Two days in the Delta


For Richard’s birthday, I thought it might be fun to drive down to Clarksdale to visit the famed Crossroads and visit the local museums and haunts known for their connection to blues history.

The trip did not disappoint. Even though we went during the week and live music offerings were limited, in part because lots of places have limited operating hours early in the week, we still got to see and hear some good stuff, and just bask in the muggy glory of the birthplace of the blues.

_MG_6907 _MG_6909




_MG_6985 _MG_6987

_MG_7018 _MG_6993

_MG_7051 _MG_7075



_MG_7128 _MG_7143

_MG_7117 _MG_7097


Check out the full photo set here.

Climbing up the Minister’s Treehouse

Minister's Treehouse

About two hours east of Nashville, in Crossville, there’s a giant treehouse built by a minister who says God told him as long as he kept adding to the structure, he’d never run out of material. A few years ago the Fire Marshall ordered the structure to be closed to the public, as it did not meet fire codes. So now it sits abandoned.

I’m a sucker for rural places with bizarre backstories (like the Mindfield, for example), so when I saw this thing pop up in my Instagram feed as someone I follow visited it, I knew I had to go see for myself.

Minister's Treehouse

Minister's Treehouse Minister's Treehouse

I went solo, which made for an interesting experience as I had no one there to crack jokes with to make me feel less creeped out. A family was leaving as I pulled up and I presumably had the place all to myself. There were times I doubted that, though, as the building swayed and creaked and made strange noises all around. Shuffling, knocking, scraping, sliding. I assume there are plenty of animals that call the treehouse home, and it occurred to me that if one of them was a crazed raccoon, I’d be in for a fight.

Minister's Treehouse _MG_2871

_MG_2938 Minister's Treehouse


One of the stranger experiences of climbing in the treehouse was looking down and seeing the floor below through the widely spaced floor boards. Several times I felt my stomach jump up to my throat as I thought about how I was three, four, five floors up on wooden boards that were constructed by a man with no blueprints and just a calling from God to build, build, build.


Minister's Treehouse

The chapel is the most impressive room in the place. It’s got an interesting mix of solemnity and whimsy (there’s a basketball goal on the wall, opposite the pulpit) and it’s built in amphitheater style, with slats of pews rising on all sides, several floors high around where the preacher would stand at the hand-carved altar. There were photos, paintings and carvings still in place. There’s a makeshift skylight formed by light corrugated fiberglass. Visitors from over the years had carved and painted what I thought was remarkably stupid graffiti on every surface.

There’s a room on one of the upper floors full of carved figures that look like Native Americans and Jesus. They’re all sort of hanging out around the perimeter of the room, and the afternoon sun streams in through gaps in the wooden walls to illuminate their faces.



I climbed up the bell tower as far as the stairs would let me but stopped short of climbing up the ladder into the bell tower itself. I could see through the floorboards above some giant metal canisters that the internet tells me used to be strung up to clang like bells. There’s a bench in the bell tower and windows all around. The view is beautiful and serene, even though you can hear the hum of I-40 nearby.

Untitled from Lindsey Turner on Vimeo.

Minister's Treehouse

I stepped so gingerly and deliberately through the whole house that the next day I was sore. I kept thinking I’d find a loose board and crash through the tree, but the place did feel sturdy, I have to say. I can’t imagine a whole gaggle of kids galloping around, playing basketball in the chapel up in the tree and their parents not having cardiac events, but the minister had faith that his treehouse could sustain his flock so who am I to argue?

_MG_2918 _MG_2925

Once upon a time, Flickr would let you embed slideshows, but it looks like the new Flickr (which, OK, is a few years old now) doesn’t allow it. So if you want to see more, and I hope you do, click here to view the album and click the slideshow icon in the top right corner.

Or better yet, just go see it for yourself. It’s a fantastic bit of folk art and truly an architectural masterpiece.

Lord save us all from old age…






… and broken health and a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.

— Mark Twain

Current status: Midwest travels edition

I am at a bar in a kind of huge strip mall in Des Moines, Iowa. There is a wall of giant, beautifully crisp, flat televisions behind the bar, all showing the same baseball game, and not a single eye is pointed toward them. People are yelling at each other, as you do in most situations when drink and loud music get involved. Boyz II Men’s “Thank You” just came on the loudpseaker and threw me uncomfortably back to my youth when I used to have that single on a cassette and would rewind and replay ad nauseum, only to swap it out with whatever Brandy single I was also obsessed with at the time.

