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Power of Three

Ready. Set. Go!

Begin on the count of three.

Listen to the trio.

Draw the triangle.

Dozens of good things come in threes. Snacks — three cookies — or scoops of ice cream. Artful arrangements of flowers, candles, or pictures often feature a trio. Three beats per measure when playing a waltz.

Authors — and readers — often favor trilogies.

Pick one, two, or three of the Crystal Springs Romances. Starr Tree Farm takes place in winter. Hiding Places showcases the month of June. Seed of Desire begins in late summer. Location and consistent appearances by secondary characters tie them together in a small-town, sweet romance bouquet.

Links to Kindle editions: Starr Tree Farm https://amzn.to/2zqIQEw

Hiding Places https://amzn.to/2Jm26GQ

Seed of Desire https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

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A Basket of Treats

Autumn. Harvest time. The orchard trees bend heavy with fruit.

What do you like to do with a bowl (or basket) of apples?

Is pie your favorite? Or Cobbler? Or Applesauce? Fresh and crunchy? Baked?

One of the favorites when I was a child was a cake. Mother only made it in the fall. And when I was an adult and asked for the recipe… the reply was — their never was a recipe for that cake.

But like the good person she was, my mother gave it her best attempt. So I ask for pardon in advance — all measurements are approximate.

1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup cream (heavy whipping cream), scant teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 cups flour. Mix by hand, adding dry ingredients to sugar and eggs, then add cream. Batter is thicker than cake mix cake. Pour into greased/floured 9×13″ pan. Top with rows of peeled apple slices — place slices touching but not overlapping. Top with generous amount of cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 until toothpick in center comes out clean — 40-60 minutes.

For a modern story of a culinary student who finds more than expected in an apple orchard owner — try the sweet romance HIDING PLACES.

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Jm26GQ

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Ready for Harvest

Fall. Autumn. Sunrise comes later and sunset earlier than the previous week.

Crops in fields, gardens, and forests are maturing. Farmers are busy at work bringing in the various types of grains, fruits, and vegetables planted in the spring.

City dwellers plan a day in the country. Perhaps they will visit an orchard and return with bags and baskets of apples or pears. Will they roam an area of woods (with permission of the owner) and gather walnuts, hickory nuts, or butternuts? Children enjoy a visit to a pumpkin patch to find the perfect Halloween decoration.

An elderly apple tree continues to bear fruit under the protection of a state park. Don’t expect to see this size of tree in a modern orchard. Current producers have planted either semi-dwarf or dwarf varieties. Can you name forest animals which enjoy apples?

Establishing a modern apple orchard fills the background in the sweet romance, HIDING PLACES. This book, and the other Crystal Springs Romances, are available at your favorite on-line retailer. Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Jm26GQ

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Crops in Rows

Corn. Soybeans. Wheat- yes, it’s planted in rows very close together. Cotton. Potatoes. Tomatoes and lettuce. Rows and rows of crops fill large portions of our land.

But today I’d like to talk about another crop in rows — one which takes more than a season to mature and prepare for market.

Northern Christmas Trees – field of Fraizer Fir

Hundreds, thousands, of future Christmas trees grow in rows stretching into the distance. Planted as seedlings, the trees pictured here have been growing a few seasons. And they have a few more to go. The men guiding the author and her friends around the fields spoke of a “ten year crop”. Yes, you read that correctly — ten years from planting to harvest.

A lot can happen in ten years. One year might be wet and soggy and cool. Another might be hot and dry. Flood? Tornado? Hail? Disease? Wildlife damage? You need to be a bit of a gambler to be a farmer. You also need to look long-term when growing a crop spanning multiple years.

Fields which mature in different years. A sorter-term supplemental crop. A side-job for one family member. Different strategies work for different situations.

For a sweet romance set on a Christmas tree farm during January, try STARR TREE FARM. Available at your favorite on-line store. Kindle: https://amzn.to/2zqIQEw

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Be Bear Aware

Have you visited the Northwoods? Planning a trip soon? Woodland creatures might consider you a trespasser. However, no problem with most. Smart creatures, they tend to scurry away when they hear, or smell, humans approaching.

However…

Taking the trash to the campground dumpster? May I suggest daylight hours. Some wild creatures tend to view trash cans as midnight convenience stores — where they don’t pay in cash.

Little bandit raccoon ahead of you? Perhaps a slight delay would be wise.

Mice and other critters of that size sniffing out the possibilities? No problem.

Black bear looking for a snack?

I advise a retreat.

Bears are enjoyable to watch at the zoo. Next time you see one — take a close look at the feet — or rather — the claws. I don’t care which brand of garbage bag you use — one swipe and it’s open. Metal can with a lid? Push it over. Dump it out. Snout and paws to push away the tightest cover.

