Archives for October 2013

Ray Of Sunshine

I rarely mention anything even vaguely political here on the blog because conflict makes me nervous – which is why online discussions about politics typically make me want to set my hair on fire and then crawl under the covers. That doesn’t mean that I want to crawl under the covers while my hair is on fire because, well, HOME HAZARD, but the point is that politics make me want to do a fair amount of screaming and then find somewhere to hide and maybe even sleep.

This is a very mature perspective, obviously. It’s no wonder that I speak so frequently at local political rallies and also debates.

(I just rolled my eyes so hard that I wondered for a few seconds if the right one was stuck.)

Anyway, this week I’ve followed the news a little more closely because I’m trying to keep up with what’s going on in Washington, and I have thought over and over again that I am REAL glad that I’m not the Health and Human Services Secretary or a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Those hearings have STRESSED ME OUT.

That’s one reason why I took some extra time to stare at the sunrise this morning.

IMG_0231

Isn’t that just something else? Seeing God at work in that big ole sky has a way of putting things back in perspective.

Anyway. Tonight is Halloween, which is probably my least favorite of all the holidays because COSTUMES. I do not enjoy costumes. I do not enjoy making them, or wearing them, or trying to make conversation with other adults who happen to be wearing costumes. It’s totally irrational, I know, but I just prefer a holiday where I’m expected – and lo, even encouraged – to show up in street clothes. I think one of my issues with costumes is that I don’t like to pretend, so it throws me off if I see someone I know wearing a wig and talking in a funny voice and pretending to be Katy Perry. Because no, you are not Katy Perry. You are Rhonda. Hypothetically. Because I’ve never actually had a friend named Rhonda who dressed up like Katy Perry. But if I did, there’s no question that it would freak me out.

(I’m totally fine with kids in costumes, by the way.)

(I think that kids in costumes are adorable.)

(Can you tell I’ve been a little punchy this week?)

(I’ve been a little punchy.)

A little while ago I was thinking about how adults in costumes can make me feel uneasy, and then I got tickled because IRRATIONAL FEARS, I GOT ‘EM. I’m not scared of snakes and spiders and normal things. I mean, I don’t like or watch scary movies, but if I did, I don’t think they would play into my fears. Because my fears are weird. For example.

1. I am completely grossed out by and terrified of clusters of raised circles or clusters of holes. I found out earlier this year that it’s called trypophobia (I mentioned this in a podcast), and I can totally work myself into a dither about it. It really does cause great anxiety when I get a mental image of some sort of cluster-y something that I can’t shake. And I think it all started in botany lab when we would watch videos with up-close images of things like insect eggs. Okay I have to stop talking about it right now STOP IT.

2. Honeycombs. Forget it. Instant nausea. Please see #1.

3. Pictures of tumors or cysts. Just NO. Because you know those people who will put a picture on Facebook and say, “I was so surprised when the doctors removed this from my arm” – and then THERE’S A PICTURE OF IT? That picture will cause me to take a nerve pill. Because while that cyst or whatever is unfortunate, and while it’s good the doctors were able to remove it, THAT IS YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS.

(I seriously just walked in my kitchen and wondered if I have any nerve pills on the premises. I’m getting a little worked up.)

4. The insides of pumpkins or cantaloupes. It’s the combination of stringy/slimy and seeds. Can’t do it. Totally gives me the shivers.

5. Animals with opposite textures on their bodies. Porcupines. Hedgehogs. Turtles. Armadillos. Couldn’t touch any of them if you paid me cash money. Might have a heart attack if I had to look at the underside of a turtle while touching the shell.

All righty. That just about covers it. You’re so welcome. And now I’m wondering why in the world I just did that to myself because ICK.

Let’s look at that sunrise one more time, why don’t we?

IMG_0231

Better. Much, much better.

So. Does anybody else have strange fears or phobias?

I think it would make my crazy feel better to know that I’m not alone. Seeing as how I just told the internet that I’m afraid of turtles and all.

Stuff To Read & Watch & Hear & Enjoy

I have an incurable case of The Shares. Therefore comma get ready for LINKS-A-PLENTY.

– Well.

