One More Byline

I’d not spoken the words in almost a decade.

“I’m David Hitt, and I’m a reporter…”

But they flowed just as nicely as they ever had.

Just to be safe, I’ll not tell the whole story yet. It’s always better not to announce what story you’re working on until it’s in print, so for the moment I’ll hang on to what exactly I was writing and who I was writing it for.

I will say it involved spending a day in Mississippi, which just made the whole thing that much better.

For those that don’t know, many many moons ago, I was a newspaperman. I was a Mississippi weekly newspaper editor at one point, and in those days thought I would go to my grave as a Mississippi newspaper publisher. NASA intervened, and the ink gradually left my veins. Or, at least, my fingerprints stopped being permanently smudged with newsprint ink.

As best as I recall, I’ve only written for one (non-book) print publication in the last decade, and I didn’t do any original reporting for it. And while my writing for NASA and the books involved at times extensive research and interviews, they weren’t quite journalism in the way I’d had been used to.

But over a month ago, I was talking to a friend while visiting Mississippi, and my friend mentioned knowing someone who might be looking for a freelance writer for an upcoming project. My information was passed along, and jumped at the opportunity when it was offered.

Earlier this week, I submitted my first news feature for a print publication in almost 10 years.

Making it even better, while some of the work was done remotely, I spent a day in Mississippi last week doing research. I explored a town. I interviewed people. I introduced myself as a reporter.

I carried my reporter’s notebook and pen.

I was happy. It felt right.

Really, it was amazing how easy and right it felt. A decade is a pretty good chunk of time, and yet it was natural. If there was any rust there, I wasn’t aware of it. To be honest, I don’t know that I wasn’t better at it last week than I was 10 years ago — the old skills were still there, enhanced by a decade’s worth of greater confidence and better narrative awareness. And working again in Mississippi, even for a day — I felt like a Mississippian again, even just for a day. I’m pretty sure my accent changed while I was there. It still fit.

The article was a one-off thing, and I’m not sure if there will be more opportunities from the same group. I really hope there will be.

There may be a little more ink left in the veins after all.

Rocket City Bloggers Carnival — Summer in the “City”

Image unrepentantly stolen from Entirely Adequate’s submission for the carnival. Used without permission, unless she tells me to take it down.

For those who don’t know, I’m part of an incredibly awesome group of local bloggers, known as The Rocket City Bloggers. Basically, as a group, we write things, share things we write with each other, eat things, and talk about writing things. And sometimes write about eating things. And often write things about talking about writing things, but that’s getting kind of meta. Like I said, it’s an awesome group.

Also, once a month, we have a blog carnival, in which those of us who aren’t too lazy (Bo, I’m looking at you here) all write posts about the same topic, and then one of us publishes a post linking to all of the other posts.

This month, the theme is “Summer,” and the host for the month is yours truly.

So, welcome, then, to the Rocket City Bloggers June Carnival.

Here are this month’s posts:

• From the “Mrs. Mood” blog, we have Who Else Is Ready?: “I know, I know, here we are on the inauguration of June but I am here to tell you, I am ready for Christmas.”

• Over on “Ninasoden,” there’s Summer Then & Now: “Summer time used to be a time of running around in the sprinklers and riding my bike for hours before finally running into the house truly exhausted and collapsing on the living room floor.

• “Calluna” wrote a post titled Summer As I Knew It: “The routines of the first 21 years of my life were dictated by a school calendar.”

• At “Girl Gad About,” you can read Summer Editorial Calendar: “To all my wanderlust-stricken love bunnies out there, Girl Gad About plans to implement a summer editorial calendar.”

• Over on “Entirely Adequate,” there’s Unscheduled Summers Provide The Best Memories: “Nearly everyone I know who has kids spends tons of money and time striving to plan the perfect summer.”

• And, for those who missed it, I posted my entry on Monday, How’re Dem Seasons? Summ’er Not As Good As Others: “When I was younger, as should be the case with every red-blooded American child, my favorite season was summer.”

