Honored Veterans

Some days numbers are just squiggles on a page. Especially large ones. Where does the comma go? How much is that really? How does it compare to…

Recently, I took a drive through Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. I’d seen pictures on TV. I’d even attended Memorial Day ceremonies at the Grand Circle twice. So perhaps I should have been prepared — for the size of the place. The row upon row upon row of white gravestones.

Think on this. Each grave honors a person who served their country. From the 1860’s (a few from before) until the present. Some died in battle. Others in accidents during training. Many passed away years after active service to their country ended. Yet every one — no matter the year — pledged to give their life, if necessary, to defend the United States of America.

Yes, I had to look up some numbers before I wrote this. The cemetery covers 330 plus acres and more than 188,000 graves. The first burial was recorded in 1827, when Jefferson Barracks was new and the first army installation west of the Mississippi. The most recent? Burials take place every weekday.

Review Tuesday 2

Last week you read about my top choice of non-fiction for 2020. Today I want to introduce you to my favorite fiction read (actually a re-read — it was just as good the second time around)

The Black Hawk

By: Joanna Bourne

Second Time better than the first.

While I recognized this as both excellent story and writing the first time around, it was even better as a re-read.

Ms. Bourne takes us back to the time of the French Revolution and the rise and fall of Napoleon.  A French Spy and English Spy develop a VERY complicated relationship.

The entire Spymaster series is excellent, but I rate this as best of the best.

Resolution or Experiment

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Have you broken it?

It’s difficult to develop a new habit. And for some reason, establishing a new positive habit feels harder than repeatedly performing a not-good-for-me task.

Regular readers of this blog are aware that the majority of the photos posted are my own. In that spirit — I plan to document a tree on the first day of each month. The tree happens to be an ash. I expect that it will need to be taken down in another five years or so — the ash borer is in the area. Plus it’s been shedding limbs in windstorms to a greater degree than other trees in the neighborhood. However, the location makes it convenient — a dozen steps from my front door I get a good view.

It was a gloomy morning and every twig was frosted when I captured this during a freezing drizzle. (Not the sort of weather to linger.) Welcome to 2021! The year of the ash tree???

Review Tuesday 1

Before striding full force into 2021, I’m taking a glance back as some of the best books I read and reviewed in 2020. First up — a non-fiction.

The Radium Girls

By: Kate Moore

Excellent!

The innocent girls were proud of their work as dial painters. The luminous dials on watches and aircraft instruments saved lives in WWI. In the 1920’s the dials moved into homes on alarm clocks and wristwatches.

Then they began to die–horrible deaths. Dentists and physicians played detective.

Ms. Moore follows two groups of dial painters in this non-fiction volume which reads better than some novels. Discover the legacy and ponder as a cautionary tale.

A Clean Page

Happy New Year!

How does your calendar look? Fresh and clean? Full of appointments and notations?

If ever a person can start a year with a blank slate — it’s 2021. So many of us continue to pull back from social engagements and keep professional appointments to the minimum.

This collection of 2021 calendars awaits my scribbles and notations of events. Believe me, I need reminders of where and when to leave the house or make an important phone call.

Do you use a wall calendar to keep yourself on track? Or a purse/pocket size edition? Or have you gone electronic?

Top Picks

As the year gets ready to turn to a fresh page — I thought I’d take a minute to give you (my readers) a short list of my favorite reads this year.

One of my reading goals this year was to increase the amount of non-fiction. I managed to find some good ones. My three top picks:

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Followed by: Heirs of the Founders by H.W. Brands

White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

On the fiction side of the reading spectrum. My intention was to read a more diverse group of authors. My first choice is a re-read: The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne.

Other top picks include: Betrayed by Sharon C. Cooper

Heart of the Matter by LaQuette

First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn

Did you have reading goals? Did you reach them?

I’ll be setting goals for the new year in several facets of life — but reading is among them.

Santa Makes It Complete

This blog has been filled with puzzles and memories evoked by their pictures during the last number of weeks. Christmas has been a popular theme — many of the puzzles featured snow, carolers, and holly wreaths.

Today we bring you a representation of Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, St. Nick, or “The Old Man Himself.”

With the aid of little girls, one dressed as an angel, plus a lamb, wreath, and gifts; this Santa wishes MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all!!!

Did Santa visit your house? Did he leave a little Christmas magic?

Pick A Favorite

The Christmas holiday season is all around us. A favorite activity becomes either a drive or walk in the neighborhood to look at the holiday lights.

Cities and small towns decorate street light poles. Churches and some businesses decorate inside and out. Many homeowners fill the yard with seasonal figures. (Inflatables tend to look sad laying down on the job during the day.) Homes and apartments sprout lights in the windows and trees in the living room.

This puzzle displays nine common Christmas decorations. (I’m not sure when the penguin joined the group.) Do you have a favorite?

I think I would pick the holly and cookie. Let’s keep the snowman for January, shall we?

Keep the Light Burning

The holidays of December tend to feature light. Candles are central in the Menorah, the Advent Wreath, and marking the days of Kwanza. Trees, inside and outside of buildings, are covered with lights. Decorations are lit.

While many of us keep these extra lights burning only during the days with the shortest amount of daylight — some lights need to be year round. These are the lights that show the way for others.

Lighthouse keeps dared not take a day (or night) off. So let’s have the holiday party at their house!

Small Town, Big Celebration

The size of the village, town, or city is not an indication of the amount of Christmas spirit within the citizens.

When I was a child, our village of less than 400 residents celebrated large. Green garlands were strung across Main Street from one light pole to another. An evergreen tree was decorated with lights. Children were treated to a Christmas party (Saturday before the Big Day) at the local theater. Santa made an appearance and handed out brown paper bags of treats. The school held a holiday concert. Churches opened their doors for special programs.

Like many puzzle artists, this one takes us back a number of decades to show an idealized scene. (Do puzzle buyers like horses? Are they nostalgic?)

I see a Community Center, City Hall, and the largest house in town all decked out for party time. How would you caption this one?