"And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
– Matthew 10:42: English Standard Holy Bible
It was a brief announcement that I typed into the newspaper’s events section.
Just a line or two saying that Registered Nurse Pat Cronk would give a diabetes education program today at Ebenezer Presbyterian, a sweet old country church deep in the countryside. I emailed that I’d like to attend the fellowship gathering to write about the program for the next her magazine for women.
Pat’s husband, Pastor Alan McCraine, said that would be great.
The program was interesting, informative, and the story will appear in the magazine, as planned.
But what I didn’t anticipate was an unrelated personal challenge. Alan said he is encouraging churchgoers to offer a “cup of cold water” in the name of Jesus, to – someone. In fact, members are urged to dig into their pockets at the end of the day and save the dimes to donate back to the Cup of Cold Water Fund so this project continues.
He figures the “cups” or in today’s application of the term, portable, plastic bottles of water, cost a dime apiece. The fund will replenish the bottles.
Alan urged everyone attending today’s community-outreach program to grab a bottle of water and accept his challenge to find someone to share it with in the next week, and offer it on behalf of the Lord.
So I did. As I drove home from work today, I eyed the water bottle in my cup holder. It looked like any other bottle I might have on hand in that very spot. But this one is different.
It’s for someone else.
I’m on alert for that someone, and in keeping whatever appointment God has for me in the days to come to share the water. I’ll let you know what unfolds.
Have you ever accepted a challenge such as this?
Want to share what happened?
One of the challenges of editing a quarterly women's magazine is that with that project, I'm never working in season. I'm always thinking of what readers will see on the date the magazine appears which is three months out.
I've asked a cover subject to dress for late fall on a hot August day -- and could she please get out her autumn decorations for props? However if I'm working on the winter issue in the fall, the last thing I want in the background of photos are pumpkins.
So eyebrows might have raised Friday when a column appeared in the New Castle Courier-Times, publisher of her magazine for women, announcing our new holiday recipe contest. I wonder if there were groans such as when you walk into a department store this time of year and find Christmas trees lit up.
We did a survey among her magazine for women readers and the most common response was that they wanted more recipes. Our readership has always been recipe-oriented. For decades we hosted a successful annual recipe contest in March but after the magazine was created, that took the time that previously went into the recipe contest so we discontinued it.
That contest was rather elaborate in that we had six categories, a preliminary as well as final round, brought in a celebrity judge, and had a resulting publication devoted to recipes.
This new her Holiday Recipe Contest is a simplified competition. In fact, it's all new. We'll have 20 finalists, one top winner who will get $100 the evening of the finals and the cover spot in the fall issue, a tasting party for finalists, an assortment of door prizes, and a nice stash of local recipes for our magazine readers inside their Nov. 5 issue -- just in time for holiday fun.
I'm reprinting Friday's article here with the rules and regs. Since my blogging audience both overlaps and is expanded from the newspaper one, please keep something in mind. Only enter if you are able to prepare and bring your prepared recipe to the tasting party finals. And remember than the paper entry does not assure you are in the finals. I will notify you if you are.
While the top 20 recipes will be selected based on the submitted written recipes only, no one can win a thing if the actual food is not brought in to the finals. And above all, have some fun with this! I have no idea if it will be an annual thing. Maybe. Guess it depends on how this one goes.
OK! Here we go, from Friday's issue.
It’s not time to buy your Thanksgiving turkey, nor cook a batch of Christmas fudge.
But it’s always time to be thinking ahead to the holiday season.
Her magazine for women will devote the fall cover story and multiple pages to a new contest, and event, sponsored by the magazine and The Courier-Times. Let me introduce to you to her Holiday Recipe Contest. Today begins the entry period for the competition which extends through noon, Monday, Sept. 11.
Detailed instructions follow. The short version is that each reader is invited to submit a written recipe to the contest before the deadline. Of the recipes submitted, 20 readers will be invited to bring their prepared recipe in the form of edible food to the judging which will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4 at The Courier-Times, 201 S. 14th St. Contestants should be there no later than 6 p.m. for preliminary photos and registration.
The finalists will be seated and watch as a team of three judges comment on the food and a single overall winner is named. The top dish and the person submitting it will be featured on the cover of the fall issue. During the evening, a variety of photos will be taken. Finalists will have the opportunity to taste each other’s foods and door prizes will be awarded before the top winner is named. The top winner will take home $100.
