R. S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Wednesday Photo: 5/27/15


“Tuesday Acrylics”
LaGrange, Georgia – 21 April 2015

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Hillside Monday: 5/25/15


“Cream and Green: Kitchens of the Past”
LaGrange, Georgia – 29 March 2015

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Still Life, Wednesday Morning


LaGrange, Georgia – 11 March 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 5/20/15


“Wherever the Road Takes Me”
Troup County, Georgia – 20 April 2015

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Hillside Monday: 5/18/15


“Lincoln Street, Corvette T-Tops”
LaGrange, Georgia – 4 April 2015

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Former Masonic Lodge, Roanoke, Alabama


This three-story office building is among the tallest in town (built early 1900s). My heart breaks to see it in such poor condition—many upper-story windows broken completely out, ceilings collapsing, chinaberry saplings growing between bricks and out of the top of the façade. With any luck, I’ll eventually gain permission from the owner to venture inside and document this beauty in ruins. The cornerstone indicates it was built to serve as a Masonic lodge.

“Former Masonic Lodge, Roanoke, Alabama”
14 March 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 5/13/15


The best way to ensure your crème hair color mixes completely with your 20-lift developer? Use a stainless steel kitchen whisk. Don’t worry—the mixture darkens to deep red after a few minutes. Mom’s hair turned out fine.

“Whipped Pink”
LaGrange, Georgia – 18 March 2015

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Joy, to the world


On a hard-freezing December night nearly sixteen years ago, Paw-Paw, Grandmommy, and I rescued you from a drug dealer’s porch. Barely eight weeks old, flea-bitten, and bony, you still had a meow we could hear a hundred yards away. That’s how we figured out where you were, and how badly those people had been treating you. I stuffed you into my winter coat as we ran to the car—whew. A clean getaway. The entire drive home, we enjoyed the 20-pound purr coming from your two-pound body.

You never did get much bigger than that. At your tubbiest, you weighed eight pounds. What you lacked in size, though, you made up for in attitude. For years, I thought the older cats were beating you up. Then, one summer afternoon, I walked into the den just in time to see you wa-babababababababa-BOWWWW!!! light up poor elderly Graya’s head, then fall over with a finesse that not even the 1989 Detroit Pistons—those masters of floppy Game 7 double-overtime fouls—could ever have imagined.

I know, I know: she was bogarting your ‘nip. Whatever, cat. I couldn’t help laughing as Graya finished what you had started. After that, though, you settled down and became everyone’s sweetheart.

When people came to visit us, you ended up their favorite cat. As Aunt Val says, “Joy sets the bar pretty high for lap kitties.” If someone made a lap, you were in it, purring and head-butting their hands, your huge green eyes convincing them to pet you non-stop for the next three hours. For most of your life, you slept right next to my head. The only time you’d leave your spot was around 3:42 a.m. That’s when you paced from kitchen to bedroom and back, again and again, all meow-meow-meow-Mama-look-what-I-hunted-and-killed-for-you. In your mouth, you’d have a toy mouse. Or a jingle ball. Or a Beanie Baby. Or a dirty sock. I was so sleepy, but you were so proud.

Today, I lay your rumpled, frail body on the exam table and thought of all this. Somehow, even as sick as you were, you turned your wobbly head in the direction of my sobs—though your eyes no longer worked, you could hear my sorrow. I wept anew thinking of all the times when, crying and out of options, I looked over and saw you next to me, one paw tapping my arm as if to ask, “What’s wrong? Can I help?” And, climbing into my lap and purring yourself into a tight gray-striped ball, you did help. Always, and without fail.

Thank you for being my companion for the last 15½ years. I miss you already. But, Bastet willing, one day I will see you again—on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.


© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Hillside Monday: 5/11/15


“Customer Parking, AAA Market”
LaGrange, Georgia – 19 April 2015

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Another tale for Mother’s Day


It’s the second Sunday in May—yep, that one day every year where I grow weary of hearing folks say, “My mother is the toughest person I know.” Awful, perhaps, but it’s a reflex as quick and as natural as a cat licking its nose when you blow in its face. I have it because my mother happens to be much tougher than most other mothers. She also happens to be tougher than most men.

“Yeah, yeah.” The grumbling comes through loud and clear, even through the computer screen. “So what makes your mother so tough?” Sit down, son. We’re gonna be here a while.

Has your mama ever walked onto a construction site, found the foreman, and flat-out asked for a carpenter’s helper job in a field notoriously hostile to women—especially back in 1981? Has your mama ever learned to measure and hammer and saw as a complete beginner, picking up skills so quickly that she astonished even the worst woman-haters on the site? Has your mama ever made her living seven days a week, fourteen hours a day swinging a 22-ounce framing hammer when most of the men on the crew (despite their boasting to the contrary) preferred much less efficient 16-ounce hammers?