I’ll take my bears behind a fence — thank you!

Portions of the sweet romance Seed of Desire take place in Bear Country. Our heroine, Beth, however, needs to deal with a different sort of predator.

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

You can tell a lot about a man by how he treats a dog.
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A Girl and her…

My goodness. I can think of at least a dozen ways to end that sentence. Shall we test a few?

Brother? Parents? Dog? Friend? Bicycle? Blanket? Cousins? Classmates? Hamster? Cake? Prom dress? First car?

Sorry — none of the above. Although several would make good photos and I actually have some of them. I was flipping through childhood photos and could not resist placing this one on the scanner.

The name of this college-money-on-the-hoof is Soprano.

A pretty girl, Soprano and I were good friends. I did my best to halter train her (like big sister Silk the year before) and she spent many summer mornings trimming the grass beneath our large elm trees.

Have you sampled any of the Crystal Springs Romances? Sweet, small-town romance with a touch of suspense. An angus steer tries to steal a scene in Starr Tree Farm. Kindle link: https://amzn.to/2zqIQEw

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September Beginnings

Many years, and several hundred miles, ago…

If your social media feed is similar to mine — the previous week or two has been filled with photos of friends sending their children to school. Some are posing with smiles. A few look very uncertain about the whole procedure. You see the entire range of kindergarten to off to college.

My mother also recorded the event in our household — at least for her youngest child. I think she actually took the picture a day or two before school started. After all, it was going to be an outside photo (we didn’t own a flash camera).

My preparation involved learning to pronounce the name of my teacher. It wasn’t a difficult name — much easier than my own which I had actually learned to spell by the time school started.

Mother purchased my supplies: tablet, pencils, crayons, and paste.

Ready for First Grade!

A clean dress, white socks, and probably new shoes and I was all set to conquer the world!

Reading was my favorite and continues to be a great joy in my life. In fact, I like reading well enough that I’m making a second career out of writing.

For a peek at a fictionalized, current look at this small, Wisconsin town — try one of the trio of Crystal Springs Romances. First in the trilogy is Starr Tree Farm. Kindle:https://amzn.to/2zqIQEw

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Imagine the Conversation

What do you think, Charlie?

I don’t know, Betty. The small one is attractive. But they’re all moving.

I was concentrating on the larger one in the floppy hat. Not carrion, but looks promising.

True. When do you suppose the keeper is going to deliver breakfast?

Not soon enough, Charlie. Not soon enough.

Alert. Watchful. Powerful. Scary jaws and teeth. I think I’ll be sure to keep at least one body part moving when enjoying the sight of hyenas at the zoo.

Whether you prefer mammals, reptiles, or birds; you’ll find some examples at any well-tended zoo. Collect your sweetheart, children, and/or parents and enjoy your visit.

Kindle readers: https://amzn.to/2ZvL0Av
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Able to be Unique

Supporting your small, neighborhood business is a year-round task. Yes, it’s very nice to give them recognition and business on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, they need regular customers to stay viable and able to serve you from January thru December.

One St. Louis business with a unique twist is Spine Bookstore and Cafe. Located on Arsenal, near an Interstate, the shop occupies space near a neighborhood park.

Stop in for a coffee (or tea or chocolate), plain or fancy. Then step into the adjoining room and browse books by local authors. You may be surprised at the number and variety of authors who call the St. Louis region “home”.

Check out their calendar of special events. Friday evenings often give you the opportunity to meet a local author or artist. Poetry? Mystery? Romance? Non-fiction? You never know what is going to pop-up on the non-cafe menu.

Not in the St. Louis area? Check out your city or town for local business supporting the arts.

For more information on my latest release, Morning Tryst, click here: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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Check the Sky

Have you looked outside today? Did you check the sky? Does it change within hours? Minutes?

At the moment I write this, the sky outside my window is a beautiful, summer-blue with a rare high, white cloud.

This morning, as I drove to a meeting, the clouds were gray and even had the audacity to sprinkle a few raindrops on my windshield.

According to the forecast, clouds will return in a few hours — it was nice that the clear sky coincided with daylight — and spill rain in a scattered pattern across the St. Louis region.

On this day in May, when I was visiting Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites, the sky displayed reversed proportions of cloud and clear than this afternoon. It did not rain that day — only stayed cool and pleasant. Sunglasses optional.

When was the last time you looked at clouds and imaged animals, cartoon characters, or other shapes? Do you tend to find dogs? Or perhaps faces?

The open spaces of parks are a great vantage point for sky-gazing. Find a bench. Dream a little. Read the book you brought along.

Kindle edition: https://amzn.to/35gH37S