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 email@example.com.
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.
So, I needed, no wanted, some pumpkins to scatter in our landscaping. The sign placed along the highway pointed to a rural pumpkin patch. When I got there Friday, I spotted a large assortment of orange pumpkins of various sizes, along with a good many miniatures in white and orange. But where were the prices? Then I saw this money box, above, and this sign, below.
WHO does that? Who entrusts his large crop of pumpkins to consumer goodwill? The Hoosier farmer who lives at this residence, that's who.
So I looked around, trying to decide which pumpkins I would cart home, how many I needed, and where I'd place them. The farmer spotted me and walked down his driveway. He told me to take what I want and leave what I thought was fair. I looked around some more. Maybe they weren't perfect, but neither am I. And how perfect do they need to be to adorn our landscaping and porch just fine?
Then ... he walked back to the house and left me to my own assessment on what the bounty is worth. I hope he liked what I left. I think I was actually more generous than had I bought them at a pricey agri-tourism attraction, well known for its annual harvests.
I was touched.
And inspired by the generosity he offered to not only do up the exterior of the house, but hang the fall wreaths, get out the beautiful fall pillow friend Gay gifted me with in the summer, and fill a bowl with cinnamon-infused potpourri.
Then Sunday morning, when I got ready for church, I decided to wear my new sweater. It's a goldenrod hue, a color I never wear, but I like it. It was on the final clearance rack at a favorite local consignment shop, Sisterhood Exchange, in Pendleton. I was drawn to the subtle ruffle along the row of buttons. But what sealed the deal was the $1 pricetag. I'll be sporting this a lot this fall.
Happy fall, y'all!
Oh my goodness.
What fun we had Saturday when we traveled back in time to visit friends we haven't seen in decades. Brian and I spent almost all of the 1980s in Fountain County where we rented farmhouses in the country for $200 a month, where I started my career in community journalism, and Brian launched his as a school administrator.
It's where we had a baby, Sam, and where we made a life.
We've been gone 30 years this summer, and the regrets we have in leaving are in that we don't get to see these and many more beloved friends in person anymore. If you've been on this planet a minute or two, you know how it is. Life is filled with eras, and the 1980s, for us, were adorned in Mustang Blue and Gold, and centered in the farming communities of Fountain County.
Yesterday was set aside to reconnect. Thirty-years later is a good a time as never to do just that. So we rounded up some folks who seemed interested in a get-together, set a date, and hit the Beef House.
A kind onlooker at a nearby table, a retired teacher from Illinois in fact, asked if we would like for her to photograph the table full. Why yes, please. We have from left, clockwise, Jane Colson, me, Tom and (hidden) Judy Booe, Carolyn (hidden) and Ron Howard, Barb Clark, Phil and Cathy Rash, Debby and John Williams, Ron Howard.
Following our steaks, burgers, salad bars, black-bean soups, ROLLS, tenderloin sandwiches and more specialties of the house, and a constant murmur of chatter, it was time to go. BUT ... for those who could, the party wasn't over. We went back to Barb's house (Hostess with the Mostess) and continued our conversations. Thank you Barb for hosting everyone! And for the sweet treats and beverages!
Saturday was a great day in Covington and Veedersburg! We are grateful for the opportunity to reconnect and catch up with folks with whom we can pick right up where we left off ... back in the '80s.
Let's not wait another THIRTY YEARS before we do this again.
Fall arrives in snippets around here. Even though I tend to hang onto summer as long as I can, once September arrives, there’s a yearning to dig out the fall decorations.
When I decorate for fall though, I like to mostly do so in a way that will remain relevant on through Thanksgiving.
I decided yesterday was the day to swap out the three urns in front of our garage doors. For too long, I tried keeping small green living shrubs planted in them. But in long or short order, the shrubs would die, I’d yank them and start over. Yes, the definition of insanity!
There is no shade on these urns and the evening sun drills the space. So real plants aren't really an option. But the space calls for some softening and decoration. What to do?
I fake it.
This spring I filled the urns with the most real-looking fake lavender I could find. The stems held up so well that I’m stowing them away for a future spring.
I decided to go a similar route for the fall version. I started with stems of autumn leaves I have had for years, along with some faux pumpkins.
