We were at the ballpark Thursday night with our friends from Northern Indiana, Tom and Char Kuhn. The Kuhns are huge Cubs fans, Brian is a White Sox fan, and I grew up a Reds fan. But for one beautiful, summer evening, I was simply a fan of the game itself, and of a special evening out with friends.
Tom is Brian's best friend dating from their high school days. Char is his fun-loving, vivacious wife. It's a shame we don't get to spend much time with them. Tom, Brian, and Brian's brother, Steve, take a fishing trip together every summer. Tom and Char are there for our family's big events such as the kids' open houses and Sam's wedding, and vice versa.
We always say we'll get together more. Now that three of the four of us are retired, I truly hope that can happen. Brian is so happy around Tom and the four of us get along great. (I mean, look, the man is letting me take photos of his smiling face and normally he's like "I don't like my picture taken.")
We enjoyed a stroll along the river walk which takes folks along a parks complex that ends with the city's signature ball parks. Pretty ingenious. This is Tom, Char and Brian before dinner and the game.
I grew up watching the Big Red Machine in the 1970s and my hometown of Liberty backed the Reds. When the Reds were in the Playoffs and World Series, TV monitors were set up in the cafeteria where students could watch day games.
I grew up occasionally attending Reds games with family. It was always a big event when we visited Crosley Field (I must have been all of age 5, but I remember it) and Riverfront Stadium. Even though my family has been to Great American several times, I had never been.
Baseball was a personally huge part of our family's life for a dozen years as our son, Ben, was a very good player and every summer meant not only local league play, later high school action, but also travel teams that took us all over the Midwest and even Arkansas. Our summers revolved around his games. And then, it ended. Abruptly. A part of that broke my heart.
Once his baseball days were over, I could hardly look at a baseball game on TV, let along visit a ballpark. In fact, Thursday's game was my first return after eight years. Looking at that beautiful green field in Cincinnati brought it all back. As we walked to our seats a few rows from the field, the classic, "Put Me in Coach" played for the fans and yes, I felt a lump in my throat.
I knew I would enjoy the evening's company and the setting on a perfect summer evening, but I didn't expect to enjoy the game. To my surprise and delight, I did. I'm back!
After the game, we headed back to Indiana. Brian decided to take a different route to avoid a road-work detour. We headed north through Rushville, then hit U.S. 40 and took the route west through Knightstown.
This was my favorite -- and most unexpected -- part of the evening.
We mentioned to Tom that the Hoosier Gym, the site where many scenes in the classic basketball movie, Hoosiers, were played, is in that town. So of course we drove up to it and at 12:30 a.m., Brian and guests went up to the doors and peered inside. I remained in the "getaway" car as we all felt as though someone might call the cops on us. We all giggled like kids.
Tom even took pictures in the dark night of the sign outside. We promised to take them back the next time they visit. Only we'll go during the day as paying customers.
It was a happy return for me to the majesty of a ballpark, and an unexpected ending to a lovely "double-date night." Next time, let's play two.
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.
General Grant's home, you say? Wouldn't it be more accurate to call it President Grant's home?
Well, you can, but in Galena, the story line is about Grant the general. Due to his work saving the United States Union, the Grants were presented with this handsome home from local businessmen.
The house remained the Grants' legal residence throughout his two presidential terms.
U.S.came to Galena for a job at his family's downtown tannery. Before he was called into service leading the Union in the Civil War, the Grant family lived in a small home where he walked home for the midday. (And you should see the flights of outdoor stairs.)
Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself. A little biography first.
Born in Point Pleasant, Ohio in 1822, U.S. Grant graduated 21 years later from West Point. He served in the Mexican-American War. He met and quickly became engaged to Missouri-born Julia Dent but it was four years later when they married. For the next ten years, Ulysses served in the army, resigning in 1854 and moving to St. Louis.
While the Grants were abolitionists, the Dents were quite the opposite, owning a Missouri plantation. Our Grant home-tour guide said that at family events when the two families were together, the couple's fathers remained in different rooms.
