Apr 10 2015

Mathew 7 – 1

I have been thinking about writing this down for about a week. I first thought of it while reading articles and post about a bunch of people of a religious bent feeling all persecuted and discriminated against, primarily because they are not allowed to discriminate against others. I can understand how someone would choose to run a business without really considering what “public” means, and not really thinking through how that differs from just dealing with your own friends and those who are like you. However, I have a real hard time with people being Christians but not caring to treat others in a “Christ-like” way. I say “Christ-like” as opposed to Christian as there is currently a doctrinaire Christianity in the US that has less to do with Christ’s teaching or behavior and more to do with old testament text. I have no truck with that, except I don’t think they should advertise (and considering the money behind these churches, it is advertisement) as Christian. It should be the “First Church of Bible Worship” or something. I do recall, that Christ had words to say about those who judged. NO, he did not promise the sinner would not be judged. But he did fight to protect the sinners from judgement in this life and was pretty adamant about the fact that there was one judge and he did not live here.

The part of this whole debate that irks me most is not the points of view on either side about what should or should not be legal. I have an opinion, and I accept that others have a different one. Opinions are, indeed, like assholes. Yes we all have one. No, they are not alway a good thing to show in public. But I thought about it for a long time, and I realized what really irked me was the whining about how everyone feels “discriminated” against. And how Christians are being “persecuted” in the USA.

I thought about the Christians in the middle east being beheaded, and then about the people running a business in this country. Somehow, I can’t see the poor business owners in America as being “persecuted” or even “Discriminated” against for their belief. And I know this coming segue will not make sense to a lot of people, but this reminded me of an incident in a lunchroom in the employee section of the airport in Oklahoma city, with me, my brother, and two other guys from the janitorial staff, in the early fall of 1971.

You see, I am always struck by how so much of the news I see out of Oklahoma these days offends me. It doesn’t shock me, I saw a lot of discrimination and bigotry disguised as religion and decency back when I lived there. But it offends me because it’s always people in power acting out against those who have never had power and doing it because they are “being attacked”. But I still have family down there, and while some of the church stuff seems over the top to me, I don’t hold that as wrong, just not something for me. There was a day when I was really involved in that so I can’t knock it. And while the hypocrisy of many in churches drove me out, I don’t blame people in looking there for friendship, support, and community good.

But in Oklahoma, what I saw more of than religious prejudices was racial prejudices. Some of it blatant, some subtle. Some of it I did not even understand until I left there. But one thing I would like to say is I can literally think of no one in my family ever looking down on someone of another race or on someone of different or lesser circumstances. It was thinking of this family history, in the midst of a whole culture that was the antithesis of that, that I remembered the lunch break with my brother back in 1971.

Terry was sitting at the far end of the table I was at, opposite me, with his head down on his arms. This was pretty common for him then, he would get really tired when his blood sugar was low from his diabetes. I was munching away on some far from great vending food machine lunch. We both worked for a company that contracted to do the janitorial work at the airport. I was a window washer, Terry a regular janitor. There were two other guys in the room, at the opposite end of the room, who were across from each other and having a nice little cry over their current state of affairs. Terry’s hair was a bit long. Mine was short again after I cut it at the start of that summer when I was custom combining my way North from Oklahoma to Montana. The other two guys with had shoulder length hair. (What can I say. Hippie had just become in vogue in the midwest.) One of the guys was complaining to the other that some store clerk in the airport had given him a dirty look and followed him around as he shopped. The other was commiserating and telling him that “Yes. People are always treating me horribly, too. It’s like being black.” And the other responded that, “It’s like Abby Hoffman said, ‘America’s got itself a new nigger.’”

That was the point when my brother did something he was good at (and something that I could never do) he sat up and inserted himself right in the middle of this pity party. “You two are a couple of fucking idiots!”

“What?!?” they both protested at the same time. “What are you talking about?”

“You think being treated bad because you have long hair is like being black?” Terry responded.

To which one of them replied, “Yes. We get followed around. Stared at. I even had some guys threaten me, who were going to beat me up.”

“You’re and IDIOT.” Terry replied.

One of the two stood up, fist at his side, red in the face. He was obviously ready to defend his point with more than words. I was more of a wallflower (read coward) type and was checking for exits at this point. Terry Bruce, on the other hand just sit there and did not get up or move. At this point the two guys had moved close and were standing over him.

