Mistress of the Mix: Summer Love

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Have you ever had one of those moments when you fell in love all over again? Not with your lover (although that did happen to me, and I'm forever grateful that I had the chance to get those butterflies again with the same incredible man), but with your town?

That happened to me recently, and it makes me wonder if I'm the only one, or if any of you have become disenchanted with your community, and then suddenly things clicked into place, and BAM! Butterflies. Ear to ear grin. Total contentment. Pure bliss. I'm in love with Redding, and want to shower its face with kisses.

I find it odd that its the littlest things that can make me fall in - and out - of love with the place I choose to live like the flip of a switch. For me, when the dispatcher who fielded our 911 call asking for help when drug selling squatters took up residence in the house next to mine told me that the police weren't going to come, I fell out of love immediately. The city I loved so much didn't love me back. At least that's what it felt like. The switch in my heart (I'm convinced I have one) flipped off. And it stayed that way for awhile.

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And then I had a moment last week that flipped my switch back on. And again, it was just the simplest moment.

It was Thursday. I was floating in my friend Carey's pool while she played bartender, bringing out Moscow Mules with fresh mint and fruit. Her husband grilled up sliders, and we feasted on a refreshing arugula and watermelon salad - my new favorite thing. In fact here's the recipe, courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa:

saladsalad recipe

I digress.

I was surrounded by some of my favorite women; the women that I trust and enjoy. The conversation was delightful and fun. The water was perfect. So perfect.

Then another friend Destiny asked, "Have you heard this?" and played her new favorite song of the summer. And then she played another. And then someone else suggested their new favorite song of summer. Within 30 seconds we were all bopping around like a water aerobics class at the Y. I've never felt more 50 than I just did when I imagined what you must be imagining, but I don't care. You know why? Because I'm in love. And it happened in the blink of an eye. I caught feels for summer. For my friends. For my town. Gave me even more love for my husband, my family and my job. But especially for the place I've called home for the past fifteen years.

I didn't realize it right away. It wasn't until I was on the drive home. I rolled all the windows down to dry my hair,  and I realized that I was smiling so wide my mouth was open, and I was singing at top volume to another new song on the radio - one that JPR is playing every single day - the one that has become my personal favorite hit of the Summer of Seventeen. (It's the 2nd song on today's playlist, "Feel It Still" by a band called Portugal. The Man. More on them and their backstory later, because I have a whole nuther cool story to tell you at a later date that came out of the discovery of this song).

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Something happens to me when I'm in love. People know it. I can't hide it, nor do I want to. And since that moment I have woken up earlier in the morning, happy to get up and see what the day is going to bring. I brought my car into the Subaru dealership for an oil change, and made a new friend. A picked up the phone at work twice this week and made new friends. Suddenly I love everyone, and everyone's delightful and pleasant. I even left my phone in the bathroom at Lowe's, didn't realize it until I got to Grocery Outlet, and I made a new friend in the parking lot who let me use her phone to call Lowe's...and I even got my phone back.

Things are just falling into place. And I think it has a lot to do with the love revival I'm experiencing with Redding right now. I think people respond differently to someone who has a genuine smile on their face and is content with themselves and their life, and right now that person is me.

Things are good. Blissful. I feel at peace. And I think it all starts with me and my attitude. And the music of summer. I know I've said this a million times, but music has always transported me. If I'm in a bad mood, a kickass song can give me that attitude adjustment I need so badly. I also mark moments of my life by the music I listen to, and if  you were to look through my iTunes playlists, you'd see "Summer of 2008" "Summer of 2009" and now...Summer of Seventeen. All I need to hear is one snippet of a song from any of those collections, and I immediately know which summer that playlist is from, and I'm taken right back to that moment in time, to what I was wearing, what I was doing, and what I was feeling.

Think on that...the songs that made your summers special. But while you're doing it, hit the play button on the streaming Summer of Seventeen playlist on Spotify, and share your ultimate songs of summer in the comments section below, and the memories they bring back. I know I'm not the only one.

