I have come to the conclusion that the Gazette's readers are a lot more like my family that I had realized.
Just like family, everyone assumes someone else has told me things. As a result, I'm sometimes the last to hear what's going on or what has happened because people believe I already know.
I can't count the number of times readers have told me a couple of days beforehand that an event was going to occur and wondered if there's still time to get it into the Gazette.
And at least as often, people will tell me of an event that has passed and ask why I didn't cover it.
Here's a little lesson in Journalism 101: The solution to the first situation is to get the information to the Gazette office via phone call, e-mail or fax by no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday for it to appear the following week.
That's right, you need to submit information at least a full week ahead; two weeks or more is even better.
That allows me time to get the items typed into the system and laid out on Friday for the following Wednesday's publication.
And the best way to get me or another journalist to cover your event is to tell us about it enough in advance that we can schedule our time. If we don't know early enough, we can't be there.
The phone number is 565-9700; e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and the fax number is 565-2398.
On the other hand, please don't assume that because I've been informed and it's been published in the paper, a reporter or I will be there.
We try, but it's a good idea to have a camera handy so you can submit photos if we don't make it. We want to publicize your events but we can't be everywhere, and believe it or not, we need time off, too, to take care of personal and family business.
Yep: Journalists are people, too. We're your neighbors, and we have family, friends and homes that demand and deserve our undivided attention.
Speaking of family, my oldest daughter called me the other day. She, her two little girls and my youngest daughter were making zucchini bread using my old recipe handed down from my mother, who died many years ago. Of course, I was pleased and flattered.
My daughter said she had so much zucchini from her little backyard garden that she decided to triple the recipe, but the batter was too thin.
And there was so much zucchini! What, she wondered, would she do with all of it? So, it was Mom to the rescue.
First, we solved the massive amounts of zucchini problem. I told her to grate it, measure it into portions for that particular zucchini bread recipe, put it into freezer bags and freeze it. There's nothing like fresh zucchini-cranberry bread at Christmastime.
Then we tackled the botched batter. I told her to add a little more flour to make the batter a bit thicker than cake batter, but not as thick as cookie batter, and then to add a little more baking soda and spices.
She also asked if she had to use loaf pans, or if the bread would bake satisfactorily in a 9-by-13 sheet cake pan. I told her the bread would bake just fine in the cake pan, but to watch the edges to make sure they didn't burn.
She said she'd ship me some of her bread if it turned out well.
A couple of days later I called her to see how her bread had come out. She said she ended up with an enormous amount, but it had somehow all disappeared. Even the little girls couldn't get enough.
As I spoke to my daughter about little mundane things like zucchini bread batter, I was filled with a contentment I hadn't felt in some time. It was almost like being there in her cozy kitchen 2,000 miles away, elbow-deep in zucchini, flour and spices, with the grandchildren around my feet.
I could almost smell the aroma of that batter baking, could almost taste its warm sweetness on my tongue.
"You're welcome, Honey. Any time you need me, you know I'm just a phone call away."