There is a table of middle-aged men in business suits directly in front of me, and they are cackling like madmen and dropping F-bombs in the course of whatever story one of them is relaying.

I flew in this morning and did that ridiculous thing occasional airplane passengers do where I felt a kinship with my fellow stranger travelers. You know, you break through the clouds and suddenly spot the blue arc of the Earth’s boundary and you start to look at the backs of people’s heads — their tiny, stupid, insignificant heads — and they start to seem both stranger than ever (I am on a flying bus with people I’ve never met, and we are rocketing through space and time!!!) and more familiar than ever (someone on this plane near me will not stop farting oh god), once you consider that they are living the same weird life you are, but in a different way.

I had these idiotic thoughts before achieving full caffeination; forgive me.

This is my first extended stay in the Midwest, which is to say it is my first non-layover trip to the Midwest. It’s true — the people are nice and the grass is green. Right now in this little strip-mall bar, there’s a country song and then an R&B song. Country song, R&B song. And then a Mr. Big song (you know the one). And now the song that is about butts that masquerades as being about bass. Ah, the Midwest. The great melting pot of America.

Love that Louisville

I was lucky enough to get to go to the SND conference in Louisville last weekend. I’d never been to Louisville and never been to an SND conference. Twofer!

The city seems cool — we stayed right downtown in the beautiful Galt House and walked pretty much everywhere — and the conference was inspiring. I came back full of hope and ideas and hopefully the right amount of added chutzpah to be a better designer and a better manager of designers.



Racing Phonethip and Heather

One of my favorite quotes from the conference was by David Wright, a designer for Twitter. He said — and put up on a big slide — “Great experiences thrive in environments where design is respected.” You would think something like that might be a no-brainer, but there are a lot of people who actually don’t fully embrace this concept.

Churchill Downs

Ali Museum Ali courtyard


Galt House Galt House decorations

The full set is here. I definitely aim to get to another SND conference in the future, and I am going to be back in Louisville too! It’s not that far away and there is a ton of stuff to do there.

A month later, vacation photos

Because if there’s one thing the internet HASN’T changed, it’s how much people LOOOVE looking at other people’s vacation photos!

And just like that, it’s over


We’ve had a blast up here in the campiest little strip in the mountains. Tomorrow we will resume regular life.

My mom really went out of her way to make sure we had a great time, even though she knows I have no money to spend on fun stuff. She’s a keeper.

My kiddo — despite being bitten by the whiny bug while we were here — has been a trooper through sickness and schedule upheaval and my insistence that he ride amusement-park rides (which he contemplated stoically, for the most part).

We made lots of good memories and when we come back, we’ll be able to do even more fun stuff.

Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, you’re a weird little area that vacuums up our money but you consistently churn out good memories for us, so thanks.

Scurlock’s Donuts in Jackson, Miss.

I meant to write about this, uh, a month and a half ago.

I was down in Jackson, Miss., for a business trip at The Clarion-Ledger, when I went across the street to get coffee and donuts at Scurlock‘s. I didn’t have cash on me and I wanted a dozen donuts (to ply my new business partners, of course) and a cup of coffee. The proprietor’s card machine was down, but instead of turning me away, he began to load the dozen donuts into a box for me. I fished in my purse for loose change and told him I was from out of town and didn’t know when I’d be able to get the remaining money to him. He was not concerned. “That’s OK,” he told me. “You’ll be back.” And I walked out of there with a box of warm donuts I had barely paid for. Talk about paying it forward. So I have been meaning to write about that and mail a check for decidedly more than the $4 or so I owe Scurlock’s. Just to say thanks.

Because how often does that kind of thing happen these days?

So if you’re ever down in Jackson and you get the chance, stop by and say hi. There are good people in there.

Monday, 9 p.m.

I am in the hotel bar at the Marriott in downtown Jackson, Miss. There’s some sort of convention in town. I can tell because the bar and lobby is full of cackling middle-aged women and their severe hairdos. There’s a sweating bottle of white zinfandel on the bar and I can hear good-natured ribbing and knee-slapping and there is no way these people would ever be drunk together were they not here for work. They’d be at home cleaning up kitchens and packing lunches and possibly giving out obligatory blowjobs if their husbands were lucky.

