I'm delighted to share an awning with my longtime colleague and friend Darrel Radford on the grounds of the Henry County Historical Museum tomorrow, Saturday, June 11. We'll be there from 11 to 5 where Darrel will have these 100-page keepsakes available for $10. Proceeds benefit the historical society and its projects.
Here's what else is up tomorrow, from a Facebook Henry County Historical Society post: They're here!!! The 100-page bicentennial booklet created by Darrel Radford will be available for the first time at Saturday's Henry County Historical Society Ice Cream Social.
The event is planned from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Gen. William Grose home and grounds, 606 S. 14th St., New Castle.
The booklet features a historical tidbit for each day of the calendar year. Then, the booklet shows how “Henry County has made history from A-Z,” an alphabetical look at key local historical people, places and moments.
More than 500 photos are included in the booklet, thanks to the collections of Doug Magers and the late Mike Bertram along with archives from The Courier-Times, Henry County News Republican and New Castle-Henry County Public Library. Priced at just $10, the booklet is sure to be a keepsake All proceeds from sale of the booklet will be shared with the Henry County 529 Legacy college fund for county students and the Henry County Historical Society and its museum, housed in Gen. William Grose's New Castle home. The local historical society is the oldest, continuously operating group of its kind in the state of Indiana.
Only 500 copies of the booklet were printed, so make sure you get yours soon. After Saturday, they will be available at the museum, which is open by appointment. Call 529-4028. Or, starting Monday, you can also pick one up at the Chamber of Commerce office in downtown New Castle.
In other news, I had waited nine months for Tuesday to get here. And the day did not disappoint. I had been recommended and invited to speak at this year's Indiana Extension Homemakers Association state conference at the Embassy Suites in Noblesville.
I provided a program called "You Should Write a Book," where I spoke of my authoring journey and told would-be writers how they might delve into self-publishing. The committee was kind enough to give me a wonderful location and I sold a lot of books! Special thanks to my friend and sister author, Janet Hart Leonard. Janet launched her book on Sunday at a beautiful event at Ginger's Cafe in Noblesville. Janet is a columnist for the Noblesville paper. Her new book, available from her or on Amazon, is When the Hart Speaks: Whimsy and Wisdom From the Little House on the Alley. The memoir is a delightful story about how God has a plan, even when we don't see it. Janet tells the stories of her life in a powerful, sweet, and inspiring way.
Are you as random as I am about little chores and re-dos around the house? This morning I dove into our coat closet by the front door.
We keep too many coats and jackets in there, along with an assortment of stocking caps, ball caps, gloves and scarves. Since we aren't ready to part with the contents, I decided to free up some space by replacing the bulky hangers with streamlined ones that skinny up the required space.
They replace the wooden ones that I have collected here and there for decades, saving them from our folks' closets, and from who knows where--probably purchases of men's suits.
Yes, I know there is some interesting advertising on some of them. I don't care. They are being donated very soon. If you want them and can come and get them, let me know fast. They are free for the taking. You just need to reach me before they are donated. (hurry ! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
To my great surprise, when I got to the gloves section, they all matched! Normally that never happens. Gloves are like socks, they tend to stray off the beaten path, or shelf, as the case may be. This time, they were all there. I think I know why.
Now that we are retired and don't go here, there and everywhere on a daily basis, or the boys aren't around to grab gloves, these pieces of outerwear don't get the use they once did.
I'm fascinated by two sets of gloves. They are vintage, and I've never lost a mate. The black ones were either my mother's or more likely, my Grandmother Jobe's. The blue ones date back to at least my grandmother, or some other long-ago relative who was born in the 1800s as was Grandma Jobe.
I used to play dress up with these gloves, and here they are, completely useful. I like these pairs because they are lightweight, somewhat dressy "spring" gloves. And I like the color navy, so they are my favorite gloves! They are unusual, vintage, and they have remained paired like a couple of elderly lovebirds that we find completely charming.
So that's my Saturday morning! Hope you are doing something fun, interesting, or useful.
Carry on! Oh, and here's the finished closet. (**Please note that the three jackets to the right are mine. The rest are *someone else's whose name I won't mention but who lives here.**) Just teasing though, because he uses most all of these jackets and coats.
