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July 22, 2008

Same place, same time

A tremendous thing happened recently that, in a lot of ways, is kind of amazing. The three busy women of the Whitley News Network managed to meet up, albeit it briefly, in the same place at the same time -- in my front yard.

Teresa Smith, above left, is the publisher of the Tribune-News in South Whitley and is offering the citizens of South Whitley and Larwill and online news opportunity in the form of www.southwhitleyonline.com

Smith is an award winning journalist with many year’s experience in local media, including past editorial roles at the Times-Union in Warsaw and the Post & Mail in Columbia City. Many may not know this, but because of her extraordinary work in documenting the stories of World War II veterans, the army vehicle on the Kosciusko County Courthouse lawn is named “Teresa” in her honor.

Viv Sade, above right, is part of a team of professionals who recently launched www.buscovoice.com, bringing enhanced online community news to the citizens of Churubusco.

Sade is also an award winning journalist having garnered awards from the Hoosier State Press Association for her writing. If you haven’t read her columns, they are bright, funny and insightful. For many years, Sade was the editor of the Churubusco News and in addition to her online venture, is also an editor for Kendallville Publishing Company’s Auburn Star.

That is me in the middle on one of my proudest days yet at Talk of the Town – the day I was presented with the Chamber Business of the Month award. Upon finding out about the award, I made sure to invite my Whitley News Network partners to join me for the celebration and was thrilled when both were able to accept my invitation to attend.

I'm really honored to be a part of a team of accomplished women journalists who are working diligently to bring news to their community. I honestly cannot think of better people to be leading these roles in their communities and their communities will benefit greatly from their presence.

While we three communicate frequently via e-mail and phone, getting the three of us in one place at one time was quite a feat given everyone’s busy schedules as we hurriedly work to bring the news of Whitley County quickly, accurately and expansively to the internet. So, I’m glad to have this photo!

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July 16, 2008

Farewell to 'Mo

It was a day we all knew would come eventually as he grew older. It’s just hard that it came yesterday.

He became a part of our family so long ago, no one remembers for sure. Our estimates range from 15-17 years ago, but he wasn’t a new pup then either. An old boy with a lion’s mane and stocky build, he was a mutt and we all loved him. The story goes that a farmer was going to shoot him, but my parents rescued him. Some of our best pets came to us that way.

First, he lived in our old brick farmhouse. A temperamental being, he didn’t enjoy the confines of a house. Indoors, he’d pace nervously, his face seemingly showing the anguish of his internal unrest. He preferred a life of leisure out back where he could smell the fresh air, where he could sleep outside under the stars on an old sleeping bag and enjoy his meals with nature. We went above and beyond to make his outdoor abode as comfortable as possible, completely lining his old dog house with cushioning and a fresh coat of paint. He was a simple guy though, and did a little redecorating once he moved in, spending hours tearing out every piece of the cushioning and piling it out front of his house where he laid on it.

He was spirited too. He had a love/hate relationship with cats and a hate/hate relationship with opossums. More than a time or two, he discovered one of those disgusting things enjoying his food and it quickly became their last meal. He wasn’t vicious about it, but handled it like a duty, something that had to be dealt with. He didn’t mind creatures walking past his home, but anything that ran past jostled something within his demeanor that caused him to run wildly after it, breaking chains and uprooting any dog run that attempted to peg him to the ground. As he aged, these outbursts of energy were fewer and further between.

A fierce looking dog with thick paws and heavy head, his look in no way reflected his personality. Instead, he was kind, loving and gentle to everyone who ventured his way.

After we moved away from home and my mother got sick, Nemo went to live with my sister and her new husband. In his “retirement years,” he was again offered an opportunity to move inside and declined, preferring to live in the barn. My sister bought him his own igloo (which he tolerated) and the best food money could buy – a considerable upgrade from the “Ole Roy” he enjoyed in his younger years. At the top of her driveway, he was the sentinel, walking proudly out the barn door to assess whoever came to visit. Little roused his interest and he’d meander back inside to his temperature controlled water dish, special dog food and the occasional treat.

