The Sounds of Summer

Right now, Africa by Toto is playing in my ear. Before that, it was Aja by Steely Dan. I’m sure in a little while it will be Kiss on my List by Hall & Oates.

Yacht Rock Radio is my jam of choice these days, and I’ve decided that it’s because of the feelings that bubble up inside me when I listen to the music. The slow melodies take me to the chair of the orthodontist’s office, and even the first dances and first kisses of my life. But none are as strong as the ones that take me to the Pine Needles Country Club Pool.

I can see it now.

The Kennedy boys and Wendy lifeguarding. The deep end of the pool covered by an all-day natural shade. The pebbled texture of the pool’s walls with people holding themselves up all along the edges. Little kids getting swim lessons in the shallow end. Cannonballs and dives and can openers, one after another, from the diving board. People lined up for the slide that, if you weren’t careful, would tear your bathing suit up because it was so worn down and prickly.

Damp money was pulled from pool bags and cover-up pockets to hand to teens to get snacks from the snack bar.

The kiddie pool was lukewarm and filled with the tiny kids in real diapers. The ones of the young families in town, and even some of our parents’ friends who had “late babies.” The moms like Mrs Andie and Mrs Janie and Mrs Susan and Mrs Jann, younger than I am right this minute, tanning and gossiping and poking straws in Capri Suns for everybody who was left by their parents to spend the day at the pool.

I can smell it even more.

The dressing room smelled like chlorine and sweat and mold and melted Kit Kat bars. There was so much chlorine in the pool, you could smell it from the car. Red clay from the road between the pool and tennis courts wafted through on the dry days. The shady deep end smelled like a moss-filled forest  — like you were miles from the shallow end that was bright like the surface of the sun.

The vision of bright bathing suits and big hair and the scent of Hawaiian Tropic oil combined with Baby Oil and teenage hormones lingers in my memory, reminding me of days that were, for the most part, carefree and easy.

I feel like these memories come to us in moments where we need to be reminded of something. Maybe it’s a simpler time. Maybe it’s to check in on friends that are collected in the snapshots in our minds. Maybe it’s just to roll down the windows and sing as loud as you can without a care in the world.

To the memories I carry, I say, quoting the great Toto: “It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you; There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.”

 

 

SOC Sunday: Connections in Strange Places

This is my Stream of Consciousness Sunday brain dump. I love these prompts from Fadra. Makes me think outside my normal box and dig deeper into my brain!

Today’s prompt (and now that I’m finished with the post, I realize it’s only loosely based on the prompt):

Are you a people person? What are some of your favorite types of encounters or tell me a story of one!

#SOCsunday

One day about 4 years ago, I was standing in line at the CVS in our very small town. There were two older women behind me. Being such a small town, it was unusual that I didn’t know the lady right behind me. I did know the other, though.

I had already spoken to the lady I knew and was minding my own business waiting for my turn at the register.

The lady I knew mentioned how beautiful the baby was in the photos the other lady had printed. She said thank you very quietly and then said that it was her granddaughter who had died the day before. She was on her way to her daughter’s house and wanted to print a few of the pictures she had of her. Her voice was shaking and it was obvious she was trying to hold it together.

Then I heard the lady I knew say, “Jana might have some words of comfort for you. Her son died a few years ago and really touched the lives of everyone in town who knows her family.”

When I turned around, the grandmother just started openly crying and hugged me. We talked for a few minutes and she told me how worried she was about her daughter – that she was so very sad. I shared with her some things her daughter was going through and how she could help comfort her.

I remember her giving me a smile through her tears before she left. She thanked me for talking to her and I told her that I would keep her in my thoughts and prayers… that her daughter would be ok and that time and love would help mend her broken heart.

Back in my car, I cried and wondered what had put me right there in that minute. I never went to CVS and yet, that day, I had to go. Why was I there?

I’m a people person. I love to have conversations with complete strangers. I’m very much like my mother in that sense and it drives my very shy husband insane! I find more and more that when I have these random encounters, there is a thread that makes me know that I was supposed to be right there in that very minute.

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This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post. (On Fadra’s sidebar)
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Now…

1. Grab the button. (On Fadra’s sidebar)

2. Write your post.

3. Link up here.

Some Things Never Change

Some Things Never Change

Driving to home (Fort Valley/Potterville), from home (Dunwoody), along Highway 341, the sights rarely change. In fact, most of them never change.

