Birthdays, blessings, beer and brothers

Blessings

Birthdays are a special kind of blessing. We get spoiled, over-desserted, hear from every friend we have on social media, are greeted by random cast members at Disneyland (best mood lifter EVER, thanks Disney!) and people give us a break because, well, we just made it one more trip around the sun and lived to tell.

beerandcakeIt was even National Beer Day on my birthday, which means asking your friends to pick up your first brew is completely reasonable.

I share my birthday with my Brother from Another Mother, John Boston, along with other stars in my life; former co-workers, fellow volunteers and actors, even a musician who helped me and millions of other adolescent girls through those difficult years around 17.

April 7 is pretty darn phenomenal.

What birthdays do is give you an excuse to check yourself off the work schedule shortly to have some moments of zen with those who know you best. That’s a better gift than any tchotchke that you will have to dust.

What’s even better is the validation that comes from these self-realization conversations. We often have them with people who know our back story, our please-don’t-mention-this moments and can see our invisible backpacks that grow or diminish over time.

In other words, there are no secrets. If you’re lucky, the balance of blackmail material between the two of you is somewhat even. If you’re on the short end, thank your friends for their grace.

I’d also say that Facebook has changed birthdays significantly. People who try and fly under the radar don’t have a chance. My phone died when I went to breakfast and by the time I got home two hours later to plug it in, it sounded like a slot machine on steroids in my office. Way to make a girl feel loved….

I started out by talking about blessings and if nothing else, birthdays give us a chance to count them. I try to make it a practice to do some counting every few days, but the pinging and desserting and drinking were in-my-face reminders – literally.

There’s no question in my mind that my life is blessed. Outside of a few more beans on the family tambourine, I want for nothing. Consolation, career advice, encouragement, enlightenment, love and laughter are there when I need it and I get to offer the same. I have freedom and opportunity, food on my table and a roof over my head. I’m married to my best friend, my children are happy and my dogs get along. Life is very good.

Two award winning writers at the local diner.
Two award winning writers at the local diner.

Back to my BFAM, John. He’s gonna hate this label, but he is kind of a life coach. Not the loopy kind that prey on neurotics, but one with a twisted sense of humor and a heart of gold. He’s led some innocent interns right to the edge of the bear trap and snatched them from the jaws of death before anyone found out. Lucky for me, my early life lessons were in pranksterism, shenanigans and writing edgy copy.

Today, we talked about valuing ourselves, an apt topic for old journos like us who not too long ago stepped over the threshold of 60. We talked less McDonald’s and more Medicare. Our conversation blended religion and politics and the state of our industry. Best of all, we did a lot of validating. At our ages, we can no longer afford to hope that someone will notice when we’re jumping at the fence like the last puppy in the litter. We’ve learned to tie knots in the blankets to find our own way over the chain link.

Nope, these seniors lunching over bowls of oatmeal and chili browns reinforced that we have worth and talent and our billable hours are worth every penny. We write differently, but with the same amount of passion and sincerity. I am truly blessed to have this coach in my life. What a perfect birthday gift.

Something about that magical April 7, I suspect.

Shameless plug: JB’s latest book, Adam Henry, is an interesting read. It’s also VERY thought-provoking, with a disturbing, yet gripping ending. I read it while traveling through snowy mountains and slushy plains enroute from Denver to LA (someone else was driving, no worries). I spent at least an hour after reading the last page a dozen times staring out the window in deep contemplation. It still haunts me. You should buy it and read it too; it’s available on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Adam-Henry-John-Boston-ebook/dp/B00N85YI6G

 

Shaping the art and soul of my community

“Bit by bit, putting it together…
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution, every little detail plays a part.
Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution:
Putting it together – that’s what counts!”

sculpture CCP Madeline WienerSondheim. What a wordsmith. And any actor who’s done a Sondheim piece knows the unique meter of his words – as I read the lyrics above (“Putting It Together” from “Sunday In the Park With George”), I did it note for note (Sondheim fans will get the joke).

OK, enough about writing for the micro-audience. I’m on a much bigger mission here.

