Open Call: Where are they now? --Former and Current OSers edition

Ever since we first met each other on Open (or deepened our friendships there), many of us have stayed in touch and kept up with each other's news. Even if not everyone has followed us here to Our, it's wonderful that we haven't lost contact.

A lot of things have happened this year, good and very bad. But one thing I'm grateful for as I look back is the fact that, despite everything, despite where our lives take us, I've been able to keep in contact with so many of my OS friends.

I know, on the other hand, that not all of us are able to keep in touch with everyone or participate in every discussion (for example, I don't do Facebook and thus have never been able to read or exchange on the OS-related page there). So I decided to ask some of the former Open Saloners, and even some of the current members of Our who don't get to post here as much as they'd like, to see what they're up to and if they'd like to share their news with everyone.

I have to admit, motivated as I was to do this, it's been a busy couple of months (hence why I also haven't been as involved here as I'd like). So it's taken a while to compile this list, and there are still people I haven't asked.

So I'm looking at this as an evolving list. I'll try to regularly add updates.
And I'd also love to make this an Open Call. If you know someone or someones who were once a part of the community - or who still are but aren't regularly present - feel free to ask them if you can post their news.

I say "ask" because some friends told me they preferred I didn't tell others about certain circumstances in their lives - illness or other troubles they don't want to burden anyone else with, or prefer to deal with among their family only. If you like, please send some positive energy, hope, prayers, good juju, whatever you believe in, to those out there in these situations.

If the person/people you ask do want to have their news shared with the community, maybe we should do it like this: Post either on your own, or feel free to add the news the comments section here. If you do the former, please come here and tell us that you've added a page in the comments, so that we'll have all the news in one place, so to speak.

Okay, that said, here is news - in different formats, depending on when I asked and how they preferred to answer - from three of our old friends.

From our old pal Bernadine Spitzsnogel, aka Amy Abbott:

1. So, how are you?

“Bernadine and husband Herman Spitzsnogel” aka Amy Abbott and husband are doing fine. I send greetings to my former Open Salon colleagues. After freelancing for five years after a job loss, I went back to full-time work two years ago. Since the early eighties, I’ve worked in health care marketing. I am in administration at a psychiatric and addiction hospital near my home. Returning to management and full-time work been a challenge, but I’m happy for the opportunity.

2. Any exciting news to share with us?

I continue to write as often as I can, though not nearly as much as my Open Salon days. My work is sold through the Senior Wire News Service. It’s exciting to see where it ends up, literally coast to coast. My new book, Whitley County Kid, was just highlighted on the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Site, which is a thrill for this Erma fan. The book is a collection of essays for Baby Boomers and has done fairly well. I’m looking forward to Cyber Monday and hope it’s a good sales day.

On a completely different note, I’ve published a series of books called the “No Words” series which feature pictures from our various travels. So many people asked to see pictures. I found that the proprietary book sites for photography were way out of my reach. I am very familiar with self-publishing so I put together my first book. People really liked it so I’ve done three more and have several more in the works, about Spain and Northern Ireland. Honestly I lifted the idea from the talented Barb Hamp Weicksel who is is a real photographer and someone I really admire.
[NOTE: In another email, Amy told me these books are also great for pepole with dementia, which her mother suffered from, or Alzheimer's, since they just contain pictures that are enjoyable to look at and may even help evoke memories or conversation. Sounds like an awesome idea.]

3. Are you still blogging, and, if so, where?
I continue to develop my own site,, and The Raven Lunatic runs there and occasionally on BlogHer.

4. Do you have any other writing projects going on?
I’m currently deep into a yet unnamed project about my family from 1837 to 1937. I grew up in a small rural northern Indiana county. Two of my ancestors received land patents there on August 1, 1837. They didn’t know each other and settled in different parts of the county. Both families left voluminous materials and I’m putting them together with a creative non-fiction narrative. Since I don’t know everything, I’m taking some license but I think it will be an interesting project.

5. Do you have anything you want to say to the OSers reading this?
Thank you to all my former Open Salon colleagues. I could not have imagined when another writer friend told me about the site in November 2009 what a huge positive impact the people I met there would have on me. I am so blessed to count a number of you as my friends and I’ve met quite a few OSers in person. I miss the site every day.

And now, an update from Andy Wolfenson, who I had the pleasure to meet in person on my last trip to New York, and who is such a friendly, fun guy. Andy's just published a book he's very proud of, and wanted me to pass on this message for those who might be interested.

And above all, he says hi and wishes everyone Happy Holiday.

My latest book, Bloggin’ Baseball II (from the bleachers) is now available for purchase – in paperback and for kindle.

The links for each are below, and I have also attached a copy of my press release for your further reading enjoyment.

As always, I thank you for your support of my writing endeavors and if you feel the urge to purchase any of my other books while browsing the site, feel free to do so … and then to leave positive reviews so that others will want to purchase the book as well.

Paperback link -

Kindle link -

And here's ambassador of HUUUUGGGGGSSSS Linda Seccaspina's news:

What has Linda been doing?

After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her, off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny.

She wrote about this and that for a year for theHumm newspaper and finished up book number 6. She still writes for former OSer's Darlene Gerbino Pistocchi glossy magazine Screamin Mamas, but mostly is engrossed in local history. With Steve still 3000 miles away, still on the Canadian immigration list, she writes 3 local historical stories a day for her Facebook column The Tales of Carleton Place so she does not lose her mind. She is a columnist for Hometown News, a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, a writer for the Lanark Genealogical Society, and a local guest speaker.

She has been now labeled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with.

