I’ve never had a remarkable body clock. Prone to neither early rising nor late nights, my finest hour of the day is 10 a.m. when all cylinders fire at the best they’ve got, the energy feels sustainable, and anything seems possible about the rest of the day.
Come to think of it, I tend to schedule newspaper interviews, doctor’s, hair and other personal appointments for that hour – or 1 p.m.
There was a time when the middle morning seemed like the crack of dawn. When I was a teen on a Saturday, despite no particular late night, getting up at 10 was rising early. Noon was more like it.
Yet despite decades of pop-culture banter about Saturday Night Live, it’s been a rare event when I’ve actually stayed awake long enough to view one of the shows live (or non-live, for that matter).
I admire people who rise before dawn when they don’t have to and set about getting things done, or enjoy the quiet, contemplative time when it feels as though you are the only person awake in the world.
But then, I know people whose imaginations are stoked late at night and have that same kind of vibrancy in the wee hours before a good-night’s sleep.
Brian and I were talking about how when we were teens and young adults, we required a lot of sleep. It always seemed that guidelines referring to slumber had it that eight hours were the gold standard. Nowadays, I hear seven. What happened to that extra hour?
Aging is changing my sleep patterns. I don’t require what I once did. I can go to bed at 11 or midnight and get up at 6 or 7, rested. Where once I almost never woke up between bedtime and the alarm, now it’s a rare night when that happens. Frequently around 3 a.m. I’m awake. One recent night, I was wide awake at 3:30 a.m. I thought maybe I could drift back to sleep, but it didn’t happen and at 5, I got up, made coffee, and started the day.
As I write this, I’ve been up since 5 once again. It’s still dark, and the birds are just now tuning up. In a few minutes, my world will get busy as Brian’s alarm sounds, we both get ready for work, and the day is launched.
But I must admit, I like these early-morning starts at the computer, a sort of free time, the quiet moments when the day ahead is still on the calendar, waiting to unfold. It kind of feels like what 10 always has.
Maybe I’m transitioning into an early-bird, after all. What about you? Are you an early bird? A night owl? Are your sleeping patterns changing with age?
When I was a little girl growing up in the 1960s, society was much more formal, even in rural Indiana. This was particularly apparent at Easter when each year, the little girls each got a new Easter dress and bonnet. White patent-leather shoes were also purchased, and we pulled out the white gloves and knee-high white socks.
Easter dresses were always pastel, and when you were preschool-age, there was a lot of smocking. I remember the layers of flounce and frothy fabrics in hues of lavender, pink and yellow. One year, when I had a particularly pretty dress, I begged Mom to let me debut mine on Palm Sunday, a week early. I don’t think she let me.
But that’s OK because the dresses would be worn again and again, Sunday after Sunday, special event after event, until they were outgrown and replaced by the following Easter’s "good dress."
I felt pretty, but not particularly comfortable, in Easter clothes. One dress in particular had scratchy under-layers but worse were those bonnets with the elastic chin straps. Those cut into our necks but I don't think the straps survived long from all the pulling we did at them.
I'm not sure how many times this happened, but at some point a pastor pointed out that it wasn't our pretty new dresses and Easter duds that Jesus cared about. So I felt a little guilty about the satin and tulle after that, and I suppose due in part to his comment, it has never been a stretch for me to believe it doesn't much matter what you wear to worship.
Do you remember the hand-held paper fans? Seems they were compliments of a funeral home and the photo on them was of a sweet little girl dressed for Easter.
The first time I ever wore pantyhose was on Easter. I could not wait for the morning to arrive so I could get them out of the package and wear them with my yellow-checked mini-skirt-length dress. This was fifth grade.
I suspect that women always wore hats as typically as they would have hose -- until the late 1960s -- and we're not likely to wear them as a matter of custom ever again. When I worked at a department store my senior year of high school, there was still a hat department but I don’t recall ever seeing a woman in there trying on anything. I suppose it was a nod to the older-lady crowd that still believed hats made the outfit.
Remember the “I Love Lucy” shows? Lucy loved hats and I remember one episode where she discussed with Ricky her love of a beautiful hat she had purchased. And who could forget Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox toppers?
