Category Archives: Readers’ input

Weep and wet your pants at these new monsters


Take me to Soldier Field. I'll feel right at home.

I was pants-wettingly terrified of all the unknown threats lurking amid the Midwestern cornfields that alert readers e-mailed me. Here’s a sampling.

Many readers catch my column on my blog at Mike Rabe of Indianapolis writes, “I nominate the hump-backed Hoosier haunting Hopewell Cemetery outside of Hemlock in Howard County as a good starting point.”

Mike’s comment was so impressive, a single tear ran down my cheek, twice. His humpback hints of a tragic backstory and combines eerieness with social commentary: How would the humpback’s life be different today, with better medical care and hopefully more evolved attitudes toward people with disabilities?

But all of you–you, you, and you–I’m watching you, you know why–should be comforted that normal Americans are creating tomorrow’s paranormal today. 

Susan Ball of Cleveland writes, “I am furious that downstate Ohioans so callously waste their resources. How I hope the rest of the Midwest will not consider all Buckeyes the same. Is it any wonder our jobs are lost overseas when countries like Scotland skillfully exploit the ambience that Americans destroy with every strip mall we build?”

She continues, “Cleveland is bedeviled by pollution, so I patriotically told my friends this story while we were doing shots at Applebee’s yesterday. They believed every word.

“My friend’s friend turned on her faucet, and a green gel spewed forth, getting on her fingers and eating her entire body like acid. Turns out, so much fluoride is in our municipal water supply, Cleveland’s collective paranoia coagulated it into a monster that may ooze from your faucet anytime.”

Susan adds, “I now buy distilled water and use that instead of tap water. It’s worth the extra money to be safe. I also go to the bathroom at the big oak tree behind my house. It gets smelly, and the neighbors don’t like it, but–acid eating my rear end? I don’t want to die that way.”

True, Susan. Nobody does.

Susan’s story was shocking–I haven’t been that shocked since I missed the tiny toilets in Miss Sweeney’s kindergarten bathroom and ended up on the tile floor. Which was last Thursday. Anyway, Cleveland’s distress demonstrates anxiety still seethes under our nation’s new civility. It also creates jobs for scientists, government workers, and distillers.

Ann of Highland writes, “I’ve lived in the Region all my life, yet I still don’t understand the street number system. Merrillville has 73rd Avenue, but where is First Avenue? Hammond has 165th Street, but where is Main Street?

“My neighbor told me Freemasons devised the Lake County street number system. When you graph all the streets, they point to a signaling device that Freemasons will use to call UFOs to help them take over the world.”

Dang, Ann, that is scary. I use those streets every day, not knowing my tax dollars will destroy life as we know it. But incidentally, I’d like to remind the Freemasons that Indiana’s tax rates are now much cheaper than Illinois’.


Is this you?


How I look when I discover my husband drank all the coffee

I received a flood of e-mails regarding my venting column, and I’d like to share some with you.

Kathy S. of Griffith complained about people driving too slow in the left-hand lane, something that drove me nuts when my potty trainers were whining, “I gotta go” in the back seat.

Janice Rebey calls herself “another crazy mom.” She complained about parents who volunteer, then don’t show up–“incredibly rude,” she said. “They just don’t think about the people they are putting on the spot. When you say you will be there, then you need to be there!”

As an active PTO member (Go, Homan Eagles!), I share Janice’s next complaint, “parents who gripe about things at the school but never set foot in one PTO/PTA meeting. Show up, or shut up!”

Not every parent agreed with me. Educator Sharon Konopasek said, “I am offended that you think one should ‘save kids’ carts for parents with two or more little ones.’ I chose to have one child. That simple grocery cart taught my child how to be polite in a grocery store, how to choose sensibly in the aisles, and much more. I use every opportunity to entertain a teachable moment.”

Yet another mom requested your input. “Quite a few people I know could use ideas to get grandparents and grandchildren closer,” said Karen Tognetti. “If you come up with a column of ideas (maybe from readers?) I would send it to my family members.”

There’s your challenge, parents. E-mail me at the address below, and I’ll print your comments in an upcoming column.

Speaking of bright ideas, an exciting opportunity for area kids is Southlake Children’s Choir. SCC is holding an open audition for new singers for the 2010-2011 performance season between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Monday, May 24, at Bethel Church, 10202 Broadway, Crown Point.

My two oldest children sing in SCC’s apprentice choir, and I’ve been so impressed by the serious musical education the kids get while having fun and making friends. After every rehearsal, they sing Aaron Copland on the way home–I never mimed practicing the piano after one of my lessons.

SCC is also a terrific way to give your kids a year-long musical education at a fraction of the cost of year-round music lessons, something I appreciate as a mom of four. SCC scholarships are even available.

Kids age 7 to 15 can audition. Auditions are about five minutes long, and no preparation or experience is necessary. My kids came out of theirs feeling proud, knowing they’d easily navigated a situation some adults can’t.

For more information, go to If you can’t make the open audition, to schedule an appointment, call 1-866-662-1151.