It seems like weeks since I've last written . . . oh, wait, it has been. I guess we have some catching up to do!

This time of year is typically a hectic one for newspaper people as there are end-of-the-school-year events to cover, including graduations and awards ceremonies; concerts and school plays. Throw in the upcoming holiday, which creates early deadlines and you may likely get a sleep-deprived, haggard-looking, not-so-pleasant newspaper editor. Forgive me in advance if you happen to run into me out and about and find me less than pleasant to be around.

While this time of year causes us all great stress, it really does provide us with many opportunities to print great news. What's better than watching a class of students graduate? I love seeing these young men and young women celebrate that accomplishment and provide me with many photo-worthy moments during and after the ceremony. It is one last chance to capture the faces of these students, many of whom I've photographed and written about for their entire school career.

Thankfully, my life is not ALL about work; I've been busy with other things as well. I spent Mother's Day with half of my family and have enjoyed a few social events with friends.

One of those highlights was when my mother, aunt and I joined a few other friends for dinner in Lanesboro a couple of weeks ago before attending the Over the Back Fence variety show at the St. Mane Theatre. Our "For the Birds" contributor, Al Batt, was one of the scheduled guests and we were lucky enough to have him join us for our pre-show dinner. We all certainly enjoyed the show - his part - as well as the rest of the comedy, singing and information provided in this wonderful Lanesboro tradition. If you have never attended, I highly recommend checking it out.

Over the Back Fence takes the stage on the second Friday of the month, February through November. Each show is also broadcast on KFIL Radio 103.1FM at 7 p.m. on the Sunday nine days following each live show. It's an entertainment bargain as one gets a lot of laughs for the modest admission of $7 for adults and $4 for students.

On Mother's Day, my parents and I met my brother and his family in Rochester and enjoyed a Mexican dinner, which is my mom's favorite. It was a beautiful day and it was wonderful to see Joshua and Allison, but it also made me miss the four other nieces and nephews that weren't able to join us that day. It really just made me promise myself to get in another visit to my sister's home in Iowa sooner than later. With gas prices on the rise, however, I may have to wait a bit until those come back down into a reasonable range.

Katelyn, who is now a nurse at a Mayo hospital in Eau Claire, Wis., has a new apartment and I have yet to visit her in her new home. That's definitely a must for the early summer as well.

With the arrival of summer also comes the promise of week-long visits from the Good kids, my sister's children, to my parents' farm. We haven't really talked specifics yet, but hopefully schedules will allow that to happen once again. With Timothy turning 16 this year and getting his driver's license, maybe we will see him more often as well. That would definitely be a special treat.

It is definitely time to start making some plans for summer, whether it is to travel out of the area to visit friends or family or to take in many of our own local attractions as we try to limit the amount of gas money we have to spend!

Sounding off

Changing the topic here, I have a bit of frustration to air out. I was recently doing a bit of spring cleaning and loaded a few bags of newspapers and a couple of boxes of plastic bottles into my car to take to the recycling bins in Canton. Once I arrived, I was immediately frustrated as there were bags of dirty diapers piled against the end of the receptacle and the bins were loaded with garbage in plastic bags. I could tell right away that these bags were not recycling - but just garbage being disposed of improperly.

I am not a perfect recycler. There are times when a plastic bottle does find its way into the garbage bag I set out onto the curb on garbage day. A tin can that's especially messy or a newspaper that's been used as a craft mat may be thrown away into the garbage rather than put into my recycling bags. However, having a total disregard for the system and throwing garbage into the recycling dumpster is absolutely unacceptable.

I have to assume that those who are violating the system can't read because the bin has signs painted on it reading, "Recycling only," and "No Plastic Bags." Those are the only rules and they seem pretty simple to me.

If you have used the recycling bins located throughout our county for garbage disposal instead of recycling, please consider changing your ways. It's a wonderful convenience for all of us, so don't let your insensitivity to the system ruin that for the rest of us.

OK, I'll get off my soap box now.

Saying goodbye

Finally, I received a sad bit of news last week from the family of one of our columnists in the News-Record. Norma Applen, who shared humorous ditties and delicious recipes in her column, "Notes from Norma," had died unexpectedly after developing pneumonia.

She was already a contributing writer when I came to work for the paper in 1994 and we exchanged notes every week when she would send her column. While I never met her in person, I got to know her well over the years through these short interactions each week.

Over the past year, she has had several health issues, but she continued to send her column whenever she could. It was important to her and it was important to us.

She will definitely be missed.