I don't know when he last wore the trench coat, however, but he's all set for a winter formal occasion or if he's asked to become a CIA agent.
I recently spoke to the Laughing Liberty Ladies Red Hat Society on location in Richmond. Being with these ladies is as easy as being at home! There's my friends Lois and Shirley, and other ladies who have been in my hometown for decades. One, Dorothy, even recalls buying a refrigerator from my dad in the 1940s!
Jenny Pugh is a colleague who writes for Western Wayne News. One of these ladies is not from Union County but came to live there in recent years, inspired by visiting the local boating and camping venues and she now adores her new hometown!
A couple other ladies travel to be with this bunch monthly from Cincinnati.
Thank you, Liberty ladies, for having me as your speaker!
I survived! Going into this past week, I had two personal meetings and four author-oriented gigs. It would be a fun week, a blessed and rare-air period of days, even, but it would involve a lot of programs and making sure I had the correct amount of everything (script, props, books) ready to go with the specific event.
Monday was Writer Chicks Society at Janet’s in Noblesville, and as always, we had a lot to say, and numerous updates on our projects. We didn’t even finish early, despite missing our member, Susan, who was off having fun on a family trip.
That evening found me in Middletown with a fellowship session, and then the highlight of the 2021-22 year of Bible Study Fellowship, our annual share night, where participants are welcome at an open mic to share their personal takeaways and insights from the study. This year's was Matthew.
Tuesday night took me down I-69 and other routes south to Greenwood at the Greenwood Christian Church where about 220 filled the fellowship hall for a mother-daughter banquet. Although I grew up in a tiny church, this banquet took me back to those years and how much I adored those banquets!
I only wish I had taken photos! Two key people among many wonderful ones made my night. One of the coordinators, Stellamae Carley, invited me to give the 2020 program, which covid ruined, as it did in 2021, and I was delighted to be remembered for the 2022 edition.
I broke out my new card reader to use for credit and debit payments and I felt nervous to use it for the first time. God sent me an angel named Elaine in the parking lot! We chatted there and some more inside and when she asked to purchase books with her card before everyone got there.
I told her she was my Guinea pig. I felt so grateful to process her payment while there wasn’t a group around waiting on my fumbles--and all went great. She even helped at my table as the night went on. And she gave me her necklace!
Wednesday night it was off to Fishers where Creek Readers and I discussed my book, There’s a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go. I can’t begin to express to hostess Kay how much I appreciate her selecting my book and how much fun it was to see how the book affected the club members.
They brought heirlooms to discuss and share with the group ranging from Mary Jo’s father’s poem to Ellen’s majorette uniform and other delights! Kay told me it was one of the best meetings the group has ever had! I’m humbled and grateful.
When Thursday arrived, I did a first. I sat down and on the spot, that day, wrote a program for the evening’s gig, in my beloved New Castle for the Young Moderns Home Ec Club. They were hosting their annual guest night with about 40 slated to attend.
I had put off writing their program because I wasn’t sure which direction to go with it. I decided to go with a shorter, more personal program about how I came to write the book and what our family went through during both 2020 and 2021 and how cleaning out the attic and writing the book helped get me through some tough times.
I ended on a personal note about how we all made it! We survived a worldwide pandemic and it’s something to celebrate!
Oh, but I'm not done ...
Saturday's road took me east to another mother-daughter banquet, this one at Hagerstown’s New Testament Church of Christ. The Friendship Circle outdid themselves in décor and attention to detail, along with delicious food. They even surprised me with inviting my cover artist Marilyn Witt to join us! It was lovely. Just lovely.
As I continue the spring tour of ladies banquets, libraries, and other stops, I found myself over the weekend at two venues. Saturday was a brunch in Selma at the Christ United Methodist Church. I was invited by Anita Price.
It turns out that this church is the "home" church--if not now, in their childhoods or other previous years--to several women I know. Jackie, a retired teacher from my sons' elementary school, was on hand as this is her hometown childhood church!
So often, anywhere I go in Indiana feels like home. Connections abound!
Attending were some Bible Study Fellowship mentors, including with Anita, our long-time teaching leader Jodie, and group leader, Brenda, along with at least a couple others who were there. The committee provided fun decorations and a lovely brunch. Thank you Anita, for taking a chance on someone you have never heard speak before to provide the program.
