"May your life be as cloudless as a summer day. Your friend, Maud Wright. January 24th, 1884."
I inherited the Saum family Bible after my sister and mother died 18 months ago. I haven't given it much thought, but in the writing of my new novel, Step Zero 2.0, I have good and bad Christians and I need a good King James Bible for research. So off to the musty storage locker I went.
What I found was an beautiful ancient book with the deaths, births and marriages of my mother's side of the family, from the 1860's to a couple decades ago. I had no idea those records were still in the book. I thought those pages had been missing for years. Instead, they were nestled between the Old and New Testament. I filled in the death dates that have occurred in the last few years that I knew: an uncle, an aunt, a father, a mother, a sister. Some questions were answered about my ancestors yet more questions arose, like the twins by Aunt Nan who died in 1941 after having lived only one day. No one's ever talked about those baby's deaths.
The Bible seemed to have been purchased by the great great grand parents after the birth of their second child in 1884. Thumbing through this huge tome I found the above note. I have no idea who Maud Wright was, but my best guess is she was a good friend of the Saums.
"May your life be as cloudless as a summer day," she wrote to her friends. I'm struck not only by the beautiful handwriting but mostly the lovely sentiment.
So did Earl and Nannie Saum have a cloudless life? Doubtful, even though they were wealthy landownders in Northern Virginia. They had sicknesses and successes, failures and weaknesses, births and deaths, most of the fine details lost in Time.
But the kind thought of a friend wishing them calm and peace lives on, in my hands, in my family bible, 129 years later, almost to the day.
I can only hope that a century from now, someone finds a handwritten note from me, wishing a friend love and light. I best get started.
"The Saum Children, Virginia" (c) 1930?, 2012, Earl Saum?, Stu Jenks
From left to right: Mary Saum Jenks, Courtney Saum, Nan Saum Haddad, Virginia Saum Edmonds.
Thanks to Becky Edmonds for find the photo and for her friend for image-capturing the original photograph. I desaturated, cropped, cleaned and fiddled with the file I recieved from my cousin.
This was taken at the Saum Farm outside of Alexandria, Virginia. From what my mother told me, this was not a happy time. Earl Saum, her father, was a violent alcoholic who would beat poor Courtney to an inch of his life in front of the entire family. Often. Very Often. The Saum kids were not happy or maybe just Mom wasn't, but I'm guessing everyone was scared.
My mother would occasionally exaggerate. Her unhappy childhood I don't believe was something she was hyperbolic about. Notice how all the children are standing at attention, how only one is smiling, how none are holdling hands. They were frightened of the photographer, their dad. A striking photograph of my family.
Mary Jenks died a year ago on July 7th, 2011. Rest in peace, Mom. Your ashes rest beside your husband's and behind your daughter's. And your son's ashes will be there someday.
Image: "Queen Esther Baptist Church, Lancaster, Virginia" (c) 2011 Stu Jenks (Just down River Road from Victoria's house. Love that luscious red carpet. And for you nocturnals out there, it was handheld. Rare for me.)
In this time of making photos on iPhones and Macbook Pros and only looking on screens, I forget I'm a old-school guy. I make a 8 1/2 x 11 work print on archival paper of EVERY image I make. EVERY one. It's the only way, for me, to accurately check for color shift, density, composition, etc. I really like my iPad screen but it's no way to make a good print.
And I have hundreds, if not thousands, of work prints artist proofs at my studio.
If you see an image of mine on The StuBlog or on my old website or on the Fezziwig Press Store or in any of my books, there's a beautiful small print in a box somewhere, perhaps with your name on it. And since I'm organized, I can find it.
Many of you can't afford my larger prints. I understand. I don't have an extra 50 or 100 lying around either. But I do have an extra $20 for stuff I really like.
So if you see an image of mine on any of my sites or in any of my books and you want it, it's yours for $25, shipping, handling and tax included. (I believe in paying taxes, sales and otherwise.)
Just email me at my facebook page or through the StuBlog or at firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell me what print you would like or just pull the jpeg and send that to me.
I was just watching the Tarhells lose today in basketball, working on images at my computer when I thought, 'I bet people don't realize I have boxes of work prints here.'
