Northern Italy’s Soave Wine Region Featured in New Wine Enthusiast Column Monday, Jun 20 2011 

Northwest St. Louis County, particularly the historic municipalities through which St. Charles Rock Road runs, have begun a suburban image renewal effort. St. Charles Rock Road began as an “Indian trail” and has a fascinating local history that may come as a surprise to those in the metro St. Louis area unfamiliar with it.

St. Charles Rock Road is the main drag through St. Louis, and long-time St. Ann resident, Steve Erdelen, has taken a lead in the image renewal strategy. He has begun a new publication (in newspaper “tab” format for now) to bring good attention back to the businesses and residents of this Northwest St. Louis County area just south of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. I am doing my part to support the publication by writing a wine column for it.

Click on the link here to see the column.

**  Rock Road Reporter_Summer Wine Column  **

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Today, in terms of place-marking, the best known image along St. Charles Rock Road in St. Ann is probably the animated majorette sign at the Airway Centre. The sign dates back to the mid-century days when the Airway was one of multiple drive-in theaters along “the Rock Road.” Mid-century describes the vintage vibe the area largely retains.

In addition to the Airway sign, other familiar mid-century landmarks here include:

  • Chuck-A-Burger, and its summer “Cruise Nights”
  • McCarty Studio Photography, and its retro Lustron building storefront
  • Carhop Auto Sales, and its “bat-wing” service station building (formerly housing a vintage modern Phillips 66)
  • Post-World-War II housing styles in a walkable village environment
  • Commercial buildings dating to 1943 in a small-town downtown strip (corner of St. Charles Rock Road and St. Gregory Lane) originally occupied by a grocery, hardware store, realty office, drug store, barber and beauty shops

St. Charles Rock Road was laid out by the Spanish in 1772 and was the first road through St. Louis County, largely following the old “Indian trail.” It served as the road to St. Charles, Missouri—the state’s first capitol.

I hope you enjoy the column and will enjoy a bottle of Soave while reading it!


American Arts Experience | St. Louis! Thursday, Sep 16 2010 

from the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association’s
“Monday Memo,” 13 September 2010,

First Annual American Arts Experience-St. Louis Kicks Off Friday, October 1st: For 17 days and nights, beginning October 1st, the American Arts Experience – St. Louis will fill concert halls, museums, theaters, universities and outdoor spaces in the St. Louis area with dozens of performances and shows by renowned American artists and companies in disciplines ranging from symphonic music to jazz and singer-songwriters, theater by American playwrights and dance by American companies to major American visual artists.

Designed as a collaboration among the region’s cultural institutions, participants include the Saint Louis Art Museum; Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra; Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries; Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Jazz at the Bistro; the Touhill Performing Arts Center; and many, many more.

The American Arts Experience – St. Louis will be an annual festival each October celebrating all mediums of American arts.

Click here for the Schedule & Other Information.

St. Louis Art Museum gets $2M, collection Thursday, Sep 16 2010 

The Saint Louis Art Museum received a donation of 300 pieces of Native American artwork from Carolyn Danforth as well as a $2 million gift from the Danforth Foundation for a dedicated gallery, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Read more: St. Louis Art Museum gets $2M, collection – St. Louis Business Journal

RIP to My Dear Niece: ChipIn by Pay Pal for Funeral Costs Friday, Sep 3 2010 

My dear niece, Jessica Erin Toal, died suddenly on 8/27/10.

She was cremated on 8/30/10, and our family has set up a fund to help with the costs of that, as well as help pay her final bills (rent, utilities, etc.), and any money left over will be used to establish a modest trust for the 8 year old son she leaves behind.

We would also hope to have enough to endow a text book scholarship for the student who graduates each year at the top of the class in the paramedic program from which Jessica just graduated on 7/14/10.

Here is a link to the ChipIn site where you can contribute through Pay Pal. Please know that any amount, even $1, or $5, or $10, will be gratefully accepted, that dollars add up, and every one helps.

Here is also a graphic made for a pin to be given to family and friends at her memorial service in Rolla, Missouri, on Saturday, 9/11/10.

If you wish more details, please send a “comment,” and I will send a reply.

Her family would be most grateful if you would share this far and wide.

