A woman with a puzzled look on her face locked eyes with me at Wal-Mart the other day.
My first reaction was, "She's looking at someone behind me."
I looked around, trying to see whom it was, but she kept looking at me.
I admit to feeling somewhat uneasy, but there wasn't much I could do about it because she kept looking at me. So I took some advice from Daniel Boone about how to handle bears, and grinned real big at her.
Embarrassed at being caught staring, she was going to look away or she was going to be upset. Whichever, I was ready for her response.
I think I startled her, because her eyes went wide as she walked up to me and asked, "Is your name Ivy? The one that works at the paper?"
Being a reporter can be a strange profession at times.
There is a certain level of anonymity that comes with being a reporter at a newspaper.
People might read the stories in the paper on a regular basis, but not really know who the person is behind the written words.
I usually share in that anonymity, because most of the residents in Clay County don't know who I am.
I helped that along by escaping from having my picture appear in the paper, but then again I really haven't had my picture taken for anything in the past five or six years, including at family events.
In June, that all changed when the new editor arrived and all reporters were "requested" to write blogs and have their picture taken for posting on the World Wide Web.
I didn't mind the blogging part, but having a picture taken was out of the question.
I successfully evaded having a picture taken for a while, but, as fate would have it, while playing with new features on our editorial computers in July, I took a picture of myself that wasn't completely horrid.
My anonymity would still be intact if I'd kept my mouth shut and not announced, "Wow, I don't look disgusting in this picture."
It immediately became my official "mugshot" at The Times and the end of my secret life.
The woman said she read my blogs on the website and enjoyed the family stories connected to the recipes.
For 10 minutes we talked while waiting our turn at the register.
"When did you start cooking? Do your kids really like to cook?"
We shared quick stories about cooking with and for our family and friends.
"I'm thinking about writing down the recipes and stories from my family in a cookbook like you are doing for yours," she said while unloading her shopping cart to checkout. "I'm going to give it to my daughter for a wedding gift."
It was an honor to be an inspiration, but I wasn't sure what to say.
"I'm going to include the link to the paper's website, so she can read about your family and not feel so bad if she doesn't know much about cooking."
For a second, she turned a bright pink. But I thought it was funny and laughed, which made her smile.
"Trust me," I told her. "Feel free to send it to her. I haven't even begun to tell the best of the cooking madness in my family."
As I walked out to my car, it dawned on me that my life wasn't quite so secret anymore.