In today’s Daily Post, Robyn talked about a recent birthday and went on to suggest five different post ideas based on nostalgia.  One of those was to write about a food that reminds you of your youth.  She didn’t say it had to be a pleasant memory and the best I can do is sort of a mixed memory, if you follow me.

I wish I could write that the tantalizing scent of steak on the grill brings back memories of an idyllic childhood.  I adore steak and would love it if it were tied to my memories in some way.  Well, technically I guess it is – as an adult I’ve made lots of good memories around steak!  What’s not to love?

One of the few clear memories I have of childhood returns whenever I smell stuffed bell peppers.  I don’t remember how old I was the first time this classic dish triggered the memory.  What I recall is the punch in the gut that came along with the homey aroma.  On the night my grandmother brought us home to live with her the pungent odor of their dinner permeated the house, overshadowing most other impressions.

While I don’t remember what year it was, I know my brother was pre-school age and that made me somewhere between 8 and 10 years old.  I’m not surprised I don’t remember how old I was; I blocked out a lot over the years.

After walking down the short front hall I dimly recall entering a warmly lit living room.  Straight ahead was the glass door exiting to the backyard.  It was pitch black and we wouldn’t see the yard until the next day.  The dining room opened off of the main room to the right.  It included the standard table and chairs plus a matching sideboard and opened into the kitchen.  The furnishings were probably as typical of the mid-1960’s as the floor plan was of the suburban housing development they lived in.  In the living area I want to say my grandfather was perched on his recliner like a member of the royal family, but I honestly have no idea whether the recliner was there then or added later.  And truthfully, I can’t remember seeing my grandfather at all that night, though I must have.

All of those memories were made before I lost that little girl I used to be.  Young Janey was so happy that night!  And perhaps a teensy bit scared.  She didn’t really know these people.  It’s possible they were familiar but that memory eludes me today.

For what seemed like years and years little Janey and her younger brother had lived with a beastly woman, left behind by their own mother.  I don’t think I used the word abandoned for what our mother did until I was much older, maybe even an adult.  But that’s exactly what she did.  I still have no clue how long we actually stayed with our mother’s “friend” before our grandmother found and rescued us.  It could have been mere weeks or actual years for all I know.

The clarity of that memory has dulled some over the years, but whenever I smell stuffed bell peppers I remember that night.  Sometimes I recognize it as the happy, hopeful time it was then.  Other times I cringe, knowing it was the beginning of the end of my innocence.  I can’t change what happened there, but I can acknowledge that it wasn’t all bad.

Now (Janey says, rubbing her hands together gleefully) who wants steak!?


Say Your Name

I’m already pretty satisfied with my blog’s name and tagline so I won’t be tweaking those, at least not now.  However, today’s Blogging 101 assignment triggered a memory that’s worth sharing … or not – your mileage may vary.

Many moons ago I was a regular churchgoer.  It was my lifeline in the midst of a bad marriage.  The family I found there were loving and supportive.  It was a family of families if you get my meaning. The pastor and his wife and son were the heads of our tiny congregation and my very best friends. The pianist/choir director/Sunday school teacher was my next bestest friend back then.  Loretta could always bring a smile to your face.  And her hugs?  Oh my God (no pun intended)!

I remember Loretta explaining how she taught her children their address when they were very young.  The family lived on a street called Sayre.  Loretta made a game of it and taught them the number of their house and then had them recite, “Say your street” until they remembered it on their own.

When I saw “Say Your Name” this morning it was sort of bittersweet.  On the one hand it made me feel all fuzzy and warm; on the other, I’ve lost touch with all of those dear friends, and my pastor and his wife are gone now.  There’s a hole in my life that they used to fill and I think I’m still trying to find something to fit there; maybe nothing will exactly.  Maybe I’m not supposed to fill it.

What do you think, Dear Reader?


New Dawn


I rise before dawn every weekday; I’ve been doing that for umpteen years.  However, today’s prompt brought back memories of when we lived on the farm.  My commute then was via ferry and certain times of the year we’d be crossing the Sound at sunrise.  What an awesome sight that was!

It’s not so customary for me to rise before dawn on the weekends or holidays.  But one Thanksgiving in particular while we were on the farm I rose before dawn to start the preparations because everyone was coming to our house that year.

While getting the turkey in the oven I watched through kitchen windows as the sun rose over the trees in the pasture.  Pitch black lightened slowly until the trees were silhouetted against clouds limned in peach and rose while the sun glowed gold from just beyond the flagpole.  In the still dark shadows were hints of the buildings and vehicles but not a telephone pole or electrical line in sight – it was like traveling back in time for a brief moment.

Grabbing the camera (this was before my cell phone had a decent camera!) I stepped out on our back deck and snapped this:

Thanksgiving sunset - 2

What a lovely beginning to the day and an even sweeter memory.


Note:  The photo here was taken with my current cell phone of the print I have hanging in my cubicle at work.