Thank you for your kindness in our deep grief. 

Please click on the music link, below, to hear one of the hymns that we will play at her memorial service.This is arranged by guitarist John Fahey.

.10 – In Christ There Is No East Or West

Her grandmother is going to read the following sonnet, as well.


Mindful of you the sodden earth in spring,
And all the flowers that in the springtime grow,
And dusty roads, and thistles, and the slow
Rising of the round moon, all throats that sing
The summer through, and each departing wing,
And all the nests that the bared branches show,
And all winds that in any weather blow,
And all the storms that the four seasons bring.

You go no more on your exultant feet
Up paths that only mist and morning knew,
Or watch the wind, or listen to the beat
Of a bird’s wings too high in air to view, —
But you were something more than young and sweet
And fair, — and the long year remembers you.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950), U.S. Poet

*A new birth or life; a rebirth.

The Crush Pad blog Wednesday, Aug 18 2010 

Have you checked out the blog that I write each Monday for Saint Louis Cellars? It’s at

Meet the new St. Louis Director for! Thursday, Jun 17 2010 

It’s me!

After serving on the board for this company as the inter-cultural communications adviser (China/USA) for several years, I accepted the role as St. Louis Director for art promotion on June 9, 2010.

"Zen," gold sculpture is an International Art Promoter & Online Gallery.

It is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and has well-established Directors in Los Angeles, California  (USA), Shanghai (China), Taipei (China), recently expanding with the addition of me as newly appointed Director in St. Louis, Missouri (USA) and a second new Director in Chicago, Illinois (USA.)

Calligraphy No. 6 was selected by Money Magazine in December 2000 as one of the best international online commercial sites. I have known the President/CEO since 1971, and the business is well run and ethical. It’s aim is to “Network the World’s Who’s Who” by promoting art and the good life. I have visited ArtNetworking’s exhibition venues in Shanghai and met some of the artists represented and exhibiting at those venues. I was duly impressed. represents Asian and Western artists featuring their work in the online gallery in media that includes:

garden art (textured limestone on pedestal)
new media,
textiles, and
wearable art.

LingBi Rock

It’s my honor to have been selected to be the St. Louis Director for this respected and exclusive company.

I am actively recruiting artists locally, regionally, and nationally.

There is no cost to display your work online with Your exhibiting online with us is not an exclusive agreement; you can promote your work through other channels, as well, and if you sell a piece that we have online, we will mark it “sold,” and continue to display it, so you continue to have an online international presence. We do, of course, hope you would allow us to upload more of your work to promote together!

"The Spirit," Michael Jordan

There is no risk and no cost to the artist—you only have international exposure and potential sales to gain!

My job is to promote the artists I sign.

Please contact me if you would like to meet and talk about collections that we can promote YOUR WORK together on!

If you are outside the St. Louis, Missouri, region, I am set up with Skype Webcam video capabilities, and we can meet that way!

P.S. ~ Be forewarned: If you don’t call me, I will call you!

Sun Flower

Zen, gold sculpture by Wu Ching
Calligraphy No. 6, ink on rice paper by Qian PeiYun
LingBi Rock, rare garden stone on pedestal by Yeou Lin
The Spirit, bronze sculpture of Michael Jordan by Julie Rotblatt-Amrany
Sun Flower, hand-blown Venetian glass by Sheng ShanShan partners with the following distinguished international companies: Re/Max Realty, Art 50 International Restaurant, Novotel – Shanghai, Xintiandi – Shanghai Historic, Cultural & Entertainment District, The JC Group, Shimao Group – Property Holdings, Shanghai. Fairytale Handcrafted Jewellery – Copenhagen

I’ve picked up a new job, as you may have heard. Friday, May 21 2010 

I am happily employed now two days per week (Saturdays and Mondays) at Saint Louis Cellars. I also work special events there in the evenings for them, when they need me; for example, this past week I poured wine at a wine tasting event for the Women Lawyer’s Association of Greater St. Louis—a very nice group of very powerful lawyers and judges and top-tier law school students.

