Sidewalk: a paved walk at the side of a road or street.

My dictionary doesn’t mention level or smooth. It also does not expand the definition to fit the common usage of walkways not beside roads or streets – such as between buildings in an apartment complex, or connecting points of interest on a college campus.

In a perfect world a sidwalk would be smooth. Small children with bare feet would not stub their toes. Wheels attached to roller skates, skateboards, and luggage would roll smoth and steady. Distracted strollers could contemplate the weather or abstract concepts as they walked.

But reality intrudes. Accommodations are required. Choices need to be made.

This is a path best taken awake and aware.

Sidewalk for the alert.

Lunch with the Dogs

“We’ll stop for lunch at this little place we found a few years ago. Bar-B-Que and Po’r Boys.”

The comments gleaned pre-departure raise as many questions as they answer.  Which exit? Which town? We’ll know it when we see it – in Mississippi.

Trust in your driver. Mississippi includes a large portion of this trip. He’ll remember when he gets just as hungry as the rest of us.

Phones send text messages between the vans for serious and non-serious comments. My seat happens to be in the lead vehicle but at every stop the second pulls up within less than a minute. They act as a faithful tail.

Not fancy. Not expensive. Decent service. Iced drinks and good food. The lunch

Pointing to lunch?

stop fulfills the expectations raised by the comments along the way.

Back on the road we continue south next to our little strip of planted pines. Suddenly messages fly between us and our driver pulls to the side. One of our tail light covers is threatening to take it’s own unauthorized trip.

While the men discuss temporary fixes, discard most of them for various reasons, and rig up a taunt string from a plumb line I stroll the weedy portion of shoulder.

A black antenna has been lost. What’s this? I spy a piece of stiff, discarded animal skin. It’s big for a snake, an irregular three by eight inches. With the toe of my sneaker I tip it over and breath a sigh of relief. It looks more armadillo than rattler.


Making Do

Containers. Small spaces. Raised beds.

Apartment and condo dwellers itching to exercise thumbs of the greener shade need to be inventive. Consider the nice large shade trees. Nature’s air conditioning. I’m confident the thick oak west of my large windows lowers my cooling bill.

On the other hand, they limit flowers to those that tolerate shade. I’m lucky. As a first floor resident I have a patio, one that is not completely cemented over. It’s taken a dozen years, uncounted bags of topsoil, a pair of small peat bales, and a dash of compost to create a thriving population of earthworms. Evidently they don’t like tunneling in the native clay and rock any more than I enjoy digging in it.

A neighbor works with what they have. With patience and care they tend the flowerboxes and gift the neighborhood with one of the most colorful balconies.

Second Story Garden


On a mild June morning the cars arrive in the church parking at easy intervals.

One my one greetings are exchanged. Soon duffels, sleeping bags, coolers, and buckets of tools sit in a clump ready for loading into either of the two vans that will transport us. Men outnumber women for this event and they load the supplies with efficient experience.

We gather around a tailgate for devotion. Then it’s time for a group photo — how convient that the mother of our youngest member agrees to play photographer. We divide into two quartets and claim a seat for the journey.

The adventure begins. Do new things. Have new experiences. Interesting how little phrases can ripple out into a life. Now I’m on a journey to New Orleans to work on home re-construction for a week with a group of almost strangers.

My seat partner, a veteran of several similar trips, draws me into an easy get-acquainted conversation as miles flow by in a pleasant morning. A few hours into the trip the highway drops from the bluff country to flat, rich delta and the crops become more Southern.

“Is that camel real?”

Eyes dart to the right. There, within the fence of a concrete lawn ornament business a real, live camel reaches for a green snack. In a ragged chorus we reply. “Yes.”

An engine overhead alerts us to the next highlight of the morning. A bright yellow crop duster swoops low over the cotton field, climbs and turns in rapid ascent at the end to avoid both trees and billboard.

God has bless this stage of our journey. Variety abounded in the urban areas of St. Louis and Memphis; fields of corn, cotton, and rice; and stands of pine in red Mississippi soil.



Traffic Check

Look both ways!

Walk — don’t run!

Wait for the green light!

My parents taught and demonstrated the way to cross the street when I was very small. We only used two of the above three in our home town. We lived on main street in our small midwest village for the first eight years of my life. Traffic light lessons were for larger cities, when we went on shopping trips. You remember them — the towns large enough to have a JC Penny or Sears store downtown plus dress shops, drugstores, bakery, and bookshops downtown.

The basics still apply. I will plead guilty to running, or some gait between walk and run on occasion. Is it my imagination or are the engineers that time the pedistrian walk signals world class sprinters?

Check both ways? Absolutely!

And I’m not alone. Seems other parents have taught their children the

Looking both ways before hopping across lot.

same basics.



Time to Play

They’re back!!!

Blessed with dry days and pleasant temperatures the workers arrive every morning, open their trailer of supplies, and set to work.

Piece by piece the climbing, sliding, crawling, and turning toy takes shape. The dozer is the first thing to leave – loaded unto its flat trailer – off it goes to the next job site. One by one the pieces of the containment ring are pegged into each other and into the earth below. Heavy plastic follows over the interior of the oval. What will they finish it with? Will small feet hit sand? Pea gravel? Thick rubber mats?

A new trailer arrives and the men pull out a long, thick hose. Motors whirr, hose is guided, and wooden chips transferred.

It’s finished now. The last of the “caution” “keep out” yellow tape is taken away.

Go ahead kids – climb, slide, crawl, and turn. Most of all — ENJOY!!!

Ready! Set! Play!

Morning Greeter

Beautiful morning to all!

Vine. According to my battered paperback dictionary it is a plant that climbs by means of tendrils or trails along the ground.

Some vines take climbing serious. Several are escape artists. Others obey their masters and cling to the trellis or support a thoughtful human places.

This appears to be an escapee taking advantage of the close placed fence. What are the chances a companion climbs the other side, giving a beauty in morning shade to the owner.

I’ll accept this morning beauty as a smile to the commuity as I walk past.



Building Fun

Notice had been given. After the old, metal Monkey Bars were dismantled last fall an item in the condominium newsletter promised a replacement in the park.

The work crew arrived on a pleasant May morning. A trailer full of parts and tools plus a cute little dozer to smooth and prepare the site. Prepainted or molded in bright primary colors they laid out the pieces and started to assemble.

Did they play with Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs as children? Did they spend hours with Lego designing and constructing buildings, space ships, and machines?

Directions are called back and forth between the workers. Chug, chug as the dozer engine contributes. More power tools to drill deep holes for the main supports.

It looks like fun to this girl that built alongside her brother with his building toys and her sons with theirs.

Fun in Progress

Feathered Flowers?

It’s a fine morning for a walk. The day is sunny, not too hot. My mind relaxes and wanders off on it’s own while my feet continue on a familiar route.

Whoa! Sound and motion. I take half a step back and bring my focus to the near right.

One. Two. Three. Yes, a trio of Mallard Drakes have taken temporary residence in the flower planter. Are they lost? Confused? The nearest pond is three blocks away and we’ve not had enough rain to form puddles for more than a week.

No brown females in sight. A Mallard bachelor party? Or three disappointed friends plotting and planning their next move?

When I move past they settle and their shiny green heads blend into the fresh foliage.

Two out of three pose in the sunshine