Monday, December 25, 2006


This "Singing Tree" performed down the block from our house at the First Methodist Church.

Rowan is full of Christmas cheer. (Actually we're pretty sure he had absolutely no idea what was going on)

The first Saturday of December, the annual Tupelo Christmas parade rolled by our house.

We had a little morning cocktail party with the neighbors as we watched the parade from the balcony.

On Christmas Day, our tiny little tree in our little one-bedroom apartment wasn't big enough for all of our presents to fit under. Fortunately, we spent most of the day at Carley's parents house, which had quite a big tree and plenty more presents.

Rowand and his MeMe (Carley's mom, Elaine) checking out what Santa brought.

Barrett gives a thumbs up for the Christmas dinner spread.

Touchdown! Rob and Rowan's beloved Philadelphia Eagles took on the hated Dallas Cowboys on Christmas day. The final score: Eagles 23, Cowboys 7

Sunday, December 24, 2006


On Friday, December 22, 2006, Carley's brother Barrett proposed to his long-time sweetheart Molly Seawright. (Molly had no idea they were being stalked by a photographer!) The location was The Grove, the famous tailgate party spot at the University of Mississippi, where Barrett and Molly both recently earned their bachelors' degrees.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006



We had off from work the entire week of Thanksgiving so we took a roadtrip up to Pennsylvania so Rob's family could meet Rowan and Kina. The trip was about 1000 miles each way, about 17 hours driving. The weather and the car both cooperated very well, and the road trip was as smooth as could be.Click on the map above for a closer look at our route up through the Appalachians.

Along the way, most of the scenery was typical US interstate highway fare, but we did catch a few diversions, especially while we were still in the south.
In Huntsville, Alabama, it's hard to miss this large rocket standing next to the freeway. Huntsville is home to NASA's Rocket and Space Center, as well as Space Camp and the US Army Missile Command.

At the Alabama-Tennesse state line is this giant firework supermarket, set right in the median of I-24, which you can easily see from more than 4 miles away - just another testament to southerners' love of blowing things up.

Once we got up to Virginia, we crossed over the Appalachian mountains and up through the Shenandoah Valley in probably the most scenic part of the drive. At Roanoke (baby Rowan's namesake, a cute little mountain city that left a nice impression on us), we took off on a little side excursion along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway so we could check out a bit of the Appalachian Trail.

Upon arriving in Pennsylvania, the first thing we did was stop in Philadelphia to visit Rob's sister, Brandi. After a long road trip, lunch at the South Street Diner was just what the doctor ordered, where the menu was chock full of Pennsylvania specialies, such as Chicken & Waffles & Gravy, Pork Roll and Cheese, and the famous Philly Cheese-steak with grilled peppers and onions.

Brandi lives just a couple blocks off South Street, Philadelphia's famous electic hipster hangout.

Full of hip little stores, restaurants and bars, South Street reminds us just a little bit of more progressive cities such as San Francisco.

We also stopped by Lincoln Financial Field, the current home of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, just to let our little Eagles-fan-in-the making check it out. (Rowan is such a big Eagles fan that he already has a Donovan McNabb jersey!)

Finally we got to Rob's hometown, Bangor. Formerly a rural slate-mining town full of textile mills and surrounded by dairy farms, Bangor is very blue-collar and still has a small-town feel, with a population of less than 6000 and 0 (zero) Wal-Marts within a 15-mile radius. Located an hour-and-a-half north of Philly and just a few miles west of the New Jersey state line, the Bangor area has recently been developing into a burgeoning residential haven for commuters to the New York City area, which is also about 1-1/2 hours away.

The Appalachian Trail passes through just a few miles north of Bangor, providing some excellent hiking opportunities.

We took the Applachian Trail up from the highway through the famous Delaware Water Gap (background) The ridge and interstate highway on the left are across the Delaware River from us, in New Jersey.

We stayed at Rob's grandmother's house in Bangor, right next door to the people with way too many large inflatable Christmas decorations. They even have an inflatable Pittsburgh Steelers football player set up out there (all the way to the far right).

Of course, the culmination of the trip was a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, prepared by Rob's grandmother. From left to right are Carley, Karen (Rob's mom), Pauline (Rob's grandmother), and Brandi (Rob's sister).

Rowan was all smiles when meeting his Gee-Gee (Rob's mom Karen) for the first time.

Rob and family

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Sunday, November 05, 2006


New Daisy Theatre
Memphis, Tennessee
Thursday, November 2, 2006

By Rob Winkler

NOTE: All band photos courtesy of and used without permission.

I don't get the opportunity to see many shows these days, living out here in the sticks, so maybe I'm less jaded than I used to be, but TAB the other night REALLY exceeded my expectations. I thought it was a great show! Trey was in really good form, unlike the last time I saw him, and his playing was spot-on and ferocious, his solos often surprising and inventive. He was also chatty at times and full of praise for the Memphis crowd. He dedicated (not 1 but) 2 songs to a good friend of his in the front row, "Memphis Mary", who is mentioned in both songs: Heavy Things and Push On 'Til The Day.

