I don't post a lot of pictures of our sons these days, or share stories about them, either, the way I did when we were all younger! They have their own stories to tell, and their own private lives. But they are always on my mind and in my heart.
They indulged me today with a selfie from Lucas Oil Stadium where the Colts chalked up a victory today, yay! Here they are, from left above, Ben, and Sam. Thanks for the pic, guys. And these too, Julie and Ben, left, at an apple orchard yesterday, and Ben and almost lifelong pal, Taylor, whom he ran into at the game today. I love family pictures, don't you?
Given that tomorrow I'm living out the question asked in a famous Beatles song, they humored me. But as I reminded Brian, I'll still be in my early sixties--right?
I haven't posted in a while so this one is a big old catch-up. Today after church, then watching the Colts, Brian went out and did some sort of fiddling with the lawn mower, so I decided to cut down the ornamental grass that grows outside right behind my inside writing chair. It looks just like this patch, which grows out front and still looks so beautiful that I didn't have it in me to take it down yet.
Brian and I have a little dust up over the ornamental grass about this time every year, and also when the grass starts growing like crazy again in the spring. I love these grasses. But before long now, they will turn beige, brittle, and right about then, the late fall cold will set in. If I don't cut this grass to the ground before that happens, I may not do it until spring. But I want to, and that's the goal.
If I don't get them trimmed, they shed and blow around the lawn and worse, with the one behind my writing chair, it makes loud rattling noises from the dried grass blowing around. So at least one of them is down and I fully plan to see to the other if for no other reason, and it's a good one, than marital bliss.
We're in the heart of the prettiest fall I have ever experienced in my, well, you know now, how many years. When the sun hits the trees and shrubs a certain way, neon! It's as though they are lit with nature's super-powered light, or that they are fireworks displayed on a trunk. We've scarcely had a dreary day all fall.
I couldn't help but capture these pretty flowers from near the church entrance this morning:
Also, we've been keeping Sam's dog, Jax a couple times a week due to Sam's unique work schedule. Jax and our dog, Reggie, aren't complaining, as they enjoy romps, treats, and sleepovers. Here's a rare "hold-still" view of Jax, and one of him after a day of play:
But along with dogs, plants, fall, and enjoying seeing our sons enjoy this beautiful weekend, I've been working on book programming. I've added two programs to the fall, along with three bazaar or open-house type venues. Here they are:
1. ATLANTA: (Not the one in Georgia.) Christmas Open House, Earthly Endearments, 155 W. Main St., 10-3, Saturday, Nov. 5. Lots of wonderful, vetted bazaar-type goods.
2. LIBERTY: Union County Public Library Reminisce program, "Fun with Heirlooms," 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18.
3. SPICELAND: Friends Church Bazaar, 8-2, Saturday, Nov. 12.
4. LIBERTY: Union County Extension Homemakers Bazaar, all day, Saturday, Nov. 19. Union County High School.
5. WILKINSON: Christmas Tea, presenting a program, "Simply Devoted: Seasonal Stories." 1-3, Saturday, Dec. 3.
Thanks for stopping by my website. Have a great fall.
Reprinted from my Next Chapter newspaper column that appears in New Castle, Connersville, and Shelbyville newspapers twice monthly.
By Donna Cronk
With it commonplace for folks to pay with plastic instead of cash, I knew with this book, I needed to invest in a credit-and-debit-card reader. But what may seem an ordinary task to others threw me into a tailspin.
I decided to get one through my bank; to speak about it face-to-face with a human wearing business attire and a badge, seated in a leather chair behind a desk. News flash: these people still exist!
The task involved speaking with the correct banker who handles this, creating a particular business account, determining which reader best suits my needs, and signing the forms.
When the gadget arrived at my home, so did an email with links to videos about set up. I’d need to sync my phone with the reader, and complete related chores.
A banker checked in to see how it was going. It wasn’t. We made a phone appointment to get the reader launched. I dreaded our meeting and sent her an email that this all seems over my head. She asked for a chance to help, saying it with no a hint of condescension.
