Random Thoughts …

… from a cluttered mind:

  • This TV season is so full of gems that our DVR can’t catch a break. If you’re not watching “Community,” “Modern Family,” “Parks and Rec,” “Castle” and “Prime Suspect,” then you are missing out. Not to mention perennial favorites such as “The Office,” “Survivor” and “Amazing Race.” And this is even before “Cougar Town” and “30 Rock” come back. On the other hand, perhaps this is why I never can find the time to finish start the great American novel.
  • Saving money doesn’t always save money. For instance, my debit-card-pinching Scrooge-like sensible and financially-savvy husband instituted a crazy and unworkable spending ban thought that we should perhaps maybe reign in the spending for a while. “I’ll show him,” I snarled to myself. Fair enough. However, saving money is relative. Take Worcestershire sauce. In our house, fall signals the arrival of Chex-Mix Season and it was time to make that all-important first test batch. Mindful of my husband’s Draconian desire to save money the budget, I carefully collected the necessary ingredients. And since you can’t scrimp on the stars of the show — you know you always can tell when somebody uses generics — I made up the difference on the supporting cast. That’s how I ended up with a huge bottle of store-brand Worcestershire sauce that was 2.3 cents cheaper per serving than the small bottle big-name brand I usually buy — until I got home and dropped the bottle on the kitchen floor and tons of watery salty fishy liquid went everywhere and the bargain buy turned out to cost me $9.46 to make up for the lost first bottle, the small-but-expensive replacement bottle, the half-roll of paper towels used in clean-up and the emotional toll on our four cats who spent the remainder of the evening frantically trying to find the anchovies they knew had been there.
  • A Grove-going Ole Miss fan confirmed my suspicions that most Grove-going Ole Miss fans are more interested in the Grove-going than the actual football game. And given their season so far this year, you can’t really blame them.
  • Do people actually wear this stuff? In a T.J. Maxx checkout line,  (Note to Husband: I was there to return things. Really. That is all. Promise. Could I help it if that black Kenneth Cole jacket literally jumped into my cart and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer?), I noticed  posters of outfits that were supposed, I guess, to inspire us style-wise. One look was a pair of bright pink tights, a black satin ruffled micro-mini skirt and an off-the-shoulder gray jersey sweatshirt. The other look was short red-plaid shorts, a patterned sleeveless blouse and a big furry vest — reminiscent of what got Anthony Ryan booted from “Project Runway.” What I really think happened is that the editors and marketing folks got together and said, “Let’s test our power by convincing our customers to buy and wear the most god-awful things we can think of.” (Maniacal evil laugh.) But guess what, people? IT DIDN’T WORK!!!! I thwarted your dastardly plan by buying the Kenneth Cole jacket instead, plus two dresses, a pair of shoes and this really great saucepan I think I probably will need sometime. See???? You cannot influence my spending at all. Take that!!!!!!!
  • My husband and I failed our house’s intelligence test the other day when we had to call the builder for instructions on how to access the windows so we could clean them. Which means I’m embarrassed about not being able to figure out how our windows work as well as living in the house for almost a year before getting around to washing them.

Running Without Scissors

This spring I’ve been helping my husband John Pitts, sports editor for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, cover local races. I think he mainly wants me involved so I’ll make sure he gets up and out to the starting line in time, since runners and sportswriters seem to have different interpretations of  what “early in the morning” means. (One thinks 5 a.m. and the other thinks  10 a.m. You be the judge.) But I’ve honestly enjoyed the up-close-and-personal perspective I’ve gotten from helping cover both the Corinth Coca-Cola Classic 10K and Tupelo’s Gum Tree 10K Run. I mean, I do not run. It hurts. It makes me cry. It’s painful. I do not understand why people do it. I remember somebody who ran explaining it to me once. She said, “You know that feeling when you can’t move your legs and you feel so sick and dizzy and you have to stop and throw up? I love that!” This is madness with a capital “C” for crazy, too. Because whenever I feel like that, I immediately go lie down. And perhaps call the doctor. I do not think, “Only four more miles to go!” That’s the difference, I guess, between those who run and those who buy a pair of Nikes maybe once every five years. Or the difference, perhaps, between those at the front of the race pack, poised to spring into record-breaking action as soon as the gun goes off, and those at the back, who are, like, “Has it started yet? Are we supposed to be moving?” As an experienced race reporter now, I can tell you that there’s quite a contrast between the intense anticipation at the front of the line and the relaxed gathering going on in the back. But that’s one of the most surprising things I learned: There’s room for all. Maybe even for folks who don’t even like to run.

