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

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

Sunday Almanac: Stretching Our Dollars

Some years ago a post popped up in one of my social feeds, an image of a pair of running shoes with a clothes iron wedged between them, business side up, and on top of it a stovetop-style espresso maker, captioned simply Cuba Linda. Hat tip to the Cubans: Are there any more resourceful people? They’ve had to be all kinds of inventive to make … Continue reading Sunday Almanac: Stretching Our Dollars

Reflection: Babies Are the Best

But parenting is the most difficult of all jobs. A coworker and his wife welcomed their first child into the world a couple of weeks ago. I love infant humans the most, I told him. They still smell sweet, they’re completely helpless, they’re immobile so they can’t destroy stuff in your house yet, and it’ll be a while before they can talk back. I suggested … Continue reading Reflection: Babies Are the Best

Reflection: Meat Loaf Has Left the Building

That’s Mr. Loaf to you, as one reporter evidently addressed him years ago during an interview. Or call him Mr. Salacious, or Mr. Lugubrious, they’d make good monikers for him. They both popped into my head when I heard Marvin Lee Aday, a.k.a. Meat Loaf, had died last week at age 74. Meat Loaf, he said, was a childhood nickname and he kept right on … Continue reading Reflection: Meat Loaf Has Left the Building

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