That's everyone I have for now, but I will be updating regularly and I hope you guys will, too, if you know anyone who'd like to share their news with us.

To friends new and old, Happy Holidays, and here's hoping the rest of this year and 2106 will be full of love, connection, good health, and happiness.

UPDATE 1: I wrote about this in the comments already, but for those reading this post for the first time, I figured I'd put it here, too, though I'm sorry to have to share it: After a struggle with a terminal illness, Steve Sherman (aka Another Steve S.) passed away on December 25, 2015. I was friendly with him for years, and when I heard he was ill, I wrote him and we began exchanging emails, photos, and videos - his will always make me smile. Steve and his wife Kathleen always inspired me with their pragmatic, yet positive outlook. May he rest in peace, and may Kathleen and all of his friends and loved ones find peace and healing. Linda Seccaspina wrote a wonderful post about Steve, where she shared two of his posts. It really did him justice, so I'm posting a link to it here:
Myriad also posted about Steve, here on Our. Her post, which includes the message Kathleen posted on Facebook, is also a wonderful and inspiring read.

Views: 370

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on December 24, 2015 at 5:57am

Such a pleasure reading this!  To you and your family, a 2016 of love, fun, and of perhaps, less excitement.

Comment by Boanerges on December 24, 2015 at 6:49am

Thanks for these updates, Alysa, especially since I don't do Facebook either. I wondered in particular where Linda had got to. She was on my favourites list for a long time on Open, but I can't remember the last time (if ever) I saw her here.

Comment by Zanelle on December 24, 2015 at 9:38am

Writers are such interesting people.  I do do facebook and love how many people do blogs there and enjoy a great string of comments.  I keep track of so many people in my life there and enjoy it all.  L Heur Blue is doing fine living with her mom and now daughter with dogs.  She is doing Art and gardening.  I met her and she is so beautiful!

   Tink had an operation on his foot and lost some toes to diabetes.  He has been writing from the hospital and it is priceless humor.  That guy can really make me laugh.  He is writing too on some sites and gets a little serious too.  So funny tho.

     You all know Almost Ranch lost Mel.  She died in her recliner there with heart problems and David is puttering around with the animals and writing almost everyday about it on facebook.  His stories and feelings are heartfelt and he is writing projects too as time goes on.  My heart goes out to him alone now on the ranch they had so much fun building.

      Lezlie is on fb.  She is so classy and keeps us informed about the Actor.  Her multiple sclorosis hasnt stopped her and she is still a political whiz.  She has a blog and posts of facebook with lots of passion and information.

       Community means so much to me especially since I find it difficult to make connections in real life.  Thanks for this posting.

Comment by Zanelle on December 24, 2015 at 10:01am

Romantic Poetess is on FB and still just so beautiful.  She has published a book of her lovely poems and is so happy.  She puts her poems up on fb all the time and shares some sweet images.

 I also kept in touch with Michele.  She is a native American who lived in Santa Fe and took care of her invalid husband.  When he died she married a good friend and they just moved up into the mountains in New Mexico.  She is a truly beautiful person too and loves an old fashioned Christmas. 

     I have friends on fb from other writing sites I abandoned.  They write posts there and like the way it flows.  Nice to keep in touch that way, without the confines of a blogging site.  I know L is there from Our and I love to see her out of her role here.  I do love this place tho and am happy to keep posting here as long as I can...

Comment by Zanelle on December 24, 2015 at 10:08am

Christine Geery is on fb and still in love with her sweetie.  She posts wonderful things there.

Sheila is another prolific poster who I met on Open.  Both these ladies have made a great home on fb and add some fun posts.

Then there is Teri Davis...lunchlady.   She is doing well.  I love her so much and remember all the hell she went through.  Now she has a new little grandchild and works on her grief and seems to be getting better every year.

Comment by Zanelle on December 24, 2015 at 10:29am

Also Algis, the photographer who was on Open, is on fb and has had two shows of his work.  He posts amazing photos there.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on December 24, 2015 at 10:38am

I'm missing James Emmerling and Margaret Flieke, hope all is well with them and theirs. Stephen Brassawe,  Jerry DeNuccio and Robin Sneed have been absent of late and David McClain is still recovering from his loss of Mel.  I'm also missing Abrawang, Doc Bramhall, Nanatehay, Rob Neukirch, Gerald Andersen and Veronica Corso.  Hoping that the season find them all healthy and in company of friends and family.  Of course I'm missing Liberal Libby, l' Heure Bleu and Firechick.  Time passes and people move on.

Comment by koshersalaami on December 24, 2015 at 11:01am

So many people on Facebook. I'm not there. It's interesting that Zanelle mentions Lezlie: I talk to her all the time in e-mail but none of it ever concerns the actor, so I'm not up on him at all. 

Bill's OK. I checked in with him a few minutes ago. I e-mail him to check up every once in a while. 

I've left messages with a whole lot of other people. Last I heard from her a few weeks ago, onislandtime was really busy. I've dropped another note today and I'll see if I hear back. If anyone else responds, I'll let you know.

Has anyone checked on Cranky? My old e-mail address for him doesn't work but I assume he's still reachable by PM from here. 

And I'm thinking we ought to find Terry's post and wish her well. 

Comment by JMac1949 Today on December 24, 2015 at 1:03pm

Great news Tinkertink69 (Jason) has reappeared from hiding in the thorny bushes to wish us all a Merry Christmas!!!!  Yaaa Tink!

Comment by koshersalaami on December 24, 2015 at 4:45pm

Did you know Traveler? I corresponded with him today. 


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