I ordered the $9 sauvignon blanc. It’s unremarkable but the finish is potent and makes me think of cognac but that’s probably just the salted mixed nuts talking. I once read a wine book that said to never order the cheapest wine on the menu. Go a price point up, the book said. So I am throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the $8 pinot grigio. Now I can sit and await life’s dividends.

The barkeep is running around like a madman. He is bussing tables in the lobby and then leaping down the stairs and landing right in front of my table. Every time he flies past, I imagine him taking a tumble right in front of me and I’m trying to figure out how I would react. I’d probably lunge to cover my computer and phone from the fallout, which would be super rude of me. Would I laugh? Maybe get that horrified/amazed look on my face that is contributing to my wrinkles?

Here are some quotes as I hear them across the room:

“My grandmother was alllll into that geneaology crap.”

“I got ALL the money. It just ROLLS.”

“Baaaaaaaaaahhhahhhmaaaeeehhhmeeehhhhhmaaah! *clap clap*”

“Come aaaahhhhn, bartender, come aaaaahhhhn!”


Some guy sitting nearby is telling a story and it involves long overhead arm motions and his chair is squeaking with every movement. It’s starting to make me want to murder him.

I have been sitting in this bar now for a couple of hours and I am bored out of my fucking mind. I am nearing the bottom of my second glass and I don’t have that warm fuzzy feeling I was chasing. I feel lonely and melancholy and bored and I miss my baby and I think I am going to just go up to my room and go to sleep. There ain’t shit else to do.

The cackling ladies are leaving and guffawing on the way out. As annoying as they are, I’m happy they have gotten this one night to act a fool. They don’t seem like the sort to get that chance very often.

Looks like the barkeep knocked a couple of bucks off my tab, probably because there was a stretch of about 45 minutes where he didn’t even remember I was here. I just sat quietly and watched the tennis match on the TV nearby. I don’t even like tennis.

It’s 10:12 and my night has been over for hours.


Up early this Saturday morning. Coffee and a spoonful of peanut butter while I wait on some biscuits to brown. I’ve got the sprinkler running out back, trying to soak the beds and save the flowers from scorching even further. I don’t know how to fight for them in this relentless bastard heat.

I am feeling content at the moment — a delicious concoction inspired by the quiet before the total chaos of what is to come. I can still sit quietly and soothe myself with the tap of a keyboard, and the showers I take occur at a pace that stops way short of frantic. Lately I’ve been thinking about the life I had just a few short years ago and how it seems so foreign now. I miss the frenetic, drunk adventures, but I don’t miss being a total directionless wreck of a person, two drinks always down the hatch and prone to waking up filled with shame. I carry a lot of guilt with me over what kind of person I have been and should be, and it’s fueled in part by my embarrassment over my delayed adolescence. I spent all of high school and college trying to act so grown up that I acted a lot like a reckless child in my mid-twenties once I sloughed off some constraints. I should have gotten that out of my system a long time ago, but I’m a late bloomer in a lot of ways, I guess.

Eh, I don’t know why I’m dwelling on this stuff. It’s more or less inconsequential and here we are with a new game board laid out in front of us and a deck of fresh cards in our hands.

This tiny part of me is balled up, so excited about where my little family is going to go in the coming years. I love Memphis for all its quirks but I’m longing to give it a long kiss goodbye and to take to the road for a new adventure. I came here, knew no one, hated it, and then grew to love it and the people I met once I dug in and opened myself up to it. It’s been six and a half years, which is longer than anywhere else I’ve lived other than my parents’ house growing up. But when I walk outside into the soup that passes for air around here, I have to remind myself that there are places on this Earth that do not spend several months out of the year trying to fry your flesh and obliterate your ability to breathe. There are places on this Earth where you can look up and see an honest-to-God mountain on the horizon, or a seemingly endless sea flanked by sandy beaches. There are sweet, small towns populated not with Klan members but with live-and-let-live folks who don’t spend every waking hour worrying about what the gays are doing. These places are real and we can go there and start new adventures, build new stories, take new photographs, learn new contours of life.

It’s a little ways off, but it’s there in the distance. I can feel it. I hope that’s what I’m feeling, anyway. We’ll never have an easy time of it, I know. We are far too middle class and in far too much debt to ever coast freely. But we’ve got the freedom of possibility and that gives me such hope for what’s to come.

Last night we inched closer to settling on Mister Man’s name. Never would I have imagined going even this long without having a clear idea of what I wanted to call my first son, but that shit is hard, y’all. Name being destiny and all.