We’re always hearing that hats are making a comeback, and while I see a few fashion-forward younger women rocking them beautifully, for most of us, they just don’t look right. There’s a Knightstown attorney-author I know, Patricia Goodspeed, whose signature look includes a hat. And she has some beautiful ones, as well as she looks great in them. But honestly, most of us don't have what it takes to pull them off. And frankly, I'm not quite sure what it does take but it's something I don't have.
I enjoy accessories as much as the next woman but, I’m grateful that fashion doesn’t dictate that I add hats to my wardrobe.
I’d rather have another purse. Or some patent-leather shoes. And I wouldn't mind a corsage. For old times' sake.
ANDERSON – About a year ago, Cecilia Calvert picked up my book's business card at the Pendleton library’s author fair. She asked about programs I give and said her DAR chapter might have me speak. Time went by, and honestly, I had forgotten about our conversation until she contacted me and issued the invite. I'm so glad that she did!
So today was the day and we gathered in the beautiful downtown Anderson Presbyterian Church’s parlor. I enjoyed taking part in the opening ritual and celebrating my love for the good old U.S.A., right along with these Daughters of the American Revolution, the Kikthawenund Chapter, NSDAR.
They were a lovely bunch, attentive to the program and quite a few of them answered my signature question: What’s on your bucket list? The answers revolved around travel, and I learned that this is a well-traveled group of women. One lady wants to go to Japan; another to return to Ireland. One is planning a trip to Paris and said she has lots of things on her list. Others spoke of seeing the rest of the U.S. and one wants to visit the Creation Museum near Cincinnati and also tour the large dairy farm near Lafayette that opens its doors for visitors.
Regent Beverly Duncan presented me with a certificate and made a contribution to my church as a thank-you for the program. My appreciation to all the ladies who were there, to those who purchased books, and for this glimpse into yet another group of women and their specific interests and organization.
As I told the ladies, when I’m asked to give a program, I have one answer: Yes!
While I sat there I thought of the twists, turns and random decisions people make in life that change the very courses of our lives. My father-in-law, Ray, once told the story that after World War II, there were buses awaiting the returning servicemen that took them to different cities that had jobs for the soldiers.
In particular, he recalled one bus going to Hammond and another to Anderson. He took the Hammond bus but could just have easily chosen the other one. That would have meant that Brian would have been born and grown up in Anderson.
Thanks again, ladies.
This week Brian has had strep throat. He’s been as sick as I’ve seen him in almost 38 years of marriage. It was Saturday when it hit, on the day spent in Union County with my family and at the maple syrup farm. Apparently as we sat on my brother and sister-in-law’s sofa visiting, he felt it come over him, the tell-tale symptoms of a bad cold and worse.
He went to the doc Tuesday and got meds which started his climb back to the land of the living. But not before he missed all three days of his part-time job.
I got sick once like that. I had felt hunky-dory going into the day but as we sat at a newspaper banquet, I felt myself sinking, deeper and deeper into illness. It was the flu.
I haven’t been sick for a while and I wonder if my clock is ticking. I wash my hands a lot – two steps forward, then realize that the tip of Brian’s toothbrush might have touched the tip of the toothpaste that is on mine now –two steps backward.
Every now and then I swallow hard – does it hurt? Or a pain shoots somewhere random and I wonder if it’s the start of the aches that always accompany flu or simply the fact that I am 57 and sometimes things hurt.
I wash my hands again and again. Where do the cooties live? Where are they lurking?
I’ve warned them at work. “If you don’t see me next week, it will be because I have Brian’s strep throat.”
I can’t be sick next week I say to myself. I have two programs to give – one on the books for months by now and the other for many weeks. So far so good.
But if Wednesday’s blog doesn’t come your way, you can guess why.
It’s weird to wait on something you hope never comes.
Seventy-three degrees in mid-March, in Indiana.
And an extra hour of light at the end of the day.
And sunshine is beaming right now.
Sure wish I didn’t have to work today. But I'm home now, and in just a bit, I’m heading out the door and around the block. I hear the children’s voices out there, and it’s almost a childhood flashback; as though I could hop on my pony and fly down our gravel road and meet up with the neighbor kids.
Reality check: I’m 57.
Could it be that spring has sprung and we’re done fretting about cold weather? Nah. We’ll have more of it. But not today and I’m celebrating.
