ideas to incorporate and the example of a lifestyle I will never have but admire and support with joy. By peppering the farmers with questions, I learn even more that adds sparkle to my Saturday morning ritual.
Below I relay this year’s food passion that finally finds a delicious use for the wonder food kale and some tips for storing market food that brings out the best taste possible and prolongs the life of the produce. A few weeks ago, visiting with a friend prior to a Summerfest concert, I shared the recipe for this merging of nutrition and awesome taste with my friend Susan. Though interested, Susan admitted with a scrunched nose that she couldn’t hide, that “kale can be very scary.” Rest assured, my readers, the kale can only be seen in the color and the health benefits of my new breakfast are both vitamin loaded and full of taste.

Annie’s Green Goddess Smoothie
In blender, combine coconut milk, flax seed (for protein), a handful of kale (ribs removed), several chunks of fresh pineapple (this is what I taste the most), a banana and blend. Then add ice. The proper amount of each ingredient is trial and error to refine the consistency of the drink that suits individual taste. I prefer plenty of ice so I can drink it while others like a less watered down version to be eaten with a spoon.  The smoothie can also be modified by adding fruits or vegetables (peaches, blueberries, cucumber, and spinach so far) that are nearing the end of their fresh lives to avoid any waste in my kitchen. This treat jumpstarts my day and gives me a power on the tennis courts that I frequent on a summer schedule that is hard to beat. And, like most women, I have a bit of vanity running through my blood. I love all the compliments that come from having the best physique of my life--thin but not too thin and the glow of good living.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about food storage of fresh produce.
Some foods are best not refrigerated until they become very ripe and life extension prevails over optimum taste. These include tomatoes, fresh peaches, and apples, which are best stored on the counter out of direct sunlight. On the flip side, berries should be stored in the refrigerator from the onset. Fresh greens, squash, asparagus, and cucumbers also benefit from the refrigerator though best practice in storing varies. I refer you to a web link that offers some valuable tips that, if followed, will minimize waste and maximize both taste and life of the produce.
Summer: Tennis and the Farmer’s Market equates pure joy for this tall blonde in mid-Missouri. Toss in summer concerts, a little air conditioning when needed, and the blooms of my flower garden and I find the heat a small price to pay for my heaven on earth.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Super Sunday

Super Sunday Guys
John Rogers and David Rogers

Super Sunday
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The term Super Sunday may refer to the following
  • Super Sunday (TV series), a 1980s American cartoon multicharacter series from Sunbow and Marvel Productions, all featuring Hasbro characters.
  • Super Sunday (phone-a-thon), the annual phone-a-thon fundraising drives held by Jewish federations throughout North America, on various Sundays of the year
  • Super Sunday or "Super Bowl Sunday", the Sunday of the National Football League's championship game, the Super Bowl
  • Ford Super Sunday, the live Sunday afternoon Premiership football broadcast on Sky Sports in the UK
  • Super Sunday, a popular Taiwanese TV show, hosted by Harlem Yu among others
  • Super Sunday (computer game), a 1986 video game published by Avalon Hill for the Apple II and Commodore 64[citation needed]
  • "Super Sunday", in New Orleans, refers to one of the annual celebrations staged by Mardi Gras Indian tribes, and held in Uptown, Downtown, or the west bank of New Orleans
AND
**Wikipedia please take note**
  • A day in June when Father’s Day and a man’s birthday occur on the same Sunday. This phenomenon can only occur for males with children whose birthday fall between June 15-June 21.  
Super Sunday a la Father’s Day and Dad’s birthday (June 21) required a full-blown celebration in the Rogers household. Realistically the two days coincided once every six years but memory is a funny thing and with the sixth Father’s Day without Dad to celebrate, this is what I remember each year. 
“There’s only two days a year that my kids are nice to me and they fall on the same damn day,” he would playfully declare each year when Father’s Day and his birthday coincided. Dad loved getting presents and wanted to be doted on by his family. He much preferred multiple small gifts to unwrap rather than a more significant joint gift. In fact, he perceived one of the true injustices of his lifetime to be the Father’s Day that we all went together and presented him with a pair of expensive running shoes called “The Beast.” My sister-in-law knew he needed to exercise and found a shoe designed for the bigger man. The lone box that stared at him went from insult to injury when he unwrapped only to discover running shoes. Jill took the heat that year.
Super Sunday thus presented a unique challenge. He guided the rules--no church and Father’s Day would be celebrated with a full spread breakfast of bacon, eggs, sweet rolls, fresh fruit, and coffee followed by the opening of presents. This man loved to unwrap gifts, if he liked the item, all the better but the ritual of pulling off the colorful paper and ribbon in anticipation pleased him the most. At noon Father’s Day would end. Then around 5:00 in the afternoon on Super Sunday, the family would gather again to celebrate Dad’s birthday with a dinner of his choice followed by birthday cake and candles, singing, and of course, another round of presents.
And we would hear the refrain “There’s only two days a year that my kids are nice to me and they fall on the same damn day,” sprinkled throughout the day. Of course Dad loved every aspect of the holiday he created for himself.
As life would have it, my brother John’s birthday is June 19th, with last year being his Super Sunday. I called him last night to ask if he continues the tradition with his children and he immediately said: “of course I do. I milk it. My kids know the Super Sunday tradition.” Then John added that he even uses the same line and without missing a beat we both chimed in unison “There’s only two days a year that my kids are nice to me and they fall on the same damn day.” 
As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “So it Goes.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones

