Here’s a headline I wrote five months ago, as the Season of Gloom overstayed its welcome: Dear Winter of 2019, so nice to know you.
Remember that endless winter? (Go ahead and open your electric bill; I’ll wait.) The ice, the snow, the Arctic cold? The photo of a polar bear snow sculpture I snapped on the bike trail and included with my Dear John letter to the season?
Jeff Scheer does. And he wrote back in March to say so: “Hi Cindy, I’m the polar bear guy on the MoPac. Thanks to you and the LJS for including the photo with your article. My folks, the neighbors, my wife and I got all got a kick out of it. I’m grateful for the big snow this season because my heart had been set on making a polar bear snow sculpture for over a year.”
Thank you, Jeff, for letting me know.
And here’s what else readers might want to know about the last six — some cold, some hot — months of columns:
Sarah Baker and her dad, Jim, finished their father-daughter project this month and the now-complete teardrop trailer made its maiden voyage to Eleven Mile State Park in Colorado.
Karen Lamb, the preacher in an apron who runs Lulu’s on N Street, is still feeding the hungry. About 100 meals a day, she said Monday. Along with hygiene kits, a limited number of bus passes and access to a caseworker. (After her story ran, Lamb was honored with the Northeast Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind Award. Well-deserved. Donations from the community will last until mid-August, Lamb said, so if you feel so inclined, stop by …)
Lincoln gives? You betcha. I wrote about Hayley Long in April when the Girl Scout going for her Gold Award was in the midst of a donation drive for kids at the People’s City Mission. The intrepid Ms. Long was doing all the work after a traumatic brain injury on a Northeast High jazz band trip messed with her memory.
Here’s what she collected: Three barrels of clothes, 250 Matchbox cars, 100 toys, 100 books, 40 pairs of shoes, 1,000 diapers and wipes, 50 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste, 30 sippy cups, $325 in cash.
People shared stories of their own brain injuries, Hayley wrote after the drive. They cheered her for her efforts. “These community members didn’t know me but yet they opened their arms and hearts in support. This is honestly one aspect I love about Lincoln. Everyone is extremely generous and giving to others, especially strangers, in all circumstances.”
Colonoscopy 101 is in the books. I rescheduled once, but finally got it done, eight years behind schedule. If you’re putting yours off, don’t. A huge thank you to Abbey Schnell, who inspired so many (including me) during her long fight with colon cancer.
“This Blessed Earth,” by Ted Genoways, got a big bump in sales after Gov. Pete Ricketts decided not to sign a proclamation for its selection as 2019’s One Book One Nebraska. A flurry of publicity followed the snub and Genoways, an award-winning author, made the most of it on social media. The paperback is in its third printing as Genoways works on his next book — Prohibition-era tequila smuggling.
Aura Lee Furgason — the woman behind the Wayside Pulpit at Lincoln’s Unitarian Church — was honored as an Unsung Unitarian Universalist for her devotion to the project that gives passersby on A Street something to ponder. Current messages: “All of us need all of us to make it.” (Westbound traffic.) “Live simply that others may simply live.” (Eastbound.)
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In February, I devoted my column space to Black History Month. Maurice Russell, Aaron Douglas, Anna Burckhardt, Otha Wade, Lucy Nevels, George Flippin, Charlene Maxey-Harris, Terry Rupert, Vann Price, Clara Phillips — amazing and inspiring, one and all.
If you’re not planting trees, or writing to your representatives about climate change, or conserving energy, or encouraging clean technologies, or supporting businesses that do, you need to giddyup. Planet Earth needs us.
My 2019 Year in Books might prove to be my best reading year yet, and I finished four more novels on a trip to Colorado last week. (Please, please, please read “My Name is Lucy Barton,” by Elizabeth Strout. How can it be that I’ve just now discovered her?)
A reader let me know that dear Ruthie Evans — President Donald Trump fan extraordinaire — died this winter. Evans drove her Trumpmobile proudly and entertained her neighborhood dressed as Mrs. Claus each Christmas.
Another column subject — and local running legend — Clarence Osborn, 101, died April 5. (He crossed the finish line of Tabitha’s Miles for Meals road race a week before his passing.)
The March floods stole their dream house, but former Lincoln residents Steve and Deidre Singleton are rebuilding. Eighteen homes in the Chris Lake community near Bellevue had to be bulldozed, but the Singletons were able to save the bones of theirs, said daughter Kendra Pearson. “They feel so lucky … they appreciate all the love and support that has been shown by so many.”
Katie Doud and Nick Harral shared the pain of infertility in a January column. They found out they weren’t alone. “Seems like it helped others share their own story they have been keeping secret,” Doud said. (The couple is still waiting to adopt.)
After writing about Donel Keeler and Nebraska’s First People license plates, I know what my bumper is sporting next. Beautiful art honoring the Americans who were here first.
Mike and Adam Straub finished their epic father-son road trip on Father’s Day. They tooled through 48 states in Mike’s blue Corvette convertible and raised $22,509 for the Autism Action Network.
Nebraska Mother of the Year Erin Konecky is home from the National Mother of the Year conference in Washington, where she networked with other moms and shared her mission of reaching out to other grieving parents in Nebraska. (Erin and Tim lost their second-born son, Spencer, in 2017.)
After a column about her award ran, Konecky got a book in the mail — “A Surrogate for Heaven,” by a Nebraska mom who had also lost a baby. “It was such an incredible gift,” Konecky said. “Her story was my story.”
So many stories. Thanks as always to everyone who has shared one with me and to everyone who read one.
We’re all in this together, people.