It took longer than a quick call; I was not a quick student. But we got it done. Story of my life: English is easy; math and tech not so much.
The day came for me to use the card reader on my own in real time. As I reached the venue early to prepare, butterflies swarmed in my gut—not about being the keynote speaker before a couple hundred people who were on their way—but if I would be capable of using this technology. What if I hit the wrong button and didn’t know how to correct it with potential customers viewing my ineptitude? What if I accidentally charged someone $1,500 instead of $15?
Mulling all this over, I pulled my book cart through the parking lot toward the venue.
“Excuse me,” came a woman’s voice. “Could you help me lift a crate from my car? I just had back surgery.”
I could. We introduced ourselves and started talking as though old friends. With her crate delivered to the kitchen, I found my bearings in the fellowship hall, and began assembling my book table. My new friend took a seat nearby and we continued chatting.
A retired nurse, she had a hobby-business that involved creating and selling jewelry, just as I have one creating and selling books. Once my table display was in place, she waved her credit card, saying she would like three of my books.
“Oh, wow! This is the first time I’ve used a card reader and I’m nervous,” I confessed. “I think God sent you to be my angel for a trial run,” I told her. Or something close to those words.
She said it wouldn’t be hard, adding, “I have one. I’ll help you.”
I fumbled the small gadget into position and turned it on. Out came my phone for its part of the process.
Success! It felt like a miracle—not that the tech worked, even, but that someone came along to put me at ease just when I needed her.
“If you want, I’ll sit with you at your table and help,” she offered, and did.
To my amazement, she took off and gave me her necklace that I had admired.
Since that night, I’ve used the reader numerous times with flawless results. Such irony! Someone now might mistake me for an old pro. Or at least for old.
I sent an email to the supervisor of the banker who helped me launch the reader. I told the boss that her employee is kind, patient, and helpful. I figure the best way to thank someone is to praise them to their supervisor.
Recently in another parking lot, I looked down to see a debit card on the pavement. I picked it up and headed to a nearby store’s service desk. There was a line, so I went back to the car, called the number on the card, then pressed the correct prompt. Voice mail.
I decided to drive the card to a bank branch that bore its name. I looked it up and one wasn’t far. Handing it to the teller, I explained how I found it and she vowed to call the card owner. She didn’t ask my name. I was glad. I didn’t want credit; only to help.
As Fred Rogers’ mother famously told him, “Always look for the helpers.”
They’re everywhere, even in parking lots.
We can each be one.
Union County native Donna Cronk writes a column for several Indiana newspapers. She’ll be giving a program and book signing at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at the Franklin County Public Library. Everyone is invited. Feel free to bring an heirloom for a show and tell activity. Her new book is There’s a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go. Connect via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's the latest Next Chapter newspaper column.
I don’t know about you, but for me, 2020-21 merges into a single chunk of time. And here we are in 2022 as COVID remains the lead story most days, regardless the media outlet we choose.
Recently I celebrated something peculiar: “That’s great,” I told Brian. “A viral throat infection!”
Only in the COVID era (yes, I think we're officially in an era) could anyone applaud a throat infection. Yet I did because it meant that it wasn’t COVID nor that other C word. He had been to the doctor, tested negative for the dreaded coronavirus and strep throat. No scripts were prescribed; just ibuprofen, rest, and fluids. We could do that.
As the illness lingered, and Brian worried about getting his voice back, I assured him that he would.
"But if you don’t,” I added, “in a show of solidarity, I will never speak again.”
Hmm, wondered how that would work out.
I told him that he needed to avoid talking for a while though, to heal. I encouraged him to communicate through other creative means such as sign language, pantomime, interpretive dance, or a voiceless skit. I’m still waiting to see that interpretive dance.
I’m now one week into my second year of retirement; no longer able to use the term, “new retiree.” Maybe I’m at the age where I’m not new at much of anything.
