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It makes me sad that some of this needs to be said because it's common sense, but apparently it does.

My son and I went to get some baby ducks at Smith's Farm Store in Knox, IN the other day. As I was at the register paying, a woman cut off the man heading into line behind me and dropped her bag of soil right next to my leg to lean it against the counter. Then she stood shoulder to shoulder with me, waiting for her turn.

I don't have a lot of social skills and even with the best of my friends I still enjoy having my own body space. When I said "Excuse me?", she looked at me as if I was being rude and asked if she had bumped me.

No, I wasn't bumped, but I made it clear that I like some space when using my debit card. She seemed offended. Sadly, this has become the trend.

Body Space
If I (or anyone else) can reach out and touch you, you're standing too close. If I'm in line at the store and I can't fit a cart between the two of us, you're too close. I've had my identity stolen--twice. Screw that. You don't need to be close enough to see my card and you certainly don't need to be close enough to touch me. So if you see me out and about and I leave my cart behind me in line it's because I won't even risk the person behind me being able to take a photo of my debit card for later use. And no, I don't care how old you are. My own grandfather shoplifted in his 80's.

When I came out of the grocery store the other day, my son met me halfway across the lot and demanded that I not leave the cart out, which struck me as odd, because I always put it in the bin or take it back in the store...always.

While my son was sitting in the truck waiting for me, he watched a cart get blown across the parking lot. It hit a car a few parking spaces away, denting the car and taking the driver's side mirror off completely. We made sure to go into the store and let them and the owner know so they didn't have any issues with insurance.

Basic Manners
Really, these things are pretty basic. Treat the store like you would your home. Do you want people in your space with access to your personal banking information? And seriously, an arm length is typical body space boundaries anyhow. My son new that in preschool.

As for the cart, in my home the rule is if you get it out, put it back. How simple is that? It's not that hard to walk a cart to the pen or take it back into the store.

Is it laziness? A lack of common sense? Just so you know, standing shoulder to shoulder with the person who is in front of you in line isn't going to get you through the check out any faster. If I happen to be that person, you're actually going to slow down the process because we are going to have to have a chat before I even think about making payment.

A little courtesy and common sense goes a long way. So does a bit of motivation.

ice photo: Ice IMG_6525copy.jpg As residents of Knox, Indiana enjoy the warm weather, they can't help but reflect on simple joys like turning the water on to take a shower and actually being able to take a shower. For some, this simple experience wasn't available in their homes from the end of January through late March. Others had to leave water running continuously in an effort to enjoy these simple pleasures.

What was the problem?
The problem is that there was a perfect combination of all the right circumstances. Wind chills that reached -42 were certainly a factor for some homes. Others didn't realize they needed to keep the water running, and then there were those who experienced frozen water lines simply because the frost line went below the depth where the pipes were buried. This situation rarely happens, but since the weather is only getting more severe by the year, we can probably expect more of this in the future.

What is the solution?
Apparently the city of Knox proposes that they keep informing residents of when they should shut their water off and when they should leave it on because over the winter and at the moment, there are no plans in place to permanently fix the situation. It's been mentioned that the area most seriously impacted by the freeze was never meant to be permanent housing. Apparently it doesn't matter that this area IS permanent housing for many.

Residents who deal with this issue are not impressed. Yes, they get a nominal discount when this happens because it isn't their fault that the weather is severe, but while they were going to a relative's house to take a shower and eating off of paper plates to avoid unwashed dishes piling up, construction of the new jail continued. In their faces, residents could easily see that priorities here were not in order. Said residents are encouraged to express themselves at the town meeting held tonight at Knox City Hall. Nothing changes unless voices are heard. One question that is in everyone's mind is whether the situation would have been handled differently if the residents involved were in a higher income bracket.

Energy Waste
Let's talk for a minute about the energy wasted and the numbers involved. Because the water in this are has to be left on, the pumps for the city are continuously going. Any plumber or electrician can tell you that's not good for the pumps and anyone who has ever paid an electric bill will tell you that it isn't good on the pocketbook. Even the residents pay more as they eat with paper plates and try to heat their homes while hauling the kids in and out the door to get a hot shower elsewhere, burning up the gas money as they go.

Who is going to pay for this? Over time it would almost certainly be more cost-effective for Knox to repair the plumbing issue now than to pay for wasted energy later. Either way, Knox residents might want to be on the lookout for future hikes in tax bills. Of course Knox could always be smart about it, take things a step further and apply for a grant to upgrade the water system for a more efficient one, killing two birds (or future debts as it were) with one stone.

Don't forget to let your voice be heard at the meeting tonight at Knox City Hall at 7:00 PM

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I was raised following Catholic traditions. We prayed before every meal, were surrounded by religious symbolism, and watched movies like The Exorcism and Amityville Horror as a matter of training more than entertainment. Yet it wasn't the Catholicism, constant push of guilt, or even the religious symbols that created my faith in something bigger than me. It was in part, the Tarot deck.

Like clockwork my grandmother would wait until we went to bed to pull out her deck. She wasn't trying to hide it from us. she simply wanted to concentrate on what she was doing. I remember peeking down from upstairs, looking through the grate to watch her as she sat at the dining room table. The room was lit by the soft glow of a lamp covered in a milk jug lampshade and a candle on the table.

She lovingly laid out her deck, softly speaking as she interpreted the cards that she took such care with. Her soft curls framed her face as she bent her head with a smile, raised eyebrows, or gentle smile.

The Tarot was not just a deck of cards for my grandmother. It was an avenue to understanding. To her it was as commonplace as having tea with the neighbors or chatting with us over her breakfast of dried toast and coffee. It went right along with the conversations she had with her father. I don't ever remember meeting him while he was alive, but he visited us plenty in death.

The back door would slowly swing open and my grandmother would welcome this specter in as if he was just visiting from next door. This was a fairly regular thing in our house and no one but a new visitor thought anything of it.

This is where I embraced my spirituality. By her actions, my grandmother taught me that death was just another plane. She respected her deity, but she did not deny that the average person had access to other realms. She didn't even make a fuss about it.

Sure, we had other family traditions, but this one is the one that helped me embrace my spiritual beliefs. For me, it was probably the most important tradition that my grandmother shared with me.