R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Author: R.S. Williams (page 1 of 30)

Monday Photo: 4/22/19

“Shadow Rabbit”

Denver, Colorado – 2017

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Caturday: 4/20/19

“Ghost of the Cat I Could Have Been”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016
Model: Hank

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Friday Photo: 4/19/19

“Lily Pads with Black Pond”

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver, Colorado – 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 4/17/19

“Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Azaleas—Oops, Too Late”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

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Monday Photo: 4/15/19

“Black, White, Blue, & Yellow”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2014

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Caturday: 4/13/19

“Saint Buddy of the Clothes Dryer”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

Model: Buddy

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Friday Photo: 4/12/19

“After Work”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 4/10/19

“Easter Hat with Methodist Clubhouse Door”

Heard County, Georgia – 2015

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Monday Photo: 4/8/19

“Nettle Tea and Oak Tree”

Heard County, Georgia – 2019

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Caturday: 4/6/19

“Best Friends in the Azaleas”

LaGrange, Georgia (2019)

Models: Clark (gray tabby) and Moo (black/white)

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Friday Photo: 4/5/19

“Pink Piedmont Azalea”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2019

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Wednesday Photo: 4/3/19

“Pear Tree, Age 90”

Heard County, Georgia – 2019

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Monday Photo: 4/1/19

“Last Year’s Turnips Got Your Goat”

Heard County, Georgia – 2019

Model: Sid

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Caturday: 3/30/19

“Naps Creep in on Little Cat Feet”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2019

Model: Davy

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Friday Photo: 3/29/19

“Champagne and Crystal, 1:39pm”

Heard County, Georgia – 2019

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Wednesday Photo: 3/27/19

Blue sky above a bright gray/silver corrugated steel exterior wall (ridges in the steel are vertical) behind a streetlamp post and above three portable toilets (one tan and two pink).

“Saturday in the Park”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2019

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Monday Photo: 3/25/19

“Traveling Shoes, Part 6”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2019

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Caturday: 3/23/19

“Two Old Tabbies on the Porch”

LaGrange, Georgia – 19 June 2018

Models: Clark (gray tabby) and Davy (lilac Siamese-tabby mix)

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Friday Photo: 3/22/19

“Waiting on a Train, Part 6”
Denver, Colorado – 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 3/20/19

“Sawmill Still Life”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2019

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Hillside Monday: 3/18/19

“I Don’t Know What Happened Here, but I Kinda Like It”

LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

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Caturday: 3/16/19

White terrycloth towel background and a large, tubby gray tabby cat is curled up in the right half of the frame, in profile. The cat's left front leg, left front paw, and tail are snugly wrapped around its face in a mid-nap "hug" to hide kitty's face from the world.

“Gray Tabby, White Towel”
LaGrange, Georgia (2019)
Model: Buddy

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Friday Photo: 3/15/19

Image of a large fluffy white cumulonimbus cloud against a brilliant blue sky. Sky ranges from baby blue at bottom right to cadet/royal blue in the middle to a deep near-indigo at top left. In the left bottom corner, black electric service lines cross the image at a 45-degree angle. In the middle of the heaviest electric service line sits a lone mockingbird.

My heart has followed, all my days, something I cannot name.
— Don Marquis

“For Wes, Part 21”
Pine Mountain, Georgia (2019)

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Wednesday Photo: 3/13/19

“Waiting on a Train, Part 5”
Denver, Colorado – 2017

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Hillside Monday: 3/11/19

Image looking up through a glass storm door onto the porch of a house, at the corner of the roof, where two drip-edges come together. Raindrops pour off of the aluminum drip edges and down into the shot like liquid diamonds.

“Another Storm in Hillside”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

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Caturday: 3/9/19

“Disapproval at Breakfast”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017
Model: Lucinda

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Friday Photo: 3/8/19

Stark black & white photograph of a large piece of red velvet, folded back over onto itself multiple times. The folds in the fabric make a mirror image in the upper and lower halves of the photo, with the tops of each velvet ridge appearing to have a silver line running across the top (a photo effect).

“Red Velvet in Black and White”
LaGrange, Georgia (2019)

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Wednesday Photo: 3/6/19

“Waiting on a Train, Part 4”
Denver, Colorado – 2017

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Happy birthday, Steve!

Today is my stepfather’s birthday. Steve has been a part of our family for nearly a quarter-century, and I don’t know what we’d do without his witty humor, his genius handyman skills, and his kind heart. He also has a knack for rescuing baby animals in need.

In this 2014 photo, Steve’s holding my solid-black cat Miller, still a kitten here, whom I’d adopted a couple days before from the Walmart parking lot. Steve is the reason there are so many pets at his and Mom’s house: “Awwwww, look! That poor little abused kitty [puppy/piglet/calf/foal/donkey] needs a home!” Ten cats and five dogs later—yep, you know the drill.