Still. I celebrate much about 2021. On that day Dec. 30, 2020 day when I walked out the back door for the last time at 201 S. 14th St., New Castle, my immediate goal consisted of making it to the car without tears. I cleared that objective, a reminder that when life is hard, we need to simply just get through the next thing; and the one after that.
When last January arrived, my time, emotions, and prayers went into seeing Brian through his health issues. There were dark days, and difficult moments; there were tears, and even sobs. There were weeks when I wondered what awaited us, and how or if he would get better.
But thank You God! He got better, and by the time we put up the 2021 Christmas tree, Brian asked, “What do you think about rearranging the living room and putting the tree up somewhere new?”
I looked at him as though he were an alien from not just Mars, but from another galaxy. Who was this man? And where did he get the kind of energy to ask me that question? I didn’t have it regarding a room redo—but it was almost worth it for no other reason than he apparently did.
The shero (that’s the female version of the word hero; you’re welcome) of the year came in the form of a nurse friend who provided one small tip that became an immediate game changer for Brian’s medical situation. An angel among us.
By late summer, Brian’s first post-surgical cat scan returned clean, and it felt as though we had won the lottery! Not just the lottery, and a ticket around the world, and a lake house, and whatever else you think might make your heart sing. But I can tell you that a singing heart isn’t about material things. It’s about good health. Suddenly, we could laugh, joke, and make plans again.
What’s amazing are the other blessings that piled high in 2021. I not only finished writing the book I spent the year working on, but am able to connect with some kindred spirit writers who formed a small monthly group. When we meet for four hours, it feels like four minutes.
One tip I got from one of the writers moved my book project forward in ways I couldn’t have imagined—through the suggestion of a book designer. I’m not just talking cover typography, but an interior designer. Yes, every book has a specific interior look, much as does a home.
There were other joys: the support in prayers and deeds of people who care about us; the gathering of Brian’s aunts and cousins in October; watching our gutted and rebuilt bathroom emerge from a five-month wait after ordering materials.
There’s the service group I joined at church; the projects our life group has worked on this year; the delight of meals shared with friends, and the feeling three times a week of water in a pool at my exercise location.
This newspaper, along with those in New Castle and Shelbyville, allowed me to reimagine a column similar to the one that I wrote in Henry County for three decades—only through this lens of being a little older. Well, a lot older. I started it at age 30 and here I am, somehow 63. (I can't even describe myself as in my early sixties now, can I?)
While I have no idea where the years went, I also affirm that there is life after one’s main career. Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll have more to say this year. Thank you for reading. These days, my writing is done from a comfy recliner with a Boston terrier nestled beside me. Those too, are blessings.
Whatever unfolds for you in 2022, know that even in the hardest of times, blessings will show up.
Just ask the Good Lord to help you see them.
My paternal grandmother came to live with us when I was in second grade. I look back now and realize that the preparation for moving her out of her small-town home into our farmhouse had begun the previous year.
It was then that my folks added on a bedroom—the largest of three in the house—with a plan for me to share it with Grandma. That’s what happened for those last few years of her life.
About the time Grandma became my roomie, a package for her arrived from friends at church. It was called a sunshine box, and it was a thing so curious and beautiful to these then-young eyes that I never forgot it.
The sturdy standard-issue cardboard box had been hand-covered with a paper garden of flowers, pasted in a collage over the entire package. The pictures had no doubt been clipped from seed catalogs for creating this unique “container garden.”
Inside were practical and interesting items that a senior woman in her 70s might use. One was a shaker container of scented body powder called Cashmere Bouquet, if memory serves; another, a small devotional book of encouragement. I don’t remember what else was in there, probably some Peppermint chewing gum or the bright-pink mints she favored; maybe a box of all-occasion cards for sending. I was as or more excited than Grandma to watch her unpack such lovely small gifts.