A couple months ago, friend Patty Redmond had a trunk full of things destined for Goodwill but asked her friends if they wanted anything in there. I spotted the long twigs and was glad to get them, knowing they would be just right for this arrangement. From those three “elements,” I added stems (on sale) of fake mums and some sticks with small pumpkins on the ends.
I still have the porch to change out but that won’t come until probably next week. I’m giving away the summer summer ferns and they will be picked up this weekend.
In the community where I work (30 years this month!) there’s a successful program called New Castle Downtown. It’s a localized version of a program you might know as Main Street.
Director Carrie Barrett told me that when she first heard the organization’s recommendation to place pots of flowers downtown and keep them maintained, she thought, “Flowers?”
But the pots are a big success. She said they show that someone is home, and that someone cares.
In New Castle, the plants are real, and at Christmas, the greenery is real.
My urns have fake foliage. But I’m OK with that. It’s not your great-grandmother’s plastic flowers anymore. And the material will be around for years to come.
Here in the Hoosierland, recent temperatures have been a delightful preview of fall. Ideal weather. Today they are headed back up where they will remain for a few days.
But cooler days will follow those. And my urns are ready.
How and when do you decorate for fall?
Note: I met Bobbi Cline a few years ago when she owned a bookstore in Pendleton, Indiana. She was fun to talk to, and she even made my first book her store's "book of the month." Bobbi shared with me her dream of owning her own book-publishing company. Well, she's done it! She takes a traditional approach and works closely with the authors she takes on. I was delighted when Bobbi asked me to speak at her first symposium, coming up at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15 in the Indy-Noblesville area. In today's guest post, Bobbi tells us about her business model and the symposium. Maybe we'll see you there.
by Bobbi Cline
When I first came up with the idea for my Writer’s Symposium I asked myself what it was that I
wanted to accomplish and how I wanted to get that idea across with the title.
I’ll start with the title; I chose the word symposium after research and comparing it with more commonly used words for events similar to mine. A symposium is a discussion on a certain topic by
experienced people in that field.
It is not a workshop, it is not as formal or extensive as a convention and, hopefully, not as stuffy as a seminar. It is a discussion.
This leads me to what the Writer’s Symposium is about and why it has become a
passion for me. I am both a writer and owner of Pendleton Publishing.
Pendleton Publishing is a traditional publishing firm; we do not do pay per reads (of submitted manuscripts) or pay per submission, or pay to publish.
Our goal with each manuscript is to help build the authors up and help them on their journeys. We work with authors who are looking for a future, who are interested in continuing their writing careers in such a way that we can support and help them.
However, that is not the goal of every author. Some authors only want to write one or two
books. Or perhaps they want to maintain complete control over their works. Whatever their
desire and/or reason, I want to give them tools to be successful in their goals because I know
how important writing is.
Hence, the Writer’s Symposium was born. The four things covered in each symposium will be; traditional publishing, self-publishing, marketing/media, and motivation to
I want to give writers and future authors the information they need to make the best
decision for themselves and their work. A speaker in each area will give a talk and then be
available to answer questions that the audience may have.
In this way, attendants will go home feeling confident that they are on the path that makes the most sense for them. In addition, because it is not a conference, I have been able to keep the cost, location
and timing reasonable.
We all would love to go to the three or four day conferences that are held in such amazing places as Hawaii, Las Vegas, and New York but for most of us, the registration, travel, and time away from our everyday lives just aren't realistic. My hope is that my symposiums solve these problems and allow anyone who is interested to meet those who can help them on their way.
As a bonus, we will have food, goody bags, and representatives from Pendleton
Publishing will be there to meet with anyone who may be interested in going the traditional route
with their work.
I hope to see eager, new faces on Sept 15th, 1-5 p.m. in Noblesville, Indiana for our Central
Indiana Writer’s Symposium 2019. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite or through the link on
PendletonPublishing.com through Sept 10th.
Bobbi Cline is the publisher at Pendleton Publishing.
This photo of from left, Rick and Gay Kirkton, myself and Brian in front of the Ford museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a typical case in point of how we roll. Much to Brian's chagrin, I'm always ready for a photo op of one kind or another. I have never said, "Oh, we can get that picture later." I have too near 40 years' experience in newspapers to know that the "later" shot often never happens. You get it when you can.
