I Had A Dream

I had a dream that I awoke to a world of rationality, patriotism, non-partisan peace among men and charity to those who mean no harm. Love, hope for the future and for those willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard the opportunities were there.  The churches and synagogues were an integral part of  jointly helping their rebounding communities ….and I felt safe. Malice, greed and hatred were words unfamiliar to us.  The year was 1947 and I was 8 years old.  

This morning I opened my eyes and the forward flight of  seventy years brought me back to reality that has no dream attached to it, but all the realities of our 2017 collective nightmares.  How did this happen?

I have lived through 14 presidential elections, my family’s preferred candidate not always getting elected, but my parents were patriots who lived through the depression and respected our Constitution and the democratic process.  With hate and malice toward none, they placed patriotism and love of country before politics. I am grateful for their strength that has allowed me to move forward in my life, sharing their same values.

My father always cautioned me that if I couldn’t say something nice, keep it to myself.   “There are other ways to give positive reenfircement than hurting someone with negative speech or actions,” he would say.  “Think before you speak. Always give someone the benefit of doubt and a chance,” he advised. “Do as your faith guides you, not as ‘they’ do.”

Well, it is evident everywhere I turn, all of this sage elder advice from my father years ago has evaporated in today’s divided political and hateful rethoric. 

 With  fake news running rampant on the internet and passed around greedily like Krispy Kremes, everyone salivating to get  their ‘two cents’ in to see who can be the most hatefully  divisive, politicians holding up the democratic process because they angrily feel like it, Facebook ‘likes’ attached to vile negative posts, it seems we are doomed to perpetual division. 

Where oh where has my country gone? Is everyone drinking denial Kool Aid? Hey folks, if you know civics, we have a new democratically elected president.  The electoral college has spoken. I understand, reality bites for some, but acceptance and support of our Constitution is part of the privilege of living in this great country.

 

I am off Facebook and only sharing my blogs. I have turned off the television and instead I am reading more and working at my own craft and thank God everyday for the beautiful  adoptive children in my extended family life who wouldn’t be here today if their birth mothers had had an abortion. 

 I am boycotting my once respected union peers out in Hollywood. I want to see them ply their craft and I care not a twit their stance on politics. Whether folks agree or not with you, fellow actors,  award events are not the platforms to share your political rage. Just because you can, doesn’t make it right, or even interesting.  

So, I don’t know how long my withdrawal from the political insanity will be, but  with malice toward none I am giving the new president a chance to keep us safe, improve the economy, and move us forward. If he doesn’t, then, lucky me, democracy will allow a change. 


In the meantime, for someone,  do or say something kind today, will you? One small step for mankind may collectively save all of us in the end.

Artwork by Norman Rockwell

Copyright©Sandra Hart 2017.      All  Rights Reserved

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Five Most Meaningful Words

“In my opinion two of the most meaningful short sentences that create positive human emotional response in the English language are ‘I love you.’ and ‘Thank you.’ ” – Sandra Hart

Having coffee in the stillness of the morning today, I was thinking about my grandchildren and how the world and even traditions are changing. For them, they are experiencing great things through technology and yet, great emotional and social losses because of it. 

My most cherished book at age thirteen was Emily Post’s Book of Etiquette. Almost every girl I knew had a copy. To be able to navigate all social settings it just was the required guide to have as a young woman. Emily Post’s book first published in 1922 and updated on a regular basis to keep up with the changing society, was the standard book of reference to have as a young woman on etiquette for all occasions. 

For most of my formative years it was my rescue to navigating thank you notes, large and complicated table settings, wedding gifts, invitations, resumes and even writing to the judiciary, government officials and titled persons. Anything and everything dealing with life and occasions, even proper death condolences was covered.  

Throughout the years I tucked between Emily’s pages thank you notes from friends or important pieces of my emotional trivia. It became sort of a social cookbook of my life and it was the one book that I never wanted to part with. 

