Cuba and the Redneck

(I haven’t been posting here as much as I’d like because I’ve been working on a few other projects. Maybe you’ve seen this piece I did for It’s a Southern Thing on bean pie and how I learned there’s more to it than meets the eye … or mouth, as the case may be. Or…

Alabama, Alabama, We will aye be true to thee …

Alabama is hard, y’all. It just is. It’s hard to be from here. It can be hard to live here. And sometimes — ok, a lot of the time — it’s hard to defend her. These last few weeks have been especially trying for those of us who were born and bred here, who love…

The Poke Salat Festival

I have been to the Poke Salat Festival. Seriously. Tragedy (that’s what I call my husband because of his resting sad face compared to my perpetual mule-eating-briars Comedy grin) and I drove for more than an hour from Birmingham to Arab, Ala., just to go to the Poke Salat Festival. How could we not? Now…

Veni, Vidi, Vici, Y’all

Veni, vidi, vici, y’all… That’s how I feel about the BookExpo, which I attended last week in New York. I was there because my book, They Call Me Orange Juice, was on display in Archway Publishing’s booth, and I got to be a part of a meet and greet with several people from Simon &…

Christmas Time’s A’Coming: A Holiday Soundtrack

The Christmas soundtrack in my head contains a heaping helping of Classic Country holiday songs. Some are happy, some are touching, all of them are guaranteed to get you singing along. Here are my top 10 favorites. 1. Christmas Time’s A’Coming by Bill Monroe: Your Christmas soundtrack might include harps, violins, cellos, and piano, but…

I don’t give a tinker’s damn

Think with me back to third grade. I’m sitting in the fourth desk in the first row by the blackboard in Mrs. Hurst’s class at Rosa A. Lott Elementary. That’s the year we started learning grammar. Mrs. Hurst taught us about synonyms and antonyms, metaphor and simile, and my favorite, the homonym. As we all…

Saturday Down South

Sometimes you find yourself in a moment that seems cinematic, as if you’ve been somehow dropped into a movie. But you’re not the ingenue. You’re the observant extra on the bus stop bench. The one around whom all the activity swirls while you suck on a Big Gulp and try not to stand out. You…

Money. Politics. Religion.

Money. Politics. Religion. Granny said one should never discuss these three topics in polite company. The key word here? “Polite.” That’s why even though I am a writer, a blogger, I try to avoid these topics. Manners, y’all. Manners. But sometimes you have to wade into the muck. Sometimes you have to speak your piece….

Today I witnessed history

Today I witnessed history. On this misty, gray morning, I stood outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham and watched a bright rainbow flag wave as Alabama became the 37th state to allow same-sex marriages. I watched Jefferson County Probate judges uphold the law and defy bigotry, hate, and fear. I saw families embrace, relieved…

Don’t leave me, Joe!

“Don’t leave me, Joe!” These are the words that John Brooks Rowell spoke to his brother, my great-great-grandfather Andrew Joseph Rowell, as he drew his last breath on the Civil War battlefield at Resaca, Ga. At least that’s how Granny told the story, and that’s how I imagined it. One last plea. A promise to…