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Columns

  • Lessons I've learned from the dead

    My father and I were constantly at odds. I can't remember how or when it started, but I do remember thinking that he was the meanest, most unfair man alive.

    That changed right after I left high school as I started learning more about him as a man, and not just my daddy.

    By the time I moved to Georgia, we had a solid relationship-an unspoken one of mutual respect and trust.

    He wasn't into sentiment, and I wasn't about to broach my feelings of admiration for him. I thought I had years to tell him how much he meant to me, and how I finally understood the man he was.

  • You deserve to have all the news

    Let's see, it was late July and I was still new on the job.

    I asked a Sheriff's Office spokesperson about air conditioner burglaries in the county and I also noted my street alone had an AC stolen that was almost turned into a home burglary. And the same road also had a home invasion that resulted in the suspect's death and an armed robbery.

    Like a mantra he said crime was down and pointed to 2007 figures showing crime went down in Levy County.

  • Destroyer is out of service

    Being a Mets fan, it's awfully hard to make friends with a Phillies fan. After all, that's the team that knocked the Mets out of the playoffs last year, and they're about to do it again.

    However, there was one man in Levy County that I could call and joke with about baseball, and sports in general. As late as a week ago Tuesday, we were on the phone to each other talking about the pennant race, among other things in local sports. He was my favorite Phillies fan.

    His name was Claude Lewis, and he was a writer and sports editor for our sister paper, the Chiefland Citizen.

  • Thank you, Claude

    I came looking for a job and I found a friend and serendipity.

    Serendipity is something every journalist needs.

    The tough, but garrulous journalism scholar John Bremner of the University of Kansas told journalists in his seminars they needed to find serendipity.

    Serendipity occurs when you are on your way to one thing and you discover another thing. It brings magic and the joy of the unexpected.

    You could have canned and sold serendipity.

    You lived it very day.

    You shared it every day.

  • Be prepared for your end-of-days

    No one is prepared when the doctor walks into the room and explains that you or a loved one has an illness that cannot be cured. Both family and patient often receive this news at a time when they are already at wit's end - emotionally, spiritually and physically. But what if the illness is there yet the conversation about end-of-life options never happens?

  • Missing the neighbors

    Fred and Ethel are dead. And so are the Clampetts. The entire clan.

    For two days I have mourned the loss of my neighbors-not the sitcom stars of 50 years ago but an entire convocation of spiders, presumably banana spiders, that have resided at my back door all summer and most recently decided to expand their lodging to the front door.

    For the last three summers, I have watched their homes develop over days, weeks and months- lacework webs that bear intricate patterns and designs.

    Visitors often dodged them and admonished me to tear them down.

  • How good is your imagination?

    I have a friend who keeps her watches and clocks set an hour ahead at all times. By doing so, this perpetually late creature of habit has convinced herself that she is always tardy, and when she does show up for appointments, she's on time or early.

    Now of course, somewhere deep within her psyche she knows that her clocks and watches are wrong and that could give her incentive to dally more and being really, really late.

    But she's used her imagination enough over the years that the con works, thereby saving her from embarrassment and reprimand from family and employer alike.

  • Good news, Carolyn

    Chiefland's sewer plant personnel have listened to a salesman and come up with a way to cut their energy use, cut fuel use, and cut the amount of sludge the City Water Reclamation Plant produces.

    If you read the story in another part of this newspaper, you thought it was a story about money and saving energy.

    Really, the story is about building relationships and trust.

    Randy Wilkerson said it was his working relationship with a sales rep from TSC-Jacobs Group, the company that supplies the city with much of its wastewater equipment, that led to the savings.

  • Heard any good news lately?

    As I have interviewed interns and reporter candidates over the last few weeks, one resounding theme kept coming up when I tell them what I think is the best part of working for a small town paper: the interesting people you meet.

    Of course there are the obligatory meetings that must be covered, the birth announcements and wedding news that need to be shared, but by far, the best thing for any reporter is getting out and meeting people who have done things that you only dream or have been places you've only read about.

  • Advice to live by

    I never thought my father and I had much in common despite my mother's ever-constant lament, "You're just like your daddy."

    Back then I scoffed at the idea.

    But then in 1993, my father died suddenly one week after his 62nd birthday and in the 15 years since, not a week has gone by that I don't somehow recall him, his words and his actions.

    He wasn't an affectionate man. He grew up in an era and place where children were begat to work. He didn't know much about tenderness or bonding. His way of showing love was through providing and sacrificing so his family was secure.