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September 30, 2008


It is just too bad when a few bad apples ruin it for everybody, in this case -- little children in South Whitley.

Many by now have heard that vandals wreaked enough havoc on the midway, slashing a giant inflatable shark and doing who knows what to some other rides – allegedly. The reports about exactly what happened, like any interesting news in a small community, have probably been embellished with each telling. Regardless, something unfortunate happened.

Angered, the carnival packed up and left town early. This left more than a few children and adults disappointed on Sunday when there were no rides. What a shame! You can’t blame the carnival folks – the suffered what various people have indicated was some fairly expensive damage to their equipment. We can, however, blame the idiots that ruined the experience to a certain degree for everyone else. I just bet that if they had to explain their actions to an angry, sobbing three-year-old who didn’t get to enjoy the rides on Sunday afternoon as planned – they might have taken a little less joy in their revelry on Saturday night.

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September 28, 2008

The Blessed Arrival of Twins

(Written Monday, September 22, 2008, at 7:45 a.m.)

At this moment, I’m sitting in the recovery room at Parkview North Hospital. All that separates me from my sister are two doors to the operating room. All that separates her from her twin sons is a layer of flesh.

Every single noise has me peeking around the corner where I can see what’s going on – each clank of some mechanism in the door jerks me to attention.

This morning as I drove from Columbia City in the dark toward the hospital to be here for my task – the photographer – I was struck by how odd it felt for it to finally be “the day.” For months, we’ve prayed to keep those babies in and now it is safe at last for their arrival.

Arriving, I found her and her husband to be considerably more nervous than me. Moments ago, I received a call from our brother – he’s nervous too.

In hopes of calming down, I just listened to a fun song that reminds me of my sister, “Boogie On Reggae Woman” by Stevie Wonder. We played that song at Sarah’s wedding and I rem…

(At this point -- I hear cries! Loud wailing next door! Could that be them? Are they here? I’m sure I’ll find out momentarily…)

I sit here remembering the joy of Sarah and Adam’s wedding and a year ago, in the spring, sitting in the waiting room at Parkview Hospital’s Randallia Campus waiting for news of Eleanor’s arrive into the world. I was, on that blessed day, the first one outside of her parents to meet her, marvel at her and to, of course, photograph her.

It is hard to believe that their little family will number five within a matter of minutes.


It is now nearly a week after the twins’ arrival. I had to stop writing and listening to the iPod because I was unable to focus. Every noise had my attention and after hearing the cries, I knew someone would be out to tell me the news at any time. A short while later, my sister’s nurse (a friend of hers) came out and told me they had been born. What seemed like an eternity later, I actually got to meet the twins.

I am now the proud aunt of two little nephews – William and Thomas. They are absolutely beautiful little babies and despite a few, fortunately brief, scary moments – all seems to be well. They went home from the hospital yesterday. Seventeen-month-old Eleanor, according to my sister, now looks like a giant compared to her tiny little brothers. She is very excited about them and is talking about them. I will never forget taking her to the hospital to see them last Tuesday – she danced! She was dancing around by their isolettes! Was it the frozen custard we ate in the car before the visit? Probably…but I think it was also that she’s delighted they are finally here too!

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September 14, 2008

Grateful to the neighbors for putting the float back in my boat after the Ike-inspired storm

(Talk of the Town photo by Stephanie Carpenter) Our 1956 Thunder Bay spent a little while submerged under the dark waters of Loon Lake this evening following the Ike-inspired storm late today. By the time this photo was taken, 2/3 of the water had already been pumped out. Stephanie sent this photo from her cell phone for posterity.


Thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Ike, our beloved 52 year-old runabout had a brief foray as an underwater shipwreck this afternoon. As awful as that sounds, that’s not even what I want to tell you about, actually.

It’s the neighbors you need to know about. You would be lucky to have neighbors so kind, thoughtful and self-less as I have at the lake. I am forever grateful.

After taking my husband to the airport for his third business trip in two weeks, the children and I stopped to do some shopping and then went home. Coming into the kitchen, I realized that I’d missed a few calls on my cell phone. When I returned the most recent call, it was to one of my neighbors up at the lake. She was frantic and had been trying to get ahold of me for awhile.

