Elseblog: The Summer Smile Ten Dollars Can Buy

bucket of flowers My friend Debra is hosting a project called Summer Love Notes this year. It’s free, and if you sign up you get an essay or piece of art sent to your email box every morning.

Debra loves to share her ideas with her friends, and I’m really flattered that she invited me to be part of the amazing group of writers and artists she’s assembled. I’ve been reading and enjoying all sorts of great stuff.

Today’s SLN post is courtesy of yours truly, and you can read it HERE.

Here’s an excerpt:

More than once, I have spent my last ten dollars fulfilling that need – buying a bouquet of irises, indulging in five bunches of daffodils, filling the house with carnations – because those small joys that bring summer into the house are the things that keep me going, even when I feel tired, frumpy, and boring.

And here’s the photo-credit for the image we used:

Photo Credit (for the bucket of flowers): Copyright: fotogestoeber / 123RF Stock Photo

Please do consider signing up for future posts – it’s really nice to have something lovely in one’s inbox every morning.

Fishing With Grandpop

Rod and Reel My friend Debra is hosting a project called Summer Love Notes (it started about ten days ago), and I’m one of the participants, which means I’ve been dwelling on memories of All Things Summer as I’ve tried to figure out what to write about.

One of my fondest childhood memories is fishing with my grandfather.

I’m not entirely certain when I became his fishing buddy, but I know I was no older than four the first time he took me to the pier. I remember the sweet scents of tar and wood, and the tang of salt in the air. I remember sitting on his tackle box, and wearing a fishing hat that would never be as weathered or as storied as his.

I remember stopping at the bait store on the way out to the fishing beach, and I remember stopping at Stewart’s for root beer ( in real glass mugs) and crinkle cut fries (in a paper boat) on the way home (served by carhops, delivered on a tray that clipped to the window).

I remember the squirmy, slippery fish flipping, flopping, and flailing on the dock once we reeled them out of the water, and I remember my grandfather knocking them out as quickly as possible.

Once we caught a dogfish (a small shark) and I remember seeing it’s teeth snapping at anything it thought it could reach. You couldn’t retrieve the hook from those and let it go, you had to dangle it from the line and snip the thread and let it fall, back into the ocean for a slow death, or into a handy trash bin for a faster one. Do fish feel pain? Do I really want to know?

Probably not.

I remember my grandfather cleaning the fish (Atlantic blue fish, most of the time) and my grandmother cooking it, serving it with fresh, steamed spinach and baked potatoes that had been wrapped in tin foil and cooked on the grill. “Watch for pins and needles,” she’d warn, referring to the bones in the fish.

What’s weird though, is that I don’t remember actually, you know, fishing. Only the activities around the actual baiting of hooks and casting of lines.

But I remember my grandfather’s hat, and his work shoes and his strong, brown hands, thick with callouses, and etched with history.

Fishing with my grandfather was one of my favorite parts of my childhood summers.



Photo Credit: juliasv / 123RF Stock Photo

Elephant Summer

Book Tea Ipad Elephant For some reason, elephants have been a theme in my reading this year. It started in the spring with a novel called The Tusk that Did the Damage, which was about nature documentaries and poaching, and included chapters from an elephant’s point of view.

Then, I read a brilliant mystery/thriller called Ivory Ghosts that took place at a preserve in Africa and involved a really awesome female lead who saved animals and fought crime. There’s a scene in the beginning of the novel where she looks out the window and an elephant is standing outside, and it was a magical moment before the action started.

Right now, I’m re-reading a memoir Love in the Elephant Tent for review on Friday (I received the book months ago, so I need to refresh my memory) and I’m really enjoying the author’s story about dropping into a European traveling circus with no circus skills, and falling for the elephant trainer.

But this isn’t the first encounter I’ve had with elephants.

– I read Sarah Gruen’s Water for Elephants years ago on a plane ride home from Mexico. In fact, I bought my copy in the airport in Mexico city.
– I had an up-close and personal elephant encounter with the guy I dated before I met my husband, at Marine World. There was finger painting involved.
– I rode an elephant on a visit to the circus with my mother when I was a kid. Nine or ten I think.

I know there’s a lot of controversy about elephants in circuses. I also know that the modern incarnation of Ringling Brothers is doing a lot for elephant conservation. Every time I’ve encountered elephants – on television, in a performance venue, or in literature, it’s brought magic into my life.

With this many elephant-related books in my life this year, I can’t help but think this “elephant summer” will be pretty special.