Terry looked up at the one closest to hime and calmly said, “On your way home tonight you can stop at the barber shop and have your hair cut, and ALL your suffering will disappear. You think a black man has that option?” At which point he stood up, turned his back on them and walked toward the door. As he left the room he stated again under his breath, “You guys are fucking idiots.”

I thought of this during the week reading about all these people whining about how they were “under attack”, “being persecuted”, and so on. I thought of this and how there are people who because of there race or sexuality are being ACTUALLY persecuted. And of people who are ACTUALLY being persecuted and even DYING for their Christianity. And I have to confess a prideful moment remembering my family, who even after being raised in a culture drenched in bigotry never treated anyone as lesser of as an outsider. And so I thought in his honor, to speak up a bit, and inject myself into a conversation (which I would never do without his inspiration).

To those people running public businesses who want to refuse service to people based on their “Christian” objection to what they do in their bedroom I ask this one question. “Who would Jesus turn away?” I thought about it a lot, and I can’t think of the person Jesus turned away. Even if he knew they would face judgment, he never judged. So all I ask is this. Stop calling it Christian.

Thanks for listening. I was going to do a short version of this for my brother’s daughters and post it for “throwback Thursday” on Facebook, but then I saw it was “Sibling Day” and decided I needed to do more. I want to say above all, I do not dare to judge those people who have taken the position on religious business rights. But I ask them to remember, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Mathew 7-1

Jul 20 2012

First Day of Our Scandahoovia Trip

Category: Memory Lane,TravelRandall Kelley @ 20:27

So we’re eating lunch at the airport waiting on our flight to take off, and Rita asks me, “Was the food good in Norway?” So I thought about it and had to tell her, “I don’t know. Our landlord who lived in the other half of the duplex was always cooking us ‘gourmet’ meals that I would promptly spit out. But I loved to walk to the bottom of the hill and get a topless hotdog and a coke. They were great.” Of course I had to explain that they served them on what would be considered half a bun in the states, in an envelope thing with the frank and toppings piled up and fed into your mouth like a sloppy ice cream push up. I’ve already had numerous things come rushing back into my head over the past few weeks, and I am rather enjoying the chance to reminisce on something that was SO key in turning me into who I am.

My passport from the time shows me as I was, but truthful I never felt like that. By the time we left Wilburton, Oklahoma for Stavanger, I had been through enough family crap, and had been more or less taking care of myself for nearly three years. What I do remember was that most of the things we experienced triggered reactions from my mom (and most of the other Americans there) of, “Well that’s just strange. Why would they do that?” I knew things were going to be different when my mom panicked on the ride in from the airport and tried to shield my eyes when we passed whole families skinny dipping in the fjords. Yup, This ain’t Oklahoma!

Some things I know now I was unaware of at the time. I knew my new stepdad (my first step dad) was coming here to work on an offshore drilling rig. I had no idea that this was almost as new to Norway as to me. I recently was forwarded an article by the woman who runs the Stavanger International School on a man from Iraq who helped them set up their fledgling oil minestry. That school is the direct decedent of “SAMS” (Stavanger AMerican School) where I attended most of my eighth grade year of school. They tore down the small, old, four room schoolhouse where I went right after the school year when I was there. They built a nice new building of their own, probably right after all the sponsoring oil companies realized the oil was really there and so they would be in it for the long haul.

As bits and pieces come back to me, I’ll try to write them down. Some of the more memorable stuff is going to be repetition for my girls who grew up hearing about my time there. While you could call what I experienced culture shock, I call it enlightenment and I can attribute my current socialist leanings to seeing first hand what a democratic socialist country was like, and listening in as my overly capitalistic stepdad had his mind blown in conversations with our landlord on those evening dinners he hosted of us. I remember his shock in hearing about half of the guy’s income went to the government, then slowly looking more and more stunned as he proceeded to find out that he would not have to pay for a retirement, would get to keep the proceeds for selling his house when he moved into government housing for seniors, didn’t have to pay for his daughter’s education, nor did he have to spend his money on health care. Suddenly the “taxes” sounded more like investment. For me it was, “Welcome to the world, where the American way is NOT the only way.” I apologize to any of my conservative friends, but the American way IS one way, but the idea it’s the only way is just not true.

