When the universe offers gifts, unwrap them

The final school bells have rung. 

When I was teaching, the last few weeks of school were grueling and felt never-ending. Once students were finished with end-of-grade testing, they kind of went wild, as if they’d held it together all that time and could no longer maintain their instinctive desire to run, jump and talk nonstop.

Memorial Day is more than flags and speeches

My wife, Lori, and I recently attended the wedding of my nephew in Fayetteville. While there, we wandered around downtown for a couple of meals and I was reminded of how the city’s affiliation with the monster military machine of Ft. Bragg defines this Southern town.

Fort Bragg is the largest U.S. Army base by population, with more than 52,000 active duty soldiers. The base also has more than 12,000 reservists, almost 9,000 civilian employees and 63,000 active duty family members. Throw in almost 100,000 retirees and their family members, and you begin to get the scope of the military’s impact. All told, the census bureau pegs the metropolitan area’s population at about 375,000.

This must be the place: Ode to my grandfather, ode to soldiers past and present

The first time I was aware that my grandfather, Frank Kavanaugh, served in the military was being nine years old in 1994 and watching him talk on the local North Country TV channel, Home Town Cable. 

This must be the place: Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals

Sitting high up in the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville last Thursday night, I couldn’t help but wonder what my Uncle Scott would think about all of this.

Deserving books that may pique your interest

On the red wooden chair near my desk, 14 inches high, is a mound of books waiting for review. Three or four of them have taken up residence on that red chair for months, clamoring for attention. Others are more newly arrived. 

We’ve got the nicest house in the campground

We are not a camping family. It’s probably my fault, if there is a need to assign blame. I joined the Boy Scouts when I was a kid mostly because some of my friends did. Also, I liked some of the Patrol names. For example, I was a member of the “Screaming Eagles,” which sounded fierce, intimidating and patriotic, all at the same time. But I hated the uniforms, which seemed goofy and slightly effeminate to me, with the scarves and the khaki shorts and all the bling for the more highly decorated scouts.

A bucket list full of dreams

Late in life, my mom created a bucket list. It wasn’t in response to her cancer diagnosis, but once she passed away, the list became serendipitous. 

One item on her list said, “Take a trip to Africa.” 

Home is far way, but also here with me

By Hannah McLeod • Guest columnist

I arrived in Costa Rica at the beginning of February. After floundering for a few too many months in the shallows of real life following college graduation in May, I decided to flounder somewhere else and wound up teaching yoga and cooking meals at a surf camp in Avellanas.

This must be the place: The wheels on the track go ‘round and ‘round

Pulling off US-11E and into some random person’s backyard last Saturday afternoon, I handed the woman $10 and was directed to park my truck along the tree line behind the rickety garage. 

Stepping out of the vehicle, I could hear the sounds of 110-mph stock cars roaring around the half-mile track across the street at the Bristol Motor Speedway — “The Last Great Colosseum” — in the rolling hills of Eastern Tennessee.

The popcorn crisis: film at 11

When you’re young and in love, you feel invincible, like nothing can ever possibly contaminate the perfect union you have formed. This is oh so sweet, but you should know that it is unbearably annoying to everyone else. There is something else you should also know.

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