Archives for May 2012

A Few Friday Favorites – 06.01.12

– Wright Thompson is one of my favorite sportswriters. He’s so good, in fact, that I can’t read too much of his stuff at once or I start to think that I have absolutely no business writing a blog or a book or anything that involves arranging words into sentences. Lately, though, I’ve read a couple of his pieces that are so beautifully written that they beg to be shared: a behind-the-scenes look at the family life of LSU head coach Les Miles and a profile of Bear Bryant’s driver, Billy Varner, and his struggles to remember a boss that he knew and loved.

– A few weeks ago my friend Elise pinned an illustration on Pinterest that I just loved. So I ordered it.

Isn’t that so fun? The artist, Molly Mattin, has illustrations available for lots of different states. It just dawned on me that I should’ve ordered prints for Louisiana and Alabama, too – a grouping of the states where we’ve lived would be a neat way to document our little family’s history, you know?

– The South’s preoccupation with the best barbecue fascinates me. When I was growing up in Mississippi, folks talked about fried catfish way more than they talked about barbecue, but in Alabama, people have some strong opinions about their BBQ preferences. In the June issue of Southern Living, they’ve compiled a list of the South’s 20 best barbecue sandwiches, and now I officially want to go on a barbecue-tasting road trip (there’s also a list of the South’s best pitmasters, so I guess that’ll provide the stops for a second road trip, OH MY GOODNESS).

– I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t: John Mayer’s new CD, Born and Raised, is phenomenal. We’ve listened to it like crazy for the last couple of weeks, and it’s going to wind up being one of those albums that I associate with the summer of 2012. Gorgeous music with thoughtful lyrics – tough to beat.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Edited to add one more: Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride – an excellent sermon by Francis Chan. So convicting.

The Plans, They Have Failed

Monday night I didn’t get to watch The Bachelorette until late, so I figured I’d get up Tuesday morning and write a recap. I had so many thoughts, after all, what with Ryan telling Emily that she’d better not gain weight after they get married and Kalon essentially saying “SHUT IT” when Emily was trying to ask him a question, not to mention the interviews with Emily’s friends and DOLLY PARTON SANG A SONG, MY WORD.

Yesterday morning got away from me, though, mainly because our puppy girl (who is 14, by the way, but she’s still a puppy to us) had a vet appointment. She’s been little not-quite-herself lately, but we sort of figured that was to be expected since she’s, oh, pushing the century mark in people years. After about five minutes with the vet, though, I started to pick up on the fact that All Was Not Well. The doctor did some blood work and x-rays, and no kidding: within an hour they had her in surgery to remove a softball-sized tumor on her spleen.

Bless her heart. No wonder she hadn’t been herself lately.

Anyway, she did great after the surgery, and the vet feels really good about her recovery, but once she gets home she has to take it super-easy. I say that like she’s normally a wild woman, staying out until all hours of the night and setting a bad example for the other neighborhood dogs by smoking cigarettes and defying her authority figures. That’s not exactly the case considering that her life consists of alternating between the dog bed in our bedroom and the dog bed in the living room, with a little sunshine time in the driveway for good measure. But the vet said that Miss Ally needs to be a total couch potato for the next week, pampered even more than usual, and it was all I could do not to stand up and say, “Doctor, that is not a problem. I may have majored in English, but I minored in couch potato, and I will happily spend the next week introducing Ally to all the Real Housewives in all their respective cities.”

But I didn’t want to alarm him. So I just nodded and said, “Yes, sir.” That seemed like the path of least resistance.

Then.

After supper last night I decided that I really needed to get started on my Bachelorette recap, but not until I checked the Mississippi State message boards to see if there was any new information about the NCAA baseball regionals. Because, well, as a middle-aged wife and mama, it’s of the utmost importance that I keep my finger on the pulse of State’s pitching decisions for their round 1 game against Samford. Forget figuring out what I’m going to cook my family for supper and the shameful condition of my refrigerator and the fact that I have a huge deadline on July 1. The most pressing issue, CLEARLY, is if we’re planning to pitch Stratton or Graveman.

(Really, I am just an organizational wonder. I would offer to lead some seminars on my crackerjack efficiency strategies, only I’d forget to show up for the seminars the second that I got caught up in some captivating online discussion about SEC quarterbacks or I started pinning encouraging sayings (with cute graphics!) on Pinterest or (true story) I discovered a website that analyzes the wardrobe choices on each episode of Mad Men.)