In the St. Louis area, Julia's father gave the couple a farm, but it wasn't successful. U.S. called it "Hard-Scrabble Farm." It's now a tourist attraction, Grant's Farm. The Grants moved to Galena in 1860 where he worked at the Grant family tannery.
Preserved our nation
The next year, when the Civil War started, he became a colonel for the 21st Illinois Volunteers. In 1862, Grant demanded unconditional surrender from the Confederate Army -- and with that, became a national hero. But it wasn't until three years later when Lee surrendered that this horrific war era of American history ended and the Union survived.
Grant became the nation's first four-star general in 1866. Following the war, a group of business men gifted the Grants the Galena home as a thank you gift for his contribution to the U.S. Ninety percent of the furnishings you see there today were there when the Grants called the place home. It remained their legal address through his two terms as president.
Following those, the Grants took a world tour where they were lauded the world over. In 1881 they moved to New York City and lost $100,000. It is there Grant died in 1885. He is buried in -- wait for it -- Grant's tomb (did you see that one coming?) in New York City. Julia lived 17 more years.
In what might today be called a man cave, several significant items fill the space. A Bible on the table rests on four buttons attached to it so that the Holy Word never touches the floor or whatever is underneath it. Look to the left, under the window. That is Grant's smoking stand. He was known for smoking up to 20 cigars a day, said one tour guide. Grant died at 63 of throat cancer. It is suggested that he might have smoked heavily during the war to cover the stench.
An elegant parlor with the General / President over the fireplace at age 57 in an original portrait. U.S. Grant stood 5'8" and normally weighed between 135 and 140 pounds. Ninety-percent of the home's furnishings are authentic Grant pieces.
The couple had four children. Their only daughter, Nellie, got married in the White House. The china outfitting the Galena table above was used at her wedding breakfast. The portrait is of Julia. She has the distinction of being the first to be called First Lady.
Two years after Julia's death, the children bequeathed the home to Galena as long as it served as a memorial to their father. The home has welcomed the public for a century, now owned by the state of Illinois. Eighty-thousand visitors tour the two-story, fully-furnished home annually.
By the time Grant died, he had few financial resources, having lost a great deal of money in New York. He worked on his autobiography so that it could bring in money for his family. He completed it just two weeks before he died. The book brought in more than $450,000 to the family, according to a tour guide.
I'm struck with the observation that even when he was surely suffering a great deal, Grant had the drive to do what needed done, as he had during the Civil War. This time, it was to finish his book and thus, provide for his family after he passed.
With gratitude to U.S. Grant State Historic Sites brochure, trolly tour-guide and the Grant home tour guide for information in this post, and to Joe Cook of Brierwreath Manor Bed & Breakfast for his insights.
Long before we planned a trip to Galena, Illinois, the town had been on my radar. A perennial favorite on the pages of Midwest Living magazine, the small city in northwest Illinois is a photogenic destination for visitors looking for all things quaint.
Since my friend Gay is both a proud Land of Lincoln native and has been to Galena before, combined with the trip including a visit to her friend Cathy in Iowa (see two posts ago), added with a crazy-busy spring for me, she graciously took over the planning and logistics. She did a fantastic job.
The hours from Gay's home in Angola, Indiana and Galena, Illinois clicked off with ease as we caught up on months of updates about our lives and times. Gay is not only a great story teller, she is a superb listener.
As we neared Galena, the already-beautiful farm country of rural Illinois got even prettier with deeply rolling hills. Just outside Galena proper, a sign encouraged travelers to pull over for a scenic view. So we did.
And in typical Gay-and-Donna fashion, the vehicle that joined us contained an employee of the Galena tourism bureau. So we picked her brain about dinner spots, told her about Miss Effie’s in Iowa (and she immediately liked Cathy's place on Facebook).
It seems she chose the very moment we did to pull over for a photo op.
We checked into Brierwreath Manor B & B (see previous post), checked out a basket brimming with restaurant menus and set out on foot down the hill into the vibrant downtown retail-dining district.