• As an added bonus, I’ll include this submission from “Successful Freelance Writer,” who, participating the carnival for the first time, didn’t quite get the theme idea, but did put in enough of an effort to actually send something. Next time, though, it’s all gonna be theme-related again, so don’t nobody go getting any ideas: Taking Steps to Build A Writing Career

How’re Dem Seasons? Summ’er Not As Good As Others

When I was younger, as should be the case with every red-blooded American child, my favorite season was summer.

As I’ve gotten older, that’s become less and less true.

These days, as I’ve written before, my favorite season is fall.

Ironically, this year more than ever, my preferences are inspired by the same factors as they used to be, but with opposite results.

As I child, fall marked the beginning of the school year. Vacation was over, and it was time to go back to the daily drudge. When those days became a thing of the past, they left a mental mark that has stayed with me. While I used to dislike the end of vacation, the annual transition left me with a lasting sense of fall as a time of change, of new beginnings. The sort of association most people have with spring of hope and newness is very much something I associate with autumn instead. Every year, there’s a day where there’s a crispness to the air that makes it feel like fall has truly arrived, and with it there’s a sense that anything is possible.

On the other hand, as a kid, I loved summer for the fact that it meant that school is out. Fast-forward to today, when I’ve been working for the last nine months as a substitute teacher. The end of the school year doesn’t mark the beginning of a vacation — I’m still working at the Depot, but it means no subbing, which means less work, which means less income. Seven-year-old me, I’m sure, would have never imagined that three decades later, I’d be bemoaning the beginning of summer vacation, but that’s adulthood in a nutshell.

Plus, as sad as it is, as I get older, summer increasingly becomes about one thing:


It’s the time of the annual struggles with my air-conditioner, of days where outdoor fun is just a lot less fun, of having to change clothes after work to get through the rest of the day. That has to be proof of global warming, because the only other possible explanation is that I’m just becoming grouchier as I age.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fun things to do in summer — grill out, go to the beach, visit an amusement park, and so on and so forth.

I just prefer to do them all in the fall.

Song Challenge Week 12 — A Song From A Band You Hate

OK, I started this quite a while back and then dropped the ball, but I’m going to try picking up the 30 Day Song Challenge again as a weekly project.

Song Challenge Week 12 — A Song From A Band You Hate

“Arms Wide Open,” Creed

There’s not a lot of bands I hate. These days, there’s enough options out there that, if I don’t like listening to a particular band, I just don’t. Why waste time developing an antipathy for a band when you could spend the same time investing in a love for something else?

That said, I’ve never liked Creed, and I most likely never will.

Couldn’t even tell you why. They just rub me the wrong way.

So there you go.

Regular Richie Feature

My friend Richie enjoys seeing the search strings that led people to my blog, so every so often I post them for him. Here are some of the highlights from searches from the last month or so:

Star Gazing Farm

Star Gazing Farm (Photo credit: sneakerdog)

  • why is the subway pulled pork so expensive? — Pulling the pig behind the subway isn’t that hard, but picking up the pork bits afterwards takes some time, you know?
  • luxury of knowing lyrics — I want to live in a country where knowing lyrics isn’t a luxury, it’s a right!
  • notable words from prometheus — “engineers, faith, father, why, aaaaaaah!” You’re welcome.
  • i’d rather be a hammer than a knife — Also, I’d rather be a screwdriver than a spoon.
  • moby dick die — The new adaptation from the makers of “Kill Mo’ Mockingbird.”
  • hipster stargazing — Yeah, when I started, it was still nebula-gazing. Just sayin’
  • good neighbear — In a world with better marketing, the Star Farm bear would have eaten that gecko already.
  • “oh no! promootheus.” — This search makes me happy.
  • skydiving gift quotes — “Never look a gift skydiver in the mouth.” ‘Cause they might land on you or something. (Hey, they can’t all be gold.)
  • lori mckenna the moat — Presumably they were looking for “The Most,” but if Lori McKenna had an upcoming album of castle-themed songs, I would still listen to it.
  • devil fiddler — I have no comment about this one. It speaks for itself.
  • pampered chef guy version — A/k/a “Fire And Knives” (Cooking needs that Pampered Chef can totally help with, by the way.)
  • “wookiee jesus” — I’m not even on the top couple of pages of results for this one.
  • animal planet haunting demon— “They say there’s a demon that lives at Animal Planet, and that whoever challenges him will die.”