The other big shock to Americans there was the absolute reversal of the attitude about sex and violence. As a young looking eighth grade boy I could walk into Swedish movies that would be a hard R (if not NC17) here unquestioned. But try to get into a John Wayne western and I had to explain that I was an American. I guess they knew that meant it was too late and I was already ruined. They fought a whole year before finally admitting a highly edited version of “Bonnie and Clyde” into the country. Today it’s probably showing on the Nickelodeon channel at 8 AM. Also, the high school boys all wanted Norwegian girlfriends (at least on the weekends) as they considered them “easy”. So, I guess if you are an American parent of daughters you are thinking, Thank god for the American way… lets see some killing.” but if you are an American boy, you might be willing to put down that violent video game and go outdoors!

Odd feeling. I wrote this so far on the plane heading over. The I read this morning about what all the Facebook fuss was about. The news of Colorado and another mass killing is a strange and disconcerting feeling. I’m going to do my American thing and try not to think about it. Maybe there is no message to be learned from these kinds of incidents, but if there is, we are obviously missing it. Still, I have to question if the cultural acceptance of the kind or rudeness, self centeredness, and hostility that pervades our society is not complicit.

As for the trip… so far it was OK except we were stalled in Iceland for several hours, not bad, it could be Switzerland for several days, as our nephew Richard and family were last year. But the extra time, time zone difference, lack of sleep, and the mood shift that the incident set off took it’s toll. It wasn’t the delay so much as the “Ignore the passengers. Don’t tell them what’s happening.” attitude that got me. I don’t like being treated like sheep or cattle and at various point we were treated like each.

But we survived, however fried. And after finding our way to the hotel, than a parking garage, we had a nice but hugely outrageously expensive dinner (and not in the type of place where you saw it coming) and then came back and didn’t so much go to bed as passed out. But, it’s a new day, the trip is ahead, and I’m hoping for smooth sailing from here on out. I’ll be getting the camera gear ready and we will be out shooting soon, then I know I’ll feel better. Probably Stavanger isn’t going to be the most picturesque part of the trip. But I have so many things to go see that are meaningful to me that it will make up for it.

Steve and Diane arrive soon. We head to the Airport right after breakfast to pick them up. Then we will get to laugh at them for being so fried from their trip over. West to East travel of this distance is always a bit disconcerting to the body’s inner clock, so it’s to be expected and will pass. More soon. Our love, R&R

May 18 2011

Jim Murnane

Category: Family & Friends,Memory LaneRandall Kelley @ 21:40

This is a post to say how much the loss of our brother in law, Jim Murnane saddens us. We will always have great memories of him, he was a really sweet man. I’m posting a batch of photos of him from over the last several years. They can be SEEN HERE by clicking this link.

Jacksonville, Florida in November 2010.

May 14 2011

More of Tajikistan 2006

Category: Memory Lane,TravelRandall Kelley @ 09:22

I’ve been a bit under the weather and not out shooting, but I did plug through another days worth of the trip to the Stans in 2006. I now have a batch up from August 24th, 2006. These were covered in the post on that day HERE, and also a bit in the review I did later from Bishkek, HERE. The batch of photos are up on trainyard, HERE.

The host who's house we stayed in.

Apr 14 2011

More from the 2006 Stans Trip now posted

Category: Memory Lane,TravelRandall Kelley @ 17:43

The first set is from our arrival in Dushanbe and then the next day’s trip from there to Kailakhumb. The post on the travel log can be found on August 21st, 2006 (direct link here for your convenience). The second set is the next day, from Kailakhum to Khorog. There is a post from later when I covered it in review after several days with no internet. I wrote this in Bishkek on August 29th, 2006. This post covers the rest between there and Bishkek, so it covers both of these two sets of pictures, plus the next set or maybe two (depending on how many shots there are from each day. Those pictures will be fairly soon as I work my way through this trip. The photos are posted on trainyard. First set HERE.

And the second set is posted HERE.

A lot of these have motion blur as there was a lot of ground to cover so many are shots out the car window. This is one where I love the shot more for the blur. Good job Rita!