I want you to think about art.

What does that word say to you? A picture on the wall? A sculpture? A song? A live stage drama? An interpretive dance? A humorous blog?

Now let’s take it a step further. What does art do for you? Inspire? Calm? Recharge? Provide an escape? Amuse?

Let’s all agree that art has an effect on every soul it touches. Books have saved lives, songs have captured moments and emotions, cartoons have expressed political rebellion, dance has given us grace, portraits have invited compliments. All have prompted thought and conversation.

Now let’s visit a much darker scene.

We could be living in a place devoid of art.

Mural Aquatic Bob HernandezTheaters could go dark. No stages would mean no dances or recitals. Roundabouts would be flat. Walls would be boring. And the only singing might be the occasional National Anthem, a beautiful song, but not to replace the wide variety of music we’re used to.

There are those among us who believe every penny of municipal money should be spent on public services they consider important, such as streets, housing, traffic, infrastructure and taking care of the poor. All noble services.

But what the blinder-wearing critics don’t see is that all of those services benefit from an art component.

When you’re driving down the freeway, do you notice the subtle patterns stamped into the concrete sound walls? You can tell where you are depending on the art. And housing? We paint buildings different colors, but a splash of something nontraditional really catches the eye and lifts spirits. Infrastructure? Doesn’t that mean a foundation for the best quality of life we can get? And stewardship for those less fortunate should be a given, from not just city sources but from our own pockets, to make sure everyone has a place to life and food to eat. Sometimes art is the only bright light for those struggling to get through life.

But an equal responsibility for all of us, and most of all, our leaders is to also support the aesthetics of our community. Sculptures at the trailheads. Murals in the downtown gathering places. Music at every assembly. Colors and sounds, emoting and creating is essential to human growth and nurturing everywhere.

Southern HotelWhat many fail to see is that in the tangled web of municipal finance, arts funding is very small, but traditionally spent to get the best benefit for all. It’s also funding that doesn’t impact other funding – money spent on art doesn’t deprive roads or food pantries or senior programs. And if the funds come from grants, they may be restricted only to arts and are not available for those other purposes.

Now you may not think that those voices can influence the decision makers, especially if they are small in number.

Wrong. They killed the art in the Newhall roundabout.

Short-sightedness like theirs makes arts administrators cringe when a creative, locally-sourced project is killed because of squeaky wheels and not the project’s merits.

Artists of all disciplines are not without fault. They did not fill the Council chambers to stand up for their fellow creatives.

Lucky for us, we have a second chance. The Santa Clarita City Council has brought a consultant aboard to assess the arts picture (pun intended) and listen to the people express what they want to see in our city. All of the people, squeaky wheels, starving artists, creative musicians, enlightened painters, singers, dancers, actors, comedians, poets and artistic types. Everyone.

“Small amounts, adding up to make a work of art.
First of all you need a good foundation, otherwise it’s risky from the start.
Takes a little cocktail conversation, but without the proper preparation,
Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution.
The art of making art – is putting it together
Bit by bit…”

There are two ways you can add your voice to support the arts – express your opinions by taking the survey online at this link: http://arts.santa-clarita.com/arts-master-plan/

It doesn’t take long and offers the opportunity to add ideas that may not be listed in the options. Most of all, it will give you a chance to say if you want more art, less art, where you want the art, how you want to experience it, and what art you appreciate now.

This would be a good time to remind you that there are several nonprofit arts groups in existence that give of their hearts and souls to make Santa Clarita an artistic place. A few that come to mind – the Canyon Theatre Guild, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, the Santa Clarita Artists Association, the Santa Clarita Concert Band, ARTree, the Santa Clarita Symphony, the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival, the Repertory East Playhouse, the Santa Clarita Youth Orchestra……well, I promised a few, but there are many more, trust me. Many of them don’t get paid to create their art and do it out of passion and the desire to make their community a better place.

