The summer, recapped.

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I’ve been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger with hives this summer!

It all started in May when I attended the Book Expo in New York where my new book They Call Me Orange Juice was on display. (Read what I learned from that experience here.) Sonny went with me, and we got to spend a few days exploring the Big Apple. We ate, shopped, and ate some more. He also tried to walk me to death. We Southerners are used to driving everywhere, not hoofing it through the hot streets of Manhattan!

No sooner had I gotten back to town, than there was my June book launch party at Rojo, our favorite neighborhood watering hole. I was ecstatic to see so many old friends and some new ones too at the party. And here’s a secret about me: I have terrible stage fright! So reading aloud from the book? In front of a crowd? Terrifying! The good news is that now that I’ve done it a few times, I feel more at ease. I’ll conquer this lifelong fear or die trying! And remind me to tell you why I have such a fear sometime …

Late June came, and Husband and I went on a vacation. We drove all through south Georgia to get to Amelia Island without getting on the interstate. We hate the interstate. Why? Because you don’t see anything. You just zoom hell for leather to your destination praying that an 18-wheeler doesn’t mow you down on the way. It’s way yonder too stressful. We prefer to meander down the backroads. After all, half the fun … well, you know.

Here’s what we saw along the way:

  • A whole lot of shady cool pecan orchards and vast fields of peanuts and cotton split by blacktop on which we were the only car for miles and miles and miles
  • An old school bus with the back chopped off hauling watermelons
  • Derrick Henry’s hometown of Yulee, Florida (Roll Tide and all that, you know); there is no marker for this famous son so you have to be born knowin’
  • Dave Prater’s (the Dave of Sam and Dave) hometown of Ocilla, Georgia; we stopped for barbecue at what appeared to be the only restaurant in town; we wished there was another restaurant in town
  • President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter taking a 70th anniversary stroll down the side of the road; seriously…they were just right there on the side of Highway 280 in Plains, Georgia; and I highly recommend getting some peanut butter ice cream at the store while you’re there
  • A drunk person stumbling around in the middle of the street in Macon, Georgia, where we also ate at H&H, the very same restaurant where the Allman Brothers were fed for free by “Mama Louise,” visited The Big House where they all lived for a time, and made a pilgrimage to Rose Hill Cemetery to visit the mortal remains of the Brothers, God rest their souls

We got back home in time to celebrate the 4th of July. We sunned by the pool, drank more than one cocktail, and did a little cooking out. But that wasn’t the best barbecue we had this summer. Oh no…

The very next weekend, my brother the Father, a boy from L.A. (that’s Lower Alabama), who was home from Italy and is fluent in Spanish and French cooked authentic Korean barbecue with all the fixin’s including his homemade kimchi on a tabletop grill which we shared with, among other beloved compadres, a friend from Poland and a friend from Belgium while we swatted at Southern mosquitoes and drank English gin and maybe a little Kentucky bourbon. Don’t you just love it when a million disparate things come together to form one perfect moment in time? I know I do.

Then I barely had time to wash my unmentionables and repack before I was off to Chicago for the Public Media Development and Marketing conference which I get to go to because I work at a public radio station, WBHM in Birmingham. Chicago is my new favorite big city since Sonny Boy has gone to college there, and I would have loved to have seen some of it. But alas, when you go to conferences in beautiful cities, you rarely get to see any of the beautiful city. You do see a lot of fluorescent lighting, small hot meeting rooms, and endless buffets. I did, however, learn a lot and was happy to meet people from NPR and public radio stations all over the U.S.

Before we headed home, my coworker and I did manage to ease down the street to the Art Institute of Chicago to catch special exhibits of John Singer Sargent (see some of it here) whom I love, Charles White who was new to me but whom I now love (more here), and Ivan Albright whom I discovered at the Art Institute last year and who has become one of my all-time favorites (who can be found here). Y’all know it was my dream to go to art school, right?

And now that August is here, I’m looking forward to things slowing down a bit. Brother has gone back to teach in bella Roma. Sonny Boy will head back to college in a few weeks. And Husband and I will settle back into something resembling a normal routine. But does life ever really slow down?

I sure hope not.