Tag Archives: Kentucky

Mother Goose is my Muse


In the crook of a road in Wabaco, Kentucky sits the Mother Goose House.   George Stacy built her over 60 years ago. This folk art house has been in my life well…. like forever. She is my muse. The house is pretty famous now. The goose has even been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Throughout the years, many artists have painted and sketched her. She has been represented on pillows and t-shirts as well.   I think I may be the first person to capture her likeness in clay.

A few years ago while I was studying ceramic design in art school, she inspired a series of ceramic casserole vessels that I made. My professor said: “Don’t go in that direction” and so I Did go in that direction. I sold these vessels all over Hazard, especially at the Black Gold Festival.   I have slowed down making them but still managed to create a few handmade gooses every year for special orders.   I recently added this sweet little goose ornament to the collection.

The Mother Goose collection is handmade and made to order. I can’t guarantee that you will have them in time for the holidays, especially the casseroles but I will try my darndest!

Contact me

cleo and mother goose

Photo op with Cleo and the goose

goose xmas

Sweet little goose adorning the Christmas tree. Ornament $10.00 + shipping

Mother goose casserole server on the shelf

Mother goose casserole server on the shelf. $60.00 + shipping


Serving Up Stories


I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus for the past few months. Life has been full and busy with museum work, summer vacation for my children and a whole ménage of other things including some trips to see my family.

When I started writing this blog last year I wanted it to include stories about life and family.  The inspiration came in a few ways.   Southerners have a gift for telling stories.  My family is no different.  My ancestors have lived in the south for…well… FOREVER.  Especially Kentucky. So we know how to tell a good story.   These narratives have come in the form of letters from Civil War ancestors to recent emails from my brothers.  I have been raised on stories  told by my mother who was  a bank teller for many years and came home after work with the latest community gossip and by my father who shared  adventures and mishaps at Patsy Jane, our family coal mine.

I love to write and I love visual art, so I guess it is fitting that I have a passion to carry on this story telling  tradition.    Writing is a great thing to multi task in between work, doing laundry, driving kids to activities and after dinner.  But lately I have been putting my writing aside and resurrecting my love for clay.  With an exhibition coming up this fall, I am busy creating ceramic functional work.  Incised into these bowls, tumblers, serving dishes and containers are narratives in the form of visual poems.  Three things I love are coming together: stories, clay and food.

The inedible accoutrements that we use for meals plays a role in how we taste and perceive food.  I recently heard on NPR a report from the journal Flavour about researchers who studied  how spoons, knives and other utensils we put in our mouths can provide their own kind of “mental seasoning” for a meal.  We all set a common table whether we are rich or poor or from whatever region we call home.  We make and serve our food in pots, pans, serving dishes that can range from a lucky find at T.J. Maxx to our grandmother’s beloved Sunday china.

I can’t think of a better way to receive a story than having it be the vehicle that serves our meals.


The fairly mouse girl has a little bit of my Nanna in her. Bowl in progress!

That’s a Fine Motorbike

In the mid nineteen eighties, I was a girl who forged an unlikely friendship with an older man. 

This fledgling bond evolved one summer as he drove his motorcycle to visit his parents who lived on Kentucky Boulevard.   His parent’s yellow house sat near the bottom of a hill and next to the river just down the street from my own house.

My childhood neighborhood of Woodland Park is surrounded by the North Fork of the Kentucky River.  Until recently, we entered the gateway of Woodland Park by driving over a dilapidated and rusty green bridge.    The bridge has been replaced now with a new shiny one, but on sully evenings at dusk, I would hear the roar of his engine as he drove over that old truss bridge into the Park.   We never formally introduced ourselves, so I didn’t know his name.  But I clearly remember his dark hair that was prematurely gray with flecks of salt and pepper.  He wore a black leather jacket, blue jeans and wire spectacles.

At the time I was near him, I was fourteen.    He was probably in his late twenties.  I would stand in my front yard next to the crumbing street curb in the twilight of a Kentucky summer night and he would drive up, cut the engine of his Harley and we would talk for an hour or so.  We discussed books, music, weather-whatever came to mind.   I remember he was pensive in the way he delivered his thoughts and observations.  I was excited, in my mousey Jane Eyre sort of way, that I had caught a mature man’s attention.  He wasn’t just some redneck boy I met at Fugate’s Roller Skating Rink who loved Hank Williams Jr. and Def Leppard.  If offered, I may have jumped on the back of his motor cycle and ridden away.

This was a covert memory until recently when I sheepishly confessed to my mother about our clandestine meetings.   I finally asked her about him and his family. In her terse but curious retort, she gave me very little information but told me, he was Dr. Webb’s son and that the Webb family kept to themselves.   “They were strange people”, she said.

In remembering the past, I think about how I kept this relationship to myself, a secret that I did not share, not even with my best friend Jayne.  I cannot help but think of my own twelve-year-old stepdaughter and what I would do if she struck up an acquaintance with an older man, much less what her father would do.  At the same time, she is entering a threshold into a magical but dangerous time in her life and our grasp on her is less steady.

I know that look in her eye and remember when I was a lonely young girl on the cusp of womanhood who wore ragged shorts and moccasins. I was lucky. I think that Dr. Webb’s son was a person who felt alienated and this relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl was a needed connection to another human being.  Sometimes, it is these unconventional relationships that abet in catapulting us into adulthood.

Many years have passed and that forgotten summer and the Webb family are long gone from Kentucky Boulevard, but not from my memory. Whenever I visit my parents and I walk my dog around Woodland Park, I stroll past Dr. Webb’s old house and wonder what became of his son.

Note: Names may have been changed to protect the innocent

Mike’s Chariot

Mike and his beautiful wife, Donna

My cousin Mike Cox died on August 27, 2012.   Although we were very different in many ways, he and I had a connection- a blood tie that bonded us.   He always allowed his opinion to flow freely towards anyone whether they wanted to hear it or not!   He was a strong- willed man with a big heart.  The weekend of his funeral, I started writing something for him.  I couldn’t think of anything that symbolized him better then a coal truck. 


The road up to Cutshin, Kentucky is lush, windey and narrow.  A coal truck is in the middle of our funeral procession slowing the convoy of mourners down as we meander across the hills from Hazard to the Maude Dixon Family cemetery in Leslie County, a place where generations of my family are buried.  I am on my way to say my last goodbye to my cousin, Michael.

My mother says “the coal truck driver is my Uncle Jimmy Dale sending his son off to Heaven”.  My uncle Jimmy Dale drove a truck for Whitaker Coal and died many years ago, but in my heart, he is driving this colossal heap.

As a child, I learned about Elijah who steered his chariot of fire to heaven.  I imagine the coal truck is my cousin’s chariot and I dream of Mike ascending to Heaven with his father at the wheel, a fiery blaze emerging from the coal truck’s muffler as it crosses the sun on its way to Heaven.

June 1972 at the Maude Dixon Cemetery in front of my Grandfather’s grave