The other thing you can do is come to the Arts Summit (again, info at http://arts.santa-clarita.com/arts-master-plan/), it’s on Monday, April 6 at the Activities Center (above the Aquatics Center on Centre Pointe Parkway) from 6:30 to 8. There will be a panel discussion and breakout groups to narrow down what is important to all. It’s a one-night, short time commitment to improve the arts outlook for our future – and the future of our children, grandchildren and visitors.

Oh yeah, tourism helps pay for some of those essential services too – so let’s make sure there’s some culture for people passing through and stopping for a day or two.

Join me and do something to make sure we’re not living in boring beige concrete canyons, please?

And thank you for reading while I express myself artistically.

“The art of making art is putting it together” (jazz hands)

Above: art commissioned by the City of Santa Clarita. Girl and dog sculpture at Canyon Country Park by Madeline Wiener, Aquatics Center mural by Bob Hernandez, Old Town Newhall mural by Frank Rock

 

 

On mayonnaise and coming full circle

Consistency.

A word written on a piece of paper and stapled somewhere on my “Do this” wall.

Sometimes I feel like I should turn in my Writer card when I don’t sit down at the keyboard and open a vein on a regular basis. I mean, it’s not like I’m not writing press releases for clients or publicity for one of my nonprofit groups or answering emails every day.

I mean, my fingers still know which keys are where. It’s just that the whimsy is often put aside for practicality.

And then there’s that “what should I write about?” conundrum.

So today, I’m going to talk about the value of a mayonnaise knife.

I drive my kids crazy. They say I keep too much stuff (but have never accused me of being a hoarder), which I defend by using the sentimental value tactic.

Memories come in all shapes and sizes

My kitchen counter is crammed with essentials, including three crocks holding utensils – spoons, strainers, whisks, tongs, skewers, ladles, spatulas – and one crock specifically for knives. All of them are very crowded, especially the knife one.

My kids went through the knife crock not too long ago and asked why I was holding on to knives that had cracked, weathered handles. There is one knife that they wanted to throw away, since it doesn’t cut very well any more. They urged me to simplify with better, stronger cutlery.

I countered that my mom used to make sandwiches using that knife. It’s more than 60 years old, as dull as butter and shows its age with a handle so bleached it’s nearly white, but it fits in my hand perfectly when I’m making sandwiches and spreading the condiments. The strength of the blade and its response when I’m using it to frost a cake or get the mayonnaise to every corner of the bread has a good, familiar feel.

I still hear my mom’s voice from long ago, when we’d be standing at the cutting board and making lunch. When I would be applying mustard and mayo to a creation, she’d advise “use twice as much of this” (meaning mustard) “and only half of that” (mayo). Nutritional guidance at the hands of utensils, offered with love.

There are other items in my too-shallow kitchen drawers (don’t believe the home improvement store when they sell you the standard kit, they’re NEVER deep enough) that open the memory floodgates. The pie server with the etched vines and the yellow and red-checkered handle – I see it holding my dad’s favorite, apple pie. The crazy whisk that looks like a spring gone bad at the end of a metal stick that my mom told me to bounce up and down when I helped beat the eggs to make French toast. The long metal spatula that reaches further and is my go-to tool when something sticks. Yup. Mom’s.

It bothers me that I lost the knife my grandmother used to teach me how to pit an apricot using only one hand. She could do it standing on a rickety ladder in the orchard. I try with newer, sharper models, with mixed results, standing in the safety of my kitchen.

I do visit foodie Nirvanas like William-Sonoma and Sur le Table and enjoy perusing the fancy new “must haves” that our kids take for granted. But those new blades or peelers or scoops just don’t bring back the mirepoix of my youth, the foundation on which I built my kitchen skills and those fleeting moments when I remember from where I came.

Another thing about that knife: we lived on a main road into what used to be a small town in Northern California. Transients (called “hobos” in those days) would mark the trees in our orchard because they knew my mother would always make them a sandwich. Guess which knife she used? Her belief was that no one should go to sleep hungry. I work with our local food pantry to make sure that doesn’t happen here. And when my kids lived at home, their friends knew that all were welcome for Sunday dinner. Still are. Mom taught me well.

Consistency. Like the home-cooked meals I make for family and friends. I’ll work on that.