The Face of Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones

I’d like to introduce you to an imaginary childhood friend, Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones. Perched just over Stadium Boulevard, a bit north of College Park in Columbia, Mo., her hard, stone stare watched the ground below for perhaps hundreds of years, maybe longer. No one, not even my grandmother Dee Dee who created the character, knew how long she sat there but Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones channeled the stories of my grandmother’s youth on the family farm.
A group of local citizens tried to save the
formation known to others simply as
"The Rock Face."
My paternal grandmother, Edna Baskett Rogers, was born in the small rural community of McFall located in northwest Missouri. Her family farm, now just an open field with a highway passing through, sat on the east edge of an almost extinct town (population now 93). The nature-chiseled face of stone met a similar fate as the farm when the Missouri Department of Transportation blasted the rock to expand Stadium Boulevard in 1989. Mom alerted me in college about the construction that destroyed the rock face from Columbia’s landscape. Even from Kentucky-land, my home at the time and also where Dee Dee’s ancestors migrated from to settle in Missouri, I grieved a piece of my childhood that I would never see again.
Only Dee Dee herself would know how she discovered Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones or where the whimsical name derived. My guess is one day when she picked up her grandchildren in her little green Maverick she glanced at the rock face and questioned “do you know about Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones?” My grandmother was the kind of storyteller that invented names and tales as she talked. Dee Dee told stories that begged repeating, many that made my green eyes brim as round as my little blonde head.
Edna Baskett Rogers (1901-1986)
Dee Dee, like her granddaughter, was an outdoors girl--playful, imaginative, sometimes mischievous, and always full of stories. Through the eyes of the imaginary Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones I learned about my grandmother’s childhood in the frank manner that matched her personality. Without these tales, I would have never known to ask about what it meant to have the first indoor privy in the area or how a young woman handled menstruation prior to paper products. Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones recalled with sadness when her brother, known as “Little Dick” was scalded to death by a bucket of boiling water along with other hardships of early twentieth century farm life such as fire and an ill-tempered father. Florence also created a lot of fun--picking berries, pulling outrageous pranks on her siblings, wading in the creeks, and recounting the tales of the generations before her. Florence even helped a child move through the underground railroad system during the Civil War. Of course, the line between family history and pure storytelling was blurry but that is part of the magic and legacy of Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones.
The Next Incarnation of Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones
For my 40th birthday in May 2006 and the first birthday after my father died, Mom gave me a stone statue for my garden. When I saw it, without hesitation, I blurted out “that’s Florence Clementine Ezekiel Jones!” Since then, she has guarded the flower bed in front of my home as the purple coneflower, my favorite of Missouri’s many native flowers, has multiplied by the year and now surrounds her with a natural beauty that befits her namesake. 
Dee Dee is surrounded by four of her twelve grandchildren on her birthday
in the early 1980s. From left to right, John Rogers, Hartley Rogers, Annie
Rogers, and Jim Rogers. Not pictured are Mary Gordon, Donna
Vokish, Laurie Fausnaugh, Jimmy Rogers, Rusty Patton, Judy Patton,
Trudis Ann Patton, and Mark Patton. We all loved her very much.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

“Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us”

(Tone Tree Music, released April 2012)

“I was on my boss Emmylou’s tour bus in 2008 when a really crazy TV preacher came on the satellite TV and caused me to wonder how to counterbalance this bad PR God continues to get from his own flock. 
So, I came up with the simple idea of gathering together a few great musical artists singing songs written around the basic theme of “What If God Is Love?”--Phil Madeira
With that inspiration and vision, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Phil Madeira spearheaded a project that resulted in “Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us.” In no way is this production of the “contemporary Christian” genre but rather a reflection of a universal God or spirit that loves and serves mankind. 
Most songs on this concept compilation are new material--written, performed, and arranged for the CD. Though Madeira had a hand or voice in each song he gathered an impressive group of musicians to share his vision. From the spectacular opening song by the Civil Wars (“From This Valley”) to the final song by John Scofield (“Peace in the Valley”), a variety of musicians fill the “valley” framed by this arrangement. 
I didn’t notice the symbolic bookends these songs created until I started writing this nor do I know if it was purposeful by Madeira. Regardless, a valley sows the seeds of a fertile ground and the songs that sprouted in “Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us” are lush and hardy. Musicians such as Shawn Mullins, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Dan Tyminski share a message of hope that is ecumenical and inspiring regardless of a person’s religious practice--or lack of it. 
The all-star cast of roots and bluegrass musicians make this a CD that belongs in any music lover’s collection. In an age of turmoil, tragedy, and polarization around the world, “Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us” is a universal treat. It neither promotes or negates any religion or spiritual practice. Rather it is a reminder that music and spirituality have always been intertwined and provide solace and hope to a world in desperate need of mercy and grace.
This song by Shawn Mullins addresses God’s love for all--Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, and Atheists are all mentioned by name as Mullins breaks the barriers and reminds the listener that God loves us all even if we all "Give God the Blues.”


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

~May Day Memories~

2012 May Day Bouquet for Mom and Mary

The small joys and fun of May Day are woven into the story of my childhood but my memories are a bit threadbare. As a youngster, my fistful of lily of the valleys and dandelions placed in a small container brought squeals of delight from my grandmother. I would ring the doorbell and flee while Miss Dolly praised the bouquet, its beauty, and wondered aloud who brought her these lovely flowers. Hit rewind numerous times each year. She repeated this act, with enthusiasm, all day long for each of her grandchildren.
Through the years, the family “May Dayers” dwindled. The older generation slipped away, the boys lacked interest, everyone lived in different places--but my Mom, Dad, and sister all still played May Day with enthusiasm. In college, Mary sent the smallest bouquets she could order through the mail to Kentucky. She did the same for Mom, which reminded us both of Miss Dolly and old traditions celebrated by our family. Three months before Dad died (May Day 2005) he picked a small bouquet of lily of the valleys and gave them to me in one of Mom’s short Waterford vases. He said I could keep the vase too. Mom squealed just like her Mother years before--but this squeal implied “my vase needs to be returned!” Dad winked at me. 
I still have most of the last May Day bouquet from my father
but obviously I didn't get to keep the vase. The little drink
umbrella was added with the dried lily of the valleys the night that
my parents took me out to celebrate my tennis medal in the
Show-Me State Games. It proved to be our last date
as Dad died in his sleep about 10 days later.
To my surprise, a brief search on the history of May Day revealed controversy and conflicting stories of its origin. Some say it is Christian, others pagan. Traditionally, it is celebrated abroad more than in the U.S. and its history goes back before the birth of Christ. Since 1890, it is known as International Workers Day in the UK, originally in the fight for the eight-hour work day. It still serves as a day of protest there, and increasingly, around the globe. Until today, I never considered the current news of the Occupy Movement’s call to not work, shop, or go to school on May 1, 2012, as a May Day activity. 
But, enough! My history of May Day will always be about little fingers picking and arranging flowers to leave on the doorstep, ringing the doorbell, and running into the woods without a worry in the world. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Celebrate "National Poem in Your Pocket Day"

