R. S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

The Sugar Hill Gang would be proud.

Kickin' it Old School (Road) One Time

I should have moved here back in the D-A-Y.

Northwestern Troup County, Georgia
18 March 2012


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Hillside Monday: 7/28/14


Marvolene: Two Weeks on the Run
LaGrange, Georgia – May 2013

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A message from our sponsor

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When I write, I really WRITE. Nothing can distract me. I will not allow it. It’s part of a vow I made years ago to my work, a vow I take seriously. When I’m involved in a project, as I have been since late April, I tend to disappear, both online and in person. Nothing is wrong—I feel fine. This is my process.

All I want is to get the words right.

Right now, everything I have goes into my work. (Details when it’s finished and out of my hands.) My loved ones will tell you that, when I write intensely, I have difficulty forming even simple sentences outside of the project. That’s when it’s much easier for me to speak through images. Seeing—trying to find the truth in what lies before me, trying to capture it faithfully—lets my mind recharge for the next day’s heavy writing.

Now you know. And I hope you’ll bear with these photo-rich posts a while longer. Eventually, I will return—along with my words.

Thank you, as always, for reading and following. You are the best.


P. S. It took me six days to write this.


© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


It smells beautiful, too.

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Here in the Deep South, peonies are a hit-and-miss gardening affair. Sometimes, the weather and bugs and fungi and soil all manage to cooperate, and POOF! An early-blooming variety gives you two weeks of gloriously ruffled, heavily perfumed blossoms six to eight inches wide.

Seeing and smelling these flowers is the gateway drug to a serious gardening habit. You can’t help wanting more and more and more after an experience like that. Before you know it, you’ve got three, six, a dozen peonies in the yard. You tell yourself, “I don’t have a problem. I can quit any time I want.” This is while you’re sneaking plant catalogs into the employee restroom at work, showing up to important meetings with dirt still under your fingernails, and calling in “sick” so you can stay home and dig several cubic yards of composted sheep manure into your garden beds. You find yourself unable to sleep from your gardening high, so you order even more plants online at 3:00 in the morning. Your spouse gets suspicious. The cycle of lies begins. No, honey, I don’t know who would order ten Japanese maples, six Himalayan lilies, fifty ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ daffodils, twenty blackberry canes, and a Piedmont azalea all at the same time. 

Most of the time, though, the weather and bugs and fungi and soil refuse to cooperate, and you’re left with apricot-sized peony buds that turn to soggy brown mush just as they’re about to open. Then it’s all weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth while you walk around in sackcloth and ashes. Sad, but true: this has been my peony story the last few years. Yeah, it’s a rotten way to live. However, the exceptionally cold winter of 2014 made this old-fashioned, finicky plant happy—which, in turn, made me happy. So what if it doesn’t bloom like this again for another three or four years? I don’t care. I’ll take what I can get.

Besides, I can quit any time I want.


Peony #1
LaGrange, Georgia
8 May 2014


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Yes, all of us.

You Are Somebody's Reason to Smile (LaGrange, Georgia - 8 November 2012)

LaGrange, Georgia
8 November 2012


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Wednesday Photo: 7/23/14

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Art Is Where You Find It #1 (watercolor, acrylic, ink, charcoal, and oil on enameled steel)
Third floor studio, LaGrange College Department of Art
LaGrange, Georgia – 1 July 2014


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LaGrange, Georgia
18 July 2014


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Hillside Monday: 7/21/14


On my walks around the neighborhood, I often find broken dishware where mill houses once stood. The homes were demolished long ago for a variety of reasons, but these fragments remain. They stay behind as tiny reminders of the thousands of people who called Hillside home—who worked, lived, and died here.

Before the advent of landfills, dumpster sites, or curbside trash pickup, people disposed of broken dishes in two ways. Some threw the razor-sharp pieces into a pile at the far edge of their yards. Others threw the shards beneath their houses. In renovating my own mill house, built around 1915, I have discovered many dish, bottle, and drinking glass fragments both in the yard and in the criminally small crawl space. Luckily, time and the coarse-grained, sandy front yard have worn away most of the sharp edges. These little jewel-like surprises say hello most often as I’m climbing out of the car.

The pieces pictured here came from sites where homes have not stood in 50 years. The patterns have been out of production longer than that. The coins, too, have lay buried for decades (check out the 1950s penny). My assistant here is the ever-helpful Smokey.

Hillside: Cat with Coins and Dish Fragments
LaGrange, Georgia – June 2012


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Every day, really.

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US Highway 27, near West Point Lake
Troup County, Georgia – 4 October 2013


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Killer Red

1959 Corvette, 3/4 View

1959 Corvette
Blue Ridge, Georgia – 18 June 2011


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33 1/3 Kinds of Wrong

One bonus of country music research—and of teaching a survey course titled “Country Music and Southern Culture: Beyond Drinkin’, Fightin’, and Cheatin’”— is the material students find on their own for class.

Years ago, after a great discussion of how country music often ignores African-Americans’ contributions to the genre, one student brought me this 25¢ yard sale gem. “Since we talked about DeFord Bailey, Charlie Pride, and Ray Charles last week,” he said, “I thought this might be interesting.”

The next day, I showed it to the class. “Based on our discussion the other day, tell me what’s going on with this album cover.”

At the back of the room, one student raised a hand. “Well, Professor—how much time do you have?”


The Tender Side of Ray Charles (front cover)


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Album cover © 1978 Suffolk Marketing, Inc.


Wednesday Photo: 7/16/14


Magnolia Leaf and Rainwater
LaGrange, Georgia – 5 May


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Hillside Monday: 7/14/14

ApocalypseCow02_2014-02-14 17.09.09

Forrest Avenue railroad bridge
LaGrange, Georgia – 14 February 2014


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Mothra Lives

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LaGrange, Georgia
23 June 2014


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Gracefully mundane

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Downtown Nashville, Tennessee
25 May 2014


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Throwback Thursday: 7/10/14


LaGrange, Georgia – Fall 1998
Photo by Kenny Gray

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Wednesday Photo: 7/9/14

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Peony Blossom with Rain
Heard County, Georgia – 10 May 2014


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Hillside Monday: 7/7/14


Former laundromat, Clark Street
LaGrange, Georgia – 20 June 2014


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Happy Independence Day

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Buck Owens’ guitar, on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Nashville, Tennessee – 21 June 2013


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Wednesday Photo: 7/2/14

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Sunset with Tulip Poplar
Heard County, Georgia – 3 June 2013


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