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 …

Bizarre Treat

This is perhaps one of the strangest, yet most engrossing renditions of this song you’ll ever encounter.

This is Puddles the Sad Clown, and all showmanship aside, his voice is amazing, especially considering there’s no “studio magic” added. Sorry, Lorde, but this guy’s appropriately haunting vocals make your Best Pop Solo Performance Grammy seem like a Cracker Jack prize.

Hopefully we’ll hear more from Puddles… 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 …

Magical Mystery Tour

Anyone who knows me knows that, despite my Southern upbringing, I’m not a religious person. I do have spiritual moments, though, typically about the beauty, magic, and mystery that life sometimes holds. Last month, I had the good fortune of enjoying a good dose of all.

We were down in Worcester, Massachusetts, to attend an intimate wedding of my good friends Carla and Deb. The wedding itself was rife with beauty and wonder, perhaps amplified in the absence of any ostentation or needless formality. The ceremony was everything a wedding should be: two people in love formalizing their commitment to each other in front of a few good friends. The minister was… Read More …

That’s “Mr. Huffnpuff” to you!

Despite being surrounded by nature that often seems boundless, I haven’t been able to hike much since moving to Vermont. For most of the summer it rained every weekend, and weekday afternoon hikes aren’t so easy, since most trails here are pretty hardcore. As I’ve learned, so are Vermonters.

Every time I’ve gone for a hike, I’ve been shamed by at least one person nearly twice my age. At Hunger Mountain, a few women in their 70s darted past us up the steep trail. They climbed the mountain so quickly that they later passed us going down…while we were still trudging up! At least one of them was close to 80, bless her soul. That hike is about two miles each way, with a climb of over 2,000 feet. Vermonters are… Read More …

Breaking Comfort

Leave it to a Google+ discussion about American candy imports in the UK to get me thinking about cultural comfort zones, branching out, and embracing the unfamiliar. It seems that his local Tesco now has an endcap dedicated to “quintessential” American imports like peanut butter Snickers, strawberry Fluff, PopTarts, and Butterfinger bars. The prices were quite ridiculous on some items and the selection was, well, strange. He couldn’t understand why such common and random items were imported at all, especially at those prices. I decided it must be because people like to seek out something familiar when in an unfamiliar place, and Americans make… Read More …