Vignettes Short musings from everyday life.

Something to Look Forward To

They say find joy in the small things, and for the thirty springs I’ve been walking or jogging my same route through the neighborhood, I’ve looked forward to passing this … Read More

On Being Seen

I was walking down Sunset Mountain when a car slowed beside me. The driver leaned out his window and said a bear was up ahead. “It’s probably fine,” he said. … Read More

Elegy for a Stove

This week we said good-bye to a dear, loyal friend which fed our family for 30 years, having grilled, fried, simmered, boiled, baked and roasted some 40,000 meals, and boiled … Read More

Coming Home

Midnight. Nearly home from Mexico on the last leg to Asheville, presided over by an older flight attendant whose Southern accent is thicker than mine. Out our window, we see … Read More

Good Company

I talk to myself. A lot. I don’t know if it has to do with being a writer and spending a lot of time alone or a function of getting … Read More

A Wish

I passed by a big section of houseless woods when I chanced upon this fellow. He paused long enough for me to pull out my phone. Then he vanished. It’s … Read More

A Blue Streak

As an introvert, I’m always impressed by people who talk a lot. How do they do it? How do they think of all they have to say? Or is it … Read More

The Taj Mahal

I’m not sure I ever wholly believed it was real. It had always felt more of a mythological place. When we first arrived it was cloaked in morning fog, making … Read More

Angels in Disguise

Ruth was taking a long weekend from au pairing in Italy and decided to visit Paris. She sent me pictures from Shakespeare and Company, maybe the most famous bookstore in … Read More


On my walk, I found a chestnut. I rolled it around in my hand and put it in my pocket. Then I realized spiny chestnut burrs were all around me. … Read More

Little Switzerland

On a walk up a muddy road on a chilly November day, we pass a worn moss-covered sign nailed to an old pine that reads “… RIVATE … OAD”, reminding … Read More

Well, Where Is It?

I was sitting at the dining room table, reading student stories and Connie was in the kitchen. The front door swings open and two middle-aged women, purses on their arms, … Read More

American in New Delhi

Beyond the gates of our hotel, a cacophony of horns, Gershwin’s “American in Paris” or “American in New Delhi.” India is the world’s most populous country, New Delhi the world’s … Read More


On our tour of India, we stayed in nice places, which meant, no matter our fatigue or sensory overload, we always had a good meal and quiet room waiting at … Read More

How Can We Help You?

Many years ago, Mary Martha, Connie’s mother, bought a house in Asheville and was looking for a church that might fit her. So Connie took her to the First Baptist … Read More

Look Who's Talking

So sometimes when I’m writing I read my characters’ dialogue aloud. It’s become second nature and sometimes I don’t even know I’m doing it. I was working on a scene. … Read More

Moni and Sumi in New Delhi

When we arrived in New Delhi at the beginning of our India trip, Radha’s parents, Moni and Sumi, had a reception with delicious Indian food at their beautiful apartment across … Read More

Just So

When Connie and I sit and watch TV at night, Grover always has to rearrange pillows in a chair or on the couch. Sometimes it involves some pretty elaborate maneuvering. … Read More

Oh Bother

I’d been writing on our shady deck when I heard a commotion down below. I leaned over the railing and saw a mother bear and two cubs. When she saw … Read More

Hay Is for Horses

On my walk I passed a woman coming the other way. I smiled and said, “Hey.” “Hello, ” she said. Then she fixed me with her gaze and said, “Hay … Read More

A Book Worth Stealing

My heart leapt. Between Moby Dick and To the Lighthouse was Debby, a beautiful novel by Max Steele, published in 1950. Max, a distant cousin, taught creative writing at UNC … Read More

Making a Living

A few years ago, Connie spotted this sign on this long dead tree we passed on our walk up on Sunset Mountain. Neither of us had heard the word, which … Read More

Passion Flower

I was just a boy when I first came upon a Passion Flower, blooming in my uncle’s fence. It didn’t look real to me, like an artist’s rendering of a … Read More


When we visited Ketchum, Idaho I learned Hemingway visited there to fish, hunt and escape publicity. He made good friends and in ’59 moved there with his wife Mary. He’s … Read More