I’ve been driving or riding this road for most of my life. It’s the “back way” for times you don’t want to drive on the boring interstate.

Coming from Atlanta, the sights get fewer and farther between the more South you go. It starts out an oasis of used car lots, bail bondsmen joints and fast food restaurants. The farther you go, the distance between stop lights gets longer. Establishments get spaced out and eventually you’re on a 2 lane road.

It’s a calming drive. Busy gives way to manageable which gives way to miles of untouched land. You can feel the stress leave your body with each mile traveled.

Most of the scenery is always the same.

First, there’s the house near Milner, GA that’s never been finished. I don’t know the history of this house and haven’t been able to find anything about it. (WHY ISN’T THERE A WEBSITE THAT HAS THE HISTORY OF THIS HOUSE? OUTRAGE!)

All I know is that I remember passing it when they were building it — a monstrosity out in the Middle of Nowhere. There used to be a Rolls Royce that sat outside, covered meticulously with a car cover.

The years haven’t been kind to this abandoned house. Though the scaffolding is still intact at the entrance, there are no windows or doors. Mold and mildew have taken hold and made it an ashen shade of brownish gray that is reminiscent of death.

Somehow the grass stays cut down around it, yet nothing happens to the house… nada… the house stands just like this.

And it has for (I believe) more than a dozen years.

I sense a short story…

Further down the road stand two fireplaces. They obviously were from two separate homes because there is a great deal of space between them. Two families likely lived here, raised children, and farmed to feed themselves. Yet, all that’s left of the homes are these two fireplaces, the center points of nightly conversation and the providers of warmth.

Out in the Middle of Another Nowhere stands this sign for Jimmie Fields Beauty Shop. If this doesn’t make you want to go see Jimmie Fields for a perm and a Coca-Cola, I don’t know what would.

This sign has long been a fixture of Highway 96 scenery. May it never be taken down.

Keep rolling into Middle of More Nowhere.

Peach Orchards.

Once you hit Crawford County, peach trees abound. In early spring, thousands of acres of tiny pink blossoms carpet the horizon. This past weekend, after a brief downpour, the orchards were almost fluorescent green with the added nutrients and water and in contrast to the bright blue sky that emerged from the cloudy sky.

These are sights that, if we’re lucky, Henry’s children will be able to enjoy. We love driving the road from home to home, commenting on the familiar sights that will never change.

And we also love to comment on the ridiculous — like a roundabout in the Middle of Yet Another Nowhere.


 



Roots

I am honored and flattered and strangely speechless about being the first feature in my friend Erin’s new series, Show Me YOUR Roots.

The prompt is to write about what brought you to the place you are in now — personally, professionally, in regards to your blogging/writing.

I hope you’ll click over and read. Erin is a brilliant writer and I’m sure you’ll want to add her site to your reader as well.

 

 

#FineChinaFriday

#FineChinaFriday

I grew up around fine things. China, crystal, sterling flatware and holloware. My grandparents (and then parents) owned a jewelry store that also sold giftware and dinnerware.

In the later years, the bridal registries slowed down with the advent of department store and online registries and OMG TARGET! But over the 65 years our store was open, thousands of couples registered at our store for fine and casual china, crystal and flatware.

A lot of girls had sterling flatware or fine china handed down from a grandparent or parent, but most people wanted to register for their own. Great thought went into the decision. My grandmother would set their choices up as if they were being used on the big mahogany table we had in the china section. She would let them look at everything together, with different flatware, different crystal, different color tablecloths, everything.

Brides would spend sometimes hours in our store choosing just the right items.

I don’t have to tell you what happened to the complete 12 place settings they all ended up with (at an average in today’s prices of probably $175 per place setting) do I? It was placed nicely in a china cabinet for all to see, but never to touch.

If the china and crystal was ever used, it was at Christmas, Thanksgiving and maybe Easter. A romantic evening may call for it, but probably not.

The silver was meticulously placed in a tarnish-preventive box and taken out only to polish and for those holidays.

When I was about 8,  Mimi (my grandmother) took me to the silverware wall and asked me to choose a sterling pattern. Yes, I was only about 6 months older than Henry is now when I chose the flatware I wanted for the rest of my life. Even when I was 8, I appreciated simple with deep engraving.

Old Maryland Engraved by Kirk.

My sister chose her pattern 4 years later when she was 8. Hers was more elaborate and ornate. She and I are so different. I would’ve never in a million years chosen what she did, but she still loves hers now.

