Commentary

This is all commentaries on WVPE including Friday's Michiana Chronicles Feature and occasional one-time contributors.

Monica Tetzlaff

Finally, school is out, and it’s pleasure-reading season!  We’re celebrating at our house by launching a Little Free Library in our front yard. Like an excellent book, our experience has already held suspense, plot twists, and even inspired some tough self-reflection.

It’s curious, isn’t it, to remember a moment of silence in a college classroom nearly forty years later? To recall what took place during that silence, something of the words that were spoken next, and the young man who spoke them. He was an international student studying for a bachelor’s degree here in the Midwest, and he remains a ghostly presence in my mind. When his homeland is in the news, as it has been in many sad, even brutal circumstances over the years, I remember him.

Commencement at Notre Dame

May 26, 2017
Sid Shroyer

The last time I attended a Notre Dame commencement was also as a reporter, in 1981, inside the A-C-C, and President Ronald Reagan was the honored guest. It was his first trip out of Washington after he was shot and the mood was warm. He delivered a broad, philosophically conservative message, but the speech was a talk, humane, and his presence belied his reputation as an ideologue.

Andrew Kreider

Evelyn Kreider was my grandmother.  When she died earlier this month, she was 102 years old.  She was a remarkable woman, a devoted listener to WVPE and possibly the most passionate critic, for good and ill, of my work on Michiana Chronicles.  She will be missed.

ready.gov / U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

If you’ve always wondered how to make your husband’s face contort into confusion, fear and amusement all at the same time, tell him you’d like to buy a gun.  Especially if you already had one but sold it once you had children because it was just too risky to have it around.  It is even more fun if during this conversation you use the words “Bug Out Bag” or the initials W.T.S.H.T.F. followed by ‘bag’.  Some of you are nodding, some of you have the same face my poor hubby had.  In today’s uncertain political climate, I just want to be prepared.

The Basque Museum and Cultural Center

He cautioned me back when I was a spritely youth. The he? My much-respected Daddy.  The caution: “Jeanette, possessions are very confining. Pretty soon, you don’t own them, they own you.” Although warned, nevertheless, I persisted and blithely spent the next boo-coo, bijillion years of my life filling my space with “stuff.”

David James

Seven objects- found in a corrugated box on my sun porch, there since 2014 when I moved in.

A copy of my 2007 1099, listing my music income for the year as $3725.00. Ten years ago. Never had the knack o' making money-learned that from my ole man, who died intestate, bankrupt, and drunk, bless his heart. That's  why I had to wait on Social Security for any hope of a mortgage. Realizing I had a time capsule here I started paying attention to the contents. Most were innocuous cash register receipts, but buried in the shambles were:

Government Regulations Are Personal

Apr 21, 2017
Ken Smith

My story begins 23 years ago. I was at a conference a couple of blocks from the White House. Nobody had cell phones, but somehow word reached me to call my parents’ house in Missouri. Not a good omen. In a dim alcove off the hotel lobby I found a pay phone and tapped out their number. My sister answered and said, “Let me get Mom.” That wasn’t a good sign either. When my mother came on, she said, “Take a deep breathe, son,” and tethered to that pay phone I listened.

Spring Sap

Apr 14, 2017
April Lidinsky

When your parents name you April, and your birthday is smack in the middle of this luscious month, you just can’t help but be an optimist. I have always been more Dylan Thomas than T.S. Eliot.  My whole childhood, when teachers turned the classroom calendars to “my” month, my heart would swell like the crab apple blossoms tapping on the windows of Green Mountain Elementary.

Check Your Travel App

Apr 7, 2017
Sid Shroyer

The toll road was a nuisance last weekend…down to one lane for repair work much of the way to the last toll booth. The Notre Dame entrance is closed, for repair. I guess everyone knew that but me.        

I should have checked the app before Mrs. Shroyer and I left. I like to head up Twyckenham to Douglas and over to the toll road, now; it’s a scenic, by South Bend standards, way to get out of town. It’s just as easy, though, to head out Sample to 2 and 20 all the way to I-94. I would have gone that way if I had checked the app.

Heather Curlee-Novak

I’ve been struggling to find joy lately. I took the Facebook app off of my phone so I could control my exposure to…All The Things. I am staying engaged, I am in the resistance, but I need to keep myself balanced and encouraged.  I look for big ways to make an impact.  I am in groups and I am writing letters and I am making calls.  I marched in a local women’s march.  I am doing what I can to be positive but it is hard and I am often afraid.

Death from a Distance

Mar 29, 2017

I’ve never been one for murder mysteries, but lately I’ve spent much of my “down time” watching the kind of British detective dramas that run on PBS stations – series like Inspector Lewis and Grantchester. In such shows, idyllic English villages and towns suffer an astonishing number of grisly murders.

It’s Monday morning, and I have just survived an entire weekend at downtown Elkhart’s first ever Comic Con.  What’s a Comic Con, you ask?  Well,  it is a comic book convention – thus the name – at which thousands of fans gather to meet celebrities, buy collectibles, listen to guest speakers, watch movies, network with other fans, and dress up as their favorite comic characters. 

Sarah McGee / Flickr

Not so very long ago, I came across a quote from the playwright, John Guare, “Writing is another kind of performance. You get to play all the parts,” he said. Sounded like just the ticket, so, as they say, I’m gonna write/tell/perform a little story for you here.

Symphony of the Ring

Mar 3, 2017

Now. Where to begin? Ah yes.

