Books and Other Random Thoughts

You all are so sweet to wade through my jumbled and scattered thoughts here in Bloggy World. You have no idea how much I appreciate that. But you’ll be happy to know that I can manage to string together some coherent sentences and actually get them in print — really, I can!!! Here’s proof:

You know the economy has tanked and everybody’s scrimping and saving wherever they can, right? You know folks are cutting back and slashing expenses, right? And you know that the book-publishing industry — like music and movies — is suffering. Then you’ll be as surprised as I was when you find out that there’s one category of books that’s seen an incredible increase in sales. And it’s no wonder — I’ll bet you’re like me and cannot wander past that section in your local bookstore without stopping and checking it out.

And you know what they say when you first start trying to sell your house: Your No. 1 top-priority chore is to declutter. But be careful, because sometimes you end up with more stuff than when you started!

Speaking of family efficiency, how are you at packing? I thought I was pretty good. I had a system based on my method of household organization and it worked for years … until I out-organized myself.

Shameless Self-Promotion

I am not one to use my blogging space to shamelessly market and promote my other endeavors … I mean …. to try to convince you to read my things I actually get paid for … uh … I mean … to try to up readership of my other online articles … oh, what the heck … Here is a food story I did today for the TimesDaily on a cool and refreshing no-cook fresh-vegetable salad — http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100728/ARTICLES/307289999 — and my latest weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100723/ARTICLES/307239995, which is about my 2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable and I learning how much fun it is to drop globs of Play-Doh on the floor and squish them flat with our feet. His mommy was not amused. Okay, the commercial is over. We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Football

Yup, it’s mid-July and supposed to hit 100 degrees today but around here we’re all already thinking fall — and football. Because with SEC coaches taking the podium during media days in Birmingham and doing their best to charm the press, this week marks the unofficial start of football season. It’s that giddy optimistic time when everybody’s smiling and anything can happen and championships are within every team’s grasp. Fans have made their hotel reservations. Brides and hostesses have checked the game schedule and know not to schedule anything on home weekends. Sports journalists — such as my newspaper-sports editor husband — have kissed their spouses “goodbye” and settled in for a good five months of all football all the time. And while I enjoy a good football game as much as anybody, it’s true that I also look forward to the start of the season because 1) It means college basketball is getting closer; 2) I love the game-day menu of chips, dips and anything fried and 3) Who can resist a “Peace, Love and Alabama” shirt? Not me.

Tunica

We went to Tunica and all I got was some chocolate cake. My husband was luckier, however — he picked up two first-place awards from the Mississippi Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest for headlines and sports columns. We were in Tunica recently for the MPA annual get-together and awards luncheon. It was my first glimpse of the famous gambling town and only my second time ever to go to a casino. And in fact we didn’t even go to the casino so my record still stands at once … and I don’t think I got the full experience even then since I only sat at a nickel machine for a few minutes and watched my dollar bill dribble away. Sigh. Anyway, our Tunica adventure was on a Saturday and my sports-editor husband could only take enough time out of a work day to drive over (Down? Up?) to the luncheon, so we only saw the inside of the Harrah’s conference-center room. I had a blast sitting with friends from my husband’s newspaper, and although we were all less than impressed with the food and the service — Seriously, no tea or water refills and only one carafe of coffee for 200 people? — our dessert of chocolate cake certainly looked intriguing. The cake itself was on the dry side, but the berry puree and the chocolate ganache were divine. I also can report that I saw beautifully landscaped grounds and a sign advertising the Paula Deen Buffet, but that’s about it for my Tunica Harrah’s experience. Husband and I agreed we needed to come back and stay longer. See for yourself at http://www.harrahstunica.com/casinos/grand-casino-resort-tunica/hotel-casino/property-home.shtml.

Shopping

Ah-ha! At last they admit it! I always knew that somewhere in the Wal-Mart “Manual for Luring Innocent Shoppers Into Our Lair and Tempting Them With Shiny Pretty Things At Low Low Prices,” there was a whole section devoted to “Impulse Items.” You know, those things such as a five-pound bag of potato chips, a complete manicure-in-the-car-while-you-drive kit and a new coffee table … in a box … that you never knew you needed until you see them in all their glory and before you know it, you’ve added them to your cart along with dog food, doughnuts and a Dora the Explorer backpack. So who slipped up and revealed the secret?  Or maybe the “Impulse Items” signage is itself part of the devious plan. I mean, who can resist checking out the aisle and seeing if indeed it’s full of things we suddenly and impulsively want to buy? Well, actually, I resisted. But only because I saw some Pretty Shiny Things in the next aisle over and then somehow inexplicably came home with a new mixer plus new sets of pots, pans, knives and  — and I never ever hardly ever am usually too busy doing charity work to cook.

And I know this is late and you’ve probably already seen Sex and the City 2, but in case you haven’t and you’re now waiting for the DVD, read my column http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100618/COLUMNISTS/100619794 to find out the one true thing this fantasy movie says about women.

