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!

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Come spring they say that a young man’s fancy turns to love. But for this old Kentucky girl, spring is time to strap on big Partisan boots for the excitement of the season. First thought when envisioning Partisan boots are those very cool-looking, fold-down, pirate-type boots. While fun-looking, they are the wrong Partisan boots for my interest. The boots required for my spring fancy are those very handsome riding boots, because it’s the new season for horse racing, particularly the Kentucky Derby.

Michiana Chronicles: When Only The Best Will Do

May 27, 2021
Brett McNeil

The masks are off, the summer travel season is set to sizzle and consumer spending is back with a capital B, baby!

Unless it’s not, and gas hoarding and inflation-panic are ill, stagflating headwinds. 

Portentiously, we continue tempting the fates, tampering with the labor pool, paying people to stay home and out of the workforce. The Chamber of Commerce would like to remind everyone: Get Back to Work.

It’s weird out there. Especially in a nation where our truest function is not as citizen or human or even human capital but as discretionary spender.

Michiana Chronicles: Reduced Circumstances

May 20, 2021
Ken Smith

Over the years I grew tired of the not always faster Interstate highway route to see family on the west side of Saint Louis. On I-80 around Chicago, the Slinky-style traffic would have me in the driver’s seat shivering and levitating with frustration.Then there’s the lulling boredom of I-55, where one Illinois mile undulates as mildly and blandly as the next.

Ken Smith

This is April Lidinsky 

And this is Des Harris 

Michiana Chronicles: Enjoy The Silence

May 6, 2021
Katie Gotfried

When I was in my mid teen years, I volunteered at our school library, helping to reshelf books. I would go in after school and push the squeaky wheeled cart through the rows of books. The librarian could hear the wheels squeak and stop as I snaked my way through the stacks. The cart would go silent for long periods of time. In retrospect, I was probably one of the most unproductive volunteers the library had. Books had a way of distracting me.

Photo provided by Sid Shroyer

I’m writing my new grandson a letter. 

Andrew Kreider

This last week I was finally let go from my job – not my regular 9 to 5 you understand, but from my side gig - as a personal shopper.   It was always for a very select clientele, mind you – just my parents-in-law and my mother.  But I did get to do it for an entire year.

Heather Curlee-Novak

My husband says he is a grumpy old man even though he is not old! He is a little bit of a cynic. While his loyalty runs deep to work, friends and of course, darling me, he rarely feels safe meeting new people.  He’s seen enough human behavior to know he wants to choose carefully how he spends his heart and time. I on the other hand, am the Five Year Old. He likens me to that freckled girl in pigtails of my youth standing in the front yard addressing everyone passing by with “Hi!  I’m Heather! Wanna be friends?!?”  He’s not wrong.  I find people fascinating.

Brett McNeil

This time last year, we were still Cloroxing Costco boxes and quarantining groceries in the garage. 

 

Don’t laugh. 

 

My wife returned from one Meier trip dressed like an extra from Lawrence of Arabia -- layer atop protective layer, scarf on mask, hands triple-gloved. 

 

She disrobed complicatedly and straight into the washing machine then ran to a scalding shower.

 

The stage lights are extinguished; the main player has exited through the curtain and the bit players are standing around wondering, “What next?”. Aphrodite has died.

Michiana Chronicles: Greenhouse Bodies

Mar 25, 2021
Anne Magnan-Park

Once, I dug a small hole in the ground to bury a distressing experience I could not take home with me, but the ground was already full.

Michiana Chronicles: The Second Shot

Mar 18, 2021
Ken Smith

At the vaccination center beside the big church, people came and went quickly, so parking was easy. Mask on, and a short walk over to the low building where all the action was. I bet many a wedding reception was held there before the virus came. In the doorway, a greeter saw the vaccine record card in my hand, and said, “Are you here for the second shot of Moderna?” You bet. “If you’d apply hand sanitizer, you can head on in. You won’t have time to read that book—we’re processing a thousand people a day,” he said, in the friendliest way possible.

April Lidinsky

This is a story of losing a cat and finding a community. The timeline? Fifty days that felt like an eternity. 

 

It’s early January, South Bend, and our adult children, working remotely, quarantine and visit with their indoor cats. On January 4, a skilled worker checks in at the side door, and one daughter’s gregarious black cat, Hank, pokes out his head. The worker lunges to stop him. Hank twists through the stranger’s arms in a yowling panic, and vanishes.  

 

Sid Shroyer

Nobody’s getting rich working at WVPE. But, we have the satisfaction of knowing that our work matters.

Maybe we are victims of our own success. We are trying to not be noticed being noticed. We are trying to be noticed by not being noticed, “ motionless in time / As the moon climbs, ” like a good poem, according to Archibald Macleish. Zen and the art of radio station maintenance.