Ignore them and they’ll go away – or will they?

Visitors from Kansas were given a friendly NIMBY greeting Sunday morning
Visitors from Kansas were given a friendly NIMBY greeting Sunday morning

Does a tree still fall in the forest if there’s no one there to hear it?

Logic tells us that it does, but the skeptics would like us to consider otherwise.

Last Sunday, a small contingent from the Westboro Baptist Church, which is famous for promoting hate, homophobia and opinions that usually shock people’s senses, visited our town on their way to the Oscars. They stopped at four churches, where they intended to proselytize to the attendees as they left their respective houses of worship.

Upon hearing the news that they were coming, several local residents decided to greet them and counter the Westboro message with one of love and tolerance.

By various accounts, there were six people from Westboro and 200 locals.

That is a lot of love. No incidents were reported and I saw only one mention of the Westboroians making it to Hollywood and Highland on a prominent website.

We struggle with that fine line between reporting the news and rewarding bad behavior. One of the newsroom fights of my career included a discussion of whether or not we would cover the Westboro folks when they were rumored to be enroute to the funeral of a fallen local soldier. I said we should cover them if an incident occurred, management was of the opposing opinion, wanting nothing to appear about them at all.

In other words, don’t reward their offensive nature, it’s only a way to give them the attention they crave.

I reluctantly agreed, reserving the right to report if one of them threw a punch. Fortunately, that never happened. In my recollection, they didn’t even show.

A few days after the recent love fest in the church parking lots, someone posted online about “Passages,” a traveling exhibit from the Museum of the Bible that features the Green Collection of biblical artifacts, which is owned by the founding family of Hobby Lobby, that will open in April in the abandoned Orchard Supply Hardware space that Hobby Lobby will take over some time in 2017. The conversation was spirited, as emotions in the community are mixed about the controversial craft store, which was singled out by the US Supreme Court for its stance on employer-supported birth control.

In other words, there was a little hate in the mix.

We protest intolerance, yet practice it in online forums. Is the keyboard mightier than the picket sign? More importantly, has this replaced sitting around the kitchen table, face to face, and working out differences that can be resolved?

Speaking of protests, remember when Albertsons closed their market on Lyons Avenue in 2005 and Vallarta Markets moved in? Nearly 100 angry villagers – neighbors surrounding the shopping center at Old Orchard Road – filled the City Council chambers to protest Vallarta’s opening, contending that it didn’t “fit in” with the community. I got calls from people who told me that drug dealers and (gasp!) THOSE PEOPLE (Hispanics? Mexicans? People who liked to cook and appreciated a wide selection of fresh foods?) would overrun the center and surrounding apartment complexes and neighborhoods, surely causing property values to plummet. It was one of the ugliest displays of racism since Signal publisher Scott Newhall faced down the Ku Klux Klan in Saugus back in 1966.

Conventional knowledge says that if we ignore something, it might go away. Operative word: might. Another theory is to keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. That’s the same logic that gives us pause when we’re tempted to unfriend or block someone on our social media pages, because we might miss something that we want to react to later. I believe it’s also referred to as one step away from stalking, but that’s another blog.

The good news is that in our crazy quilt of community, there are people willing to stand up and offer the best they have to give – love and tolerance – in the face of adversity, whether they are a group on Facebook or a sea captain who would not let the bastards keep him down. The Westboroians left, Passages will be open to all, a second Vallarta opened in our city just this week (the parking lot was packed, as it has been in Newhall for the last 10 years, by customers of all races, ages and creeds) and people have the freedom to spend their money at a craft store the size of an aircraft carrier – or not. Their choice.

Remember that.

81 at 60 and it feels so good…

Every now and then, especially once you pass the age of 60, you challenge yourself to do something you did in your carefree youth, just to see if you still can and if the deed lives up to the memory.

Some things are best left to the scrapbooks and fireside tales, like my sweetheart taking up pole vaulting again, which he tried after many years out of practice. All I have to do is remind him of the difficulty of fitting his tuxedo pants over the ankle cast and he’s good to stand on the sidelines and coach.

