Three Bridges — One River

If you begin in St. Louis and intend to drive any great distance (or any moderate distance) you will find it necessary to cross at least one river. Depending on direction and distance, you may cross more than one — or the same river more than once.

Today we’re going to focus on driving southwest from the heart of the city. The first sizable (except during flood) river you will encounter is the Meramec. The first time you cross it on Interstate 44 or a state highway running roughly parallel, the river is flowing south — perhaps a few degrees to the southeast.

Less than ten miles later, Interstate 44 crosses the Meramec River again — where it flows north. Like most rivers, perhaps a little more than average, the river changes direction several times as it wanders from the source to the Mississippi River.

This is a crossing where a steel truss bridge with oak floor planks spanned the water in 1900. In 1932, a new bridge, to carry the traffic for the new US Highway 66 replaced the previous. When the Interstate was construction, a new bridge, a little south (upstream) was completed. The old (second) bridge continued to serve local traffic until 2009. At that time, the decking was removed in an effort to lighten the load on the steel trusses and wait for funds to restore the structure which now lies within a State Park.

A trace of Bridge #1 remains with the pair of footings visible at low water. Bridge #2 — deckless — is in the foreground while Bridge #3 carries the traffic from St. Louis to points southwest such as Rolla and Springfield in Missouri, Tulsa, OK and beyond.


The Lighter Side

Okay — US Thanksgiving Day is over.

Did you eat well? Dining on leftovers today? Recovering from the relatives? Preparing for Christmas shopping?

May I suggest a pause to read a little and find your smile.

At least one of the trio above should bring a smile to your lips and a chuckle into the room. Animal stories told in a lighthearted style. Another sort of animal described in the adventures of raising children in the 1960’s suburbs. And to really step back in time — join the antics of courtship, marriage, and love (not necessarily in that order) presented by a modern author.

So…this author’s advice. Take a book break on the light side to prepare you for the hustle and bustle of the modern year-end holidays.


Going Non-Traditional

Readers in the United States — this one’s for you.

Do you have an opinion on the Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want?

The highlights: Three generations at the table, the eldest couple clearly in charge: he wears a suit, she has an apron over a dress. Fruit, a large covered dish, and small side dishes are on the table before “Grandma” lowers the turkey on a platter. You can only see faces/heads/partials of the family — all are well-groomed and smiling.

Does this look like your family? Do you recall portions of this happening during your childhood?

It may have been Thanksgiving — or a Sunday — I do remember a chaotic day with lots of relatives and food (I believe mother had to tie the oven shut because the turkey was too large). We had three generations in the house. Mother, not grandmother, was in charge. Consistent with her personality — she asked for and got assistance from others in her generation. Noise, food, people, and music probably burst out of our brick house on Main Street.

Later, when I was a teen and college student, the Thanksgiving feast was held with good friends and alternated between the homes. Lots of food, conversation, and fun. The deer hunters — yes, the season often overlapped with the holiday — took a few hours off.

After marriage, I lived many miles away from family, therefore we celebrated with friends, neighbors, or perhaps drove an hour to an Aunt & Uncle. My career (in health care) required working the day about half the years. Good planning permitted a bit of feasting and fun later in the day — after work. But please — spare the hours of preparation for the traditional meal — and the nuclear family was more comfortable after a busy shift.

What takes center stage at your Thanksgiving? Church service? Food? Football? Family & friends (or friendly family)? Shopping? Phone or video calls with loved ones far away?

However you choose to mark the day —

Tom, and his family, suggest a menu more in line with the 1621 celebration — venison, fish, and cornbread.

May your Blessings be Abundant!


Founding Trio

Quick — name the first three United States presidents.

Did you get it? If you paid attention during history in grade school you should have gotten Washington, Adams, and Jefferson without missing a beat.

Can you list more?

Thanks to a lifelong interest in history — and a thick pamphlet study guide in 8th grade — I feel confident naming most of them in order. Yes, I’ll get a little confused here and there. And don’t ask me the accomplishments of some of them.

