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Monday, July 30, 2018

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone.

Summer has always been my favorite season. As a teenager you could find me in a hammock reading a book under the shade of a maple tree. A light breeze would occasionally rustle the leaves above me, and since my reading material generally consisted of the mysteries of Agatha Christie or the suspense novels of Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and Helen MacInness, my imagination led me to hear the sound of a swishing taffeta skirt as a lady with unknown motives walked past. I loved all those authors and read most of their books voraciously. When I reread them now, I can see how the rules of writing have changed. Point of view is all over the place, but that doesn't bother me. A good story is a good story. I suppose fifty years from today the rules will change again rendering our novels old-fashioned.

When I wasn't reading, I'd be laying out in the sun on a chaise lounge lawn chair in my swim suit, catching a few rays, with lemon juice in my hair and a concoction of baby oil and iodine smeared all over my body. Sunscreen? Never heard of it in those days. Our sole purpose was to get as tan as possible. Of course, now my generation is paying for it dearly with wrinkles and skin cancers, but at the time it seemed worth doing. Once I was motorized--ah, the joys of a drivers license--I'd head out to the local swimming pool to hang with friends. Those were the days.

Yes, summer invites us to be lazy and care-free. I never minded the heat or the humidity--you know the kind--that steamy dampness that smacks you in the face like a wet towel the minute you step outside. On really hot, humid days you could see the heavy air hazing the sky, turning it almost a milky white. That was a signal late afternoon thunderstorms might arrive.

The weather also seemed to bring out the craziness in us. In the mid-sixties we didn't think about the dangers kids face now. Our local swimming pool was on a flood plain on the White River in Carmel, Indiana. Towards the river there were cabins on stilts for rent. To the best of my knowledge, they were rarely occupied. I recall one day, my friend and I slipped away from the pool and made our way to one of those cabins. It was locked, but we climbed the stairs and sat on the front porch out of sight from the rest of the group to smoke a cigarette and feel very daring to have done so. Thinking back on it, just because it was locked, didn't mean there wasn't someone inside. We were far enough away from the screaming and the horseplay around the pool, that if we did find ourselves in danger, our screams would never have been heard. At the time, however, such a thought never entered our heads. I don't suppose that kind of innocence exists anymore.

The last time I was back in my hometown, I drove past that swimming pool. It was gone as were the cabins. I guess the owners got tired of scraping mud off the bottom of the pool every spring during the flood season. I imagine the cabins became rotted and either fell down or were demolished, just like the pool was filled in. Now, Northern Beach is simply a park for family picnics and games. Sad to see memories erased, but that's the way of it. Things change and time marches on. We can't change that.

Summer is in full swing. I now have my own pool where I float lazily on those hazy days, my hair protected by a hat and my body with sunscreen. I don't do crazy things anymore. Maybe I should, but I don't. Common sense can be a bitch. Same with maturity. Oh well, that doesn't stop me from remembering and smiling at those memories.

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the summer. Climb into a hammock with a good book and listen to the taffeta rustling of the leaves overhead. Think back to the good, old days of summers past and enjoy.

See you next month.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Inspiration from The Shenandoah Valley

Summer days on the farm sail by like clouds in the blue. Each morning brings a fresh look to our familiar  scenery. The sights that greet us have comforting continuity and yet are ever-changing.  No two days in the country are identical.

Breaking dawn and soon after is the best time of day. Nightly slumber renews the garden, beading every leaf and blossom with dew. Cows amble in the sparkling meadow, and the pond swims with waterfowl... It's the garden of Eden time.

(Lilies with the barn in back.)

Pastoral beauty and flowery nooks beckon and I get out my camera phone. Suspicious geese flee the crazy lady unless I sneak up on them. Fussy bunch. Summer sounds create a symphony while I dart around picture-taking. Birds sing, roosters crow, cows bawl, geese fuss... The cooing of mourning doves is a continual background note, and we have an insane mockingbird who runs through every tune he knows. Repeatedly. The trill of meadowlarks is heavenly. Finches and robins have the happiest song. Red-winged blackbirds sound their classic wetland call at the pond. Ducks converse amiably, unlike the squawky geese.. There is much life here.

I love the music of the garden. Bees hum, crickets chirp, fairies sing...

(Phlox and more phlox)

(Zinnias and cosmos from seed I saved and sowed in May, also pictured below)

(Wild Bee balm and coreopsis tinctoria)

Hazy, hot, and humid stretches of summer do not inspire me. Pics are dulled when the air hangs like a warm wet blanket. My spirits soar in the 'Reaching to heaven blue sky days' and these are the best for image taking. But I also love the mist. Mist lends itself well to mystery. You can hardly say mystery without it.

(Cow in the meadow with the hills beyond it)
Magic returns again in the long summer evenings. We're blessed with a spectacular view of sunsets over the meadow, the pond, and hills with the Allegheny Mountains rolling beyond them. Once again, the geese may enter into these images. It depends on how sneaky I am and how fast they are. The host of lightning bugs blinking in the garden and meadows are impossible to capture on film. Cicadas serenade us from the trees. Earthy farm smells are not for everyone but you have to love the scenery.