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 5.40.25 PM

Dave Barnes released a Christmas album today. It’s called A December to Remember, and it is fantastic (seriously – it is FANTASTIC). Somehow it’s classic, soulful, and modern all at the same time, with a great mix of standards we all grew up with and original songs we’re going to want to learn by Thanksgiving. I know it probably sounds strange, but I can’t wait to sing this album in the car with my family. It’s ’bout-near perfect.

– Something tells me that Ohio State’s band did some practicing over the summer. I loved the Michael Jackson halftime show, but I think this one is even more awesome.

– I’ll be at Mistletoe Marketplace in Jackson, MS next week to sell and sign books at my friend Lea Margaret’s booth (SoDelta Candle Company, booth #608). I’ll be there early Thursday afternoon through Friday night. My friend Elise will be there to sell books at the gala (which sounds very fancy) on Wednesday night – just in case anyone wants to buy books and then pick up signed copies later in the week. Email me if you have questions or if I’ve made this whole thing terribly confusing.

– I want to write like Angie when I grow up. You’ll understand why after you read this post. Absolutely gorgeous – and a mighty timely word.

– This looks awesome (giddy up, J.J. Abrams fans). (via)

Cheeky Maiden Soap Co. has spoiled me rotten. I order all of my soap from them these days; it’s all-natural, affordable, and so very kind to sensitive skin. Plus, it smells like a little piece of heaven. My most recent order arrived last week, and as soon as I opened the box and inhaled the deliciousness, I made a mental note to pass along the link. Because I love the stuff.

– My friend Rosemary is in college and got engaged a couple of months ago. Her post about the proposal will make you cry happy tears.

– Last but not least.

IMG_0175

Ree’s new cookbook released today, and it is a feast for the senses. The photography, the writing, the recipes – everything about it is engaging and helpful and fun. I’m crazy about the way it’s organized (holiday by holiday), and I can’t wait to try the recipes. I have a feeling that my copy will be dog-eared in no time.

Hope y’all have had a great Tuesday!

Next Up: I Re-Fold My Sweaters!

This past weekend I did two things that changed my whole outlook.

Well. Maybe not my WHOLE outlook. That would be a task for Jesus, I’m guessing. But these two things definitely put a smile on my face, and the fact that they were relatively inexpensive makes them even better.

So. Ready to be astounded and amazed?

1. I re-organized my pantry shelves.

I know. It’s terribly exciting. But I hadn’t touched the shelves all year – other than to throw and cram stuff on them – so I cleaned them off, threw away a bunch of stuff, bought a couple of new plastic bins from the Walmarts, and in about thirty minutes, I went from this shameful state…

IMG_0206

…to this much more tidy state (and Mama, if you’re looking at this post, just ignore the confectioner’s sugar that spilled – I hadn’t gotten that far when I took the picture) (I know it’s making you twitch).

IMG_0208

IMG_0210

There’s Halloween candy in the mix, by the way. Lest you think that mini-Ring Pops are a mealtime staple.

So that was the first thing. Here’s the second thing.

2. I bought new soup bowls.

Seriously. It was a wild and crazy weekend around here, as I’m sure you can tell.

IMG_0217

But aren’t they cute? I haven’t had new soup bowls in, oh, about thirteen years, and we were down to just a couple of our bigger bowls that are perfect for chili and stew and whatnot. I found these in Home Goods for a whopping $3.99 each, so I bought 6 and smiled all the way home. We’ve already used them twice.

Sometimes it’s the little things, you know?

All The Answers To My Questions I Have To Find

Every once in a while I get the end-of-weekend blahs on Sunday nights, but I am actually really happy that tomorrow is Monday because I have a hair appointment on Wednesday that cannot get here fast enough. I have a terrible case of the flathead that can only be cured by a healthy dose of blonde highlights and a significant increase in layers. Sometimes that is all that will do.

That was really random way to start a post. Perhaps I should commence with a recap of the weekend.

Cold weather showed up for at least part of this weekend, and I was just as tickled as I could be. Friday night we went to a high school football game, and it made me so happy to bundle up in a big, soft sweater coat and reacquaint myself with wearing gloves. If it’s windy and cold, I am usually sort of miserable (please see: last year’s State / Alabama game), but I can generally handle regular ole cold weather (well, the Birmingham variety, at least) for four quarters of football. Thankfully that was the case Friday night. Our team won, Alex and his buddies got to run all over the place for most of the game, and last but not least I remembered why I am such a devoted fan of heated seats when we got in the car after the game.

