Updated: Jul 9
It is hotter than a [you fill in the blank], and instead of a "Hot Girl Summer," I'm over here having a Hot Flash Summer. Anyone with me there?
Whew. Thank goodness for air conditioning, ice, and fans.
Summertime has always reminded me of my childhood, and probably because of all the memories that were made between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I remember chasing down the ice cream truck with my cousins, our dollars flapping in our grasp. I remember riding bikes until the porch light came on, beach trips with my maternal grandparents, visiting my paternal grandparents' home in Florida, and drinking water out of the hose pipe. I remember Kool-Aid and beanie weenies, card games and constructing tents in the living room. I remember it all, and I really miss those days.
Jalan and Devan are celebrating their birthdays in September. Devan turns 21 - MY BABY WILL BE TWENTY-ONE - and I've been planning a family beach trip. As such, I'm reminded of my grandparents and cousins, and in this month's Haint Bluesletter, you can read stories about both.
As for this month's newsletter, here's what's inside:
Mandy's Musings from the month of June - Cousins, weeds, dogs, and a ring.
In case you missed it! My PawPaw, my new shop, and a new social media platform... oh, my!
My bookshelf - Take a tour of all the books.
Potluck! Take a tour through all the things.
I will never stop saying it: Thank YOU for helping make my author dreams come true.
In friendship and support,
Since I was a little girl, I've been close to my cousins, one of whom I even consider a brother - Jason, who's honestly more like a fraternal twin than a cousin. Anyway, last month our family got together for a family reunion at one of the cousins' new farm. It was the first time we had all gathered together in the same space since Meme passed in February of 2021. Her absence was bitter, no sweet.
The thing I love most about my cousins is the fact that years and years can pass, but when we see one another, it feels like no time has been lost at all. We still cut-up like we did as kids, and we enjoy watching our own kids growing up while complaining about our very adult aches and pains.
In the photos above, you can see some oldies from the '80s, which are missing a few cousins because they were still twinkles in their parents' eyes at the time. I've also included a photo of Meme with all of her grandkids back in 2016 when we gathered for my uncle's 60th birthday. Lastly, there's one from our reunion last month. While I hate taking photos, I'm so glad to be a part of this one.
If you don't already know, when the weather isn't acting up, I take a daily walk to the park across the street from our home. The route is a little more than two miles and I'm usually listening to my favorite podcast episodes or playlists while I walk. I also enjoy looking at the flora and fauna, and because we are in the throes of a HOT summer, there seem to be more weeds and wildflowers over there.
What is it about weeds that intrigue me so? Is it the fact that they really aren't "weeds" at all but really, really resilient plants? Is it that resilience I seek in my own self? In the photos above, you can see a few of the prettiest weeds I couldn't help but admire. There's also a wild rooster over there - shame on whoever released him there - and a sweet little family of geese passed by me last week while I strolled by.
In May, I forgot to celebrate a big win for Devan! He and his teammates finally received their championship ring from winning the Big South Conference last season! You can't tell in the photo because Dev has big hands, but the thing is HUGE. It's easily the size of a large strawberry.
I don't care how old these boys get, I don't know if I will ever outgrow calling them "boys," and I will always - always - see their sweet little baby faces when I look at their grown-man ones.
Speaking of sweet faces, would you just look at these two? In that first photo, they're taking a nap in my office. That's how they nap: right beside one another. In the center photo, Kirby was up on my bed, which instantly reminded me of Andrew Wyeth's painting Master Bedroom.
It's clear who runs this house. Indigo and Kirby have us wrapped around their paws.
Summertime makes me think of my grandparents, and in this recent post on Instagram, I shared a story about my maternal grandfather, "PawPaw."
... also, I opened a shop! The Intuitive Storyteller Hub is the creative writer and reader's one-stop shop for resources to help elevate storytelling and books that haunt the heart.
What else? Oh! You can now find me on Instagram's new social media app Threads! Follow me and say hi!
My fellow storytellers! You can now find me writing on Substack! Although all of my offerings are free to every subscriber, I do have the option for you to pledge to support. For those of you who are pledging to support my work, THANK YOU for helping make my creative dreams come true!
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of literary, Southern Gothic, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative®, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, and she has worked as an instructional designer for nearly twenty years.
When she’s not writing fiction, Mandy enjoys the movies, theater, music, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, and binging The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to enhance creativity and foster wellness. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four sons, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.