Unlike most in his species, he did not appreciate travel and had no affinity for wind in his hair. So, it was good that his last experience in life was not a car ride to the vet to be euthanized. A big dog, he probably far outlived anyone’s expectations and in the way we welcome death for an old friend or loved one who has lived a good, long life, his departure for eternal sleep at his home was a blessing.

Farewell, 'Mo.

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July 11, 2008

Uh oh...here come the Splashpadites!

To see this impressive structure of metal, concrete and water, it looks like a work of modern art jutting forth from the terra firma of Morsches Park. On paper, it was indeed dazzling and the concept, though we’d never seen on in person, seemed exciting, but I don’t think the full impact of exactly what we’ve got hit me until we went over to experience it ourselves this week.

In five days, I think the children and I have visited newly opened Splashpad at least three times…maybe four…I’ve lost count at this point. 

My initial impression in watching the children at the Splashpad was that it was similar to the joy I experienced as a child running through a sprinkler in my favorite purple polka dotted swimsuit. Sheer glee as the cold water ran across my skin, shrill chirps as I skipped through the wet grass. My wet hair streaming in tendrils behind me as I hopped to and fro across the fan of water thrusting its way across my grandparents’ lawn.

Indeed it was the same scene (only better, perhaps), years later, as my own children ran wild through a series of water features in the Splashpad this week. Their favorites seemed to be the water cannons, the dumping buckets and the guyser-like spot on the western edge of the Splashpad. My son described the water as “colder than ice water” and truly touching his skin, it is frigid…but that doesn’t stop any of the dozens of children we’ve seen there in the past week from enjoying it. Warmed by their excitement, water temperature is inconsequential.

It is my opinion that every parent needs to bring their child, at least once, to experience what may be one of the greatest things to happen to summertime in Whitley County in years. The wonder of it is that there are no boundaries – for the first time we have something that everyone from tiny, tanned tankini-wearing toddlers to taller-than-me teenagers can appreciate unabashedly in its simple elegance.

I say “elegance” because the movement of the water and the almost choreographed quality of children running, laughing and playing has a distinctly beautiful quality to it. We should be proud of our new Splashpad and grateful to those who made it possible. I certainly am – as are my newly-obsessed household of Splashpadites.

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July 08, 2008


The sunlight,

It burns my skin right through my shirt.

One day’s indiscretion...

The next day’s hurt.


--- Jennifer Zartman Romano


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July 01, 2008


The phone rang a few weeks ago and as I lifted the receiver, it was a voice I had not heard in some time -- a friend from college. Although too much time has passed between our phone calls, it was as though we’d just spoken the day before. We traded stories about our families, our jobs and everything that had happened in the past year or so. We were together constantly during college years, in each others’ weddings and had babies just a month apart, sharing the excitement of first-time parenthood.

But, with busy families, miles between us and…life…we lost track of each other and time just passed.

Although too much time has passed between our phone calls, it was as though we’d just spoken the day before. We traded stories about our families, our jobs and everything that had happened in the past year or so. We picked up right where we left off.

It was a similar experience when I received a phone call from a close friend from high school. We hadn’t spoke in at least 13 years. There was no falling out, no great distance. In fact, the fading out of communication had been very anticlimactic, really, as we both could recall. Somewhere along the way, someone didn’t return a phone call. A week passed and then a month. Soon, it was years. As we spoke, though, it was like we’d just missed a phone call, a minor blip on the screen of a friendship. So much to talk about, so much to say. It’s amazing how much time you can spend on the phone and it is as though the conversation just began. An easy, comfortable exchange of daily minutiae, life stories and things in common.

That’s the beautiful thing about true friendships. Regardless of the span of time or the circumstances that keep you apart, you can pick up the phone and pick up right where you left off. There aren’t a lot of relationships like that in life, but when you find one, it is a treasure.

I’ve made a few friendships in my adult life that are much the same. We might not talk everyday, we might e-mail occasionally or talk in passing, but you leave the conversation feeling the warmth of a deep friendship that won’t fade regardless of the days, weeks or years until you talk again. These friendships are the constant in life and worth more than I can adequately describe with words.

I think my lesson in this is not to be so cavalier with these friendships that transcend time, that outlive seasons. Friendships, even carefree ones that seem bigger than us, do require attention and care. I think I’ll work to be a better friend so that years don’t have to pass before we catch up again.


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