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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16 Responses

  1. Ah – summer memories! It was the beach, sunburn, boys and music.

    I wrote this tune – The Songs the Summer Sings — for my best friend, as a cheesy-pop tribute to our teenage years in LA’s San Fernando Valley. https://youtu.be/Vyeqdi6qHUY

  2. cheyenne says:

    Open road in the summer, convertible or bike, wind blowing through the hair.

    Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf.


  3. Beverly Stafford says:

    I’m from the desert of Kern County, and we spent many a summer day in the public pool.  This is hardly a summer song, but whenever I hear Gene Autry’s I’ve Got Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle, I’m right back there splashing.

    Not that these are nostalgic for me, but they are summer songs: Summertime, When the Livin’ Is Easy; The Summer Wind; Summertime (from Porgy and Bess); and this next one actually is nostalgic for me because I was in college:  Summertime, Summertime, Sum Sum Summertime.

    • Mistress of the Mix says:

      Oh yes…I had a greenish tint to my hair every summer from the amount of time I spent in public pools!!!

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        Some others that came to mind:  Nat Cole’s Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days of Summer; also In The Good Old Summer Time.

  4. Scott Hamilton says:

    I needed this, Valerie. I’m in a musical rut and not feeling summer right now. Not loving the town much either, but maybe this will help. You had me at Portugal, because way back in April, my son (a classmate and friend of S’s), sent me a text from college that I have to admit I never followed up on (“I sent you a song called Feel it Still by Portugal the Man. Have you heard it?”). I have now, and am enjoying the playlist as I type—and smiling. Thanks.

    • Mistress of the Mix says:

      That makes me so happy to hear that Scott! Your son has great taste in music! After hearing that song I started research Portugal. The Man, because that song is so incredibly good, and the journey it led me on was really cool and fascinating. One snippet is that the idea for the song stemmed from one of the band members finding an old concert stub from Woodstock in his dad’s stuff. So it is a son of the 80’s paying homage to his dad from the 60’s. I’ll be telling more in a future column, because I think it’s a pretty great story about the musical connection between parent and child, and the apple not falling far from the tree. It would make me even more happy if you make sure your son sees that next column, because – well, you’ll see! Also, check out more of their music because just about every song they have ever released is catchy and uniquely cool.

      • Scott Hamilton says:

        Wow, thanks, Valerie. I can’t wait to see that column and will definitely share it with Zach. I really do need to check Portugal out, as a friend in the Portland area who’s been seeing them live for years has been raving about them forever.

        That “ticket in his dad’s stuff” sentiment resonates with me, as I became a (very eclectic) music fan at a very young age through osmosis, as the house I grew up in during the 60s and 70s was filled with music, thanks primarily to my mother, who ultimately took me to my first concert as an eighth-grade graduation gift (July 2, 1977—all the more reason summertime means music to me). I carried on the tradition, exposing my kids to music constantly, by whatever means necessary, including playing Beatles Rock Band as a family activity, Sunday night flashback sessions during barbecues, sharing with them boxes of my old concert mementos, etc. Many of my and Zach’s best shared memories are music-related, whether going on road trips for concerts (some his, some mine), sharing setlists on long drives, and more recently, especially since he left for school, using Spotify to share music we discover with one another—like he did with “Feel It Still.”

        Sorry to go off-topic and at such length, but after my family, music is my life, so when the two intersect, it makes me very happy. And after years of sharing “my” music with my kids, when they share theirs back (something my teenage daughter is doing too more and more recently), it’s a sign that they get it, and that they care too. And knowing they will be listening to music the rest of their lives that I exposed them to (like Zach’s favorite band Fall Out Boy), just as I have with my parents’ music, is ridiculously satisfying for a music geek like me.

        • Mistress of the Mix says:

          You get me, you really get me! That’s exactly my experience….and it’s what I hope for the world, really. Because for me, music makes the world go ’round.

  5. Gracious Palmer says:

    Thank you ?, Valerie. ????????????

  6. Gracious Palmer says:

    oops ? meant ??????

  7. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    A few favorite summertime albums:

    “Guero” — Beck

    “No Other Love” — Chuck Prophet

    “Surfer Rosa” — Pixies

    “Ill Communication” — Beastie Boys

    “F+” — Jackpot



  8. Oh, Val, I wasn’t there for that magical night, but your column took me there. Thank you! I love the way you look at life.

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