R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Author: R.S. Williams (page 2 of 30)

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

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Hillside Monday: 1/28/19

Vivid color image of purple iris flowers (colors ranging from medium purple to very pale lavender) covered with beads of rainwater. Below the blooms, a dozen sword-like iris leaves, also dotted with raindrops, poke up into the photo. In the background lurk an old steel tub full of rusty water, a black-painted wrought-iron porch railing, a gray flagstone patio floor, a few green leaves from a trumpet vine, and the verdigris-mossy edge of a glass-topped outdoor table.

“April Showers, April Flowers”
LaGrange, Georgia (2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Caturday: 1/26/19

“Black Cat with His Sweet Potato”
LaGrange, Georgia (2016)
Model: Miller

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 1/25/19

Close-up view of one wheel of a freight train car, massive and rusty-brown, on a clean silvered steel rail. The asphalt of the railroad crossing shows behind and in front of the train car wheel. In the background hangs the red-and-white striped reflective rail crossing "arm" that lowers automatically when a train approaches. Spring-green tree leaves fill out the far background, beyond the crossing arm.

“Waiting on a Train, Part 23”
LaGrange, Georgia (2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Wednesday Photo: 1/23/19

Close-up view looking down into a clear acrylic glass of milk, near the rim of the glass. In the background are the edge of the tan/brown wood-grain laminate restaurant countertop, the rim of a heavy off-white ceramic cup full of coffee, and the colorful laminated Waffle House "Favorites" menu. A clear plastic drinking straw extends up out of the glass of milk and past our view, out of the photo to the upper-right.


“Jump On In, the Milk Is Fine”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia (2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Hillside Monday: 1/21/19

Close view of brick building facade and boarded-up corner of shop window. Plywood and 2x4 windowsill are spray-painted turquoise, with a black silhouette (in profile) of a man's head and upper torso.


“Silhouette with Turquoise and Brick”
LaGrange, Georgia (2017)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Caturday: 1/19/19

“Saint Clark of Hillside”
LaGrange, Georgia (2016)
Model: Clark

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 1/18/19

“Post-Holiday Letdown”
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Wednesday Photo: 1/16/19

“Looking East from My Father’s Grave”
Heard County, Georgia – 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Hillside Monday: 1/14/19

Dramatic (high contrast) black-and-white photo of a dark night sky, with a thick, foggy halo of light shining from behind the jagged black branches of a small tree. In the background, we see the ghostly exterior corner of a small clapboard house and the utility pole next to it.

“For Wes, Part 20”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Caturday: 1/12/19

“Black Cat, White Wall #2”
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)
Model: Miller

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 1/11/19

Blue and white holiday lights on a string whiz past the camera in a blur of off-white rhomboids and bright blue dashes against a dark 9pm late December sky.

“Blue Light, Star Fight”
Heard County, Georgia – 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Wednesday Photo: 1/9/19

Sepia-toned closeup photo of a Waffle House logo coffee cup (white ceramic) filled with black coffee. At upper left, the blurry thumb of someone's hand tips a small tub of half-and-half ("creamer") into the black coffee. It makes ripples and swirls on the surface of the coffee, and one last large drop of creamer seems to hover above the coffee surface before it falls in.

“Good to the Last Drop (of Creamer)”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Hillside Monday: 1/7/19

On a gray, overcast day, we look up into the green-painted, rusty steel beams under a railroad bridge, and also see the mossy concrete edge of bridge showing in the upper left corner of photo. Hanging from a thin piece of plastic fishing line is a 12-ounce Pepsi-Cola can bearing the bright red-white-and-blue standard Pepsi can design and logo. Presumably, the fishing line tied to the can is affixed somewhere on top of the railroad bridge, off camera.

“Fishing from the Railroad Bridge”
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Thank you, sweet friends

Blonde, pale-skinned woman wearing black-framed eyeglasses and tan leopard-print dress lying on patterned textiles. Other than her dress, her heavy eyeliner, and her glasses, everything in the photo is washed with bright reds and oranges, almost as if the camera lens is working with a wash of thin red paint over it.

Many, many thanks to the following for their patronage:

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown
Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Dana McGlon
Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Carole Thorn

Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
El Queso
Luann
Greg Clary
Marlena Frank
Danny Alexander
Dann Brown
Molly Kay Wright
Charlie Bruin
Eric Woods
Connie Frank
Ellen Koga
Dean Basilio
Gina Nixon-Hernandez
Katherine Ferguson
Jeff Miller

Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

These folks help me produce more of the stuff they enjoy. They get my original photos, short stories, and creative nonfiction series not published anywhere else. Thanks again, y’all!

You, too, can help support my work. Just $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content—photos, poems, creative nonfiction, and behind-the-scenes secret stuff that nobody else gets to see. Find out more on my Patreon page.

Image: “Self-Portrait: Seeing Red” (2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Caturday: 1/5/19

Two short-haired, well-fed cats (one black & white, the other gray tabby) lying on their sides, facing one another, on the wooden floor boards of a front porch. Behind them is a concrete walkway glazed with rain and a bright green patch of grass. Behind the cats and to the right, a lush green vine with white/red flowers climbs across a red brick wall.

“Porch Cats at Rest”
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)
Models: Mooakura (left) and Clark

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Friday Photo: 1/4/19

A sky filled with roiling dark gray clouds looms above a large parking area for a trucking company. In the background and at the left foreground, the dozen or so 18 wheelers (each of which is 13 feet high) and the truck garage (which stands about 30 feet high) resemble children's toys about to be swept away by the massive, looming storm behind them.

“Storm Clouds with Truck Yard”
Marietta, Georgia (2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Wednesday Photo: 1/2/19

Highly saturated color photo of the corner interior walls of Wintzell's Oyster House, in Montgomery, Alabama. Brightly colored, hand-lettered signs line the walls all the way up to the dark ceiling. The signs bear many various humorous old sayings, such as "Come in and eat before we both starve" and "Free oysters to any man 80 years old accompanied by his father."

“Saturday Lunch at Wintzell’s”
Montgomery, Alabama – 2018

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Here’s to 2019

“Turquoise Leap”
Denver, Colorado – 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Goodbye to 2018

This photo to close out the calendar year was an accident. No, really.

After applying a new red lipstick, I blotted the color with a square of toilet paper, then tossed the TP square into the toilet bowl. Several hours later, long after I’d flushed the toilet, I lifted the lid and saw the carmine-red half-kiss still on the side of the bowl.

The beauty of blazing red pigment against clean-yet-crawling-with-germs white porcelain? It’s a fitting metaphor for 2018.

“Lipstick on Porcelain”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Caturday: 12/29/18

Black-and-white digital photo of two gray tabby (striped) cats asleep, one atop the other. The lower cat's stripes are two shades of dark gray, for a foggy/cloudy effect; the upper cat's stripes are black on gray/brown fur, and stand out more starkly. Both are sound asleep with eyes closed and ears relaxed, despite the camera so close to their faces.

“Two Sleepy Tabby Brothers”
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)
Models: Buddy (top) and Hank

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 12/28/18

“Forest Floor with Autumn Drought”
Heard County, Georgia – 2016

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 12/26/18

“Dogwood Vigil No. 2”
Atlanta, Georgia – 2013

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Christmas Day 2018

Camera is at seat-height level, about 18 inches from the rust-and-tan ceramic tile floor with black grout floor. The view leads us down a row of black cane-back chairs with red enamel seats (the customary Waffle House waiting area). The row of chairs extends into the background, where there's also a dark plastic high chair next to the dark gray/silver side of the jukebox. In the foreground and to our left, behind the black steel and glass foyer enclosure, are the lower branches of an artificial holiday/Xmas tree, with spherical ornaments in metallic fuchsia, blue, and green; a cream velvet ribbon with red snowflakes; and a few tiny red, yellow, and white twinkling lights.

“Another Lesser-Known Christmas Vigil”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Monday Photo: 12/24/18

“A Christmas Eve Devotional”
Waffle House #1248
Valley, Alabama – 2018

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 12/22/18

“Gray Tabby Meditation”
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)
Model: Clark

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 12/21/18

“Stars All Along the Way”
Pine Mountain, Georgia – 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Someone Has to Be.

Rubygene looked down her nose at me with a pinched little expression, part frown and part sneer, the kind that indicates complete disapproval, utter disgust, or chronic hemorrhoid pain. With her, it was always difficult to tell. “Don’t you think you’re being hard on the great state of Alabama?”

I shrugged. “God knows someone has to be.” Purse in one hand, I readjusted my hat with the other and made to leave. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have people to see and bets to place.”

“You have what to place?!” She huffed after me onto the wide, cool, screened-in porch that my grandmother kept wrapped in ferns. The sound of barely-controlled laughter told me Aunt Birdie and Uncle Ralph were already four to six sheets to the wind—at nine-thirty in the morning. In most families, this is a disaster. In my family, this is Tuesday.

“If you need me, Rubygene, you can find me at the track,” I said as I nodded to my great-aunt and uncle. They smiled and raised their highball glasses in my direction. “When the horses call, I answer. Don’t you go cooling my lucky streak.”

Uncle Ralph staggered up out of the mildewed club chair and pulled a crisp $100 bill from his wallet. “Here, Myrtle Mae”—buuuuuuurp. “Put fifty dollars on Lucky Bastard, at forty-nine-to-one.” He bowed deeply and almost fell onto the gray enameled porch floor. “Buy yourself something purty, while you’re at it.”

“Why, thank you, Uncle Ralph!” I hugged his neck and steadied his descent into the creaky wicker chair. He was a notorious tightwad, except when it came to liquor, or to getting on Rubygene’s last good nerve. “See?” I turned back to my grandmother’s other sister. “At least someone around here recognizes that I know what I’m doing.”

Rubygene stared at me in silence, then whirled on her heels and stomped into the house, the scalloped fuchsia edges of her orange housecoat flaring out like a daylily—a nosy daylily that couldn’t just stay in its own flowerbed and do what the good Lord intended. But I didn’t have time to worry about her. I had to be in Thunderbolt by noon.

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Wednesday Photo: 12/19/18

“Long December”
Heard County, Georgia – 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Hillside Monday: 12/17/18

“Hickory Leaves, Late Afternoon”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Caturday: 12/15/18

Small dark gray cat with deep yellow eyes sitting on clear plastic storage bin; cat looks away from camera with angry narrowed eyes and her paws folded daintily in front of her.

“Portrait of an Angry Gray Cat”
LaGrange, Georgia (2018)
Model: Zora

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 12/14/18

“For Wes, Part 19”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018
Model: Community Ernge

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 12/12/18

“In a Churchyard at Dusk”
Heard County, Georgia – 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 12/10/18

“Traveling Shoes, Part 4”
Pure Life Studios
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Caturday: 12/8/18

“Three Cats on Red Plaid Pillow”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016
Models: Otis (light Siamese), Zora (dark gray), and Miller (solid black)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Friday Photo: 12/7/18

“Two Coffees, Black”
Waffle House #646
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

More Things I Have Overheard at Funerals

A:  Look!
B:  At what?
A:  Over by the casket.
B:  Oh, for the love of God. Who wears hot pants to their grandmother’s funeral?

*****

B:  Well. That was interesting.
C:  You got that right. I mean, karaoke? At a funeral?
B:  [sings] Byyyyye-byyyyyye, Miss American Pie!
C:  I’ve never been to a funeral where the preacher sings along with a boom box. Well, not until today.

*****

A:  I know why Mrs. H______ finally died.
B:  Why?
A:  She ran out of people to stay with.

*****

D:  That sure was a nice eulogy M_______’s daughter gave.
E:  Mmm-hmm. So nice that it took every bit of strength I had not to stand up and say, “Who are you even talking about?!? It sure as hell ain’t your mama!”

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 12/5/18

“Alamo Placida Oaks”
Denver, Colorado – 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 12/3/18

“Formica and Glass”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Thank you SO MUCH!

Many, many thanks to the following for their patronage!

Amanda Guyton
Bill Brown
Allison Fix
Kweilin Wilson
Lisa McGovern
Kelley Frank
Ali Lauer
Grayson Hugh
Nicole McLaughlin
Emily Katzenstein
Dana McGlon

Crystal Woods
Syd Mooney
Kit Ketcham
Cheryl Lougen
Carole Thorn

Scott Johnson
Kenny Gray
El Queso
Luann
Greg Clary
Marlena Frank
Danny Alexander
Dann Brown
Molly Kay Wright
Charlie Bruin
Eric Woods
Connie Frank
Ellen Koga
Dean Basilio
Gina Nixon-Hernandez
Katherine Ferguson
Jeff Miller

Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

These folks’ monthly contributions help me produce more of the stuff they enjoy. They get my original photos, short stories, and creative nonfiction series not published anywhere else. Thanks again, y’all!

You, too, can help support my work. Just $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content—photos, poems, creative nonfiction, and behind-the-scenes secret stuff that nobody else gets to see. Find out more on my Patreon page.

Image: “Self-Portrait with Patterned Dress and Sheets” (2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 12/1/18

“Study in Gray and Orange Tabby” (2017)
Models: Buddy (left) and Sherwin

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 11/30/18

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
— Rumi

“For Wes, Part 12” (2017)
Model: Smokey (2007-2018)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 11/28/18

“Isabel, in Gray and Rust”
Heard County, Georgia – 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

A New Holiday Essay, in Columbus & the Valley Magazine!

