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River Taming

Humans have been tinkering with rivers since the dawn of civilization. Have we mastered the art?

Well — not exactly.

Rivers appear to cut their own way through geography and history. Flood? Yeah, we can do that. Cut a new channel? Sure, just give us a little time. Shrink? Give us a few drought years and light snowfall at our source and we can make your barges and boats scrape bottom.

Of course, size matters. Just like you talk about a stream, a creek, or a rivelet feeding into a river, the rivers come in all sizes and lengths. And don’t expect a straight line from point A to point B. We like to wander, find the low spots and the softer earth to yield to our power.

But humans continue to attempt to control these forces of nature.

Along the mighty Mississippi River, from Minneapolis to St. Louis, you will find a series of dams to control navigation. This one, Melvin Price Locks and Dams, replaced the previous structure of Dam #26 near Alton, Illinois. Built and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers, each of the 27 locks and dams do their part to ensure barge and other water traffic moves steady on this liquid highway.

Morning Tryst, a sweet, contemporary romance, includes scenes along the Mississippi River where it forms Missouri’s eastern border.

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

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The Table is Ready

Guests for dinner. How delightful. Come. Sit. Eat.

Set in the French style, the dining table at Felix Valle House State Historic Site is ready for guests. Located in Ste. Genevieve presents house, trading post, and grounds as they would have appeared in the early 19th century. Charming to see that clear glass, blue & white china, and a white tablecloth never go out of style.

Fair or foul weather, this is a delightful stop for a little history lesson made interesting. Can you imagine voices in the mercantile discussing the quality of the fur brought to trade for an iron kettle? Or the joy when a letter from a New Orleans acquaintance arrives?

Keep a careful watch on the river. Spring floods can damage the crops in the “great field”. Live is not all work — a lively religious and social life filled the days of this thriving settlement. Did you know — at one time, Ste. Genevieve was larger than St. Louis?

Parks and historic sites — photograph them all in all seasons — quite an assignment. But fictional photographer Serena Carter is up to the task in the sweet romance “Morning Tryst.”

Countdown: six days to the June 20 release.

Preorder for your Kindle here: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

Nook reader? Preorder here: https://bit.ly/3IQfFeG

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Stay Protected

Ice. Sleet. Snow. Rain. Mother Nature can be wearing on man-made things, like bridges.

Our ancestors had a solution. Build a cover, actually a shed, which will incorporate a design to add strength and protection.

Once popular, four such bridges remain in Missouri. Each of them is protected with the status of State Historic Site and has been restored.

I’m not even close to an engineer — but informational displays at the sites explain the construction types with advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps a future engineer will be happy to explain the information to you.

I get a special feeling as I walk through one of the structures. Stepping back in time. Life moved at a different pace. You can imagine the clop clop of horses pulling a wagon. Did you bring a coin for the fee? (Many covered bridges charged a toll for maintenance.)

Postcard perfect Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site is an easy day trip for St. Louis residents.

Bring a picnic. Prepare to sit and LISTEN to nature’s music. Pack a book to read. (My recommendation is Morning Tryst a sweet romance featuring several Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites.

Available June 20. Pre-order for Kindle here: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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Legacy

People leave traces. Even when they don’t plan to let others know they passed through a space. This is the basis for much detective work — fiction and non-fiction.

Other people, and organizations, put items of substance in their wake. Often these are easy to spot. Often you can even identify the builder by the style.

By style and materials, this picnic shelter is typical of work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the mid and late 1930’s this organization of young men build hundreds of structures, bridges, and roads in state and national parks throughout the United States. Ninety years later, many of their projects are still in use — and appreciated by the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (plus all their friends and relatives) of the workmen.

This photo was taken at Missouri’s Arrow Rock State Park. While not mentioned by name in Morning Tryst, this location would have been visited either three or four times by the fictional photographer.

Want to read the story? Click on the link below to pre-order your Nook copy. By magic (modern electronics) it will appear for your reading pleasure on June 20, 2022.

Nook readers — click here: https://bit.ly/3IQfFeG

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Summer Project

Here we are, near the middle of May. Students are graduating and/or anticipating the end of the academic year in the United States. Parents are planning activities or childcare for the summer.

Are you the sort of person who makes a special plan for summer?

When I was a child, summer had some scheduled activities: one or two weeks of swimming lessons, 4-H projects to get ready for the county fair, and summer band during high school.