Apr 03 2011

Moscow pictures from 2006

Category: Memory Lane,TravelRandall Kelley @ 18:00

I am looking through old pictures to find some to make replacements for my set that are hanging in Warbux. Ken likes the travel stuff being up there and wants me to do more. I’m going to do a color set, and so I’m looking for good candidates. I realized that other than a few of the small size images posted in the travel blog at the time, and a few odd shots, I have never really posted full sets. As a result I have gone through the first weekend of our Stans trip in 2006 with Sheila and posted a set from that. I will be doing more as I go along. For now anyone interested can see the set POSTED HERE.

For any who want more detail or weren’t following back then the post about the trip for these days can be found by clicking on the “Archive Calendar” page (at the right) then selecting the 2006 link and scrolling to August of that year. Moscow was a post on August 20th and another on the 21st. I hope you enjoy.

Apr 02 2011

We Love You, Kurt Lindsay

Category: Memory LaneRita Kelley @ 11:48

Life moves much too swiftly for most of us.  Suddenly something happens that stops us in our tracks and beckons us to listen to our hearts in a very real way, emotionally and physically.  The passing of a loved one.  Immediately I think of family.  Letting go of someone that is connected to us, that are a part of who we are as a person, whether the family we grow up with, the family we create, maybe through marriage or work or personal interest but we in some way connect with each as an individual and yet are all part of our ‘big’ family.  Kurt was a man I worked with for two years and then worked for, for ten years.  He and Don created Lindsay/Milgate, a photography studio.  Being a part of this studio was being a part of a family.  Photography… I loved but learning about beauty, about how to view an image, about how to share that image in a very personal way was a gift beyond measure.  Also working with each other, we shared numerous conversations, emotions, our dreams our  values our moods.   In one day we’d listen to Frank Zappa and the next minute we’d be listening to Bach.  I can not imagine there is a work environment more relaxed!  Understanding and being around creative energy was exhilarating and a challenge.

After a gathering at a nearby church with Kurt’s brother-in-law presiding, we preceded to the present day Lindsay/Milgate Studio.  These images were taken by Randy (POSTED HERE).  Initially Randy and I hung out looking over the crowd.  I was a bit overwhelmed, nervous, many of these people I had not seen for 15 years.  As I began to move through the crowd, one by one I felt a part of this family again.  Thank you Don for helping me reconnect.  I love you.

Lots of people when we arrived. This was shot from the loft overlooking the studio.

Mar 19 2011

Walking with the Dead

Category: Daily Drivel,Memory LaneRandall Kelley @ 21:13

So with all the tragedy popping up, I guess I was just feeling like a bit of mourning without really knowing about it. We had discussed the graveyard where Bruce Lee is buried several times in the past. I just never ended up doing it, as there are many larger areas to go and shoot. Today, the sun was coming out and I was dying to get out and shoot, so I just opened google maps on my phone and looked at the parks. It struck me right away that we recently almost went to do this, and as I wasn’t sure of my stamina for anything bigger, it would be a good choice for today. Rita said she was game, and off we went.

We parked on the street and walked in, A real mix of newer stuff and a handful of older ones. I started by heading pretty much directly up the hill looking for Bruce Lee’s grave. A bit tricky to find, even with the directions I had read. Several people had written directions that put us in the vicinity, but several of them had obviously no sense of directions and so I resorted to looking at photos on line of the site and trying to match them. Problem was, the best shot had enough tall buildings in the background to look like it faced Seattle from the top of the hill. In actuality, the shot I was looking at was from when there was less foliage and it was the Bellevue skyline in the background.

So here’s the skinny, if you should ever decide to go. Enter from the Northeast entrance off of 15th. Walk directly up the hill to the flagpole. Once there look back down the hill toward where you came in and Bruce and Brandon are buried just off the edge of the roadway running North and South on the East side (far side as you look down the hill). And, if you stand there a few minutes, you’ll probably see other people making their way to it.

It was very moving as a fan to be there, and even more so seeing the tributes and tokens left and the same look on so many peoples faces as they came by. I know we tend to make to much of celebrity in this culture, but some people touch so many different lives in so many different ways, that it just leaves a trace of something in the world that people can share. And of course, the other event of today just hammers home how this is true on some scale with each and every one of us.

As we were in the graveyard, Rita received a friend confirmation on Facebook from Kurt. Knowing his condition, I felt that it was odd it would come through now. Then shortly, Rita saw a post appear on there telling of Kurt’s passing. We are quite sure it was his wife Lisa accepting the friend request to allow her to receive the news in a timely fashion. We are grateful for that.