It was dinnertime, and there were so many choices! We settled on Vinny Vanucchi’s Little Italy. Even though they were busy and we had no reservations, we were ushered right away to our first choice of seating: out on the patio under an umbrella on a lovely evening.
We later learned that it should come as no surprise to find an Italian restaurant (as well as French-German and other nationalities) in Galena. We learned that people once came from all over the world to live and work in Galena.
Many immigrants came to Galena to make their living in the lead mines. Interesting that our server was from Ireland. She apparently was there on summer break earning money for college. She was very nice.
I enjoyed a delicious meatball sandwich and a tossed salad with house dressing. Gay describes her entree: "I had seafood pasta with big chunks of scallops and crab and maybe shrimp. So good."
The next day we took a trolly tour around the city of 3,500 residents. It was lightly raining so couldn't enjoy the open air. The clear but rain-splattered window coverings didn't lend themselves well to the many home photos I would have liked to get.
I can’t stress enough how stunning the houses are in this town! They are in so many different styles dating back from the oldest, 1826, to all periods forward. There is an abundance of mid-18th and 19th century Victorian homes, and it is obvious that Galena has historically been a city of wealth. Some of that is attributed to a thriving, if short-lived riverboat era, and nearby lead mines.
So here are some things we learned from our capable trolly driver / guide:
* The most lead used for the Civil War was produced in Galena.
* Galena was a military town, with a training post there. The small city had nine men promoted to generals during the Civil War. That is the most of any location in the country.
* There were seven brick factories in Galena. There are more than 800 historic buildings in this city, and 1.5 million tourists visit a year.
* Native Americans discovered what they called “mineral” which was in fact lead inside the "mineral" and used to paint their faces, for one thing. French traders came along and traded flour, liquor and blankets for that lead.
* Due to the steamboat era, and quite likely the lead mines, in the mid-1850s, Galena’s population was 14,000. Riverboat captains made their home in Galena and one spectacular example is the Belvedere Mansion, an Italianate home referred to as “the jewel of Galena.”
I will go into the Ulysses S. Grant story in my next post, but one thing I found interesting is that despite a huge emphasis around town on the General / President, the reason he lived in Galena – working in the family leather shop downtown – goes without notice at the site of that shop. It is now a nice sock shop but there is no plate on the door or anything there to indicate that historical fact.
That, my friends, is a great reason to take a guided tour when visiting an interesting place. You get so much more information than you’ll find on your own.
We also saw this incredibly handsome U.S. Post Office, which happens to be the oldest continuously operating post office in the country. One distinction is the white stone which the builder found in Nauvoo, Illinois., where Mormons settled before they moved on to Utah. (Nauvoo is another great Illinois town to visit.) We were told that the builder decided that if the Nauvoo stone was good enough for a Mormon Temple, it filled the bill for the Galena post office.
We shopped til we dropped in the afternoon. Several downtown blocks on both sides of the street are filled with one-of-a-kind boutiques offering everything from pretty paper (and ribbon) goods to kitchen gourmet foods (and lots and lots of free samples) to clothing, accessories, socks, tourist fare (Brian loves the General U.S.Grant T-shirt I brought him) and an abundance of restaurants. It’s so hard to choose which!
For dinner our second night, we selected Fritz and Frites, a French-German eatery. We felt as though we were in Europe. Such an elegant restaurant, with fine-dining choices.
We dressed up and settled in for a lovely meal. Gay decided on the rainbow trout that she says, "just melted in my mouth." I had the chicken and potatoes, beautifully presented, with the most delicious juices and tasty mushrooms tempting my palette.
Gay, left, and Donna enjoying a French and German old-world taste and decor at Fritz and Frites.
It was an easy walk up the hill, back to our B & B, and a good night’s sleep (after the tornado warning passed). Check out a few more pictures.
