Monthly Archives: April 2014

Lawn Inspector

It’s a difficult but necessary task. And this neighbor is well suited.

The grass needs to be checked for length. Is it even? It is too long? Is it time for the landscape service and their noisy machines to visit?

Spring and early summer suit him best. The lawn is lush, green, and tantalizing to his astute olfactory receptors. The earthworms are evading the robins. The canine and feline residents are leaving their traces. A human child drops a sweet treat.

By fall the grass turns brown and a chill invades the air. And winter — forget it — white frozen coating may be fun for some — but not this sporty model.

Too Low for Snow

Too Low for Snow

The supporting cast of collies in Starr Tree Farm romp year round. Read about their humans in the paperback edition: now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

Scent of Spring

Every farmstead displayed at least one. Many of the homes in the village followed the example. I didn’t become aware until many years later that we should thank the Norwegians. (I’m thinking the practical Norwegian farm wife.)

They were one of the early blossoms. Sweet and fragrant they attracted children’s noses as well as early season bees. Long after the blossoms were gone their shiny, well-defined leaves furnished an interesting background for photographs. In our family that included graduates, visiting veterans, and relatives from far away states.

Yes, my children. Long ago photos had to be taken outside in sunshine. Not all cameras included a flash attachment. Ask your grandmother to explain a “flash cube”.

I grew up far enough north that they sometimes reached their “peak” at the end of May. Those were the years when they would be cut, stems crowded into a quart jar, and set as grave decoration on Memorial Day.

They bloom earlier in my new home. And they like sunshine. They bring a smile to my face and tempt me to press my nose into a cluster of soft purple petals and breathe deep.

Lilac is more than a color.

Lilac is more than a color.

Compact Conflict

All-American. Blended. One-of-a-kind. Mixed breed.

He’s all of the above. Also Mr. Happy and the fastest tail in the neighborhood. His owner is waiting for him to slim down and then take off like a helicopter one of these days.

He also has a way with the ladies. When he was the “little brother” his outgoing personality rubbed off to make his companion a little less timid. Now he’s become the teacher — and model of exactly what’s permitted at the groomer.

His big conflict surfaces with fellow creatures. The Beagle in him wants to track, sniff, and follow the trail. The Sheltie portion attempts to herd – chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, small children — he’s not fussy.

Life is richer with this bundle of conflicted energy entertaining and teaching.

Track or Herd? That is the Question.

Track or Herd?
That is the Question.

 

Spring Fashion

Dreary winter has finally given way to spring. Longer hours of daylight. Breeze – some not so gently – arrange hairstyles on a whim. Warmth seeps in and heavy winter coats are exchanged for lighter jackets and sweaters. Fur lined boots find a place in the back of the closet.

A new accessory takes the lead. Often you will find it just inside the door. Or waiting in the car for use. My own spends a lot of time in my tote bag. They are available in a variety of sizes and colors. Basic black is popular. Bold bright colors — often including the logo of a sports team or university — pop up in popular places. Some are large enough for friends – or lovers – to share. (Note to males — women appreciate your thoughtfulness to hold one over both of you.)

Independent children hold their own. Never mind that at the some moment they are shielding their heads from rain they stomp in a puddle. Consider their age.

April Showers Fashion

April Showers Fashion

Looking for a rainy day read? Check out Starr Tree Farm — now available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

Birthday Girl

The exact date is unknown. Records of the early weeks and months of her life were lost last summer on a rural Missouri road.

Then she got lucky. Rescued. Taken in and checked over. Temporary care by one set of humans. Food and shelter. A little medical care and socialization.

Two humans and a black dog came to visit. She put on her best manners. The visiting dog kept his nose to the ground and ignored her. Then the pitter-patter of rain in the woods approached and humans snatched leashes and headed for shelter. (Good thing too. Rain was pretty intense for five minutes or so.)

A long ride to a new home. Lots to learn. This new, adopted, older brother accepted her new place in the family. Taught her the basics. The resident cat maintained her premier status in the household. The neighbors were friendly — especially the short ones with high voices.

