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Final Call

The Twelfth Day of Christmas is here! This is your final chance to wish family and friends MERRY CHRISTMAS — or Blessed Epiphany — until the calendar spins all the way to December again.

Okay, so some of you are not calendar people. However, I cling to the old ways. Two rooms of my home host a paper calendar on a hook (or pin in corkboard). A datebook resides in my purse. A planner is within reach at my desk. And yes — for those of you of a younger generation — many important meetings and appointments are tapped into an electronic version.

Unmarred, these calendars five years ago were ready to be placed into prominent locations.

Calendars do not go to waste in this writer’s household. Each new story — even the ones suspended due to lack of real substance — gets events plotted out. How long between the meet-cute and the next encounter? When does the villain set foot on stage? Can I center an event around a holiday? (The year has more holidays than those in December.) Oh — we’ve had a season change — how does that figure into the weather or time of sunset.

In the clean and wholesome romance, MORNING TRYST, our heroine photographer tours Missouri State Parks capturing images used in tourist brochures and other publicity materials. I like to imagine one of these items is a calendar — with several spectacular sunrises and sunsets featuring forested hills or rolling grassland.

For more information on the book, click here: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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Desert in Bloom

December’s a little early. You’ll find more color in the desert in another month or two.

This pair, however, look right at home in this puzzle.

Unlike many puzzle artists, this series appears to blend photographs. I wonder how many they used. One for each bird? How many for the yellow blossoms? How many to get the cacti this straight and close together?

Have you visited the desert? Remember the sunscreen! And a hat! Check for critters before you sit on the ground. If you’re lucky, you may see a road runner darting between the clumps of vegetation.

The “Gusto Gang,” a group of women who became best friends in US Navy boot camp years ago, meet for a hiking adventure in National Parks. Sign up for my newsletter and get a free copy of the short DESERT ENCOUNTER. http://mailchi.mp/0e2c43fb8029/newsletter-plus-gift

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Table-Top Travel

During the last three years — I actually started a little before the COVID lock-downs — I’ve assembled dozens of jigsaw puzzles. The idea at first was to minimize the snacking during evening TV. Has it worked?

Thanks to a gift of boxes of puzzles and the local library, my coffee table usually has a puzzle in some stage of assembly. Size limits the ones I dare attempt. And at the beginning, the pieces are often two deep.

This one, done in May, reminded me of European travel.

A riot of flowers in generous beds. Windowboxes. Red roof.

Can you imagine yourself as a guest with a second-floor room. The scent in the morning is a touch of heaven.

Travel without the airport hassle and long drive. Some assembly required.

Want to travel in a sweet romance? In MORNING TRYST you get an introduction to several Missouri State Parks. Kindle: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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From Here to There

I want to go from here to there. (A person points off into the distance.)

Or, perhaps more often, the statement is more like: I want to go to the store. I want to visit a friend (or relative).

Sometimes it becomes a question. How can I get from the apartment to work? Or from my home to school?

The answer to these questions depends a lot on the distance involved. And the terrain. (I once looked at the map of a retreat property and thought — oh, it will only be a short, easy walk from A to B. The diagram did not show the steep ravine or forest which required a considerable detour. Ooops!)

Very often the best way between two places is via today’s blessing, in honor of the letter “R”, ROADS.

This well-maintained roadway enables visitors to this Missouri State Park to easily travel to trailheads and viewpoints. Do you like the view? Have you visited a state or national park this year? Roads go there.

For an armchair visit to several Missouri State Parks, pick up the clean & wholesome romance MORNING TRYST. Kindle: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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A Thankful Attitude

Thank you. Please. Thanks for the…

Our parents taught us (hopefully), and we taught our children (hopefully) to thank people for gifts and kindness received. It’s good manners. I’ve even heard Thank You and Please called Keys to Success.

In that spirit, I plan to be more public with my “THANKS” this November. I have selected items or people to give a little special recognition during these weeks ending in the United States holiday of Thanksgiving.

Today I give thanks to my automobile. The vehicle, and the license to drive, give me a great degree of independence. In the multiple years this particular car has served me we’ve gone many places: grocery store; restaurants; writing groups; Kansas City; Wisconsin; Delaware and Vermont and the states between home and there; Atlanta, and Kentucky. Yes, and many other places — including the Missouri State Parks I visited while researching for MORNING TRYST.

I’ve brought home plants for gardens and blinds to cover my windows. I drove an elderly woman to her medical appointments. I pulled to the shoulder of the highway when rain (and hail) obstructed my view. I took the scene route (some would claim I got lost and confused) on several occasions.

Yes, independent transportation, an automobile, is an item to be grateful for.

For more information on Morning Tryst, the clean & wholesome romance mentioned above — click here: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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Traveler’s Rest

Everyone’s seen them. Blue-and-white signs announce them on the interstate highway system. Other roads use brown-and-white or other methods to notify drivers of a spot ahead to pull off the road and take a break.

Almost all offer a safe place to stop, open your car doors, change drivers, stretch your legs, and dispose of trash. Many include one or more picnic tables. The ones on the interstate include a building with flush toilets and drinking fountain. Some have vending machines and tourist information. A few have playgrounds so children can burn off some energy. Be sure to take Fido for a walk in the pet area but keep the horse in the trailer.

This inviting bench offers a place to sit, tie your shoe, or do a stretch or two outside the restrooms.

When Serena Carter is driving to her new job in the sweet romance, MORNING TRYST, she pulled her motorhome into areas like this to take a break. Perhaps she made a phone call to her family — or received one from Zack.

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

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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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Water at Rest

The Great Lakes lie near the center of North America. The largest, and farthest west, of these is Lake Superior. Three states and one province surround the waters of Lake Superior. Take a tour, read a pamphlet, and you’ll find all sorts of superlatives in the description of this large – very large – body of fresh water.

At the moment this photo was snapped from a cove with an abandoned pier for lumber loading, Lake Superior was showing her peaceful face. Use your imagination — that’s right — close your eyes for a moment.

Is the wind kicking up? Here come the white caps. Higher and taller the waves meeting rocky beach grow. Is that rain? Or snow? Can you see the waves against the small cliff? There’s power in that water. Yes, I understand why they built a series of lighthouses now. Oh, I’m heading for the car — that wind is COLD!

Time to snuggle under a blanket and read until the storm passes. I’m picking a sweet romance set in Wisconsin today. Seed of Desire features a small town resident with a big secret — and dogs — don’t forget the German shepherds.

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

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Go North!

Do you need a break from your routine? Is it time for vacation? Not enthusiastic about a hot, crowded, sandy beach?

Go North! Break away from the herd. Pack your bug spray, a hat, and sturdy shoes and head for the Northwoods.

What will you find? Space. Quiet. Water. Trees. Little surprises around the curve of the trail — or the next stop on your canoe adventure.

You may see deer. Or a moose in the early morning mist. Perhaps you’ll hear a loon and startle out of your chair. Maybe a raccoon will work on the combination to your trash container — or a bear.

You might want to work up an appetite with a hike. Or relax on the dock and let the lap of water against wood lull you to naptime.

Gooseberry Falls in one of Minnesota’s state parks is a pleasant place to spend an hour — or a day – or more.

Sweet romance with a connection to the Northwoods includes Seed of Desire.

Kindle readers click here: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

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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