One of Bill's favorite and frequent observations is that "there's always a Sandpoint connection."
Well, with the huge worldwide event set to commence this Tuesday, March 12 with the Conclave of Cardinals beginning the process of electing a new Pope-----once again, there will definitely be a Sandpoint connection.
And, we are proud!
I've talked about Cindy Wooden in past postings, and, like so many button-popping, proud people who know her, I'll feature her again.
Google "Cindy Wooden," and I need to tell you no more.
You'll even find this nice photo of her in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
For nearly 25 years, Cindy has lived in Rome, working as Vatican correspondent for the Catholic News Service.
For nearly 25 years, all who knew her "when" have been thrilled with their Sandpoint friend and almost direct connection with the Pope.
Cindy has traveled the world---on the Papal jet---as part of the Vatican press corps. She has met Presidents, she met Mother Teresa, she has met church leaders and other leaders of worldly note, and she has written about them.
For the past seveal weeks, I'd say Cindy has been busier than usual chronicling the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the subsequent steps leading toward next week's Conclave in Rome.
I'm guessing her work load will continue at a high pace until the new Pope is elected and all the t's are crossed and i's dotted, regarding his profile and his upcoming Papacy.
As a journalist, I'm prone to let my jaw hang in wonderment of Cindy's professional career in Rome.
Cindy, however, has always been happy to put my awe as one of her former teachers and family friends into perspective.
"I work pretty much in an office from 8-5 like anyone else," she told me once.
Of course, I like to remind her of "perspective." From her hometown admirers' point of view, what she does, her connections and what she has experienced as a professional are pretty grand.
Last time I saw Cindy----she was shopping at Wal-Mart in Ponderay. She had been home for a family visit, and she was looking forward to a "sisters' gathering" at her condo that evening.
By the way, one of her siblings has served in a rather notable capacity here in Bonner County. Cindy's older sister Cheryl Piehl is our county treasurer, and she usually fields more votes than any other local candidate on election ballots.
Our family and Cindy's family have been friends for years through the church, through guitar lessons for my sister Laurie and through 4-H.
It was that 4-H friendship that lured the Wooden family singers to provide the music when the Bicentennial Trail Riders took off from the south end of the Long Bridge back in 1975.
On that hot July day, several riders, escorted by the late sheriff's deputy Bob Ward, took Bicentennial scrolls to the Kootenai County line and handed them over to some riders from the Coeur d'Alene area.
The Wooden family singers also provided the music for Bill's and my wedding back in 1974, and some even sang at Willie and Debbie's wedding at St. Joseph's in 2001.
We all have lots of wonderful memories associated with Cindy and her family, and we're beyond thrilled even almost 25 years later that our dear friend serves in Rome and writes the stories of Papal history.
So, in the next week, do Google Cindy Wooden, and you can get the news from Rome with a Sandpoint influence.
For now, you can read one of Cindy's recent stories about the election of a new Pope.
And, do don your Gonzaga gear and tune in tonight to ESPN2 at 6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time as the No. 1 ZAGS do their best to continue the ride.