As many recipes as space allows will be printed in the fall magazine, which comes out Sunday, Nov. 12.
Specific rules follow. Direct any questions to her magazine editor Donna Cronk at 765-575-4657 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. One recipe per person may be entered. By submitting the recipe, the person submitting it affirms to the best of his or her knowledge he or she has permission to submit the recipe and is not in knowing violation of a copyright. The recipe must not be knowingly copied from a cookbook, internet or social media site, but instead be either created by the person submitting it or handed down in the family with the original source unknown.
2. The recipe should be something served by the submitter during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday season. It may be sweet or savory. It could be a favorite breakfast casserole, pie, cake, cookie, or any other dish that is a family favorite.
3. Only submit a recipe if at the time of submission you are available if contacted to prepare the dish and bring it to the Oct. 4 judging. The complete written recipe, with ingredients, amounts and instructions must be provided as the preliminary contest entry to be considered for the final judging competition.
4. Current Courier-Times employees, columnists and stringers, and those living in their households, are not permitted to enter.
5. In submitting the full written recipe, send it via one of the following: email (preferred), U.S. mail or drop it off at the newspaper office. Email to: email@example.com; mail to The Courier-Times, Donna Cronk, 201 S. 14th St., New Castle, IN 47362; or drop off at the S. 14th St. address. Include your name, full address, email and daytime phone number.
Notification from her magazine and Cronk will go out to the 20 chosen contestants on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Those selected will have until noon, Monday, Sept. 18 to respond if they plan to participate in the judging and tasting party. If they do not, alternates will be named.
Note: Today's post is a reprint of my Sunday Courier-Times newspaper column. Inspiration comes in many forms and for me, most recently it arrived through my discovery of TED Talks (TED.com), courtesy of Dr. John Dickey, a retired optometrist in New Castle. He'll celebrate his 99th birthday soon, and he is one of the most interesting -- and interested -- people around.
A few weeks ago, Kent Kemmerling mentioned that he attends TED Talks at John Dickey's home.
Where have I been? I had never heard of the talks which number in the thousands. I figured "TED" meant a guy, maybe a man of considerable influence and intellect whose name I should know but don't.
A simple Google search provided multiple links to the world of TED Talks where I quickly learned that TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design in the form of a decades-long series of speeches — or talks, if you will — on anything and everything by experts on said topics. These experts are able to condense complex information in a way that inspires, encourages, challenges, and motivates. And even if the thousands of talks didn't do all that, they do with certainty accomplish the mission of spreading ideas.
I knew if Dr. John Dickey was a part of the talks, they were worthy. I've written about Dickey's handmade clocks, and our newspaper and the evening TV news have covered his autograph collection, and his travels.
I've always been impressed by his spirit of adventure, optimism, engagement, and yes, brilliance. I hadn't realized that he will be age 99 next month. Yet he enjoys new ideas, loves technology (and uses it adeptly), and enjoys sharing intellectual thoughts with those who fill his home weekly for the TED Talks -- which he hosts.
When I got the official invite to attend a Talk and write a story, I was delighted. In fact, I didn't mind Sunday night at all last week as I eagerly awaited Monday morning and my first experience with TED.
I may be obsessed.
When I left the gathering my head was spinning from the speakers, the new ways to look at math and science. I watched Yves Rossy spiral through the air with his Jetman wings as though a bird in flight. Amazing. I was inspired by Jim Yong Kim who sees beyond poverty and limitations and wonders why people everywhere can't have a shot at good lives.
I marvel at these brilliant people. From each Talk, I tried to imagine my own takeaway. I will never be good at advanced math concepts such as the gifted Roger Antonsen. But his challenge was to create the ability to change your perspective and see it in a new way. I can do that.
I will never have a bestseller as author Anne Lamott. But I left over-the-top inspired by her to come up with my own list of truths I've learned from life and writing.
I would be too chicken, if I even had the unlikely opportunity to soar through the sky like Jetman Yves Rossy who appears birdlike. Footage from his flights will take your breath away. But I sure can apply his tip to "always have a Plan B."
Now I have an idea that I can't shake. I'd like to get together with a group of friends where our agenda is to present our own TED-inspired talks. How fun would it be for each person to bring a surprise talk or activity or craft or reading or talent or song or musical representation to the table and wow us all with -- something. Something that inspires us. Challenges us. Delights us. Or even if it doesn't, makes us proud that our friend was gutsy enough to put it out there.
