Thursday, January 31, 2008

long month ahead

It's Leap Year, meaning all those lucky people with Feb. 29 birthdays will get a REAL day to celebrate this year instead of having to party a day early or a day late.
Having two cousins with that birthdate... and knowing a few other people in the same spot ... it is interesting to hear how they have picked a day over the years, endured the old "well, you're really only 'X' years old since you only have a birthday once every four years," etc...
Wonder if anyone out there finds them in this spot?
We hope to do a story here at The Reporter featuring some Leap Day babies... anyone want to come forward?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Groundhog Day!!

As January winds down, we have a big event to look forward to on Saturday -- Groundhog Day!
I've never been to the actual ceremony, but I have been to the big P -- you know, the weather capital of the world -- during the off-season. Let's just say it doesn't look anything like the movie set. And Phil's residence was in part of the library, I believe, with a glass wall to the outside so the tourists can get a good look. The park even featured a huge wooden statue of the little critter.
So, what will the prediction be this year? An early spring? A longer winter?
I'm rooting for the "winter" prediction, because that gives a better chance that spring will get here sooner.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Remembering Walt

In case you didn't see the newspaper today, I wanted to post here a column that I wrote.
I hope you'll read it ... and give thought to all the wonderful people who deserve to be remembered.


We never met face to face.

And yet the friendship that developed and the loss that I now feel definitely are real.

I’m writing today about Walt Fetter, a longtime local resident who for the past several years had lived in Arizona.

I “knew” Walt when he lived in this area through his many letters to the editor, and the occasional phone calls that we shared about the community and The Reporter.

He would call to chat about something he had submitted to run on our Opinion Page, or just to compliment us for something we had decided to cover in the paper.

He also would call simply to say hello, ask how things were going and to tell us to keep up the good work.

I always liked to hear his gravelly voice on the other end of the phone.

Then came the call that we wouldn’t be seeing his letters or hearing his voice anymore; that he and his wife were moving out to Arizona to be near their grown children.

“You take care now, kiddo,” I can still hear him say.

Happily, we kept in touch, becoming pen pals; a rather foreign notion these days, with e-mails having displaced actual letters for the large majority of people.

I would keep him informed of goings on around here and what was happening in my life; he would tell me about all the activities filling his days and how different it was to live in Arizona.

Sometimes he talked about World War II; sometimes about his working days or where he had vacationed.

He always loved to hear about my vacations to Vermont or what my cats were up to or what wildlife was roaming in my yard.

Unfortunately, his wife died not long after the move out West. And it was evident that the loss was tremendous.

But as it turned out, Walt became more than a pen pal; with my dad having died eight years ago, he stepped into the role of an “adopted” dad in many ways.

So much has happened in recent years in my life, and Walt was always ready to “listen” through the mail and offer me words of encouragement.

I knew that I’d be getting at least one letter a week from Walt, sometimes more. And he’d often include a poem or tell me some little story that would brighten my day.

And there were plenty of times that they needed to be brightened.

But when November rolled around, suddenly the letters stopped. I feared the worst, but sent my own cards and letters. When they didn’t come back to me, I thought that perhaps some of his health problems had simply made it impossible to write.

And I hoped for the best.

But on Christmas Eve Day, when I arrived at work, there was a message on my voicemail.

It was Walt. He had fallen at the end of October, he said, and now was in hospice.

“And you know what that means,” he said.

I did. My father died of cancer in 2000 and my mother died in April, with hospice becoming part of our lives in both instances.

“I hope God takes good care of you and your daughter,” he said in his message. “I want to depart with that feeling.”

Luckily, I was able to reach Walt later on Christmas Eve Day.

We talked about how much our friendship had meant to each other. We wished each other a Merry Christmas. I assured him that my daughter and I were doing just fine. But that I would miss him, terribly.

I sent him several more letters, but that was our last conversation. Then I received a note from his daughter that Walt had died on Jan. 5.

It always made me smile when Walt would close his letters by saying, “See you at the mailbox, kiddo.”

In my mind’s eye I could see him there, pulling out my letter, chuckling over the prospect of sending his reply.

We never met in person, but we “met” so many times at the mailbox.