I would love to share my traditions with my granddaughters with the more modern and updated versions by Elizabeth Post, but I don’t think they would be interested. An etiquette book probably would gather dust somewhere in their room. Times have changed. 

If you are a grandparent, do you agree? We are witness to grandchildren and their generation who seem to be caught up with their heads in the vortex of the isolation of visual entertainment and keyboards, forgetting all about one-on-one social etiquette, or interest in sitting down to write a thank you note? 

I love getting a thank you call, but my heart would sing to have the postman deliver an honest-to-goodness note in their handwriting that I could slip between the pages of my social cookbook. A thank you that indicates they have taken the time to let me know they love me. 

What a great loss in human connectivity these techno kids will miss and sadly, may never be able to understand or recapture.
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Copyright©Sandra Hart 2017. All Rights 

It’s An Oscar Peterson Kind Of Day

The skies are dark and the tropical winds are blowing much stronger than usual, it’s that kind of day here on the beach. Anywhere else up north the winds and dark skies would be rather depressing, but here, for me, it’s an Oscar Peterson/Cole Porter kind of day. When I woke up to grey skies I welcomed the change in the sameness tropical living sometimes brings. 

After my early morning walk with Sophie, nothing better than starting my day with a cup of tea, biscotti, Oscar and sharing my thoughts out into the digital universe. 

For me, music has always been a barometer of our culture. Growing up in the forties and fifties, music was happy, soulful, lyrics clear and smooth, the beat consistent. Songs were about love, the good life and moving on. Listeners could tap their feet, shake their heads and groove to the beat in ‘slo-mo’ or shoulder shaking heat. Music felt good.

As a teen I would lie across my bed and dream to The Four Aces, Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter’s lyrics. The future and the world was out there for me, just waiting. Of that I was sure. It was a positive world I would be walking into. The music that surrounded me told me so.

My husband, having celebrated his ninth decade on this earth yesterday has taken me back into his reality of WWII evolving into peacetime prosperity and a more civil and dare I say simple, moral times.  

What has happened to us as a society? Up until the music of the nineties and from there what has happened to lyrics with decency and morality in some popular music tastes? I can still close my eyes and dream to some, but I feel I’m in a dying generation as far as music goes.  

As the music becomes corrupt and dies, so goes the culture, so goes the nation. I never thought life in 2016 would evolve into what it appears to be today. I don’t think I have to spell it out for you, you must see it, too. 

©Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

Cole Porter: His numerous hit songs include “Night and Day”, “Begin the Beguine”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “Well, Did You Evah!”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and “You’re the Top”. He also composed scores for films from the 1930s to the 1950s, including Born to Dance (1936), which featured the song “You’d Be So Easy to Love”; Rosalie (1937), which featured “In the Still of the Night”; High Society (1956), which included “True Love”; and Les Girls (1957).

NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR INNER SELF


I was having an ‘over-sixty’ conversation with one of my children this morning about life’s chapters and challenges. “Remember the guy that gave up?” I said. “Neither does anybody else.” That, basically, my friends, has been the salted truth that I have poured over and over on my many adult wounds to heal and move on. 

If you grew up in the 50’s like me, times were good and innocent and most of us actually thought our lives would be a yellow brick road that once taken, would lead only to good things. I believed that life did promise me a real rose garden. 

 

Well, in reality, my imaginary rose garden got smothered a lot by rag weed and poison ivy. I had to live the life I was given-not the life that I had chosen. “Tough,” She said. The Goddess of Life didn’t promise me a rose garden even though I was expecting it. 

Throughout their adult ups and downs I have asked my children to please give me someone who has never struggled or hit a brick wall at some point in their life. They have no answers. Living life never promises a perfect pitched game, so my answer to them is to never give up on their inner self. They will never lose. Either they win or learn. 

There is something so special and positive about the lessons and paths in life most of us over 60 have walked. We will never lose. We are still winning and learning. 