Sports and Food — These are a Few of My Favorite Things

I could sit here and write something new and witty and inspiring and motivational and smart. (No, really, I could.)  Or, I could make some more coffee and reuse things I’ve already written this week. French roast, anyone???

http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20110406/ARTICLES/304069999/1004?Title=New-Orleans-Bam– How to bring a touch of New Orleans to your own kitchen. This is a story about a cooking class at Sweet Basil Cafe, in Florence, Alabama, where owner Carole Graves excels at making delicious food and showing others how it’s done. Plus, the wine flows freely at her cooking classes, so what’s not to like?

http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20110408/ARTICLES/304089999/1031?Title=Chili-out-eat-up-at-cook-off — How my husband and I survived judging a local chili cook-off. I sampled around 50 — yes, 50 — bowls of chili and salsa at the cook-off in Corinth, Mississippi. A week later, I’m still recovering. But we had a blast. And I was even inspired to actually make a pot of chili … well, maybe someday.

http://nems360.com/view/full_story/12677193/article-JOHN-L–PITTS–Spring-quickly-becoming-my-favorite-season?instance=secondary_stories_left_column&sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d9df47ee582cd73%2C0 — Here’s a bonus read because you’ve been so patient to wade through my scribblings. My sports-editor husband is the real writer in this family. He makes sports accessible even to non-sports folks such as me — I still don’t understand golf, NASCAR or why sometimes football players just stand around and watch the ball drop. But I love my husband, so it’s okay.

Gardening versus Basketball, or Another Reason to Love Winter

Less than a week ago around here, schools were closed and cars were sliding off roads and we were all hunkered down for about the third or fourth time that ice and snow had come to the South this year. Today, however, when you step outside in the sunshine and the semi-warm breeze, I swear you can hear the flowers growing and the tree branches starting to bud. Or I would hear flowers growing if I actually had planted any in our yard. While Southerners love spring and its reinvigorating warmth and gentle unfurlings of fresh color, the season’s arrival exposes pathetic non-gardeners such as me who can hide their lack of green-thumb talent behind winter’s freezing temperatures. I’m perfectly content to spend January and February and even March curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace and watching basketball on TV. But once March Madness kicks in, the gardening guilt follows close behind: When everybody else is energetically outside, enthusiastically wielding seed packages, trowels and watering cans, it’s difficult to justify lounging around in your jammies. So, while I certainly don’t want anybody to get hurt and everybody is oh-so-tired of snow days and school closings, I wouldn’t mind a little more winter before spring arrives for good. I’m not ready to give up lazy weekend afternoons wrapped up in my cozy blankie and yelling at the TV screen, “What are you talking about? That was NOT a foul! Check your eyes, ref!”

Snow and Ice is Really Nice

Here down South, we’ve been doing a lot of un-Southerly things lately. Like trying to figure out how to get 6 inches of snow off our cars. (“Do you have an ice scraper, by any chance? You know, it looks like a little squeegee thing.”) Trying to dress for 20-degree weather. (Layers.) And watching hockey games in real live person. Well, OK, it’s true that you can watch hockey throughout the South almost anytime during the winter, but the threat of snow and ice outside seems to add to the authentic hockey experience. A couple of nights ago, Dear Husband and I watched a hockey game in Tupelo, Mississippi, between Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University — schools better known, admittedly, for football than hockey. The teams were club teams, not NCAA-sanctioned, but the young men on the ice had all the heart of top NCAA athletes. Maybe more. There was no glory. No TV cameras. No big fat checks. (In fact, the games were fundraisers for the hockey programs.) But there was an enthusiastic crowd and plenty of MSU cowbells. And to readers still puzzled by the idea of ice hockey in the South: Arenas and coliseums, such as the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, turn their floors into ice rinks during the winter for hockey and public ice skating. Sadly, though, Bancorp South had to cancel its ice-skaing sessions this past weekend … because of, you know, snow and ice.

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.

Shopping — and Baseball

The big news in my northwest Alabama town this weekend — besides people having to cover up their pansies and azaleas for the Final Freeze — is that three chain stores are moving in to a deserted shopping center that recently housed Goody’s (a Southeast clothing company gone bankrupt) and a Toys “R” Us and Old Navy that apparently we couldn’t keep in business.  My town also has killed a Pier One, Michael’s, Stein Mart and IHOP — who puts an IHOP out of business??? — and, then of course there was our Linens ‘n’ Things, which wasn’t our fault because nobody could save those stores. But now I have mixed feelings about Ross Dress for Less, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft and Bed Bath & Beyond coming here. On one hand, it’ll bring much-needed jobs and taxes — and those are good things. On the other hand, we can’t keep the small hometown stores in business, either: I still mourn the loss of the restaurant-supply store my friend’s family owned and the gourmet kitchen shop parents of Younger Daughter’s friend had that couldn’t compete with the big-box mass-discounters. And our local family-owned and -operated string of three fabric stores is now down to one — and it specializes in home-decor sewing instead of handmade-clothing sewing. I’m just not sure what I think. Somebody tell me what to think. And is Ross Dress for Less anything like the shining star of discount style — T.J. Maxx? I’ve been in maybe one Ross Dress for Less – do we have to say the whole name or is “Ross” sufficient? – maybe one time so I’d love some guidance.

But there is one thing I’m certain of: I’m not a baseball fan. And not because of the reasons you might think. The truth is that I’m actually sort of afraid of baseball. I know, I know — weird, right? Read my weekly newspaper column to find out why — and to find out who the one person is I overcame my baseball fear for. You know who! http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100409/ARTICLES/4095005