A variation on the sunshine box concept resurfaced earlier this year during Brian’s illness when friends from his former workplace sent word that he would be getting a gift basket. The result was not one but three containers overflowing with crossword-puzzles, handpicked books, candles, candy, gift cards, and other thoughtful comforts of love and friendship.
I vowed to do better at sharing this kind of love with others.
With memories of the vintage sunshine box in mind, several weeks ago I made my first one. I wanted it to be as much as possible like the one Grandma had received in the 1960s.
A childhood church friend and I had decided that we would visit two ladies from our youth who still attend the same church we attended. One, in fact, just turned 101 in October, and the other one is decades' younger, recovering from a surgery.
The week before our outing, I thought my laundry-basket-sized box would be a breeze to cover. I didn’t have any seed catalogs, so I flipped through stacks of general-interest magazines a friend had given me and tore out flowers, pictures of people doing fun things, cute kittens, phrases such as “Highway to heaven,” and attached them to the box with Mod Podge. I found that cardboard soaks up a lot of glue, so I put it on heavy.
I still didn’t have enough pretty pictures to cover the box. So, I went through more magazines of my own, and supplemented the collage with some floral wrapping paper from the closet. Finally, it was finished; my first old-fashioned sunshine box! It looked pretty good, if I do say so myself.
The friend and I met for lunch on a Monday. She also provided a decorated sunshine box. We divided our contributions of gently used magazines, books, cards, notebooks, and snacks between the two boxes and signed cards to go with the goods. Then we visited our friends at their separate locations.
More meaningful than the boxes, we spent an hour or longer with each of our recipients talking and telling life stories, being in no hurry to run off. Time is, after all, the best gift. We all enjoyed the visit, of that I am certain.
When I explained to the then-nearly 101-year-old about the boxes, I realized something. She may well have been one of the friends who contributed to that sunshine box for my grandmother back in the 1960s!
“Yes, we used to send sunshine boxes in the WSCS,” she said matter-of-factly of the United Methodist Church women’s organization, called Women’s Society of Christian Service in that era.
This was a full-circle moment. Without memories of that box, I would never have thought to suggest it as a goodwill present a half-century later.
I find it interesting to reconnect with people from my youth and to know that while I’ve reached retirement status, there are still those alive who remember my grandparents and parents. It feels amazing, particularly, because I haven’t lived in my hometown area in 43 years. Even so, it feels as close as ever to my heart, and the sense of belonging runs deep.
Just months into this retirement gig, I’m finding that one of the general principles I like most is that there is now the time to do things like this; to hop in the car and go visit someone. It’s nice to take a little something along as a gift—or to take a sunshine box.
Fill it with recent-issue magazines, inexpensive packaged treats (or home-baked if you can), toiletries, maybe pass along the book you just read and enjoyed, some stamps, envelopes and paper or notecards. Then sign and write a note on a card of your own with a nice note to wrap up a lot of joy for the recipient to know, “I am thought of. I am cared about.”
Whether you call it a sunshine box, a care package, a gift basket, or something else, it doesn’t take much except effort to make someone else’s day. Giving it away will make your own in the process.
Retired New Castle Courier-Times Neighbors Editor Donna Cronk’s Next Chapter column appears the second and fourth Saturdays in The Courier-Times and The Shelbyville News. It runs the first and third Tuesdays in the Connersville News-Examiner. Connect with her at email@example.com.
For many years at the newspaper, if I found myself in a computer pinch of any kind, I called for Dale.
From somewhere inside the building, it wasn’t long before he showed up at my desk. It was wonderful.
Dale never got rattled, and if he felt angry, I never saw it. Among his many other duties, he was That Guy who helped us all with whatever technical difficulty we had going.
Generally, it was something simple, resolved by the pressing of a computer key or two in combination with holding one’s facial expression precisely right.
Other times, it was more complex. If so, I’d offer Dale my chair and flee the scene while he performed his special kind of magic.
Even if things were complicated, it wouldn’t be long before my fingers were back on home row, the keys flying double-time toward deadline.
