Of Grandfathers and Morning Chores
I have always been an early riser, not necessarily by choice, but often simply out of necessity, for I follow the dangerous mantra of “Give me ten minutes and I’ll start a twenty-minute project.”
And if you ask my wife Leigh Ann, many of my projects never quite get completely finished. I’m convinced it’s a male defensive mechanism to which we are predisposed, so we really have no choice but to follow the same pattern. As a result, if someone viewing our partially completed project happens to point out any particular flaw in it, we can simply explain, “I know. I’m just not done with it yet.”
I grew up in a very small town on the Illinois prairie, and often stayed overnight with my grandparents, who lived on a farm just five miles outside of town. Each night when I went to bed I was determined to get up early enough to walk out to the horse barn with my grandfather, who diligently fed his small collection of horses and ponies their morning ration of oats and hay before coming back to the house to a hot breakfast prepared by my grandmother.
It never failed, however, as hard as I might try, that I awoke to the sound and the smell of bacon frying in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet, a sure sign that my grandfather had already returned to the house, and that I had once again failed to get up in time to help him with the morning chores.
Today I have my own modest barn where Leigh Ann and I care for two elderly horses, providing them with their twice-daily ration of grain and hay, checking the water level in their trough, and making sure no limbs have fallen on the board fence surrounding their pasture. Every horse, I have learned, has a keen ability to sense any break in the barrier, and will charge for it, even if he is otherwise perfectly content with his warm, dry stall, his crisp hay, and his savory blend of grains poured into his feed bucket without fail.
The grass, as they say, always does seem greener on the other side of the fence.
Yet another mantra that can certainly get you into trouble.
This week I have no problem getting up a couple of hours before the sun, as we are down to the last few days of preparations for the 28th National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn overlooking Asheville. As much as I pride myself on my planning abilities, there are always those details that cannot be done far in advance, and others that, while completed a few weeks or months ago, require diligent checking to make sure they were done correctly. No one wants to wear a badge with their name spelled incorrectly or have a catalog with the wrong times for a Small Group Discussion, and no exhibitor wants to show up to discover the display case she had ordered has not been delivered to her booth.
So, I will work very hard not to start any new twenty-minute projects this week, knowing that in a few days many of you will be arriving at the historic Grove Park Inn, anxious to get your name badges and your conference catalogs, and even more anxious to meet up with old friends and to make new ones as you wait for the seminars to start and the doors to the shows to open.
And your enthusiasm and your appreciation makes it all worth the little bit of extra effort early in the morning hours.
Until next Monday,
Start making your G.P.I. list!
PS – There are always a few unavoidable cancellations, so if you are interested in coming to Asheville, where the Grueby-green jonquil sprouts are already about four inches high, call the Grove Park Inn at (800) 438-5800.
And if you want to only attend the three daily afternoon shows — the Antiques Show, the Contemporary Craftsfirms Show, and the Books, Magazines, & More Show — no reservations are necessary. Check out the times in conference brochure available at this link: