R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: Travel

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

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Wednesday Photo: 12/26/18

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

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Friday Photo: 11/23/18

“House of Johnson”
Macon, Georgia – 2014

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Friday Photo: 9/28/18

Ann and Doyle and Debbie
The Station Inn
Nashville, Tennessee – 2018

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Wednesday Photo: 9/19/18

“Waiting on a Train, Part 22”
Nashville, Tennessee – 2018

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Wednesday Photo: 8/8/18

“Waiting on a Train, Part 11”
Kansas City, Missouri – 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 8/1/18

Dale Chihuly, Amber Cattails (2006)
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver, Colorado – 2014

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Friday Photo: 7/20/18

“Self-Portrait with Porous Concrete”
Kansas City, Missouri – 2017

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On Returning from Maryland

As of 5:42 this morning, I was physically home from Maryland. Never have I cried so hard at a memorial service as I did on Tuesday, at my friend John “Mac” McNamara’s funeral. A thousand thanks to all of you who’ve helped me make this pilgrimage of sorrow, of loss, of gratitude, of goodbyes.

Despite having come there because of tremendous heartbreak, I did not want to leave Maryland. Emotionally, I’m still in College Park, Silver Spring, Annapolis. I can’t explain why. My intuition told me to stay: “Don’t go just yet. You’re not done here.” We shall see.

For the rest of my days, forever, I will be grateful to John. His kindness and encouragement literally saved my life on that March afternoon 16 years ago. When death felt like the only thing that would stop my suffering, John appeared almost out of nowhere to challenge that notion.

John was the first professional writer I ever met. He was the first person to take me seriously as a writer.  He was the first person to suggest I write about my father’s 1997 murder. Not only did I have a story, he said as he smacked his hand on the table for emphasis, but a story that I told as no one else could. He was the first person who meant it when he said I had talent. He was the first person who wanted me to understand, more than anything, that my stories were worth sharing with the world.

John’s words have buoyed me for almost two decades.

In the weeks since his murder, I’ve made almost no new photos. I’ve written hardly any new words. Words fail me, as does my sense of what makes a powerful image. At least I know this is normal. It’s how grief and trauma work.

But on the way to Maryland, at the Virginia state line rest stop, I did finally snap an image that fits the entire trip. Next to the sidewalk, this dead butterfly lay beautiful and broken—for no apparent reason. I saw it and sobbed like a little kid.

Dearest Johnny Mac:
Thank you, sweet friend.
You are the reason I am still here.
You are the reason I am still telling my stories.
I will miss you forever.
I will see you on the other side.
And when I see you, I expect you to roast me (again) for being a Celtics fan.

Always your friend,
Rachael

 

Wednesday Photo: 7/11/18

“Yellow Gladiolus at Sunset”
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver, Colorado – 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 6/22/18

“Michael’s Fine Clothes for Men”
Kansas City, Missouri – 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 5/30/18

“Waiting on a Train, Part 19”
Anniston, Alabama – 2017

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Friday Photo: 9/8/17

“Meditation Garden Window, Graceland”
Memphis, Tennessee – July 2013

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Wednesday Photo: 9/6/17

“Track and Sky”
Leadville, Colorado – 9 August 2014

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Friday Photo: 9/1/17

“Walking in Kansas City, Thinking of Home”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

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Friday Photo: 8/25/17

MichaelsFineClothesForMen_COPY_06-16-2017

“Michael’s Fine Clothes for Men”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 8/9/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 14”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 8/2/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 13”
Denver, Colorado – 1 March 2017

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Friday Photo: 7/14/17

“A Quiet Moment in KC”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 7/12/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 12”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

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Friday Photo: 7/7/17

“Self-Portrait with Porous Concrete”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

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Friday Photo: 6/30/17

“Mosaic Bluebird, KCMO”
Kansas City, Missouri – 18 June 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 6/28/17

 

“Waiting on a Train, Part 11”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

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Friday Photo: 6/9/17

“Red Truck Reflection”
Marietta, Georgia – 25 May 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 3/29/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 6”
Denver, Colorado – 1 March 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 3/22/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 5”
Denver, Colorado – 1 March 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 3/15/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 4”
Denver, Colorado – 1 March 2017

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Friday Photo: 12/30/16

TurquoiseLeap_COPY02_2014-08-10 20.20.38

“Turquoise Leap”
Denver, Colorado – 10 August 2014

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

After returning from a literary conference

When I left for Oxford, forsythia and daffodils bloomed in yards and ditches. Four days later, yellow bells nodded into green, shriveled into tan. Purple redbud fuzz held fast against the tail-end of the storm. March winds shredded spring to tatters, blew olive-brown backwaters choppy and cold.

Is this the place I left?
Are you sure?
Because I am not.

In Mississippi, I could not shake the strange floating feeling. No drugs or booze here, oh no—with nearly no filter between mind and mouth, years ago I gave up substances for presence. Was it how my beloved friends suddenly surrounded me? How we workshopped and brainstormed and channeled the next ghost or twelve? How my companions’ poetry sent my eyes and hands skyward in a rush that nearly made me speak in glorious tongues? How I knew that even the strangers sitting beside me were as fiercely devoted to our craft as I am? How we all swore, silently and aloud, never to separate ourselves from bearing witness to this good green earth and all it holds?

I went home to Mississippi.
It loves me.
I went home to Georgia.
It loves me.

Love and fear and friends bind me to this place, fix my feet solidly to this patch of earth. Love and fear and friends call me to shape words, to tear them apart and sew them together, to push them and myself out into the world, to tell and tell and tell again.

Is that it?
Are you sure?
Because I am.

 

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

Hank Williams: 1923-1953

HankSrGravesite_BocephusRequest_2008

Today would have been Hank Williams’ 90th birthday.

Photo: Hank & Audrey Williams’ grave site, Oakwood Cemetery Annex, Montgomery, Alabama – Spring 2008

Friday Photo: 5/3/13

Cars Will Be Launched (Louisville, Kentucky - 8 June 2009)

Louisville, Kentucky—8 June 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: 2/6/13

Vintage Ford Mustang #170 (Denver, Colorado - 30 July 2012)

Denver, Colorado—30 July 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: 1/30/13

Red Rocks Ampitheatre #043 - 06 March 2010

Morrison, Colorado—6 March 2010

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: 1/2/13

Warner Robins, Georgia—10 April 2010

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: 11/21/12

Warner Robins, Georgia—10 April 2010

Friday Photo: 8/31/12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denver, Colorado—31 July 2012

Friday Photo: 8/10/12

Nashville, Tennessee—16 August 2008

Every place is sacred

Oak, hickory, dogwood, mountain laurel, sassafras, tulip poplar, elm, sweet gum, locust—I wished I’d brought along my tree book. Frothy green ferns carpeted the ground, but not so thickly that I couldn’t see the dark, glossy poison ivy leaning into the trail. Leaves of three, stay away from me.

Continue reading

Emergency Instructions: A Matter of Life and Death

Concise, easy-to-understand instructions can mean the difference between success and failure—or even between life and death. In emergency situations, for instance, our reasoning abilities diminish. We just want to get out alive. Our brains are in crisis mode, not think-and-reflect mode.

When we create text to accompany life-saving equipment, it’s important that even terrified or badly injured people can understand it in a millisecond. How we phrase these brief instructions can determine whether our readers live or die.

Here’s a great example courtesy of my sister, who was traveling for work when she snapped these photos. Continue reading

Friday Photo: 7/6/12

Blue Ridge, Georgia—18 June 2011

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: 6/27/12

Blue Ridge, Georgia—21 May 2010

BBQ After Dark

Country’s Barbecue
Mercury Drive, Columbus, Georgia—29 May 2012

Buttermilk fried chicken fingers, old-style fries, and Brunswick stew with a side of white bread and pickles. Mmmmmm!

Continue reading

Well, now that you mention it…

Wednesday morning in a computer-enhanced writing classroom.
After taking roll at the start of class, I ask students about their Spring Break plans. (Names and details have been changed.)

ME: All right, so Spring Break is next week, and—  [students cheer]  —and as you’ll recall from the syllabus, Essay 2 is due the last day before break. That way, you’ll be worry-free during your vacation. So who’s going out of town? [students raise hands] Where are you going, Tommy? Continue reading

Friday Photo: 5/18/12

Wall-sized illustration, "Sing Me Back Home" exhibit

 

Quotation from country music legend Tex Ritter, turned into wall-sized art at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

Nashville, Tennessee—4 June 2008

Friday Photo: 5/4/12

All that's left of the original building

Original sign from Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors in North Hollywood, California. Nudie Cohn originated the flamboyant rhinestone-studded suits made popular by country music legends such as Tex Williams, Porter Wagoner, Webb Pierce, and Elvis Presley, among many others.

Displayed at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Nashville, Tennessee—4 June 2008

Friday Photo: 4/27/12

Cross-sections of 4x8 logs create a fascinating hardwood floor

The floor of the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum captivates the eye. Cross-sawn parquet tiles capture the wood grain from an unexpected angle—seeing the growth rings gives us a sense of the hardships the trees endured before becoming part of the floor.

Makes sense. Country music is all about experience, regret, and memory.

Hardwood floor in the Rotunda of the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Nashville, Tennessee—4 June 2008

Embroidered beauty

Close-up of the lapel of a “Nudie suit” worn by country music legend Marty Robbins. On display at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Nashville, TN (5 June 2008)

In June 2008, I took a research trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. This exquisitely embroidered jacket lapel belongs to a “Nudie suit” lent to the CMHOF for “Marty Robbins: Among My Souvenirs,” a special exhibition on Robbins’ life and work. (It’s also the title of one of his best-known songs.)

This lapel—like the rest of the suit—was embroidered and studded with rhinestones completely by hand, and made in the late 1960s or early 1970s. If I’m not mistaken, the flowers and leaves on this suit are those found in and around Maricopa County, Arizona, where Robbins was born and raised.

Steel and sky

 

Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge (image 2) - Nashville, TN (5 June 2008)

 

Walking across the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, I happened to look up at this amazing view.

I love the angles of the girders stretching across the frame, as well as the angles of the smaller cross-braces that make up the girders. They’re hard against the clear blue sky and soft, fluffy white clouds.

Friday Photo: 3/16/12

Hank & Audrey's graves have been vandalized over the years...

Bocephus literally wrote in stone his request to souvenir-seeking country music fans.

Gravesite of Hank Williams and Audrey Sheppard Williams
Oakwood Cemetery Annex, Montgomery, Alabama
14 May 2008

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