With Dale retired for several years now, the resident computer guru is Travis, who is also the managing editor. Like Dale, Travis doesn’t get uptight or mad when there’s a computer problem. He knows what to do.
How these people know what to do is beyond me. I just know how to write, and you may question that.
Through my decades in the news business, and probably those same decades in whatever business you are or were in, we experience periods of huge technology transitions.
In the 1990s, we got a new system company wide. Many of us were concerned, wondering if the new machines would be difficult to operate, and weren’t things going well the way they were? We were getting papers out on time, right? Why did things have to change?
Aw, yes, the universal question: Why do things have to change?
How often in life do we ask that about so much? Yet we know, down deep, that it’s how life works on most levels. And once we adjust to the new system, we’ll wonder how we got by with those older stone tablets… er, computers.
Word came during that particular upgrade that an employee at another paper had felt such anxiety about the transition to the new system, the person sought prayer at church. I don’t have a problem with seeking divine intervention for computer issues—in fact, I’m all for it—but mention it only because I feel that worker’s angst.
A couple of us voiced concern that we would have to spend part of Christmas day in the office that year, ushering in the new system. We were concerned the computers would cause us to miss family celebrations. For the record, the new computers did not ruin our holidays nor our lives.
I can’t count the number of computers or related programs we dealt with through my years on newspaper staffs. We made it through those sometimes-rocky periods, and we always, somehow, got the paper out on time.
While I worked as editor of a small paper in west-central Indiana before my New Castle years, one winter’s day, the staff traveled to a newspaper office in Illinois for training about a new computer system we were all getting. It was so confusing that I knew I’d never get the hang of it. The lesson notes I took amounted to gibberish. I felt doomed.
By the time I got home that night, I had chills, aches, and felt horrible. It wasn’t the computer training that brought me down that day. It was the flu! I wasn’t doomed after all regarding the training, and even managed to learn the new system once I recovered.
This week I’ve been thinking about those days, and about the helpful coworkers who were always able to figure out our computer issues and upgrades.
One downside of retirement is that it will be harder to keep up with changes in technology. I got a little taste of that this week when the only tech person to call was me and I was already there.
My website provider emailed that an automatic credit card payment for my monthly fee was rejected and if I didn’t get it resolved, it would be curtains. OK, they didn’t say curtains, but that was certainly my interpretation.
I imagined the problem was due to a hacked credit card that had to be voided and replaced earlier this year. I thought that had been straightened out. I went down that rabbit hole for a couple hours, talking to the credit card company and reading through too much information on my website host’s admin portal. Nope, it wasn’t the credit card. Nope, it wasn’t helpful to read the portal’s information.
After some significant fretting, worrying that my website and email were in danger, and moments which may or may not have included tears, there were a couple more hours of gloom.
After more dead ends and an inability to speak to a living person in tech world, I stumbled upon the problem. It had to do with a fundamental change in the host site’s operations. I can’t quite put into words how I found the problem and corrected it but at some point – even without Dale, Travis, or a trainer in Illinois – I got a message that my payment had been accepted.
Apparently I solved the computer problem. Record the date for the history books.
It may be too soon to celebrate, but the answer is, when these things happen in retirement, we have to hunker down and work the problem.
If I had to give you (and myself) advice about dealing with our personal computer issues, I would tell us to keep a notebook with all our current passcodes and log-in information, billing details, amounts due and when each month, and other pertinent facts relating to our computers and their specific programs.
Also, know where your owners’ manuals are kept and how to get to them quickly (OK smarty pants, know how to get to the online owners’ manuals). Get recommendations on a reputable tech-repair outlet or people who can become your very own version of Dale or Travis. Look for the helpers, I believe Mr. Rogers once said.
Above all else, locate your own kids or preschool grandchildren who might give you a hand. Add a cute dog if you wish. He may not be good with computers but he might lower your blood pressure as you work the problem.