2016©Sandra Hart        All Rights Reserved

Growing Wings Of Their Own

( Author Note: As former Romper Room Teacher and Pittsburgh CBS affiliate anchor, my children began their lives with Romper Room and Mr. Rogers as their ‘normal’ family. We relocated with my late husband to New Jersey 43 years ago, but no escaping for them – their friends here in New Jersey always remembered me as the lady on Romper Room.)

Growing Wings Of Their Own
It has almost been 20 years since one of my children took his sisters out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ shadow they had been living with for most of their lifetime. A new dimension was added to our lives and nothing would ever be the same again.
In 1996 my Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey singer/songwriter son, Emerson Hart, and his band Tonic released their first album, Lemon Parade, which rocketed to multi-platinum status and garnered him awards, including the Billboard Award for the #1 most played song on rock radio.
What followed in the ensuing 19 years would be world tours, six Tonic albums, two Grammy Nominations, ASCAP Award, movie soundtracks, two successful solo albums and concerts in war zones entertaining our American troops – even being knocked off of his feet by a bomb blast while the band was staying at one of Sodom Hussein’s Palaces in Iraq.
Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Both New Jersey icons, were already firmly established within the 80’s Rock frenzy by the time Emerson and Tonic came along. But the ‘new kid’ on the block from New Jersey, the late ’90’s talent entry, came into the game like gangbusters when music tastes were were changing. Emerson was on the tail end of Rock’s biggest roll, but he and Tonic have survived.
So have his sisters. Each of them with their own quiet, or not so quiet victories growing up and out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ memories.
So a toast from parents to our children and their victories growing up and out from under our wings. A toast for 20 more quiet and maybe not so quiet years!

Why We Sometimes Marry The Wrong Person

“It’s one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.”

The New York times recently published an article on a subject that my children and I have often discussed. Choosing a partner subconsciously on the comfort level of what you knew growing up as a child most often than not guarantees a divorce in the future.

I came from a family where my parents stayed together until death. My brother chose a mate and they have been married for over 50 years. My first marriage ended in divorce. Why?

I have no doubt that my parents truly loved one another, but my father had a terrible temper and he and my mother bickered constantly. I vowed never to marry someone who had a temper, so I chose someone who had no emotion whatsoever. I swung the pendulum all the way to the opposite and instead of reaching a middle ground I ran away from familiarity that was not a comfort zone for me. Although we have been best friends since then, divorce was inevitable. There was no passion in our union. 

The issues regarding relationships and marriage were not open for discussion to us years ago. I wish I had had then the tools that are available today to young couples starting out in relationships. 

I am incorporating the article in this blog because I think it is right on target and explains so much about why and how we choose mates that might not be so right for us.

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person

By ALAIN de BOTTON

MAY 28, 2016

IT’S one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.

Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”

Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when we are working; perhaps we’re tricky about intimacy after sex or clam up in response to humiliation. Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Our partners are no more self-aware. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to understand them. We visit their families. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.

For most of recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons: because her parcel of land adjoined yours, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the magistrate in town, there was a castle to keep up, or both sets of parents subscribed to the same interpretation of a holy text. And from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. 
The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since they met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason, that catalyst of misery, that accountant’s demand. The prestige of instinct is the traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable reason.

But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. 
How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.

We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us: Perhaps we were in Venice, on the lagoon, in a motorboat, with the evening sun throwing glitter across the sea, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the prospect of dinner in a risotto place a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage.

Indeed, marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.
We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.

WE need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.

Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) is the author of the novel “The Course of Love.”
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Sweet Dreams Alice


As we spend time on this planet we all have ties. Strings to people that have crossed our paths in various chapters of our lives who are extremely important to us. To our memories. Each one of those important strings to a life, to my life, to yours, that has been knit from birth until now. Unexpected feelings of camaraderie to perfect strangers has always been such a mystery to me. Why some people cross your path and you immediately feel a bond, a sisterhood with them. Deep friendships are a very rare and cherished thing, aren’t they. I probably, in my lifetime, can count on one hand the true deep girlfriend relationships I have had in my life. 

The unfortunate twist and irony of it all is that sometimes we don’t realize how important these threads are in our past until the comfort begins to unravel. Today has been such a day for me.