Fernando Pessoa
Art Credit: Gary Lachman

Today is National Poem in Your Pocket Day and I think it deserves a shout out to all. Originating in New York City in 2002 and becoming a national event in 2009, it provides an opportunity to celebrate poetry of all types. 
If one looks at the banner of my blog, the subject of useful poetry is included. Poetry serves. It gives a voice to emotions, history, and the nature of people and the universe. A poem can tell stories and anecdotes that are often timeless in message. I’ve shared some poetry over the past year on this blog, showing how poems I deem useful for me have been woven into the strength of my personal fiber. 
The poem in my pocket today is by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). Like many great artists, his literary genius went largely unrecognized until after his death. The Los Angeles Times once called him “the greatest twentieth century writer you have never heard of.”
A wonderful friend once told me that my purpose in life was “Spreading the Gospel of Good Music and Poetry.” In that spirit, here is an untitled poem by Fernando Pessoa, my “newest favorite poet” introduced to me this spring by a Portuguese friend who shares my passion of poetry.
Don’t try to build in the space you suppose
Is future, Lydia, and don’t promise yourself
Tomorrow. Quit hoping and be who you are
Today. You alone are your life.
Don’t plot your destiny, for you are not future.
Between the cup you empty and the same cup
Refilled, who knows whether your fortune
Won’t interpose the abyss?
From “A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems,” by Fernando Pessoa
What poem will you put in your pocket today? Please let me know!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Want More Bird's Nests?

Wild Bird Nesting Fiber
100% Natural Alpaca

This Sunday morning, I found four bird nests in my back yard, erasing any guilt (that I didn’t have) for not joining my family in church. Three hummingbird nests, all with eggs, are buried in foliage along my fence. The robin’s nest, high up in a tree, is a hopping little home right now. I’ve spotted at least three baby beaks reaching for food and an attentive mama bird. She sat on the nest for a couple of hours early morning warming her babies in the cool air and wind. Later, she was off gathering food. The first time back she wasn’t suspecting me and I was able to catch a couple of images of her feeding the young. I tried for a better photo and she flew off instantly. I’m done Mama Robin, please return to your previously scheduled program.
The four nests have something in common: strands of alpaca wool are woven in each nest thanks to an alpaca bird nesting ball I put out in late February. It was purchased at McAdams Ltd. in Columbia, Mo. ($9) but the website for the small, mid-Missouri business, Alpacas d'Auxvasse, sells the ball for $10.50, shipping included. The Wild Bird Nesting Fiber is ready to hang in a tree after pulling bits of the Alpaca through the netting.
It’s a great addition to a back yard and also a worthy gift idea for a very reasonable price. The company’s website, www.alpacasauxvasse.com, explains:
"Alpacas d'Auxvasse is a small farm just east of Auxvasse, MO. Breeding Suri and Huacaya Alpacas for quality fiber and conformation is not enough. Focusing on raising healthy, happy, FRIENDLY alpacas, is a priority. I don't want to watch my animals from afar - I want to be a welcome part of their lives.I raise my animals to have as beautiful a disposition as they do fiber and conformation."
My Note: Keep alpaca balls from the reach of dogs lest potential destruction.

