Burying Daddy

Ten years ago today, my father died. But there’s a lot that I didn’t bury with him.

You see, Daddy (pronounced děd-ee for us Mississippi kids) was kind of an enigma. He could be a cruel, selfish, and uncaring drunk, especially on weekends. Or he could be quiet, silly, and even caring at times. And even his bad side varied widely, ranging from simply being absent to purposely destroying any hope for peace and tranquility at home.

Of course there were… Read More …

Getting Jazzy

For all its quaint, laid-back charm, Vermont likes a good time!

Having a few errands in the Burlington area, I decided to check out a few of the free outdoor performances of the Discover Jazz Festival—and to see how much Vermonters enjoy the outdoor performances. I was not disappointed.

On the center block ofof the Marketplace, Burlington’s own The High Breaks were performing their not-quite-jazz but very enjoyable surf rock. I believe I heard… Read More …

Oh, Alaska… I mean, Vermont!

Back in the day, I loved that silly network show Northern Exposure. The humor and the quirky characters were a great escape from the dullitries¹ of college chores and work, and the storylines often played out like Alaska was some foreign land, long before Sarah Palin came along.

The kicker for me was always the wandering moose, which acted as the unofficial mascot of the show. At the time, a moose seemed about as American as a camel. (Isn’t a moose just a … Read More …

Oh, how I ♥ New York!

When spring arrives in New York City, something special happens.

As warmer, drier weather sets in and the days get longer, outdoor dining returns, music fills the streets, and pedestrians find many more reasons to smile. New York is a happier, friendlier place in spring, and the increase in outdoor activity is the obvious sign.

But in a place that gets a reputation for having no joy or sense of humor, spontaneous outbursts of either (or both) are a much better glimpse into the… Read More …

Brushing Ants

When you’re four, the world is a very big place. Every turn is a potential discovery—or a potential danger. Only adults can really help you tell the difference.

For me, the world barely covered two southwest Mississippi counties, but it seemed expansive. Trips to Mamaw’s seemed like an all day chore, even though she lived about 8 miles away. Visiting my father’s family in Brookhaven seemed like driving to another world, and we didn’t have much use to drive to McComb very often, except for the special trip to Winn-Dixie or Rose’s—until the 1975 tornado destroyed them. So we spent most of our time in that little green house near Summit. And it was like heaven for us kids.

We had the pond just across the barbed wire fence, and every rain created a creek that ran into it. We’d sometimes… Read More …

Postcards from the Undertaker

Yeah, I’ve been a bit quiet for the last month or so, but there’s a good reason. I’m pretty sure Mother Nature is out to get me! You see, the snow, ice, and sub-zero temps no longer bother me, so she decided to throw me a fastball.

Just over a month ago, I noticed a mild sore throat one Friday afternoon while walking home from work. No biggie, I thought, it was just the usual road-salt induced dryness. After all, there had been a cloud of salt hovering over Main Street for a few days.

But by the following Monday I was at 102° F and hacking up a lung nearly 24 hours a day. I didn’t… Read More …

Curse of an Overactive Mind

So, Amazon shamed me recently. Yeah, that Amazon—that online orgy of toys, electronics, music, movies, books, groceries, this, that, and everything else. Apparently, they still want to sell books and decided to shame customers by sharing a list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. The list is from the folks at goodreads.com, a website for readers by readers, so not all the books are classics or even literature—just books that readers think readers should read. For Amazon, the intent was likely to get the folks shopping for frivolous junk to pause and think about books. And I did.

You see, despite having an MA in English & Publishing, I… Read More …

Vermont Being Vermont

So this winter seems a bit closer to how I always imagined Vermont. Snow started before Thanksgiving and has been on the ground ever since. It’s always been a little here, a little there, without any big snowstorms to speak of, though we came close this past week.

Thursday night through Friday we finally got a pretty big one, totaling about 14 to 15 inches here in Waterbury. Sure, we occasionally got bigger snowstorms in Delaware—I recall one storm that dropped 23 inches in two days. But here in Vermont, the snow lingers and becomes… Read More …

Riding the 6

Back in 2006, a sharply-dressed, elderly black woman sat across from me on the number 6 DART bus. During the 40 minutes we shared on that long cross-county ride, I wondered who she was, where she was born, and what she had seen in her many years.

Maybe she was a Delaware native and witnessed the Wilmington Riots—they weren’t quite riots. Perhaps she grew up in Christiana, one of the only rural towns in New Castle County that had a thriving black community, dating back to the 1850s. Had she moved to Delaware from the South in hopes of a better life? I wondered all these things, but… Read More …

Sitting One Out

The annual orgy of consumerism has come and gone. Every year, Americans presumably give thanks for the blessings in their lives on Thanksgiving, then go out to actively participate in one of the weirdest displays of materialism the world has known, beginning on Black Friday and continuing right up until December 26. Every year, I’m more turned off by it all.

Don’t get me wrong, as I love a good deal! I’m a crazy bargain shopper myself—I kind of have to be. I even enjoy shopping, for the most part, and like Christmas shopping in general. I pore over the Christmas candy and decorations at every turn, just to see if anything new shows up … Read More …