If you'd like more information on Galena, Illinois, click on www.VisitGalena.org. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hoosier Donna Cronk welcomes readers to her blog, on which she posts twice a week. She is a career newspaper journalist and author of two novels, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast and That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland, both available on Amazon.
I thought I'd wrap up Gay's and my 2017 girlfriend getaway with this post. Then I decided there is simply too much to say. We've got twenty or more summer trips under our belts, each one enjoyable in its special way. This summer's outing is one of my favorite.
I need to do an entire post on our nation's fourteenth president, Ulysses S. Grant, and his Galena home, where he lived while he was General Grant. But that leaves so much unsaid about the unique city of Galena, so I will do a separate on the city.
That leaves the Brierwreath Manor Bed & Breakfast where we stayed and it needs its own post. So here we go.
Since I wrote two novels set inside a bed and breakfast, it's not a stretch to say I'm a fan of visiting them. I've loved B & Bs before I ever even stayed in my first one on a press trip long ago in Madison, Indiana. I can't count the number I've slept in, let alone the additional ones I've written about.
To me, the ultimate charm of any bed and breakfast is found in the innkeeper. A successful inn is not only beautiful, most likely historic, and offers comfort, and a delicious breakfast. It is operated by an innkeeper that resembles a favorite family member who lives in a town other than my own, and who cannot wait until I arrive.
The innkeeper has cooked and cleaned and planned well for my arrival. He or she has so much to share! Not only about what's on the breakfast menu, but the inside scoop about where to have a quaint lunch or fancy dinner, what shops and attractions not to miss, fun historical facts, and perhaps short cuts and GPS corrections that I'll need. The innkeeper has my back!
This time, the innkeeper who resembled a long-lost cousin is Joe Cook at Brierwreath Manor Bed & Breakfast, 216 N. Bench St., Galena, Illinois.
Joe carried our luggage upstairs and explained where to find what, including a hallway beverage station where we could enjoy coffee, tea or cold beverages any time we wished. Oh, and he had fresh chocolate chip cookies available for our taste buds in our room, along with a candy dish laden with chocolates.
I must give Gay a shout out because she had sifted through more than 30 B & B options in and around Galena to set us up strategically perfectly at Joe's place. While there are many beautiful choices, this one is an easy walk to the shopping-and-restaurant district as well as to the historical museum and the trolly that carried us on a tour of the town -- so worth our while -- as well as to General / President Grant's home.
Have I mentioned that special things always happen on our trips? (See previous post). Well, how about a tornado advisory blasting from the city's emergency sound system and from our cellphones, warning us one evening that there was in fact a tornado warning in effect and we should take cover immediately.
Gay calmly suggested that we should perhaps meander downstairs to ask about the warning ... We found Joe calm and at peace in the dining room. He told us we could go to the basement if we wanted but he felt perfectly safe above board. You see, behind us is a rather large stone wall, with another one higher on the hill behind said first wall. The hillside is above us even though we were well above the downtown in elevation. Yes, it sure looked like any tornado or weather of any kind would have to work awfully hard to even be heard, let alone nail us.
So instead, we settled into the living room and listened to Joe tell stories about the ancestors who appear in vintage frames on his end table, and about his love for running this Victorian home. He's been involved with the B & B business for many years as his folks previously inn-kept the Brierwreath. Now they live elsewhere in retirement and he took over. He hopes to keep running it for another twenty-six years ... and then maybe his son will replace him. But who knows?
I made an early exit from the fascinating stories because sleep was calling my name, but before heading to my own comfortable bed (read: soft mattress) in an adjoining room with Gay's, I wanted to soak for a while in the antique claw-foot tub.
There are three guest rooms from which to choose. We were in the Heirloom Suite. We learned that the Mayor's Room is so named for a former mayor of Galena who used to live in this home with the comfortable sitting porch.
Of course another splendid thing about a B & B is that when you wake up, pour yourself a cup of fresh coffee or steep a flavored teabag from the hallway refreshments station, get ready, and head downstairs, a delicious meal on good china awaits you.