 

I met Alice on my first day at the Barbizon Hotel for Women in New York where we both were staying while we went to school. She lived on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and I was from an industrial town on the Ohio River. Our backgrounds couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Her brother was in Princeton and mine at Cincinnati University. Her father lunched at The Brown Derby and my father took his to work with him. In spite of our different beginnings, Alice and I quickly bonded. How could you not like her. She was pretty, sweet and always had a smile and a good word for everyone. 

After we each graduated from school she went back to the West Coast and wound up in San Francisco and I stayed in New York for a while and eventually when I got married settled in Pittsburgh. But throughout the years we’ve always kept in touch talking about our boyfriends, then husbands, then our children.

Throughout the years on holidays we exchanged cards and wrote from time to time, but our relationship was forged even greater when we both found a renewed closeness on Facebook. It was like having coffee with Alice every morning when I logged onto Facebook and became a part of her life once again.

Well, this morning we lost Alice and I lost one of my forever-for-life friends. Alice always was the cheerful one-always the positive one. She told me a few months ago that she was not afraid of dying. She said she just felt sad for those that she was leaving behind. She would be going on to something better. That was Alice. Cheerful and positive to the end, or maybe as she believed to the beginning.

Alice was one of those last threads to my earlier chapters and I will miss her dearly. But one of the many things about knowing Alice has taught me is don’t be afraid to live every moment of your life while you’re here. Live it with kindness. Live it with compassion. Live it with faith.

We all will miss you dear Alice. Sweet dreams my good friend.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2016

To The Moon Alice!

Selling a house is combined with the good and the bad. The good would be all of the memories that are stored where you live and the bad is going through everything and sorting out what to keep and what not keep. 

Somehow keeping all of this stuff also helps to keep everyone alive, especially my parents who have passed on, getting rid of their birth certificates and old love letters is very difficult. Even though I know I can’t keep carrying them around in boxes up in the attic – letters that I, sadly, have never made enough time to sit in the corner and read throughly. 

I guess, like  most mothers, including my own, I probably have kept every kindergarten handprint and handmade clothespin Christmas ornament everyone of my children has ever made. 

I just now had quite a chuckle when I looked at the Mother’s Day card my young son Lee made for me. It must’ve been during the PAC man craze because he says he loves me and I’m the best Pac Mom there is.

Inside there was a sweet little poem the future Grammy winning songwriter composed.

Mom you’re great

Mom your true 

Mom I will always love you 

Your son 

Lee 

That probably was one of his first compositions that necessarily was not meant to be a song. Plenty others about truck drivers moving down the road and elementary school crushes started when he was around seven, but this might be his very first and last serious attempt at rhyme for his mother. 

I have to say though I was a little mystified when I noticed the drawing of a space ship at the bottom of his card. 

My son was born in 1969 on the morning the USA landed on the moon, so I am hoping the reference to the rocket ship blasting through space is just that and not a subliminal message that he wanted to send me to the moon! 

Our children are the best reasons to live a long life. Don’t you just love them in spite of rockets sending you into space. I think this card is a keeper. 

Copyright©Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

A Twenty Year Journey

  
In 1977 how does an eight year old boy living on the New Jersey shore emotionally survive his father’s mental illness and the news that his paranoid schizophrenic father has been murdered? How does he survive the fact that his body has never been found and there never would be any closure for him? How does he survive the fact that the same genetic predisposition might be his? Music.

  
Well, that little boy grew up to be the lead singer/ songwriter of one of the few multiplatinum, Billboard awarded and twice Grammy nominated rock bands of the 90’s to survive and thrive when most have gone into oblivion. No big PR firms, trashing of hotel rooms, or over-the-top pyrotechnic concerts; just plain great lyrics and music written and performed from his heart that have given him venues full of loyal fans for 20 years in both his solo and band’s career.