The Saint Louis Cellars Web page says it all:

“Saint Louis Cellars is the newest, hippest wine store in town bringing a myriad of fab offerings with its friendly atmosphere, cool labels, and wine tastings. In addition to selling wines ‘by the taste’—Cool, Mellow, Rich, Sweet, etc.—Saint Louis Cellars has event space that is available for everything from intimate wine dinners to large charity parties.  Every bottle leaves the store “Packaged for a Party.” Saint Louis Cellars is located just north of Manchester Rd. on Big Bend in Maplewood.”

On Saturdays I work on the sales floor there, greeting customers, answering questions, rotating stock, and pouring wine at the free wine tasting we do each week. It’s a lot of fun—I keep chuckling and thinking, “Yeah: I am getting paid for this!”

On Mondays I write a post for a new blog they have called “The Crush Pad.” It’s a lay person’s guide to understanding and enjoying wine. Perfect for me to write, since I’m not an expert on the vino (yet—but I’m learning.) On Mondays, I get to sit at the Mac laptop in the store and write the blog. If the shop gets busy, I jump in and work with customers.

I have been learning a lot about wine, wineries, grape varietals, countries that grow grapes, how climatic conditions generally and weather conditions in a particular year effect a vintage, fermentation processes, storage, bottle closure methods, alternative packaging, and other good stuff.

I have the opportunity to research these things when I work on the blog, but I also read a lot on my own time. I have been joking that I read “the bible” every day now—The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeill, which, by the way, we sell at Saint Louis Cellars. I’ve also learned to get out of my rut and try a few things besides Chardonnay!

So, I have been posting less often to this site lately (at least not as often as I had been when I first started it), not because I was bored with doing it, but because I was doing some soul searching, researching and networking in my quest for something new to do for employment.

I’ve been at my job in public relations with a local “building design, development & planning firm” for 10.5+ years. There’s not much opportunity for me to move up, at this point, and I’m not a status-quo person. I wondered what else I might do for a living.

I had some time to reflect on all this, too, because that “building…firm” cut back my hours from full time to part time (24 hrs./week) on February 28, 2009, due to economic conditions. That was when I began this blog, and as I talked to so many other “creatives” through interaction here about their job searches, my cognitive wheels started turning about my own situation.

So, how did I find my new job at Saint Louis Cellars? Through Facebook!

Just goes to show that social media is a powerful networking tool, if you know how to use it. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that the whole hiring process right now totally sucks—that it’s impossible to speak to a human, nobody gets back about resumes received, about an applicant’s status after an interview, etc. Well, social media goes around those “official channel” roadblocks; learn to use it, if you’re encountering those kinds of problems.

Another complaint I hear regularly is people saying they’re “old,” which I take to mean they are “over 40,” since that’s when Equal Employment Opportunity Laws begin to cover us for age discrimination in the workplace; I hear that complaint coupled with this being the worst economy since the 1930s.

Well, automation in the hiring problem is a hurdle, no doubt about it. There is age discrimination in hiring, too. And, yes, this is a frighteningly bad and long-running “bear market,” as they say on Wall Street; however, I’m older than all of you reading this, I’m sure, and I found a job in this same bad economy doing something in which I have no true, primary expertise (i.e., depth of knowledge of wine.)

What I do have is up-to-date technical skills, enthusiasm out the yin-yang, and something in me that says, “Of course I can do that!”

So, I spent six hours over the New Year’s holiday mapping out transferable skills that I might use in “the wine trade.” My plan was to attend the premiere St. Louis food-and-wine trade show the last weekend of January at the Chase Park Plaza—I was going to paper that place with copies of my resume! Nobody was going to leave there without one!

I also had been following a few wine-related companies (and people in that trade) on Twitter and Facebook. One local business really stood out to me: Saint Louis Cellars. I took a chance and, early one Tuesday afternoon, the week before the shindig at the Chase, I sent my resume to one of the co-owners, whom I’d been following on Facebook. By lunch time the next day, I had a call from him saying he’d like to talk to me.

So, that’s how found a new job in a new field in the worst economy in seven decades—and yes, I am over 40; heck, I’m over 50. If I can do it, you can do it, too. Get creative, stay motivated, and if you want a copy of the successful resume I put together for this job search, leave a comment so I have your e-mail address.