Seemingly, we’d gotten a lot of rain up there. A whole lot. And they’d noticed our boat was getting more than a little soggy. Other neighbors, from other vantage points, had also noticed the problem. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse as the storm grew worse. Major waves and wind resulted in our boat rapidly sinking about ¾ of the way underwater late in the day.

Before I was even aware any of this had happened, a gathering of neighbors from all along the south shore of the lake had banded together and pulled the boat up as close to shore as they could. Using a sump pump, they worked together to remove most of the water so that by the time I got word about what had happened (and then frantically drove up there to see what I could do about it), they were already well in control of the situation.

When I arrived, a big group of neighbors could be seen, gathered on the pier as well as in and around the boat. Some were pumping water, others were trying to get the engine restarted, hoping the brief underwater exposure had not permanently damaged the vintage motor. Still others were running errands for those working on these projects.

I was speechless. What heart-warming kindness! What genuine friends who would immediately come to my aid when I didn’t even know I was in need of their assistance!

Had I discovered the submerged boat, myself, I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t even know who I would have called.

I am contemplating what I might be able to do to thank them all for having helped me. I’ll start here…but it just doesn’t seem enough.

Thank you more than you know…Scott & Amy Bean, Paul Squires, Sean Pierce, Stephanie Carpenter, Wes Squires, Ed Chafin and Vince Dial. I am grateful for your help today and to have you as neighbors.

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September 09, 2008

A view on the future?

(Photo graphic by Jennifer Zartman Romano) Could this be a vantage point for the future? Hmm...an announcement is forthcoming in the next few weeks.

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Deep sixing the cable

When it first happened, you might have thought something horrible transpired in our home. There was crying – and outright expressions of grief, listlessness and dread.

Yeah, we killed cable last month. We pulled the plug and ended it all.

The decision came after considerable discussion and the realization that we didn’t really need it or utilize it that often. Well, some of us watched it more than others, but those parties really didn’t get a vote in the matter since it is the parents who are in charge in this household.

The “children’s” programming was filled with innuendo, smart-mouthed teenagers and a peppering of commercials heavily marketed at youngsters. After catching a young mouth repeat phrases that weren’t really age-appropriate and mimic behaviors more likely seen on a teenager as well as witnessing active children become increasingly lazy in front of the tube, we decided to make a drastic change.

Where were the educational, squeaky clean programs of my youth? Oh, yeah, those are on PBS...which we can watch without cable. We also realized that most the programs we really enjoy and frequently watch aren’t even on cable. In buying the new digital converter box, we found that we gained some new channels and one of the best is a PBS station entirely devoted to excellent children’s programming.

So what did we decide to do instead?

There are some more healthy objectives that can be met by reallocating that expense in the form of a YMCA membership. You can actually watch cable while you’re at the YMCA…while you are simultaneously walking on a treadmill or using the Stairmaster.

Occasionally, I hear people bemoan the cost of a gym membership. Those people don’t typically have a gym membership and probably haven’t actually looked into getting one. Yet, those same people think nothing of adding more movie channels to their cable package or nickel-and-diming themselves in other ways – endless fast food meals and other pointless vices. It’s about priorities.

Anything is affordable if it is important to you. You make concessions and sacrifices to meet the objectives you have for yourself and your family. You trade something out in favor of something else. You do it and sometimes you don’t even realize it, but if you sit down and look at the direction your money goes – you might be surprised. And you might find you’d rather spend it in other ways…or it would be wise of you to spend it in other ways.

About a month after cable met its end in our household, I’ve seen some very favorable changes. There is less insistence on watching television, less whining when it gets turned off and there’s been more time spent in physical activities. With the “children’s programs” removed from the household lineup, the educational channel has become a favorite. PBS, we’ve found, has an excellent channel dedicated to the kinds of children’s programs I watched as a youngster. Another great thing: the marketing has stopped, so I’m not hearing so much about, “Buy me this!” or the other random factoids about things they saw being sold on television. I certainly feel more in control of what they’re seeing and being exposed to.

Best of all – I’m seeing a lot less attitude in one little lady in our household. Someone has gone from “going-on-fifteen” back to age four and a half.

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