So, yes, Walt, I’ll see you there, forever, in my memories.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Different views

I've had the chance to talk to several of our readers in the last week, who've taken the time to call about one item or another.
I really appreciate when people feel they want to provide feedback and, yes, it's "easier" to take when it's positive. But realistically, that's not always the case.
However, I often find that, whether we agree on a certain point or not, you often start talking about what you may have in common, or what you've found out from each other that can open your eyes to another point of view or simply make you understand where the person is coming from.
You even end up agreeing on certain points in the end, or agreeing to disagree, but respecting the other's view.
That, I think, is the best outcome.
Listen, talk and realize that the other person may have a very valid point.
Case in point was a hunter I talked to today, upset about the story on the deer hunt protest.
But he came up with a good story idea for us, and the two of us realized that, although I certainly don't hunt and don't even eat meat, we share quite a few views.
If only more people could take a breath, listen and hold a conversation.
Just like the gentleman I spoke with today. It was a pleasure to hear the other side of the story.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Schoolhouse Road

I don't know how many people in the area have noticed the problem at the end of Schoolhouse Road in Franconia Township, at the stop sign where the road ends in a T.
Apparently the township, some time ago, decided to fill in a low spot along the intersection with a lot of stone.
Unfortunately, the stone is now all over the road, in the intersection, making for a dangerous mess.
It's about like when some area townships decide to "chip" the roads in the summertime, which is a horrible mess as well.
But these stones are much bigger -- it's an accident waiting to happen for people turning onto Schoolhouse... or sitting at the stop sign as an easy target.
Come on, Franconia... How about cleaning this up?

Let the sunshine in....

No, it's not just a song, folks. Although a lot of officials sometimes seems to think that way.
The most recent instance has cropped up in Hatfield Township, where officials apparently got together to not only discuss but decide on who they were going to dump when it was time to reorganize in January, and who would be handed out plumb positions.
They maintain that nothing wrong was done; that everyone apparently had heard about their closed-door session, or sessions, so it wasn't like it was a secret.
Hello... do you see the problem here?
Pennsylvania is notorious for having a basically worthless Sunshine Act in place. And even if a board is found guilty of violating it -- and rarely does anyone bother to pursue the question -- they merely get a bit of a slap on the hand.
Does the public care enough to raise a ruckus?
Do the officials in the area care enough to stop the practice?
The only glimmer of hope I've seen recently involves the county commissioners finally opening up their agenda meetings.
Otherwise, making up your own rules seems to be just fine... how pathetic.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sound Off

As you know, The Reporter provides Sound Off as a forum for people to express their views, briefly, without having to leave their names or take any responsibility, really, for their comments.
Some people view this as a wonderful part of their freedom of speech.
Others feel that if you want to express an opinion, you should have to write a letter or column, and have your name attached to it.
I know how I feel, but I won't go into that right now.
I do wish I knew how more of the public actually felt about this column.
Feedback seems to indicate that people either LOVE it or HATE it... seldom is the reaction lukewarm.
Any thoughts? I'd love to hear what other people think .. and if they ever use Sound Off to get their point out there.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

OH, NO... SNOW!!

Creeping along at a mighty 15 mph on my way home this evening, it hit me again. The moment a snowflake falls, people around here forget how to drive.
Yes, it was getting dark and yes, it was snowing.
But really, the roads were NOT bad. But everyone was going so slowly that it was bumper to bumper on every area roadway and you rarely hit 20 mph.
That only added to the problems of people trying to make it up slippery hills and the like.
If people would just drive at a safe speed, I think things would go much more smoothly.
But every year you can count on it.
What is usually about a 20-minute drive for me took more than an hour. I guess I should have been glad I got home that quickly, all things considered. But it's so frustrating to be crawling along when, really, there is no reason to panic!

A bus stop?

