Sunday, April 13, 2014

Memories of Mississippi

Seeing as to how I've officially given up on printing and creating photo albums beyond the digital record found in this blog, it is time to CATCH UP!  Please bear with me as we travel back in time for a little while.  We might just go some place Mississippi!

Back in the beginning of March, Jason and I drove thirteen hours to Greenwood, Mississippi for a Rose Fellow alumni reunion.  Even though the distance was far, it was definitely worth the time and money to reconnect with close friends and colleagues that have been so influential in Jason's life, both professionally and personally.

Originally we were only going to take Annika with us, but Eli came along at the last moment because his babysitter (NomiAnn) got terribly ill.  In the end, I was glad he came--not only is Eli a champion car traveler, but he was great company while Jason was busy with meetings.  The Alluvian hotel that we stayed in was quite luxurious, so we thoroughly enjoyed having some downtime to hang out in our room and play trains.

It was 1:00 am by the time we arrived the first night.  Eli saw this plush purple chair and immediately claimed it as his own.

Annika, on the other hand, slept for a good six hours during the car ride and was AWAKE!  As much as we wanted to sleep, she wanted to play.  She was pretty cute in Jason's suitcase, even if she can't see past all that hair.
Speaking of cute, here's my hubby.
Esther preferred cute cuddles from Annika.

One afternoon all the fellows gathered to work on a service project designing a community center in Baptist Town.  This young man (wish I could remember his name) hung out with Annika, Eli and I the entire time we were there.

This vintage pedal-propelled merry-go-round was a classic.

Like Michael Jordan, Jason's athletic prowess increases when his tongue is hanging out of his mouth.

In this picture, Eli shows off the perfected sport of Hat Hockey.   Eli would use his train whistle to send a coin wildly flying for Dan to catch in the bucket of his hat.

A slightly pampered group, the Enterprise Rose Fellows have their own photographer, Harry, who accompanies them to big events like reunions and retreats.  (Nice job, right?)  Besides taking excellent photos, Harry is also a super great guy who lets us share his pictures.  The rights to all of the following photos belong exclusively to him.

A photo of all the fellows, past and present, who were able to make it to Mississippi.
In addition to being the Cotton Capital of the World, Greenwood has a few other claims to fame: this is the town where The Help was filmed, as well as home to the Viking Range Corporation.

Robert Johnson likewise hailed from Greenwood--one of the greatest blues musicians of all time, Robert supposedly traded his soul to the devil in exchange for his remarkable talent.  Visitors pay homage to this site by leaving him a shot of whiskey.
Having never been to Mississippi before, I relished the chance to soak in as much Southern culture as possible, including dinner with Rosie the roast pig.  While this may be a hard sight for vegetarians, I personally think that if you're going to eat bacon, you need to come to terms with where it came from.  Magnificently plated on a bed of turnips and roses, I felt like at least there was a sense of respect for Rosie and her sacrifice.  This barbecue was a masterpiece the chef had worked on for days--and I must say, it was excellent.

Fried fish and hush puppies form Larry's Fish House--another meal to remember.  It's probably best for my arteries that I don't live in Mississippi.
Baptist Town is hard to describe--you cross the train tracks and immediately feel like you've traveled back in time to the 1940s.  Poverty is obviously rampant, but there's also a rich sense of cultural heritage and history.

A Baptist Town resident--come to provide input on the future of her community.

And here's our friend again--come to hold Annie.
Before signing off for the evening, I'd like to write just a snippet about a few of the Rose Fellows that have made such a big difference in our lives--supporting our family through everything from Annika's birth to the dissolution of Color Country to Jason's work in the Rockaways.  Even though I haven't spent nearly as much time with them as Jason, they welcomed me and our children so warmly that they feel like my friends as well.
Here's Wayne Mortenson, Jason's confidant and fellow Nebraskan who's as big as I am small.  When Wayne enters the room, he fills it, not with his size but with his ideas--always looking forward instead of just accepting the norm.
And here we have Dan, the fellow that Jason describes as positively brilliant, but without any of the ego that generally accompanies such a gift.  I'll always remember him as the guy who took time to really play with Eli, making him feel like the most important kid in the room.
Next we have Kelly, the friend who took Jason for long bike rides across Manhattan and through Central Park while Jason was in New York.  When I asked Jason who he missed most from New York, he mentioned family first and Kelly right after.
This contemplative picture of Joann seems to capture her personality.  One of Jason's class of fellows, Joann is quiet and observant, but remarkably caring and considerate.  With Joann, there's never any feeling of pretense--she's glad to get to know you just as you are.

Had to throw a picture of this "Rural Mural" in the mix.  Now while I don't know for sure who drew what, that silo makes me awfully suspicious, Peanut Butter.  :)  I hope you never stop dreaming.

Any Rose fellow montage would be incomplete without Esther, a fellow New Yorker who also connected with Jason while he was in the city.  As you can tell by the photos, Esther was so good with Annika, kidnapping her whenever possible.  Even more, she is kind of like "mom" to all the fellows--checking in with us to make sure we were safe during our late arrival, bringing dinner over to Kelly in the hotel when he was sick, and generally helping everyone stay in touch.  Plus, she gave us our favorite froggy hat.  (You're right, that's an owl.  See below.)

There's the green frog.  Now where's Annika?

Here we have Ceara, one of the first fellows I got to meet in person.  Several years ago she got to bond with Eli when he was just a little tike, thanks to a short trip where we connected in Salt Lake City.  To the left of Ceara is Mark, the one and only guy to make Jason feel truly famous by recognizing him during the Solar Decathlon.  On Ceara's right is Juan, the fellow who will forever be famous for organizing the best retreat ever in Puerto Rico. 
Here you can meet Jamie Blosser, a fellow that Jason worked with in Utah.  He has great respect for the culturally sensitive design work she is doing with the Ohkay Owingeh tribes.
And showing off his stellar dance moves, we have Nate--an Iowa farm boy who quite literally stands head and shoulders above the rest.  While passing through Omaha, he stopped to have pizza with Jason and I and pretty nearly convinced us to settle in Red Oak by showing us what extraordinary men Iowa makes.  (There's just a shortage of family in Iowa...)
Last but not least, we have Katie Swenson--master organizer, motivator, and fundraiser for the Rose Fellows.  A single mom who skillfully balances parenthood with a very high profile career, I doubt Katie really understands why a well-educated woman like me would choose to stay home with her children.  Yet despite our differences, we owe a lot to Katie.  She has been an advocate for our entire family during both the best and the hardest of times. 
Last but not least, a few more fun pictures.  Here's Eli on the steps of the Elks Lodge.  So much for warm weather in Mississippi!
Happy parents and sleepy babes.

The musician at our farewell dinner.
So long Mississipi!  Thanks for the memories.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I learned a lot, and was reminded of much -- you are a fine photo journalist!