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

Afternoon Miniature 3.20.22

Emmy’s mother had beseeched her to let him have just one more chance before giving up. “Think of your daughter,” she urged. “Jules needs her daddy.” It was an argument that fell flat, though, entreated by the voice of a generation who didn’t speak to her sensibilities. The generation who insisted every woman needed a knight on a steed as a measure of comfort to … Continue reading Afternoon Miniature 3.20.22

Afternoon Miniature 2.20.22

It had been five years since she left the glass and steel landscape behind her. Five years since she threw caution to the wind, and drove up into the Colorado Rockies with Wolfgang, escaping to a wintry ghost town. Wolfy-the-rescue, the wolf-dog hybrid whose shelter days were numbered. It was not the most inventive name, but suited him well enough. It had been five years … Continue reading Afternoon Miniature 2.20.22

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

Afternoon Miniature 1.16.22

The Boy climbed into the back seat and folded his arms in defiance but did not cry, for it was not his style. “Buckle in,” she urged, and then turned over the car engine and flipped on the heat. She adjusted the rear-view mirror before throwing it into reverse, and in so doing, caught a glimpse of the shadowy contours in his angry face. “Want … Continue reading Afternoon Miniature 1.16.22

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

Afternoon Miniature 12.19.21

Yesterday afternoon in a rare moment of quiet she observed a single Darjeeling leaf floating in the steaming liquid gold, a strainer escapee swimming around her spoon. Why can’t this gorgeous elixir awaken the body like the bitter coffee it seems to demand instead, she mused. But this morning had started in the usual way, obscenely early and with the first coffee taken in the … Continue reading Afternoon Miniature 12.19.21