The above Next Chapter column by Donna Cronk recently appeared in the New Castle, Shelbyville, and Connersville newspapers where Cronk pens twice-monthly columns with her thoughts on life as a retiree.
Our nine-feet-tall Christmas tree, the photo taken just a few days ago at dusk, which comes at around 5:30 p.m. in central Indiana these days. Much as I admire theme Christmas trees, we stick with a family-memory tree each year containing ornaments we've collected through our 41 years of marriage, plus those our parents accumulated through the years, as well as keepsake ornaments from vacations, mainly historical sites.
Merry Christmas morning! As I write this at 9:15 a.m., I've been buzzing around the house since 6:11 a.m. I didn't have to get up that early this Christmas morn, but it's actually late for me, as I prefer rising between 5-6 a.m. daily.
I know; weird. But it is an unexpected gift of aging, I suppose, or better put, of this season of life. I look forward to the quiet time when I feel I can do anything I want in the peace. But what I want in the early hours are simple things: that first sip of black coffee, with a cup or two to follow; working on one of my Bible study lessons; or maybe looking with fresh eyes at a particular project I have going at any given moment, such as a program for a speaking engagement, or maybe a to-do list. I may tune into TV to catch the headlines or commentary.
This time of year, I turn on the Christmas lights and enjoy them. I don't tire of them one bit, and have found that this year with Thanksgiving coming at the latest time possible, I feel "shorted" that extra pre-Christmas week. It will be early again in 2020 so maybe I'll even break with our unspoken "house rule" of no Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving and start in early. Why not?
Ben has the week off, and to our delight, arrived yesterday afternoon --even before I got home from work because yes, I worked on Christmas Eve. We had a great visit before he and Brian watched some NetFlix shows that didn't interest me, so I retreated to my hot bath, then turned in early. That is the flip side of getting up so early, tuckering out at a time night owls feel is early.
Sam is working at the hospital today, and he and Allison will spend time with her wonderful family when he gets off, and they'll be here for dinner tonight. I'm looking forward to the rest of the day! This is the kind of Christmas day I knew growing up and well into my adult years. I had older brothers who spent time with their wives' families or on their own early on Christmas days past, and then everyone assembled at my folks' farm later in the afternoon.
For me, it felt perfect. It made the anticipation of food, family and gifts last that much longer.
Brian and Ben are still sleeping. Once they wake up I've got some noisier tasks to get to.
For now, I thought I'd leave with you the devotion I wrote for my church's Facebook page this week. Wednesday is my day of the week for devotions and it's not up yet on the page. If you would like to be added to our church's Facebook page, where you can catch my weekly devotions and those of other folks, just let me know and I'll add you in a jif.
Another little preview announcement: I'm facilitating a devotions workshop at our church on Saturday, Feb. 15. It's free, it's fun, and YOU can come! Just let me know if you want more details as they become available. You don't have to belong to our church!
Meanwhile, Merry Christmas! The Light has come! Here's the devotion:
SEASONS OF FAITH – WINTER’S CHILL
CHRISTMAS DAY 2019
THE LIGHT HAS COME! – Donna Cronk
When I was a girl, my folks turned on the Christmas-tree lights only at night. I
loved the moment when darkness parted like the Red Sea as well as when
we lit candles surrounding the nativity scene on top of our TV set.
All these decades later, Brian and I leave on the Christmas-tree lights during all
our waking hours. Even if we’re only going to be home for a short while before a
work day, the lights are on, shining against the darkness of early morning.
Light is beautiful. It illuminates all that it touches. It warms us and draws us to
remain in its presence. Especially in the darkest moments of our lives, light offers
hope and comfort.
This time of year when the daylight hours are short, Christmas lights are all the
Is it any wonder that Jesus refers to Himself as the Light of the World? On this day
we celebrate and rejoice that the long-awaited Savior has come! And He is Light!
May each of us reflect His Light in our own lives so that others may be drawn to
Merry Christmas to you, my friends! Shine on!