Saturday I had a book signing in Boaz, Alabama, which is a little over an hour away from us. Alex decided at the last minute that he wanted to go with me, so we set off on a little mama / son adventure while David stayed here and worked in the yard. It was a beautiful drive – the leaves are just starting to turn in northeast Alabama – and I loved getting to visit with some sweet people at the bookstore. We made it home by 3:30, which means that I was in my pajamas and watching college football by 3:31. That suited me just fine.

I decided early this morning that I was way overdue for stock-up trip to the Walmarts; I just needed a bunch of stuff like garbage bags and light bulbs (WHY IS LIGHTBULB SHOPPING SO UNNECESSARILY COMPLICATED AT THIS PARTICULAR POINT IN HISTORY?) and mascara other boring things that I don’t like to buy at the grocery store because I have an oddly compartmentalized mental list of what stuff you should buy at what stores. So, after our Sunday morning routine of church and Chuy’s (AS WE DO), I told D that I was going to push through and brave a trip to the Walmarts before I lost the will. This is where I’m tempted to go off on a tangent about how people were doing some really impressive things with scarves this morning at church (not, like, dancing with them – I mean wearing them in creative, sassy ways), but I’m going to resist that urge because I have something so much more important to tell you.

Because.

When we were leaving the Chuy’s parking lot, I heard a familiar sound on the radio, and almost instantly I was transported back to 1998 – when D and I had just bought our first house and spent most of our spare time painting and also painting and then, for fun, MORE PAINTING. It was a time when my clock radio was my ever-present musical companion, regardless of which room we were working on, and my favorite top 40 station played three particular songs at least once an hour, it seemed.

1. “Lullaby” by Shawn Mullins
2. “Are You That Somebody” by Aaliyah
3. “Never Ever” by All Saints

Which brings us to today. And the fact that I heard “Never Ever” on the radio. I still knew all the words – and after a verse or so, I got so tickled.

Because you know when you’d write a Very Meaningful Poem with Many Deep Thoughts in junior high?

That’s sort of what this song is like.

These are the lyrics to the “spoken word” portion of the song, and just so you know, I listened to the first minute about sixteen times this afternoon. I even downloaded it from iTunes because I’m certain that I never ever want to be without “Never Ever” again.

A few questions that I need to know
how you could ever hurt me so
I need to know what I’ve done wrong
and how long it’s been going on
Was it that I never paid enough attention?
Or did I not give enough affection?
Not only will your answers keep me sane
but I’ll know never to make the same mistake again
You can tell me to my face or even on the phone
You can write it in a letter, either way, I have to know
Did I never treat you right?
Did I always start the fight?
Either way, I’m going out of my mind
all the answers to my questions
I have to find

I know. It’s so cheesy. And they manipulate the rhyme like crazy. But I can’t help it. IT DELIGHTS ME. And more than anything else, I think, my rediscovery of “Never Ever” has reminded me that some songs are great even if critics would say that they’re not very good. Because sweet mercy, that whole spoken part? THAT IS ENTERTAINMENT.

What about y’all? Do you have any favorite songs that might err a little bit on the side of cheesy? Or maybe they’re super-sappy but you don’t care because “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” spoke to the most tormented parts of your teenage heart?

I can’t wait to read your comments.

(You can tell me to my face or even on the phone.)

(You can write it in a letter, either way, I have to know.)

(The end.)

Also: Pretty Is As Pretty Does

When I was growing up, my parents were pretty much the opposite of helicopter parents. They didn’t even think about hovering. They didn’t fight our battles. They led by example – more action-oriented than verbal, I’d say – and that’s probably why I’ve always been a little fascinated when friends have told me about how their parents sat them down at family meetings and bestowed Great Words of Wisdom and Other Deep Thoughts upon their children. That just wasn’t Mama and Daddy’s style. They loved their kids and even now would do anything in the world for us, but they didn’t see motivating us as part of their job. They felt exactly zero pressure if we had a big paper or project due because they had no intention of doing work for us. Granted, they didn’t expect perfection, but by diggity they expected EFFORT. And now that I’m a mama, I totally understand where they were coming from. They didn’t see hard work and responsibility as anything that required lots of encouragement and affirmation. It’s just what you were supposed to do.