How about you? Would you and your friends consider devoting an evening or an afternoon to a sort of TED workshop? Or at least select some videos, play them for your group. Then see what happens. I think you and your friends will be changed.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors editor at The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. Connect with her at dcronk@thecouriertimes or call her direct line at 765-575-4657.
As Brian and I wrestled my tent Saturday morning at the first-ever Pendleton Music and Art Festival downtown, a task that emphasizes my vertical challenges, here comes a helpful soul who lends a hand. He didn't know us, but quickly I recognized him. Never mind the FAMOUS AUTHOR tag -- I had heard about George Kramer the day before via a text from son Sam.
George works with Sam at St. Vincent Hospital, and the heads-up came that this good Samaritan would be selling his books at the festival. Turns out George had the next booth, and is a friendly guy who loves writing The Arcadis Series in the sci-fi genre. (www.amazon.com/author/georgekramer). I love his sense of humor, spotted immediately in the author tag.
The least I could do was share my chicken pasta salad, above.
Even though I was in my adopted hometown of Pendleton, and quite a few friendly local faces stopped by, it was also old-home day in the form of author friends.
Tipton writer Janis Thornton bunked with me and as usual, we did some brainstorming on a variety of writing and marketing ideas. Here she signs one of her cozy mysteries, the spanking-new one being Dead Air & Double Dares.
My pal Sandy Moore took part as well, signing a copy of her children's book, Sadie's Search for Home.
How cool is the local coffee house, Falls Perk, just steps from our booths? An iced mocha was in order for my own personal afternoon perk.
Not a bad time when there's pleasant local music in the background throughout the day, community folks passing by and stopping to say hi, authors and other friendly vendors all around, including Spiceland's Mark Herbkersman and Mt. Summit-turned Pendleton resident, writer Christy Luellen who was there selling antique musical instruments and sheet music.
It was fun to make a new friend in George. Thanks for telling me about him, Sam. Nice guy!
Life is about people and relationships. It was fun to visit with old friends, and make a new one besides. Saturday was a good day. Thanks to everyone who visited the festival.
In one way, it's hard to believe the Midlife Moms have been together for ten-and-a-half years. In another way, haven't we known each other forever? It's true that as an adult, a decade passes quickly. Just imagine: If we had started first grade together, we'd be halfway through high school junior year.
Yes, by now we all know each other and our casts of characters pretty well.
While we haven't seen each other through elementary school, first dates, and proms, we've lived a lot of life together this past decade, whispered a good many prayers for each other and our life circumstances, laughed at a lot of silliness, cried some tears, studied the Bible, taken on projects, and eaten some fantastic food.
We are a life group at Ovid Community Church. We do life together. And I thank the Good Lord that it works, that as group co-founder Delaine Wooden says, "We're more than a group. We're friends."
One of my favorite weekends of the year took place last weekend. Terri generously shares her beautiful lake home and water toys with us several times a year, times we have always referred to as retreats.
But of all the lovely weekends reminiscent of girlhood sleepovers, the summer ones are my favorite. You can't beat the ever-changing blues of the sky and water, along with the wind on our faces as we push through the water on Terri's boat, with the warm breeze brushing back our hair. We play in the water like the young dolphins we are not.
Sunday mornings we have a special Bible study out on the water. And in between, we feast on the bountiful menus that come together so easily with a crew of seasoned moms who know their way around the kitchen. We listen to each other's insights and tell stories.
For one summer weekend a year, we haven't a care in the world. Thank you Father for this refreshment. Thank you Terri for being the best hostess ever, and thank you to each of my MLM sistas, past and present, and Lord willing, future.
It's traditional that before we head back to our regular lives, we take some photos. Terri has a stack of pictures depicting lake memories from our ten years at Cordry Lake.
Above is one on the deck from last weekend. Some of the girls mentioned their lack of make-up and abundance of lake hair. They don't know they are beautiful. Inside and out.
A magnet from Terri's fridge. I'd have to agree.
This weekend I was awestruck anew by the incredible variety, color, nutrition, and beauty -- not even to mention creativity -- of God's food supply.
Friday night on the boat we enjoyed a picnic-type meal of Sharon's homemade ham salad sandwiches, artisan chips and dip, and Donna Shields' cole slaw, along with Delaine's summer Greek vegetable salad of tomatoes, corn, cukes, and herbs. It all hit the spot!