"If a pit viper is alone in a room with a hot air balloon, it is definitely going to go over and bite it." Max Hays, from my notebook April … Read More


I always like bridges on trails. They’re interesting interruptions, little events in themselves with a beginning, a middle and an end. I like the hollow sounds your steps make as … Read More

Another Covid Breakfast Conversation

"Do you hear that?" Connie says."Hear what?" I say. We’re quiet for a minute, listening.“That really high sound?” I ask.“Yes!”“I don’t think that’s anything, ” I hear myself say. “I’m … Read More


Ocracoke. I went on a long morning walk down a sandy road that follows the marsh and finally leads to the ocean. A fisherman or two passed by in their … Read More


This is what happens. I’m making a cup of tea to sit down to write. Not sure what I’ll write. I’m in-between drafts. So I think I’ll write something short, … Read More

Innocence of Ears

One morning I was writing out on the deck when this little guy dropped in. He literally dropped in, tumbling over the fence and landing in our Adirondack chair. A … Read More

The Optimist

Connie and I were downtown to do a little shopping, and on our way home were walking along Lexington Avenue when we passed a young couple, as the woman said … Read More

The Inchworm

One evening we were on the back deck eating dinner when I noticed an inch worm swaying on a thread in front of my face. He hung there dangling from … Read More


I was working at the dining room table when I heard an odd tinkling sound somewhere in the house. Later I heard a fluttering. I looked up, a wren was … Read More


Several years ago, on one chilly afternoon in February, Ruth, Connie and I decided to go to Dobra Tea downtown. I ordered the Lapsang Souchong about which the menu said, … Read More

First Typewriter

My parents gave me my first typewriter when I was six. The keys are just for show. The way you type with it is to dial a letter or a … Read More

Familiar Strangers

I was walking on Sunset Mountain and passed a couple coming from the other direction. They smiled and said hello. As they passed I heard him whisper, “Do you know … Read More

Old Delhi

We visited the Baha’i Lotus Temple which couldn’t have been more tranquil with its expanse of lovely landscaping and openness. We attended a brief service in the Temple, in which … Read More

Big Creek Trail

We’d been swallowed by the house. It was early Covid days, and folks were gradually emerging from quarantine. So with trails opening up we drove over to the Great Smokies … Read More

Aunt Eddy and the Copperhead

Aunt Eddy, my great great aunt, lived with her brother Uncle Cleve across from the old Furman campus in Greenville. My surrogate grandparents, I spent many weekends playing all over … Read More

The Doors of Perception

I’ve never read Huxley’s iconic memoir about taking mescalin. But I’ve come across The Doors of Perception dozens of times in the musty aisles of used bookstores. When I saw … Read More

A Visitor

Grover was barking his weird growly bark and we knew what it was before we looked. This big fellow was carefully helping himself to the bird feeder which we’ll have … Read More



I woke in the middle of the night and instead of the parade of worries that are usually lined up waiting for me, I thought, “Marmalade! That’s what I’ll have … Read More

One of Those Teachers

My notebook November 15, 2002: Walking Max and Ruth into school. Max is in fifth grade and Ruth in second. Max is talking about a quiz his teacher sent home. … Read More


Sometimes I’ll get the feeling someone is watching me. It’s often when I’m working. And I’ll look up into Grover’s laser stare from across the room. He’s silently willing me … Read More

First Meeting Connie

Today we went to Lunsford Festival in Mars Hill. I have such warm associations with the place, where I first met Connie in 1980. She lived in an apartment with … Read More

Whirling Dervish

I come to a break in the trees where you can see downtown. Nearby somebody is playing a trumpet. I notice the occasional strained note, it’s a difficult instrument. Whoever … Read More

Raise the Blinds

Raise the Blinds

My office has always been a little dark since we moved here 30 years ago. Today I wanted more natural light, but the lighter rooms in the house were engaged. … Read More

The Bike

As a little boy I spent a lot of time playing in creeks that eventually led to Cleveland Park and the Reedy River, dirty and smelly, but a river nevertheless. … Read More

Driving Home from Wildacres

After a week of teaching up at Wildacres, I drive home by the Parkway. How I always go home after a week up there. It's slow and gives me time … Read More