Easy Travel

In these days of pandemic and restricted movement — either self-imposed or otherwise — a person’s mind (at least mine) wants to travel. Let me out of the house, the state, the country, the century!

One cure: A book. Between the covers of a book, you can stay in one place – hope you are safe and warm – and still experience a different place and time.

Let’s see: where have I traveled so far in 2022. Present day suburban St. Louis; present day French Riviera; present day New Jersey; and London in 1703. No packing, no planes, no credit card charges. Simple as can be.

Where do you want to go? Are you unsure? Perhaps a little timid.

This happy animal suggests you travel to Crystal Springs, WI and get acquainted with some of his distant (very distant) relatives in Seed of Desire.

Link to Kindle edition:

This story, and the other Crystal Springs Romances are available at all major on-line retailers for your e-reader or as a paperback.

Happy reading! I’m off to continue my visit to present day Texas.


Calling the Weary

Dear Reader,

Rest here, exhausted hiker. Or child who has explored the playground. Or while waiting to meet your companion.

My branches have sheltered all. Spiders and insects, squirrels and birds, deer and human.

I’m taking my own rest now in this December photo. Two or three more cycles of the moon will occur before the nutrients I draw from deep in the earth will reach the now dormant leaf buds. Then — well — I’m one of the heralds of spring. How large are my new leaves? Dare farmers and gardeners plant tender crops? Which songbirds flit on my branches chirping, finding mates, and setting up housekeeping?

Summer can be intense. I like a cooling rain–good for my roots. Summer is when many seek my shade — either on the ground or among my branches.

But all things are subject to the cycle of seasons. My leaves lose function and turn from green to brown — perhaps a hint of dull yellow or deep red if the rain and temperature have been kind. And then, well, unlike humans. I shed my leafy clothing before I go to sleep. Behold my branches — stand back and admire my reach — plan your climbing route. (Remember you need to come down.)

I’ll be here — before and after your active, or restful, day at the park.


The Tree


Travel to Crystal Springs in your Armchair!

Open a book and feel the magic!

Snowed in? Foggy, gloomy day? Kids home sick and miserable? Treat yourself to a visit to another time and/or place.

You won’t find Crystal Springs, WI on a map. This small town lives between book covers, and in your imagination.

Seed of Desire — is the third in the Crystal Springs romance series. This sweet romance introduces Beth and Jackson. And dogs…plenty of dogs.

This and other titles by Ellen Parker are available at all major on-line retailers.

Here’s a like to a popular one:


Rise Above It All

Up! Up! And Away!

Have you ever wanted to just get up in the air, away from all the clutter, and see the big picture?

One item on my personal “bucket list” is a ride in a hot-air balloon. I’ll need to be a paying passenger: balloon pilots are not among my friends.

Now which one looks the best? The hippo has a certain charm. Then again, the bees on the honeycomb make a statement. Fierce like the dragon? Perhaps the goose laying the golden egg. A mushroom? Snowman? Pig or sheep?

Any one, with the right pilot and weather conditions, would help you “rise above it all” for a brief time.

Until then — I’ll enjoy the puzzle.


Memorable Fiction

Did you read my blog entry for January 7? That was last Friday, in case you tend to lose track of time like I do.

If you did, you learned my most memorable non-fiction read of 2021 was a Civil War trilogy.

My fiction reads are more numerous than non-fiction — which makes selection of “most memorable” more difficult. So I’m going to mention two. They are both romance. (No surprise to those who know me.) And both happen to be written by women of color. I suppose this can be traced to a conscious effort to read more books by people who are not part of my demographic.

Basketball and knitting (actually running a knitting supply shop brothers have inherited) may not look connected. But the characters are intriguing and the plot kept me turning pages. And that little deflated feeling common to the end of a good book made each of them memorable 2021 reads.

I wonder what 2022 will bring. Have you started a new book for the New Year?


Age Unknown

Once upon a time, a tree sprouted in St. Louis County. The plant grew, and grew. Through the years it hosted birds and squirrels. Shade provided relief from summer heat to rabbits, chipmunks, and other creatures. Through the years it stretched upward. Spread branches in an enlarging circle.

And then…

Branches turned dry and brittle. Needles changed from green to brown. Less and less wind became necessary for an impromptu prune.

Experts arrived. Hydraulic arms lifted a man up high. A chainsaw whirred.

After the sawdust settled and the wooden corpse was hauled away, this remains. How many years did the pine tree live? No rings. The ruler in the photo is twelve inches — so my guess is a multiple of the twenty years I lived across a narrow walkway.

If this were an animated movie — Ms. Squirrel could gather the neighbors and regal them with a “stump” speech.


Memorable Non-Fiction

According to my reading record on a popular website, I completed 80 books in 2021.

Wow! A surprise even to me. I guess that habit of always having a book in progress adds up. Since the year is new — I’ll try to say a few words about favorites from 2021 reading.

In the non-fiction category — I’ll select Shelby Foote’s three volume set of The Civil War.

Even though I’ve read other books about the United States’ civil war, fiction and non-fiction, I learned a lot in these three volumes. Starting with profiles of Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln until Davis’ death, in December 1889, the events of these tumultuous are put into context. I gained a new appreciation and understanding of the multiple fronts, army movements, and political battles often taking place at the same time in different regions.

Definitely a reference resource I’ll keep within reach. Certainly the most memorable non-fiction read in 2021.


Learning Limits

Have you made and kept a New Years resolution for 2022?

Have you set one or more goals?

The experts (I have no idea how you get to be an expert in these sorts of things.) counsel a person to set goals that are attainable. That’s right — if it’s impossible and you know it — don’t bother to claim it as a goal. You’re only setting yourself up to fail.

Not sure about you — but I don’t need to go looking for more failure.

Sometimes, a person doesn’t realize the goal is unattainable — you know, you think you can, you give it your best effort, and …ooops. Flat on your face.

Like thousands of other people — I reconnected with assembling jigsaw puzzles during the pandemic.

Most of them have worked out fine. More pieces usually means more days to complete. My table is 19″ wide so I’ve learned to check dimensions before starting. However, this one was a puzzle too far — or too dark. After just over two weeks of working during TV news, football games, and drama re-runs, I decided to let the puzzle win. It came from the library and they always include a slip of paper asking if pieces are missing. I’m sure I don’t know — perhaps the next patron will be more patient, or have better eyesight.

Have I learned a lesson? Well, the next puzzle I assembled had bright colors.

When setting goals — ask — Can I actually do this? I’d hate to see all your plans turn into a “puzzle too far.”