The sore thumb

In the summers of late, summers where I and not Mama tell myself what to do, it is the sore thumb I miss the most. Just the other day, I rubbed my pointer finger over the edge of my thumb and I missed the tenderness that attached itself to that appendage and stayed there from […]

Cooking in Connecticut

It is well known, by this point, that I married a Yankee from Connecticut. One who never knew the joy of comfort foods until he came South. John Tinker, who adored the ground his impressive mother, Miss Ruth, walked on, is honest about her shortcomings as a cook. “She wasn’t a good cook. We mostly […]

The tree

When I was a child, around the age of 5, my mama’s brother went to fight in Vietnam. He was a career military man who served on helicopters that dropped into the jungles and picked up the badly wounded and dead. It scarred his heart forever. His heart was also scarred by what was happening […]

Thanksgiving 2017

Last year marked the 25th anniversary that I have hosted Thanksgiving for family and friends. And, it’s a really big deal for me. There are people like my sister, Louise, or my dear friend, Barbara Dooley, who are effortless at hosting and cooking. I stand in awe. Barbara is flawless in how quickly she can […]

Living poor

The newspaper was laying on the kitchen island so when I picked it, I flipped it over and glanced over the list of obituaries. I saw a last name I recognized and wondered if he might be kin to a man I once knew of. I hadn’t heard the name in years. It is a […]

Hudson Car Company

When John Upchurch asked me to speak at an international car conference that he and his wife were directing, I agreed. They’re nice people and it meant a July trip to Chattanooga. I thought it was a collection of vintage cars. It wasn’t until I pulled into the big parking lot of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo […]

An economy of words

Sometimes, Tink — usually in a gentle way but a bit abrupt at other times — will tell me I’m taking too long to explain something. This happens never when he has time to enjoy a long story but when he’s in a rush with much to do. “Can you give me the Yankee version […]

What WAS Lewis Grizzard’s favorite hymn?

When I wrote about the night that a woman arose at a little church we were visiting in Highlands, N.C., and proclaimed that her favorite hymn was also the favorite hymn of Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard, the mail poured in. One after another, many of you asked, “What was Lewis Grizzard’s favorite hymn? You didn’t […]

The smells of memory

It was after a speaking engagement in Chattanooga when I was signing books that an arm slipped over my shoulders from the back and a woman leaned forward to press her cheek against mine. Before I saw her, I smelled her fragrance. I stopped, my Sharpie paused inches above a book, and I drifted back […]

Ruby and Louise

On the drive home from a speaking engagement in Savannah, I answered a call from Tink, who sounded fairly frantic. Whenever possible, he travels with me. But for that trip, he was on deadline with a movie script so he had stayed home and stayed up all night, working against the hours that were ticking […]