3/3 of a corner of steel SOLC 2020 #11

Here’s the end of my tale about Steely’s Corner. You can also read part one and part two to get the background information and history of this trash-to-treasure shop.

So it seemed that Steely’s Corner really was going to be sold. It had been cleaned up some, especially outside, but was not completely empty of its “antiques and treasures,” as the sign indicates:

No doubt the future looked grim. IF someone bought it, the building would surely be torn down and the lot would be developed in some other fashion. A sad day for many who had fond memories of this place.

I relegated my thoughts and memories to a spot in the back of my mind. I was happy to have been associated with this quirky little place, and even more thankful for knowing Miss Brenda and others there. “That’s the end of that,” I said. So imagine my surprise when I saw on a friend’s Instagram post about antique cocktail napkins (so cute!) that some had come from Steely’s Corner. I decided that she must have been a shopper there in the past, but then noticed that “steelyscorner” had commented on her picture.   Looking further I discovered that the business had indeed been reopened by a former neighbor of mine. I was thrilled, and curious, and I just couldn’t imagine how in the world anyone would have the energy for this colossal task of cleaning, sorting, advertising, drawing customers, and so on. But Kim has lots of enthusiasm and determination! Soon, I would have to go see for myself.

As it turned out, my daughter-in-law and I were headed to our former town to visit a cute gift shop there that she loved and I asked her if she’d like to go by Steely’s Corner, too. I filled her in on the store’s history, including my feelings for Miss Brenda and my hope that she was somehow doing well. We walked in and were warmly greeted by the new owner, who was tying a Steely’s Corner bandana on a customer. Can you guess who then turned around to say hello? It was Miss Brenda herself! I was overjoyed to see her, but remembering her health, I started telling her who I was…. when she interrupted and repeated my family history person by person as well as some of the things she had purchased from us – including her trip to my mother’s house to shop there. I was flabbergasted and overjoyed!  We went on to shop and as we left I asked Kim about Miss Brenda. She told us, “This place had just gotten to be too much for her. She’s doing great now.”

And Steely’s Corner and Kim are doing great now.  I’m sure she would love for you to stop by. Or follow them on Instagram and enjoy the ride!

 

2/3 of a corner of steel SOLC20 #10

In the last post I wrote about Steely’s Corner, a trash to treasure outlet in the town where we used to live. We were able to sell many things that we no longer wanted to “Miss Brenda,” the owner, and she sold (most of) them in her store. Sometimes I would buy things there, too.

When our son was in college, he rented a house one year with friends.  His bedroom there had a multitude of built-in bookshelves. He became really interested in collecting what he called “what-nots” to fill his shelves. After he talked us out of a few items at home and also spent way too much money at Hobby Lobby on duck hunting decor, I suggested Steely’s Corner. As I recall we made a trip there, or maybe I went there on a scouting trip on my own, but not too much was quite what he considered just right for his taste.

My daughter needed a large buffet type piece for storage, for a good price, and we of course went shopping at Steely’s Corner. When we didn’t find what we were looking for, we checked with Miss Brenda to see if we might have overlooked the perfect piece. “No, I don’t have anything like that here,” she said. “Go over to the Wagon Wheel and check. I think I have a piece like that.” Not realizing she had more than one business, we looked at her with puzzled faces. “That store actually belongs to my sister,” she explained. “I sometimes put my nicer pieces there.” Sure enough we found what my daughter needed at the Wagon Wheel. We had been there before and thought that someone was living upstairs. Knowing now it was Miss Brenda’s sister, we began to see a pattern emerging.

One time my husband and I were wandering through the store and Brenda joined us upstairs. She mentioned something about being so sad to see the neighbor’s house being torn down that very day (you wouldn’t believe the huge old timbers someone was “harvesting” from those house walls), and how she had fond memories of growing up there. We replied, in a shocked tone, “What – you lived in this building?”  “Oh, yes,” she explained, “my parents raised all eight of us brothers and sisters right here. Of course, the wholesale produce grocery that my father had was in the basement. And the big warehouse room in the back was added later. That used to be our back yard.” I simply couldn’t believe my ears. This had been her home, and a home for her family? But now I understood why there were several separate rooms, including a bathroom (only one for ten people?) that held all the merchandise Miss Brenda had for sale. And I began to understand why she was so very comfortable there.

One day I went in and Brenda’s sister Judy was managing the checkout and simultaneously trying to sort through a mountain of papers, small goods, and other miscellania. She confided in me that Brenda just wasn’t up to keeping the store anymore. “She’s not really thinking clearly,” said Judy. I was heartbroken. I did see Brenda upstairs watching TV when I was there, and though she looked tired, I thought she otherwise seemed fine. But I looked at the “Coming Soon – For Sale” sign out front as I left and I thought, “They will never find anyone to buy this place.” I knew that even if it ever got cleaned out, the building itself had a lot of issues.

The third and final chapter comes tomorrow.