(Our pond at dusk)

(Our barn at sunset with sunflowers)

(Phlox at dusk)

I've captured glimpses of midsummer in 'The Shire' as I term our little patch of earth and hope you enjoy my sharing.

(The geese heading toward the meadow-away from me)

(The geese watching the sunset)

(Cows in pasture beneath the setting sun)

'The summer night is like a perfection of thought.' ~Wallace Stevens
'In summer, the song sings itself.' ~William Carlos Williams
'Each fairy breath of summer, as it blows with loveliness, inspires the blushing rose.' ~Author Unknown

(Cone flowers)

'Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year — it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.' ~Author Unknown
'Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.'
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

'To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie –
True Poems flee –'
~Emily Dickinson, c.1879

'I drifted into a summer-nap under the hot shade of July, serenaded by a cicada lullaby, to drowsy-warm dreams of distant thunder.' ~Terri Guillemets

'One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.' ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show


***In addition to tending my garden, I'm an author. I write historical, time travel, and paranormal romance. Also young adult. Plus nonfiction about gardening and country life. For more on my books, visit my Amazon Author Page:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

July - A Salute to Ernest Hemingway

by Judy Ann Davis

Hemmingway 's Home
When anyone mentions novels such as A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, you immediately think of Ernest Hemingway. Often known as one of the great American 20th Century novelists, he was born on July 21, 1899,  in Cicero (now called Oak Park), Illinois. 

Hemingway served in World War I and worked in journalism before publishing his story collection, In Our Time.

Carriage House
In 1953, he won Pultizer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea; and 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Sun Also Rises is another of his well-known works.  

Because he began as a writer of short stories, Hemingway developed what he called the Iceberg Theory for writing where facts float above the water and the supporting structure and symbolism operate out of sight. The theory involves pruning language and is often referred to as the “theory of omission” allowing the reader to draw his own images and conclusions about certain aspects of the story.

Writing Room in Carriage House
However, Hemingway’s life could best be described as one full of drama, debts, and many mishaps, accidents and injuries. He traveled widely and was married four times.
Sadly, he suffered from bouts of mental illness and paranoia. He committed suicide on July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho. 
When I visited the Florida Keys a few years ago, I was able to tour his home where he lived and wrote during the 1930s. He has his own writing area above the carriage house as you can see in the pictures. Enjoy!

which is now on sale for $0.99. 
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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Six Ways To Do Nothing On Your Vacation (Reasons 1-3)

Hurray! You’re finally taking a vacation! If you’re like me, you’ll become the Energizer Bunny and want to see and do everything.

However, if you give yourself permission to take it slow, you’ll end up enjoying your vacation a lot more.

But how?

Today, I'm sharing 3 ways to do nothing on your vacation, and will continue with this series and three more ways next month.

First: Spend the afternoon enjoying the hotel’s pool. Your kids will be thrilled, and it's a perfect excuse to slow down.

Second:  Hang out at the local café and meet the locals. What could be more interesting than spending time with the locals and really learning about the area?

Third: Turn off your social media. Yes, it’s fun, but people are only putting up photos and experiences that are a fragment of what they are actually doing. Shut your mobile devices and soak in your vacation experiences in real time.

You won’t miss out on anything, I promise! It’s more enjoyable to explore local landmarks at your leisure then trying to tour every museum in the city, or famous landmark in the surrounding area.

Do you plan "down" time on your vacation? Please share your comments below.
And be sure to come back next month for 3 more good ways to do nothing on your vacation.

Don’t forget to bring a favorite book on vacation. It’s July, so to celebrate my Christmas in July promotion, grab a copy of my brand new Christian contemporary release: A Christmas ToCherish.


There’s nothing a Christmas kiss won’t cure. Except perhaps a shattered heart…

When Emmanuelle Sumter steps off the train in Cherish, South Carolina—a town simply glowing with the promise of Christmas—she finds herself praying God will help her find the broken pieces of her life. Shattered, like her beloved harp. Her dreams. And her trust in men.

Her friend Dorothy told her Cherish is a safe haven. But she never expected Dorothy’s brother, Deputy Nicholas Thompson, would relight the one thing she thought she’d lost forever. A spark of hope.

Not long ago, while Nicholas’ sister was in rehab, Emmanuelle’s voice and smile on his Skype screen held him together. After that, she seemed to disappear, an absence he felt keenly when his ex-fiancée left his faith in God dented but not broken.

Now she’s in Cherish, even more stunning in person. Yet she’s holding tight to a private pain she refuses to reveal. Nicholas resolves to be patient, vowing that he’ll never let anyone hurt her again. Even when her past rears its ugly head to destroy what’s left of her heart.

Note: Contains references to verbal and physical abuse.

From USA Today bestselling author Josie Riviera comes a new contemporary Christian Romance series set in the small town of Cherish, South Carolina. These sweet and wholesome stories, where God is at the center, brim with love and laughter.

Are his arms a safe haven sent from God…or a Christmas promise waiting to be broken?

A Christmas To Cherish is available in ebook, paperback and audiobook. Free on Kindle Unlimited!

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable shih tzu, who constantly needs grooming, and live in an old house forever needing renovations.
Follow Josie on Bookbub and “like” her Author Facebook page.

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