Fireflies and Starlit Skies

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.

Crazy Family Traditions: A Dime a Dozen or a Dozen Dimes?

Over the years I’ve heard many stories about pennies from Heaven or a penny for your thought.  I’ve heard Don’t take any wooden nickels on more than one occasion.  In our family, the coin of choice seems to be a dime.

Who knows how it started, but my grandfather, who had a delightful sense of humor and seemed to always find a way to make a buck, would tell anyone who asked to use the bathroom to leave a dime, followed by one of his hearty chuckles.  I don’t remember ever seeing a dime on the commode, perhaps because back in the fifties, 10 cents could actually buy a bottle of coke or some other necessity. (yes, a bottle of Coke is a necessity when the temperatures exceed 100 degrees for more than a week!)

Sometime this past year, a family member decided to dust off my grandfather’s urging and take it to another level.  I began finding the small shiny coins accumulating whenever the culprit visited.  Others decided to join in the fun.  It wasn’t long before a pile formed.  It became a nuisance to clean around them, but I didn’t feel right putting them in my purse and spending them.

While I appreciated the humor and generous donations, I needed to find a way to dispense of the silly deed before it became a new tradition.  I decided to post a little ditty on the wall above the dimes.  It goes like this:

We’ll always remember that our Grandpa once said

Please leave a donation if you’re using the head

But traditions have changed along with the times

You’re no longer required to leave a few dimes

Now here’s the dilemma, there’s been overflow

Someone too generous and not in the know

Please take back your donation; now don’t make me frown

And remember the seat should always be down

Thanks, The Establishment

So does your family have any silly family traditions that have gotten out of hand?  I’d love to hear about them.

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, 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

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.

Lightning Bolts and Saints

My brother, Rob, is gifted with a quick wit and great sense of humor.  He also can deliver a story or joke with the perfect amount of flair to evoke laughter by nearly anyone who listens.

Rob teasingly nicknamed me Saint Diane.  He suggests that I have a direct line to God.  I’m not sure how that came about, but on one occasion, he felt he had confirmed his belief.

My husband and I were riding with my brother and his wife on our way to Branson, Missouri, one of our favorite vacation spots.  We were near Rolla, Missouri and Rob reminisced about being pulled over by a State Highway Patrol on the same stretch of highway while on his way to his honeymoon destination nearly 40 years earlier.

Rob bragged that he was able to avoid a speeding ticket by pleading with the officer and telling a “little white lie” about enrolling in the police academy upon his return from his honeymoon.  The kind-hearted office let his go with a warning and his best wishes.

After listening to his embellished story, my husband, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, sarcastically inquired, “Now haven’t you felt terrible about that lie all these years?”

Bob chuckled and responded with strong exaggeration, “Oh, it has always weighed heavy on my mind!”  They both laughed heartily.

Sitting in the back seat, I pointed my finger toward my brother and said, “Put the lightning up there God.”

No more than five seconds had passed when my husband leaned forward and looked up toward a low flying plane that passed over the van in which we were riding.

“Did you see that?”  My husband’s question was nearly drowned out by the sound of sirens closing in behind us.

Rob looked at the speedometer and realized he had been speeding. “Why did you have to get Him involved?” The fury in his eyes reflected in the rear view mirror as he pulled the van to the shoulder of the highway.

The sharply dressed Patrolman approached and as expected, announced that my brother had been exceeding the speed limit.  Rob dug out his license and registration as the officer bent his head down to view the other passengers in the vehicle.  My sister-in-law and I were trying to contain the laughter that threatened to escape our mouths.

“Could you give me a break since I’m from out of town?”

The officer shook his head no and pointed toward the sky.  “Sorry, but when the guy up there gets you, there is no getting out of it.”

An explosion of laughter came from the back seat.  If God did have anything to do with it, He certainly has a sense of humor, too.

Rob didn’t share in our laughter until some years later when the pain of paying the ticket faded a little.  I’ve been banned from throwing any more lightning bolts in his direction.