John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in
darkness, but will have the light of life.”
A reprint of today's New Castle Courier-Times column.
by Donna Cronk
If memory serves, I went with Mom to Rose Chapman's home jewelry party that evening, circa 1969. Hanging out with her daughters, Vicky and Cheryl, were my motive for going along; that and the refreshments that all women’s parties offer.
Whatever the specific circumstances, the evidence of that home party – half a century later – remains in my own costume-jewelry collection. The Sarah Coventry leaf pin is a former resident in my late mother’s battered, pink, jewelry box with the well-worn velvet interior.
Growing up on the farm, I was equal parts girly-girl and tomboy. I cuddled piglets while Dad fed their mamas, moved cattle from one pasture to another, bridled Ginger and tore off across the pasture riding bareback, fearless.
It’s only by God’s grace that I survived childhood with my falling out of a tree, off a moving tractor, and being suddenly tossed flat on the ground from a terrified horse, startled by a German shepherd.
At the same time, there was nothing l liked more than playing house with cut-outs from the Sears catalog, tucking in my dolls for the night, and rifling through Mom’s jewelry box, trying on the colorful costume beads and bangles.
The only time I wear the faux-gold leaf pin is the fall. Of course trees and their leaves are perfectly fashionable year-round, but I guess I just want to keep Mom’s still-shiny pin with the tiny fake pearl set apart by getting it out at only this time of year.
In the past I struggled to fasten it to my sweater right-side up until I realized when I went to put it on Thursday that – duh – Sarah designed it to go the other way, to depict a falling leaf – thus the season called fall, right?
My Thursday outfit was on the cheap. I threw on three strands of fashion pearls of varying sizes to coordinate with that single pearl in the leaf. Probably too matchy-match for some, but I like it. I have no idea where those beads came from!
Through these almost 61 years I’ve collected lots of costume jewelry, including a number of strands similar to these. I think they are all from thrift shops or yard sales. And the goldenrod-hued sweater? I recently picked it up on final clearance for a buck at a local consignment shop.
I’m trying to enliven the way I dress with new and quirky old finds. alike. Brian says I wear too much black and gray. I think he’s probably right, although I’m drawn to those shades, especially in the winter and they'll remain wardrobe staples.
While looking through Pinterest for fashion ideas for the – ahem –mature woman, I came across a California stylist named Brenda Kinsel (BrendaKinsel.com). While I don’t adore all the outfits she puts together, a good many of them I find striking, and very much the kind of classy/casual looks I’d like to strive for. I can also learn plenty from her tips and techniques. I also like knowing she was also raised a farm girl.
It’s fun at my age to find a style mentor who resonates, and at the same time, tweak her ideas to make them my own. I’m too old to dress too young, and too young to dress too old. So I’ll suit myself and to suit Brian, try to add more color. I had that notion in mind when I bought the gold sweater--a color I'm not normally drawn to in clothing. But don't you know, I'm wearing the dickens out of it!
I’m wondering what fashion finds you’re still wearing that once belonged to your grandma or mom, or pershaps something you picked up for a song on the cheap. Share a photo of you wearing them and tell a little about them, won't you? I'm giving Courier-Times readers this challenge to send them to my work email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But for others out of the Henry County area, let me hear from you as well and I'll post here.
Are we ever too old to enjoy a romp through Mom’s old jewelry box or through a thrift store? I'm not!
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. The fall/holiday issue will be inside your Courier on Saturday, Nov. 9.
It took Brian and me almost 40 years to get it done, but we did it! On my husband’s 65th birthday, no less, we got ourselves a signed, sealed, and witnessed last will and testament with all the trimmings. Who knew you needed that much paperwork that doesn’t even apply until ... then.
It’s not that we didn’t plan to do this a long time ago, 30-plus years to be exact. For most of those years, if not all, at least once a year one of us would say, “You know we really do need to get a will.”
We knew. It was the only responsible, adult thing to do; particularly with a baby turned little boy, then another baby turned little boy, and now two adult men as our offspring.
