Birthday Girl

The exact date is unknown. Records of the early weeks and months of her life were lost last summer on a rural Missouri road.

Then she got lucky. Rescued. Taken in and checked over. Temporary care by one set of humans. Food and shelter. A little medical care and socialization.

Two humans and a black dog came to visit. She put on her best manners. The visiting dog kept his nose to the ground and ignored her. Then the pitter-patter of rain in the woods approached and humans snatched leashes and headed for shelter. (Good thing too. Rain was pretty intense for five minutes or so.)

A long ride to a new home. Lots to learn. This new, adopted, older brother accepted her new place in the family. Taught her the basics. The resident cat maintained her premier status in the household. The neighbors were friendly — especially the short ones with high voices.

Growing. Learning. Finding new ways to expend energy.

Birthday Girl!

Birthday Girl!


Party Decoration

It needs to be a large party — spanning much more than a day.

When an entire city decides to mark a birthday/anniversary you need to think big. And in multiples. Not one event — many. Not one cake — many.

They attempted a re-enactment of the February 1764 landing that marked the site selection of St. Louis. The weather interfered. (I’m thinking the winter of 1764 may have been a little milder.) They selected well for their trading post — near confluence of two large rivers, high ground, plentiful fur bearing animals and Native Americans willing to trade furs for blankets, guns, cooking pots, and beads.

The trading post grew into a village. The village swelled with settlers and became a city. Steamboats. Railroads. Highways. Airplanes. The United States grew, claimed the area as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and grew some more until the city on the west bank of the Mississippi became one of the most centrally located cities in the nation. (Kansas City could stake a valid claim to the same position.)

So put on your party hat. Grab a piece of birthday cake and celebrate the 250th Birthday of the — trading post, village, city — of St. Louis. Toasts in French, Spanish, and English are appropriate.

Decorative Party Cake

Decorative Party Cake

This “one of many” birthday cakes can be found in Forest Park.


Welcome Sight

Three thousand people makes quite an early morning crowd. And that’s just the runners and walkers. You need to add more for family and friends that came along to encourage plus the few thousand schoolchildren arriving for the events to follow.

We started promptly. The “elite” runners and others that knew what they were doing in the front of the pack. Then we all surged forward, stepped across the electronic timing line, and parted around the photographer on his ladder.

The herd, myself included, advanced on the park road, crossed a bridge, and turned a corner to go up the hill. I saw my first and only casualty prior to the first mile marker. I’m thinking Mr. Squirrel fell victim to the final motor vehicle to pass by instead of a runner or stroller.

Step, step, step. Runners passed me then slowed their pace. I kept steady and eased ahead. Once pause to retie a shoelace. Step, step, step. Accept the cup of water at the half-way point and keep moving. Down a slope, up again, another corner and around the outdoor theater. Mile two is past. Where’s the next one?

The quicker among us have finished and come along the side to encourage others with the sight of the earned necklace. Step, step, step.

The Goal is within Sight!

The Goal is within Sight!

Need to rest after your walk? Starr Tree Farm is now available in paperback.


Training Ground

Making plans for early tomorrow. Need to be alert and out of the house earlier in the morning than usual.  Yes, I know it’s the weekend.

When a large metropolitan area decides to use a weekend full of events to highlight physical fitness and activity it has a ripple effect. People like me, normal citizens, sign on the dotted line and commit to participation. We talk to family and friends, encouraging them to join us or to support the charity we represent.

Training takes time. Repetition. Determination.

I’m one of the lucky ones. (Or know my own limits.) A 5K at walking speed calculates out to walking without a break for an hour. Our route will include some hills, degree of gentleness is open to discussion. So practice sessions outside is encouraged. The winter of 2014 encouraged more walking at the mall, taking the steps between levels, and keeping safe.

The runners had a more difficult training assignment due to weather. They had to take advantage of every fine day we were granted. Even if it forced them to run in circles.


Level and comfy.

Level and comfy.

Starr Tree Farm is now available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Continues available as electronic book also.)

Calling all Fools

Paging Mr. Lirpa Loofski. Mr. Lirpa Loofski please call the operator.

Check your phone messages twice before replying today. There’s something in the air. A little wisp of spring breeze twists the minds of normal people into practical (or non-practical) jokesters on this date.

Advice to all the serious among us. Relax a little. It’s been a long, cold winter and it’s time to find a little sunshine whether Mother Nature cooperates or not.

Did your spouse or children tie your shoes together? No harm. You’ll find something simple to return the favor. (Replace cereal spoon with a fork?)

My plan for the day? Wait until tomorrow to check all lottery tickets. A girl needs to be careful.

Oh, Mr. Loofski. Drop the Polish suffix and spell it backward. He’s popular today.


Home to Let

Longer hours of sunshine. Warmer temperatures. Active minds turn to thoughts of….moving?

It’s that time again. Time to tour the neighborhood with the mate and decide on housing. What’s taken? Will it be large enough? Beware the neighbors — they can shorten a body’s life span. How’s the view?

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some require more work than others. Better not be claustrophobic for some of the pre-fab models. They are looking for families — first home or a different location for veterans.

“I want that one.” She circles it.

“Too gaudy.” He insists. “Those are unnatural colors, hard on the eyes.”

