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Three hungry swans looking for breakfast. Saturday morning in St. Louis' Lafayette Park. Continue reading...

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Looking back as life moves forward

By Geri L. Dreiling

"I am a garden adorned by beauty: 
my being will know whether you look at my beauty."

Poem in the Hall of the Two Sisters at the Alhambra 

The idea that popped into my head was, admittedly, a strange one. The day after I visited the Alhambra and the Generalife in July, it suddenly occurred to me that if I could choose a place to haunt in the afterlife, it would be the gardens of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Continue reading...

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By Geri L. Dreiling

"I gave myself up, during my sojourn in the Alhambra, to all the romantic and fabulous traditions connected with the pile. I lived in the midst of an Arabian tale, and shut my eyes, as much as possible, to every thing that called me back to every-day life; and if there is any country in Europe where one can do so, it is in poor, wild, legendary, proud-spirited, romantic Spain...."

                                   -- Washington Irving, Tales of the Alhambra

Continue reading...
Granada church

By Geri L. Dreiling

I returned from Spain just after midnight on Wednesday. Since then, I've been catching up on work, sorting mail,  restocking the refrigerator, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds and replacing crispy twigs with new plants in my flower boxes.

Like all great trips that come to an end, the visit now has a dreamlike quality. I still have much to write and little time to do so. I will probably just post a picture a day from here to eternity.

Here are a few random notes and observations from my time in Spain: Continue reading...

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By Geri L. Dreiling

Who can resist the spell of the Alhambra? Painters, writers, poets and kings have succumbed to its magic. Washington Irving was bewitched by it when he wrote, "Tales of the Alhambra." Joaquin Sorolla was inspired to paint the Alhambra's archways and reflecting pools. Francisco Villaespesa penned a collection of sonnets titled, "The Charm of the Alhambra. " 

Located at the southern edge of Spain in Granada,  the Alhambra is a palace and fortress that dates back to the 13th century, when much of Spain was under the control of the Moors. During the reconquest of Spain, Granada was the last stronghold of the Moorish empire. Continue reading...

Post office

By Geri L. Dreiling

The sound of a broom sweeping across the sidewalk. It is one of the routine morning noises that I have grown fond of hearing during my stay in Madrid.

Today, as I drank my watered-down espresso, I looked out the open balcony doors and watched an older woman with dark short hair dressed in a black-and-white striped shirt and long jean skirt sweeping in front of a condo building across the street. The trees have been shedding small, greenish-yellow flakes. With a determined push of the brush, she guided the flakes into grates or out into the street. Then she dumped water from her bucket and cleaned the sidewalk again with her broom. Continue reading...


Pan and Queso

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A delicious daily routine in Madrid

By Geri L. Dreiling

Having a bakery next door is a wonderful -- and dangerous -- thing.  

I'm staying in a quaint, second-floor flat with three balconies in the heart of Madrid. The bedroom has a balcony, the kitchen has a balcony and there's a balcony off the combined living and dining room. Just outside the building is a bakery filled with pistolas or loaves of bread that look like fat baguettes, and all manner of sweet items like cakes and brownies, as well as savory items like empanadas and sandwiches. Continue reading...


A charming town, a complicated past

By Geri L. Dreiling

Spending time outside in the sun is said to help travelers recover from jet lag. And so, after arriving in Spain on Wednesday, I went for a late evening stroll around Algete (al-het-ay) with Enrique.

About 45 minutes northeast of Madrid, Algete is somewhat similar to a far-flung suburb -- but with a complicated past. Continue reading...


Summer Sailstice

Boat Dock

Celebrating the longest day of the year

By Geri L. Dreiling

"Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." -- Henry James

The summer's gift of extended daylight is cause for celebration. The sky is painted blue and streaked with wisps of white. Nature responds. Daylillies explode into joyful, inverted exclamation points of yellow or orange. Trees drape themselves in leaves of green. Bright red cardinals rejoice at dawn with their distinctive song.   

The longest day of all is known as the summer solstice. Once marked by festivals and fun, it has been largely forgotten as we've embraced the light bulb and turned away from the sun.

But not everyone has abandoned the tradition of honoring the day. Sailing associations throughout the world have adopted it as their own and dubbed it the Summer SailsticeContinue reading...


A Sweet Story

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How a retired couple became the proprietors of a neighborhood ice cream parlor

By Geri L. Dreiling

The tale of Tower Grove Creamery is a sweet story.

David and Beulah Ann McCreery own the Tower Grove Creamery, located on the corner of Arsenal and Grand in St. Louis. Beulah Ann is a retired second grade school teacher. David was an underwriter in the insurance business. For 30 years, they've owned the commercial building that houses Tower Grove Creamery. Other well known tenants in building include Mokabe's Coffeehouse and Dunaway Books.

"We had no intention of being in the ice cream business," David explained to me last week. Continue reading...