Has your mama ever kept a 40-foot-wide screed machine furrowing straight, even grooves into wet concrete? Has your mama ever worn out the bursae in her shoulders swinging a hammer? Has she ever spent her days in sun, wind, rain, and cold not just because she needed a paycheck, but because watching that eight-lane bridge rise, week by week, against the Birmingham skyline fascinated her as nothing else had?

Has your mama ever balanced atop a bridge piling 75 feet above the Chattahoochee River, suspended only by her right thumb—the end of which has just been crushed by a 2,000-pound concrete-filled form? Has your mama ever buried the dead end of her right thumb on the banks of the river the day after the form smashed it away from the rest of her hand?

I didn’t think so.

But no, we’re not stopping there. You see, my mother’s physical toughness is just as formidable, just as fierce, as her compassion for the small and weak. Mom’s love for animals, her conviction to do right by them, is indeed something to behold.

Consider Poppy.
That’s the solid-white cat with one blue and one green eye whom she found staggering down Highway 219—five weeks old, covered in fleas, ribs jutting out, and with a brain injury that the vet said probably occurred when she’d been pitched from a moving car. Eight years on, Poppy’s still going strong, despite her neurological issues.

Consider Sybil.
That’s the gray tabby/calico who’d been abandoned at least twice by the time she came to Mom’s house. An expert mouser, Sybil disappeared one spring. Mom mourned her cat for several weeks…until the day she heard faint, desperate meowing from deep within the decrepit fieldstone chimney of her house’s old fireplace. Aching shoulders be damned: Mom grabbed her nine-pound sledge and demolished 12 feet of chimney in two hours, the whole time sobbing and calling out, “Hang on, Sybil! Hang on, sweet girl!”

Sybil most likely fell while chasing a mouse, hit her head sharply on the way down, and somehow survived by licking rainwater off the inside of the chimney and eating whatever lizards came her way. The cat used up eight of her nine lives with the chimney escapade, but kept Mom company for ten more years. When Sybil passed away, the vet estimated her age to be 22.

Consider Hazel.
That’s my sister’s now-17-year-old brown tabby cat, whom Mom rescued from the bottom of the circa 1925 hand-dug well behind her house. The well was too weak-walled and too deep for anyone to try going down there. How the kitten managed to land between the wall and the old cistern—and not in the brackish water—only Bastet knows. Mom found a steel bucket, tied a rope to the handle, emptied a can of tuna into it, and then lowered it to where the kitten could crawl into it. The next morning, Mom pulled up an eight-week-old kitten, very confused and smelling like a seafood market, and with a huge horsefly larva writhing and turning inside her neck.

Consider Sherwin.
That’s my orange-and-white polydactyl cat who managed last spring to crawl into my attic and fall down into the wall surrounding my house’s ancient fireplace, closed up in the 1970s. (Fireplaces and cats. There’s a pattern here.) When the old tuna-in-bucket trick wouldn’t work, Mom rushed over to my house, saber saw and wrecking bar in hand, and spent two hours tearing out drywall, plaster, and lathe to free a tired, hungry, sooty, but otherwise safe Sherwin. (She also discovered in that wall a solid wood bookcase, built in the 1940s and also closed up for 40-plus years with the fireplace—but that’s a story for another post.)

Consider the cat on Jenkins Street.
That’s the one Mom saw, sprawled flat at the edge of the pavement. The cat was far enough out of traffic not to have been in the way. The way her fluffy yellow body lay, some dirtbag must have swerved on purpose to hit her. On her way home from grocery shopping, a cold February rain pouring down, Mom pulled over and lifted the matted, lifeless body into the floorboard of the truck. She texted me later: “I couldn’t stand to leave her in the street. Brought her home to bury. She died all by herself. At least now she’s got a home. At least somebody loves her.”

This is what I mean when I say that, in every way, my mother is the toughest person I know.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy.
I love you so much.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Hello, Tiny Friend


LaGrange, Georgia – 25 April 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 5/6/15


“Oak Branches and Sky with Methodist Circuit Church”
Heard County, Georgia – 3 April 2015

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Hillside Monday: 5/4/15


“Freight Bandit: You Never Knew, You Never Will (3/13)”
LaGrange, Georgia – 23 April 2015

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I Do Not Think This Means What You Think It Means


LaGrange, Georgia – 23 April 2015

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Biker Jacket and Bag


LaGrange, Georgia – 27 March 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 4/29/15


“Places to Go, Things to Do”
LaGrange, Georgia – 17 April 2015

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Hillside Monday: 4/27/15


“Waiting Train, Swift Street”
LaGrange, Georgia – 7 September 2012

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Steel and Sky


Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge
Downtown Nashville, Tennessee – 5 June 2008

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Wednesday Photo: 4/22/15


“Hey, I’m Doing the Best I Can”
LaGrange, Georgia – 10 April 2015

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Hillside Monday: 4/20/15


“Another Storm in Hillside”
LaGrange, Georgia – 10 April 2015

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