When we were dating, our home base was San Jose. One or both of us used to drive back and forth to Newhall every so often to visit his mom and sister or go to Disneyland. We got familiar with the stops (or lack of, back in those days) on the 5 and often discussed the pros and cons of taking the 101 instead, sometimes opting for a scenic route that was a little bit longer. Once we married and kids came along, the trips became less frequent; we settled in SoCal and my parents lived in the Bay Area. Trips were confined to the occasional holiday. As kids grew up and relatives passed on or moved away, schedules precluded any spontaneous five-hour drives.

My last trip north a few years ago, on a journey to research an art festival in Sausalito, my beloved Saturn Vue nearly blew up, ending our road trip with a humbling and expensive flight home.

So when I set out last week to drive to Sacramento to visit my oldest daughter, 40 years after it had been my habit to just jump in the car and take off, I think I was looking to prove something to myself. Could I still do it without complaining and would it be as fun?

I hit the drive-thru at Starbucks at 6:15 a.m. for a cup of iced coffee (the day was already warm), took the cross-valley connector and jumped on the freeway with no problem.

While I didn’t hit much traffic at all (keeping a watchful eye out for the CHP), the early spring and bright sunshine did facilitate a lot of company in that thousands of bugs felt compelled to hurl themselves against my windshield in a statewide suicide pact. I swear I saw a few panicked faces (dare I say they were “bug-eyed?”) before impact. A stop at Harris Ranch for breakfast included some scrubbing of the glass so I could see the road and a second stop was necessary before I reached Stockton for the same reason. This was worse than any trip I could recollect.

My cousin, who also lives near Sacramento, keeps bees and does her best to educate the rest of us about their plight and challenges. When I saw two honeybees were impaled on my windshield wipers, it became a priority to get rid of the evidence, lest I hurt her feelings. And I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d done in some distant relative…

Radio is as messed up as ever in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, I came out of a hill to a mix of Motley Crue and Jason Aldean, prompting me to pull over and find Pandora on my phone. It was interesting on the way back to listen to morning deejays in Sacramento, but once again, hitting the farmlands along the freeway, it was time to Pandora my Miranda Lambert station.

The solitude of the road is something I have missed and one of the reasons I don’t embrace public transportation. When you’re in your car alone, there is time to think, time to wonder and sing off-key with no fear of the car next to you listening in. I enjoyed being able to look at roadside signs and toy with the idea of stopping at some tantalizing restaurant or gift shop (I do Yelp about one, www.mamarock.yelp.com) without taking a vote or settling for fast food. And it’s always interesting to see what cargo is sharing the road with me, although the current port strike must have had some effect on my road companions, as they were few. I found it ironic during a drive some time ago in which I found myself traveling with several semis loaded down with garlic – all headed for the famous stinking rose festival. Doesn’t it actually grow in Gilroy?

Driving up, I was buoyed by the excitement of seeing my daughter and cousin and I made good time (my daughter’s comment: “Holy cow, Mom, you drive like m… uh, I drive like you! Not that we ever speed, on the record…) The visit was great; we saw historic sites, beautiful scenery, ate delicious food, laughed and caught up on each others’ lives and as many relatives as we could remember before getting sleepy.

Heading home, I grabbed the obligatory Starbucks and breakfast sandwich and joined pre-rush hour Capitol drivers. The skies were overcast and grey for nearly the entire drive, making the cheap sunglasses I purchased unnecessary. Along the road, I saw the signs denouncing Congress’s “dust bowl” and reminders that our water shortage is something we need to take seriously. Sadly, some of those signs are showing their age, another reminder that water wars have been part of our state’s history for some time. No mention of the possible high-speed rail proposed to cut a swath from south to north and take traffic off the highway.

Don’t know that I’d take a train anyway. I like my solitude and sanctuary too much. And I get a senior discount along the road.

Where are we going next?

Big shoes to fill and giant steps to take

It’s been a dark month for journalists. We’re losing our mentors and teachers and friends.