During the last several years, I’ve tried to expand my knowledge. I’m glad to live within a good library system to supplement the ones on my own shelf. And it’s rather humbling to find biographies of presidents I remember from the TV news filed under “history”. Yikes! Does that mean I’m old? (Please — don’t answer.)

Want to learn about prominent figures from the past as people, not only doers of heroic deeds? Find a book and settle in with the expectation of learning something.

A trio of uncommon “common” men guided the early United States on the path to growth and expansion. Were they privileged? Yes, they came from families wealthy enough to give the sons the best education available and a place of status within the community. Yet, they learned the value of work and faced the hardships of daily life and travel in their time. They left a rich record for future generations.


Part of the Cycle

Events – and lives – tend to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Often the end bends around and supplies something for the next beginning.

You’ve heard the sayings: History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

The life cycle. The circle of life.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

These circles and cycles apply to more than humans.

The tree has died. The moss and fungi draw nourishment. In turn, they will die and furnish nourishment for a new plant — perhaps even a new tree of the type they now depend upon for life.

Have you paused to observe a slice of the circle? Did you see beauty?


My Story???

Are you writing about me? Really?

Belgian shepherd — Ozzie

I’m honored.

Oh — sorry. But…but…. Okay — the story features one of my distant relatives — obedient, brave, and heroic!

I like it already.

Lower price! Oh, please human — give it a try. You know you like stories with happy endings. Sweet romance sounds wonderful to my ears — and you know my ears are the best in the family.

Ozzie’s all excited to have you check out Seed of Desire — a sweet romance set in the fictitious village of Crystal Springs, WI.


Pause and Re-charge

November — often in the United States we put a little more emphasis on pausing, giving thanks, and taking stock of our personal situation.

Where and when? Oh, that answer has as many questions as people. Perhaps more than one per person.

Do you have a prayer time? Do you review the day as you fall asleep? Does your mind turn to planning in the twilight as you drift from sleep to awake? Or do you find a calm, quiet place and organize your thoughts. Or work on solving a problem.

Recently, I drove to a nearby state park and found a place good for me.

Seating is important when I’m thinking — unless I’m taking a walk.

So pull up a chair, settle in, and let your mind drift as your eyes absorb the view.

The view:

On a clear, November day a person can see for miles from the viewpoint. What are you going to think about?


Do you enjoy reading?

Once upon a time…

Long ago and far away…

Three, two, one…blast off….

Classic openings can start a person down a path, trail, or road to worlds of fantastic creatures and deeds. What’s at the end of the road? Or on the next planet? Is the destination or the journey most important?

When I was a small child, my brothers and I looked forward to the arrival of a weekly magazine. We all liked the cartoons sprinkled in the second half — past the major articles and some of the features. Did I read the captions? Likely not — while I can’t remember not knowing my letters — I didn’t do a lot of reading before school. Did my brothers read captions to me? I think so — if I could get them to stay on the same page long enough.

Picture books. Chapter books. Children’s classics. Anything with print that arrived in the house. As time progressed, I read all of it. I think my favorites, even as a child, were books with a happy ending. I wanted the family to be reunited. Or the hero/heroine to gain the prize, solve the mystery, and be confident taking the next step in life.

Some things stay the same. I enjoy most books that end happy. So reading romance fits. Writing romance fits also — after all, I’m trying to write the book I want to read.

Titles in the Crystal Springs Romances:

Starr Tree Farm Hiding Places Seed of Desire

Titles published by The Wild Rose Press:

Stare Down Comfort Zone

Click over to the title pages to read the complete blurb and find purchase links.


Air Dance

Change in season. Change of temperature. Here comes the wind — autumn this time. Signaling the end of the growing season.

Yes, it’s time to tidy up, repair, and stock up on some staples.

Have you pulled out or trimmed the annual plants? Stored the patio furniture? Don’t forget the hose!

Leaves taking the “scenic route” from treetop to ground. Can you hear them?

“Let’s dance and get a glimpse of the neighbors before we settle in and face the rake.”