Friday night found me in my home-away-from-home, Henry County, where Debbie from the Mt. Zion Wesleyan Church invited me to be the banquet speaker with a theme of "Garden Party." When I walked into their gym/multipurpose room, this bouquet was my welcome, and now greets me when I walk into our dining room:
The committee worked hard to carry out the spring floral theme, but also decorated the stage in keeping with the theme of my 2022 book, There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go.
A nice crowd filled the space and enjoyed a meal of a baked potato and taco salad bar, and dessert. There was a Garden Party photo booth, door prizes and fun.
Grateful for these lovely gigs, when I got home Saturday afternoon, I felt relieved that I didn't conflate the two gatherings! I had never been to either of these venues, and since they were hours apart, I hoped I didn't talk about gardens where trips were the theme, and vice versa.
And I was tired! That was my third program for the week. Tuesday's was at the Knightstown Public Library, and we had a wonderful time with my signature "What's in Your Attic?" program. Several attendees brought their heirlooms.
Today I have been working hard my to-do list; tonight is the last BSF of the 2021-22 year with our Share Night next Monday, and then we're off for the summer. I think I'll take the next hour off before it's time to get ready to leave. It's a busy season. But busy in a fulfilling kind of way. Hope your week is a good one.
I suppose you could call it a book tour, indie style.
Or the busy, spring season right after your book comes out.
Or you might just call it hitting the road again.
It's a fun week after a great Easter Sunday. I'm heading out to the Fairmount Public Library in a few hours where Director Linda Magers graciously invited me in to give a "What's in Your Attic?" audience-participation program tonight. We will have fun!
Big thanks to our mutual friend, Cathy Shouse, for introducing us, and for using her fine journalism skills to spread the word in area newspapers, including the Marion Chronicle-Tribune.
Tomorrow, I'm speaking at the Henry County Extension Homemakers' annual Achievement Day. It will be a happy time with a good number signed up to attend. They haven't gotten to have this annual time together since April 2019.
I look forward to seeing what the Homemakers bring as they will provide centerpieces and decor with heirlooms they will also share in a show-and-tell activity at the end of my program. Another fun day when the sun rises tomorrow.
A couple fun things to check out. I was interviewed for this podcast on April 10.
This looks quite interesting. Who knew?
And finally, here's my most recent column for the newspapers I write for. Enjoy the rest of the week whether you're wearing your heavy-duty winter coat like I did last night, or sandals, which I hope to sport on Saturday ... at my third gig of the week.
Goal: Do better than ‘light’ housekeeping
If you’re amped up on spring cleaning, ready to blend that perfect mix of vinegar and water to make the windows shine, if you can’t wait to tidy up the landscaping, or clean your woodwork, you have my admiration.
It’s my second spring as a retiree, and our house could use some sparkle, our landscaping some tidying, our woodwork some scrubbing.
I’ve allowed light housekeeping to become a permanent state. In fact, using the word “light” as a descriptor is more aspirational than actual.
This isn’t what I thought this era would be. I figured with all this time at home, and the kids out of the house for some years now, our house would resemble a bed-and-breakfast lobby, but somehow, I’ve found other priorities than making that happen.
Such as routinely hanging out in my pajamas until noon.
It’s not that I can’t clean in my PJs. I’m just lazy. But also, morning is when my mind is as nimble as it gets. It’s when I catch up on email, work on book programing and publicity, and come up with my best ideas—the ones that seem less than outstanding by afternoon.
Since his retirement seven years ago, Brian has taken over the vacuuming and most laundry except for what I call “specialty” loads. This is the clothing with tricky fabrics and icky stains that need the kind of TLC Brian won’t provide. He prefers gathering all dirty clothes and stuffing the lot into the machine.
He's the Bobby Knight of laundry. No matter the fabric, the stains, nor the colors, the dirty clothes are all expected to pull their weight. Then he turns up the heat in the dryer.
Brian is gruff with our laundry, and doesn’t make exceptions for fabrics that need a little more encouragement to come clean than, say, poly-blends. It’s as though he’s lecturing the sweatshirts and dress pants, the church clothes and underwear. “You’ll all get along. That goes for you lightweights. And for you with special instructions on your tags—dream on. No one is a VIP in this load, got it?”