And, pleasantly so, in the case of this inn, Joe settles in to join his guests for breakfast. Not all innkeepers do that. I'm glad that he does because we learn so much. And apparently, so does he.
"The best part of the job is what happens around this table," says Joe. "The rest is housekeeping."
Pretty cool outlook. We missed out on sharing our stay with other guests but the prize was that we had Joe all to ourselves to make dinner and sightseeing recommendations and discuss Galena history.
If you would like to make the two specialty breakfast dishes we enjoyed, you can! Recipes for Apple Blueberry Walnut Pancakes and Pecan French Toast are on the B & B's website, www.brierwreath.com.
As I put down the trunk lid and prepared to pull away with my friend, I reminded Joe that he has twenty-six years left -- his goal -- to keep on innkeeping at Brierwreath.
I like to imagine pulling back up to 216 N. Bench St. in 2043 and finding him here to greet us. But then I think of my age then: I'd be 84! Do-able, maybe, but also a reminder to live life to the fullest now.
Brian and I were honored to be asked by our longtime friends, Big John and Debby Williams, to walk in the Greenfield Great Strides fundraiser this morning to help take "steps to cure" Cystic Fibrosis.
The family has reason to raise money and awareness toward that worthy goal. Two of them, in fact:
They walk for their adorable grandsons, Jackson and Lincoln Williams, sons of Nick and Erin Williams of Denver, Colorado. Both children have CF. The courageous faith, hope, and love shown by Nick and Erin as they move forward and provide loving homes for their children, including son Brock, is nothing short of admirable and amazing.
John and Debby's daughter (and the boys' aunt) Sarah, will host her own Fort Wayne team in June for another walk. Yes, the family is all-in when it comes to love and help. Let me count the ways. Well, there are so many I can't count. But here are three:
And so were plenty of other peeps who love the family.
This fella wanted to help, too ...
A poignant reminder of what this is all about ...
During opening ceremonies before the walk, we learned a few things. Among them, that in the 18 years that Greenfield has hosted the stride, an astounding $750,000 has been raised. In Greenfield. Alone.
We heard encouraging news from one dad whose twins have Cystic Fibrosis, and how well they are doing, and the hope they have in a new drug they have been in a test study for. We heard from another dad whose college-age daughter with CF is in Ireland this summer! He detailed all the CF meds and equipment that filled two suitcases so she could go. But go, she did.
And, we remembered those whose memories we honored with a moment of silence.
And then, we walked. For all of them. For a cure. For Jackson and Lincoln.
As we drove home, I read Nick and Erin's card, looked at the beautiful photos of Jackson and Lincoln, and read this poem, by Nick and Erin. Aren't those boys blessed to have such gracious parents? Read on:
God has blessed us beyond compare
He shows us each day the power of prayer
Lincoln and Jack were trusted to our care
They show us each day the power of prayer
If you walked for us in Denver or anywhere
You have shown us each day the power of prayer
When life gets you down and doesn't seem fair
I hope that you learn the power of prayer
Thank you for all of your love and support
Much Love and Many Blessings --
Nick, Erin, Jackson, Brock & Lincoln
It's been a little hectic of late in my world.
When I began 2017 with a prayer for new territory and experiences, I had in mind something such as, oh, say an Indiana library program for my books somewhere new, or the trip to an Iowa farm that my bestie Gay and I are planning for summer.
What I didn't expect was the phone to ring on Wednesday and my boss, Katie Clontz, to ask if I'd like to cover the U.S. presidential inauguration. Would I? As the word "Yes!" left my lips, goose bumps broke out all around. I didn't realize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would find me in 2017.
I'll be traveling with Indiana State Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville), his wife, Sue, and 110 or so Hoosiers headed to the nation's capital on Wednesday. I'll be reporting on what it's like to attend an inauguration -- this inauguration-- and related festivities. Our state's governor, Mike Pence, will take the second-in-command oath, making him a heartbeat away from leadership of the free world.