Entrepreneurship Jumps in Missouri Friday, May 21 2010 

The St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association (RCGA)  “St. Louis Press Pass, May 21, 2010,” includes information from a story that ran in the St. Louis Business Journal on May 20, 2010, and that reports a jump in entrepreneurial activity in Missouri.

Missouri, being mostly rural, has the largest portion of its business activities in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, and Springfield, so my interpretation of the uptick in new, small-business start-ups bodes well for anyone living in those areas, or who can find work telecommuting to these start-up businesses in those areas. In fact, telecommuting is a great “pitch” for a job with one of these start-ups, as most are probably home-based for now.

If you have an idea (even a half-baked one) for a business that you dream of  starting, do you know about SCORE®?

The acronym stands for “Service Corps of Older Retired Executives,” and taking age-ism into account, let me say that these older, retired executives are not “has-beens,” by any means. (Heck, if I could afford to retire, I could be “an older retired executive,” and you know that I’m on top of my game!)

Anyway, SCORE is a great resource for anyone who has the dream of being self-employed and successful at a new business. SCORE is a Resource Partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration and calls itself, “Counselors to America’s Small Business.”

SCORE has a splendid Web site, where you can work one-on-one by e-mail with one of their registered counselors on a question by question basis. Counselors are volunteers and have their resumes listing areas of expertise. You can target a particular counselor anywhere in the U.S.A. with your question and get the best person to suit your inquiry.

There’s a LOT of great information on the Web site, and I’ve used it for a lot of business questions even as an employee in various roles as supervisor, project manager, etc.

You can use the Web site to find an office near you and make an appointment for a face-to-face meeting with one of their counselors, as well.

All counselors are volunteers, and did I mention that their services are FREE?

Good news for St. Louis creatives looking for full-time, permanent work! Friday, May 21 2010 

Good news for St. Louis creatives looking for full-time, permanent work!

Reading “St. Louis Press Pass, May 21, 2010,” on and see a press release from The Creative Group saying that they are expanding their St. Louis operations to include permanent placement services for full-time employees.

An excerpt from the “St. Louis Press Pass” e-mail blast says,

“The Creative Group, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing service specializing in creative professionals, is expanding its operations in St. Louis to include permanent placement services for full-time employees. The office, located at One Metropolitan Square, will be launched by Carrie Muehlemann, a former division director and branch manager who has been with the company since 2004. “The advertising and marketing fields offer tremendous possibilities for our staffing services, particularly in St. Louis, where there is significant opportunity for growth,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group.”

My experience with the Creative Group has been positive, and I’ve referred many people between jobs to them. I’ve had good reports back on those referrals from the people between jobs.

It’s always wonderful to hear of another resource, so if you’re out of work and looking (or out of work, totally bummed, and have stopped looking), get that portfolio and resume ready for a visit to the St. Louis office of The Creative Group.

Check out their online job search services at

St. Louis office telephone number is (314) 621-1121.

Kick it into high gear!

Saint Louis Cellars SPRING FLING! Mark your calendars! Wednesday, Mar 17 2010 

Saint Louis Cellars is a boutique wine shop in Maplewood (Saint Louis County), Missouri. I work there part-time now, and it’s a won-der-ful job! I want to tell you about an event coming up there that you do NOT want to miss!

Spring Fling will be from 11am-7pm on Saturday, March 27, 2010.

There will be nearly (or maybe more than) 50 wines for the tasting (F.R.E.E., supplied by our vendors), foods (cheese, sausages, crackers, candies, etc.), live music (an acoustic guitarist from Maplewood), the Easter Bunny (for the kiddies), and lots of F.U.N.!!!!

Mark your calendar if you live within driving distance, and swing by for this event!

Do me favor, whether you live live within driving distance or not

Follow this link to the blog for Saint Louis Cellars and tell them you heard about their Spring Fling on Donna’s blog!  Many, many thanks!

2640 S. Big Bend

Maplewood, Missouri 63143


Hours of Operation

Monday – Thursday   10:30am – 6:00pm

Friday & Saturday   10:30am – 7:00pm

Sunday    Closed

Tasting Hours

Monday – Thursday   5:00pm  – 6:00pm

Friday  & Saturday   10:30am – 7:00pm

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