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A happy but socially distant birthday


Working from home didn't stop the I-J family birthday celebration tradition.

What a Tuesday it was.

At the I-J, we are family. And like any family, we take birthdays seriously. Very seriously. There are cards that circulate from department to department. And then comes the cake. Or cupcakes. Or cake and ice cream. Or ... You get the idea.

But the I-J is something of a ghost town these days. On any given day, there are no more than three newsroom employees in the newsroom. The business office consists of two. Our front desk is one to two, depending on the day. The press crew is limited but on site. And we have two whose behind-the-scenes work ensures there's a paper produced with pieces of the puzzle such as Comics, Classifieds and the appropriate flow of news pages with ads in place. They do more than that, but let's stay outta the weeds. This is a blog entry, not a typical long-winded column.

Aside from Wendy apologizing Tuesday morning that there would be no real birthday plans, Wanda Rinker — you read about her in my first blog entry — was noticeably upset we wouldn't have the usual gang together on my birthday. I shrugged it off because these are vastly different times. More important things than a birthday celebration, although I did miss having Susan Sullivan lead everyone in singing "Happy Birthday."

Well, Tuesday afternoon, while in the midst of a third video conference, this one with my news team, I saw a car pull into the driveway. I excused myself from the meeting to answer the door. And there stood the pilot, Jeff Higginbotham, Wanda's neighbor and DoorDash man.

He handed me — at a safe distance — a bag with a Happy Birthday star-shaped balloon, wished me a happy birthday and headed back to his car. I rejoined our meeting, but as soon as it was over I had to see what was in the bag.

Remember cake? Yeah, well it turns out I got the whole dang thing. Wanda should have cut it up and shared it before sending it. Lord knows it represents at least another 10 pounds. Maybe I can bring some back to the office? I won't sneeze or cough. Promise. There was also a nice bottle of wine that remains corked today. Tonight I won't promise, but today it remains corked. And there was the card. Wonderful messages that some apparently wrote before the bulk of us headed for home to work remotely, others that were fresh. And that included one from Mundy Price, president and publisher.

As much as I'd liked to have seen a message from her mom, Judi, in her exquisite handwriting, I'm sure Judi would have laughed at her daughter's message on the card, referring to me as an "old fart."

Now that's family, right?

Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal. Contact him at, or follow him on Twitter @IJEDITOR.

About this blog

From telecommuting to the new public home school model, a growing number of us are homebound for the foreseeable future as we take unprecedented steps to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the new coronavirus that is sweeping the world. This blog is our attempt to catalog some of the daily changes we are experiencing together. If you want to share your story with us, email us at



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