  

That band is Tonic and the musician/composer is Emerson Hart. Everyone has known his songs, but until his solo career, in spite of his success and awards in singing and writing for Tonic, movies and television, who recognized the name ‘Emerson Hart’? Although Tonic was a force in the music arena, it was not until 2004 after the release of his first solo album “Cigarettes and Gasoline” and his ability to talk about his father through his music and interviews did he start getting recognized for his songs everyone had been singing for years.
  
Along with Emerson’s songwriting success, his Tonic co-founder and lead guitarist, Jeff Russo, has scored several television shows, including the television show, Fargo. They are both musicians with something to say. 

As my son often reminds me, “It’s not always about fame”, but loving what you do and making great music. These musicians, both Emerson and Jeff, have relatable human interest back stories and I am not alone in thinking  that in this digital age Fair Pay for Fair Play must be demanded by music fans to keep all music alive. It is a real issue concerning the plight of the 90’s rock bands who were surging on the cliff of the changing musical tastes of 2000 and now trying to survive through the streaming age.

A Twenty Year Tour with new Tonic material and special re-release of 1997’s Lemon Parade with “If You Could Only See The Way She Loves Me” is planned for 2016. Still standing after all these years. 

If you are a fan of keeping great rock alive and want to celebrate this milestone year for Tonic, check out the links below.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

http://www.pledgemusic.com/tonic

wmeclients.com/music/contemporary/Tonic Links:

1) 10/2015
Cryptic Rock interview: http://crypticrock.com/interview-emerson-hart-of-tonic/

2). 10/2015 – http://youtu.be/NHpyIsADUxs
3) – 2014 – In Schizophrenia’s Wake, a Son Laments the Father Who Might Have Been | Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (Formerly NARSAD): 
https://bbrfoundation.org/stories-of-recovery/in-schizophrenia%E2%80%99s-wake-a-son-laments-the-father-who-might-have-been
4) – 2010 – Przystanek Woodstock 

5) Kosovo – http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tonic-to-become-first-band-to-perform-in-kosovo-additional-dates-to-take-them-across-europe-before-returning-to-america-73430172.html
 6) 1997 – Old Vic Chicago – https://www.facebook.com/tonicband/videos/10153481670454590/

A FISH TALE

  

My formative years were spent in an  industrial blue-collar town with a mixture of European immigrants. Even though it was not for religious reasons in our house we always had fish on Fridays like most of the families in our town. 

I always hated those fish Fridays because it seems every time we had fish, I was the only one in the family lucky enough to get the tiny hidden bones tucked between the flesh. How I remember chewing, chewing, chewing every bite until my jaws ached just to be sure that I wasn’t going to swallow a sharp bone that I was sure would puncture my stomach, causing the end of me. Friday’s were definitely not my favorite days. 

But, in spite of my memories of those torture fish Fridays of long ago, I guess life habits are hard to break. You would think a sane person would have left the bony protein behind as I waved good bye to that industrial town. ‘Forget about it’ as my good Jersey shore friends would say, I still have fish on Friday. It is the only thing I eat with both a head and eyes.

  

Now I do feel lucky to have lived near the ocean most of my adult years. At least once a week you will find me at the local fish market, or at the dock waiting for the fishing boats to come in after a day at sea. I’ve shopped in the Pike Market in Seattle, Fulton Fish Market in New York and browsed markets all over the world. For me, there is something to say about the fresh saltwater smell of fresh fish. Most of the markets have powerful fans to whirl away the strong smell, but I like it. It reminds me of my love of the sea.

Well, today it’s Friday. Arthur and I left the beach this morning to take the fifteen minute ride into Miami to the Casablanca Fish Market where all sorts of fresh fish can be found. 

  

 Crazy as it seems, I still love the smells every time I open the Casablanca door. I love the noise and the eclectic mix of people who stream in, hovering over the various days catches. 

The simple pleasures of life that mean something are getting easier and easier to find for me. As my grandson would say, ‘it is a big time senior citizen adventure!’  

Come on, Kid. It sure beats Snapchat.  

Copyright Sandra Hart©. All Rights reserved.