So of course I say, "Let's get a photo of all four of us in front," before we walk in. And who should appear out of nowhere? A professional photographer who said sure, he'd be glad to capture it. He was passing through for an assignment on the grounds.
There's a serendipity to travel. Not just the photo; not by a long shot. When we were anticipating our couples trip with the Kirktons to Michigan to visit the Ford landmark, I tried to remember back to the 38th President's time in office.
I was a teenager, and recalled something about an assassination attempt (there were two), and that Ford pardoned Nixon, and that his daughter, Susan, had her prom in the White House (she is the exact same age, to the day and year, by the way, as Gay).
But I didn't recall all there was to say about the long-time Congressman-turned President from Michigan. Not even close. So what clever turn of phrase would go on T-shirts in the gift shop of his presidential library and museum?
I asked Brian this a couple weeks before we went and he nailed it!
And with that, I had to pick him up the shirt!
Ford made the statement after being sworn in as vice president in December 1973. The full quote: "I am a Ford, not a Lincoln. My addresses will never be as eloquent as Mr. Lincoln's. But I will do my very best to equal his brevity and his plain speaking."
We spent four-and-a-half hours in the museum, learning about how Jerry Ford wasn't born Jerry Ford. His father was abusive to his mother and she left him. When she later remarried a kind man in Michigan, her oldest son was renamed after his new stepfather.
Jerry went on to become an Eagle Scout, popular football player and one handsome fella, I'll tell you! He coached football at Yale, became an attorney back in his hometown of Grand Rapids, then a Congressman serving a quarter century, later veep for Richard Nixon, then becoming President when Nixon resigned.
He had much to deal with, as does anyone who becomes U.S. President, including the energy crisis, the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the decision (which many fervently disagreed with) to pardon Nixon and allow the country to heal and move forward. It is clear from the bi-partisan testimonies found throughout the building that President Ford had the respect of most everyone, and was considered a good, honest, fair man.
Brian said, "We need Gerald Ford now."
And while he was dealing with the nation's business, he was no doubt experiencing tough times with concern for his wife, Betty, who battled breast cancer and would famously go on to found The Betty Ford Center to help those with addictions. She also survived breast cancer to live several more decades.
Here's a few photos from our trip to the museum.
So this was the scene in our driveway yesterday morning. That's seven yards of black mulch. Perhaps we misunderstood the measuring process. When they said we needed seven yards, well, did that mean enough to mulch seven yards in our neighborhood? No?
I've put down bagged mulch for decades. The sight of mulch bags stacked to the sky in parking lots of gas stations are one of the first signs of spring in central Indiana. Through the years I've hauled countless bags of the stuff, about 50 to get the job done every other summer.
I always wanted to get a truck load instead of driving back and forth to stores multiple times. But Brian balked at the bulk.
This year is different. We decided to take a DIY approach to updating our landscaping. We moved here 21 years ago. Things needed refreshing. A big old load of mulch, I convinced him, spread liberally over our landscaping next to the house and on the island out back, would be the finishing touch on our hard work.
And there it was, at the exact time it was due to arrive Friday morning, one mountain of mulch.
Brian took out nine shrubs, and our friend and professional tree man, Rob Tuttle, took out an additional bush, plus ground down all the bush stumps. He did such a great job, you would never know there had been a bush in any of the locations.
Since we had him on the grounds, we marked a dozen or so branches to take off our backyard trees.
Here Brian is after removing green from one of the largest shrubs that has needed removed for some time. Rob would take care of the stumps a few weeks after this scene, recorded earlier in the summer.
Back to yesterday, we got busy! Brian filled our wheelbarrow many times and dumped loads on sections of our landscaping. I spread the mulch to the suggested three-inch depth.
Our neighbor, Dusten, came over to chat about our mulch. He is an avid gardener and used to work as a landscaper. He said three inches deep is ideal because anything less and the weeds will come up; anything more and the mulch might mold underneath.
We were concerned what to do with any leftover mulch (there was little concern that we under-bought). So I asked Dusten if he could use our excess. He said yes! Problem solved!
We mulched everything in sight until we were mulched out, about 2:30 p.m. after starting at 9, and taking a break for lunch. We were both surprised that we got through it so quickly. We both thought it might be a job that would string out over the weekend into Monday.
Dusten said he'd have the remaining mulch out of the driveway by sundown. Brian helped and the task was done well under that goal time!