 

1/3 of a corner of steel SOLC20 #9

My husband and I can not remember how we learned of this store, but there is a place in the town where we used to live called Steely’s Corner.

It is almost impossible to describe. It was what almost everyone would call a junk store, and yet, if you know junk stores, you know they contain treasures amidst the “trash.”

The street level entrance was like going into a basement with a very low ceiling. To look through the entire store you had to duck beneath hanging insulation, climb an open staircase (and duck there, too), and wander through very narrow aisles through countless rooms filled to the brim with… all kinds of “stuff.”

Our first encounters were not IN the store but instead with the owner. “Miss Brenda” went to our church, and when we learned that she bought things you no longer wanted, we had her come by our house in her truck and haul away yard sale leftovers, old furniture, and eventually items from my parents’ house that remained with us when we had cleaned out their belongings after they passed away. (She also went once to Nashville to “shop” my mother’s house – filled with LOTS of “stuff” – when Mama was trying to get her house ready to sell. But that’s another l-o-o-n-g story in itself!)

Brenda spent a LOT of time at the store, more as time went on, when there just wasn’t room to bring in more “stuff.” Once we started going to the store, her greetings were always heartfelt, like an old friend (which truly, she was.)

I always made it part of my summer routine to visit Steely’s Corner, just to see “what’s new.” My children would go with me from time to time, and we would laugh at some of the things she had bought from us that were still in the store because they had never sold. Sometimes I would take friends, and although I tried to warn them on the way about what to expect, they never “got it” until they “got there.”

Yes, I would always find something I wanted to bring home with me. Brenda would always give me a great price on the item, or sometimes just give it to me, because “You were always so good to me.” She did buy a LOT of stuff from us through the years, and we didn’t ask high prices. We were just thrilled to get things hauled away!

This is chapter 1 of the Steely’s Corner tale. More to come…

two trees SOLC20 #8

It’s beautiful at the lake today. My husband and I came just for the day to check on things, and finish a few chores.

Sometimes it’s hard to get things done because the scenery draws you outside and makes you want to sit and ponder, rather than finish a to-do list. Today is that kind of day.

Like us, our two waterside trees are enjoying the sun:

This is their pattern each year.

The one on the left has buds that emerge early. That red fuzz appeared at least three weeks ago. The leaves are waiting for warmer days to have their coming out party, and they will be green, but they are showing the world now that they are ready to go when the time is right.

The one on the right is still in winter form. When it is time for leaves, there’s a great swelling all over the nodules on the branches. Soon the tiny leaves will emerge to grow and grow into much larger leaves. (The green you may notice there now is mistletoe. A website reports, “Healthy trees are able to tolerate a few mistletoe plants with little harmful effect.” Hopefully that will continue to be the case here.)

Although the greenery will eventually block some of our view of the lake, these trees in summer are lovely.

So for now we wait. All in due time.

growing or getting old SOLC20 #7

I have been around a while and I can’t say that I am a fan of being older.  Things hurt that you never even realized that you have in your body. It’s harder to see and hear, and boy, is the world changing.

Yet I love this stage of my life!  I’m thankful for the experiences that have taught me lessons along the way.  And I’m so grateful for the people who have touched my life.  There are so many connections between them in surprising ways – the world gets smaller every day.

So I’m thinking that it boils down to the difference in getting vs growing older.

For example, when I had knee surgery I was attended to by an older nurse. She had GOTTEN old.  There was little compassion, just a hurry-up sense of getting the job done.  I’ve always been told I have great veins for drawing blood, but she sure had a tough time finding one. I realize there were probably other issues in her life, but I thought, “She’s been doing this a long time and she might need to quit.” Never a smile, few kinds words. I was sorry for me, but sorry for her as well.

Quite differently, we have an older friend who is always a joy to be around. She has NOT had a charmed life, most recently suffering from a broken kneecap after a fall.  But she is a delight, and always has a kind word – and a funny story – to share.  And she is always “dressed up” even when she is dressed casually. I believe she knows everyone in town, and can tell you about their mama and daddy too – a real people person. She always finds the bright side of every situation. She always draws a crowd. She has GROWN old – very gracefully.

So now I pray not just to GET older, but to GROW old, as the years of my life get more numerous.

a new phone SOLC20 #6

It was way past time to get a new phone.

  • My old iPhone 6S had gotten its battery replaced (am I automatically due the $25 from the Apple settlement??).
  • My phone would not run complicated apps like The Weather Channel.
  • My phone would sometimes shut itself off or restart for no known reason.

But it (usually) still worked!

  • I could use it for calls, voicemails, texts, email, and more.
  • The pictures I made with it were clear enough for my old eyes to see.
  • It was paid for.

My husband and I went to the AT&T store “just for information.”