Then, because sometimes we bring so much delicious food, and have to hurry up and eat one meal so we can get to the next, we decided this weekend to do a daily brunch and dinner -- a two-meal day. Terri whipped up the above breakfast skillet with yellow squash, mushrooms, eggs and cheese. Fantastic.
Karen prepared this wonderful vegetable lasagne:
It was delicious, as was Delaine's fried zucchini with Parm and bread crumbs.
By the way, we have a signature scripture passage. Here's the NIV, Hebrews 10:23-25:
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
Not a bad motto for doing life together. Happy first ten years, my sistas.
During an audience-participation program I present called, “What’s on your bucket list?” the responses are often predictable: Go to Hawaii or visit Europe. Or thoughtful: Live to see grandchildren (or great-grands) raised, married, and happy.
But of the hundreds of answers I’ve heard, one stands out. The woman said she wants to leave this world having no more than one bag of possessions to her name. One bag.
That's not enough space for family china, chests, antique children’s rocking chairs, a wooden wheelbarrow, boxes of newspaper clippings. One bag wouldn’t begin to hold a personal library of books, a closet full of Christmas decorations, a century-and-a-half worth of family photos, cards, and letters. It wouldn't even hold my restaurant-sized mayonnaise jar of mink pellets.
Some of us need more than one bag. We need the equivalent of a wing at the Smithsonian to hold all the stuff we’ve hung onto.
One thing is for sure; we can’t take it with us. Some of us think our kids should take it with them. But times change. Kids today have accumulated a boat load of their own stuff, or they prefer a lighter decorating style than mine which could aptly be described as Stonehenge Revival.
To put it mildly, Brian and I have a full house. Whereas once my idea of a good time was visiting an antiques store and coming home with a treasure, now I would only enter one to see what things are going for and how that translates into my stuff.
Friends are probably surprised to accompany me to a crafts fair and see me walk right past clever jewelry or kitchen knickknacks that I formerly would have carried home. I don’t need them, or lotions, or potions, or more – of anything.
There’s no room at the inn.
While that is obvious to any casual guest in our home, they would get a shock if they looked into our attic. There are boxes and bins, stacks and piles. Brian and I have said we are attacking the space with ruthless brutality. We’ve even marched up that ladder like Sherman headed for Georgia. But once there, we pardoned the whole works the way the General did Savannah.
Call it a sentimental journey at the top of those stairs. We become distracted by the boys’ childhood toys and trophies; bins of prom dresses; every college paper that crossed my hands; second-string collectibles, and antiques handed down in our families. All that is not even touching miscellaneous categories up there.
We end up folding up the ladder and fleeing the scene. We can always use the excuse that it’s too hot or too cold to work. That's usually true, but the real reason is we’re not yet ready to deal with it.
It’s interesting how the aging process works. It seems we spend the first half of our lives accumulating, and the second half figuring out how to part with what we accumulated.
I know people who get genuinely stressed out over all this. I know people who fret that their kids won’t want their stuff. It’s all interesting to talk about at this age and stage of life, but it doesn’t stress me. Here are my thoughts.
1. Yes, I’m a sentimental person combined with one who prefers antiques over new stuff as my farmhouse style of decorating. That’s a recipe for a lot of stuff. So what?
2. While I’m not actively accumulating more stuff (aside from replacing worn-out furnishings that we do have), I make strides into editing what we keep. If there are century-old photos of people who haven’t been identified by now, no one is left to do so in the future, so I throw away the photos. Same with fuzzy pictures of any kind as well as six routine shots of the same thing. Edit, edit, edit.
3. I will continue to keep cards and letters that mean something and contain personal notes and sentiments. But stacks of Christmas cards with only signatures? Birthday cards of the same? Toss them. I’ll never get around to cutting out the pretty pictures for gift tags, anyway.
4. The attic is a problem. But it hurts nothing in our daily lives. When the time comes – likely the next time we move, which will be to a smaller home – I’ll throw away the college papers, Brian will toss a lifetime of school lesson plans, I’ll decide no little girl will ever want to play dress up in my old prom dresses, and to the curb it will all go.
