Clean Water

Everyone needs clean water. And we all expect to get clean water, especially if you are a soldier and approach a “water buffalo” that has the word “potable” clearly stamped on the side. (A water buffalo is just a big portable metal tank with clean drinking water.) Usually. They give soldiers and Boy Scouts (or … Continue reading Clean Water

Learning To See Clearly

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash We’re at a little church that we’ve visited several times lately. It’s just a big country church with good, friendly people. Nothing fake here. There is one problem, however. And I hate to bring it up. But … There are pieces of artwork on either side of the front wall, on both … Continue reading Learning To See Clearly

Mustache of Shame

I was a grown man before I decided to shave off that awful mustache. And, I’ve never looked back. The impetus for change? A girl. A stunning and multi-lingual college-age Russian who was part of a group of other college girls assigned as translators for a motley crew of Americans in northern Russia. Here’s how … Continue reading Mustache of Shame

Squirrels, Horses, and Marriage Proposals

Before it was a park in the middle of the now “heavily populated” Satsuma, Alabama, under a canopy of oaks and home to a few billion squirrels, there stood a small wood-framed house with a detached garage, or as I liked to remember it — our horse barn. We didn’t have horses. But we did have a … Continue reading Squirrels, Horses, and Marriage Proposals

Coinage from Heaven

I’m six years old. And like normal six-year-olds, I am fidgety, shifting my little body back and forth in a wooden church pew in a community called Plateau, which, by the way, most people mispronounce. I’m clutching coins in my hands. They’re mostly pennies, a few nickels, and some dimes. But, no quarters. I would … Continue reading Coinage from Heaven

The Reading Lessons

Photo from the author's personal files When they got married in 1903, in Alabama, my paternal grandfather (Ollie Manning) could not read. I am sure this was common in this area of Alabama in the early twentieth century. Probably common to lots of people during this time. My grandfather was a carpenter, so he could … Continue reading The Reading Lessons

A Love Story in Winter

I twirled her around a few times while the soft moonlight filtered and fractured its way through the frozen branches of a row of nearby birch trees. It was this magical moment that one simply cannot replicate in the warm and mostly snow-less climate of central Arkansas. But I was in Russia and for me, … Continue reading A Love Story in Winter

The Power of a Wrong Word

I’m on a bus in northern Russia. Our small group consisted of my future mother-in-law, a friend named George, and me. We were headed somewhere in town. My Russian skills then, like now, were nonexistent, but I want to tell my mother-in-law something. I needed to tell her the one thing that all women worldwide … Continue reading The Power of a Wrong Word

The “R” Question

I’m sitting in a barbershop in Northwest Arkansas probably 15 years ago when the obligatory barber conversation started: Me: “Just give me a low fade, kinda like a national guard cut.” Barber: “Oh, are you retired?” I frown and stay silent for a minute. Because, well, ‘one of these things is not like the other.’ … Continue reading The “R” Question

Toxic Shame and You Can Too

It’s around noon on a Sunday. I’m 14 years old, sitting in my dad's Chevrolet work truck, which (and I don’t mean to brag too much here) is equipped with some fancy modern technology that I’m currently using. An 8-track tape player. Don’t be jealous. The speakers are vibrating with the comedic genius of a … Continue reading Toxic Shame and You Can Too