I didn't yet know it when I shot it, but this was a tough moment for Rita, moments after hearing about Kurt lindsay's passing.

For those who don’t know Rita’s work history that well, She first got out of restaurant work in the early eighties by getting hired by Larry Stessin to be an assistant in a photography studio, “Photography Northwest”. Two of the photographers working there for Larry were Kurt Lindsay and Don Milgate. Later, as Larry got more into doing his own thing, and the guys felt the studio was not giving them what they wanted for their work, they split off and founded Lindsay Milgate Studios. Rita moved on to work with them. While grateful to Larry for the break, she was far closer to the guys and really wanted to help them get their business going.

Eventually, When the possibility of working full time at Metro came along, Rita had to choose. As Metro offered better benefits, retirement, and honestly a lot less emotional stress, she quit the studio and became a full time driver. It had honestly become too much of an emotional conflict to work for somebody and try to just be an employee when she felt so close and loved them so dearly. She kind of hoped when she quit that she could maintain a better friendship by not working there. But anyone who knows Kurt knows that he was not an easy person to know or love. Not that he wasn’t a good man, but like a lot of artist he carried a lot of conflict and had a lot of defenses. I think those who loved him were those who were able to love him FOR those qualities, not in spite of them.

Anyway, it had made Rita really happy to reconnect with Don recently through Facebook, but Don is a lot easier to communicate with, And when she was getting in touch she found Kurt was already suffering through trying to recover form cancer. She had been trying to arrange to visit him when he was taken back into the hospital here a few days ago. We went on Thursday and met Don and his wife Nancy to go and see him. He had just found out that it had spread to his liver, and he had only a couple of days to a couple of weeks left. Rita had a sad but meaningful visit. And I know she is grateful for having had the chance to say goodbye.

Anyway, that’s a brief summation of her history with Kurt. And of course all this is on the heels of learning of her sister Lucy’s and family struggling with her husband Jim’s recent diagnosis with cancer. Probably my scaring us to death again on Thursday night with a mad dash to the ER for a major allergy attack didn’t help. It seems we have spent the last couple of weeks surrounded by implicit references to our mortality, and that is never much fun.

But the thing is… You have to see it as a reason to cherish every moment you have. Try to share what you feel for people while you can. And never assume that you can wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow, you may be walking with the dead.

Todays full set posted HERE.

Feb 26 2011

Tornados sound like you’re being run over by a freight train… only scarier.

Category: Memory LaneRandall Kelley @ 12:34

So I don’t have much real childhood memory. I have little flashes of something here and there, and I then I have memories that are more solidly formed that come from later discussions of earlier memories. I find these to be helpful, but I don’t give them a lot of veracity unless I have had them corroborated by others. It seems to me many of the real early ones only come in a flash of emotion as something triggers them, and then often fade to nothing again unless I can get them written down.

One that returns to me distinctly at times, and that is one of those vivid “like you are there” kind, is of the night Wilburton was hit by a really big tornado. One of the reasons it is so distinct is it left me with a strange emotional affliction that persist to this day. That is that I will go to sleep during a loud storm with no problem what so ever, but find myself sitting bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night if it quits and things get too quiet. In fact, I have trouble sleeping on any night if things are just too quiet. I think of this as “reverse Uncle Louis syndrome”.

When I was little I had an Uncle Louis, my mom’s older brother, who only occasionally came to visit, but made a big impression on me as a small child by always giving me a shiny half dollar coin when he arrived. Now it wasn’t just the fact that a half dollar was really something back then, it was, but it was how he could always manage to get it into my hand for me to discover without my realizing it until I opened my hand. He managed this even though I was well aware of what was coming. That memory is as bright and shiny as the coins he handed me each visit.

My other memory of Uncle Louis is not so bright and shiny, in either subject or quality in my mind. It’s one of those things I remember more from the later discussions about it than from vivid memory of the time. I can vaguely recall Uncle Louis being up late at night pacing the floor during any thunderstorms. I’d see his tall slim frame pass back and forth past the doorway in the relative darkness. As I was quite a night owl and tended to be up off and on myself, it always seemed really odd to me that this calm man would be up pacing the floor, and looking afraid. Years later I finally I asked my mom why Uncle Louis had been so afraid of thunder storms, and then I got the real scoop.