Michiana Chronicles: St. Elmo's Tire

Feb 25, 2021
Andrew Kreider

It all started so innocently.  One of my kids just got a job in Fort Worth, Texas.  And February felt like a great time to help him move, a chance to get out of the cold of northern Indiana and enjoy some warm southern hospitality for a week or so.  My son went on ahead with his dog and a suitcase.  I waited a few days for him to get the keys to his new place, then rented a full-size mini-van, filled it with the makings of the new apartment, and aimed the steering wheel south. How was I supposed to know we had picked the worst week in decades to make the move? … I’m figuring things are goi

Heather Curlee-Novak

I got to play in the snow this week.  We got nineteen inches give or take eighty.  So I played in the snow but not in the fun way. I played in ‘the dog won’t go on her own and you don’t want her to pee on the porch” sort of way.  Our poor sedan that should be put out to pasture got stuck TWICE in one day.  I told my husband John to just leave it there with a ‘FREE PLEASE TAKE’ sign.   

L. Calçada / AP

In my ongoing fascination with the concept of emptiness, I’ve been trying to understand a few basic things about nuclear physics. I see the problem of emptiness as similar to the problem of time—a question of the improbable and accidental nature of existence. Enormous distances, like enormous time-spans and pervasive emptiness, create the experience or concept of desert places—inhuman environments and inexorable threats.

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

OK, Look—Whoops! This is radio. So, OK, listen. Well, maybe you don’t care to listen, I’m going to speak about books meaningful to me, so if this isn’t of interest to you, you have five minutes to go and do something else until something that does interest you comes along.

Michiana Chronicles: Looking For Normal

Jan 28, 2021
Ken Smith

I’m looking for normal these days, and accepting half-way normal as a good substitute. That’s how I ended up on Wednesday afternoon in South Bend’s beautiful-even-in-January Howard Park, sitting out with a friend from work for over an hour in the winter breeze. The thermometer was down around 30°. Steven and I wiped snow off the chairs and settled around the big fire pit where the tall gas flames turned this way and that. Behind us was the skating loop, below and to the west, the bend of the river. At the park’s south edge, kids on sleds slammed down the steep old railway embankment.

Nimbilasha Cushing

April: This is April (laughter)

 

Nimbilasha: And I’m Nimbi

Sid Shroyer

I became immersed in the study of the Holocaust because I took on the responsibility of teaching about the Holocaust to high school students in 2001. It’s a topic, I discovered, that we think we know everything about, and yet, as it turns out we know nothing about.

 

Michiana Chronicles: The Personal Lives Of Science

Jan 7, 2021
Anne Magnan-Park

Science writes its own patients' history. It is data and success-rate driven. Alongside these scientific reports are patients' stories, the personal lives of science. Though   data-oriented, their criteria for success are far more complex than the ones elaborated in the labs and relayed in scientific journals. They are layered stories which narrate access and lack of access to care, as well as trust and distrust in the healthcare system due to social status, race, cultural differences, and history.

(AP Photo)

The snowy weather has had me inside the last couple of weeks, with time on my hands to read.  This is the time of year I often turn to poetry, and as has become my custom in the last few years I want to take my Chronicle from this time of year to share a poem with you.

Heather Curlee-Novak

It is so very cold, and it is so very dark.  The cold seeps into my bones and makes me want to just sit here in my chair with a fuzzy blanket and slippers.  I only have energy to zone out in a book or watch Netflix until my eyes dry out.

Anja Niedringhaus / AP File Photo

As a child, I dreamed of greatness. I wanted to be a major league baseball pitcher, but I’d have settled for quarterback on an NFL team. Basketball also attracted me, especially Elgin Baylor and the Los Angeles Lakers. I would have loved to play for the Lakers. Season by season, I practiced these sports with my friends. I possessed some skills. Pitching a rubber baseball against a wall, I could hit the same mark over and over. My football passes were accurate. I was small, but I believed that I would grow bigger.

Holly Heyser

Occasionally, it’s like I’ve been dropped on my head and lost clear reason—in those times I decide to delve into my backlog of “well-this-looks-pretty-good” recipes and cook something more involved than my go-to Ramen noodles. The weather being cooler, the pandemic raging so that stay-at-home is the order of the day, and the major eating season looming over us, I had one of those culinary days not so long ago.

Ken Smith

What with the world so narrow and tight right now, I don’t feel like answering the phone or turning on the TV, two ways the bad news sneaks in. But that approach doesn’t work because while I’m peeking through the front curtains, trying to out-wait the bad news, there’s a fair chance of shriveling into a bitter prune myself. Besides, there are people we just have to honor by taking the call and hearing their bad news and maybe standing right there in the hallway weeping when we do. Still, there must be some way out of here, as the Joker in the Bob Dylan song said to the Thief.

Ken Smith

April Lidinsky speaks with Dr. Darryl Heller, Director of the ​Civil Rights Heritage Center at IU South Bend, about holding difficult conversations.

Music: "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" by The Staple Singers

Sid Shroyer

We are standing in a field on the Saturday before the election, somewhere between Highway 61 and the White Bear Yacht Club, 20 miles northeast of Minneapolis.

Michiana Chronicles: Musings On Being A Poll Worker

Nov 12, 2020
Steve Helber / AP File Photo

I am NOT a morning person…..but on November 3rd, I was already warming up the car at 4:35 am with coffee, snacks and trepidation. The plan hatched last month when my 18-year old son, looking to add spice into his life beyond taking college classes on-line in his childhood bedroom, signed up to be a poll worker. Given COVID, I realized the older seasoned poll workers may not be showing up. What better time for a great civics lesson for both of us!

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