I'll be writing for my newspaper, the New Castle Courier-Times as well as several sister papers in the Hoosier state. These will be exclusive to our chain, Paxton Media Group, but I'll also be posting to The Courier-Times Facebook page and blogging at the end of each day right here on Home Row. I can't give you anything firm regarding times or topics. I'm as curious as anyone.
As it happens, I got the last seat available on either of the two buses they are taking so that sounded like a pretty good name for my blog about the trip: LAST SEAT ON THE BUS.
If all that isn't enough to think about and prepare for, I had a serious technology issue that involved me tracking down replacement for an obsolete power cord that graciously quit working on me a few days before I leave for D.C.
While spending hours and many false leads chasing after a new one for most of one day was not in my plan, I am grateful it didn't blow up on the trip or I'd be up a creek. As it happens, Brian and I were able to find what may be the last one known to mankind right before closing time at Fry Electronics in Fishers the other night. SIGH of relief.
On Friday, we went ahead with plans to meet with our accountant in Rockville and get my books' Indiana sales tax squared away for another year and then as a reward for that, head north to visit and do lunch with dear friend Barbara Clark, rolling into our driveway a little after dark.
This morning, despite ice-storm warnings the Indianapolis media is gaga over, the roads were fine when I joined my author friends Sandy Moore and Annette Goggin in New Castle for a signing. They were so kind to graft me onto their event and even if folks were probably huddled tight at home for the most part (although a few brave souls did come by), the morning was not lost for me since I got to visit with my two friends. Thank you so much, Sandy and Annette, for inviting me!
My brain is scattered this afternoon as I figure out what clothes to pack, what other goods I need to stash away for the trip, and I make a list of what not to forget before we roll on Wednesday. That's not to mention the household chores I need to attend to such as bill paying, a run to the library, some research for the trip, schedule-rearranging calls to make, and a few other things before my mind can even begin to focus.
This has been quite a month. Over Monday and Tuesday, I need to put the winter issue of her magazine for women to bed, get some pages planned and paginated for the daily paper and prepare to be gone until next week. I need some training about some technical details of transmitting content besides.
The month unfolded with a newsroom "rush" on a project that normally allows the entire month of January to complete. It was a lot of work but the good news there is that it's now finished on our end.
So pardon me if I'm a bit daffy today. And please, join me on this journey through this blog as I plan to give you an insiders' guide to this peaceful transition of power, a hallmark of this nation. And, I'll show and tell whatever else unfolds.
Since Annette Goggin guest-blogged last time, and we mentioned the upcoming signing with Sandy Moore, I thought it would be fun to have Sandy visit Home Row.
So today, welcome to my friend of 27 years, Sandy Moore. She'll tell you about her children’s book, Sadie’s Search for Home. I am privileged to have written a blurb for the back of this sweet story. Child or adult, you’ll enjoy the enduring theme of how it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
I met Sandy in 1989 when I came to work at The Courier. She was friendly with a ready smile and pleasant demeanor, the kind of veteran employee that puts a newbie at ease.
For many years Sandy sat across from me in the newsroom and we shared life stories, as well as paper stories. Back then, Sandy wrote another book set on the farm for younger kids. I knew of her desire to publish. Now she has a new story to tell and the beautiful book is out.
I’ve always admired Sandy for her dedication to the Lord first, and also to her family and the paper, and looked up to her for her wisdom and faith. She has never failed to encourage me in numerous ways.
When Sandy retired to join husband Mike full time on their farm, she said her dream was to have a horse. She had wanted a horse her whole life and finally got one in retirement. Now her horses are her top hobby, one she shares with granddaughter Carly as well as friends and neighbors.
A leap of faith
by Sandy Moore
As I start a new year, I have begun to reflect on the past year and wonder what’s coming next. So many blessings last year, and one of those was writing a children’s novel entitled, Sadie’s Search for Home.
Why did I write a book for young readers? Reality would say that books are becoming the dinosaurs of children’s entertainment. Technology is the thing for children – there is not market for books these days.