Of Closets and Purses

Yup, this is a car full of clothes. And while it’s my car, they are not my clothes. A couple of us helped a friend moved this past weekend. “All I’ll have to do is some cleaning and move some things out of the closets,” she said. And we said, “Sure, we can handle that. No problem.” I volunteered for the closet transport, but that was before I remembered that my friend LOVES clothes and LOVES shopping and has the wardrobe to prove it. Yikes! Younger Daughter was around to help with the first closet of winter clothes in my friend’s spare bedroom, which only filled my back seat. This is the contents of my friend’s double closet that held her spring and summer things, which you know here in the South accounts for 75 percent of what we wear. “You’re not going to put this on your blog, are you?” my friend asked, nervously. “And when you do, just don’t say my name.” But, honestly, I was impressed with how organized and efficient her closet system was. I tried to duplicate that as I filled up the closets in her new house, but I’m afraid she’s going to have to redo.

And if she had known how big a slob I actually am, she may not have entrusted her closets to me.  I’ve learned how to disguise my tendency toward total chaos and yuckiness, but my husband could certainly tell her.  As a journalist, however, I’ve pledged to tell only the truth. So I revealed all my disgusting habits — well, some, anyway — in my weekly newspaper column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100528/NEWS/100529900. Read it at your own peril.

Jackson, Mississippi

When my Dear Husband asked me to go with him to the annual Mississippi/Louisiana Associated Press Managing Editors awards luncheon this past week, I had no idea we’d be going to one of Jackson, Mississippi’s old-school-and-proud-of-it landmarks: The Capital Club. Established in 1947, it’s downtown near the governor’s mansion and the state capitol — commanding an impressive view from atop the Capital Towers building. I could just imagine all sorts of high-powered conferences going on while high-powered politicians and business folks conferred over their hand-carved roast beef. I loved all the upscale details, too — from the leather furniture in the library to the lemons and limes used in the flower arrangement. And you know I love a fancy bathroom. This one had those lovely big mirrors with chairs and makeup counters and glass decanters of hand lotion — why can’t Wal-Mart do something like this??? Dear Husband picked up a first-place award for headline writing (His paper, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, got a total of 26 awards — sweet!) and gave a talk to the group on why he’s optimistic about the future of newspapers — gaining extra points for mentioning both me and grandson Capt. Adorable. And rumors that we got thrown out of the dining room are greatly exaggerated. Truly! After we loaded up our plates at the lunch buffet (the gumbo, sweet corn muffins and fresh coconut cake were especially delicious) we thought we were supposed to sit in the main dining room with what looked to be a core group of Mississippi movers and shakers. Turns out we journalists had our own room — away from the movers and shakers. Probably a wise move. Learn more about the Capital Club at http://www.capitalclubms.com.

Fashion and TV

Sometimes I truthfully do not understand fashion. Looking at this photo, you probably would think that this is a rack of leftover curtain fabric that somebody found in the back of an upholstery shop that closed in 1987 and had not been touched since then … sort of like an ugly-fabric time capsule. But, no. This is a rack of for-sale-now-get-’em-while-they’re-hot leggings at a teen-friendly mall store whose name I will not reveal because I like their cheap jewelry and I don’t want to have to put on dark glasses to shop there — but think along the lines of “Sue 21.” I promise you I had dresses made out of some of this fabric back when we also wore stirrup pants and big oversized sweatshirts with appliqued puppy dogs. Not pretty. I know that girls wear these with denim minis and look adorable, but I still have a hard time reconciling bad floral prints with high style. I can’t figure out if teenagers are wearing these ironically or if they really think these are cute or if they’re just happy to find something to wear for $9.99. Or maybe all of the above?

And while you’re pondering the future of leggings, think about TV, too. Seems to me that there are some really good shows on now — shows that combine comedy with intelligence and real life. Well, at least more real life than we’re used to on sitcoms. Modern Family, Cougar Town, Community, Parks and Rec — they all are on my list of favorites, and I bet they’re on yours too. Read my weekly newspaper column on the state of TV sitcoms at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100507/ARTICLES/5075004 and let me know what you think.

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.

Babies

Ain’t technology wonderful? Here I am, stuck in the basement obsessively keeping up with weather and tornado warnings on TV, radio and computer all at the same time — and smiling with delight at new pics of my week-old nephew. Born to my younger brother and my sweet-and-precious-even-though-she’s-a-Yankee sister-in-law in Maine, this adorable baby does have an actual name but to me he’ll never outgrow what his parents-to-be called him when he was only a tiny image on a sonogram: Splinter, as in A Little Piece of Wood. Can’t you just smell that precious new baby goodness? Splinter’s mom and dad will make excellent parents, and “big brother” Thule, their Siberian Husky, will help, I’m sure. And in no time whatsoever, it’ll be two years later and, just like grandson Capt. Adorable, Splinter will be playing with trains and flirting with girls and demanding yellow crayons instead of red ones. And by the way, it’s a lot harder to build these train tracks then it looks! Not to mention any names, but one day somebody decided to help the Captain lay out a new configuration and that person got hopelessly confused and couldn’t even create a simple circle that would bring Thomas back to the station safe and sound. Thankfully, the Captain had it figured out. And I believe “laying toy train tracks” should be added to the list of brain-boosting activities.

And on another rant, I climbed up on a (Dove for Sensitive Skin) soap box in my weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100423/ARTICLES/4235001,  and explained exactly why I’m mad at Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, John Edwards and Kate Gosselin. I mean, it’s fine to make mistakes and do stupid things and choose wrongly — just don’t look me (and by “me,” I mean all of us) in the eye and lie about it. Except if you’re on Survivor. Then I sort of expect you to lie. And tell me all about it.