You all do now.
Love and light,
p.s. Ignore the catagories belows. The computer went wacky. Another reason why I prefer a print in the hand as opposed to an image in The Cloud.
Been a long time coming for The Transpersonal Papers (1861-2010).
Three editors, two proofreaders, two designers, four printers, and hours, days, weeks, months, years, lifetimes, (I know I'm overstating), of writing, traveling, shooting, editing, remembering, hiking, and more writing, shooting, and editing, but I'm not complaining. No, no, no.
And apologies for not having the dough right now, to print The Transpersonal Papers as a coffee-table book as I had originally planned. ($10,000, it would have cost. Maybe someday.) But you now can buy it, for $14.95, as an Ebook on the Apple IPad, and I expect it to be available within a couple days on the Nook and the Kindle as well.
I just looked at it on my new IPad. The photos, text and design look grand.
And as an extra surprise, Bozo In Love is now up on IBooks too, ($9.95), as well as the rest of my catalog: Flame Spirals, Hoop Dancing, and Dementia Blues, on IBooks, Nook and Kindle.
Just in time for Christmas.
And don't worry. All but The Transpersonal Papers can still be bought as a book book through Fezziwig Press. I have plenty. Just go to www.fezziwigpressonline.com, for the hardbounds and paperbacks, but go to ITunes, today, (and Kindle and Nook, soon) for the ebooks.
Heavy sigh from my third story apartment balcony. I look out onto the Tucson city lights in the valley below. Cold, dry air embraces me. I inhale deeply. Exhale.
A very good night in the desert.
Think I'll make a cup of coffee with egg nog and play some Angry Birds on my new IPad.
"The Pier Spiral, Rappahannock River, Virginia" (c) Stu Jenks, 2000, 2011 [A new cropped and modified version for Pamela and Mary Jenks]
Just a reminder. Funeral for Mary Jenks is tomorrow, Saturday, July 30th, at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Tucson, Arizona, at 2:00 p.m.
Enjoy the pier image. Everything changes. A hurricane took it out eight years ago. And Death has taken Pamela and Mary, but I'm still here as are all of you. Until we're not. Live for today.
Blessing to you all.
P.S. My website www.stujenks.com is down temporarily. Should be up by next week. Fezziwig Press and Fezziwig News are still up and running but www.stujenks.com is down, because I didn't see that the domain renewal was up. Been a little busy and a little scattered, don't you know. Thanks, y'all.
VCU Final Four bound after upsetting Kansas Paul Woody of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Mar 27, 2011
The VCU Rams pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history, beating Kansas 71-61 in the championship game of the Southwest Region. The victory puts VCU in the Final Four. The Rams, considered a mid-major team from the Colonial Athletic Association, play Butler, another mid-major team, Saturday in Houston. VCU is an 11th seed in the tournament. Kansas was a No. 1 seed. The Rams jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead, withstood a Kansas comeback that cut the lead to two, then rebuilt the advantage to a safe margin. VCU’s elimination of Kansas means no No. 1 seeds will play in the Final Four.
VCU wins Southwest Region, heads to Houston for Final Four
(Posted on the Times-Dispatch website, minutes after Virginia Commonwealth University's win.)
This is why I love the tourney so much. But on a personal note, as I posted earlier on Facebook, I was born in VCU's hospital. My father, my grandfather, my grandmother, and my sister were all born in Richmond. VCU has one of the best Art Schools on the East Coast. Some of the sweetest people I know are from Richmond and from Virginia. Victoria, Brad, Glenn, Jamie, the list is just too long. My father is buried in Virginia. My mother will buried there. I will be buried there too, in Lively, Virginia, if I can have someone take half of my ashes there. I'm an Arizonan for sure. I love my state of Arizona, but I have Virginia DNA. Virginia DNA. And this win makes me cry tears of joys. I guess I needed a good cry. And Richmond hasn't had an easy time of it lately. But tonight, I raise a strong cup of coffee to my fellow Virginians.
Save your Confederate money, boys. The South shall rise again! (In a good way.) Go Rams! Go VCU!