Almost as polarizing as presidential politics around these parts is where you stand on Daylight Savings Time. I don’t discuss politics on social media but I will tell you exactly where I am on DST: I love it. Love that extra hour of light at the end of my day, love it in mid-summer where it is 10 p.m. and I feel like I’ve had an entire day to enjoy since I left work.
Maybe it depends on if you are a morning or evening person or if you have school-age kids to get to bed or to bus stops. I have none of those issues. I’m neither a morning nor evening person. My finest hour is 10 a.m. but I get a second wind at night. The light is inspiring.
If you aren't feeling it, well, at least I hope your clocks have all been changed.
Like me on Facebook!
Well, enough about light. I see the stats on how many read this blog but few of you comment. And I wonder: WHO are you all? Here’s a favor.
My author page on Facebook is five people shy of 500 and in the coming weeks I’ve got some big stuff to tell you about.
So if you enjoy writing, books and my quirky brand of small talk, would you go onto Facebook and like Donna Cronk – the author page?
And, tell me about yourself while you are there and if this blog prompted the “like.”
You could just put on your walking shoes and hit the road. There’s still some light to be had out there. Yee-haw.
During all of my childhood, Lisa Charles was a pleasant, curly-headed girl, two years my junior, who lived back a long lane in a big, pretty farmhouse. Lisa’s mom, Mary, was my mother’s hairdresser and I’m pretty sure she gave me my first professional perm – something other than the Toni ones out of a box at home.
At Lisa’s farm, just a couple of properties away from ours at Route 1, Brownsville (before they did away with rural route numbers), we had 4-H meetings.
But of course Lisa and I grew up and lost touch. I saw her for the first time in nearly 40 years two years ago at The Liberty Festival and learned that she and her husband bought her folks’ place and of all things – they have turned it into a Maple syrup farm!
On well over 100 acres of woodlands, they tap the maple trees (not with buckets, we’re talking modern technology these days, folks, and lots of cool equipment and tubes that drain the sap back at their central production area).
They sell their pure Indiana Maple Syrup and related products at some of the best farmers’ markets in the state. Pretty sweet.
So this weekend, today and tomorrow, Maplewood Farms are on tour and along with watching production and Lisa explaining how it’s done, you can purchase the delicious products too.
Right there at Route 1 Brownsville, on the Charles farm.
Only now it’s 3737 N. Philomath Rd. Brownsville, Indiana 47325. And it’s the Hart place. You can email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I loved going down Lisa’s lane. I thought of it as Memory Lane.
Last week I attended one of those paint-a-picture-in-an-evening events that are trendy right now. My friend, Suzy Castrodale, invited me to an evening in Indy for a girls’ night out . I was grateful to finally get the chance to try my not-so-artistic hand at this. Why not?
My farmer dad loved art and longed to be a painter. He was drawn to traditional landscapes and sweet animal scenes. He had an art studio in our home that consisted of paint brushes of every variety, acrylic paints of every color, sketchpads and canvases waiting to be filled. Mostly, it all waited.
He took weekly art classes for a while and enjoyed browsing art fairs. Once when I was small, we visited a woman’s home in Connersville who had a large collection of art belonging to a former local artist of regional renown. Maybe she was his widow. I’m not sure. But we stayed a long time and left there with one of the artist’s paintings. It hung on our wall in the same spot for the rest of the years my parents had a home.
One thing that disappointed me in my father was that for all his interest, he didn’t paint many pictures. He was forever saying that he had so much to learn first. I remember thinking that we learn best by doing and that he should just go ahead and play with the paints, the brushes, the canvases. But he completed precious few paintings. I am proud to own his favorite of the few, the picture that was framed on my childhood living room wall across from the one he bought in Connersville. My brothers also each got one of dad’s pictures.
I think Dad was a good amateur artist. Maybe he could have even been great. I think he was possibly frustrated that in his day, he wasn’t able to learn and do more with his art. There just didn’t seem to be the opportunities to learn and do more. Or maybe he didn’t take them.
Through the years working at newspapers, I have written about a variety of artists. My favorite among them has always been Marilyn Witt of Straughn and I was blessed to have her consent to create the cover for both my novels. The paint isn’t even dry (so to speak) on the new one—but it is done! But we’ll talk about that later.
It has been a treat to work with her and see how she, without exception, responds graciously to my ideas and she used her talented vision to get both pictures just right to fit the goals we had for the covers.