Another neighbor asked if we were moving. He said he thought maybe we were since we've been doing so much work around the place.
This spring we also got a new back door, this one a slider, as the other one went kaput. Our friend and home remodeling and handyman CEO Monty Foust installed it for us. Brian got a power washer and has been using it around the place, and we put the window air-conditioner in the upstairs study. Yes, guess we have been getting things done in recent months.
So today, we went to the grocery store and we're just chilling the rest of the day, celebrating the move of all that mulch, and the end result. Brian said he went 66 years having never moved a mountain of mulch. He said we can do it again in another 66 years.
I love how clean and neat the landscape looks and how every shrub and plant seems almost under a spotlight now. And I love it that we're done with our season of landscaping projects.
In our many years visiting friend Terri's place on the lake in southern Indiana, the Midlife Moms of Ovid Community Church enjoy a variety of activities that include boating and swimming, tubing, and eating, devotions on the boat. We pepper the time with lots of laughs and stories. Think slumber party without the preteen drama. It's a weekend of heaven on Earth.
Someone usually brings a craft for everyone to do. Just because.
We've outfitted terrariums from thrift-shop glass containers,, constructed paper flowers for a church event, scrapbooked, made bath bombs, embroidered bookmarks, seen who can make the most creative up-cycle from empty metal mint boxs and made Christmas ornaments.
This year I volunteered leading our craft time. We made hats out of newspapers. You can too. Read on.
Now that you have the hat custom-formed to one's head, you secure with masking encircling the outer newspaper and remove it from the head. Now it's time to figure out what type of hat you'll create. Interesting how all our hats were so unique.
Patty folds her pages to form a bill. Use a stapler to secure the paper.
Nice work there, Donna.
Sisters Phyllis and Karen are stylin' in their hats.
Donna's hat, left, includes a paper flower, and scrap ribbon decks out Sharon's creation.
What we've got here: The tweedy fabric on the bottom is our new sectional sofa. I LOVE this fabric! The lighter two pillows in the middle are of a fabric I selected in the furniture store to go on the couch pillows. The pillows were free with the sofa. The pillow in the center is the same as that on the room's "statement" chair.
So here's my decorating storyboard. Only, it's not a storyboard but the real deal. We've done over our family/living room within the past few years. The TV cabinet is the same golden-oak hue that matches the staircase, and there are some antiques and modern end tables in the room, but everything you can sit on is new or almost so.
Who can do everything at once? We can't --or don't choose to, anyway. The decisions are too overwhelming to make at one time. Each purchase requires the appropriate amount of fretting and revisiting and then feeling like you're going to throw up because you maybe made the wrong choice. (That's how I roll with redecorating! Yikes!)
Selecting carpeting is the hardest, followed closely by paint. We got new carpeting approaching four years ago. I wanted the slightly shaggy multi-hued browns-and-beige stuff. Brian didn't like that idea, thinking it would resemble our previous carpeting too much. It was a berber, though, and I thought of it as a cobblestone street. It was time to move on.
For sure he wanted brown. His reasoning? "Isn't all carpet brown?"
Well, no, it's not, but it seemed a good base color. I guess we can't help it. We're drawn to neutrals, and for us, we go to beiges and browns.
Here's a look at almost three-fourths of the living/family room. It's odd that the walls have a light greenish tint here because they don't in real life. I don't think they do anyway! The oak coffee table will stay as is. The boys love that table. It's very sentimental to them. The small reupholstered chair belonged to Brian's folks and we just had it recovered.
It hasn't always been that way. We began housekeeping 41 years ago with the purchase of a brand new house trailer. Carpeting was orange, kitchen wallboard was an orange and yellow print. Our Tupperware was orange. Hey, it was the '70s, people! If you didn't do that combo, it was avacado.
I dreamed of a blue kitchen and soon started collecting a popular line of dishes at the time in a light gray with blue motif. In fact, our houses for the next two decades were largely adorned in blue.
When we moved here, I was ready for some new color and I found it in our green and white ivy-wallpapered kitchen. I loved that room the most in this house. I never thought I'd get such beautiful cabinets -- honey oak. They matched my Seller's Cabinet. Walking into the south-facing room felt like entering a garden.
I never dreamed the day would come where people were painting over honey oak! But that's what they do, but I can't bring myself to do it.