SO, since baseball monopolized my attention last night, I went to bed thinking, TOMORROW. I will write about The Bachelorette tomorrow. Unfortunately, I had no way of knowing that our power was going to go out a little before midnight – and it’s still out. I don’t know what happened, but I do know that there are about five Alabama Power trucks in our neighborhood, along with a brand new hole that’s approximately the size of the Grand Canyon. I’m hopeful that the power / DVR / electrical everything will be fully operational soon, but in the meantime the little man and I are hanging out at our favorite Starbucks while I charge my computer.

And listen. If I could bottle the air conditioning at this Starbucks? I WOULD TAKE EVERY BIT OF IT HOME WITH ME.

So there you have it: my litany of excuses for not posting about The Bachelorette. My intentions were good, but our dog’s spleen / my adult-onset ADD / a late-night thunderstorm conspired against me. Even still, I’d love to know what y’all thought about the episode. Plus, reading your comments on my phone will give me a way to pass the late afternoon hours when I’m waiting for D to get home and trying to not think about how my house is a burning hot inferno of stuffiness.

(Something tells me that I’m going to have a whole new appreciation for Caroline Ingalls before the day is over.)

(I’ll let you know if I decide to cook supper in the fireplace.)

(But I can assure you that I will not be wearing any sort of bonnet.)

In Which We Are In Fact The Champions

Well, I am oh-so-happy to say that we had a little bit of unexpected excitement around here this past weekend.

Mississippi State won the SEC Baseball Tournament here in Birmingham (well, technically it was in Hoover, but considering that Hoover spreads out all over the southern end of the ‘Ham, you don’t really know when you pass out of one and into the other), and we were just as tickled as we could be. We went to most of State’s games last week – which means I heard the sounds of bats hitting balls in my sleep – and there was no way I was going to miss that championship game Sunday afternoon. Oh, sure, it was supposed to be 95 degrees outside and humid and sunny (all my favorites!), but we got to the baseball stadium early enough to secure some seats that were far, far away from the dangerous U-V rays. I will thank the Lord for that particular blessing for the rest of my earthly days.

And listen. As thrilled as we were to see State’s players win the championship, we were just as excited to see about 11,000 State fans show up to cheer for the Bulldogs. It was remarkable, really, to be here in the Birmingham area and see maroon in all directions. I’ll never forget when we first moved here and I was completely astounded by the fact that people said “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle” to each other as a casual, everyday greeting – just like you or I would say “Hey” or “How’s it going” – so to be within a few miles of our house this past Sunday and be surrounded on all sides by State folks? And to hear “Go ‘Dogs!” at every turn? Well, it was a mighty big treat.

The tournament was so fun all week long, and while I know I’m a bit biased about the general, all-around wonderfulness of the Southeastern Conference, I really can’t say enough about the way they run their events. The baseball tournament is a well-oiled machine, and it’s a fun, family-friendly environment. We made some great memories this past week and had an absolute blast. The fact that our team won the championship was just the scratch gravy on top of the homemade biscuit.

Go ‘Dogs!

Must-Read

This post by Emily Freeman?

Gorgeous. And true.

Everybody Clap Your Hands

So here’s what we’ve been doing.

I mean, we haven’t been just staring at a scoreboard.

But we have been watching the Bulldogs play in the SEC Baseball Tournament this week. And I don’t want to overstate it, but so far it has been THE MOST fun. We’ve run into friends from Birmingham and friends from my hometown – and today Emma Kate and her kids drove over for the game. We hollered and cheered and clapped and laughed our heads off, and it was exactly like college except for the fact that we are almost 20 years older and we answer to “Mama” and we no longer regard the hair bow as our favorite go-to accessory.

Oh, we had ourselves a fine time.

I never have really high expectations for the tournament (though State fans do love themselves some baseball), but yesterday we beat Arkansas, and today we beat LSU, the #2 team in the nation. It was delightful. Tomorrow we play Kentucky, and if we win that game, we won’t play again until Saturday. I say all of this like I have a real understanding of how the bracket works, but I have had to consult about 7 different sources to make sense of it all. The bracket reminds me a little bit of when Joey Tribbiani auditioned to host Bamboozled, but I think I understand it better now, and the gist of it is that WE NEED TO KEEP WINNING ALL THE GAMES.