Robin Feeding Baby
(Click image to see detail.)
Hummingbird Nest





Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Power of "Mercy Now," by Mary Gauthier

Jim Rogers (1976-2010), Ann Rogers, David Rogers (1941-2005)
Memorial Day Weekend 2005, Columbia, Mo.
The song “Mercy Now” from the uber-talented Mary Gauthier’s (pronounced “Go-shay”) 2005 album by the same title serves as a singable diary of the past half decade of my life. 

Whether a poignant song, sermon, poem, or book--when the message conveyed feels like it was created just for me, it is a forever gift. Through these years, the lyrics to “Mercy Me” have brought tears, smiles, and insight. Good art serves. It’s useful. And it’s a very personal thing. Below, I use all the lyrics to "Mercy Now" to create a small picture essay of loss and love and, finally, hope.


My father could use a little mercy now
The fruits of his labor fall and rot slowly on the ground
His work is almost over it won't be long, he won't be around
I love my father, he could use some mercy now
Dad Helping Annie Create Art in Fifth Grade
My brother could use a little mercy now
He's a stranger to freedom, he's shackled to his fear and his doubt
The pain that he lives in it's almost more than living will allow
I love my brother, he could use some mercy now
Jim and his oldest sister, Mary Rogers Gordon, celebrate
his long-anticipated college graduation in December 2009.
My church and my country could use a little mercy now
As they sink into a poisoned pit it's going to take forever to climb out
They carry the weight of the faithful who follow them down
I love my church and country, they could use some mercy now
First Christian Church, Columbia, Mo.
A Home Away From Home
Every living thing could use a little mercy now
Only the hand of grace can end the race towards another mushroom cloud
People in power, they'll do anything to keep their crown
I love life and life itself could use some mercy now
An Accidental Trap
Mom and I quickly granted mercy to little Rocky, setting him
free and watching him scamper through the pasture.
Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don't deserve it but we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance dangle 'tween hell and hallowed ground
And every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now

Finally, here is an opportunity to hear Mary sing these beautiful lyrics with her spectacular voice. I know, you know, we all know--we could use some Mercy Now.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

“The Missouri Waltz”

45 rpm of the "Missouri Waltz" and "Old Missouri"
My Missouri roots run deep, at least seven generations, and when I bleed, my blood is black and gold. The 45 rpm of the “Missouri Waltz” pictured above spun on my childhood turntable while I tried to learn the lyrics to keep up with my Daddy at University of Missouri football and basketball games. He knew every word to each song and cheer; too bad his off-key voice turned heads as he shamelessly sung loud and proud at every Tiger game. As Daddy became Dad, I grew to adore that enthusiastic, but musically flat voice that I inherited from him. If I close my eyes and imagine, I can hear him serenading me from above.
An endearing tradition at Tiger games is the playing and singing of the “Missouri Waltz”. Marching (or Mini) Mizzou strikes the chord late in the game but before the end--fourth quarter in football and five minutes left in basketball. The band has created its own take of the ballad that incorporates a marching beat at 3/4 time. With a few opening notes, the fans rise to their feet to “do” the Waltz. As the song plays, people sing (or hum) and sway in rhythm from side to side with their arms high in the air before the band breaks into a clapping tone that leads into the beloved “Hooray, Hurrah, Mizzou, Mizzou, a Bully for Mizzou” cheer. It brings a smile to my face each and every game.

"The Missouri Waltz," January 2012
NCAA Basketball Prediction:
Mizzou WALTZES to the Championship!

For many years, I thought the “Missouri Waltz” was simply a Tiger thing. I can’t remember when I learned that it was the official state song of Missouri (adopted 1949). The song, performed in a spectrum of styles, has been covered by the likes of Eddy Arnold and Johnny Cash among others. It was also the theme song for Winter’s Bone (2010), the chilling movie set in southern Missouri.