Uncle Louis wasn’t afraid of thunderstorms, he was shell shocked from the war. He had been in an action where almost all his fellow soldiers had been killed. They were then hit by artillery fire by the enemy and only he and a few of his men survived. When the enemy arrived, they survived by hiding under the bodies of their dead friends. They stayed there while the enemy passed over, then while they retreated after a counter attack, and then, insult to injury, through the shelling by his own troops as they drove the enemy back. Only finally, when the counter attack reached their position, was he was rescued. The net result was he did not ever sleep when there was thunder, which is a lot of not sleeping where I come from.

My “reverse Uncle Louis syndrome” started on the night that the big twister hit Wilburton. Can a kindergartener get shell shocked? We always ran to the neighbor’s storm shelter about a block and a half down the hill and a block further down the road. Our ranch style house had no basement and no storm shelter, which in my mind is a big oversight in Oklahoma. I would build a storm shelter IN my basement if I built a house there.

We got to our friend’s shelter and there was a pretty big group there, I can remember being annoyed at having to stand as mom didn’t seem to want to sit still and let me sleep on her. It was a very violent storm and very noisy outside. Wind wailing through the trees and fences, hail repeatedly, large hail from the sound. Then it got so quiet it brought all the talking to an abrupt end. You know the way you are talking to someone then the music or TV stops and you are suddenly shouting and you freeze… yeah, like that.

Dead silence, and the weirder part was all the grown ups shut up and didn’t resume talking. They acted like they were waiting for something. Then I heard the train. Then the train got louder. Then I asked my mom where the train was coming from and she told me, “Hush. That’s not a train, it’s a tornado.” It got really loud. Really, really loud. Then it got dead silent again. That’s the part I remember all too distinctly any night I wake up and it’s “too quiet”.

I don’t remember the rest as well, but have had conversations with enough people who did to have the picture. We all came out of the shelter and the adults started checking the radio and calling around to find out what happened. There didn’t seem to be any damage to our area. We were told it hit the middle of town and had destroyed many homes on the South side of the tracks first. It had next taken out several blocks of buildings on Main Street. Then it stayed on the ground all the way across North Hill and had destroyed the school.

One thing I do remember well about the aftermath, my mom freaked out at that point. I tried to calm her down by telling her not to worry because the tornado was gone. She became hysterical but and I didn’t understand at the time, but I do get the reason now. My grandparents house was next to the school, which she knew was “gone” from the reports we had heard. Further she knew it was a stone building and my grandparents place next to it was a flimsy wooden structure with the back half on what amounted to stilts due to the steep slope there.

We headed over to check on them right away, and mom only calmed down a little when she found them standing on the porch of their house, which was entirely intact except for furniture strewn everywhere and the roof being completely missing. Not broken, but missing. That was when I first heard about how they would put the rafters up with only a few toenailed spots keeping it on. If a tornado hit, it should pop off to release the pressure rather than have the whole house explode. Of course, you aren’t supposed to be standing in the living room when it happens, which Mom and Pop (which is what we called my mom’s parents) were doing. My grandma had been nearly lifted up (she was a tiny woman) but my granddad (who is built like me) grabbed her and they both spun around from one room to the next then fell down when it finally let go.

The next day we were all back for a better look at the damage in the daylight. My school was not there. It was a multi story sandstone building and all that remained were a few random blocks scattered among the foundation. I have to tell you I was pretty impressed. I kept on about how my school was gone until finally my mom had to tell me to shut up, as she wasn’t concerned about where I was going to go to school until we figured out where her parents were going to live. But I think that as a good kindergartener, I had my priorities in the right place. Mom and Pop could always stay with us, but where was I going to get another school?

So now, when I do wake up scared, I try to remind myself that there is no rhyme or reason to which building goes, which stays, or who gets killed or who just gets spun around a little. You take your chances, and you see where you end up. Like Pop and Mom in their flimsy wooden house who walked away, or like the family who lived in the house on the other side of the tracks that we had rented just months before this storm. Gone in an instant along with entire house except the concrete porch that stayed behind. Enjoy your life, even when it scares you.

But if you hear a train coming where their ain’t no tracks… find a shelter fast!