Why Poets Rhyme

Feb 17, 2017
Ken Smith

My hobby last year was writing little six-line poems. That was a surprise. Even more surprising was that I wrote ninety of them. They each have a rhyming pattern modeled after a very moving poem by W. H. Auden called “Epitaph on a Tyrant.” Auden wrote it in the 1930s about Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini. He was trying to figure out how a tyrant’s brain works. His poem goes like this: Epitaph on a Tyrant. Perfection of a kind was what he was after, and the poetry he invented was easy to understand.

April Lidinsky

I knew I was in trouble when a gentle question floated by another activist cracked the thin shell of tension holding me together, and I burst into manic laughter. The question was: What are you doing for self-care?

Speak Peace

Feb 3, 2017
Heather Curlee-Novak

I am reeling lately from the social media frenzy of friends and fake news and divisive politics and all of the powerful words from a Martin Luther King Day workshop I attended at Valparaiso University.  Forgive my fumbling through a few of these thoughts as I try to figure out how to find peace and live well in our current world and circumstances.

God is My Co-Pilot

Jan 27, 2017
Columbia Pictures

Telling stories became a part of my routine when I was teaching. Over time these stories developed into what you might call stock pieces … I had a few in my pocket for when transcendentalism and agreement in number just weren’t cuttin’ it that day……and in each telling they evolved….the plot arc is bending toward justice…..

I know the importance of detail, and in teaching writing I told high school students that they should consider being uncertain in a memory detail as a story-telling opportunity, an opportunity to remember things the way they ought to be.  

This week is framed by two events that seem to be in tension with one another. Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and today is the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The simmering tension between these two events boiled over in the conflict between Donald Trump and Georgia Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis. That conflict reveals a troubling trend in American culture.

The trouble with teaching is sometimes your students force you to learn things you never wanted to learn.  For some, this can mean new forms of exercise – like piloxing – for others, mastering technical terms in foreign languages. For me, the unsettling territory into which I have been thrust this month is… the banjo.

Going Home

Jan 6, 2017
Christopher Manson

“Over the river and through the wood, to grandfather’s house we go,” so says the 120-year-old song. (Although I always thought that it was Grandmother’s house, but I seem to have got that wrong—more about that later.) Given the song’s New England roots, its age, and the mental pictures of folks in horse drawn sleighs, it’s amazing that it continues to work here in fly-over land in the 21st century. Turns out that here in the Midwest, there still are rivers and woods and grandfathers too, for that matter. And, trucking off to visit folks for the holidays happens as well.

Good Riddance, 2016

Dec 30, 2016

I get the last Chronicle for 2016. [sings] “Fast away the old year passes,” couldn’t end fast enough for me. It was a leap year, if you’ll recall, and altogether too much “leap” for me. That extra day, I think, was the tipping point; that meant .2739726 per cent more fake news, unkeepable promises, odious posing—did you notice the candidates had their own unique arm, hand and finger gestures? When we were kids we called that “fakey.” Now I call it posturing—same thing only a two-dollar word.

Wrestling with Twitter

Dec 23, 2016

Now here is a question that would have been absolutely meaningless eighteen months ago. Should I read Donald Trump’s tweets or not? Wild as they are, do his little messages matter? One web-savvy friend of mine says, No, don’t waste time on his tweets, he’s a troll and the tweets are a distraction. Others say we have to monitor to these brash and pithy Twitter pronouncements. Read or not read? How to decide? I find my answer in some cherished memories of professional wrestling.

A Radical Age

Dec 16, 2016
April Lidinsky

The curse of the English major is that everything’s a metaphor. It seems to be catching.  Bleak political prognosticators have been warning, “Winter’s coming!” apropos of, well, everything in the news. Fear and division hang like a chilling haze —  but I’ve been kindling my spirits by digging into my family’s roots for lessons of diversity, warmth, and empathy. Deep down, our families — together — hold this wisdom for us to recall.

Thanksgiving for Snow

Dec 9, 2016
Sid Shroyer

It’s good to see the snow back this week. It quietly reminds me that warmth and community are essential for survival. When I was eight Dad decided on the way home from the Grant County high school basketball tourney that U.S. 35 was drifting shut so he turned the Chevy around and the family spent the night with Aunt Emmy and Uncle Howard back in Marion. They were happy to have us.  A cold bed in a lonely room returned to life and we didn’t have to go to school the next day.

Heather Curlee-Novak

I am embarrassed to admit this, but I am spoiled. Spoiled rotten and maybe a skosh lazy.  And again, pampered and spoiled.  Our front door is to blame for this revelation.  We live in a lovely little bungalow from 1920 and all of the things do not work all of the time.  This front door of ours actually still has the original doorknob and skeleton key slot.  It is quite the physical challenge to close it, involving several slammings and a hopping leg dance to get the key to slide the deadbolt.

Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays. The turkey dinner reminds me of the pilgrims at New Plymouth and the rich cultural contributions of the native tribes. I think of the Revolution and the achievement of the U.S. Constitution. Although I acknowledge the harshest and most disappointing elements of our history, what sustains me always is the sense that our Constitution can change and has changed over time, opening new freedoms for African Americans and women, for example.

Dear Mum,

Greetings from Plymouth.  Not the one from my childhood on the south coast with the ships and the ocean breeze, the fish and chips and the fog.  The other one – the one here in Indiana.

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Have you looked out there in the past couple of weeks? It’s been gobsmackingly beautiful.  In Michiana, it’s as close as it gets to Tahiti. No, not the heat, although it had been fairly warm, and not the Gauguin semi-naked ladies, but the Gauguin color palette of reds and yellows and oranges: the leaf-turnings on the trees have been just breath-taking. No need to take a road trip, the local color has been a delight. Truly, it’s been something to have seen, remembered and be prepared, in a couple of weeks, to offer as an example of “what I am thankful for.”

Pages