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

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

Sunday Almanac: New Year, New Me…Maybe

I come from a long line of fearless women and at various times in my life have been called upon to dip into that gene pool. Sometimes when I reflect on those occasions, I marvel at how I wrestled my way through this or that miserable or terrifying chapter, but somehow did, and suppose I would again if I had to. My great-grandmother Gracie did … Continue reading Sunday Almanac: New Year, New Me…Maybe

Ten Random Observations at the Start of a New Year

10. Our Wilmington, North Carolina neighborhood has sanitary sewer covers made in India. They have a certain beauty to them evocative of mandala designs, a repeating pattern I think of as a sort of graphic mantra. Imagine the journey those heavy cast iron covers made from the point of manufacture in South Asia to this North American coastal bedroom community. 9. I wear ugly shoes … Continue reading Ten Random Observations at the Start of a New Year

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

The Mnemonic Power of Music

mnemonic adjective mne·​mon·​ic | \ ni-ˈmä-nik  \ Definition of mnemonic 1: assisting or intended to assist memory //To distinguish “principal” from “principle” use the mnemonic aid “the principal is your pal.” also : of or relating to mnemonics 2: of or relating to memory //mnemonic skill —Merriam-Webster We all used them in school, mnemonics, and they can surely be helpful, like this one from way back when I was a young undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee: … Continue reading The Mnemonic Power of Music