But I could not push my desire aside. I have wanted to write a children’s novel most of my life. The fact is that I love kids, I love books, and I love horses so it seemed the perfect storm. I threw all caution to the wind and penned the novel, enjoying the adventure will all my heart.
My desire for connection to children has stemmed from my childhood. My parents were both hard-working people who simply adored my sister and me. They were the best parents ever. Mom made doll clothes by hand and Dad taught me how to drive the tractor. They worked six days a week and on Sunday they seldom felt like getting in the car and heading to our local church.
I was full of passion for our church and did not want to miss a Sunday with my friends so they always made sure I could be there even to the point of dropping me off at the church steps.
Inside the church doors, I found the greatest gift ever. It was there that I met the Lord and learned Bible stories.
I had two of the most wonderful teachers God has ever created. Ruth Webb and Viola Ryan were stellar teachers who were diligent in teaching about Jesus and stories about God’s heroes in the Old Testament, as well. We had Bible challenges, memorized Bible verses and learned to give ourselves and our meager finances to the Lord.
Through the eyes of missionary-minded Mrs. Webb, I learned to look farther than the cornfields that surrounded our rural-Indiana home. As a class, we adopted an orphan in China. Each week we brought our change to help pay the adoption fee for the child. I am sure Mrs. Webb paid most of the money but we wrote letters to the child in China and she wrote back to us.
When it was time for church camp, someone in the church donated money so I could attend. I went for five years and had a blast.
Another childhood passion was reading. We did not have all-day television then or cell phones or electronic devices but we had the local library.
The local library allowed children to take out only 20 books per visit and I always took the limit. Then in two weeks, Mom took me back and I gathered up another batch of reading excitement. I love books to this day.
So I wrote a book for kids this summer and wondered about the feedback from children. Would they take the time to read it?
I have been thrilled to discover that so many children and their parents have enjoyed the book. The feedback has been very positive, bringing joy to my heart and tears to my eyes.
Another perk that has developed from Sadie’s Search for Home, is that kids want to meet Sadie. Several have braved the cold to come and give her a treat or ride her in the round pen. It has made the winter go from ho-hum to exciting.
I can truly say that I took a leap of faith writing this book, but I have jumped right into the best time of my life. I hope many more children and adults decide to join me in this adventure. Who knows what 2017 will hold? I’m ready for the ride!
Annette Goggin, Donna Cronk and I invite you to come to the Foursquare Church bouquet room Saturday, Jan. 14 from 9 -11 a.m. for a book signing. Stop in and have a donut and hot chocolate on us.
Sandy Moore is retired from a career with the New Castle, Indiana Courier-Times and embraces retirement on the beautiful farm she and farmer-husband Mike share outside of town. Sandy also writes a popular column in her magazine for women. Connect with Sandy at email@example.com.
I’m delighted to welcome new author Annette Goggin to Home Row. But before I give her the floor, I want to say a few things. (Are you surprised?)
For most of my 27-plus years at the New Castle Courier-Times, I have heard Annette's name. I knew only that she wrote on occasion for the newspaper, and that she taught English at New Castle High School.
We recognized each other a year or two ago in passing at the Monday night Bible Study Fellowship in Middletown, but with a tight schedule and not being in each other’s small group among the hundreds of women there, we didn’t have a chance to chat. But the sighting put us on each other’s radar.
It is one of my unexpected joys of 2016 that I have gotten to know Annette, and we hit it off. Through our mutual friend Sandy Moore, who published a children’s book this year, Sadie’s Search for Home, I learned that Annette was writing her own book, and that she blogged, sharing some of her life stories that would become Home: Three Houses.
So I friended Annette on Facebook and began looking in on her blog posts that deal with three important areas of her life: farmhouse, school house and church house.
Annette started treating me as a friend. “Hey, would you and Sandy want to go to a writing conference with me?” she asked.
Another time Annette asked if she could pick my brain with some book questions over lunch. This fall, she asked if she could attend one of my programs to see how I do what I do in preparation for the release of her book. She came, shadowed me, and then we went to lunch to talk some more.
