• She leans toward me and almost whispers: "Loneliness is real, honey. It catches hold to so many good people in a place like this, I can't tell you. Takes the heart right out of them. But what's left after that, it can go on breathing for years." "The Golden Years." We hear this expression often in connection with the most senior stage of human life. It naturally evokes images of freedom from the lifelong grind, and ample emotional and material reward for a job well done. But all too often the period is characterized by the kind of physical decline and financial instability that together make for a very harsh, burdensome final act. Having no friend or relative to turn

    Dec 04,
  • Michael and Diane Hirtz and their two children live in the small rural community of Glennonville, Missouri, not far from Campbell. On weekdays, Michael Hirtz may be found tending to the needs of students and staff as Director of Malden Alternative School. On Sunday, if he's not at Glennonville's St. Teresa's Church, he may well be playing the organ at Sacred Heart parish in Poplar Bluff. But one of his weekends each month belongs to the Missouri National Guard. It seems strange to note that it's been this way for nearly a quarter of a century, as he is still in his early 40s. But it's true. "I guess you could say I was following in my father's footsteps," Hirtz says of his

    Nov 20,
  • Perhaps it's in the blood: His father was a chef at John J. Pershing Veterans Administration Medical Center; his grandmother, a baker at a sanatorium in Mt. Vernon, Missouri. Today, Kevin Boxx of Ellsinore is chef and general manager of The Java Stop Cafe, a cosmopolitan eatery seemingly plucked from Chicago's Hyde Park and put down again, mysteriously, on Highway 67 in Poplar Bluff. The Java Stop's companion shop is The Wine Rack, a gourmet market that seems also to have made the cosmic trip from the Windy City intact. Together, the two parts make up one establishment with a single mission: to purvey quality comestibles, wines, beers, and spirits to patrons in these environs with professionalism and flair.

    Nov 13,
  • Carolyn Smith is too funny to fit squarely into the "romance" segment of the publishing world. "The romance genre's really locked in," she observes, suddenly clutching her chest and blurting out in mock-horror, "'Is she drinking a mimosa? Noooooo! It has to be a Bloody Mary!'" Though romantic themes may figure prominently in Smith's writing, her work involves original plot and narrative choices that defy the traditional bodice-ripping drill. And so her two published novels, Beyond the Lies and Hole in Her Heart, come under the heading of women's fiction---where sudden death, or building an entire life and family apart from the hunky but unavailable anti-hero, is indeed permitted. Both of Smith's novels were published in 2004, and represent triumph

    Nov 09,
  • "I think I got into a habit of fixing what was easiest and fastest, because I was a working parent, and I had a limited amount of energy. So that meant a lot of hamburger." Thus does one of my own neighbors begin her tale of nutritional development for the better. This mother of three college-age adults began to critically examine her family's diet upon entering the field of diabetes education, back when her kids were in elementary school. The more expertise she gained in her work, the more determined she was to throw out her old model for throwing together meals, and she has never looked back. The rationale she offers for the family's former diet is probably shared

    Nov 06,

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