Age. Not only are we no longer spring chickens, we aren’t summer ones either. Tye Hill of Richmond, a woman who cuts to the chase with her frank observations, told me recently, “I’m in the winter of my life. You are probably in the fall of yours.”
Yes, the years pile high without us half realizing it until one day we wake up and the Medicare card is in my husband’s wallet and I’m not only admitting to be a senior myself but proudly declaring it at the drive-through window in order to claim a 5-percent discount.
We got right in to the attorney, and here we are, all legal. A weird way to spend Brian’s 65th birthday? Seems kind of appropriate, really.
I think of other milestone birthdays. The year Brian turned 40 I gave him a set of luggage. I remember him being too exhausted to react. Travel was not something on our radar just then beyond trips back and forth to our parents’ homes. GOOD GRIEF! Sam was in Little League then. Yet 40 seemed so ... adult. Shouldn't adults have matching luggage?
The year Brian was 50, we were at our friends’ house, Rick and Gay Kirkton’s. They had family there to mark the occasion of their son and our godson Thomas’ Lutheran Church confirmation. That Sunday Ben was playing in a baseball tournament and we got a phone call that Ben hit a walk-off home run for the tourney win. I think we floated home!
That was 15 years ago. I even remember what I wore that day. It sure doesn’t seem so long ago. I think of 15 years from now and while I certainly can’t count on seeing that date, as no one can, I would be 74 and Brian would be – 80!
The attorney suggested that we go ahead and make our funeral arrangements. I think we’ll give that one some more time.
The following originally appeared in the Nov. 14 edition of the New Castle Courier-Times.
We no more than got used to the empty nest when Era Next arrives.
And I thought the empty nest was bad.
Wasn’t it just a couple years ago when the boys were getting college brochures in the mail and we were scratching our heads, trying to find those odd, extra-long twin-bed sheets unique to Ball State University dorms?
These days the mailman is delivering new offers the senders hope we can't refuse.
There are batches of brochures, bulging envelopes, and invites for “free” fancy dinners. If you saw our mailbox, you’d think that Brian, anyway, is a pretty popular guy, maybe even some sort of celebrity. But the truth is, being 64 is what makes him attention-worthy.
His special mail arrives almost daily from all kinds of insurance companies, ones we’d never even heard of before, wanting to talk to him about the supplementary Medicare insurance he’ll need on his next birthday.
If he opened and read all the information they send, well, he’d need to hire a personal assistant to help keep it all straight and, since he's retired and can't afford such a thing, and I’m not applying, the bulk of it goes unopened.
It all makes our heads spin, frankly, so when the time comes, we’ll probably go with a recommendation from a retiree we trust -- and leave it at that.
On a more occasional basis, we get fancy invites to dinners. Would be nice if they were from friends or family but no, these are dinners from people we don’t know wanting to sell us something. They’re at places we would never attend courtesy of our own wallets and the pictures
show cloth napkins, china, silver – the whole works.
They look romantic. And delicious. Yes, the invites are clearly supposed to be irresistible until, of course, you consider that at such a meal, the reality is you’d be sitting wall-to-wall next to other
couples who received the same invites and like us, are just there for the eats. I envision a salesman standing over us pitching whatever investment he or she is selling. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think I’m probably closer to right. One thing is for sure, and that's that we aren't biting.
It is said there are no free lunches. I imagine that goes double for free dinners.
But the mail we got the other day topped both these. It was a funeral home inviting us to come on in and get our preplanning on. This has happened before. The last time, the funeral service had the gall to ask us what we expected to spend on a funeral. You know, so they could better come up with a package. Excuse me?
But we didn't bite on that offer either, and the place is trying again. We'll just pass and try not to pass on.
So this is the stage we're in. I’m not sure what mail will come in the one after this one. I don’t think
I want to know. Maybe we’ll just change our mailing address.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the
quarterly her magazine for women.