I sometimes see school buses in the parking lot at the Wal-Mart in Lower Salford during "normal" hours, and have wondered why they might be there. Running into McDonald's perhaps?
But this morning, shortly after 6:30 a.m., I saw one turn into the parking lot for Wal-Mart/Giant -- is there an early morning bus stop there?
Makes you wonder why they would be stopping off there otherwise!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Today was a crazy day at The Reporter -- not that there is ever a "normal" day at a newspaper.
But FIRE was the word of the day, with fires in Lansdale, Montgomery Township and Ambler. It seemed as soon as one was covered, another was called out.
NEVER a good thing for anyone, and we worry about all the people affected by these fires.
Yes, coverage of these incidents do sell papers... but the tragedy is never one we like to report on.
Please, let's all be careful out there.
Our firefighters are great, but we're sure they would rather never have to see people left homeless like this.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Strange January

OK, it's Jan. 12 and this has been a weird week for weather. Up near 70 a few days, thunderstorms ... and are they saying snow may be coming? What the heck is this? Farm Show Week is supposed to be THE week when the weather is cold and snowy. This past week ... a wimp!
I know I shouldn't complain. I really don't want to have to shovel snow... especially since it's been determined that I have not one but two herniated disks in my neck and I have to have epidural shots in by spine, starting Monday. Hoping that helps!
Oh, for the good old days of being 18 and not having a pain in the world.
Of course, we used to have snowy winters back then... but who cared?
And now that Farm Show week is over and I can't watch tractor square dancing anymore, what will I do with my time?
Anyway... perhaps the snowman with cometh this week.

Monday, January 7, 2008

farm show geek

OK, I'll admit it... I'm a Farm Show geek, or freak, or whatever you want to label me.
I used to LOVE going to the Pa. Farm Show -- it was a tradition for years, including staying there a few times when both I showed a heifer WAY back when I was in 4-H, and then when my daughter was a 4-H'er.
Those days are past, but heading out to the Farm Show was an annual ritual for years.
I was disappointed when they added the new part of the complex several years back and rearranged far too many things -- even though now it's "24 acres under roof" instead of the "14 acres under roof" that they would proudly, and repeatedly, announce during the various events.
So we haven't headed out to Harrisburg for a few years.
AHHH, but there IS PCN... thanks goodness! I can get my Farm Show fix simply by switching on Channel 78 this week -- something I've been doing quite often. And I know there will be reruns ... glorious reruns.
It's the one good thing about TV these days.
I know... pathetic. And not too many people may be thrilled to see draft horses pulling huge wagons, cows being judged or the sheep to shawl contest under way.
But I love it... there... I admit it.
The Farm Show rules!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Britney, Britney, Britney

It's kind of like Marsha, Marsha, Marsha on the Brady Bunch. It seems she's all we ever hear about -- well, her and her ilk.
She's definitely got problems, but her family should be getting her into a program where she's out of the public eye for a LONG time. Of course rehab, etc., doesn't work for many of these high-profilers. Supposedly Lohan was out partying and drinking on New Year's Eve -- or perhaps that doesn't count because it's a holiday.
I am SICK of these "celebrities" whose only talent seems to be getting into trouble or posing for the camera.
I wish the photographers and all of those rags that parade as magazines would ignore these boorish louts.
Britney, get help. I truly do fear for your children.
The rest of you ... please, give us a break in 2008 and get a real job ... or at least do something worthwhile like helping out a charity and doing community service.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Back to business

The holidays are over, people are slowly taking down their decorations, some of us are trying to work off those Christmas "presents" from too many cookies and actually keep a few resolutions.
Next week area municipalities will be reorganizing, and there are quite a few new people taking seats on governmental boards. It will be interesting to see how they feel about running the show after they've been in office a year or two.
It probably will be tough for some -- including Don Lodge of Salford township, who was in office for more than 30 years -- to face evenings without having to head to the municipal building.
Seriously, though, I hope the newcomers are up to the challenges and perhaps will even have a newfound appreciation for the jobs that their predecessors have done.
It's always interesting to see what new leaders will do. I wish them all well. And also hope the public will make more of an effort to become involved in their communities.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


It's officially 2008. It doesn't feel any different yet, but that's par for me.
But I want to wish everyone a blessed 2008.
Every year, for the past several years, I keep saying, "Maybe this one will be different. Maybe this one will be better."
It's all relative, to be sure. But hope springs eternal. I firmly believe that.
So, I wish all of you a wonderful 2008, filled with hope.
And I hope all of you will continue to visit our Web site, and especially look at our multimedia archives from the past year.
No, this is not an advertisement. It just may make you feel good to remember what has been captured as snapshots from our area.
If nothing else, check out the Thanksgiving element again. Remember why so many of us have reason to give thanks.
And pray that the new year will give us even more reasons to rejoice.
Life is bittersweet. But take heart in the sweet; even the bitter can make us stronger.
Happy New Year.