  • The young sales associate was patient with us and didn’t laugh out loud (although he kept excusing himself to “wash his hands” or “ask a question” and went into the mysterious back room from time to time).
  • We learned that we could pay outright and did not have to get on the monthly payment plan.
  • The phones weren’t as expensive as we had expected.

So we decided to go ahead and purchase them that day!

  • The store had the colors we wanted.
  • The nice sales associate set them up for us and put on our new phone covers.
  • We kept our old phones for alarms or bluetooth music players since they were only worth $15 on a trade in.

Then we received an email detailing our order.

  • Were we told our regular monthly charge would increase? (no!)
  • Weren’t we told that the “insurance” would automatically be on our phones and iPad? (yes – however, we have gotten 2 emails telling us how to do this to get the protection we are paying for!)
  • Have I received the promised email with the correct charges from the “agent” I chatted with online? (no!)

So we have new phones.

  • Do they work fast and look current? (yes!)
  • Are we happy with the phones themselves? (yes!)
  • Will we have our billing and insurance questions answered to our satisfaction? (???)

And we really thought we were going into this thoughtfully…

timing SOLC20 #5

there’s always time

for things we enjoy

and people we love

 

but sometimes

 

writing

gets squished

between

 

visits with friends

time with grandchildren

Bible studies

bridal luncheons

tornadoes

virus outbreaks

committee meetings

books to read

clothes to wash

and various other things

 

but finding the time

is always worth it

 

hometown SOLC20 #4

I was born and raised in Nashville, TN, as was my husband. Lots of deep roots in my family in East Nashville. We were asked recently where we were from originally, and when we answered, we were told, “Well, there’s not many of you anymore.”

It’s true.  Nashville, the “It City,” is filled with newcomers. It was growing by 100 people a day at one point, or so we were told. And “old-timers” like us hardly recognize the place these days.

We live in a community just south of Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County now, and honestly avoid frequent trips into “town.” There’s so much traffic, so many “touristy” things, so much change. We have all we need close by, so why bother? Sometimes I feel like Nashville isn’t really my hometown anymore.

But then tragedy strikes. Tornadoes rip through parts of town in some of the same areas where they did tremendous damage just 20 years ago. What about the saying, “Lightning never strikes twice in the same place”?  Don’t believe it.

 

My heart is broken. This IS my town. The damage, the lives lost, the hurting people. It is hard to even imagine, much less come to grips with. But this is the Nashville of today.

And I’ve seen Nashville come back – from storms, from floods, from adversity. It will take time, and money, and volunteers, and love. But it will happen, this time, just as before.

Like true Nashvillians, new or old, I believe in this town.

true wealth SOLC20 #3

Pockets of poverty and widespread upper middle class areas exist in close proximity in the county in which I live.  Properties of extremely high value are located here, too.

I’m so unaware of a large majority of the rich and famous, and, sadly, I’m not involved enough with helping those less fortunate. It’s an interesting mix, and one that I take for granted – both the high and the low ends.

We definitely have what most would call a high Quality of Life. One example of that is an excellent Parks and Recreation department, and one aspect that my husband and I particularly enjoy is called the Enrichment Center. It’s a nice new building created especially for the over 55 crowd.

We joined ($75/year that included BOTH of us) and have been taking advantage of the workout room. There are also lounge areas, group outings and trips planned, pickleball courts, art and other classes taught, and friendships encouraged.  We are both 63 years old and definitely on the low end of the age ranges in attendance.

We see people there we already know, we have met a few new folks, but often spend time just listening. These older folks have a lifetime of experience, and their perspectives on life reflect that.  Their manners are impeccable (most of the time). They are funny, and insightful, thoughtful, and kind.

I hope to get to know more of them better. The stories they could tell!

In my mind this is where the true wealth of our hometown lies.

blank SOLC 2020#2

An empty slate,

a frosted window,

a field of vision filled with white.

That’s my mind when I sit down to write after a long spell of abandoning this gift.

From time to time I have thought, “I’ll write about that…” and now I can’t begin to remember what “that” was. Perhaps those ideas will return. Or maybe not. Are they are gone forever? The time to write is when the inspiration strikes. Why have I been so negligent?

But, moving forward, the time is now.

I’ll be listening,

observing,

pondering,

and recording.

There’s so much beauty around me, so much joy that wiggles out through my grandchildren, so much right with the world.  And so much to thank my Father for.

Already I am invigorated for the journey.

awaken SOLC20 #1

The dreary wet winter has lingered on our calendars and in our bones. As we turn the page to March – month of buds, warmer winds, bird calls, and spring! – we feel encouraged.

Yes there will be cold days to come.  And rain – all next week, in fact. But knowing that more warmth will come, next weekend our ways of marking time will change and bring more light at the end of the day, and days themselves will lengthen – this gives us hope.

As we look outside and gather inspiration, we also check within. How can we be more mindful, more aware?  Perhaps being more curious about what moves us forward, taking time to sort the important things, and putting our thoughts into words?

Yes, that should awaken us – again – into a new season of life.