The rest of the band is also seriously good and the rhythm section really push the music hard. Unlike the rhythm section of Phish, and completely unlike the rhythm section of the previous TAB, these guys were more like Weather Report on steroids, seriously pushing and driving the music and the jams at breakneck pace, in a sort of pop-fusion-rock sort of way, with some prog thrown in here and there, but not at all in a way I'd call "Phishy".

Tony Hall on the bass was a monster - his style is very 'fusion-y', and very hyperactive, always staying in the very low registers, always with very smooth, deep tone, never slapping or going into the upper registers like Mike Gordon.

And Jeff Sipes on the drums, formerly of Leftover Salmon and Aquarium Rescue Unit - it was so good to see him again after all these years. I thought he was a perfect fit for this band, sounding a lot like Billy Cobham or something back there.

On keys was Ray Paczkowski, from the previous TAB. Ray's specialty seems to be the clavinet, the funkiest of all instruments (have you ever heard a clavinet play jazz? blues? I didn't think so), and he added some real spice to the jams. To round out the band were Jennifer Hartswick on occasional backing vocals and trumpet, and Christina Durfee on occasional backing vocals.

Sometimes the girls were offstage for extended periods of time, especially during the second set when some of the jams spanned 15 to 20 minutes. Money Love and Change to open the second set was one of these, and by the time they finished the 2nd song (If You're Walking, a new proggy one that was probably the most like old-school Phish), 45 minutes had already passed. These jams were not anything like the Phish type II or type III jams, as they never wandered too far off the theme, never meandered into psychedelia, and rarely slowed down at all. At times they would evolve into new improvised progressions, but always trending toward higher tempo and fury, making you want to do intense cardiovascular workout or drive your car 100 miles an hour or something.

The venue was the New Daisy Theatre, at the far end (away from the Mississippi river) of Memphis' famous Beale Street. It holds around 1500, and is like a cross between San Francisco's Warfield Theatre (narrower, but with similar drink rails and terraces on the floor) and Petaluma's Mystic Theatre (same width, same balcony setup, same bar under the balcony). Very cool place, except for the heavy amounts of cigarette smoke and lack of other smoke (which I assume is typical outside the San Francisco Bay Area), and the view from the first drink rail was awesome, the sound was very good and very loud.

The show started about 8:20 and the last encore ended about 11:35. Here's the setlist:

Memphis, TN
November 2, 2006

Mud City
Cayman Review
What's Done
Push on til the Day
Case of Ice and Snow
Goodbye Head

Money Love and Change
If You're Walking
Heavy Things
Gotta Jiboo
Come as Melody

Sweet Dreams Melinda
First Tube

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006


This wicked cool jack-o-lantern (above) was on our front porch, thanks to Chris (below), our friend who lives in the apartment next door.

Chris and his little baby girl Lily, who makes a darned cute bumblebee.

The only pumpkin we had this year was our Li'l Pumpkin Rowan.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


John Murrah Lovorn, Sr. a great man
September 15, 1915 - March 6, 2003
by James (Jim) H. Lacey, Jr.

John Lovorn was a man of action, and a man of action to get results. He didn't just scuffle around for the sake of appearing to be doing something - he was after results. He took to heart the teachings of Christ, with his favorite lessons being those recounted by Matthew in Chapter 25, verses 34-40. In this session on the Mount of Olives, not as famous as the Sermon on the Mount told earlier in the book, Jesus gets about as specific as one can get. He said that if one gives food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, hospitality to the stranger, clothing to the ragged, nursing to the poor, and comfort to the imprisoned, it is the same as doing it to Jesus.

And boy, did John Lovorn have a passion for carrying out these teachings. He was a whirlwind of action, using his highly developed organizational skills to bring people to join in this work for the underdog, even dragging them in by the scruff of the neck if necessary. He didn't mince words.

Bill Mosby said that one day at Lupe's Department Store, John was exhorting and arguing with a group of men including a Baptist minister. Finally an exasperated John declared, "You guys can't see the poverty for the stained glass!"

Well, John Lovorn cleared the vision for many people here in Canton. For him, Christianity was much more important than churchianity.

John saw government as a tool that could be used as an instrument to carry out the teachings of Christ. And he felt strongly that the Democratic Party was the one most likely to use that instrument of government to help those on the bottom. It took a fierce independence to be a white Democrat, with a capital D, in Canton during the 27 years that he spent here, and here his conviction shone through more strongly than at any other place. All of our Republican arguments crashed over his head with the same effect of a wave washing over a granit rock. He stood fast in his Scottish determination.

The word "activist" has come to have a bad connotation in the minds of many of us. But John was an activist for the underdog in a way that gave the word a good meaning. He cajoled and pushed and bullied all of us to do the right thing. His friendly antagonist from across the street, John Taylor, was on the city board for years and often felt the heat from John Lovorn. John Lovorn's ultimate threat to John Taylor, when completely frustrated with his alderman, was to growl, "I'm thinking of running for alderman myself."

