In honor of back-to-school re-organizing, I’m de-cluttering the random chaos that tends to take over my brain and leaves me unable to do even the simplest of tasks. (“Sweetie,” husband JP says to me, patiently, “is there some specific reason why you’re burning dinner?”) I mean, the blogosphere here graciously has gifted us with infinite white space to fill up with all my rabid mutterings share thoughtful and meaningful insights, so we should take advantage.

First, as we’ve been doing around here all weekend, let’s check the weather. My Southern state is approaching lockdown with news of Isaac “barreling toward,” “aiming at” or “targeting” — depending on your reporter — our coastal regions and beyond. (Grammar-geek-question-the-day: Can hurricanes actually “aim?” Discuss.) But we’ve got Jim Cantore to pull us through. I adore this guy! I think he personally is responsible for an uptick in Weather Channel viewership when hurricanes threaten. (Overheard in grocery-store line: “I can’t go to lunch with you. I’m headed home to watch the hurricane.”) Cantore’s devotion to giving us the full story while getting blown around by wind and rain is legendary. His intense yet calm warnings of potential doom sort of make me want to nail plywood over our windows even though my town is hundreds of miles away.

Second, it’s Freakin’ Finally Football here in the South. And probably other places, too — we just don’t think too much about them this time of year. High schools have been at it for a couple of weeks or so, and SEC play opens on Thursday with South Carolina visiting why-are-they-still-playing-football-please-just-let-them-stick-with-basketball Vanderbilt. As much as I harbor pure and unadulterated dislike for one specific team in my conference (Hint: It is not Auburn.), I’m an enthusiastic fan of all things SEC. And this year, I even have an SEC student — Younger Daughter is in Knoxville doing grad work at the University of Tennessee. I’ve already started collecting an orange wardrobe.

Third, that thing about Younger Daughter moving to Knoxville to do grad work? She’s a grown-up woman making grown-up choices and doing just fine on her own, thank you very much, yet I still cried when we moved her two hours farther away. Of course, the tears could have been my middle-aged body protesting after a couple of days of packing and lifting and tugging and toting — although she did most of the prep work herself — but I think I unconsciously was revisiting here first day of kindergarten, which I did not handle well AT ALL. She called a couple of days later while walking around campus. “How are you doing?” I said. “Fine,” she said. “It’s just me and 30,000 other students.” Welcome to the SEC!

Fourth, my incredibly cute and adorable grandsons are … incredibly cute and adorable. The 9-month-old is calm and relaxed and constantly entertained by everything going on around him, although he already seems dissatisfied with crawling and you know he’s thinking, “So, you just put one foot in front of the other and try to not fall down, huh? I bet I could do that.” The 4-year-old, on the other hand, is the one usually doing the entertaining — why sit quietly when you can pretend to be a pirate or Batman or a ninja warrior? Dirt, mud, water and sand are his tools of choice, yet he also enjoys a good tea party and, for awhile the other day, decided his name was Trixie. This bodes well for 21st-century manhood.

Fifth, I help with a mediawriting lab at our local university. One of the first assignments this semester was a just-for-fun project to see how well the students did when they had to write something by hand. You know, with a pen and a piece of paper. Like the olden days. As they worked, I noticed they all seemed to have developed their own individual style of loopy or choppy sort-of printing — none of them used cursive anymore and most of them hadn’t written anything in cursive in years. Interesting …

More to come —





Random Ranting

This is your lucky morning, because I meandered around cyberspace picking up all sorts of bits and pieces so you don’t have to. Just make another espresso, sit back and enjoy.

First of all, do we really think that Michelle Obama is a 21st-century Marie Antoinette? Uh, no. It’s true that she loves fashion and spends money on clothes. It’s true she likes growing things and puttering around in gardens. It’s true that she’s a victim of gossip and bad press. (Can you tell that I just finished watching Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette?) But that’s where comparisons should end. Mrs. Obama is a smart, educated and sophisticated woman who’s used to a well-off lifestyle, and if she wants to vacation in Spain with her daughter and with a few friends, she shouldn’t have to give that up just because the Secret Service has to tag along, too. And, for the record, I never begrudged the Bush First Family their time off, either. Also, for the record, after I watched Marie Antoinette, I read more about her on the Interwebs and was amazed to find that folks are STILL arguing about whether she was an evil harlot, a misunderstood saint or simply a young girl who made some tragic mistakes. I vote for the latter.

Secondly, in fashion news, have you seen these foldable black flats from Dr Scholl’s? I’ve found them in Walgreens and online but not at the Dr Scholl’s Web site. Initially they seem like a good idea: A pair of soft and packable black ballet flats you can carry in a little pouch on your wrist and slip into when it’s 11:30 p.m. and the wedding reception is in full swing and you’ve worn your pointy black pumps (which are coming back for fall, by the way, so retrieve all those pairs you relegated to the back of your closet in favor of round-toe platforms) since 2 p.m. Ah, sweet relief! But, as several folks have pointed out in the blogosphere, what are you supposed to do with your pumps once you take them off and put the flats on? You can’t put the pumps in the little pouch the flats come in. Chances are they’re not going to fit in your evening bag. You can’t ask your husband/boyfriend/date to hold them. Maybe you’ve got a car handy so you can stash them there, but maybe not. Okay, Dr Scholl’s — what’s your solution for this problem??? I predict special “pump-carrying mini backpacks” to be the next big thing.

Third, I love the way Anthropologie has layering suggestions on its Web site for extending the life of summer dresses into fall and beyond. There are some lovely and creative ideas that make me want to forget about the 101-degree temps today here in northwest Alabama and dream about crisp fall afternoons.  And speaking of fall, it is back-to-school time here in the South, where students typically head back to class the first of August. Why this is, I have no idea. But it is sort of annoying when the national press says things such as “For many families, the main focus of August is getting out of town on vacation,” as the Washington Post did this week, when most Southern families have already picked through the notebook selection at Wal-Mart and are well on the way to the school-year routine. Hey, people, we’re here, too, you know!!! It’s as if one whole section of the country is being ignored. Okay, ranting over. Thanks for listening!