I also don’t know what we’d do without Steve’s obscure Southern vocabulary words. This considerable vocabulary includes exceptional profanity skills for emergency situations. While my favorite Steve phrase is “shining like a diamond in a goat’s ass,” he’s at his verbal peak when danger is near.

One summer afternoon in 2007, Mom, Steve, and I were grilling out at their house when a large hornet flew up out of nowhere. Close to three inches long from antennae to stinger and wearing angry-looking yellow and maroon stripes, it made the kind of noise that lets you know an insect means business. Sure enough, the hornet made a few dive-bombs at Steve and me. We panicked.

“Goddamighty, Gina!” Steve shouted at Mom, who’d gone back indoors for a minute. “There’s a big-ass wawst out here!” [Wawst = Southern pronunciation of “wasp”]

The hornet kept circling the porch, probably looking for its nest entrance. Each orbit brought it closer and closer to us. When it disappeared into a small crack between the eaves of the house, we could still hear its hostile buzzing. This did not bode well.

“This thing is huge, Mom,” I called. “You better bring the big guns.”

“Just a minute,” we heard Mom yell back from inside the house. She’d been through this before and was in no big hurry to get back outside. The hornet had probably been there for weeks. It would no doubt still be there when she got onto the porch.

Despite my stepfather’s being a formidable-sized guy at 6’2” and 240 pounds, there are two things that rattle him: any kind of thorn-bearing plant, and any kind of stinging insect. I have seen him jump off of more ladders than I care to count when one of these bugs comes buzzing by, just minding its own business.

As such, Steve’s plan of action upon seeing a wawst takes one of three directions:

  1. Drown the wawst (hornet, wasp, yellow jacket, carpenter bee, horsefly, etc.—whatever insect it really is, he still calls it wawst) in half a can of Raid,
  2. Whack at it with a 22-ounce hammer until it’s dead, muttering the whole time that “this thang don’t know who it’s fuckin’ with,” or
  3. Take off across the yard like a shot, yelling his fool head off.

So there was no doubt in my mind Steve was going to put into effect one of his usual three modus operandi this time, too.

“Brang the wawst spray!” he shouted back into the house. “I can’t grill with this damn thang flyin’ around my head! I’ll burn the steaks!”

“I’ll be out there in a minute,” Mom shouted back from inside the house. “Let me find the ‘wawst’ spray.” Originally from Michigan but having lived in the South for almost 50 years, Mom still pokes fun at a few Southern-accented words—including wawst.

“Hurry!” Steve shouted. “You don’t know how big this thang is!”

“I’m sure it’s the biggest wawst ever,” Mom replied, without affect.

“HURRY! This thang’s as big as my left nut!”

At which point I collapsed on the ground, laughing too hard to move, speak, or breathe.

Mom finally emerged from the house, the can of Extra-Strength Wasp and Hornet Killer in her hand. “Mom! MOM!” I gasped between belly-laughs. “It’s as big as Seeben’s left nut!”

“Yes,” Mom said. “And you’ll also notice that it’s always ‘as big as his left nut,’ never the right nut.”

Happy birthday, Seeben! I love you!

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Caturday: 3/2/19

It’s a bonkers-busy deadline #Caturday, so Buddy’s giving Flannery a bath while I work and drink coffee.

Friday Photo: 3/1/19

Closeup, vivid color photo of a clear glass sugar dispenser next to a cream-colored ceramic Waffle House logo mug. Both sit on a laminated Waffle House menu, the Hashbrowns section of which is included in the lower middle portion of the image (

“Sugar and Coffee with Menu”
Waffle House # 646
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)

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Wednesday Photo: 2/27/19

Saturated red-and-yellow photo of a hammered-steel tabletop. At the left edge and the upper right edge, a plate and a water goblet peek into the frame.

“Still Life at Brunch”
Raleigh, North Carolina – 2016

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Hillside Monday: 2/25/19

If you don’t write the book you have to write, everything breaks.
— A.M. Homes

“For Wes, Part 17”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017
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Caturday: 2/23/19

Against a creamy pastel background of jacquard seat upholstery and an old terry-cloth bath towel: A close-up of a gray tabby cat's rear foot, with dark pinkish-brown toes (aka

“Root Beer Jellybean Toes of DOOM”
LaGrange, Georgia (2015)
Model: Buddy

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Friday Photo: 2/22/19

A smooth-sanded pine bench, with two painted steel crow statues as armrests, sits against the handmade field-rock exterior wall of the main house at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, near Rabun Gap, Georgia. "The Bench Crows Know," indeed.


“The Bench Crows Know”
Rabun County, Georgia – 2017

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The Daffodils That Always Mean “Home”

A bright yellow, single-cup daffodil (likely an old farmhouse variety developed in the late 1800s or early 1900s) bobs in the wind against a backdrop of winter-tan grass. The daffodil's foliage streaks upwards behind the flower, thin and tall like wild onion leaves.

