Good for the Public

A literate, educated society can accomplish much. They tend to lead others in innovation, application, and the arts.

One way to encourage literary and life-long learning is via a public library.

The buildings vary greatly. Think of a grand building guarded by lion statues. Or a smaller, yet elegant building in the city. But they also come as a portion of a civic center (sharing a roof with the mayor, police, or fire departments), or a storefront in a strip mall.

It’s the inside that matters. Shelves and shelves of books. Arranged by type (fiction or non-fiction) and age groups (children, teens, & adults). Don’t forget the newspapers and magazines. Computers serve a purpose for students of all ages. In most locations you show your library card (often free with proof of residence) and you have use for a specific amount of time.

Children (and parents) enjoy a story hour. What can be better than introducing a new idea in story or song or craft?

Curious about this computer stuff that didn’t exist when you were a student? Check for a class. Want to learn some local history? A craft? Discuss a book? Inquire at the desk – they may offer a class or host a book club.

Looking for a specific author or book? Ask a librarian. In many cases, they can ship books from another location or library system.

Scared? Forget the stereotype of librarian with gray hair in a bun and a frown when you speak above a whisper.

This grand building, in an older neighborhood of a city, holds modern ideas and a helpful staff.

Authors love libraries. If you look carefully, you may see one working at a table. Or browsing the shelves for research materials.


Alphabet Books

Children love them. Teachers encourage parents to read them aloud. And many have clever pictures. (My children had one that celebrated “V” by showing “Vulture with Violin”)

Recently this blog celebrated the books and the alphabet in a slightly different way. I searched my shelves, purchased the missing, and discussed 26 books with their titles in alphabetical order.

Authors begin as readers. Readers gravitate toward books – but they include magazines, newspapers, and the back of the cereal box.

The next time you are looking for a new book – consider picking a romance. They end with optimism (a quality in spotty supply these days.) They come in a wide variety and may include comedy, suspense, paranormal creatures, or historical settings. I’d be pleased if you tried one of mine – search by Ellen Parker under your favorite retailer.


Readers Rock

Sounds like a T-shirt. And perhaps it is – in another person’s collection.

There’s been a contest of sorts going on for readers all summer. Pick your favorite from among one hundred selected novels. It’s called “The Great American Read” and you can vote on the PBS website. How many have you read? Or seen at the movies? Or watched on TV? Love this one? Couldn’t stand that one? Browse the titles and get ideas for your next selection – one from the list, or from an author on the list, or a story in the same genre. Re-visit an old favorite or find a new one.

Authors – including this one – like readers. We work long hours over weeks, months, sometimes more than a year, to complete a good story. The goal of many authors is to get their work in front of as many readers as possible.

Readers come in many varieties. They can be young, old, in the middle years. Rich is fine. Poor is welcome. Slow readers who savor every sentence or quick ones who devour book after book. Love chocolate? Never touch the stuff? It makes no difference. Need your favorite chair? Can read anywhere? It’s all good.

Friends grabbing a few words before the Bible study leader arrives.


Block by Block

The neighbors are getting weary. They were told to prepare for a long project — but how do you define long?

Visible progress is good. It’s difficult to see most of the activity from the street — that may be a good thing. But traffic is affected. Parking spaces have been claimed by pipe, concrete inlets, rock, and equipment. Lanes are narrow and you have had to wait for a few minutes when equipment is moving that rock or a delivery of more materials is taking place.

Oh — and you needed to go around the other way the day they dug across the street and buried the new drain pipe.

Work continues on non-rain days. And block by block the project progresses. Still lots of finishing to do — it will not be finished until the drainage swale is shaped and topped with mats of straw and grass seed. And the sidewalk repaired in the places where treaded equipment crushed it.

The new retaining wall grows block by block.


The Unveiling

In the author circles in which I move, they call it a Cover Reveal.

It’s a good name for the action of making the cover art for a new, or re-released, volume public. In romance it can also imply other things — some of which will remain unsaid in this G-rated blog.

Are you ready for a pretty book cover???

This is a re-release of my debut novel. This sweet romance with a touch of mystery is set in a fictional small Wisconsin town.

The ebook is available for pre-order with an official release date of October 3, 2018. It’s available at your favorite ebook retailer.

The paperback is available from Amazon.

Click on over to the Starr Tree Farm page of this website for a slightly longer description.


Restored Habitat

Progress implies forward movement. Change toward some unknown future.

But in some cases, it’s good to take a step back. Take this chain of events as they played out over a century or two.

Woodlands developed along the waterways. The mix of trees changes over generations as various Native American tribes across the land hunting game and pausing long enough to plant crops in the open spaces. The larger open spaces, those filled with the diverse plants of a North American prairie thrived. Their extensive root systems held the soil in place, provided food and shelter to wildlife.

Then the Europeans arrived. They came with domestic animals and plows. Cutting down the forest to build homes, they turned the prairie into fields of corn and wheat.

Then a few descendants of the pioneers realized the forest and the prairie were good things. So they purchased land and guided it back to a condition close to that of before settlement.

They created an oasis of sorts. A small area where native wildlife and plants flourish. In the process they give human visitors beautiful vistas and an opportunity to re-connect (for a brief time) with the past.

                          Prairie and woodland on display on a fine day.                                      City visitors such as the author are grateful to the managers of the property who cut trails of short grass through the waist and higher prairie plants.



Riverfront Attraction

Quick — I say St. Louis.    You say ______.

Aside from the baseball fans who correctly replied “Cardinals”, my guess is that a large number of you replied “Arch”.

The correct name for this monument is “Gateway Arch National Park.” Until a few months ago the proper name was Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Yes, it was a mouthful. And the new one will take a little while to get used to. (I’m still getting used to the idea of a National Park inside a city.)

They had a Grand Re-Opening with a completely refreshed museum at the foot of the Arch. (I’m anticipating a trip to see for my self in a few weeks.) And if you want to ride to the top you may. I understand the view from 630 feet is fabulous.

The grounds — all fresh with new walkways and trees — plus the older Grand Staircase to the street along the river — are a delightful place to walk and view either the river or the city.

Sunset turned the stainless steel golden.


Sing for the Hero

Yesterday the United States celebrated a holiday.

No — it’s not named End of Summer BBQ.

Labor Day — in honor of the men & women who do the difficult, often physical work, to make out society function. And while I’ve never been a member of a Union — other family members have been and currently are.

So this is my belated “THANK YOU” for the 40 hour week, paid vacations, and the many safety standards initiated through the years.

Recently, while concentrating on other objects in the photo — I even recorded a man doing skilled labor.