Mayors, aldermen, legislators, white or black - anybody, high or low - got the same blunt treatment from John. If you agreed with him that something should be done, he'd bark, "Well, let's go!" And what else could you do but go to work?

While Matthew's quotes on Jesus were dear to John, James must have been his model. "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?" asks James. John wholeheartedly agreed. What good would it do to sympathize with the bad folks in jail if you didn't go visit them? It wouldn't, he decided, and so we had the Madison County Jail ministries. What good would it be to decry the pitifully bleak Christmas mornings of poor children if you didn't do something to get some presents for them? It wouldn't, and we got the Toys for Needy Children program. And on and on.

I never did have a great deal of luck getting John to talk about the old days of his youth in Winston County or his college days at Mississippi State where both of us attended college. John was not much interested in the past. He was always focused on the future.

He made friends and admirers throughout the black community, opening up to anyone who would talk. They trusted him and his frankness.

John Jurrah Lovorn – I didn’t know until recently that John was known in his youth as “Murrah”, did you?

This John Murrah Lovorn was a tower of strength to those of lesser courage, a courageous companion of those who tried to do right, a beacon of hope for those losing hope, a goad to the lazy – all of which all of us were at one time or another.

Now, if I could just have gotten him to relax long enough to enjoy our 10am coffee-and-Coke gathering at Hardee’s every day, John Lovorn would have been just perfect.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


In one of his only significant outings of recent note, Rob made the 2-hour drive up to Memphis on October 17 to see one of his favorite instrumental-jam-jazz-funk bands, Garaj Mahal.
The show went down on Tuesday, October 17, at Hi-Tone. Located nowhere near the famous Beale Street part of town, Hi-Tone looks like a random dive-bar from the outside.Inside it's a relatively small room (capacity around 250-300) with sort of a dive-bar feel, but a nice stage, decent acoustics and a surprisingly good selection of imports and microbrews.

Unfortunately, the show was on a weeknight (Tuesday), so Carley couldn't make it because our babysitter was unavailable. And since Rob had to work at the high school the next morning and didn't get home until after 2:30am, he was feeling pretty out-of-it for a few days. Rob says: "For some reason I don't feel as young as I used to!"

Monday, October 09, 2006


As baby Rowan reaches his 6th week of life outside the womb, we're happy to report that all is well. Rowan's healthy and growing noticeably ("like a weed"), and we're working on adapting to our new roles and responsibilities. Here you can see Rowan take his first steps on the path to computer geekdom.

4 weeks old in this photo

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Born Saturday, September 9, 2006, 11:21pm...three weeks early, but we've decided that we're just gonna have to get used to surprises!

6 pounds, 2 ounces...the doc said if he'd been any bigger, Carley probably would've needed a C-section, due to her narrow bone structure. Early is good!

Kina welcomes him home from the hospital. (It was SO good to be home!)

SLEEP IS GOOD. We get it whenever we can!!

Too Funny!

The day actually started at, of all places, a tailgate party. One of Carley's best friends invited us down to Starkville (a little more than an hour south of here) to tailgate with them and go to a Mississippi State Univerisity football game.

Susan and Carley enjoy the chilled-out morning festivities.

Around 11am, as we were getting ready to go into the game, Carley came back from the bathroom and announced, "I think we have to go to the hospital." Yep, her water had broken. We didn't mind missing the game, since the local MSU team ended up getting crushed by Auburn 34-0.

To top it off, Carley had to drive the car back up to Tupelo, since Rob had already had a couple bloody maries. Fortunately, she wasn't having contractions or any other signs of labor (eventually they had to artificially induce labor at the hospital), so it was an easy drive. And fortunately for Rob, Carley had given him explicit permission to partake, so no foul. ;-)

How'd We Come Up With The Name?

ROWAN: After looking through a book of thousands of baby names, this is the only name that was at or near the top of the list for both Carley and Rob. We think it has a strong, distinguished and memorable sound to it. Rowan is also a type of deciduous tree with a long tradition in European mythology and folklore. It was thought to be a magical tree that offered protection against malevolent beings.

ELLIOTT: Carley's maternal family name (her mom's maiden name). Also we really like this name, which sounds very distinguished.

LOVORN: Prounounced "LUH-vern", this is Carley's family name.

A Clean Bill of Health...Mostly

We are happy beyond words to have a normal, healthy baby. The only problem we've had is that he has a mild case of jaundice, a somewhat common affliction with newborns that makes their skin turn yellowish, due to a build-up in the bloodstream of a compound called bilirubin.

ALIEN BABY!!! As it turns out, to get rid of the jaundice, they sent us home with a "bili blanket", which is like an electric paddle with a greenish light that connects to a projector through a plastic hose and goes inside of the baby's clothes. Seriously, we HATE this thing. (Fortunately we only had to use it for 2 days.)

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