I’ll always remember Aunt Lillie’s eyes

My Aunt Lillie fed raccoons at her house as long as I can remember, generations of them. When I was at her house a couple of months ago to visit, my brother called and I had to step outside to get a better signal. As we were talking, three raccoons appeared from around the corner of the house no more than 10 feet away and walked upright into the garage as slowly and deliberately as plump, little senators reporting to congress. Lunch time. 

Raise a glass to St. Peter’s

When I was in high school, I was on the basketball team. We weren’t very good, but we loved the game and even during the offseason you would find us on any given Saturday afternoon playing pick-up basketball just for the fun of it for hours and hours until our moms started showing up to take us home for dinner. While we waited on the last of the mothers to arrive, we’d play “horse” or have free-throw shooting contests. 

Learning to live with the mess

Maybe it was one more box of Cheez-Its left open on the table, the box surrounded by crumbs, that pushed a father to post the following on his Facebook page: “Is there an age when kids stop leaving a room looking like raccoons got in?” 

Back to near normalcy is a treasured gift

When practice begins each year for the new high school marching band season, summer is still bearing down, the sun boiling high in the August sky as a bunch of confused teenagers take their first tentative steps toward learning what will eventually become an intricate show with about 10,000 moving parts.  

One of those moments — the Rolling Stones

I bought my first record when I was 11 years old — a 45-rpm single by the Rolling Stones called “Angie” — at the Roses in Galax, Virginia. My Uncle Elgin used to drive Aunt Lillie and Mamaw over there to do some shopping, and if I was staying over (as I often was), I’d go with them and look at comic books and get myself a giant cherry Slushie. 

There is no middle ground with Covid

With the Delta variant raging across the state and school systems in every direction hurriedly moving to mask mandates for students before school begins, the Haywood County Board of Education called an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon … to do nothing. Unless creating the illusion of having done something counts. 

Sometimes the plan is to not have a plan

There is the dream my wife has every so often that haunts her. She’s on vacation and it’s the last day, time to pack up and go back home, and she realizes with this profoundly sick, panicky feeling that she hasn’t been to the beach even once and now it’s too late. 

Chickens make a stand despite our efforts

Five chickens appeared one bright summer morning in our driveway. I was still half asleep, stumbling through my morning routine of grinding and brewing the coffee, and then stepping out onto the front porch to water the fuchsias in matching hanging baskets on either side of the front steps. 

Summer nights: baseball, dogs and workout prep

There are three dogs in this bed: a very old miniature dachshund curled up on one corner, a very young miniature dachshund attached to my hip like a pistol, his head under the blanket but his feet sticking out and pointing skyward like the Wicked Witch of the East, and, finally, an asthmatic chihuahua perched on the pillow behind my head, rasping in my ear like a chain smoker asking for a light. 

As consultants, beach week is a bit calmer these days

Edisto Beach, SC — As if this year weren’t already weird enough, my son is in the bathroom of our rented house shaving for the first time. His mom has been onto him about needing to shave and for reasons known only to a teenage boy — or maybe not even known to him — he has chosen this moment, just after a twilight walk on Steamboat Landing to look for little frogs and then watch dolphins from the pier, for this milestone.

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