So that’s why I pull some things out before he gets to them. You know, the delicates and hand-washables that need a little boost. Some of us require more hands-on support than others. Call me the laundry good cop to his bad.
But dusting? Brian doesn’t dust. I’m not big on bed-making unless someone is coming over. If that’s the case, it’s game on, complete with stacks of dressy pillows, meant to glamorize ordinary beds.
Today I surprised myself. I took a chunk of my usual morning writing time to thoroughly clean out the refrigerator and freezer, along with relining fridge shelves with plastic to pretty-up the aging surfaces.
Martha Stewart would be horrified to see what I had in there to throw out. It amounted to a kitchen garbage bag full of bulky containers and leftover-too-long food remnants. But the end result is a thing of beauty: pretty bowls of oranges and apples; the cheeses lined in a row in their drawer with the cheese sticks separated thoughtfully from their perforations for easy grabs.
Even the potatoes are reclining comfortably single-file in their mesh bag with a suite, uh, drawer to themselves.
We can even see what’s in the freezer over looking at jigsaw-puzzle-esque pieces of partial bags of fries and tater tots, blurs of frozen strawberries, and cartons of low-cal freezer meals.
When I finished, I needed a nap. It was 9 a.m.
But I need to sweep and clean the floors, dress the kitchen and dining room tables with tablecloths and centerpieces. After all, the church ladies are coming over for a supper meeting tomorrow.
I keep opening and closing the refrigerator door for inspiration, and as a reminder that I can do this! What happened to the lady who wanted to open a B & B nine years ago when she wrote her first book?
I don’t know why I’ve become so, shall we say, relaxed about housekeeping. I always figured I would accomplish many things if I only had the time. But 15 months into retirement, I now know that it’s not about time. There are just other things I’d rather be doing.
Such as writing this column.
It’s time to get back at it and knock out that kitchen. Then, I need to make sure I have everything put away from Christmas.
After all, Easter is over.
Connecting the dots: This Julie Jolliff photo was taken during my talk on Saturday at the Union County Public Library in the community room where the original library had the checkout desk and books when I was a kid. I used the entrance you see at left, center, for my first-ever visit--and library card.
I remember the day.
I may have been 10, accompanying the neighboring Chapman kids and their mom to Liberty. I suppose their mother was grocery shopping at Woodruff’s, close to the Union County Public Library, and we girls were killing time.
We walked through the lower-level library doors. I had never been there before. The Chapman girls had library cards. They said I should get one. So, I did –my first library card!
It was a defining moment, although I can’t tell you what or if I checked anything out that day. I never dreamed then of the places a library card would take me, including cyberspace, and being able to read checked out books on my telephone!
Who could have imagined that more than half a century later, I’d be in that room we entered through those side doors, standing at a lectern, giving a talk about the day I got the library card—and about my third book? Yet there I stood Saturday, with some family, some childhood friends, and some community folks listening.
Library Director Julie Jolliff wasn’t even born when my library card was issued. I think I surprised her by having it.
That’s a pack rat for you—and for that I make no apologies. That library card is a passport to not only stories I read in books, but to memories.
I told some stories from There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go, that relate to growing up in Union County at Rural Route 1, Brownsville. There was talk, following the book signing, of some other venues I might speak at locally.
My personal “drop the mic” moment came when an audience member, Janice, told a story about my grandma! The story even related to some artifacts I displayed that day. When you get to be in your sixties and come across someone who remembers your grandma, who was born in 1892? Priceless.
If only for a couple hours that day, I felt as though I had never left home; had remained a part of the community. It's called roots.
Julie filled me in on the many ways the library serves the community. I follow the UCPL page on Facebook and in local media where I read about the ways it serves all the population from toddlers to the most senior members of the community.
It’s not “just” a library. Not that any library is that—as a library introduces us to a world, at our fingertips—through books written over millennia as well as the most current bestsellers, periodicals, and other forms of modern media. Yet those are only a small part of what modern libraries do in and for their communities.
Libraries provide programming for young and old alike, offer services such as meals and daycares, gathering spaces, a clearinghouse for family and local history, answers to questions and how-to information. Libraries are community centers for activities, conversations, meetings, and life.
