One Year Ago

While getting ready to write this post I decided to browse through some photos and see what I could find on this date.

Exactly one year ago yesterday, I vacationed in Wisconsin. These vacations always include lots of time, laughter, and food with college and high school friends. (That’s what happens when you move away and they stay in the general area you grew up in.) It makes for a great vacation filled with familiar sights — yet things change. For example: trees grow. (Sadly, cemeteries also fill with familiar names.)

So in that spirit I give you a view of the St. Croix River taken from a park in Hudson, WI.


Now complete the scene by imagining yourself sitting on a bench beside a friend and eating an ice cream cone. A touch of heaven!


Summer Tag

In recent weeks, I’ve taken my morning walk a little earlier. It’s not a big change, twenty minutes or so.

The scene is much the same. Yet a few differences appear. The sun is a touch lower. The air a degree cooler. A line is forming outside the plasma center. A different group of people are walking (or being walked by) dogs. Traffic is a different mix of business trucks and private vehicles.

And I get to play a game. Will I be successful is walking the gauntlet? Or will I end up with an unplanned shower?


Preset sprinklers wait for no man (or woman).


On a Larger Scale

Clean, classic design. Uncluttered. Functional while pleasing to the eye.

In the previous installment of this blog I introduced you to a touch of Sir Christopher Wren in Missouri. Today I focus on some of his work located where you’d expect — London.

A tourist would be unobservant if they did not notice St. Paul’s during a visit to London. It’s a landmark. A reference point which I’m sure more than one visitor uses to find or confirm their location each day.

It’s on a grander scale than the bombed church moved stone by stone. Columns are thick — but they look right at home in the space with their height. Ceilings are vaulted high above the floor — giving man a hint of his importance (or lack thereof). The dome soars above, a marvel of engineering even to this day. The crypt (not a basement) contains tombs of several famous men. Including Sir Christopher Wren with a simple plaque urging you to look around for his true monument.

St Paul's
My simple camera captures a hint of the grandeur.

Classic Design

Christopher Wren in Missouri.

Yes, I mean Sir Christopher Wren, the English architect who lived and died before the United States became a nation. Missouri hosted a few adventurous Europeans – more French than English – during his lifetime. But for the most part it remained a home to Native Americans and abundant wildlife.

So how are they connected?

The story includes cities, colleges, a president and a prime minister.

There was a war. London endured bombings in which many buildings, including some of the smaller churches designed by Wren after the Great London Fire were destroyed by fire. A college in Missouri  purchased one of these churches, moved it, and assembled it stone by stone (with repairs) on campus. Then they invited the US President (a native son) and the British Prime Minister (son of an American mother) to speak on campus. (I’m not certain if the church was reconstructed before or after the speech.) Then the speech became famous because of the phrase “Iron Curtain”.

In use as the campus chapel, the Christopher Wren church stands proud today. A nice museum on the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill is in the basement. (I’d say crypt but I don’t think any bodies are entombed.)


Classic design from Wren in Missouri


Let’s Communicate

Humans have used speech for communication since Adam and Eve discussed the pros and cons of eating fruit from a specific tree. Face to face speech remains an excellent way of exchanging ideas and passing along information to this day.

Face to face isn’t always possible. Written language gave communication a big boost. Especially when paper and ink came along. Instructions and thoughts, even poetry and stories, could be sent long distances. You can still do this today. Some people call it “snail mail”.

The telegraph enabled messages to be sent long distances in a short time. You needed special equipment and a knowledge of Morse Code, but the advantages were worth the investment.

Next, the telephone eliminated the need to learn Morse Code. Anyone could speak on the phone. And for more than a century the method was refined, improved, and extended to include more and more of the population.

Modern communication — voice and data and photos and even this blog — travel fast along wires, and fiber, and leap through the air. Special equipment is required but it’s changed greatly from the telegraph key at each end of a wire.



Same Tree: New Crop

Two years ago, my book Hiding Places was released into the world. Since the hero of the book was developing an apple orchard, I found a local apple tree and took multiple photos of it from before first bud (hoping I’d selected the right tree) until ripe fruit was tempting and dropping.

Yes. I taste tested. Delicious.

The tree is still alive, producing a new crop of apples this year. As the only real fruit tree in a row of ornamentals, it stands apart from its neighbors. For one thing, it’s shorter. The crown is rather flat. Perhaps at one point during its growth, it was trimmed or pruned.

I doubt it receives much extra attention. Oh, a few of the employees of the nearby businesses may sneak a snack when the apples are ripe. No orchard spraying. No human assist during “June drop”. Just a semi-dwarf apple tree doing it’s bit in an urban environment.

100_5257Preview of the 2016 crop.

The book – Hiding Places — remains available through Crimson Romance, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.



Rule vs. Advice

My practical introduction to the rule occurred as advice in my youth. Mother taught me to sew. Lots of steps involved in creating a wearable garment from a piece of cloth. Measuring was basic. You needed to measure to have the clothing fit. And to have the pattern piece cut on the straight grain of the fabric. (Or on the bias if the pattern called for it.)

Get it right. Double check. Pin in place. Only then did you pick up the scissors.

I later came to discover that this is a slight variation on the “carpenter’s rule”. Measure twice. Cut once.

As you can tell from my opening — it’s not limited to woodworking. I was pleased to see the rule in action as they began work on a new storm sewer.


Measure twice. Dig once.


Are You Agile?

My dictionary defines agile as the ability to move quickly and easily. Does that fit you? Does that fit your pet?

Recently I attended dog agility trials. Yes, the dogs were agile. The handlers needed to be also. While the dogs did the jumping, climbing, and tunnel runs — the human trotted along giving hand signals and soft words of direction and encouragement. Knee braces were a common accessory for the humans.

A good many of the dogs wore happy expressions at the end of the run. A few asked via body language “can we do it again?” Others “helped” the handler collect their leash for a quick round of “Keep Away”

Some of the humans were panting also. But they remembered to reward their charges with kind words, an affectionate rub, and a treat from their pocket.


Are you ready? Multiple jumps. Climb up — and down. Into the tunnel. Weave through the poles. Remember to pause on the table while the official counts off the seconds. Short legs? No problem — the jumps are adjustable.



More than Books

Have you walked into your local library recently?

Books predominate. Just as you expect. However, they have competition from magazines, music, and movies. Computers available to all fill a need. Classes and lectures are scheduled for a variety of age groups.

It can be a lively place. Or a quiet place if you seek out the reference or study rooms.

Have you walked around your local library recently?

I’m privileged to frequent a new building and when I followed the sidewalk around the side (intending to photograph something across the road) I had a pleasant surprise.


Library garden. Careful — you might learn something!

Have you checked my “reviews” page recently? Some nice summer reads are displayed  – both historical and contemporary.