Michiana Chronicles

Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Heather Curlee-Novak

I have always considered myself a B+ pet owner.  I don’t follow the year round flea and tick treatment and I don’t have my dog’s teeth brushed by the vet under sedation.

Tristan Savatier / Getty Images

Recently, work took me to Las Vegas, where I lodged at an off-strip hotel with a casino. I was there for a popular culture conference, and I found myself paying attention to the most popular activity in town. The casino, with its roulette wheels and blackjack tables, its keno screens, and its rows and rows of video slot machines, occupied a sprawling first floor. From the front lobby, you moved down to the Starbucks and then on to the gambling floor.

Maybe you remember Andy Rooney, an essayist and commentator on CBS’s 60 Minutes? There is no way that I can compete with his voluminous eyebrows, but I often feel akin to his grumpiness. He didn’t have that Eeyore kind of hangdog grumpiness. You know, the “I don’t know, but I don’t think that’s right . . . “ style.  Nooo, Rooney had a fire-in-the-belly, I’m-so-irritated kind of grumpiness that almost made his eyebrows flap in the stout wind generated by his ire. That’s my brand too: a fueled grumpiness. The kind that is fierce, judgmental and self-righteous.

Ken Smith

I came across a small, inspiring story this week, and then another, and another. I did not expect this. In our troubled times, with the climate rattling us up and down like a roller coaster we can’t get off, and politics pelting us like bad weather, I don’t often catch the aroma of fresh-baked inspiration. When I do, I slow down to take a look. First I noticed a page-long chapter in a memoir* by James Rebanks, a quiet episode where at the age of 17 he decided not to buy the car he’d been saving for. Interesting!

April Lidinsky

Today, please open your English Major Handbook to the page titled: objective correlative. As you no doubt remember, that’s a literary term for objects that represent emotions in written or visual texts. You know, in a movie, we might see a teacup smashing to the floor as a sign that the character’s hopes have just been dashed.  I’ve been living with an objective correlative for most of the past year, when I got stuck halfway through repainting our kitchen.  

Michiana Chronicles: Pete's Book

Feb 8, 2019
Pete for America

At the end of the long paperwork process that put South Bend Mayor Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg into the Navy, the induction officer, says, “You said you work for the city, right?”

“That’s right,” Pete says, without adding that he’s the boss.  

Is your employer supportive?

“Yes, everyone has been great.”

Put in for the employer service support award when you get home, he says to Pete. Elected officials always come to the ceremony.

“They just eat that (shit) up.”

Andrew Kreider

We have a lot of speakers in the theater.  Not the lecturing, human kind (although we get our share of those, too).

Joe Chaney

Recently I promised to give a poetry reading with the stated plan of dividing my recitation between poems about dogs and poems about cats. I’d thought I’d written plenty of poems about both, but when I began to list them, I noticed that my cat poems merely mentioned cats. Cats were images and ideas. They figured as symbols. The poems weren’t about the cats, and the cats weren’t characters. They never did anything interesting.

The dog poems did fit the bill. Here is a typical one, called “Bali Dog”:

Bali Dog

We were lost among rice fields near Ubud

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Often in these minutes, I relate light-hearted things. Not so much today. In the cold of the New Year, refugees are on my mind.

Ken Smith

I confess, I was seated at my mother’s dining room table not far from a big tin of Christmas cookies. There were tell-tale shortbread crumbs near me on the purple tablecloth, and a bottomless cup of coffee. From the living room TV came the muffled thunder of volume-turned-low Ghosts of Christmas Past, then Present, then Future, each one Hollywood made wilder that the last, but I ignored them. Much more interesting spirits were spread around us on the table. Not the cookies. We were sorting through a big box of family photos.

April Lidinsky

By the time you’re a grown up  — and woe betide you if that’s all you’re aiming for — it’s pretty easy to stick with what you already know. When I was in a funk about just that state of being earlier this year, my clever friend, Rosie, offered me a book that I in turn offer to you. It’s titled, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty —an NPR name, for you longtime listeners. Among the book’s takeaways for “living exuberantly” is this gem: “At every stage of life, you should be a rookie at something.” It’s timely advice for the new year.

Michiana Chronicles: Napoleon Orwell

Dec 21, 2018

Once a month I meet with my retired teacher colleagues from New Prairie High School for breakfast and it’s like heaven for me. We’ve crossed over into the other side and our friends are there, the lucky ones who made it into the land of milk and honey, French toast and bacon for five bucks, that is the senior menu at Manny’s Café.

Andrew Kreider

Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s the colder weather…. But all of a sudden, a number of the people around me have taken a great interest in hot tea.  English hot tea.  What in my family we refer to as a proper cuppa – as in “cup of tea.”

Heather Curlee-Novak

Have you heard? It is my BIRTHDAY! Well really it is my birthday month, or it was anyway. Still is, if I haven’t gotten cake with you on the calendar yet! After becoming a mama, I moved my traditional Birthday Week into a Birthday Month because…KIDS. As a parent, my needs are often overlooked in lieu of raising awesome young people. I kind of have to get an appointment with my own Dad to not have our conversation overruled by the epic cuteness of my two daughters. But, the more birthdays I have, the more furtive I feel about them, not the “ME! ME! ME!” of it, but the…number of it.

A Dog's Bath-Time Drama

Nov 30, 2018
Joe Chaney

This week at my house we performed the biannual washing of the dog. Our dog Luna has a sort of self-cleaning mechanism—not just the licking, but also fast bacterial janitorial work, or something like that. Her fur is short and sparse. Only very slowly, or hardly at all, does she become sour-smelling as the season progresses. She does have a certain doggy love of goose droppings. She rolls in them, and she seems very pleased with herself afterwards, knowing that she can show off this distinctive perfume to the neighbor dogs.