The ivy is gone, and we have a wall color and tile in the kitchen now that is something like "Buckwheat" or some other appealing kind of name, even though I have no idea what real buckwheat looks like.
So now that we have a two-year-old (already!) statement chair in a very busy pattern that I fell in love with, and a second statement chair which is an old family chair handed down that we had recovered this spring in a triangle of cream, brown, beige and gray. We have an ultra comfy new sectional sofa in a soft beige and brown tweed, a faux-leather recliner for Brian and a beige recliner for me.
Well, we looked up and saw that there are some blackish streaks descending from the never-painted-by-us vaulted ceiling. We haven't painted this room in 14 years. FOURTEEN. I emphasize the number only because should we make it into the future that far, I will be pushing 75 and Brian already 80!
But I digress.
SO, here's the question for my dear reader friends, I KNOW a good many of you are very adept at decorating and I am friend-sourcing here. WHAT color would you paint our walls? Brian says, "We could do the same color."
I nominated white. I like white walls. And I've seen some magazine decor that indicates others do too. It's clean, it brightens everything. Brian said no.
Then I discovered on Pinterest that there's a buzz about a new palette (or new to me) called Greige. It's when your color isn't readily identifiable as either a gray or a beige. My dilemma is I want something new and in style in color. But a large sweep of color scares me. It's very expensive to have this large expansive room, halls and while we're at it, the master painted. I want to get it right.
So what do you think. You see the room and the furniture and the carpeting and all those things have to stay. Do you have a greige in your home? Or should I go with a cream, or what?
Weigh in please!
The Union County Courthouse tower, a constant in my life for these 60 years. I took this photo five years ago this weekend. Thirty years ago this weekend, we were ready to launch into a new era, one we're in today, still living in Madison County. This has been home half my life. But parts of my heart remain in both Fountain and Union counties.
Thirty years ago this week, Brian, nearly-three-year-old Sam and I left behind one era of life and set out on a new one. On July 3, 1989, I completed my last day as managing editor of a small newspaper in Attica, Indiana.
Brian had just wrapped up his nine years as a school administrator at Fountain Central Junior-Senior High School.
We would spend the rest of July transitioning to the new home we had bought in Madison County and by August, Brian would be working at his new administrative post in the Hamilton Southeastern School Corp.
The number of mixed feelings about this uncharted new territory was extraordinary. I was more than ready to leave my former job, but knew I would miss certain aspects of my work and I would miss my work peers. I won’t go into what I would not miss!
I would miss Fountain County friends, our wonderful babysitter and her family and our landlord—all who had become like family.
I would be happy to move to a town much closer to my folks who were still living on the farm, although my dad’s dementia was worsening. And it would be a welcome change not to drive 15 miles to a nice-sized grocery store or McDonald’s.
On a daily basis, I was excited about taking a brief time-out from the busy world of community journalism and spend my days with Sam playing, going to the park, pool, and just hanging out. I needed time to settle us into our new nest.
I hoped that a call would come from someone at the New Castle paper asking me if I wanted a job. It did, I did, and early this fall, I’ll celebrate 30 years with The Courier-Times.
Along the way, after a couple attempts, we found “our” church; a variety of friends in a variety of communities; we had a second baby, and now both boys are all grown up and long-since on their own. How can it be, I still ask-that we're empty nesters? I can’t even call Brian a “recent retiree” because he’s been that for four years already!
What I do know is the time passes with brea kneck speed. And we're no longer so inclined to put things off like we used to do for years or decades. Just yesterday I looked up and remarked that our living room could use a paint job. "Do it!" Brian said.
Madison County has been home for three decades. That’s longer than I’ve lived in any other community in my entire life. In fact, I’ve spent exactly half of my life in Madison County, Indiana, and gone to work in New Castle!
I’m grateful to everyone who has touched our lives here, back in Fountain County, or back home in Union County. Some people touch our lives for reasons or seasons and many of you are in and out of it on a regular basis.
Where do we belong? It’s been said that home is where your heart is. I promise you that my heart is in all three locations at once! And I am grateful for so many people, places and things. Thank you most of all to the good Lord for this journey.
Which, Lord willing, and like a good story in a newspaper, is to be continued on another page. Hope you’ll stick with me as the page turns.
Where have YOU called home so far for your life's journey?