And also, I always knew that my dad would have loved Marilyn’s art.
I’m not so sure what Dad would think about mine. I didn’t show my painting to Brian, for fear of a sarcastic remark of one kind or another. But to my surprise, he saw the picture without me pointing it out first, and he told me—unsolicited—that it’s pretty good.
I don’t know about that. But I don’t hate it.
It was a new experience. It was fun. I’d do it again.
I’m always glad to see March arrive. It isn’t that March is a fantastic month (well, unless one is headed somewhere wonderful on spring break or has a dog in the hunt of March Madness), but the beauty of this month is in what it is not: it is neither January nor February.
You can expect anything, weather-wise, and you will get it. Maybe that is only if you live in the Midwest. I’ve never lived anywhere else. Here in Indiana, you’ll find cold, wind, snow, ice, warmth, maybe even heat, tornado warnings or at least watches, thunderstorms and possibly thunder-snowstorms. Yep, we’ve got it all—sometimes in the same day or two. Don’t be jealous.
When I was a kid, I went with my parents to a farm auction. There was something about that date, March 12, that has always stuck with me. It was warm as summer, and it felt delicious. Back then we were big Cincinnati Reds fans and that day, there was a spring training game on the radio. It felt so hopeful.
Hopeful is perhaps March’s greatest attribute. We’ve made it through the bulk of the winter. The clocks are springing forward which means an extra hour of light at the end of the day (I love this; my husband does not).
It’s also the birth month of our daughter-in-law, Allison, younger son, Ben, and their aunt Linda.
It’s time to consider that spring is nearing reality; that winter coats can soon return to the closets until late fall, and that a new pair of sandals are in order.
March, I don’t love you like I do May, June, and October (my favorite months). But you are growing on me.
What’s your favorite month? And, are you doing something fabulous for spring break?
I wish I could tell you that our almost 18-year-old cat, Moe, and our rambunctious 18-month-old dog, Reggie, are the best of friends.
Moe is elderly, quiet, refined, and does not like horseplay, period, particularly with a charismatic and slightly crazed Boston terrier.
Reggie is young, eager, loud, curious, and cannot go unnoticed.
The day we brought a tiny Reggie into the house, a pup weighing two to Moe’s eight pounds, the cat walked. She left the main floor, angry at the lot of us, and went into exile in our upstairs bonus room where the dog was not allowed. It was like a wall. Moe refused to come down. It was as though she said, “That’s it. I am old. I had to endure 12 years of one dog and now you are asking me to start over. I’m done.”
So we took her food, water, and litter box upstairs and for three months she stayed holed away, refusing to have anything to do with the dog and only marginally, with us.
Finally one day, she descended the stairs. She had a change of mind, heart, or instinct. This time, it was as though she said, “Enough of this foolishness. This is my house too. I’m willing to try if you are.”
There have been lots of confrontations. Reggie wants to play and be friends—but also rough house. Moe finds Reggie overbearing, rude, annoying, and sees no purpose whatsoever in playing rough.
But when it comes to a couple of things, they agree to disagree. Both love the sunshine when it streams into the house. They will sit or even sleep next to each other for the greater good of enjoying a nice, warm sunbath. Reggie will even lick Moe's ear, and Moe will even purr.
We keep a container of fresh water for them on top of the wide bathtub ledge, and one will wait patiently on the other, in line, as though at a school water fountain, for a taste of the cool water that they both love so much. Even rude Reggie will wait her turn as Moe drinks.
If I am taking a bath, the two of them will wait outside the closed bathroom door, sit and stare at it, hoping that I will open it so they can come inside to fulfill their own agendas: Moe probably wants a drink; Reggie likely wants to toss a toy in the warm water and plunge in herself.
The two pets are as different as night and day. They have opposing world views. There is no convincing one of the other’s. But we love them both. They have learned to get along and to enjoy their lives. They have agreed to disagree.
This election year seems to bring out the extremes in people’s differences. Even dear friends and close family members can have different world views about the candidates and their political stances. But they would be served well to avoid name calling, walking away from each other, and rough housing.
The greater good is agreeing to disagree. There is the sun, after all, and the water bowl to share and enjoy. Take it from Moe and Reggie. It’s better to get along than for one to pout in exile.
We’re all in this thing called life together. And the warm sunshine sure feels good to us all.