I am inspired and delighted by Julie’s enthusiasm for her job, and by her love for the community that I too love. I thank her, as well as Cindy Morgan, for inviting me into their world, just as the Chapman girls invited me with them into the library so many years ago.
Through the years, and in particular, during the last nine on my author journey, I’ve been in many libraries, large and small, in a variety of cities and towns and settings from A to Z—Attica to Zionsville. Each library and its personnel and patrons come with a distinct vibe and personality. I love how they are not all the same, but rather, quite the opposite of the same!
It is a blessing to see that the first library I ever entered remains in good hands.
I think the good people of Ukraine are showing us all regardless of our political stripe, that it is good to love your homeland, good to feel a link with a place and a people. Good to value your roots.
I’ve always felt those things about my little slice of the sweet land of Union County, Indiana. A little farm community? You betcha: the permanent address of my heart.
And ... where I'll be on Sunday:
SPRINGPORT-I knew that Friday would be a treat. Not only that hostess Cindy Bay's beautiful noon meal of nibbles, individual salads, hot chicken salad, and a chocolate and ice cream dessert (don't tell on me at WW) would be delicious, served on her vintage spring lily of the valley plates, but that the conversation would be lively, and the laughter sweet.
This is the third time the Literary Lounge Book Club had me in for a discussion about a book I wrote. Book clubs are a blast, and it is an author's honor for her book to be featured. But this one had a highly unique twist: That the cover image created by artist Marilyn Witt is modeled -- literally -- after Cindy.
Marilyn and Cindy are both artists and they paint together in New Castle one day a week. Cindy posed for Marilyn to paint the image of a woman at the top of the stairs inside her attic that appears on the cover. So Cindy was there from the ground up.
Guests shared special heirlooms of their own as we chatted and discussed the book and the various ways they related to my chapters about our stored stuff. I made a video of them talking about their treasures but my videography needs some work as I moved the camera in too many different directions and it doesn't look so hot. If I can edit it, I hope to eventually post it. Live and learn.
They shared lovely stories from grandparents' wedding cake toppers, to a first edition of Ben- Hur, vintage jewelry that sparkles in perfect style today, and so much more. Loved our time together.
Look at the way Cindy served sweet little salads.
I'll do a separate post this week about my Saturday at the Union County Public Library as soon as I get the photos together. Today is a major catch-up day! Yesterday I booked another program, and this week a church service group I'm involved with resumes, and the Writer Chicks Society meets Thursday. On Sunday afternoon, I'll be at the Hamilton East Public Library at the FORUM Events Center, 11313 USA Pkwy, Fishers, near IKEA. So I'll have more on that, too.
It's all part of an idie-author spring "book tour." I'm enjoying the ride. Thank you Literary Lounge Book Club! Read on, ladies.
I know. I'm retired. And retirees are supposed to have all the time in the world, right? Maybe someday, but not these days. I intend to devote a blog a week to the journey I'm on with There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go. But folks, I'm typing as fast as I can, and I'm still behind!
I've picked up three new bookings and one possible one since yesterday afternoon. That means corresponding with the persons issuing the invitations, getting it squared away with our mutual calendars, and confirming the specific type of program they want, or maybe a discussion, or something else. Then sending some "press kits," the fancy term for information and photos.
All of that is wonderful, but leaving me behind on this blog, and on the programs I'm creating for upcoming outings.
Last week was about as perfect of a warm March day as an indie author can get. Loretta Sutherland and staff at the Sheridan Public Library had everything in perfect order when I arrived early to get my bearings. (A little secret: I love showing up early for library programs and soaking up the atmosphere.)
Arriving and setting up early allows me time to freshen up, set up my table, make sure a lectern and sound system are in place, and best of all ... visit with early arrivals.
Sheridan Readers are a great group. Some of the library patrons and book club members brought amazing heirlooms for a show-and-tell activity.
I didn't get all their permissions to show photos, so won't, but the stories generated from stuff include a yellowed newspaper ad for Sunkist Tuna. A lady's mother won $10,000 in the advertised contest and the money was life-changing for the family. A man displayed his Railroader grandfather's precision pocket watch; and there were gorgeous vintage post cards, and so much more.
