Hope or Fear

What’s on the other side of the door?

Will the events or items inside feed your inner optimist? Or will they feed the downward spiral of your thoughts and turn you into at least a temporary pessimist?

Can you tell by the door’s appearance?

These mid-20th century doors could do both. They happen to be the main entrance to the campus science hall. The building was almost a second home — right behind my dorm room in hours spent within the walls.

Some days, at at least a class or two, were delightful. My attitude and abilities fit with my major. Other days– not so much. How did I do on that quiz? Why doesn’t the sugar crystalize? Do I care which direction the electrons flow?

Do you have similar doors in your life? Does your experience run more to unexpected pleasure or disappointment?


Open with Caution

CAREFUL — you might learn something!

Did either of your parents issue that warning? It was usually my dad who voiced it at our house. Often it was half a joke when you were doing some practical task for the first time.

Learning can be very hands on.

When I was eight or nine, we had just a few milk cows (just getting started) and mother asked me to whip some cream to put on our dessert. So I used the electric mixer and whipped away. Is it done? No. Now? No. How about now? Keep going and you’ll have butter.  Lesson: if you go past soft peaks too far, you’ll get to butter. (This may not work with homogenized and pasteurized products.)

Or it can me all mental. Think of what you’ve learned about ancient Egypt — I’ll guess much of it has been from books. Perhaps some in conversation, lectures, or movies.


You might learn something beyond the library door.




The great inland waterways of the United States don’t get a lot of national press. Due to the area in which I grew up plus the region I have called home for several decades — I’ve always been aware of them. More exactly: the Mississippi River barge traffic.

Locks and dams enable the upper portion of the river to stay open by keeping the water level at or above nine (9) feet. Yes, it seems amazing that huge, heavy barges and the tows which push them require water only nine feet deep. I’m sure physics is involved. Understanding the fine points of buoyancy was not my best science topic.

The pilots on the tows need to be alert and capable. They also need to be trained. Have you ever thought about what sort of education is involved in some of the very specialized occupations?

I had one of those “of course” moments a few years ago on vacation in Paducah, KY. Located on the Ohio River near the junction with the Mississippi — it makes perfect sense for a river pilots to have a training facility.

Paducah celebrates modern river pilots on their flood wall mural.


Feeling Hollow

Do you ever feel a little hollow?

No, not hungry for food. But like something’s missing. Perhaps a loved one has moved away or died. A careless person gave an emotional wound.

Humans can work to repair and rebuild. They can establish new ties or strengthen ones which were weak. Humans extend this sort of care sometimes to the animal world — especially when caring for physical hurts by the appropriate medical care.

The next time you feel hollow — think of a tree. They put on a brave trunk and bark. Support as many leaves as possible. Cling to life — it’s the way of the living world. But…

give thanks the cure for human grief, or parasites, is not this drastic.

While this may have been the sensible action for a tree in a municipal park, don’t use the same on your fellow human.



Everyone I know has played it at least once. Inside with beanbags or groceries or toys. Outside or in large stadiums, people are played for using footballs and baseballs.

It’s simple. And complicated.

I have it. I’ll toss it to you through the air. You reach out and catch (capture). Sounds simple. But..how large is it? How heavy? How much force will it hit my hands with?

In the present day, not only people play catch.

Gives a whole new meaning to “catch the phone call”


A Personal Relationship

Decades ago (has it really been decades?), my sons and I lived within the St. Louis city limits. Not far from our apartment — it was sort of at the limits of walking distance — was a library branch. We became frequent visitors.

The youngest got his first library card here. Books for school papers were on the shelves. New authors were discovered. The oldest got his first job here.

For the good of the library — and the community — the branch moved into a larger building another mile up the road. Our household looked forward to the move. The job was gone — in favor of college across the state. But we were all eager to see shelves with ROOM. This was our branch until we moved into an adjoining library district.

Suddenly — the branch had SPACE.

On the outside: parking increase at least times five.

One the inside: A classroom in the basement. Children’s, reference, and adult reading areas were separated. More computers. A spiral staircase behind glass blocks was a neat feature.



Shoulder Travel

Aside from the dozen plus years I was responsible for children in school, I prefer to travel during the “shoulder” seasons.

Do you need a translation? According to travel guidebooks, the “shoulders are the six weeks or so before and after the peak tourist seasons. In the United States, the peak months are generally June, July, and August.

During my life, I’ve taken some wonderful September trips. Once or twice I traveled in October. (Depending on your destination — it’s best to bring a warm coat.) May is preferred to April for the same reason in reverse.

An early September road trip included a beautiful day in Delaware. I think I fell in love with the Brandywine River. 

Consider the positives: The weather is generally good. Again–think about your destination. It’s always good to have an inside attraction on your list for rainy days. Tourist attractions are not as crowded as during the peak season. Watch the open hours — the further you are from peak, the more likely days or hours will be limited. Traffic — like the attractions — will be a mix of locals, commercial, and the stay wanderer like yourself.

So in this year of limited opportunities and abundant cautions: Grab the map and your travel buddy. Plot out a trip for one of the “shoulders” of 2021.



Body and Mind

Exercise. Diet. Preventative care. Take care of your body.

Exercise. Variety. Frequency. Take care of your mind.

Recently, while taking a drive in an adjoining county, I noticed a sign for a library at the next exit. So…I turned at the light.

Two public services share this large building. Out of view, is a branch of the County Health Department. Taking center stage is a branch of the county library.

How convenient. You can take your children – or yourself  – to get an immunization against an infectious disease. Then walk next door for a reward. Perhaps you’ll find a book or magazine or movie that will strengthen your mind against ignorance, bigotry, or other narrow-minded conditions.


Getting Close

Several years ago, as part of my research and promotion for Hiding Places, [a sweet romance featuring an apple orchard], I took advantage of having an apple tree nearby and photographed it often.

It was interesting to view the bare twig (have I got the right tree) to blossom, leaf, forming fruit, and then…

Lunch box treat — I wonder if the employees of the adjoining auto body shop helped themselves? I think I would have. What about you?