5. People say they won’t leave their kids with a mess to go through. Maybe we all shouldn’t leave ourselves with a mess, either. So edit, toss out, pare down – but hear this: Keep what you enjoy and what you love, or even what for some quirky, emotional reason you can’t part with -- even if it seems like a lot to others. It’s not their rodeo. You are living your life now. You don’t have to pack a bag and wait to die to make your life easier for someone else.
These are the artifacts of our lives, the illustrations of our stories.
6. It’s true that your kids won’t want it all. They might not want any of it. That's their choice. But let them decide what they do want, even if it’s nothing. If it bugs you that they will have to handle it all, think out of the storage box and sweeten the pot.
Create a special savings account designated for distribution of stuff. Put enough in there to pay for the whole works to be hauled away, for a couple of meals for the gang to eat while they are reviewing the chaos, and a letter to go with your will about how you’re sorry they have to deal with it all but you enjoyed your belongings and hope they understand.
Tell the kids to feel no obligation to keep grandma’s 24-piece lead crystal set or your collection of salt and pepper shakers from every state.
Tell them to keep, consign, throw out or haul away. Tell them that frankly, you don't care anymore because you are dead and you now have new concerns that have nothing to do with stuff. The special cash account should sweeten their outlook. They might even get a chuckle out of your creativity. (You're welcome.)
All that said – realize that every family is different in ways obvious and those not so much so.
Recently our daughter-in-law got her master’s degree in special education. It seemed the perfect occasion to present her with an antique desktop school bell handed down in the family. I also offered her all or her choice (or none) of antique Indiana school books that came down in my family. She took a few, one that clear as that bell tone, contained my grandfather’s name and the year 1903. It makes me happy that she has it.
But once you give something away, it’s no longer yours. You have to let it go. I don’t have a problem with that. Our joy came in seeing her accept these family tokens. That joy is far greater than having a book and a bell linger on our shelf.
So what would I put in my one bag of final possessions? I’ll go with the classic response: Family photos. Then I’d smush down the photos and add choice cards and letters received over a lifetime, and, well, all that would fill the bag beyond the brim. I'm good at smushing.
Even so, I can’t take it with me beyond this side of the grave. Not any of it. None of us can.
And that could only mean one thing: We won’t need any of it on the other side.
Hoosier journalist and author Donna Cronk enjoys giving a variety of programs to groups of all sizes and venues. Contact her for information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her books, which are the sentimental, small-town sort, are available from her or on Amazon. They are: Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast, and That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland. Her next stop is 9-4, Saturday, Aug. 5 in downtown Pendleton, Indiana, at the first-ever Pendleton Arts & Music Fair. Stop by her table for a chat.
It's uncanny. And has been for a while now.
Whether I'm driving to work on Ind. 38, trying to get through town once I get to New Castle, or whether I'm trying to get, well, just about anywhere from my home, I'm met with signs warning: ROAD CLOSED or DETOUR AHEAD.
Sections of roads on both sides of our subdivision have been closed, and another common route not far away is blocked as well.
But it's not just around here. Reroutes and stalled traffic seem to be a part of wherever it is I'm headed.
I'm not going to tell you that I enjoy being rerouted, adding extra miles on my tires, or time to my commutes and errands. I will, however, tell you that I had epiphany.
Sometimes in life, things have to get downright messy before they get better. Roads are a perfect example. It occurred to me that I should be grateful that I am witnessing tax money serve us all through road improvements. Soon the potholes, narrow lanes, and decaying bridges will be replaced with smooth travel, wider lanes, and safe, strong bridges.
"No pain, no gain" applies to travel as well as personal fitness.
I'm curious. Do you experience detours and travel reroutes in your world? Do tell.
Today we celebrated a family milestone. Our daughter-in-law Allison received her master's degree in special education from Ball State University. Interestingly enough, Allison's sister-in-law, Lauren, got her master's degree from Purdue University this spring to become a nurse practitioner.
We're honored that Allison, Sam, Allison's Grandma Jo Jo, parents John and Carla and brother and sister-in-law Michael and Lauren allowed Brian, Ben, and I to host a luncheon in Allison's honor following the morning ceremony.
It was an early Saturday morning. The ceremony started at 10, but my morning began at 4:30 when yet another night-time thunderstorm woke me up. I fretted that we would lose electricity and in the process create problems for the pulled pork, salads and full ice basket that were ready for the luncheon -- not to mention for my unwashed hair! Since there was no way I could be seen in public without decent hair, I washed it quickly during the storm and set it in rollers.