As far as I know, Mama and Daddy have never written down a collection of advice for Sister, Brother, and me. I don’t think that would ever occur to them. But early this morning I was drying my hair, and out of nowhere I remembered something Mama always used to say (and probably would still say if I were at her house every day): “When you look your best, you’ll do your best.” She’s more right about that than I would’ve ever admitted when I was in high school. And over the course of the next ten minutes, I thought of a whole host of things Mama and Daddy used to say when I was younger.

Apparently I was listening. And I guess I learned something, too. Here are a few little gems that came to mind.

1. Water seeks its level. (She wasn’t talking about water at all.)

2. Everything happens for a reason.

3. “All things work for good for those who love the Lord…” – Romans 8:28

4. You’ll always feel better about yourself if you put on a little lipstick.

5. Do your best to have a cheerful disposition.

6. The Lord never puts more on us than we can handle.

7. Your word is your bond.

8. There’s no use borrowing trouble.

9. Just put your mind to it and work at it.

10. Be a good friend.

11. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

And last but not least…

12. There’s just no substitute for Land O’Lakes butter.

(I may have mentioned that one before.)

Here’s what really got me, though. As I reminisced this morning, it occurred to me that I say every single one of these things to Alex (except for the one about the lipstick, because, well, that’s not really our issue). I may communicate a little differently with him than my parents did with me, but the messages are still the same. Just yesterday, in fact, we were dealing with a situation where #7 came up over and over again, and when I heard myself ask, “Are you gonna be a man of your word?” – well, I kind of wanted to laugh. Apparently I am a real-live grown-up.

Do any of y’all find yourself thinking about – or even repeating – expressions or words-o-wisdom that you heard growing up? What are some of your favorites?

Loose Ends And Other Things

1. I found the cream shirt in a pile of clean clothes on the guest room bed (what? all your clean clothes don’t hang out in the guest room? they would love it there).

2. I can’t get “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry out of my head.

3. “I wish I knew then / What I know now / Wouldn’t dive in / Wouldn’t bow down…” – SOMEBODY PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

4. The book signing at Social in Memphis was so fun. I got to see some of my relatives, some of David’s relatives, some college friends (hey Marian, Ginny, and Bubba!) – and I had the best time talking to new friends, too. It was a delightful afternoon.

5. Travis stopped by on his way to pick up some friends at the Memphis airport, and he was in the store all of 30 seconds before someone (hey Sherrie Lynn!) asked him to sign my book. It made me so happy.

IMG_0168

6. After the book signing, we picked up my favorite BBQ in the world for supper. And the Lord was well pleased.

IMG_0171

My sister-in-law Janie and I must have talked about how good it was for fifteen straight minutes. That Corky’s BBQ sauce is the best.

7. We watched the Ole Miss / LSU game at Brother and Janie’s house (they are Ole Miss people), and at one point I reminded Alex to not be obnoxious about the fact that he was rooting for LSU. That child looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Mama, we have to be honest about how we feel.”

8. He wasn’t finished being honest, either. When Ole Miss kicked the final field goal and won the game, A. ran into the den screaming, “NOOOOOOO!!!! NOOOOOOO!!!! HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN???” And I got so tickled because I don’t have any idea where he learned to react like that. IT IS A MYSTERY.

9. Once we said good-bye to our Memphis people, we hit the road and decided to stop in Tupelo to see Emma Kate and her family. Oh my word we enjoyed it. I got to spend about three hours in the orange chairs, aka the most relaxing place on earth. A. left with EK’s husband and the twins to go tend to a tractor (something about a tractor and a trailer and some bad tires), so EK and I sat in those chairs and talked ourselves silly.

When A. and I finally left around 4, he said, “Mama, what did you and Emma Kate talk about?”

“Everything,” I answered.

“Mama, that’s not a very good answer,” he laughed.

“Maybe not,” I said. “But it’s true.”

10. The sky was just a wonder all weekend long.

IMG_0114

IMG_0156

And the weekend was a good’un all the way around.

How was yours?