Every year for Easter, our Easter basket contained a piece of our sterling flatware. Plastic grass, Peeps, some other crappy candy and a sterling fork. Or knife, spoon, tomato server, serving fork, ladle, etc. You get it. We cherished the candy more, though. I mean, what 10 year old wouldn’t?

Jason and I got engaged and I didn’t have to think long about choosing a china and crystal pattern. I’d picked it out a thousand times over… every time I was at the store working. It was always on the top shelf and nearly always in the center. Nobody ever picked the china on the top shelf. It was expensive. But in my opinion, it was the only one to get.

Pickard is a china that is made in the USA and in 1977 it was chosen to manufacture the official china used in embassies and other locations around the world by the Department of State. It’s been the china of choice for Presidents, Queens, Kings, hotels and the US Air Force. Obviously it’s good stuff.

I chose a pattern with a beautiful cobalt and platinum band on an ivory bone china.

Lincoln by Pickard. 

I did give Jason the choice between two different Waterford patterns for our crystal. He chose the one I really wanted, mainly because it had the best highball glasses.

Kildare by Waterford. 

So before I tell you about my big plan that a few other bloggers are going to be helping me spread the word about, I want to tell you a secret.

I use my sterling flatware every single day.

Yup. And there’s more.

I put it in the dishwasher and have every day since 1998.

I’ve polished it one time since then.

It actually looks better now than it did when I got it!

Catch your breath. One more.

I don’t even own a set of stainless.

Ok. So, what’s this plan I have?

We’re going to have #FineChinaFriday.

I hope you read that like I say it. You have to read it in the most Southern accent you can muster. Some of you won’t have to try too hard, I’m afraid!

What’s #FineChinaFriday, you ask? Great question!

On Fridays, I challenge you to take out your china and eat supper on it.

You have questions and I have answers.

“But Jana, I’m having spaghetti (insert pizza, beans and rice, takeout Chinese, etc) for supper.”

But SuzieQ, spaghetti tastes so much better on china and with a sterling spoon. And we ALL know wine tastes better in real crystal. I’m very serious. Your bland spaghetti will taste so much better with your fancy stuff. I promise.

“Don’t I have to hand wash all this?”

You can. Manufacturers say so. I don’t. My grandmother never did. My fine china with a platinum band goes in the dishwasher when it’s used.

The trick is (pay attention) to leave it in the dishwasher until it’s completely cooled down… like a few hours or overnight. The gold/platinum bands actually get hot enough to get soft so you want to make sure it cools down all the way to harden back up. This is very important. Your crystal and silver will be fine. I’ve tested mine for 13 years. However, I can’t be held responsible for any broken pieces. Do what you want with the information given!

“My husband thinks it’s dumb.”

Ask him right now if he thinks that it’s dumb that you likely have $2000 worth of china, $2000 worth of crystal and (if you have sterling) (holy crap this number is high) $5000-7500 worth of sterling in your cabinets that aren’t being used? Does he think THAT is dumb? I’m sure he does.

“It seems silly to take it out of the cabinet just to use one time.”

It’s possibly one more than it’s been taken out before. Just sayin’.

“Do we have to eat at the dining room table, too?”

If you want. Or at TV trays. Or just on your lap at the sofa. I recommend the dining room table because why not?

“What if the kids break one?”

Then buy a new one. No. I don’t mean buy a new kid. Buy a new plate. Or glass. Or don’t. If you don’t use it and only look at it, what does it matter? It’s just a thing. I promise. It’s JUST. A. THING.

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Consider this your invitation, engraved on linen paper, to join us as we start spreading the word about #FineChinaFriday. Maybe we can make it a trend that others pick up on. Maybe it will take over the world and instead of Friday nights being boring for us old married folks with kids, we can put the fun back in it by being fancy!

So pull out a few pieces of china and crystal to clean it up. Polish some of your silver and get ready for Friday.

Don’t have fine china? Do you use paper plates? Use real plates instead. Do something fancier than normal. Enjoy it!

If you have a blog? Blog about it. (Grab the button up there)

Put pictures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Google +. Pin them to Pinterest or post them wherever. (use the hashtag whenever possible – #FineChinaFriday)

Don’t want to do any of that? That’s fine. Just get your fine stuff out and enjoy using it.

Remember that a lot of people spent a lot of time choosing it and buying it for you. It’s a shame to let it sit and collect dust.

What are you waiting on? A special day? Well, make Friday your special day.

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