Birthday Gravy. And other things guaranteed to stick.

One year my birthday fell on a Sunday and at the age of ten, I had no idea what trouble my mother went to to pull off what I asked for that year. I wanted to eat Sunday dinner at home. I was tired at eating at Luby’s. I asked my mother to fry chicken…

Five Things I Love About My Birthday

    1.  My mother’s carrot cake               With the exception of when I was younger, when I still thought chocolate cake was the only kind of cake worth eating (oh, how naïve we are when we’re young), my mother has made a carrot cake for my birthday almost every year of my life….

More Friends in Arkansas

Last week I spent a few days in a little Podunk town in Arkansas with my editor, Lissa, and her husband, Rich. The weather turned bitter cold, snowing most of the time I was there, but I’ve never been any place warmer. Lissa and I first met through emails after she was hired to edit…

Black & White Friends

One of my earliest memories is sitting in front of our black and white television watching The Andy Griffith Show. It may seem ridiculous, but tears came quickly when I heard Andy Griffith had died this week.  Felt like an old friend of the family had passed.   Someone I’d known all my life.   Someone I’d…

Filling Our Need for Community

After all this time, I still love Seinfeld.   I think I love Seinfeld for the same reason the generation after me loved Friends.  Same reason for the social media craze.  We’re starved for community.  Connection.  Finding a place to belong with people who aren’t your family, but who are your family.  Because that’s the way…

Refrigerator Art

You can tell a lot about people by what they put up on their refrigerators. Sometimes I keep appointment cards from my doctor’s office for next year’s appointment up there.  Because in a year, the only place I know I’ll find that card is on the refrigerator.  I still have magnets that I’ve had on…

Turning 50

Yesterday I turned 50.   And I think I had one of the nicest birthdays I’ve ever had.  I didn’t get a lot of presents.  I didn’t get any present that cost a lot of money.  Most of the presents were made by children.  A painting of my name.  A picture of a pig drawn on…

Gratitude & Gabrielle Giffords

Dear Congresswoman Giffords: One year ago today I suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, and as a doctor told me, “there ain’t nothin’ mild about it.”  Not quite five months later, on January 8, I watched the news coverage reporting that you had been shot.  My heart immediately went out to you, for I was…

Friends named Beulah in Green Ford Pickups

My grandmother had this friend named Beulah who smoked like a dragon.  She had the yellow fingernails to prove it.  And the leathered skin.  Beulah had the voice of somebody who’d been smoking Camels for decades, the scratchiest, most guttural voice I’ve ever heard.    A combination of Carol Channing and that woman who played…

Flying With Sheep

Twenty years ago this month I crossed the Atlantic for the first time.  And no other flight has ever compared to that one.  My friend, Steve, had moved to London, so I went over for a visit.    I bought my ticket months in advance and got a good price, thanks to another friend, Jimmy,…

Comfort Food

I only thought I’d had good barbecue until my freshman year of college.  My friend Jimmy kept telling me we had to go eat at this hole-in-the-wall place he’d found in a not-so-great part of town.  A barbecue dump right across the street from St. Vincent de Paul’s thrift store.  I’ll never forget the first…

Stealing Grocery Carts

One of the best pranks I ever played in college was the night we put a grocery cart on top of Jayne Montgomery’s car. It was the spring of 1981 and I was pledging a sorority.  Whatever prompted me, along with my two new friends, Lisa and Dita, to drive down to the grocery store…