Thanks to Neutrogena SportFace SPF 70 and mainly sitting in the shade, I’ve managed to avoid any tournament-induced sun poisoning, and I’m just as tickled as I can be about that. It’s always a good thing when you meet your personal free-from-sun-poisoning goals.

So what about y’all? What’s going on with you?

And most importantly (though a completely different subject), what do you think about the American Idol results?

Mentally Refreshed And Hopefully Eager To Move On To These Next Days

We started tonight’s episode of The Bachelorette with Emily establishing that it takes a village to raise a Ricki. It really is fascinating to think that all their real-life stuff was still going on while they filmed the show, and that’s precisely why I loved that the first individual date consisted of Emily and Ryan making cookies, cutting up some orange slices, and driving to soccer practice. It reminded me of Melanie’s (brilliant) theory that one of the Bachelorette dates should involve taking care of a couple of kids who have a stomach virus. That’s when you see what a potential spouse is made of, my friends.

By suppertime, though, we were back in regular-ish Bachelorette territory. Emily and Ryan were all dressed up for dinner, and they traded in the Suburban for some sort of fancy sports car. When they first sat down for their meal, I kept thinking, OH, THE AWKWARD, but after a few minutes they seemed to relax and laugh a little bit. That does not mean, however, that I was not ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED by the portion of the evening where they had to dance on a platform in front of a very large audience who seemed intent on filming the festivities with their cell phones. Surprisingly, Ryan did not run screaming for the Charlotte International Airport. And he got a rose, so I guess it all worked out.

Next up was a group date with thirteen guys and The Muppets, which was every bit as painful as it sounds. The bachelors had to write a comedy routine and perform it in front of an audience, so it was basically a variety show date – with puppets. EVERY GIRL’S DREAM COME TRUE.

After the variety show everybody had some time to hang out, and unfortunately Kalon demonstrated that he may have missed a day or fourteen in his interpersonal communication class at college. In the end Emily gave the group date rose to Jef (one F! only one F! a second F is superfluous!), and Kalon consoled himself by admiring the toggle closures on his cardigan.

An individual date with Joe was next on the agenda, and even I have to admit that Joe showed some charisma. He seemed at ease in his skin, and that was a refreshing change-o-pace after the insecurity-a-thon on the group date. While Emily and Joe went for a swim at The Greenbrier, the guys at the house talked about the responsibility of dating a woman with a daughter. Kalon insulted Doug, a single parent, by implying that Doug put fatherhood on hold in order to participate in The Bachelorette. Doug was quick to shut down the discussion, but oh, Kalon. You had a rough go of it tonight, didn’t you?

Honestly, I don’t think the toggle sweater helped matters.

Meanwhile, back at The Greenbrier, Emily and Joe sat down for dinner, and when Joe couldn’t explain where he wants to be in five years (other than, you know, “happy” and “no regrets”), Emily decided to cut Joe and his charisma loose. I especially appreciated Emily’s near eye-roll after Joe’s car pulled away from the resort while fireworks exploded in the sky. A burly security-type guy removed Joe’s suitcase from the house in Charlotte while the guys expressed their disbelief by saying things like, “No way!” and “Dude!” and “Huh?” and “Dude!”

So, by the time the cocktail party rolled around, Joe’s departure had already sent a loud and clear message that EMILY, SHE MEANS BUSINESS. Arie and Emily caught up after a week with no date, and their conversation seemed easy and good. Afterwards Ryan delivered a letter to Emily (and God bless her, she read the whole thing out loud) while Tony seethed in the corner. Kalon eventually managed to grab some one-on-one time with Emily, and he turned on the charm. The guys in the house mocked his vocabulary and his luggage, at which point I knew that he was guaranteed a rose because he is officially this season’s drama magnet. Every season has one.

Aaaaaand, just like clockwork, Kalon got the first rose. Then there were some other guys who all sort of ran together, but eventually we made it to the previews for next week’s episode. I was antsy because it’s the second week of the show, and we still haven’t seen footage that involves an emergency vehicle. TOTALLY UNPRECEDENTED. However, we did see footage of lightning, so clearly next week’s episode is FRAUGHT WITH DANGER.

I don’t read spoiler sites, but I do have a prediction for the final rose. Based on the conversations they’ve had the last two weeks and the fact that this guy seems really comfortable when he’s around her – and she seems really nervous when she’s around him – my week two final rose prediction is Arie.

What do y’all think?