Going off the grid

One summer night, a few years before Mama died, I tried to call her but there was no answer. An hour later with still no answer, I was pacing the floor and debating whether or not to jump in the car and take the 22-minute drive to her house. “If she doesn’t answer this time, […]

Death’s final scene

My husband, many times, had written of death and created numerous dying scenes in the make-believe world of television. Once he had won an Emmy for it. But death in Hollywood is often different than the way it is truly delivered. He had dropped me at the hospital door one afternoon so I could run […]

Dressing up for Easter, again

It’s funny how someone’s opinion or a story will stick with you, how it will trail like a mist of a cloud over your head. It’s a story that hasn’t changed my behavior but it certainly gives me pause to think of dressing for Easter in another way. Years ago, about 10 years, I believe, […]

The janitor

The elementary school in which I received my first- through sixth-grade learning was a long, straight brick building with cement steps, an auditorium with heavy, red velvet drapes, a tiny library guarded by a grumpy gray-headed spinster and a cafeteria that was in the basement down a flight of creaky wooden steps. For afternoon recess, […]

Staying in bed

As I see it, because I’ve studied quite a bit on this, my day goes off the rails pretty much as soon as I get out of bed. Sometimes it is a kind day so I can get through a cup of coffee and morning news before things start a-changin’ and my plans disappear like […]

Pinto beans, cornbread, buttermilk

My sister said once that she doesn’t really like pinto beans because when she was growing up, Mama cooked a pot three or four times a week. “We’d come home from school and walk into the house and there was that smell,” she said, shuddering at the sensory recall. Pinto beans, cooked with some kind […]

An old back road

As the road twisted and turned while rising up through the elevation of the tree-smothered mountain, I slowed the car and looked at the place so dear to my family. A place where faith and calloused hands fought poverty and poverty gave birth to dreams and eventual escape. My ancestors sowed there so we could […]

Maxine and her daughters

Maxine, whom I’ve known and admired for many years, is my kind of Southern woman. She’s exceedingly feminine, gracious, charming and tough as nails under her soft skin. Everyone who knows her loves her. She’s now over 70 and as beautiful as ever, always perfectly appointed and coiffed. Sometimes I run into her at the […]

Kudzu & change

In my early travels outside of the South, I was astounded to discover that people had never heard of kudzu. After all, Southerners have been battling to gain the upper hand of the rapidly growing plant since the 1800s. With my first book, I guested on a show in Los Angeles hosted by the likable, […]

Going off the grid

One summer night, a few years before Mama died, I tried to call her but there was no answer. An hour later with still no answer, I was pacing the floor and debating whether or not to jump in the car and take the 22-minute drive to her house. “If she doesn’t answer this time, […]

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