Say what you will about love and marriage, but most girls dream of meeting Mr. Right. In my great-niece Nicki Barrett's case, make that Mr. Wright. As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, she became Mrs. Wright.
The two are special to me because Nicki is a blood relative (I'm her mother Marlene Thompson's aunt, as in the sister of Marlene's late brother, David Jobe). But there's another reason they are special. They live in and are remodeling the home where I grew up on the old Jobe family homestead in Union County. Yes, it's on Jobe Road. That's about as down-home-from-the-heart as it gets. And I am delighted to see this couple make their home there.
The two had Brian, my brother Tim, and sister-in-law Jeannie, and me out last October to show us their progress. I blogged about it on Oct. 15, 2016.
Their talents aren't limited to remodeling an old farmhouse. They also prepared the food for their wedding reception (including the beautiful cakes), made the decorations and Nicki even crafted the boutonnieres and bridal bouquets. It was all country, all the way.
The site is a race-horse training grounds deep in the countryside of Fayette County around Waterloo. Surprisingly, there had never been a wedding on the property before, but it was an ideal venue for this energetic couple.
I thought the jockey-inspired men's attire was a perfect touch for the setting, don't you?
In fact, you might say that everything was just exactly Wright.
All the best to you both.
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 talented 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 turned 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.
If it’s August, we might be moving someone somewhere.
I figure from 2005 until now, we’ve relocated one or the other of our two sons 10 times. I could be off one or two moves, but who’s counting?
There were the college moves, then the apartment ones, and one into Sam and Allison’s home -- all in the eighth month of the year. The hottest month of the year.
Last August no one moved as Ben decided he’d do one more year where he was. A reprieve!
But then came summer 2017 and plans to find a different apartment. What’s different this time is that there’s no roomie. It’s his own place.
We put in a long day over the weekend, blessed with older son, Sam and wife Allison helping with the heavy lifting. There were a variety of challenges, as there are for all moves, but this one had a warm-up round of lugging Ben’s incredibly heavy loveseat up the stairs and pivoting into his new apartment.
Then the moment of truth came when the even heavier couch went up. It took a couple of tries before the four of them gave it the air time it needed to clear the railings and make it upstairs. Things looked almost too scary for me to even watch, but finally it arrived to the second floor with furniture, railing and people all intact. Thank you, Lord! Things were certainly looking iffy for a while there.
The guys are already talking about having some of their Thursday-night football gatherings at Ben’s place. Even though he’s been out of the nest for a while, this move feels like a new start in a new way.
Of course, Brian and I have had our own share of summer moves. The only times we’ve ever moved, in fact, were once in June and the other times in July. Plenty of heat and sweat to go around then, too.
What about you? What months did you move? Have you moved your share of kids into new digs in August?
The year was 1977. Jimmy Carter took office. Our beloved Union County Patriots basketball team won the Connersville sectional after several years of heartbreakingly-close title runs.
"Star Wars" was the buzz, and Elvis died. Rod Stewart told us that “Tonight’s the Night” and Andy Gibb crooned “I Just Want to Be Your Everything.”
For 130 or so kids from Liberty, Indiana – and Brownsville, Philomath, Dunlapsville, College Corner, Kitchel and Cottage Grove – it was senior year.
I had gone to school with many of these kids from day one. My zany best friend all through school days, Cheryl Rodenburg, was that from kindergarten on. But I remember them all, and thanks to social media, get to see a good many of them live out their lives. Or at least casually grab a glimpse at their family picnics, see their adorable grandkids, or where they went on vacations.
This is who we were.
Maybe because of the way social media brings so many of us together, that’s why the 40th class reunion didn’t seem all big and scary, somehow, as did the 25th when many of us weren’t plugged into each other’s lives.
Last night was the night, as several of our local gals who had the good fortune to remain in our home county, had worked to plan the reunion. They spent hours and hours pulling it all together as the centerpieces featured hand-cut pictures of us all. They created a touching framed memorial to the seven of us who have passed on.
They awarded door prizes and did so much more to make it a lovely evening for everyone. The former Lynn Stanley won the J’s certificates – and to my surprise passed them on to me. We had just been discussing the iconic restaurant and hangout. I’ve often said if even today I sat in J’s for an hour during a busy lunch hour, I’d see every person I have ever known pass before my eyes. An exaggeration, of course, but hey, now I have a new reason to visit – free food.
We gathered at The Castle in Connersville, some 50-plus of us, including spouses or friends.
For just an evening, an evening that went by too fast, amid talk of how we should do this more often, we all felt oddly at home again, I think, in a way that only growing up together can make a person feel.
When we meet again, it will likely be for our 50th. Sigh.
But for one lovely night, we were back in the 70s. Not a bad place to be, for sure.
"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 email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.