Occasionally Annette will email with a question or opinion on how I handle something.
I don’t know that I have told her, so I will tell her and you at the same time: I am honored by Annette asking me for advice and seeking out a writing friendship.
I greatly admire English teachers and count among them a best friend in Gay Kirkton and a sister-in-law Linda Cronk, and a book editor Steve Dicken. I can think of a bunch more influential English teachers in my life but I’ll leave it there for now.
Here is something about which I’m super excited. Annette and Sandy, who are both members of Foursquare Gospel Church, 3200 S. 14th St., New Castle, Indiana, have invited me to join them at a book signing there from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14. We'll all three have plenty of books and be delighted to sell, sign and visit with anyone who cares to drop by.
Meanwhile, here’s Annette.
The flip side of failure
By Annette Goggin
In his poem “Don’t Quit,” Edgar Guest said, “Success is failure turned inside out.” My book, Home: Three Houses, proves him right.
In September 2015, I applied for a teacher creativity fellowship grant worth several thousand dollars. If my proposal were chosen, this money would fund my attendance at writing conferences and pay for the publication of my book.
The process of applying for the grant forced me to define my dream of writing a book, decide what it would be about, and hone in on how it would be organized.
By the time I had submitted the grant proposal, a writing recipe that had been on the back burner of my mind for years had been moved to the front burner, and it was hot.
In January 2016, I received the bad news that I had not been chosen as a grant recipient. Failure.
That failure turned inside out when my passion to write the book eclipsed that setback. I “inside-outed” that failure and wrote the book anyway. Home: Three Houses is a series of stand-alone true stories that give a refreshing glimpse into the goodness of people and of God.
Readers will relax, crack a smile, and laugh.
Author Annette Goggin is a long-time English teacher at New Castle High School, where she continues to teach classes in AP English and grammar. Home: Three Houses is her first book, which came out just before Christmas. For a copy or information about booking her for a program or signing, email Annette at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s snow on the ground, the tree is lit, the house is dressed all cozy for Christmas, and I have some thank yous in order for this TGIF-edition of Home Row.
First up. Thank you to Brian’s brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Linda Cronk, for hosting him at their winter digs in Sanibel Island, Florida, for a week. It was a great va-cay for him as he enjoys few things more than guy time with his brother where they laugh and carry on the way brothers do. Thanks for putting up with them, Linda.
I am so glad he got to do this again this year.
While I take a ton of photos for both work and pleasure, and enjoy posting them on social media, not everyone is a camera hog the way I am. So we’ll be lucky if Brian lets me keep the post alive with this picture. But I happen to think the bros look pretty darned cute out there in the Everglades on one of those air boats. Looks like fun too.
Mail call brought a surprise this week, one in which I need to issue another special thank you.
My thank you goes to retired Fountain Central Junior-Senior High School teacher Lynnette McMahan of Covington who worked for years with Brian. She attended one of my programs last summer.
This week she sent me a "self-portrait" by Mary Higgins Clark, famed author of 51 bestsellers. Lynnette won the piece in a charity doodle auction.
Writes Lynnette, “I was going through this stack of autographs and asked myself who I know who could relate to a well-known author. Your name popped into my head immediately.”
Thanks, Lynnette! How incredibly thoughtful.
Seems to me that Mary's self-description is good advice for writers of every genre. Consider: 1. Pen in hand. 2. Always in a hurry. 3. Looking for a plot.
In summary: Always be ready!
My third thank you is to all the Midlife Moms for their clever little gifts they made or selected for the rest of their MLM sistas. It’s always a fun part of our Christmas party to see what everyone has been up to such as Marilyn with her hand-stitched Christmas cards and Teresa with her M & M canisters, Patty with her decorated white wooden letters and this – Karen Carr’s jars of potato soup mix. I made a bowl of this for lunch today and it is simply delicious!
We all have so much for which to be grateful. Counting my blessings on this Friday, and wishing you all a beautiful pre-Christmas weekend.