Loretta's round table linen is in beautiful condition. She explained that part of its function was to cover the leftover food so that it could be left on the table following a meal.
As a personal bonus, son Ben was able to drop in for the program and help me pack up afterward. He enjoyed the early evening as well and then, we went to a late supper and enjoyed an hour together visiting.
If your book club or library would like to hear about my programs, give me a shout at email@example.com. Now back to my regular programming ... for the next stop on this journey.
What have I been up to for the past week or two? Prepping for the busy spring season of book presentations and all-out fun. By far, spring is the busiest time for my kind of indie author journey. It's filled with all sorts of opportunities to give a talk to a library book club (such as the Sheridan Readers), participate in a book discussion (and lunch!) with a home-based reading group; present a program and sign books in my hometown (Saturday, April 1) and speak at mother-daughter banquets. Also, work in a Red Hatters group, women's groups, and a state conference, and there you have my spring.
The prep involves writing new programs or tweaking others, gearing each to the particular audience or purpose of my invite. Between now and the start of summer, I have 14 gigs of various kinds. Each is an opportunity to interact with readers and to look for the blessing--because there always is one or many.
Prepping for a program involves more than script writing. It includes assessing what the host expects from my visit--not only in terms of content, but publicity--and what special needs are requested, such as a table to accommodate themed props that complement the book, copies of the book, a lectern, sound system, and other tech needs.
This morning I sent out three press releases for an upcoming venue. I view the releases as both a way to invite the public, but also a means of publicity for perhaps future invites. It's akin to throwing out a line and waiting for a nibble.
Every author approaches a book launch differently. Some might rent a facility, book a caterer, and mail out invites to guests for the official "launch." I would find that intimidating and prefer more of a soft launch approach in letting my various venues become my "launch."
The word "launch" is a bit of an unsettling term for me, personally. It feels as though there will be a big bang involved, the ground will shake, the earth will move. I'm not up to the pressure of that level of hype. I see "home-based" launches on programs, maybe C-Span at a rich author's Martha's Vineyard summer home or something. They sip cocktails and maybe someone plays the grand piano. That's not me.
So I move about the state when invited, and enjoy the journey, a soft launch.
This spring, I'll be in Sheridan, Springport, Liberty,, Fishers, New Castle, Knightstown, Selma, Hagerstown, Richmond, and Brookville--some, multiple times.
Meanwhile, here's a couple photos from what I've been up to recently.
March meeting of Writer Chicks Society met in the Fairmount Public Library. Shout out to Linda, the accommodating librarian who has permitted us to meet in her cozy library twice now. March hostess was Cathy, who arranged for our venue, a pitch-in chili meal, and guest speaker Gloria Doty.
Gloria's prolific work spans genres that include cowboy romance, devotions, children's books, and a memoir. Gloria has developed a loyal team that handle editing, cover design, and interior layout so that Gloria can focus on her writing.
She's a speaker, and is comfortable with what works for her. Learn more about the Fort Wayne-based author at www.facebook.com/gloriadotywriter or on her website, www.writingbygloria.com.
As indie authors, we're all about creative ways to get our books out there. I put it on social media when I'm headed to Henry County. I spent 31 years working in the communities there covering people's stories--and lives. I still write a twice-monthly column for the New Castle Courier-Times, two other daily papers, and for a news and sports blog.
When long-time reader Phyllis in Henry County called to tell me she would like a couple signed books, I promised to stop by that week on my way to New Castle. We had a nice visit, and she wanted to show me something.
When she opened the doors to her pie safe, inside were a variety of files ... at first I didn't understand what I was looking at. Look closely, and you might see that my name is on two thick, blue volumes. Those contain clippings from stories I have written over the decades.
Can I tell you that I was stunned? It fills a special place in my heart to know that my articles and columns have been clipped, saved, and preserved by a reader! Phyllis! I'm touched deeply. When I got into the car, I found she wrote the check for more than required. When I went back to the house to tell her and refund the excess--Phyllis said the $5 was a tip for delivering the books. Can you believe it? It was beyond a blessing to chat with her that day. Thank you, Phyllis.
The journey continues. Can we write the obituary for COVID? I think I shall give it a stab (pun intended) for my next newspaper column. It sure is good to get out and see everyone.
Pre-spring blessings to you all. See you down the road.