But I guess I’ve always been a goal type person. I’d set reading goals — reading Gone with the Wind filled a good portion of one summer. Several other novels we had in the house filled hours in other years.

Last year, with travel still rather limited, for the first time in several years I set a reading goal.

Many hours from May through August were spend with one of these volumes on my lap. I enjoyed the organization and learned a few new things along the way. Am I ready to give these to the next reader?

Not yet. One of these days, I’ll actually compare the information I have on the units the great, great uncles served in and try to locate when and where they put their lives in danger from battle. (This was the army in 1861-65, lives were always in danger from disease and accident.)

Did you have ancestors involved in this war? One or both sides?

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Time Travel

Tuesday, at lunch, I journeyed to 1815 Vienna.

Two weeks ago, I was in 1870’s London.

Early in April, I visited Tang Dynasty China.

Impossible? No, easy. Long before the pandemic of 2020-21 kept me close to home, I traveled through time and space in books.

Does real travel enrich your life? Absolutely. While visiting 1815 Vienna, the references to St. Stephens, a wine garden, and the plague pillar were more vivid for having seen them in person. The sights and sounds of the London I visited several years ago may be different — cars and buses have replaced carriages and wagons. Certain landmarks remain. Does the heroine dash past St. Paul’s? Cross the river at the Tower Bridge?

Do you prefer non-fiction? Try a biography and put yourself in Thomas Jefferson or George Marshall’s shoes.

Want to escape this world and all the current problems? May I suggest the science fiction section of your local bookstore or library?

Also visited in 2022: 1855 Wisconsin, 1740 Scotland, plus previously mentioned Tang Dynasty China.

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An Honorable Occupation

Today, I’d like you to take a moment and think about occupations which have spanned centuries. The first that came to my mind was teacher. But farmer, musician, weaver, and metal worker have existed alongside each other since the beginning of recorded time. (I think you could add brewer and merchant.)

The occupation I want to highlight today, is a little more recent than some of the others. But it certainly pre-dates my lifetime, the history of Europeans in the Americas, and several other events.

This sign in a historical printer and newspaper publisher’s shop hints at the importance of the written word. “Bringing Ink and Paper Together” enables the transmission of an idea from one person to another without them being in the same time and place. Present day people can read of events in the past, find out what happened to that family member glossed over in conversation, or share thoughts with a generation to come.

So let’s give a cheer — or lift your coffee cup — or wine glass — to the printers through the centuries who have enriched all of our lives.

Do you have a favorite type of printed material?

If your answer above is books — check out a sweet, contemporary romance — Comfort Zone.

https://amzn.to/338z1K1

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Here’s to George…

Washington, that is. Born on February 22, 1732 (on the Gregorian [current] calendar) to Augustine and Mary Ball Washington, he belonged to the fourth generation of Washingtons to live in the colony of Virginia.

His formal education would be considered sparse by current standards. He made only one trip outside of the continental British Colonies/United States — to Barbados at age 19 with his older half-brother, Lawrence. But his diary shows an observant eye and sharp mind.

American school children learn a bundle of “facts” about Mr. Washington. Some are true. Some unproven. Others far-fetched. However, he did important things and earned a place in history.

So…if you want to celebrate George on his birthday, may I suggest a cherry flavored treat. Following one of the far-fetched stories in schoolbooks, cherries, hatchets, and a small boy telling his father he is unable to lie — “Yes, Father, I chopped down the cherry tree.”– have become standard fare for his celebration.

Once upon a time… when I lived in a town and state named in his honor… the city officials would re-enact his famous river crossing — following a widely published, inaccurate painting, and host a cherry pie eating contest in way of celebration.

Here’s to you George…two centuries and a smidge past your death and you’re remembered with fondness.

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Two Centuries + Two Years

The math on this one is easy. The result is 1820.

The United States, recovering from the War of 1812, was in years of rapid growth. Maine and Missouri achieved statehood. Steamboats enabled goods to move up the rivers much faster and more dependable than previously. Daniel Boone died. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson lived in retirement.

And in upstate New York, a girl was born.

Thanks to education, a lot of hard work, and association with like-minded women, this girl grew into a woman many people recognize today. For a brief time, she was honored on a coin.

The lady on the right – Susan B. Anthony was born on this date in 1820 and honored on a one-dollar coin.

The proud woman on the left – Sacagawea lived earlier and gained fame guiding the Lewis & Clark Expedition over the Rocky Mountains. Her coin, also valued at one dollar, was designed later.

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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.