Growing. Learning. Finding new ways to expend energy.

Birthday Girl!

Birthday Girl!

 

Party Decoration

It needs to be a large party — spanning much more than a day.

When an entire city decides to mark a birthday/anniversary you need to think big. And in multiples. Not one event — many. Not one cake — many.

They attempted a re-enactment of the February 1764 landing that marked the site selection of St. Louis. The weather interfered. (I’m thinking the winter of 1764 may have been a little milder.) They selected well for their trading post — near confluence of two large rivers, high ground, plentiful fur bearing animals and Native Americans willing to trade furs for blankets, guns, cooking pots, and beads.

The trading post grew into a village. The village swelled with settlers and became a city. Steamboats. Railroads. Highways. Airplanes. The United States grew, claimed the area as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and grew some more until the city on the west bank of the Mississippi became one of the most centrally located cities in the nation. (Kansas City could stake a valid claim to the same position.)

So put on your party hat. Grab a piece of birthday cake and celebrate the 250th Birthday of the — trading post, village, city — of St. Louis. Toasts in French, Spanish, and English are appropriate.

Decorative Party Cake

Decorative Party Cake

This “one of many” birthday cakes can be found in Forest Park.

 

Welcome Sight

Three thousand people makes quite an early morning crowd. And that’s just the runners and walkers. You need to add more for family and friends that came along to encourage plus the few thousand schoolchildren arriving for the events to follow.

We started promptly. The “elite” runners and others that knew what they were doing in the front of the pack. Then we all surged forward, stepped across the electronic timing line, and parted around the photographer on his ladder.

The herd, myself included, advanced on the park road, crossed a bridge, and turned a corner to go up the hill. I saw my first and only casualty prior to the first mile marker. I’m thinking Mr. Squirrel fell victim to the final motor vehicle to pass by instead of a runner or stroller.

Step, step, step. Runners passed me then slowed their pace. I kept steady and eased ahead. Once pause to retie a shoelace. Step, step, step. Accept the cup of water at the half-way point and keep moving. Down a slope, up again, another corner and around the outdoor theater. Mile two is past. Where’s the next one?

The quicker among us have finished and come along the side to encourage others with the sight of the earned necklace. Step, step, step.

The Goal is within Sight!

The Goal is within Sight!

Need to rest after your walk? Starr Tree Farm is now available in paperback.

 

Training Ground

Making plans for early tomorrow. Need to be alert and out of the house earlier in the morning than usual.  Yes, I know it’s the weekend.

When a large metropolitan area decides to use a weekend full of events to highlight physical fitness and activity it has a ripple effect. People like me, normal citizens, sign on the dotted line and commit to participation. We talk to family and friends, encouraging them to join us or to support the charity we represent.

Training takes time. Repetition. Determination.

I’m one of the lucky ones. (Or know my own limits.) A 5K at walking speed calculates out to walking without a break for an hour. Our route will include some hills, degree of gentleness is open to discussion. So practice sessions outside is encouraged. The winter of 2014 encouraged more walking at the mall, taking the steps between levels, and keeping safe.

The runners had a more difficult training assignment due to weather. They had to take advantage of every fine day we were granted. Even if it forced them to run in circles.

 

Level and comfy.

Level and comfy.

Starr Tree Farm is now available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Continues available as electronic book also.)

Calling all Fools

Paging Mr. Lirpa Loofski. Mr. Lirpa Loofski please call the operator.

Check your phone messages twice before replying today. There’s something in the air. A little wisp of spring breeze twists the minds of normal people into practical (or non-practical) jokesters on this date.

Advice to all the serious among us. Relax a little. It’s been a long, cold winter and it’s time to find a little sunshine whether Mother Nature cooperates or not.

Did your spouse or children tie your shoes together? No harm. You’ll find something simple to return the favor. (Replace cereal spoon with a fork?)

My plan for the day? Wait until tomorrow to check all lottery tickets. A girl needs to be careful.

Oh, Mr. Loofski. Drop the Polish suffix and spell it backward. He’s popular today.