Of course with all the commotion going on, Reggie got up to potty in the storm, and then we bunked on the couch for a couple hours. I must have fallen deeply asleep. I don't know if it was the rollers affecting my brain, but I had some terrible dreams, something unusual for me. At least it was a relief to wake up and find they were FAKE DREAMS. No REAL NEWS there. Whew! And the storm had passed.
Ben arrived on time and we were out the door a little after 8. Since we had plenty of time, Ben requested that we drive around to look over his college stomping grounds, including a cruise past the Light Street house he and three friends rented for two years. How is it that he's been out of college four years already? How quickly those years passed, as well as the four after them.
We caught up with Sam and the Parents at Worthen Arena where we found a good stretch of seating. It wasn't long before we spotted Allison.
A side note because there are a lot of teachers in our world. Of the summer graduates at this university known for educating teachers, guess how many undergraduate educators received their degrees today? Would you believe seven? What will be the ramifications ahead for Hoosier schools with a figure so low?
After the ceremony, a quick stop for a photo op with the new grad and her fan club.
Back at the ranch ... a late lunch.
Brian's family contains a number of career educators, besides himself with 40 years in the classroom and office under his belt. We have retired educators brother Steve and sister-in-law Linda Cronk. There were also his Great-Aunts Lee and Glad. And, we have numerous friends who either worked or still work in the trenches.
An antique teacher's-desk bell, which looks right out of Little House on the Prairie, has come down in our family. It seemed this was the perfect occasion to hand it off to the next generation, so Brian presented it to Allison.
I had planned for a while on a Ball-jar theme, ordering flowers from a local grower who sells them at the Pendleton Farmer's Market. Just a couple days ago I added a school theme, largely due to remembering that we had a nice stash of textbooks of more than a century vintage from my side of the family. One belonging to my Grandpa Roscoe Jobe contains his signature and is dated 1903 with an earlier copyright. We thought Allison might enjoy those books and passed them down.
Sam's great-grandfather Roscoe Jobe used this book in 1903. When picking up the cake yesterday, I noticed the abundance of school supplies. So I snagged a few, wrapped them, and just for fun, drew for door prizes of giant erasers, glue, Crayons and a duo of peanut butter and jelly.
It was a lovely day. Congratulations again, Allison!
We're having a little shindig at our house Saturday in honor of our daughter-in-law Allison's new master's degree. Then the Midlife Moms Bible study girls will be here Sunday night.
So I started in over the weekend getting things in order. You know how that goes. I bet you do it too when company's a comin.'
When the boys left home several years ago, and this mama hen knew I'd miss them like crazy, the only positive was that surely the house would forevermore practically clean itself. Clutter would cease. Floors would gleam. Peace, order, and an empty hamper would fill my days.
Why hasn't it quite worked out that way? There are just the two of us and our dog, Reggie, at home now. Yet things don't maintain themselves. I tend to form stacks and put off putting things away.
There was a time that within minutes I could put my hands on the title of any random college textbook Brian saved 40-some-odd years ago. If something mechanical broke, no worries, I located the file and retrieved model and serial numbers for replacement parts. Once I did this and the garage-door repairman was in awe.
But in recent years, I've lost my knack for that gold-grade level of organization. I could blame it on several years of concentration on one aspect or another of my book journey, but I don't know if that's truly the case. I've always had a lot of fish to fry in one way or another. So why do I pile instead of put away?
Still, I love an organized home. And company is the best excuse I've found for sprucing.
I've written before about the late Beverly Walcott's tablecloth. Many years ago I interviewed Beverly about her penchant for bargain hunting and stowing away her finds and freebies as Christmas gifts for her adult kids.
The kids got the mysterious bags of goodies at Christmas, a unique bonus gift each year. As we chatted for the article, I admired her tablecloth and she said, "I can make you one." So I ordered it, and she delivered. I've loved it ever since and most always, it graces our dining room table. Except, that is, when it's got a gig.
The tablecloth, hand-crocheted by Beverly, will not wrinkle no matter what you do to it, and it cleans in the washer like a dream. I can't begin to tell you the compliments it has generated, especially since it has gained a second life on the road.
That tablecloth has been to some 200 book-related events -- programs, author fairs, festivals, you name it. Wherever I take the books, I take the tablecloth because it will magically fit any table (the bottom simply drapes more or less according to the situation). On more than one occasion, a potential reader makes a beeline for my table at an event. But before I can get out my pen to sign a book, she touches the tablecloth and says, "This is beautiful! Did you make it? Where did you find it?"
