Breakfast is Served

The most important meal of the day.

Start the day with high quality protein plus some carbs to keep you mentally and physically sharp for hours.

I’m sure you’ve heard it. Perhaps you’ve said it. Advertising wants you to include a specific product. Teachers want the students to be satisfied and fortified enough to concentrate on their studies – instead of listening to their stomachs ask about lunch.

Solitary or social – the first meal of the day can be either. And while in the United States we associate it with specific foods – cereals, yogurt, eggs, ham, grits, potatoes — other cultures and regions of the world vary. The result is the same — a little energy to replenish from the long fast during the night.

These two creatures are eating in quiet companionship. What’s on their menu?


Eating properly to maintain our feather color.


1900’s Fitness Plan

It’s relatively easy these days to find articles that speak fondly of the past. When life was slower. When all the current stresses of today were not a constant concern.

Perhaps we need a reminder once in a while that progress has some positive results. Take for example, the lunch hour of a businessman.

Do you long for the days when the shop door would be locked and the proprietor could go home for a home cooked meal? It does sound lovely — in contrast to the often hurried brown bag or take out fast food lunch gulped while at the desk. But is it true?

If you “lived above the shop” it was a short walk. And if your wife or older children were quick with the routine chores — wood or coal for the stove, washing, ironing, cleaning, emptying chamber pots — they could give free labor at the business.

Not everyone had such a short commute. Consider this view in Galena, IL. You got to walk one, two, or even three sets of steps like this four times a day – down in the morning, uphill for lunch, back down the hill for afternoon business, and a slow climb at the end of the day. And think about winter — those first and last trips would have been in the dark. Possible snow and ice. No gym membership required for aerobic exercise!



When We Grow Up

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a common question for one human to ask another, especially a child.

But what about other things. What does the puppy want to be? A search and rescue worker? A family pet?

What about a fruit? Do they want to be in a shortcake? A pie? A lunchbox?

I look at this little grouping of pears and wonder how many of them will make it to ripe? What will be their fate? I’m thinking a nice salad in the botanical garden restaurant would be a good place to end.


Have you another idea?


Public Time

Were church bells among the first?

They’ve proclaimed the hour of the day for centuries. First as a call to worship. And later as a mark of time to all within hearing.

Clocks on bell towers and city halls followed.

Businesses got in on the action later. Think of a photo of an American business district from the first half of the twentieth century. Does the jewelry store have a clock? Or the bank? Attached to the building? Or free standing like this model?


Today in our fascination with all things digital — several businesses and organizations within a mile will have bright, flashing signs which will give the time and temperature as one of a series of messages. Don’t blink! Any one message only remains seconds, barely time for an unsuspecting brain to notice.

I like the style above. It invites a person to slow down, take an extra look, absorb a bit of the world around yourself.



The President and…

…His First Lady.

The phrase is common now. But for the first portion of United States history the honorarium was not used. For example, you would have heard President and Mrs. Lincoln instead.

According to the home tour guide, the newspapers began to use the phrase in the 1870’s. Then it was President Grant and his First Lady. Her name was Julia and from what I’ve read about her, she was a strong and patient woman. And after seeing some of the furnishings which the family owned, I’d add a lady of excellent taste.

In the years between the Civil War and Grant’s election to president, the family lived in Galena, IL. They were gifted a fine, brick house on the hill. (Or one of the hills — the town has several.) While the house is open as a museum now, it’s easy to see how a family with four children would have lived comfortable here. It had all the modern conveniences. At least two of the bedrooms had stoves. A copper lined bathtub sat off the kitchen.

The lawn today is large and extends to the edge of the slope. It’s easy to imagine the area hosting a vegetable garden, flower beds, and of course, the privy.

Today the hostess looks out with an excellent view of the river and the main business district on the other side.


First to be known as “First Lady”

Julia Dent Grant


Wet Highway

The Mississippi River is an active highway. Find a viewing spot from St. Paul, MN to New Orleans, LA and it won’t take long until a tow of barges comes past.

One small, powerful boat controls nine, twelve, or even fifteen barges at a time on the upper portions of the river. Below the entrance of the Ohio, you may find larger tows, depending on the shipping company and the expertise of the individual boat skipper.

While grain and coal are the most common barged items you’ll find on the river they are not the only ones present. Water is an efficient method to transport all sorts of heavy, bulky goods from one river port to another.

Pleasure craft abound on the river in the summer — wise fishermen stay out of the marked shipping channel. And all craft, from full barges to a single canoeist use the locks at the frequent dams north of St. Louis.


Four barges carrying enough sand for thousands of backyard sandboxes.


A Touch of New

The great cities of the world include London, England. (Was it even necessary to add the country?)

The most recognizable of the tourist sites are historical. Many of them are connected to London’s function as the seat of government, a center of commerce for centuries, and a habit of building something new in the style of a past century.

London is also a modern city. Busy airports on the edge. A modern highway makes a ring around the urban area. An eclectic mix of trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes, and bicycles fill the city streets and make pedestrians nervous. (And religious.)

I present to you my final photo from this blog review of my recent vacation. A piece of modern skyline viewed from the Thames.



Fairy Tale Setting

A castle in the English countryside. Strong defenses are not required since most of the wars are over — but a nice drawbridge and moat will keep the riff-raff at bay.


The castle fell into dis-repair some generations after the most famous daughters called this “home”. An American millionaire restored much, expanded the gardens, and installed tourist worthy sights.

Fans and authors of historical romance should be able to build a story, invent a family, and a happy ending for either a son or daughter raised in such pleasant surroundings.

I ask one thing of the authors taking up the challenge above. Please have it end better for your heroine than it did for Anne Boleyn. (This is Hever Castle, her childhood home.)