“You’re jealous that it’s flashier than you are. I’m moving in.”

Proud to call St Louis home.

Proud to call St Louis home.

Baseball home opener is April 7, 2014.

Paperback edition of Starr Tree Farm now available at


Triangle Tragedy

Today we travel to New York in 1911.

Listen to the noise of commerce in several languages. See the mixture of horse drawn and motorized vehicles clogging the streets. Smell the activity – ships bringing immigrants, factories sending smoke into the air.

The Asch Building, ten stories high, occupies the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street. On this March Saturday afternoon the workers at the Triangle Waist Factory (aka: Triangle Shirtwaist) are gathering their personal articles and paychecks, finished for the week and looking forward to their one day a week of leisure.

A fire begins in a bin of scraps on the eighth floor. And then everything goes horribly wrong. No audible alarm in the building – a phone call notifies the tenth floor but not the ninth. On site fire hoses lack water pressure. Elevator operators risk everything to make multiple trips with twice the number of allotted passengers per time. Doors to the stairway are locked. The exterior fire escape collapses under heat and weight. Fire department ladders only reach to the sixth floor.

One hundred and forty six workers died — several of them jumped to their death from the eighth and ninth floors when trapped by the flames. The owners and several others on the tenth floor escaped to the roof.

In December 1911 the owners were found not guilty of first and second degree manslaughter. Insurance paid the owners and they were forced by a civil suit to pay small damages to the victim’s families. Their behavior did not change. In 1913 one of the owners was fined $20 for locking the exit door in his factory. Fire, safety, and building codes were strengthened in New York and other cities. Union organizers spoke of the tragedy when urging reforms in labor laws.

Do you think this could happen again? Did you check the fire exit map during your most recent hotel stay? Block or prop a door at your workplace?


It’s Official Now

Yes! Spring arrived. Well, the vernal equinox arrived on schedule. Depending on where you live it may or may not look green and “springy” outside your window.

St. Louis is brown with small, irregular spots of green. Thank you hardy bulbs. Daylight makes an effort to cheer the humans and their pets. As one of the impatient people, I’m eager for more. More sunshine. More warmth. More enticement to linger outside and chat with a neighbor without both of us bundled up from toes to ears.

With a nod to the past and hope for the future I give you a photo from my personal archives. Not every March 21 is bleak and brown.

Blooms on March 21, 2009

Blooms on March 21, 2009

Next stop on The Writing Process Blog Hop is March 24 at

March 18, 1931

Or perhaps it’s July 23, 1929

It all depends on the web site you visit. I obtained the first date from a today-in-history site. The second came up in an article used in researching the item for this blog.

So here’s to things they agree upon. And to the men in the readership.

Colonel Jacob Schick retired from the US Army in 1910 and returned to service during WWI. In the interim years he lived in Alaska. During a long winter and while recovering from illness he developed the concept of a “dry shaver”. After the war he tried to take the dry shaver but it failed to generate interest.

Colonel Schick impresses me as a person with a sharp mind, able to use concepts from one piece of machinery and apply it to one with a different function in society. Thus  - the Magazine Repeating Razor – which took theory from the repeating rifle to store shaving blades in the handle, ready to move into position without dangerous handling with the fingers.

He didn’t give up on the dry shaver. In either 1929 or 1931 (that’s where the date conflict arises) he obtained a patent for an electric shaver. It met with only modest success in the early years. But he operated his own factory and improved models gained wider acceptance.

So gentlemen: the next time you face the mirror in the morning, whether you prefer wet or dry shaving (manual or electric) think of Jacob Schick and his improvements to grooming methods.

A nice smooth shaved chin is much more pleasant for the lady to cup in her hand before the kiss.  (Okay. My romance writer is showing again.)

The Writing Process — A Blog Hop

Bonus Post!  Welcome to all.

Today’s special posting is brought to you as a portion of a Blog Hop. I guess that means I’m following a rabbit trail to discover new footprints in my writing life.

First I want to thank Claudia Shelton for inviting me to participate. You can find Claudia’s post and more information about her soon-to-be-released romantic suspense at:

And now to the questions.

1)      What am I working on?

This month I’m polishing a synopsis for a companion story to Starr Tree Farm and doing a first draft of a story set in St. Louis.

2)      How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My work has a light tone. The hero and/or heroine faces personal danger (and I’ve often got a dead body central to the story) but that’s as deep and dark as the suspense gets. And my settings stay in the Midwest.

3)      Why do I write what I do?

My favorite books have happy, positive, or hopeful endings for characters that I’d like to meet over a cup of coffee – no matter which century they “lived” in.

4)      How does your writing process work?

On the continuum from pantser to plotter I fall near the plotter. I write a complete first draft, make major changes (I’ve been known to switch serial killers at this point) during the second draft, and then each pass adds details and smaller plot items.

Interested in other authors? Check out Barbara Binns  on March 24.

B . A. Binns writes realistic contemporary multicultural YA novels to attract and inspire young readers with stories of “Real Boys Growing Into Real Men…and the people who love them.” After all, men fall in love just as deeply as women, and their stories deserve to be told and read. She lives in Illinois and is a former RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a winner of a National Readers Choice Award, and teaches classes on writing from the male POV.

Like her on

Follow her on twitter @barbarabinns

Check out her website