Fireflies and Starlit Skies


Clubhouse
Dozens of flickering fireflies dance merrily among the fragrant cedar trees. The only other visible light comes from the millions of twinkling stars that embellish the midnight skies above me. I can feel the damp fog creep silently into the valley as I listen to the steady hum of the visiting locust and the distant whippoorwills. I drift off into a gentle slumber, dreaming peacefully until a bird’s delightful warble echoes through the woods and greets me at the break of dawn. The enticing smell of bacon drifts in from the nearby kitchen and I open my sleepy eyes. My grandmother stands near the stove, humming and smiling as she turns each strip once it is perfectly crisp. I watch her in awe and wonder if I will ever master the skills necessary to follow in her footsteps. Full of energy and eager to help, I change my clothes quickly and join her near the sink. She instructs me on the proper placement of the knives, forks and spoons as I set the table for breakfast. With two hands, I carry a towering plate of pancakes to the table as my grandmother carries the dish of bacon and sets it down. I run to the refrigerator and grab the maple syrup and creamy butter before the family is called for breakfast. I press my fingers together tightly close my eyes as I thank God for the wonderful day.

So what childhood memories fill your mind when spring turns to summer? I’d love to know.

A Glance Back


Trying to measure where the last two years have disappeared is like trying to hug a passing cloud.  I could no more complete an after action report accounting for the time than I could return to working full time every day.

Often, an inner voice urges me to accomplish more than I have done, yet another voice reminds me that I have crossed off a few bucket-list items.  Sometimes I yearn for more, but today, I choose to focus on those things that have brought me pleasure and a sense of fulfillment.

Writing tops my list of achievements.  No, I cannot proclaim a best-seller, but I did publish my first book, Peaks and Valleys.  The non-fiction memoir begins in the 50’s in my childhood hometown of Pine Lawn, Missouri.  As indicated by the title, many of the tales brought a smile to my face as I wrote them.  Some of them were written as tears fell from my eyes.  Revisiting the happy, and sometimes painful, times of my life had a therapeutic consequence.  When I finished, it brought me peace, comfort and an appreciation for the experiences that made me whom I am today.  The journey is worth taking, for everyone.  I hope others will be inspired to follow my path and clean out a few of their own closets along the way.  The book is available through Amazon.com and Kindle.

I also wrote a second book, Burning Embers, for which I am currently searching for a publisher.  Writing a romance/suspense novel in thirty days was not on my original bucket list, rather it was a challenge introduced to me through a writing club that I joined named Pen to Paper Writing Club.  I found the experience so rewarding that I drafted an outline for my next novel which I will begin shortly.  Who knew I had an imagination?

The poet in me continues to surface whenever I cannot find the words to speak directly to friends and family.  I have contemplated publishing some of my poems, but finding gratification in the positive effect the words provide the person for whom they were written is enough for now.

As a multi-tasking person, all that writing wasn’t quite enough to keep me busy, so I began this blog.  My social media skills are limited and until one of my fellow writers encouraged me, I had never visited a blog site.  Now I follow a few that tickle my interests or touch my soul.  I’m still in the beginning stages, but I find it another way to release the writer in me. (http://authordianemhow.com)

More recently, I began volunteering with VITAS Hospice Care as a Story Keeper.  This rewarding opportunity entails recording life stories of patients who are in hospice care so that they may leave a treasure for their loved ones and future generations.  I wrote about my first visit in one of my blogs.  It is amazing how God directs us on our journey to the right place at the right time.  If you have any doubts about following His lead, read When you volunteer are you giving or receiving?.

Every day has not been as uncomplicated as this post makes it sound, but as I said, today, I am sticking with the positive, happy times.  My husband and I have found time to fish, gamble and spend time with our daughter and her boyfriend.  We’ve even managed to get in a few short trips to Branson, Lake of the Ozarks and Georgia.  Lunch and dinner dates fill a few of the squares on my calendar and provide me with the chance to catch up with family, friends, former co-workers and my wonderful Girl Scout buddies.

I yearn to know what memories filter through when you look back a few days, months or years.

There’s No Place Like Home


Like a cobra that refuses to relinquish its grip, unrelenting heat waves are squeezing the breath from folks across the United States.  My escapes outside are limited to essential missions.  I find myself planted in front of the computer, browsing through blogs, dreaming of faraway places that I long to visit.

Going Dutch, by Malou, http://malouprestado.files.wordpress.com offers the reader to escape to picturesque fields of tulips and poppies.  Recently, she shared stunningly beautiful pictures from a family vacation in Tuscany.  The breathtaking photos captivated me and made me long to journey to such romantic places.

It is a dream for another day and while I lingered a little longer than I had anticipated, the time spent was not wasted.  It inspired me to write about the delightful opportunities that are offered here in Missouri.  For the next few weeks, I will revisit some of my most favorite locations and invite readers to ponder the possibilities of vacationing in Missouri.

The historic downtown St. Charles is one of my favorite places to spend the day.  The 16 acre Frontier Park boarders the Missouri River and hosts many events throughout the year.  The Festival of the Little Hills, to be held August 17-19, 2012, attracts 300,000 visitors each year and provides a stage front for the 300 craft booths, food, live music and entertainment that line the streets of the Historic St. Charles Downtown District.  The great thing about this event is that I can get an early start on my Christmas shopping then grab a funnel cake or roasted ear of corn and sit a while in the park listening to the wide variety of music.

Speaking of music, Music on Mainstreet fills the Jaycee’s Stage on the third Wednesday from May through September at 5:00 p.m.  The St. Charles Municipal Band Free Concerts invite everyone to bring their lawn chairs on Thursdays June through August at 8:00 p.m. to tap their toes in the grass.  Some of my fondest memories came from watching my mother’s face light up when she recognized a song from her era.  Somehow, the music transcended her from the struggles of Alzheimer’s disease to another time.  She knew every word and sang along softly, all the while keeping a beat with her frail hands.

History buffs will enjoy the wonderful statues found throughout the park and along Main Street.  The Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center is a great place to start.  The county was established in 1812 and played a significant role in the westward expansion of our country when the Lewis and Clark Expedition departed from the banks of St. Charles.

Wear comfortable shoes because there is much to see and do.  The 240-mile Katy Trail, a paved biking and hiking path borders the park along with the MKT Depot.  If this peaks your interest, check out the website at http://www.stcharlescountywebsite.com

The quaint shops and delectable restaurants provide for a leisurely stroll down Main Street.  If you make it all the way to the end, you can visit the Foundry Art Center and some of the pubs that offer reprieve to summer’s strain.

My journey will continue through other delightful parks and attractions.  I hope you join along and share a story or two with me about your home town vacation.