Magic And Cobbler — Pampered Chef’s Covered Baker

It’s interesting to me that, whenever I write about cooking, I never actually have an original picture to go with the blog post. It’s not that I don’t make things that look good (though I’ll admit I’ve made an ugly cake or two), it’s that, when I cook, I rarely wait long enough to take a picture before making sure the taste is OK.

So I don’t have a picture of my Magic Pot cobbler. Alas.

I’ve written before about Pampered Chef’s “Magic Pots” — the larger Deep Covered Baker and the smaller Round Covered Baker, and how I’ve used them to make, among other things, cake. (You can use the bakers in the microwave, freezer and oven, and in the microwave; the results are basically like oven baking at microwave speeds, which is sort of awesome. With them, you can microwave casseroles, cakes, chicken breasts, and on and on.)

At my last Pampered Chef team meeting, someone brought a cobbler to share, and the discussion turned to how, theoretically, you should be able to bake the cobbler in the microwave.

I love cobbler, so it was pretty much a given that as soon as the idea was spoken it was going to happen.

And it did, and it was awesome.

I have an easy cobbler recipe that I’ve used many times in the conventional oven, and it works just as well in the microwave with the baker. I’ve made three cobblers now with the baker — blackberry, peach and blueberry — and can go from not started to eating in about 20 minutes.

The recipe is not mine, but I’ll share it anyway:

1 stick butter or margerine
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups fruit

Melt butter in microwave in covered baker. Add flour, sugar and milk, and mix until lumps are gone. Add fruit. Microwave for about 12 minutes (cooking time will vary by microwave.)

This, let me say, produces a simple and tasty cobbler.

But, by accident last week, I made it even tastier.

Cobbler, I firmly believe, needs ice cream. There’s just something about the combination of hot fruit cobbler and cold vanilla ice cream.

But, when I made the blueberry cobbler, I pulled it out of the microwave and realized that I had no vanilla ice cream in the house. This is bad.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I had no vanilla ice cream, but I did have some chocolate that I’d bought for making milk shakes. We briefly debated where this would be acceptable or untoward, and decided the only way to find out was to try it.

Chocolate ice cream on blueberry cobbler, it turns out, is quite agreeable indeed.

And now you know.

To browse the full catalog of Pampered Chef products, place an order, or find out more about hosting your own show, visit my Pampered Chef homepage.

Song Challenge Week 11 — A Song From Your Favorite Band

OK, I started this quite a while back and then dropped the ball, but I’m going to try picking up the 30 Day Song Challenge again as a weekly project.

Song Challenge Week 11 — A Song From Your Favorite Band

“Jenny Says,” Cowboy Mouth

I don’t have a lot of favorite bands.

Most of my favorite acts are solo artists. Don’t know why, that’s just the way it is.

Every once in a while, a band sneaks through the filter. U2 is probably the elder statesmen of bands I like, not the first, but probably the band with the most staying power on my favorites list.

In the last couple of years, some country acts have made the list — Sugarland and Lady Antebellum come to mind.

But my favorite band? I’d have to say that, at the moment, that honor belongs to Cowboy Mouth. I love their music, and I greatly love seeing them live. It’s more than a concert, it’s an experience.

So, I’m going with Cowboy Mouth for favorite band, which pretty much makes “Jenny Says” the song.