Corinth, Mississippi

Corinth, Mississippi, has a lot to celebrate. This historic town in the northeast corner of the state is full of good eats and good shopping as well as old Southern houses and a fun downtown. And on Friday, Corinth’s Belk department store will reopen after it was flooded in early May from the same weather system that devastated Nashville that same weekend.  The store reportedly had more than two feet of water and mud. Store employees and other work crews have been cleaning and repairing; it won’t be completely back to normal for the reopening, store managers said — but close enough. A Southern town without its Belk store is a sad, sad place. It’s where you go for everything you need: Clothes, shoes, jewelry, linens, place settings, handbags, makeup — and the latest news. You see friends and neighbors there and catch up on what’s been going on. If you don’t have a Belk in your town, then go to Corinth this weekend and borrow theirs. They’d love to have you! Learn more about Belk at http://www.belk.com/. And while you’re in Corinth, you’ve got to go downtown for a fig pizza at Pizza Grocery. Dear Husband and I were there, preparing to get our usual two-slices-and-a-salad lunch special when “Fig Pizza” caught my eye as part of the seasonal spring menu. Yes, please. DH sort of shrugged and I knew I was on my own. But after my third or fourth “This is sooooo good,” he had to try some, too — and all I can say is that we had to split the leftovers. With gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese and a balsamic reduction, this is a fantastic combination of sweet and savory all wrapped up with a big mouthful of yummy. Go try some, right now. http://www.pizzagrocery.com/

Nashville, Tennessee

This is what downtown Nashville, Tennessee — one of my favorite places ever — normally looks like, with the Cumberland River in its proper place. But you know from news reports and Youtube what it looked like after a weekend of record rainfall. Freakin’ unbelieveable. Cleanup is starting as floodwaters that killed at least 20 people and caused an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Middle Tennessee gradually begin to recede. We are so grateful that friends and family there suffered only fixable problems: ruined carpets, soggy furniture, flooded-out cars and power outages. By all accounts, cleanup is going to be a major challenge. Keep up with the latest news and find ways to help by at http://www.tennessean.com/, site of Nashville’s daily newspaper, the Tennessean.

And while you’re clicking around the Interwebs, I’d love for you to read my newspaper column from this past week at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100430/ARTICLES/4305004. It’s about a friend and local businesswoman, Marigail Mathis, who died a couple of weeks ago from cancer complications. I say she was a friend, but actually I never went to her house or ate lunch with her or saw a movie or any of the things you normally do with friends. Yet, she made me feel as if I were a friend. She made everybody she met feel that way — she was warm and generous and supportive and encouraging, all within a three-minute conversation standing in the middle of her clothing store. Marigail was one of those special folks you just feel happy to know. She’s already missed.