Living in a small town often means commuting a long distance to work somewhere else. Before I began freelancing, I drove about 90 miles round-trip to my university teaching job. While the commute itself sometimes bored me, the scenery on U.S. Highway 27 between LaGrange and Carrollton never, ever did.

It’s almost spring now. In the Deep South, spring gives us an ice storm one day and tornadoes the next. This year’s early warm weather has brought out the daffodils a little early. I love watching them pop up along U.S. 27’s shoulders.

When you see daffodils, you can safely assume that someone put them there. Unlike seed plants, daffodils and other bulbs have to be dug up and replanted. In order to get them from where they are to where they’re going to be, someone has to move them at the right time of year (late spring, after blooms and foliage have died back), transport them to a suitable location, and plant them.

Most of the daffodils we see along the roadside make their homes in someone’s yard. Sometimes they’re in neat flower beds. Sometimes, as is the case with my own yard, they’re randomly planted in a sunny patch of lawn to surprise everyone, year after year, with unexpected yellows and creams in a sea of brittle brown grass.

But what about those planted in or near a roadside ditch—without a house nearby?

Just because you don’t see a house doesn’t mean one hasn’t ever been there. Daffodils stay underground most of the year. Once they’ve finished blooming, their leaves die back and don’t reappear for another year. Old houses get demolished, and their sites fade into and gradually out of memory. Yet the bulbs embedded around them come back every spring thereafter—house or no house.

Plant ghosts, I call them. They don’t know the house and the people are gone. They come back because this is their home. In every sense of the word, they are rooted here.

The daffodils pictured above are very simple, single-cup daffodils, an old variety we often see around old houses. They’re about 12” tall, and amazingly hardy. Judging from what’s left of the house, and from the size of the flower clumps, these daffs have been here for about 50 years.

Behind the thick, overgrown privet hedge, nearly 20 feet down the bank from the southbound lanes of U.S. 27 in Carroll County, appears the faint outline of a house—or what used to be a house, anyway. Out in front: these happy yellow bells.

I wonder why the last residents left. I wonder if they left in a hurry. I wonder who decided to let a once-sturdy farmhouse simply fold itself back into the earth.

I wonder if, on leaving, they took one long, last look toward the flower bed. I wonder if they wept for the flowers waiting beneath its surface, for the daffodils that always mean “home.”

Photo: “Daff Nipped by Frost” (Carroll County, Georgia – 2012)

NOTE: An earlier version of this post appeared at Forgotten Plants & Places on 25 February 2012.

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Wednesday Photo: 2/20/19

In foreground: a Waffle House logo coffee cup about half-full of light coffee, and to its left are three a knife, fork, and spoon on a white paper napkin. The rest of the frame is a wood-grain (Formica) laminate table top, light in the middle and dark around the table edges.

“Time for Another Refill”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia (2015)

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Hillside Monday: 2/18/19

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
— Mary Oliver

“For Wes, Part 16”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017
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Caturday: 2/16/19

“Orange Cat with Dresser and Wall”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017
Model: Hunter

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Friday Photo: 2/15/19

“Morning Coffee, Morning Booze”
Denver, Colorado – 2017

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For Valentine’s Day 2019

“Pink Heart in the Gutter”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 2/13/19

“Roadside Valentine No. 330”
Troup County, Georgia – 2012

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Hillside Monday: 2/11/19

“Cat Silhouette, Window, and Wall”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015
Model: Miller

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Caturday: 2/9/19

Two cats snooze together in a chair: the solid black cat in the background, and the smoky-gray "bull's-eye" tabby in the foreground, heaped atop his older brother. The black cat's eyes are closed, and its ears out to the sides of its head in relaxation. The gray cat squints at the camera, ears turned forward in interest. Both cats show the "toe beans" on one foot; the black cat's toes are dark gray/almost black, while the smoky tabby's toes are a dark pink-gray.

“Two Sleepy Cats with Gray Diamond Jacquard”
LaGrange, Georgia (2016)
Models: Miller (solid black) and Hank (smoky gray “bull’s-eye” tabby)

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Friday Photo: 2/8/19

“Petal Steel”
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver, Colorado – 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 2/6/19

“In a Parking Lot at Dusk”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

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Hillside Monday: 2/4/19

Close-up view of a part-Siamese/part-gray tabby cat's front paws: striped like a tabby cat, but also with the color gradient of Siamese cat

“Paws of Human Resources Doom”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015
Model: Nooz (aka Tennessee)

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Caturday: 2/2/19

“Two Cats with Old Vinyl Floor”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015
Models: Lucinda (foreground) and Buddy

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Friday Photo: 2/1/19

“Waiting on a Train, Part 18”

Anniston, Alabama – 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 1/30/19

Heavy brass-plated steel chains (the kind used to secure large machinery on flatbed 18-wheeler trailers) form a cross against a black vulcanized rubber mat background. The brass-plated chains and matching lock appear neat yet messy, a sort of "bow" adorning an unexpected gift in an everyday industrial setting.

“Don’t Let the Pretty Gold Fool You”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

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