Well Built

More than 125 years ago, the village faced a problem.

Their log school building burned down every few years. So they made a decision and built a brick, one-room schoolhouse. They gave it six generous windows for light. A door on one end. And a bell in a short, square tower.

Several years later, the village faced a different problem. The brick schoolhouse was too small. This time, they found some land a couple blocks away and built a larger brick schoolhouse. But what to do with the empty building?

We’ll buy it. A group of people who had been holding church services in home replied. And they did. In 1894.

The small town congregation will be celebrating this year. With a service in the same building. Yes — it’s changed. They added electricity. Dug a basement. Put in central heat and plumbing. Stained glass windows replaced the clear ones. Plaster. Paint. Remodel times 3 or 4 or more.

The bell and bricks are the same.

Our ancestors did a different sort of recycle/repurpose.



Reach for the Top

It’s time tested advice. Set your sights high. Aim for the stars. Do your best…then a little more.

A little extra effort can make the difference between ordinary, average, or dull and bright, superior, or excellent.

And give yourself time to practice. The musical instrument you want to master? Plan on hours and hours of practice for months, even years. The same for any sports skill — even the most excellent of NBA players practice the basics. Over and over and over.

As we walk from the parking lot to one of the zoo entrances, this is illustrated.

It takes practice to balance and stretch for the top, tasty leaves.



Parading in Style

I’m not sure how the date was selected. But every year, the third weekend in July, my hometown celebrates. Baseball games. Fire department displays of strength. A dance.

And every 25 years they do it up big and special with a parade.

I remember the one when I was a child and it was part of the town’s centennial. We had lots of preliminary events for that. Men grew beards (my dad purchased a “shaving permit” button). Women bought fabric and patterns and sewed costumes of 1850’s design. I remember a fashion show, a carnival, fireworks. And of course — a parade.

Fast forward half a century. A few of the same people are in the parade. Riding this time instead of walking.

Every parade needs a look into the past.


Artful Sign

At times a sign can be more than a sign.

A few of them become landmarks. (Think the HOLLYWOOD sign.)

Signs at tourist attractions are at times clever and eye-catching more than informative.

The sign for the St. Louis Zoo says a lot in a simple manner.

Come along with me while we explore some of the other sculpture in this public space for the next several Fridays.



Small Town Pride

When I give people the name of my hometown, I often need to follow up with a “that’s near __________”  It’s a rare, but pleasant, surprise when the other person knows of the place.

The Midwest is filled with these little places. The demographics within them are changing. While the village always attracted a fair number of retired farmers or their widows, the surrounding farms always supplied enough children to keep the schools going. But new arrivals in recent years often work office or factory jobs out of the community. And the number of students is dwindling.

That does not change the attitude. I’m from XXXXXX. Home of the (fill in the HS mascot). Civic pride runs deep if not wide. While the number of organizations may be small, they are well regarded.

The American Legion Post leads the parade.



Reluctant Celebrity

Daughters, niece, and other relatives recognized her talent.

It took a lot of encouragement, arm-twisting, and the gift of a starter set to unlock the artist’s door.

It was only in the final two decades of her life (and not all of them) that she actively put brush to canvas. She painted life. Small town and rural scenes of the valleys and hills where she lived.

A set of farm buildings. Her flower garden. Work at harvest time. A still life. A street scene. A few fanciful scenes with a post card or magazine photo for inspiration.

Long after her death, the community honored her with an exhibit of her works. You see, she gave them all away — to relatives and friends.

The same town which inspired most of these paintings also inspired the      Crystal Springs Romances.


Cover Girl

Dancer. She’s happy playing the supporting role. Doing the right thing when the situation looks hopeless.

She works full time — security. And is a mother to talented children. And loyal.

Want to meet her? Open the pages of the latest Crystal Springs Romance —   Seed of Desire

Beth Cosgrove and her cousins, Anita and Carla, are working hard to make a success of Big Cat Farm. Beth handles the German shepherds and accounting. Life is moving along, with the usual size bumps, when they get a new, intriguing judge at the annual 4-H dog obedience trials. And then….

Dancer invites you to open the book and get acquainted with the residents of Big Cat Farm. currently Available for pre-order. Official release date tomorrow – January 9, 2019.


Best Behavior

Have you ever attended a dog show? In person?

Yes, obedience and agility trials count. Often they are held separately of the shows focused on confirmation. But there are exceptions.

I’m always rather amazed that you have dozens and dozens of canines, owners, and random humans and the hall is QUIET. No obvious signs posted for the humans. And the dogs in general are alert and engaged, but avoid barking and whining.

It’s as if the dogs are aware they are in this place to work. Trot along on the lead. Allow the judge to examine their head. Share the ring with others. Or…in the case of agility trials.

Oh, great. I get to run, climb, dart through the tunnel, and jump over the rails. Can we do it again? Please?

Yes. I’ll do it.

Pre-order Seed of Desire (official release Jan 9) for a sweet, small town romance – with the humans — against the backdrop of German shepherds. Meet Dancer and Bailiff and the humans who love them.


Clean Slate

It’s here! Our chance to start a New Year off with a positive attitude.

Days, weeks, months of 2019 stretch before us without smudges of mistakes and erasures. This our opportunity to do it right. This year I will _____.

Okay. The year’s a few hours old (or more) when you read this. I sense gray marking up my day already. And see these other marks? The ones for tomorrow, next week, etc. Those are plans — things I need to do. Many are dictated by others. A few I set as personal goals.

But today — today I relax. Perhaps I’ll spend a little time assessing 2018. And then it will be time to look forward. Select a tiny goal and work on it.

They will never be this unmarked again!