I’m not talking about Brian Williams’ fall from grace because of alleged fabrications. That will sort itself out soon enough. And while I will miss Jon Stewart behind the desk of The Daily Show, I wish him well in new endeavors. Hopefully he’ll direct more movies and get to spend time experiencing his family growing up. Newspeople tend to miss those things when they chase a story. Some of us don’t realize it until the therapist brings it up.

But I digress.

In the last month, an alarming number of giants – people who thrilled me with their literary finesse and inspired me to take this winding path of words – have shuffled off this mortal coil. Their lessons shared, it’s now up to those left behind to keep the goodness going. Hopefully we will be able to bring ourselves up to and over the bar they set and not shamefully limbo beneath it.

It all started January 12, when Al Martinez, a columnist I read in the Oakland Tribune as a kid and followed to El Lay, when I found him writing for the Los Angeles By God Times. I was going to name one of my pets Elmer, as he said people thought his name was when he said it too fast. I loved his look at life and credit him for helping me develop my own edge when I became a Southern Californian, working in a city that was so much more intense than the suburb where I grew up. I loved his spirit and tenacity to stand up for himself when the corporate bean counters tried to downsize him out of his rightful place in the public pulpit and celebrated when he started writing for the Daily News, LA Observed and AARP. Simultaneously.

Three weeks later, one of my colleagues from the Daily News died; Rick Orlov, who had a unique take on City Hall, where he was a trusted reporter and a selfless supporter of anyone who wanted to better themselves as a journalist. The end of his reign as the king of the press room means that a new regime will take over; one that will have to build from the ground up to earn half of the respect that sources had for Rick. It may completely change how politics are covered in Los Angeles and not necessarily for the better.

Bob Simon of CBS’s 60 Minutes, who survived torture at the hands of the Iraqi army, died Wednesday night when his livery car crashed in New York. A correspondent for CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Simon was a trusted source who reported from locations all across the globe. He earned 27 Emmys for his work and after being released from captivity, went on to write a book about it.

Simon told the LA Times in an interview (noted in LA Observed) that he wrote the book “Forty Days” about his experience in captivity because “This was the most searing experience of my life. I wrote about because I needed to write about it.”

Catharsis. The need to write. Every writer can relate.

On Wednesday, New York Times columnist David Carr died after collapsing in the newsroom. He’d just come from a panel discussion and, like most of us, went back to the office to finish off the day, or organize notes for the next morning or just decompress from the information hustle. His unique take on the world of media will be missed.

On Sunday, the world lost Gary Owens, best known for his work on Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In,” a show that helped us keep our sanity in the ’60s. His greater body of work included inspiring voice actors and being an example for those of us who occasionally took to the airwaves to announce the news. Timing, tone and timbre were things I took away from his school of life.

And my heart simply sank when I learned this morning that one of the pillars of LA news, Stan Chambers, had died. Stan was an innovator who persisted when challenged, inspiring more than one generation of reporters. His autobiography is one of my favorite books and his example of professionalism and leadership drove me to do better whenever I could. I’m even going to miss him on New Year’s morning. When I covered the Rose Parade several years ago, I was more thrilled to be standing near him as he did an interview than I was by the stunning floats. There’s something about being in the camera light of a legend….

There is a some comfort in writing about my feeling of loss, because it helps me deal with my fear of how my field will change without the responsible ones – the old timers, the people who knew traditions, had institutional memory, could tell it like it was in much more than 140 characters, breathing life into cold facts and making them stories you wanted to read and learn more about.

I feel like I’m one of a group of kids who just graduated from school and were thrown the keys as the revered faculty drives off, leaving us in the dust. Did we learn enough? Can we do them justice? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, raise a glass to some ass-kicking journalists and start the round of stories anew. We have a very high bar to hit.

Third time’s the charm, right?

February 11, 2015

Beginning again.

It’s like getting back on the bike or the horse or behind the wheel after a disastrous crash in which you were the casualty. But the muse within can only stay inside so long.

I am a writer. Not just because I have this uncanny ability to make fingers match keys that make things found in dictionaries and more often than not, fall into an AP style cadence.