So Sunday when I started cleaning, I began in the dining room and realized that Beverly's tablecloth hadn't appeared on the dining room table in months. It was time for it to come home. On the table it will remain until I take it on the road again.
Oh yes, no matter where I roam, there's no place like home, even for a tablecloth.
Speaking of the road, I still have some fall openings, and I'm taking bookings for 2018. If your book club, library, social or service club need a program, I offer several. Most are designed to encourage women to live their dreams and bloom where they are planted, but I also offer a children's literacy program, and a two-hour self-publishing workshop. If you would like more information, email me at email@example.com.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful young woman. Well, she wasn't exactly beautiful, and she wasn’t particularly young. As a matter of fact, she was more like plump, average looking, and of a grandmotherly age. Her name was Mama Bear.
She and Papa Bear decided it was time to get her a new chair. She wore out her old chair from too many years in it writing nursery rhymes. OK, they weren’t nursery rhymes, but they were storybooks all the same, and log updates, and Facebear posts, and presentations for other mama bears who also lived in the woods, and articles for The Woodsier Times.
She was excited to go into a local furniture store. But of all the chairs she tried there, they were too big, or too small, or too expensive, or too fluffy, or too non-fluffy.
The same was true at the next store, and the next, and the next, and even at the next, and at the one after that. There was not a single chair in all the land that was just right. Mama Bear felt discouraged.
There must be something wrong with her, she told Papa Bear, because it shouldn’t be that hard to find a chair that is just right. She knew this was a first-world problem, and she felt guilty complaining about finding a perfect chair when so many other bears in the great woods beyond them had no chairs at all.
Papa Bear was the pragmatic sort. He was tired of looking at chairs so he growled at Mama Bear. “How difficult can it be to find a chair that suits you?” asked Papa Bear. “I can walk into any store in the land and find a chair I like.”
And so Papa Bear did just that. Only when he got it home, he sat in his chair and frowned. “This chair is too short when I lean back,” he said in a sad voice. “I don’t like it.”
But as the weeks passed, Papa Bear came to love the chair he picked out for himself. “It grew on me or I grew into it,” he said happily. But he was sad that Mama Bear still had no chair.
Her old chair went to meet its maker, and Papa Bear’s old chair was taken away to the Goodbear store. Mama Bear had no place to plop her furry behind.
Then one day Papa Bear said, "Let's go back to one of the stores we visited and look again."
So they did. Mama Bear was amazed. She spotted a chair that was not too big, nor too small, nor too fluffy, nor too non-fluffy. It was just right! The only thing wrong with it was that she didn’t like the fabric. “Too mod,” she told Papa Bear. She was an old-fashioned kind of bear.
But the store people said she could have that chair in an old-fashioned fabric, and the people gave her many choices of material. So she picked out a fabric she liked and ordered her new chair.
Then she waited.
And waited some more.
One day her chair arrived and Papa Bear picked it up to surprise her when she returned from her work at The Woodsier Times.
But there was a new problem. The chair came in two parts. The two bears had to attach the back to the seat and after an hour of trying as hard as they might, and saying words that should not appear in a chairy tale, they were angry.
The bars on which they needed to fit the back were too tightly pressed into the sides of the chair. What could they do? The chair might have to go back to the store. Mama Bear might not get her chair after all.
She might never find a chair and she would have to do her writing … where?
But wait! Papa Bear had an idea! He found two crowbars in his bear cave! He had never used a crowbar before in his life but, his own Papa, Grandpapa Bear, had once told him when he was just a cub that they would come in handy one day. The cub who became Papa Bear didn’t believe him, but once again, he was still finding out things in life about which his own Papa was right. This was one of them. The day had come for those crowbars to come in handy, after all.
Papa Bear used the tools to hold the steel bars in place so the back would slide on. It did! It slid right on. The two bears rejoiced!
“Why do we make simple tasks so hard, sometimes?” Mama Bear asked while finally sitting in her new chair next to Papa Bear in his.
“I don’t know, Mama, but sometimes that is just how we roll,” said Papa Bear with a chuckle as he settled into his new chair for a long winter's nap.
Finally, they could laugh about their experience finding the right chairs. At long last, Mama Bear had her new chair. And there she wrote happily ever after.