Since the 1940s there have been many commercial recordings of the song from radio crooners like Perry Como and Guy Lombardo to country stars like Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, and Eddy Arnold. Ultimately, the song has become what a Missouri music historian called a “country rag waltz,” an apt description of Johnny Cash’s take on this piece of Missouri history.




Hush-a-bye, ma baby, slumbertime is comin' soon;
Rest yo' head upon my breast while Mommy hums a tune;
The sandman is callin' where shadows are fallin',
While the soft breezes sigh as in days long gone by.

Way down in Missouri where I heard this melody,
When I was a little child upon my Mommy's knee;
The old folks were hummin'; their banjos were strummin';
So sweet and low.

Strum, strum, strum, strum, strum,
Seems I hear those banjos playin' once again,
Hum, hum, hum, hum, hum,
That same old plaintive strain.

Hear that mournful melody,
It just haunts you the whole day long,
And you wander in dreams back to Dixie, it seems,
When you hear that old time song.

Hush-a-bye ma baby, go to sleep on Mommy's knee,
Journey back to Dixieland in dreams again with me;
It seems like your Mommy is there once again,
And the old folks were strummin' that same old refrain.

Way down in Missouri where I learned this lullaby,
When the stars were blinkin' and the moon was climbin' high,
Seems I hear voices low, as in days long ago,
Singin' hush-a-bye.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Historic Neon Signs in Columbia, Mo.

International Order of Odd Fellows Sign, Columbia, Mo.

With all the spring strolling weather in Columbia this week, I’ve covered many miles downtown on foot. On Monday, while shooting some pictures for a free-lance photography assignment, I found myself drawn to old neon signs in the downtown area. Here are several pictures and the information I discovered when I popped my head in the businesses with a few questions. 

The International Order of the Odd Fellows Sign (southwest corner of 10th and Walnut) features the letters IOOF. Since the building is home to a local insurance company and the acronym was unknown to me, I had often wondered about this sign. The friendly staff at the insurance company told me that it was the Odd Fellows sign and the organization owns the building. The sign, made of porcelain, is currently being restored by the original company who built it. Upon completion, the sign will be lit for the first time in 40 years.

D&M Sound Sign, Columbia, Mo.

D&M Sound, a fixture in the high fidelity business in downtown Columbia for 40 years, sign has an interesting history. D&M’s owner Anne Kelly Moore’s father owned Kelly Press. When she moved her business from Broadway to its current location at the corner of 8th and Locust twenty years ago after a devastating downtown fire, she used a 1950s Kelly Press sign to craft a new D&M sign. According to Anne: “It was very carefully restored then and painted with our logo. When we took it down for maintenance again a few years ago (about 2006) and Jim McCarter from Creative Neon did even more restoration and added the neon.” Anne notes that since the sign does not conform with the present ordinance, though it is grandfathered by the city, she is careful when taking the sign down for maintenance.

The Tiger Hotel Sign, Columbia, Mo.

The Tiger Hotel’s neon, gracing the Columbia skyline, can be seen for miles and often is used as a reference point to out-of-town visitors and locals alike. After 42 years of darkness, the sign was restored and relit in 2004. 
I’ve been building a photograph collection of iconic Columbia, Mo. signs and soon realized that what may appear ordinary today could be iconic ten or fifty years from now. The signs tell a story of time and place (and often fond memories) and once they are gone, the image likely disappears from the mind. Accordingly, I also snapped a couple of shots that day of two longtime downtown fixtures whose signs will soon disappear from the scene: The Regency Hotel and Cool Stuff. 


Sunday, February 19, 2012

February Survival Kit

I dread February, the longest shortest month of the year. Armed with a survival kit this year, the month isn’t just tolerable but often rather lovely. My reward: a February 29th this year!

Smacking the Little Yellow Ball
Lots of Sunshine
Photo Credit: Whit Chandler
Reads Worth Reading
Mizzou's Spectacular Basketball Season
The Complexity and Simplicity of Bluegrass Music
Writing in the Sunroom
The Love Of and From Family and Friends
(& Dogs and Cat)