Many thanks to Jill Tignor and Mike Venable of Columbus & the Valley Magazine for publishing my new essay, “A Perfumed Christmas.” As someone who doesn’t have many happy holiday memories from childhood, I find it impossible to write about this time of the year. My creative powers mostly shut down between early November and early February.

Jill knows this about me. Yet it still didn’t keep her from asking me to send her and Mike an essay for their November/December 2018 issue. Just when I was thinking my writing ideas had dried up for the winter, the idea for this piece came to me while I waited in the Kroger checkout line. Glory!

“A Perfumed Christmas” appears on page 14, and is available both online and in print around the Columbus, Georgia, area.  To order a print copy, send an email to contactus@columbusandthevalley.com. And, while you’re at it, join me and subscribe! One year of beautiful, glossy photos and news from Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley area costs just $18. It’s money very, very well spent.

Thank you again, Jill and Mike, for believing in me and my work. Y’all are the best.

Post text © R.S. Williams
Cover image: Courtesy of Columbus & the Valley Magazine

 

Hillside Monday: 11/26/18

“Back Yard with Window Screen and Hurricane Irma”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Caturday: 11/24/18

“Me and My Grand Marnier”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015
Model: Nooz

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 11/23/18

“House of Johnson”
Macon, Georgia – 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Thanksgiving 2018

“Mom in the Woods, Thanksgiving Day”
Heard County, Georgia – 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 11/21/18

“Soybean Field, Autumn”
Heard County, Georgia – 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

This Holiday Season, Be Kind to Yourself

Here’s a revised version of a piece I wrote last year on surviving the holiday season.

It’s two days before Thanksgiving, and my social media news feeds are full of holiday stories. Scores of people tell of the frantic cooking, cleaning, packing, traveling, and visiting they’ll be doing. Most seem to enjoy the beginning of the winter holiday marathon.

I admire these people. They’re better at entertaining and conversation than I’ll ever be. But I also know far more people who secretly dread those crushing five or six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. People dealing with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other chronic conditions often struggle to make it through the winter holiday season without falling apart.

Yep, I see y’all out there. I’m one of you. And I write to you today to say: It’s okay. You’re not alone.

Twenty-plus years ago, long before any of my diagnoses, I forced myself to attend every family holiday party. I thought I had no choice. I knew my relatives would say bad things about me if I weren’t there. Even though my mental health suffered from the lack of quiet and processing time between events, I still went. And, long after the holidays were over, I hated myself for being this way.

It took me many years to understand what was really going on. Decades later, I came to see that those relatives would talk about me—and anybody else who was different from them—no matter what. I could go to the party, or stay home, but they’d still somehow find fault with me. Hell, I could’ve walked in with my very own Nobel Prize for literature, and they still would’ve found something to frown and sneer and whisper about.

Today, well into middle age, I understand now what I didn’t back then. I feel empathy for that lost, confused, sad person who loathed herself for not being like everyone else. I try to make it up to “younger me” by treating myself with kindness during the holiday season.

What helps me most? Quiet time by myself and as much sleep as I can manage. If I do any shopping, I do it during the least-crowded times of day. If I’m feeling particularly frazzled, I ask loved ones if I can drop by and see them when they don’t have a house full of people.

Spending time outdoors helps, too, even if it’s cold and I’m all bundled up. So does marking off the days on a calendar: “Ah, just two more weeks until the holidays are over. I think I can make it.” When the forced jolliness and extroversion feel as if they’re about to flatten me, I try to think about just today. Or just this hour. Or even just the next ten minutes.

Most importantly: if someone’s being particularly awful, I give myself permission to leave. In the moment, I may or may not tell them to go to hell—but I will remove myself from the scene of their bullshittery. The holidays are tough enough without a PTSD relapse. Those are particularly unpleasant, and if I can avoid one, I will.

Yes, I’m a Southerner, but I draw a big, thick “hospitality line” around my sanity with an extra-large permanent marker. Jerks do not deserve my company. My mental health is one thing I will not sacrifice for someone else’s comfort. Besides, as the saying goes: Life is short, and I am not the Asshole Whisperer.

Now and then, in the thick of the holidays, I forget to follow my own advice. That’s when I stumble. It takes me a while to get back to my version of normal. I try not to beat myself up about this. (The key word here is “try.”)

Wherever Thanksgiving and the weeks to come may find you, I wish you peace and calm. I hope you can be gentle with yourself as you navigate this difficult time of the year. You’re in good company.

If and when you feel horrible this season, know that I’m right there with you. We’re all in this together, surviving the holidays a little at a time.

Photo: Self-Portrait in Black, Rabun Gap (2017)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

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