A Memory: When Fresh Food Still Had Flavor

However you think of Garrison Keillor’s indiscretion, the one that got him dismissed from NPR, no bad behavior can eclipse his storytelling talent, and that is the truth. Who among us has never been lost in a news monologue from fictional Lake Wobegon, who hasn’t nodded along silently or smiled at a yarn about some character’s ill-wrought decisions and the unfortunate but hysterical consequences of … Continue reading A Memory: When Fresh Food Still Had Flavor

A Mother’s Day Reflection: Great-Grandmother Grace

My Great-Grandmother Grace was born in 1899, died in 1991, and lived her entire life, as far as I know, in Knoxville, Tennessee. She was not so much a Southerner as an Appalachian, a flavor of Tennessean native to the eastern region of the state known as ‘hill country’ (hence ‘hillbilly’) because of its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains—the particular stretch of the Appalachian … Continue reading A Mother’s Day Reflection: Great-Grandmother Grace

Sunday Almanac: House Shopping Begins

Here is the truth about buying a home in this here economy. First, forget about anything represented in the glossy home-flipping/buying/renovating shows on HGTV, et al. I’m just about convinced the couples on them are made-up people. Avatars. Meet Mr/s. and Mr/s. Dewy-Faced & Well Dressed. S/he sharpens pencils for a living and s/he catches butterflies. The reno specialist smiles into the camera on a … Continue reading Sunday Almanac: House Shopping Begins

Reflection: ‘Fair’ Is Often Fair Enough

Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need. Rick Riordan It is a crisp November afternoon in mid-1970s Memphis and my younger brother is turning seven; several pint-sized partygoers will soon arrive at our modest suburban home to help him celebrate. They’ll step inside the back door into our game room, once a carport, but thanks to a … Continue reading Reflection: ‘Fair’ Is Often Fair Enough

Reflection: Getting Parenting Right, in the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

I pass a road called Rosa Parks Lane each morning on my way to work. It’s unpaved and does not look like much from the major north-south artery in Wilmington that serves it. Driving past it, were you to turn your head and glance, you’d see the characteristically flat, scrubby, sandy landscape that defines coastal North Carolina, offset by clumps of Loblolly pines with their … Continue reading Reflection: Getting Parenting Right, in the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Ephemeral Magic: A Christmas Reflection

The dog needs bathing and his hair is all over the bed, the human bed, whose sheets need changing and the rest of the bedding washed. But there is also baking to do, gifts to wrap, packages to ship, a tree to be gotten, and Christmas decorations to haul out. And there are bills to pay, checkbooks to balance, laundry to fold, and all the … Continue reading Ephemeral Magic: A Christmas Reflection

Food Should Have Food in It: A Culinary Reflection

Why do you eat that stuff? There’s no food in your food. —Joan Cusack as Constance Dobler in Say Anything The Chef and I recently caught the tail end of an infomercial on the telly touting the miracles of a small kitchen appliance made to take the place of no fewer than ten other small appliances, trumpeted the announcer. It looked like cheap crap from … Continue reading Food Should Have Food in It: A Culinary Reflection

Sink or Swim: A Timely Ethos

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. —Charles Darwin When I arrived in Vermont’s Upper Valley in August of 2012, the days were still hot and the foliage green, with no signs yet of what would come, along about November. “Winters are long here,” advised the technician installing my new phone … Continue reading Sink or Swim: A Timely Ethos