Lowland Champion

Warmth. Moisture. Sunlight.

Three things growing plants appreciate in differing quantities. For oak and ash trees, these come together in the correct proportion in the low-lying woodland of Southeastern Missouri.

In a distance measured in yards on a metal boardwalk within Big Oak Tree State Park, you will find a placard by the remains of a former state champion bur oak and current state champion pumpkin ash.

With a diameter of sixty-two inches (5′ 2″) and a height of 104 feet (similar to a ten-story building) I made no attempt to capture the entire tree with my simple camera.

A little time in the peace of the forest (benches are spaced on the boardwalk) does much to restore a soul bruised by the fast pace of the current world. Listen to the birds. Or the breeze in the trees. Savor the fresh air.

Unable to travel? The sweet romance, Morning Tryst will introduce you to several of Missouri’s state parks. Follow the photographer heroine as she records sunrise – and learns truths about herself and the quiet hero, Zack.

Book information here:


Drive Careful!

Are you taking a road trip this September? I find this month an excellent time to travel — often the weather is fine and the tourist venues are less crowded than in summer. In the northern portions of the United States, the trees are might preview their fall colors.

Keeping watch at the weigh station

One day on the bus, this was our “welcome to New Hampshire.” The driver was careful, obeyed the rules, and left the police to watch, and correct, other drivers.

Never underestimate the value of a rest area when traveling on the highway. Most these days offer restrooms, water, picnic tables, and vending machines. They are excellent places to stretch your legs. Walk the dog when traveling with pets. Read a little local history on a placard or watch the kids enjoy a little playground time.

Travelers in 1851 would marvel at the facilities today. No matter the reputation of the steamboat, conditions were not like any modern mode of travel.

Check out a sweet romance set in a Mississippi River town in that era with New Dreams.


City Spot of Green

City dwellers of all ages deserve the opportunity to enjoy a bit of nature. In the tiny village where I grew up, we had two parks. One, rather informal, was called The Duck Pond. As you may guess, the primary feature was a pond where ducks hung out. The other, where baseball games were played was operated by a local veteran’s organization.

Larger cities often have more and larger parks than the two I grew up near. And they are great places for a tourist to drop in, as well as local residents.

Willow trees and water features – and waterfowl – were plentiful in Boston Common.

Can you imagine yourself relaxing under the friendly willow on a sunny day and reading a book?

I’d pick a romance to read. Perhaps on the sweet side. If I wanted to mentally visit Missouri parks while relaxing in Boston, my choice would be Morning Tryst.


The Sixth?

The Upper Midwest. The Great Lakes Region.

The area of the United States where I grew up goes by more than one name. And yes, the regional geography is dominated by five, large, freshwater lakes.

Burlington – Lake Champlain from shore

This is not a photo of any of the five Great Lakes. Rather it is Lake Champlain, sometimes referred to as the Sixth Great Lake.

Large enough to form a good share of the border between New York and Vermont, this is a contender. Actually, I prefer to think of it as separate and standing on its own for beauty and history. Besides, it’s rumored to have a monster — none of the five make the claim.

No sea monsters on the immigrant’s voyage. But they certainly saw their share of both salt and fresh water before they reached the interior of the United States. For a sweet romance featuring this journey, check out New Dreams.

Sailing ship. Riverboat. Smaller riverboat. The journey from the German States to fictional Elm Ridge, Illinois, demanded courage — and time.


Swedish Contribution

In my elementary school social studies book, I believe the Swedes rated two sentences. Somthing to the effect that they established a settlement in Delaware and contributed the log cabin to the American colonies.

Arriving in 1638, the Swedish established first a fort, and then a settlement – Fort Christina and Christinaham near the mouth of the Brandywine River.

Fort Christina

This 1930’s interpretation of the 17th century structure leaves much to be desired. We should have gotten the hint when we asked a group of relaxing firefighters for directions and their first response was an eye roll. But we found out way — through a rough, industrial section of the modern city to a small park. Hmm. Let’s give them a couple of points for effort.

Log cabins, frame buildings, and a few structures of brick and stone comprise fictional Elm Ridge, Illinois in 1851. Readers of sweet romance should enjoy this story of immigrants searching and working toward New Dreams.

Link for more book information:


Vacation Time

Do you have a favorite time for vacation? Are you limited by a school schedule? Or your specific occupation? Does your employer shut-down and thus everyone has the same vacation days?

Approaching bridge over Ohio River in Louisville

My personal favorite vacation time is September.

Early on this 2013 vacation trip, my travel companion was driving and I was able to enjoy our crossing of the Ohio River at Louisville, KY.

The fictional town of Elm Ridge, Illinois, attracted residents from Kentucky. And many other places — including the German States. For a sweet, historical romance featuring a few of these people, check out New Dreams.


Passport to the Universe

No secret among my friends. I enjoy travel. At various times I’ve taken road trips, train trips, airline flights, and one cruise.

I’ve also time-traveled to both the past and future. And space traveled. And imagined myself exploring new worlds of jungle one day and ice the next. How?

I have a passport to the universe. It fits in my wallet and I pull it out before I leave the library with books, videos, music, or puzzles. (They have other items, but I’ve not brought them home– yet.)

Currently, my other passport, the one that requires money and tickets to use, is in the process of renewal. When I get the new one — I’ll begin to plan a real-life adventure. But I’ll use the library passport to help by reading travel guides, or checking out a video, or finding a map.

The main characters in the sweet romance, NEW DREAMS, traveled a great distance. The necessary papers were different then, no photos, no plush accommodations — they pretty much had a guarantee of poor food and sanitation. Check it out and marvel at the changes since the 1850’s.


Welcome Water

Portions of the western United States are sparse on water sources. Early travelers planned journeys to include as many evening stops near water sources as possible.

After all, the oxen and horses included in a wagon train needed a good drink after a hard day’s work. The humans appreciated water for cooking and washing. And I imagine more than one prayer for the water to be clear and sweet rather than alkaline and sour.

After the stone is removed from his boot, do you think the cowboy, or traveler, will find relief in a cool stream? Will he check the horse for stones in his shoes?

This statue raises many questions. What’s the horse thinking? How much longer is the journey? Where are they headed? Why?

The immigrants in NEW DREAMS made a long journey involving much water — much of it unfit to drink. Check out the sweet romance with a cool beverage within reach.

Kindle link:


At the End…

Friday! The end of the workweek (for many).

Do you currently work a Monday thru Friday job? Have you ever?

Aside from student days, the first responders, health-care workers, hospitality employees, and retail clerks will answer “no”.

This does not mean these workers don’t get time away from the job – sometimes it even falls on a weekend or holiday.

Does your week feel long? Take courage — the end is in sight.

This walk ended at a lovely little overlook of the Des Moines River. This was taken a during-the-week research trip. (Old, retired people like this author have little luxuries.) Exact location: Missouri’s Battle of Athens State Historic Site.

Morning Tryst, a sweet romance features a photographer visiting all of Missouri’s State Parkes and Historic Sites.

Kindle Link:


Classic Puzzle

I was a few months ahead of the curve when the topic was puzzles. I had assembled the one I owned and discovered the shelf at the library before Covid-19 kept us home and revived interest in the pastime.

Lucky me received a gift of boxes of gently used puzzles early in lockdown.

Puzzles and television. Puzzles while primarily listening to television. Puzzles to occupy hands so they are not putting food in my mouth.

Puzzles to bring a little fine art to visit in my home.

A pleasant surprise when this was featured in a travel show broadcast recently.

I usually travel in books when time, money, and energy prevent the in-person kind. Maybe it’s time to add puzzles as a travel method. How do you travel?