Not because I made a living (kind of) as a working journalist and news director for 20 years.

Not because I embrace sayings like “punctuation, then quotations” or “people who, things that” as my mantras.

No, it has something to do with my love affair with words. They express. They embellish. They soften. They comfort. They confront.

“Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” is another literary tattoo. That and “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Yeah, I’ve always been a skeptic, long before my English teacher in high school said that I was a pretty good wordsmith. That character trait helped me when I embarked on a non-writing career arc of trying to be a cop. I studied law enforcement when I started college in 1971. Worked for LAPD for a while as a police cadet (the first female to do so, btw). Added pre-law to my studies when the physical part of trying to be a cop challenged me. Stopped chasing sirens and dead bodies for several years as an academic and instead pursued them with a reporter’s notebook. Decided to finish the college thing after a 32-year hiatus and got a degrees with a focus on writing.

Yup. Took that long to come to my senses.

This isn’t my first blog. I used to despise bloggers because I was a newspaper columnist, which I thought held me to a pretty high standard. I had followers. Some have become close friends. To me, bloggers had no accountability and I was responsible for my media outlet’s credibility. Captain America wasn’t the only one with a big shield and superpowers.

I softened my stance when my daughter became engaged the first time, launching a blog named “MOB Mentality” – as in Mother of the Bride. It was a way for me to wax poetic about a special time in our lives and hopefully let others know that if I could laugh at my experience, so could they. You might think that it was a freeing experience and in many aspects, it was, but it was also confining. In difficult situations, I refrained from expressing my true feelings so as to spare those people creating the problem. I found that to be more confining than enjoyable, so when the nuptials took place, I closed down the blog.

The kids divorced a year and a half later. Thankfully, the blog had nothing to do with it.

I stayed out of the blogging game with two subsequent engagements – that of my son and my daughter’s second engagement. Both of them are now married to people who make them blissfully happy and that’s how I want it to be.

During my degree pursuit, I had to blog for a class (a limited audience). Being fond of attention, I didn’t get nearly enough to make it worth my while, so that one was abandoned too. What can I say, sometimes I can be like the people I used to cover.

That’s not what I have planned for this blog. Bring on the world.

Thankfully, blogs today have evolved into credible and helpful sources. As newspapers, radio and television resources consolidate, thanks to America’s corporate greed, blogs have risen to fill the void. I find myself reading many of them daily, taking bits and pieces of knowledge, humor and life.

The title, Rockbottomreminders, is homage to my former newspaper column, which was entitled Rock Bottom. The reminder part is another attempt to let people know that my observations aren’t too far off from what they might be thinking or believing. It’s also close to the name of a defunct musical group, the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose musicians have included amazing writers Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry and Matt Groening, among others. They played their last gig in 2012. Their rock and roll lives forever on YouTube.

That said, I hope this gives me a little more discipline, something freelance writers struggle with constantly. At least I do. It will give me a chance to poke the bear with the proverbial stick while letting the muse pour forth her thoughts, opening the common jugular vein that pounds life into every writer. Hopefully people will comment. I promise not to use bad language if they don’t.

To this table, I bring the perspective of a baby boomer; raised in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I am AARPs favorite target. I am poised at the corner of Reinvention and Renaissance and know now how my mother’s perspective changed when she reached her 60s. You tend not to care quite as much about being careful, filters don’t work as well as they had to in the past and your audience learns more about the real you.

I’m going to cover politics, arts, consumerism, lifestyle and, one of my favorite phrases from junior high civics, “man’s inhumanity to man.” Sadly that’s still a daily dilemma.

I may make peace with the Oxford comma.

I might touch on religion (disclosure: lapsed Catholic with some great stories), will definitely mention Disney and I am an unabashedly proud pittie mama.

I abhor breed-specific legislation, discrimination and lima beans.

I believe we should have a reasonable expectation that our elected officials will do what we ask them to and be held to the consequence of being removed from office if they don’t.

And I can’t wait to hear what interests you.

Let’s make this a mutual learning experience, shall we?

Here we go……